Monday, February 24, 2014

Atlas of Human Prehistory Update

My Atlas of Human Prehistory is coming along; above, an update to a recent diagram for anyone interested in the archaeology of the Arabian Peninsula area, on the order of 100,000 years ago.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

We Are the Centuries

"We are the centuries... We have your eoliths and your mesoliths and your neoliths. We have your Babylons and your Pompeiis, your Caesars and your chromium-plated (vital-ingredient impregnated) artifacts. We have your bloody hatchets and your Hiroshimas. We march in spite of Hell, we do – Atrophy, Entropy, and Proteus vulgaris, telling bawdy jokes about a farm girl name of Eve and a traveling salesman called Lucifer. We bury your dead and their reputations. We bury you. We are the centuries. Be born then, gasp wind, screech at the surgeon’s slap, seek manhood, taste a little godhood, feel pain, give birth, struggle a little while, succumb: (Dying, leave quietly by the rear exit, please.) Generation, regeneration, again, again, as in a ritual, with blood-stained vestments and nail-torn hands, children of Merlin, chasing a gleam. Children, too, of Eve, forever building Edens – and kicking them apart in berserk fury because somehow it isn’t the same. (AGH! AGH! AGH! – an idiot screams his mindless anguish amid the rubble. But quickly! let it be inundated by the choir, chanting Alleluias at ninety decibels.)"

― Walter M. Miller Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Atlas of Human Prehistory

This is one of the suggestions I'm submitting for cover art for my Atlas of Human Prehistory. I want to emphasize people, movement, the outdoors and ancient technology.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Presentation at Lake Oswego Junior High School

Congratulations to Ben and Tarka!

Congratulations, Ben and Tarka! From the expedition website:

On Friday 7th February at 01.15am Ben and Tarka have re-written history as they completed, for the first time ever, the ill-fated journey of Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s iconic Terra Nova expedition.

Having trekked 1,795 miles across the inhospitable landscape of Antarctica on a return journey to the South Pole and back, Ben and Tarka have achieved the world record for the longest polar journey on foot in history.

The journey, which has taken a total of 105 days (just over ¼ of a year), has pushed the limits of physical and mental fortitude and reset the bar for polar expeditions of the future. Ben and Tarka hauled sleds with a starting weight of almost 200kg each and walked on average 17 miles daily in temperatures as low as -46oC wind chill.

Ben Saunders said, “It is almost impossible to comprehend what we have achieved. Completing Scott’s Terra Nova expedition has been a life-long dream and I’m overcome to be standing here at the finish. The journey has been a mammoth undertaking that has tested the bounds of our bodies and minds each and every day.”

“At times we found ourselves in dire straits in the intense cold, wind and altitude of the high plateau, weakened by half-rations and closer to the brink of survival than I had ever anticipated this journey taking us. In that light, both Tarka and I feel a combination of awe and profound respect for the endurance, tenacity and fortitude of Captain Scott and his team, a century ago.”

Captain Scott and his men died having covered almost 1,600 miles and this feat has never been surpassed in over 100 years, until today.

Land Rover and Intel are co-presenting partners of the Scott Expedition and have both played an important role in facilitating the expedition. Land Rover having assisted Ben in his training which has taken him to many inaccessible places across the UK, Europe and Greenland; and Intel provided Ultrabooks powered by its latest 4th generation Intel® CoreTM processor technology allowing Ben and Tarka to share their journey with the world along the way in their daily blog ( Intel put the technology through its paces over several weeks prior to Ben and Tarka’s departure by freezing the Ultrabooks at temperatures of -40C.

Mark Cameron Jaguar Land Rover Director, Brand Experience “ It has been a true privilege for Land Rover to have played a part in this incredible expedition. I have followed Ben and Tarka each day, trying in some small way to live the experience so vividly and eloquently described through Ben’s blog. To complete this journey has taken the very highest levels of physical and mental fortitude as well as a sheer determination to succeed.”

“We all need heroes, incredible individuals or teams to provide inspiration to spur us on to achieve better for ourselves and the people around us. There are few feats of any description that exemplify more appropriately the Land Rover mantra of going ‘Above and Beyond’. Congratulations Ben and Tarka.”

Commenting on Intel’s support of the Scott Expedition, Patrick Bliemer, Regional Manager for Intel Northern Europe, said: “We are honoured to have played a small part in this record-breaking Scott Expedition by Ben and Tarka. We are incredibly proud that Intel technology has helped him share his experiences with audiences around the world – this unprecedented access is the first of its kind and one which will change the future of expeditions to come.”

Ben will be in touch shortly with the full low down and pictures from this historic moment. In the meantime - a massive thank you to all of you, our amazing followers. World - let's celebrate!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Working With Others

In the last year I've gone from working in almost total isolation to working, sometimes several nights per week, with a team of volunteers, now all under the umbrella organization Pacific Spaceflight. In the photo, (L) Kit MacAllister and Ben Wilson testing an new pulse-meter that Kit is building into the Arduino microcontroller that will monitor several biological properties inside the pressure garment.

I am awfully lucky to have a dedicated group aboard, meeting frequently and building subsystems of the pressure suit simultaneously.

I am learning how to work with a group of people, rather than on my own, and this demands a whole new way of communicating and coordinating. For years, I specifically sought out solo challenges, particularly in the Arctic in Winter, but for the moment, that's all over, and I am learning to share my dreams and efforts with others.

Just before I joined Copenhagen Suborbitals, science writer Peter Andrey Smith wrote a short profile on me, now available here. I had no idea, at the time, that I would soon join an actual manned space programme.