November 29, 2013

Upon Reflection, They Should Have Named it Icarus

Via Zoopraxiscope

It looks like ISON went 'poof!".

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 02:41 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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November 19, 2013

Viola Organista

A Polish fellow has built a musical instrument from plans by Leonardo Da Vinci.

It works!

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 08:53 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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November 14, 2013


Two of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes react to the final installment in the AIAA-Houston section newsletter which has been undertaking a reprint and analysis of the famous series of articles published in  8 issues of Collier's Magazine in the 1950s titled Man Will Conquer Space Soon.

The series laid out a very forward thinking vision of space exploration that included detailed plans for exploring both the Moon and Mars. The plan, developed largely by Wherner Von Braun and Wley Ley was, surprisingly sound from a technical standpoint. Scott Lowther, who publishes the superb Aerospace Projects Review, has overseen the republishing of these historic articles in high resolution which is particularly significant given the art by Fred Freeman and Chelsey Bonnestell. The ads have been replaces with short aerospace articles relating to the series that include some technical analysis of what they got right and wrong. This final instalment in the series focuses on how the scientists and engineers of the day tackled the problem of a mission to Mars.

The problem was looked at from every angle. Logistics and life support were worked out as well as a broad idea of what parts of the planet would be explored. Far from a "flags and footprints" mission this was envisioned as an extensive reconnaissance along the lines of contemporary Antarctic exploration, of the planet trekking from the polar regions to the tropics over several months before returning.

Keep in mind this was 1954.

They worked this out with slide-rules. Your smartphone probably dwarfs the aggregate computing power of all the computers in their world and yet for them this was not science fiction. They worked out the math on this endeavor and got it pretty much right.

Their Mars exploration architecture was put together without the beneffit of what we know about local resources after having sent probes to the Red Planet and yet they produced a plan that is vastly more robust  than most of those occasionally contemplated today for possible implementation in some amorphous, ever more distant future.

Aside from the winged launders (Mars has a much thinner atmosphere than they thought) this could have been done...and redesigning the slanders would have been no problem. However,  the nation as a collective wandered off to eventually play angry birds and run up the debt.

All is not lost however.  Today, individuals in private companies are seriously working towards the goals that were seen as right around the corner ion 1954. While we, despite having once landed on the moon are scarcely farther along in the development of the cis-lunar infrastructure to pull something like this off than we were 40 years ago, there is work being done to put in place the building blocks to pull off something like what was envisioned 60 or so years ago.

Even better, leveraging what we have learned in our fitful forrays into space, there are those today who are seriously considering an even more meaningful endeavor than the exploration of unknown lands...settlement.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 09:18 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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