Monday, June 18, 2012

Love and Rockets

My Dad is a rocket scientist, and he has written a book, or rather a book on a cd. He is retired now, and looked around and got a little alarmed by the fact that nobody under the age of 60 seemed to have any hands-on experience with small rockets. This is partly because of the decline of the space program, and science training in general, but I think maybe also because blowing things up in one's backyard is frowned upon these days. (When he was 6, he somehow acquired some dynamite and blew the garage door off, proving three things--one, he had some rudimentary idea of safety in that he wasn't injured; two, he was an infant genius of things combustible, and three, it was a simpler time, when blasting dynamite was probably available at the local hardware store.)

So,in deference to the fact that probably the purchaser of the book will not have access to a machine shop, or a test stand to make roaring noises and the occasional explosion, there are animations at the beginning of the cd, with cutaways of engines and modelling of the fuel droplets as they bounce around inside the chamber. If you add values that are not in the "desirable" range, you can merrily explode your little engine. It is, in fact, a lot more fun than you would expect from the very precise description on the Amazon site. If you plan on being a part of a commercial space program, I would think this might be required reading. You do need a computer to "read" it of course, and to run the animations. And it's a Windows cd.

The illustration above is based on a photograph taken by one of the astronauts of the last Apollo mission to the moon, and is done in acrylic, around 8 inches by 14 (it's cropped a little here.)

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