Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Two Work Prongs!

By day I work on my Atlas of Human Prehistory - today a diagram on the increase of animal tissue consumption in hominin prehistory - and by night, preparing the pressure suit for this summer's test flight up into airliner territory! Tonight, work on the 58 items sewn into each of the two elbow joints; close to done, maybe 10 more hours.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Mistresses of the House of Books

"What a vapid job title our culture gives to those honorable laborers the ancient Egyptians and Sumerians variously called Learned Men of the Magic Library, Scribes of the Double House of Life, Mistresses of the House of Books, or Ordainers of the Universe...'Librarian'...that mouth-contorting, graceless grind of a word...I would abolish the word entirely and turn back the lexicological wisdom of the ancients, who saw librarians not as feeble sorters and shelvers but as heroic guardians. In Assyrian, Babylonian and Egyptian cultures alike, those who toiled at the shelves were often bestowed with a proud, even soldierly title: Keeper of the Books...the stakes are high. If they fail, the past dies."

-- Miles Harvey, from 'The Island of Lost Maps; A True Story of Cartographic Crime'.

Image shows Medieval librarians at work.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Fully pressurized, and all well in another test! The system works, maintaining pressure and cooling, and now starting to handle our C02 problem. Pressure tests every Sunday for the month of May, and some Saturdays as well, if I can squeeze them in.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Distant Lands Unknown

Monday night I'll do a talk for the Rose City Astronomers, one of America's largest and most active astronomy clubs. I'm honored to have been asked to talk on my subject, "Distant Lands Unknown: Human Biological and Cultural Evolution on Interstellar Voyages". This derives directly from my association with Icarus Interstellar in the last few years.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Several hours in the suit today, over an hour pressurized, and one 40-min stretch simulating a flight to 14,000 feet and then return to ground. Suit held pressure, coolant was fine, no big C02 buildup, sim software worked beautifully and Kit and Amy worked the control cabinet and the radio, following a draft flight plan. All well! Exhausted.

The Stars

"You never see the sky until you've looked upward to the stars for safety. You never feel the air until you've been shaken by its storms. You can never understand the ocean until you've been there alone in its solitude. To appreciate fully, you must have intercourse with the elements themselves, know their whims, their beauties, their dangers. Then, every tissue of your being sees and feels, then mind, body and spirit are as one." -- Charles Lindbergh, 'The Spirit of Saint Louis'

Friday, April 11, 2014

Homo floresiensis

Wrapping up the week with a page for the Atlas of Human Prehistory on the poorly-known and mysterious Homo floresiensis. Few more weeks to go (?) and then I can take a rest!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Carbon Dioxide Scrubber Test

Ugh, one of those tests when you don't get to do the test because of various previous oversights, all of them mine. Thanks anyway for Alex Knapton and WH Magruder for tonight's work. Photo: Alex at the new control panel -- at least that is working well.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Back to Pressure Testing!

We are back at it! Great test day today, got useful C02 poisoning data for one test subject, installed one constant-volume elbow joint (huge leap ahead in pilot mobility) and saw Robby's flight simulation program that will now allow us to do flight simulations, e.g. 3-hour visor-down, pressurized tests simulating actual flight durations. Today's team, Ben Wilson, Robby Kraft, W Magruder, A Knapton and me (taking photo). Wahoo, back to pressure tests after several months' building the new control panel and Kazbek seat!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

New Pressurization and Seat System

Complete for resumption of pressure testing this month!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Burbank, CA

Stunning, gripping and hypnotizing sunset out the jet window tonight, flying down to Burbank. Slashes of multiple, saturated colors painted in irregular stripes stacked on the Pacific horizon.

Looking forward to tomorrow's talk, meeting with the dean and Dr. R. Smith, and seeing Dad up here from the South!