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Posts Tagged ‘Amelia Earhart

“Why haven’t we seen a photograph of the whole Earth yet?”*…

 

Detail from the “Balloon-Prospect” image, featured in Thomas Baldwin’s Airopaidia (1786) [source]

Although it is often dismissed as a comedy moment, an amusing episode in the history of flight, ballooning had a profound effect on the epistemological model of being in the world and viewing landscape. That balloons are innately comic is undeniable, and their physical attributes were a gift to satirists of the late eighteenth century, who riffed delightedly on the graphic and semantic associations of this new and somewhat unlikely technology. Furthermore, in the first few decades of ballooning, its utility was unclear. Although flight had been achieved, the power to navigate had not, so balloons could not be used as aerial transport. Once airborne, balloonists were dependent on the mysteries of the upper air and its currents to carry them along. In this captive state, aeronauts set about conducting experiments with a full array of scientific instruments, their own senses and perception being among these. Tasting ginger to see if it was as spicy, or undertaking a complex mathematical equation to test mental acuity at altitude, went alongside checking height and air pressure.

In some cases, science funding had got them up there in the first place. The first successful manned balloon flights were conducted in France with state support. The ascents themselves became known as “experiments”, and were concerned with an exploration of the upper air. In Britain, the Royal Society withheld support from such endeavours, so the first British ascents were underwritten, in the words of one early balloonist, by “a tax on the curiosity of the public”. This affected the cultural profile of ballooning in England: it was always more of a spectacle than a science. In 1785 Tiberius Cavallo, a member of the Royal Society and author of the first English history of ballooning, concluded that:

…many, if not the greatest number of the aerial voyages, though said to be purposely made for the improvement of science, were performed by persons absolutely incapable of accomplishing this purpose; and who, in reality, had either pecuniary profit alone in view, or were stimulated to go up with a balloon, for the sake of the prospect, and the vanity of adding their names to the list of aerial adventurers….

The late-18th Century version of Stewart’s impulse: “‘For the Sake of the Prospect’: Experiencing the World from Above in the Late 18th Century.

* Stewart Brand, as part of his 1966 campaign to have NASA release the then-rumored satellite image of the entire Earth as seen from space

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As we jettison the sandbags, we might send high-flying birthday greetings to Amelia Earhart; she was born on this ate in 1897.  An aviation pioneer and author, she was the fist female to fly solo across the Atlantic (a distinction for which she received the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross).

Earhart set many other records, wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences and was instrumental in the formation of The Ninety-Nines, an organization for female pilots.  She joined the faculty of the Purdue University aviation department in 1935 as a visiting faculty member to counsel women on careers and help inspire others with her love for aviation, and was a member of the National Woman’s Party, and an early supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment.

During an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe in 1937 in a Purdue-funded Lockheed Model 10 Electra, Earhart disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean.  Fascination with her life, career, and disappearance continues to this day.

 source

 

Written by LW

July 24, 2016 at 1:01 am

Tasty…

 

A Tumbler:  Phones Replaced With Sandwiches

Many more...

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As we search for the earphone jack, we might recall that this is the anniversary of the day that Amelia Earhart didn’t call:  it was on this date in 1937 that the Lockheed aircraft carrying American aviator Amelia Earhart and navigator Frederick Noonan was reported missing near Howland Island in the Pacific. The pair were attempting to fly around the world when they lost their bearings on the most difficult leg of the journey: Lae, New Guinea, to Howland Island, a tiny island 2,227 nautical miles away, in the center of the Pacific Ocean.

 source

 

Written by LW

July 2, 2013 at 1:01 am

Darker, please…

Left to his own devices he couldn’t build a toaster. He could just about make a sandwich and that was it.
Mostly Harmless, Douglas Adams, 1992

British artist Thomas Thwaites has built a toaster… from scratch – beginning by mining the raw materials and ending with a product that a High Street retailer sells for only £3.99.

The practical aspects of the project are rather a lot of fun. They also serve as a vehicle through which theoretical issues can be raised and investigated. Commercial extraction and processing of the necessary materials happens on a scale that is difficult to resolve into the domestic toaster.

The contrast in scale between between consumer products we use in the home and the industry that produces them is I think absurd – massive industrial activity devoted to making objects which enable us, the consumer, to toast bread more efficiently. These items betray no trace of their providence.

So are toasters ridiculous? It depends on the scale at which you look. Looking close up, a desire (for toast) and the fulfilment of that desire is totally reasonable. Perhaps the majority of human activity can be reduced to a desire to make life more comfortable for ourselves, and has thus far led to being able to buy a toaster for £3.99 [among other achievements]. But looking at toasters in relation to global industry, at a moment in time when the effects of our industry are no longer trivial compared to the insignificant when our, they seem unreasonable. I think our position is ambiguous – the scale of industry involved in making a toaster [etc.] is ridiculous but at the same time the chain of discoveries and small technological developments that occurred along the way make it entirely reasonable.

It’s on display now, at the Royal College of Art in London.  “Please come along and say hello,” Thwaites asks, “and I will (I hope) be able to toast you something.” Failing that, the reader can visit this link for a series videos on the process.

As we reach for the marmalade, we might recall that it was on this date in 1937 that the Lockheed aircraft carrying American aviator Amelia Earhart and navigator Frederick Noonan was reported missing near Howland Island in the Pacific. The pair were attempting to fly around the world when they lost their bearings on the most difficult leg of the journey: Lae, New Guinea, to Howland Island, a tiny island 2,227 nautical miles away, in the center of the Pacific Ocean.

source: AcePilots.com

Written by LW

July 2, 2009 at 12:01 am

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