The Real Story of GPS (Maybe...) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

OK... Let's try to explain this 'GPS thingy'

In the early 1960's, the U.S. military sent a convoy to Guam. The convoy got lost along the way so another convoy was immediately dispatched. But again, this convoy lost its way. The Pentagon continued to send convoy after convoy until the early 1970's when someone finally realized that all the convoys had ended up in "Nam' instead of 'Guam.' Vietnam was actually a navigation error.

Another military study showed that 87.364% of all U.S. Army 2nd Lieutenants were unable to locate their hiney using both hands, a compass and a map. And 73.786% were unable to properly fold a map. The military was embarrassed that convoys of trucks, aircraft carriers, planes and platoons of draftees were lined up at gas stations around the world, asking for directions. Then the unimaginable happened - gas stations became self service and no longer offered free maps to customers.

At about the same time, the band Chicago had their first hit... "25 or 6 to 4." This song was only understood by people also taking their 'first hit.' Some of these people made the connection with another Chicago hit, "Does Anybody Really Know What Time it is?"

The members of the group Chicago (known aliens) actually transfered the technology for GPS via music...and the Vice President at the time (Gerald Ford) came up with the original concept for GPS...launch a bunch of gas stations into orbit. The concept was modified slightly.

The system was designed to provide 'position' information, as in Global Positioning System. GPS systems measure the differencein time it takes for signals to be received from usually five, but at least three satellites (as in triangulation, which was the name of a drinking game played by old Greek guys during their toga parties when they would ask each other thing like, "Oh yeah Bubba, well 'try' and find this 'angle' if that angle is x degrees and that length is y goobers long.").

The position of the satellites is constant and known. The atomic clocks in each satellite are really just timers, clicking away in teeny, tiny increments and in unison - kind of like satellites full of chirping crickets. The satellites and the timers are quite simple, as far as satellites and timers go. The heart of the system is in the software of the ground-based receivers that must do something with the chirping data.

Navigation algorithms, a fancy word that means "a bunch of fancy math formulas written by people with plastic pocket protectors who dance like Al Gore," use the data and convert it to things called "map links." These map links are the answers to the math formulas that figure out: if the information from these 3-5 satellites isthis, then you are here.

Now, all these chirping crickets sound like one looooong chirp or belch (1023 weeks of belching before they catch their breath and start again) but are really hicupping at approximately one bazillion chirps per second. GPS receivers can actually count the number of hiccups it takes to receive a signal from each satellite, then compare the number of hiccups from each satellite. Then the receiver has a little toga party and voila! "You are (X) HERE.

Of course, most manufacturers realized that the crickets have to stop to catch their breath. But some thought that the crickets were like the stock market. It will continue forever and doesn't need to catch its breath. Plus they relied on a managerial methodology (WWATL) taught at all of the world's finest business schools: "We'll Worry About That Later."

So, some of the receiver algorithms will lose their sense of rhythm (picture Al Gore 'gettin' down funky'). Other applicaions that use GPS usually don't do much except stamp events, but some try to convert the long series of chirps into some form of calendar. If their application fails because they 'forgot' the crickets have to breathe, then so be it. Not everyone deserves to be in business.

-- PNG (Peter Gauthier) (, August 21, 1999


Now that is a real explanantion! What have you been doing tonight PNG to come up with that?????

-- Moore Dinty moore (, August 21, 1999.

That's pretty good Pete...mind if I shamelessly steal it? ;)

-- Don Wegner (, August 21, 1999.


you are a hoot!

: )

-- andrea (, August 21, 1999.

If understand PNG's explanation of GPS, it appears the same group of crickets has been in orbit since 1980. This is unacceptable. PETA, (no not PETER), should be made aware of this sad state of affairs. Living conditions must be brutal up there.

Art Bell just this past week had a representative of PETA,(no not PETER), on his COast-to-Coast radio show. I suggest we all go to

Art Bell's Website

Scroll down to the guest area, click on the PETA,(no not PETER), rep's website & make our feelings known.

And thank you PETER, (no not PETA), for bringing this to our attention.

-- Bingo1 (, August 21, 1999.

PETER--you should have John Koskinen's job--then we know we would get the TRUTH!! good one.

-- tt (cuddluppy@government&, August 21, 1999.

You yanks never could understand cricket, could you ... :)

-- Andy (, August 21, 1999.


And with England just dismissed for 153 at the Oval, it appears that a traditional cricket playing country doesn't get it either. :-)


-- Malcolm Taylor (, August 21, 1999.

Al Gore 'gettin' down and funky'. I fear this more than Y2K. LOL

Thanks Peter. Fun way to begin my day! Now if Andy could just explain Cricket. You Brits truely are an entertaining lot!

-- Will continue (, August 21, 1999.

OK, PNG, that's a good start, but now we're waiting for your explanation of Y2K. BTW, what medications have they been giving you at that Japanese hospital? Can I stockpile some for rollover?

-- BigDog (, August 21, 1999.

Pete, do you mudwrestle?

-- Queen of Saipan (Her@Royal.Majesty), August 21, 1999.


I was going to write and say how funny I found your explanation, but then I got to the part about "Al Gore getting down and funky". The spasms of laughter that ensued, from that image, have made me totally forget everything else you wrote.

I have a vague memory of roaches or grasshoppers or some kind of insect, but then all this is about "bugs", so maybe that's what I'm thinking of.

Anyway, good job.....I think...

-- Bokonon (, August 21, 1999.

Thanks, Peter. I think we all needed that.

Bingo1, I'll see you in a few hours!

-- pshannon (, August 21, 1999.

I do not wear a pocket protector.

-- biker (, August 21, 1999.

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