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November 10, 2008 11:14 AM 11/10/08

I suddenly have the urge to get onto an old style airship and fly off to other lands. Not too surprising as my feet itch a little thanks to the Romanian part of my blood.

Airships make so much sense for long-distance travel and are so much more elegant than jets.

I’m sure I’ve posted it before but a member of the Brass Goggles forums and I once speculated that you could actually make an electric powered airship using steam as the lifting medium with a very low rate of loss. I think we decided the inside of the lifting bag had to be completely sealed and constructed so that the condensation rolled back down to the heater assembly instead of venting.

And from what I remember it wouldn’t have taken a lot of water to do just a fair amount of heat that was finely controlled.

That particular person is brilliant. I think he goes by the username HAK and was an actual steam engineer (in the design sense) for many years.

I’m envious of his, and other peoples’, ability to just run numbers in their heads. I understand many things, flows, logic, art, inspiration, but not math. That’s always been a barrier for me that I’m hoping to fix soon. (That and foreign languages.)

You’d think that would preclude me from designing anything but it really doesn’t. There are enough tools out there I can use to cross-check my ideas and enough people I can contact who know certain subjects much better than myself. I’m one hell of a data aggregator. ;-)

The problem a lot of times is I forget where I put it. ^_^

I was talking to my friend from Florida when we was visiting and he said that he memory (or problem with thereof) would be the one thing he’d fix immediately if he could. And I concur wholeheartedly. I’ve forgotten a good chunk of stuff that I really would like back. That and the whole “What did I come into this room for??” thing bothers me a bit.

My paternal grandmother had dementia and very likely Alzheimer's so there’s at least some genetic pre-disposition for these problems. On the other hand my maternal grandmother lived into her 90’s and was quite alert for the majority of those years so there is some hope.

It was strange to watch her age. I watched her slowly become more and more concentrated as a person. More and more “herself” as she got older and things like concerns for how society saw her burned away so to speak. It came to the forefront of my attention one day years ago when she and I were talking and I mentioned Hungarians (something she had always told us we were genetically) and she stopped and said that we were actually Romanian and was most emphatic that we were NOT Hungarian.

She specifically told me at that time that when she was growing up it was not good to be known as a Romanian lest they be thought of as a thieving gypsy. She never apologized for doing so either and it really didn’t mean a thing to me at that time. Though to this day I so wish I’d asked her more about our family history back then.

If it’s one thing that technology has given us it’s the ability to record those stories and that history before those people are gone. It’s physically possible at this time to sit and record someone with an unobtrusive micro camera and a digital recorder on their person. I’m not one for invading privacy but some stories your elders tell you might not come again and it’s worth catching them because they are often priceless.

I think that’s in part why I’m trying to write so much down now. I know that while my words may be horribly banal and uninteresting now my daughter may be interested in knowing them later when I’m not around.

I’ve always wanted to create great tomes of blank parchment and record my thoughts on them for posterity. And I’m working my way towards that but as with everything else it takes time. I really need to make a book press but work and home take obvious priority.

I think that’s something I worry about - living long enough to get all my projects done and all my ideas at least out there. I know conceptually that that’s impossible but it doesn’t stop me from trying.

And as my wife is fond of note I can be trying indeed... ;-)




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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
siliconshaman
Nov. 11th, 2008 01:37 am (UTC)
It is a point that quite a bit of medical funding is directed at finding ways of living longer, and possibly forever. [certain species manage it, we're trying to find out why.] given that you and I could reasonably expect to live maybe another 40 years, give or take an odd decade or two.

Given the above factors, and what seem to be some reasonable estimates for technological advances...the odds are slightly in our favour that we'll still be alive when immortality becomes practicable. Either via download to some sort of more durable cybernetic media, or though keeping the old organic brain working.

But I hear what you say. One life time doesn't seem to be enough to do everything that I want to do. Granted, I have the certain knowledge that I at least will get another go, and I might even remember enough of this one to avoid repeating stuff as much as is possible. But still, it's annoying that serial incarnations mean you have to go though all that tedious business of learning stuff you've done over and over again. Besides, I like this life thanks. It's like a comfortable armchair I've just gotten worn into shape.

I'm with you on the airship thing though... one of the reasons I keep noodling about hydrogen generation systems. An easy supply of lifting gas. [steam and hot air are all very well, but you need a heat source and if you used solar it would cool too much at night.]
nimitzbrood
Nov. 11th, 2008 03:35 am (UTC)
I'm not quite sure we're ready for immortality. But then I'm of the opinion that immortality is the chicken and egg problem anyway - by the time a being discovers immortality they have already grown beyond the need for it.

I too will hopefully recall some of what I have learned when I pass on to the next cycle of life. Point in fact I hope that I learn to know more of myself quicker than I have done here. Mayhap I'll be able to earn enough good karma to allw me that much at least.

On the subject of airships though I was thinking that it would not be too hard to make a lightweight rigid frame with two full-sized hot air balloons inside it and a mylar skin stretched outside. The two bags should provide more than enough lift and the skin aerodynamics.

For straight propulsion I'd take the design directly from nature. There's very few things that actually _sail_ the sky and it would be blindingly simple to create two very large triangular fins on either side of the skin as well as a tail rudder assembly.

Movement would be accomplished by hauling in or releasing one or both of the side fins _extremely_ similar to sailing. (At least from what I understand as I've never actually been sailing. Yet another thing on my list of things to do in life.) I know I've seen similar designs but technology is such that these designs would work now where they would not have worked in the past. (Hell I bet I could design it using recycled materials even.)

I suppose if I could find some flexible solar cells that are light enough to put on top so that you could put a small propeller at the back but it doesn't quite feel right to me.

(Edited...)

Oh and I really want to see these in the hands of the average person:

http://www.personalblimp.com/

Edited at 2008-11-11 03:39 am (UTC)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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