Category: History

Garnerin Doodle

Today is a big day in fluid dynamic history! It’s the 216th anniversary of the first successful parachute jump. Andre-Jacques Garnerin (1769-1823) accomplished this feat by going aloft attached to the bottom of a hot air balloon. “I was on the point of cutting the cord that suspended me between heaven and earth… and measured […]

Nanotechnology: History

The capability to magnify objects by a factor of up to one million was made possible with the invention of the first transmission electron microscope (TEM) by German scientists Ernst Ruska and Max Knoll in 1931.With the TEM, it was finally possible to view things at the molecular level. Studies were made of the proteins that make up the human body. Metals were also studied. The TEM made all of this possible by focusing a beam of electrons to pass through an object, rather than by focusing light on the object as was done with traditional microscopes. Particles smaller than 200 nm were able to be viewed.

Nanotechnology: Why Bother?

You can tell a lot about an element from its position on the Periodic Table. In fact, the periodic table is designed to make information about the chemical properties of an element readily available. So all you need is the periodic table. Right? Not exactly. The periodic table tells you all about an element at the conventional scale. When you’re looking at an element at the nanoscale, things can change.

My Book is Out!

Modeling Ships and Space Craft: The Science and Art of Mastering the Oceans and Sky begins with the theories of Aristotle and Archimedes, moving on to examine the work of Froude and Taylor, the early aviators and the Wright Brothers, Goddard and the other rocket men, and the computational fluid dynamic models of our time. It examines the ways each used fluid dynamic principles in the design of their vessels.

Dusty Naval Guys

Here they are. The men who take up my brain-space, time, and energy as I complete my book for Springer Verlag, tentatively titled, “Modeling Ships and Space Craft: The Science and Art of Mastering the Oceans and Sky” William Froude who championed and proved the value of scale model testing in the 1870’s. David Watson […]

The Speed and Power of Ships

I finally found a 1910 edition of The Speed and Power of Ships (by David Watson Taylor) to go with my 1943 edition!  I needed it to see what changes, if any, had been made to the initial assumptions section.  I also wanted to see whose work Taylor referenced in the original edition.  It was […]

Peterson Bird Guides

It all started with what looked like a dead Flicker. Roger Tory Peterson didn’t expect the bundle of brown feathers to move when he touched it. But it did and in that woodpecker’s flurry of movement and the associated burst of color, the eleven-year old was forever “hooked” on birds. In her biography of Peterson, […]

Nuclear Power Now?

August 1945. America uses the horrifying and horrible power of atomic bombs in nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Today we struggle with our attitudes toward the use of nuclear power for domestic, peaceful purposes. We could attribute this unease to some sort of collective squeamishness related to those days in 1945 but my informal […]

If We Put a Man on the Moon …

Back in 1961, when John F. Kennedy called for the United Sates to “commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth”1 it was a daunting proposal. He was asking us to pull together as a nation. To expend […]

Who was David Taylor?

I’m tremendously interested in the ways technology evolved in the 20th century. There are so many things we use today that simply didn’t exist at the end of the 1800’s. And yet here we are, taking ocean voyages on vessels with gyroscopes to stabilize them, watching planes take off from the deck of carriers, lighting […]

Atlantic Ocean Tsunami in 300 BC?

BBC World News America reports May 3, that a possible tsunami hit the Northeast coastal region 2300 years ago. Given the results from more than 20 sedimentary deposit cores, it seems a “violent force” swept the region in 300 BC. Steven Goodbred, an earth scientist at Vanderbilt University is quoted as saying, “if we’re wrong, […]