Reminiscent of comic book industrialists, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos went on an expedition to locate the lost F-1 engines of the Apollo 11 mission.
They had rested on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean since July 20, 1969 but now, Bezos is now planning to raise them. More about this endeavour can be found on his blog and on the BBC.
The whole field of extreme environment exploration is attracting a number of wealthy patrons and champions recently. A development I cannot find fault with. Especially since neither Bezos, nor director James Cameron who recently visited the Mariana Trench:
seem to have any commercial interest but are doing it for science. I wonder if they can motivate more wealthy people in investing into similar ventures instead of spending money on luxury goods or getting even more rich. I would welcome it and literally everyone would benefit, as long as no exploitation of the ocean floor is intended.
And what’s next? Maybe more private investment into low-to-mid orbit traffic. We will see. I think I will be around long enough to witness something come out of it.
In our computerized age, the nanosecond is quite an important increment of time. One billionth of a second. But what does it mean? What exactly is a nanosecond, how can you wrap your mind around the concept?
Well, this is where the late Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) comes in. She was an American computer scientist and United States Navy officer. Vice Admiral Murray Hopper was also one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, developed the first compiler for a computer programming language and helped develop COBOL.
Fun fact: According to annecdote and oral history, the term debugging (from actually removing an insect from the inside of one of those ancient early computers) was termed by her.
But I digress. Here is the Vice Admiral’s explanation of what a nanosecond is:
50 years ago today, John Glenn was boosted into space on top of a Atlas LV-3B rocket. More precisely, he sat inside Friendship 7 (Mercury-Atlas 6) on top of the Atlas. Friendship 7 was a very cramped affair in deed.
More detailed information on the mission is obviously available from the people resonsible, NASA. The National Aeronautic and Space Association has set up a special site commemorating the event.
I leave you with one of the official photographs taken in 1962 (digitalized version) courtesy of NASA:
It is a classic monster toy, today highly sought after by collectors. It came out in the early 1960’s, when sci-fi movies featuring titanic monsters were at their most popular.
Compared to modern toys it looks rather primitive, but in its day it was cutting edge. Garloo even was remote controlled, as you can see in its original commerical:
I like the feel of this commercial. It really is a bit like a classic monster movie. I think it also pack much more of a punch as modern commercials. It is simple and effective. The Great Garloo was also a rather expensive toy in its time, at $17.98 a piece.
And here is another vintage toy advert from a few years later. I guess it is either from the late 1960’s or early 1970’s and is on the spooky and tribal side. It is also of the kind that would hardly stand a chance of being aired today:
Today I feel like doing a bit of Atompunk, and since I am doing my blogging at a computer I guess it is time to remember the distant ancestor of all computers, the ENIAC. ENIAC is the acronym for Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer.
There are several rather good articles on the web:
so I do not have to go into the technical details. What I find far more fascinating than the technical details of this august machine, are the implications when you take a look at the history of computers.
ENIAC started operating (it did not go online, that was impossible back then) in 1946 and was swithed off (after being transfered once) at 11:45 p.m. on October 2, 1955. few computers today are used that long. Technological progress means your cutting-edge machine is rather obsolete two years from now.
ENIAC weighed in at 27 tons and needed its own barracks (being some 30m long). Its power-usage was so immense, there was a jke going around, claiming the lights in Philadelphia dimmed when ENIAC was switched on.
And now, it is not sixty years since ENIAC was switched off and where are computers today? Everywhere. They are by several orders of magnitude faster, smaller, lighter, and more efficient than the engineers working on ENIAC could have dreamed. Notebooks or touch-pad computers, let alone smartphones, were not even the stuff of science fiction yet, when ENIAC was built. Just read the classic literature of the times, like the Lensmen novels, you will see what I mean.
So, ENIAC is a shining example of how far technological development can take humanity within one lifespan. Computers are everywhere now, they have radically changed our lives in the last 30 years, they have made the ætherweb possible and this is were we waste our time now are immensly creative and productive.
And here’s a snippet from the original newsreel, introducing ENIAC to the American people:
I guess this is one of the least-known and at the same time earliest holidays in the Atompunk Calendar: Bermuda Triangle Day!
In case you did not know: The Bermuda Triangle is named after the course Flight 19, was supposed to take on December 5th 1945.
Flight 19 was made up of five very beautiful TBM Avenger torpedo bombers:
And this is the triangular course they set out to take, beginning and ending at Fort Lauderdale, Florida:
Their mysterious disappearance on their training mission grew into a legend and now forms an integral part of Bermuda Triangle folklore.
Flight 19 has also become a piece of modern folklore and myth in its own right. You find them in connection with time travel and UFOs. The most popular example is very likely the return of the crews by the aliens in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
The mystery continues to this day. The remains of Flight 19 are yet to be conclusively discovered, but the Atlantic Ocean is a big place, and navigation errors were more common than you would think. Back then, flight crews neither had computers, pocket calculators nor GPS. They may well have crash-landed in the Atlantic way off course, but who knows, maybe one day they will be found. Yet, it is unreasonable to presume aliens or space-time anomalies would be responsible for their disappearance.
It would be just as unreasonable (or reasonable) to state they were on a secret mission to bomb a Deep One city but failed and were lost as a result.
As it is so often the case with myths and legends, the story grows with each telling. In the mid to late 1980’s I was big into UFOs, Atlantis, and the Bermuda Triangle. I read about a dozen books on the matter. Several reported ominous details regarding the disappearance, like one intercepted radio conversation stating: „They look like they are from outer space.“ and other reports indicating the compasses of the planes not working due to magnetic anomalies.
Of course, you can always say the Navy is hushing it up and I get a hefty paycheck by the MiB as well, to tell you the the Bermuda Triangle is not real… Uuups…
But do not listen to what I have to say, do your own research. And for Cthulhu’s sake, do it with an honest heart and an open mind! The aliens may just be in your head or in the lies of others who want to sell books and videos!
You do not need made-up mysteries, the universe is mysterious and fascinating enough without any embellishments!
Oh, and talking of mystery: Through some mysterious quantum-entanglement and time-wave fractuation, something eles has appeared in Fort Lauderdale, hombase of Flight 19, can you guess what I am talking about?
Virgin Galactic has opened the first commercial space port. This could well be the future of space travel: Driven by private entrepreneurship. Right now the idea is still crazy but it makes perfect sense: If you make space travel available to the public, people will be interested in booking a really exclusive holiday or an adventure, depending on how they see it.
When more and more people become interested, the marginal costs per unit (i.e. a launch) drop, making the operation more profitable. Profits can be invested in research, creating cheaper and safer technologies.
Basically, it will be the same development we saw when the first powered planes took to the air in 1903. We all know what happened next.
So now, Space Port America has opened in New Mexico.
Right now, Virgin Galactic is „only“ offering sub-orbital flights but they already have 450 customers on the waiting list and the NASA is also interested in their services, I think this is quite a credential.
Let’s see what leaps commercial space flight will make in the next 10-20 years. Virgin Galactic is not the only competitor in the market, but definitely the one packing the most punch. I will watch the developments very closely.
In 2001 I jokingly said something along the lines of „Oh well, when I retire, I want a little cottage on Mars“. I guess I still have some years in me… Who knows what things will look like by 2040.
Just three posts ago, I was ranting about Germans being once again used as the stupid default villain, specifically as Nazis-in-disguise.
Now, the thing that annoys me about this is the trope-whoring. No matter what the historical setting is, there is always something Nazi-esque about the Germans. I wonder when I will get my hands and eyes on the first novel set during the Fall of Rome when the Vandals suddenly show up wearing jackboots and goose-stepping down the Via Apia.
There is exactly one time-frame when it is correct to depict Germans as Nazis in significant numbers:
And it is perfectly fine to (to quote Sergeant Colon of the Ankh-Morpork City Guard)
Extract the urine.
A perfect example is the upcoming independent movie Iron Sky. Evil Nazis on the moon… EPIC!
And in this context, all the old tropes are so overblown and obviously tongue-in-cheek, it is simply tremendous fun. Of course, the Nazis are evil, over the top so. But the whole scenario is completely over the top. The people at Iron Sky do not mean this to be serious or an accurate depiction of anything, this is all caricature. And this is the point where it is so much better than Vandals on Venus: In Vandals on Venus, only the German and to an extend the Irish character were caricatures, they were tools to help the day-saving-Americans shine. Vandals on Venus was about Americans being heroes at all costs. In Iron Sky, the evil, over-the-top Nazis are the central characters. They are there for themselves, not as garnish for others.
Thus: Bad Moon Rising contains some belly-ache-laughter inducing scenes. Nazi soldiers hauling crates of Schnapps into Reichsflugscheiben. The extra-evil scientist abducting babies, Reichskanzler (on the Moon) Wolfgang Korzfleisch (his name in English would most likely be Prukemeat), the rant about sausages and Hitler being a vegetarian…
And the artwork is Grade A+, too, from the classic pulp novel cover to the final page.
So, it is perfectly fine to poke fun at Germans, or Nazi Germans in this case, you just have to do it right.
Here it is done right and I almost laughed my head off reading Bad Moon Rising. I can recommend it to every Reichsflugscheibenpilot out there and to all who want to be one. The Iron Sky team are geniuses!
Just came across this one on Paleofuture, and it firmly fits into atompunk gone a bit too far in a baseball jacket wearing direction:
Those were the days… 1960. Most people were convinced there would be cities on the moon in their lifetime. Well… ummmmm… It did not quite turn out that way. At least we can still dream.
The above image came from the March 13th issue of 1960 of The Chicago Tribune, the newspaper ran several of these „Closer than we think!“ strips in the early 1960’s. Paleofuture has a whole collection of them.
Well, at least the wrist-watch TV they predicted is around, although the modern smart phones are slightly larger but can do a little bit more than just receive TV (or Youtube, as the case may be).
And the „Closer than we think!“ strip on reveresed gravity is a classic. Paleofuture has that one, too.
Interestingly (and rather predictably), there is no strip about a girltopia on the moon or in outer space. Right… Girls were not supposed to go to the moon in 1960. This was the Golden Age of Butch Astronauts after all. Men were still real men, women were still real women and small furry animals from Alpha Centauri… (If you recognise the quote, drop me a line). But seriously, I honestly think this is the reason why there was no comparable idea for girls published: Space was for men in the early 1960s. Sad, but true. All you have to do is watch a sci-fi movie from back then. Some „gender specific“ stuff in there makes you cringe.
And here is another piece of atompunk space art, a bit on the lighter side, I think (and I do not know anymore, where I found it, it has been lying around on my hardrive for a while:
Over two years ago now, I was musing over what I perceived as a Punk Gap. Back then, I also observed the time period of the gap was dominated by the Space Race. Now I have learned this punk gap has been closed and the Space Race is a major factor in ATOMPUNK.
Atompunk is another child of Cyberpunk and it is nested between Dieselpunk and Cyberpunk. Its esthetics are derived from what was en vogue during the early to middle years of the Cold War. Obviously, it lends heavily from the space fashion of the early 1960’s, 1950’s style American fashion, Cold War/Communist propaganda and of course designs found in the space programs on both sides of the Iron courtain.
Space Fashion of the 1960’s looked something like this:
The type of architecture found in Atompunk is maybe best illustrated by Googie architecture such as the Space Needle in Seatle. Silver Age Superhero Comics also fall into the general area of Atompunk.
And a very lighthearted depiction of what Atompunk in Space looks like, go to atompunk.tumblr.com and especially look at this historic photograph.
And come to think of it, this comic I talked about in December of 2010: