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Space Science

Feather-based Jacobean Space Chariot 173

Posted by Hemos
simonmsh writes "The article Cromwell's moonshot: how one Jacobean scientist tried to kick off the space race describes 17th century plans to build a space chariot out of springs, feathers and gunpowder. The design was based on the idea that gravity disappeared at an altitude of 20 miles, which was called into question by Hooke ? and Boyle ? 's work. It sounds like the plot of a Neal Stephenson book." Said book, and its sequels are phenomenal.
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Feather-based Jacobean Space Chariot

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  • 20 Miles Up (Score:4, Funny)

    by deliciousmonster (712224) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:10AM (#10492767)
    That's funny, I could have sworn gravity dissapeared within 3 inches of our receptionist's breasts...

    Although I think getting within 20 miles of them is a longshot...
  • Favorite Quote (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gmail.cFREEBSDom minus bsd> on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:12AM (#10492779) Homepage Journal
    "In space we wouldn't need to eat because the reason why we need to eat on Earth is that the pull of gravity pulls food through our bodies and constantly empties our stomachs," Professor Chapman explained.

    Quotes like this remind you of a child trying to divine where all the food they eat goes. I remember thinking at 3 or 4 years old that there must be some sort of containers inside us to hold the food forever. Then I considered the volume of food we eat and just couldn't fathom what was happening to it. It didn't quite connect that the food might get processed then *ahem* ejected. :-)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I don't mean to insult the poster, but I wonder what's so interesting about that post? Did the mods go "ooh, yes, infinite containers in our bodies, that's an interesting thought"...

      I'm scared.
      • Re:Favorite Quote (Score:2, Interesting)

        by AKAImBatman (238306) *
        I don't know why the mods found it interesting. I was just musing for the sake of musing. What I want to know is why they found it offtopic. Overrated perhaps, but how can it be offtopic when it was in the article?

        Go figure.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I think you can read it in this case as "+5, Mocks Idiotic Theist by Comparing him to a Child". It's not the first time "Interesting" has been used this way.
    • Re:Favorite Quote (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Also remember that back then you were called a professor not on your smarts but on how rich you or your family was.

      Money bought fandom. and most of the real scientists were shunned, stoned or hanged for daring to go against the lunatics.... I mean "professors" of the day.

      Hell President Lincoln was not killed by the bullet but by the QUACKs that were the doctors of that day.

      A little knowlege is extremely dangerous, and history shows us a large number of "little knowlege" people that caused lots of pain an
    • You were a bit slow as a child... weren't you?
    • Quotes like this remind you of a child trying to divine where all the food they eat goes.

      Or more sadly it may remind you of our current president. Which of the "internets" am I using to post right now?
      • Perhaps there are other 'internets' than the commercial and university research internets you might be familiar with. Does that actually seem far-fetched? Try for a moment to see little things like that as information slips rather than immediately going for the "he doesn't know the same things I know, so he must be dumb" knee-jerk reaction.
        • All of us civillians use the "Internet" for email and surfing. There are other large private networks for the Military or Corporations... However, they are not the Internet. If I called our LAN at work an Internet I would be using incorrect terminology and I would be confusing my co workers. He could have been confused with an intranet. However, Bush was addressing the Nation and refering to websites that are available to everyone on the Internet. His statement showed his ignorance of technology.
    • When I was little, I though that "food" went down one tube and drink down another... the reason I thought this was because the dangley bit (note to self: find out proper name of dangley bit, so as not to look stupid in public forums!) at the back of my throat made it look like there were two tubes.... oh, and our bath room mirror was too high up for me to see the bottom of said dangley bit, so it really just looked to me like *two* separate tubes.

      This ofcourse has nothing to do with space travel, however,
      • This ofcourse has nothing to do with space travel, however, to keep the thing on topic, I too am from England! So maybe theres a pattern emerging!! :-D

        I say! Did I make some sort of comment that lead you to believe I was from Blighty? A thousand apologies my good sir, but I'm afraid I'm located on the other side of the pond! :-)

        Or was your comment in reference to the Professor in the article?
      • FYI, the "dangley bit" is called the uvula.
    • by Feanturi (99866) on Monday October 11, 2004 @11:49AM (#10493681)
      Then I considered the volume of food we eat and just couldn't fathom what was happening to it.

      When I was little, some grownup mentioned me eating like I had a hollow leg. Well that's what I wound up seriously believing for a brief period. :) But like you, I couldn't see how it would keep from filling up. Weird how one can be going to the bathroom on one's own for a couple years and still not get it, heh.. This also reminds me of a more recent bit of idiocy I read only a few years ago. Somebody was saying the reason you get the munchies from smoking pot is because it warms up your liver, which heats your stomach causing it to expand, and thus feel less full.
    • Ha! I grew up on a farm. I never had to imagine what happened to food. I saw stuff go in one end of the cow, and stuff come out the other.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:13AM (#10492785)
    Give me a big enough spring, and I can move Rubin Studdard into low earth orbit.
  • Hrmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by acehole (174372) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:14AM (#10492792) Homepage
    I wonder if macgyver could have done better...

  • Yet not the first (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JUSTONEMORELATTE (584508) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:15AM (#10492802) Homepage
    According to legend [cnn.com] the Chinese sent a man up around 1500AD.
    He didn't come back, but that's the way with pioneers


    --
    US$10, really [slashdot.org]
    • Ah...I knew *something* bothered me about John Carmack's X-Prize vehicle.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      but that's the way with pioneers

      Don't you mean "fireworks"?
    • Just think, the chinese guy might well have earned history's first Darwin award, had they existed at the time.

      I remember seeing a very early movie about a guy who jumped off the Eiffel tower, in order to test a prototype parachute. Unfortunately, the thing failed to open, and the unfortunate man plunged to his death.

      Prof. Picard was nearly killed in his balloon contraption as well. Many considered him a nut when he went up, and figured he would never come back alive. They were very nearly right, as the
  • by Anonymous Coward
    TIme Travel Possible:-

    It came in the shape of a 17th-century clergyman who drew up plans for a spaceship powered by wings, springs and gunpowder, a leading science historian will reveal this week

    I mean wow, just wow.
  • by contagious_d (807463) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:16AM (#10492809) Journal
    "17th century plans to build a space chariot out of springs, feathers and gunpowder. The design was based on the idea that gravity disappeared at an altitude of 20 miles"

    I wonder if the thing could have made it 20 miles up. If someone builds one, I will supply the bound and gagged - erm, I mean "Jacobean Spacesuited" test pilots.
    • I'm sure some of the pieces of human and springs might have made it 20 miles up from the initial explosion. 17th century testing:

      "OK Reginald, we've blown some stuff out of this tube to make sure it goes up really high. Now get in."

      After all, I saw no mention of a parachute in case the 20 mile up belief might have been wrong.
    • "I will supply the bound and gagged - erm, I mean "Jacobean Spacesuited" test pilots."

      And his name is Lance Bass!
  • Hmmmmmm, curious (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Killjoy_NL (719667) <slashdot&remco,palli,nl> on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:17AM (#10492815)
    This kind of stuff makes me wonder which current technology will be looked back upon with the same feeling we look back at this "technology"??
    • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:22AM (#10492869) Homepage Journal
      The difference, I think, is that our technology does what it's supposed to do. I mean, I look at an abacus or slide rule and I don't think, "Oh, hah hah, those silly pre-computer people, what cute toys they had!" I think, "Wow, that's a really elegant solution to a difficult problem ... but I'm glad I don't have to use that thing." Our cars and trains and ships and planes do move us around; our computers do crunch numbers; our space technology did (and hopefully someday will again) get us to the Moon. There's a difference between doing the best you can with what you've got, and flights of fancy.
      • That's an excellent point. I'd like to add that, while we laugh at crazy gunpowder-and-wing schemes to go to the moon, we don't laugh at the true high technology of the time. Things like sailing ships and buildings from that time period still get healthy respect from people now.
      • The difference, I think, is that our technology does what it's supposed to do. I mean, I look at an abacus or slide rule and I don't think, "Oh, hah hah, those silly pre-computer people, what cute toys they had!" I think, "Wow, that's a really elegant solution to a difficult problem ... but I'm glad I don't have to use that thing." Our cars and trains and ships and planes do move us around; our computers do crunch numbers; our space technology did (and hopefully someday will again) get us to the Moon. There

        • Not too much difference. it was a hypothesis that would have failed and was revised later as more information was gathered. There are plenty of failed hyothesis' around by notable scientists to discuss.

          The idea would be to test the hypothesis before sending a human up there. The modern space program did this (many incremental milestones before humans or even animals were sent into space).
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Well, apparently what we know a lot more about now was highly speculative back then. So I suppose our most extreme ideas today would include things like negative matter, wormholes and our concepts for interstellar travel. 300 years from now they will look back at our such theories and smile the same we do now.
      • Actually it makes me more curious about the future technology.

        What will they have to replace our "obsolete" tech?
        • "He doesn't know how to use the 3 sea shells"
    • I can't really say anything like that about things we've succeeded in. Stuff like the first man on the Moon or vehicle on Mars is more like honorable pioneering efforts to me. I wouldn't laugh at space chariots if they had made it to the atmosphere with one. :-)

      But sure, maybe we'll laugh at the suggested space elevator to the Moon or something, if it turns out to be way too hard to make and cancelled.
    • by dustman (34626) <dleary@ttlCOMMAc.net minus punct> on Monday October 11, 2004 @11:22AM (#10493372)
      Our technology and science, though it may be primitive to someone in the future, will never be looked back on with the same feelings as this crap.

      By actually using the concepts of the scientific method (experimentation etc), we come up with things that are true (as far as we can measure them) rather than stories we make up that sound good.

      "Gravity is what requires us to eat, it pulls the food out of our bodies"... The fact that this explanation was considered shows that the concept of digestion wasn't understood. There is nothing wrong with that. The problem is that this theory is easily tested, by laying down or standing on your head for a day and seeing if you get hungry.

      Newton's model of physics has been shown to be "wrong", but we don't fault him for that, he drew proper conclusions from the available data.
    • Probably quite a lot. I've a fascinating book that dates to 1752, which describes thunder as the product of evaporating gunpowder. Storms are rather better understood today, but there is still a lot that is uncertain. Strange plasmas are sometimes seen above storm clouds, for example. There is still no universally-accepted theory on ball lightning. Observations on the internal workings of tornados are still extremely limited.

      The problem with the Jacobean notions of space travel was the limited data on nat

  • by OnanTheBarbarian (245959) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:19AM (#10492836)
    Re Stephenson books: Phenomenally large? Phenomenally self-indulgent? Phenomenally didactic?

    At any rate, it's an amusing story.

    All that hand-waving is vaguely reminiscent of "Mars Direct" or whatever they're calling it these days. Once upon a time, we didn't have to eat in space because of the absence of gravity. Now, we just hand-wave away radiation damage to the crew and the logistics of setting up a nuclear reactor on Mars to produce fuel for the return journey.
    • Actually, while the Mars Direct mission plan is highly ambitious, I wouldn't say they "hand-wave" away anything. They have extensive plans on how to deal with these issues, as you can see by browsing the Mars Society web site [marssociety.org].

    • Mars Direct....hand-wave away radiation damage to the crew...

      Various people have a rather strange, almost religious fervor about how "evil" radiation is, and radioactive materials are. There is a lot of both justified and irrational fear about the use of radioactive materials and techniques on Earth.

      However, yes, space is filled with radiation. So is the Earth, just at different strenghts. We've had from 60 to 100 years of experience dealing with effects of radation, and I believe most of the hard-sc
    • by roystgnr (4015) <roystgnrNO@SPAMticam.utexas.edu> on Monday October 11, 2004 @11:15AM (#10493318) Homepage
      All that hand-waving is vaguely reminiscent of "Mars Direct" or whatever they're calling it these days. Once upon a time, we didn't have to eat in space because of the absence of gravity. Now, we just hand-wave away radiation damage to the crew and the logistics of setting up a nuclear reactor on Mars to produce fuel for the return journey.

      Radiation hazards are discussed on pages 10, 13, 81, 83, 95, and 114-120 of _The Case for Mars_. The fuel production processes are detailed starting on page 148, and end on page 156 with a mention of the power requirements (300 watts, which makes the "nuclear reactor" just another RTG) for a sample return mission. The mass requirements of a fission generator are on page 205. This is just the discussion in the popular non-fiction book; don't be too surprised if the actual studies (the first study by JPL claimed the human mission would be doable for $50 billion; more recent studies by NASA claim $33e9 + $7e9 per mission, and the ESA thinks they could do it for under $22e9 + $6e9 per mission.)

      If you have some specific concerns with the proposals, it would be more credible of you to bring them up rather than pretend that these problems haven't been considered at all. Do you really think that a NASA engineer might read your post and exclaim "There's radiation in space! Why didn't I think about that!?"
      • This is just the discussion in the popular non-fiction book; don't be too surprised if the actual studies thought about them as well.

        Yeah, yeah, I can see the preview button just fine...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:19AM (#10492844)
    "Of course his approach did not work because he based it on the premise that the Earth's pull only went up 20 miles and if you crossed that 20 miles, you could float after that," no, i think the main reason it didn't work was because it was a clockwork flapping machine..
  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:22AM (#10492874) Homepage Journal
    Ancient Indian Aircraft Technology

    According to ancient Indian texts, the people had flying machines which were called "Vimanas." The ancient Indian epic describes a Vimana as a double-deck, circular aircraft with portholes and a dome, much as we would imagine a flying saucer.

    It flew with the "speed of the wind" and gave forth a "melodious sound." There were at least four different types of Vimanas; some saucer shaped, others like long cylinders ("cigar shaped airships"). The ancient Indian texts on Vimanas are so numerous, it would take volumes to relate what they had to say. The ancient Indians, who manufactured these ships themselves, wrote entire flight manuals on the control of the various types of Vimanas, many of which are still in existence, and some have even been translated into English.

    The Samara Sutradhara is a scientific treatise dealing with every possible angle of air travel in a Vimana. There are 230 stanzas dealing with the construction, take-off, cruising for thousand of miles, normal and forced landings, and even possible collisions with birds. In 1875, the Vaimanika Sastra, a fourth century B.C. text written by Bharadvajy the Wise, using even older texts as his source, was rediscovered in a temple in India. It dealt with the operation of Vimanas and included information on the steering, precautions for long flights, protection of the airships from storms and lightening and how to switch the drive to "solar energy" from a free energy source which sounds like "anti-gravity."

    The Vaimanika Sastra (or Vymaanika-Shaastra) has eight chapters with diagrams, describing three types of aircraft, including apparatuses that could neither catch on fire nor break. It also mentions 31 essential parts of these vehicles and 16 materials from which they are constructed, which absorb light and heat; for which reason they were considered suitable for the construction of Vimanas. This document has been translated into English and is available by writing the publisher: VYMAANIDASHAASTRA AERONAUTICS by Maharishi Bharadwaaja, translated into English and edited, printed and published by Mr. G. R. Josyer, Mysore, India, 1979 (sorry, no street address). Mr. Josyer is the director of the International Academy of Sanskrit Investigation located in Mysore.

    Sources: Ancient flying machines [world-mysteries.com] (Contains diagrams/details).
    Wikipedia reference to the term-Vimanas [wikipedia.org]

    • by RandomWordGenerator (813207) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:39AM (#10493028)
      Hmm, this sounds great - but as with all these things I would welcome a Vedic scholars perspective. With my massive researching skills I found this quote which sheds a little light.

      "...There is one book entitled Vaimanika-sastra that was dictated in trance during this century (20th - I assume. RWG)and purports to be a transcription of an ancient work preserved in the Akashic record." "The medium in this case was Pandit Subbaraya Sastry, a 'walking lexicon gifted with occult perception', who began to dictate the Vaimanika-sastra to Mr. Venkatachala Sarma on August 1, 1918. The complete work was taken down in 23 exercise books up to August 23, 1923. In 1923, Subbaraya Sastry also had a draftsman prepare some drawings of the vimanas according to his instructions." quote ref [mystae.com]

      This sounds a little suspicious to me. A little like John Edward 'dictating' a new chapter of the Old Testament called "Moses had Laser Pistols"
    • A slip in the translation is always possible. Maybe these 'manuals' are just player handbooks for a really early RPG. :)
    • Actually, there has been a new text discovered and translated called the "VYMAANIDASHAASTRA AERONAUTICS NO FLY WATCHLIST".
    • So...

      Samara Sutradhara + Kama Sutra = History's first Mile High Club?
  • by RandomWordGenerator (813207) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:23AM (#10492885)
    Although gravity doesn't disapear after 20 miles, you can acheive geostationary orbit at 22 miles [nus.edu.sg] - so they weren't too far off.

    No, wait - I think I'm missing the obvious ... they were 22 miles off
  • by EugeneK (50783) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:24AM (#10492887) Homepage Journal
    It's obvious 17th century England is trying to use its stocks of springs, feathers and gunpowder to develop WMDs. I say we invade now. We don't want to wait until the smoking feathers becomes a mushroom cloud.
  • by lidocaineus (661282) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:27AM (#10492924)
    I love how we turn an interesting bit of history into a plug for Mr. Stephenson's ego.
    • Not sure what it is with the Stephenson worshipping that goes on here. I suspect he rides a wave of young people just discovering a genre. I recently was given a copy of Snowcrash and have to say I didn't think it was that great. It read like a comic..err, graphic novel, but without the graphics.
      • Perhaps it's a matter of differing tastes? I, as an example, have been reading sci-fi for close to 30 years - I can hardly be referred to as "just discovering" the genre - yet I enjoyed "Snow Crash" very much. I also enjoyed Cryptonomicon most thoroughly. My stepfather, OTOH, has been known to not only start but completely finish MORE THAN ONE John Brunner novel, which I've never been able to do even once.

        I don't see why being fun to read is such a crime with some people.
        • I've been reading Sci-Fi for almost as long... (25 years or so).

          Stephenson has great ideas, and I really *wanted* to like Snow Crash, but his execution was deeply flawed.

          Plot holes, missing character development so we give a darn about them. Case in point would be Uncle Enzo who goes viet-ninja at the end against the bad dude with the bamboo spears. (After being nothing more then a shadowy underworld figure for 3/4 of the book.)

          Snow Crash was a B- book, ol' E.E. "Doc" Smith was a more enjoyable read
          • Funny you should mention E.E. - I had been going to talk about him, but decided not to. Everything you mention negatively about Snow Crash - character development, plot holes, etc., can be found in spades in the Skylark series, the various short series' (Subspace Explorers, Subspace Encounter, The Galaxy Primes, etc) - but I still love reading them. I just eBay'd for Subspace Explorers (and National Lampoon's Doon, Harry Harrison's Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers, and a couple others). I think it's a
      • was given a copy of Snowcrash and have to say I didn't think it was that great. It read like a comic..err, graphic novel, but without the graphics.

        That was his... debut... novel, and not his best. If it read like a comic, it's because it was originally intended to be a graphic novel and was retooled.

        The bikes at the end were pretty silly, but there are some neat concepts in it. Still, not his best work.
    • Agreed, one and all. Yes, the historical and scientific detail that NS employs is astounding. But for either literary merit or entertainment value, you'd be better off reading the Encyclopaedia Britannica from start to finish.

      Pity. Cryptonomicon was a lot of fun. WTF happened???
  • Interesting man (Score:5, Interesting)

    by frankthechicken (607647) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:27AM (#10492926) Journal
    Dr. John Wilkins, the Jacobean scientist in question, was quite an interesting chap really.

    For example, with his book, A Discourse concerning a New Planet, he tried to popularise the view of the universe according to Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo. He attempted to explain in the book that the Moon is not purely a shiny, cut out disc but rather it is a world with a landscape like that of the Earth.

    Fairly radical stuff for the time, though admittedly he did publish the book annonymously.

    For more info, try this [bbc.co.uk] or this [st-and.ac.uk]
    • Re:Interesting man (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mattdm (1931) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:49AM (#10493108) Homepage
      And he reminds the /. editor of a Neal Stephenson story because Wilkins actually features quite prominently in Cryptonomicon (Stephenson makes Wilkins the author of the fictional tome from which the book takes its title) and in Quicksilver (and therefore in the rest of the Baroque Cycle books). Daniel Waterhouse, one of the chief heros/protagonists, is a protege of Wilkins's.

      You can find a lot more about the real (in addition to Stephenson's historical fiction version) Wilkins at Stephenson's metaweb [metaweb.com].
    • I think the title was "The Discovery of a World in the Moone." There's a reproduction of the rather cool title page here [positiveatheism.org].

      I'd love to find a facsimile of "Discovery." They pop up at antiquarian book auctions now and then, fetching out-of-this-world prices.

      Facinating guy, I agree. Science hadn't yet figured out that space is a vacuum, and Wilkins confused magnetism and gravity. Still, he was a modern mind in a world still gripped by superstition. Pretty clear-eyed for a man of faith. Good for him.

  • Hooke and Boyle? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Royster (16042) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:31AM (#10492965) Homepage
    Newton was the first to suggest that the same force which keeps us on the Earth was responsible for the orbits of the plants around the sun. The planets are demonstrably further than 20 miles from the surface of the Earth.
  • Stephenson... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kzinti (9651) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:38AM (#10493021) Homepage Journal
    It sounds like the plot of a Neal Stephenson book.

    Hmm... Also reminds me of the plot of a Jules Verne book - one that predates Stephenson by a number of years.
  • by lcsjk (143581) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:39AM (#10493032)
    A few hundred years earlier, it would have been much easier. One only had to board a ship and sail to the edge of the earth. Since it was flat, they would have been able to sail to the edge and merely jump off into space. Unfortunately, space travelers at the time had no way to return, so it was very difficult to sell tickets to rich kings.
    • Actually, in the middle ages they never actually believed the earth to be flat; this is backed up by religious and maritime texts of the age.

      The myth was actually started in 18th Century England to prove the cultural and scientific superiority of the time.
      • I'd have to add that Christopher Columbus used a globe that was 2/3rds the size of what the earth really was, which is why he thought he could get to the Indies with the technology of the time.

        When he got to Portugual, who BTW knew quite accurately the diameter of the Earth at the time due to their having acutally going to India and the "spice islands" on their own around Africa, thought Columbus was a total nut case and turned him down.

        The point here is that not only was the earth considered to be a sphe
  • Sail On! Sail On! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jenkin sear (28765) * on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:49AM (#10493106) Homepage Journal
    Stephenson is great and all, but Phillip Jose Farmer had a great short story on a similar topic about twenty years back.

    Sail On, Sail On! posited that Francis Bacon turned his experiments toward electromagnetism, inventing the radio- except, that instead of electrons, they refered to them as Cherubim. So the AM radios of the day were tuned to various CW's - Cherubim wavelengths, which where the slope the cherubim's wings described as they flew through the ether.

    The story takes place on columbus' ships as he travels to discover America- it's terrific. Strongly recommend digging this one up out of your local library.

  • Nobel Prize Winner (Score:3, Informative)

    by bayers (155001) on Monday October 11, 2004 @11:17AM (#10493332) Homepage
    I wonder if this 'space chariot' is the basis of Balthazar and Blimunda [amazon.com] . The author won a Nobel Prize for the book. In the book, the device works. It's a good read.
  • by roman_mir (125474) on Monday October 11, 2004 @11:20AM (#10493355) Homepage Journal
    Unfortunately, Wilkins never had the chance to test his theories, and what Professor Chapman terms the Jacobean Space Programme was grounded. - I don't think the author of this likes this Wilkins guy too much.

  • Gunpowder Boosters? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by curtvdh (738461)
    I wonder if the inventor had any idea how much black powder would have been required to lift even a moderately sized object into orbit? By my calculations, the energy released by the boosters would have atomized said flying machine, plus its unlucky passenger...
  • The only theng the editor could find to say about this was that it's like a book by some author????? Huh?
  • by Myopic (18616) on Monday October 11, 2004 @12:41PM (#10494310)
    point of order: this story posting does not have a witty "from the...dept." tagline.
  • Dr Wilkins drew up plans for what he called a flying chariot powered by clockwork and springs, a set of flapping wings coated with feathers and a few gunpowder boosters to help send it on its way...

    ...and though his design never did lead to manned space flight the principles that he envisioned took root in the scientific community of the day leading to the eventual, perhaps even inevitable, creation of the Wile E. Coyote/Road Runner cartoon.

  • you'd take it more seriously if he'd managed heavier than air flight before worrying his head with interplanetary travel.

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