Space Day 2010

July 20 is Space Day each year. A nice event, where folks can be entertained by space activities past, present and future. Often in coordination with open houses and space activist booths. Folks, like me, who believe that space resources can be used for the expansion and benefit of civilization, and action can be done now.

But we humanity are a complex bunch, in types of people and in multiplicity of motives. The original July 20 lunar landing was thrilling to a nation as a major accomplishment of technology and teamwork. To some others it was a solid step toward space colonization and resource use, long dreamed about in science fiction writings and movies. To some others, the lunar landing was a milestone in the "space race" to show the Soviets that we too can reach the Moon and attack nuclear rocket sites they might put there aimed at the US as they did in Cuba - but we had a placard on that lander that said "we came in peace for all mankind" which set the tone for the event. And in fact, those latter folks were the ones who made it all happen, put forth the money and effort to get it done; if it had not been for fear of the Soviets reaching the Moon first and aiming unassailable rockets at us from there, they would never have enabled us to reach the Moon that day.

Even looking back further, when the Nazis created the V2 rocket, its designers dreamed of peaceful space travel by rockets someday, but the ones that actually made it happen, again were the military minded types, that bent the rocket technology to the task of attacking the quarry, such as London. It was the ones who focus on assault that were the ones that actually made rocketry happen.

Although the "space race" was won with the Apollo lunar landings, and that program was cut short thereafter, there were the ones who saw space as opportunity for adventure and profit, enabling things to happen that could not be done otherwise such as the telecommunications satellites in GEO and GPS in low orbits, that were able to continue on with some impetus after Apollo. The Space Shuttle and ISS projects were then started, something to keep our technology level up - in case someone else with urges of conquering thinks of putting missiles on the Moon or other distant parts, we will be able to be in the game - and the ISS enabled those of formerly opposing sides to cooperate in a high profile interesting project, proving we can achieve together without conflict. Many nations have chimed in with their own launches of satellites to do various things, communications, earth monitoring, sometimes a status-proving human launch and recovery. Scientific probes of the other planets have found out many interesting things and provides amazing photographs of those far away places; and identified potential material resource identification for the future; these tend to not be of militaristic motivation except possibly some support simply as intelligence gathering of everything known.

But a check today of the front page online of the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, even the SeattlePi website, none of them mentioned anything whatsoever about space activities or plans. Even the BBC site only had one article about space activities, and that was to announce that Russia was going to build a new spaceport on its eastern edge, primarily for civilian launches; it also pointed out that when the Space Shuttle is retired, the only way to provide human travel to and from the ISS will be by the Russian vehicles.

Even the space projects I have designed and proposed over the decades, have been so thoroughly ignored - in some cases apparently outright suppressed by rival interests - that the only outlet I have remaining is to fall back on that old standby, science fiction. And in fact it has been satisfying to my introverted self, to experience the creation of my space projects in such fantasy. I also have come to realize that much of science fiction is not to work toward actual space travel, but instead sci fi enables creation of worlds where human activities can play out without offending the powers-that-be. These writers and readers seem to be quite horrified at my writings that suggest we could actually today be preparing for enormous travel to Earth orbit etc; to bring the aloof fantasy worlds of sci fi down into the arena of actual physical doings, also brings it at risk of being taken over by the authoritarians that rule the rest of our lives and are controlled by power crazies and business profit greed, no interest in humanity or civilization except as predators, rule by the most powerful, that kind of stuff. So my writings are apparently seen as an invasion of the potential real, into their free-living fantasylands, a risk of their losing their precious place of escape from their bosses, even if only in imagination. And with such fantasies of sci fi adventures being read, when things get too rough up there, like using Star Trek's "Transporter," the reader can instantly be back down here in safe same-old physical reality, no longer chased by space aliens or whatever.

So, that is what Space Day 2010 looks like from here now.

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Your Hard Disk drive's inner workings as poetry

Here is a poem I wrote, when a disk drive electronics design engineer at Shugart, about the inner workings of a disk drive; written using the experimental INSCRIBE cognitive engine I created (see Inscribe Cup ).

by J E D CLINE 6/13/84

Shining like a mechanical jewel

The tortured metal and plastic shapes

Were bound unwillingly together

By man and machine. And now, the

Conscripted shapes silently await,

Like a statue frozen, the

Awakening pulse of electric life

To throb in it's copper veins,

Energizing mechanical muscles....

Then, TURN-ON!

A twirling whirl goes to a filmy disk

Of micromagnets, sending them hurtling

Past a special place: a read/write head

With magnetic maw that sometimes

Shouts and sometimes listens

To the concensus of the

Scurrying horde of magnetic domains.

The gaping maw jumps back and forth,

Then lies in wait for the call of

The one it seeks.

Here they come! The earthquake rattle

Of ten thousand dancing domains in a

Chorus line, all spread their energy

To the hungry ferrite eye, then take it

Back again, escaping.

Their rock-and-roll dance is

Patiently watched over,

Then finally the familiar notes

Of the sought sector comes on scene.

The throbbing beat is announced,

And its repeating rhythm forms a

Trellis of time supporting the

Melodious string of data notes.

Stronger now and square, the

Marching line of ones and zeros

Triumphantly emerge as information,

Reborn to live in the halls of

Mankind's busyness.

But there comes a time in the life of bits,

When the world tires of them, and

Prepares to send their progenitive essence

To ferrite crypts. The chosen ones, the

Lucky bits, herd into groups, then file

Courageously singley into the iron maiden.

The ferrite's searching eye,

Having found the assigned shelf

In the filmy store, grabs each

Brave bit in turn, transforming

It in an instant into a torrent

Of current, rushing first one way

Then the other. This river of

Excitement pours through copper swirls,

And their waves of motion stir concerted

Flux in flying ferrite glider.

The flux strikes a barrier!

A gap to be crossed in an

Exhuberant flurry and shout,

And leaves magnetic footprints by

Overturnings in the domains below,

In the filmy land of time's sleep.

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Technological concepts are steppingstones to reality

My ideas and especially space-related concepts, are created in order to inspire others to build new neat and useful things; and I also build concepts on the shoulders of prior giant concepts. This is a process that is handed down through time, and is how civilization is seeded for each stage of development. Other types of people are far more interested in physically doing something with those ideas and concepts; as it is said, it takes all kinds of people to make a world.

Anyway, today I discovered that my current computer's operating system, the latest Mac, no longer is able to open some of my old reference graphics. Eventually I found that I can get a rough thumbnail sometimes, and so I have gotten some low quality images saved in current format.

One such graphic that I had fortunately scanned in many years ago, although its format is no longer fully openable by my software, brought back memories from the early-mid 1980's, at a L-5 Society meeting in Sunnyvale, CA. I took my girlfriend Mary - with whom I was still desperately trying to make the relationship work - to the L-5 Society meeting in the big auditorium; I had a flyer about the meeting, which looked interesting although unusual. I recall making lots of notes as the lecture went on, extremely interesting stuff; but I had to miss some of it when going to find where my girlfriend had vanished to - she was out in hallway with a bunch of guys all smoking cigarettes - so I missed some of it. And, since then, my notes got lost. And in fact, the flyer got lost too but then temporarily was found and I then scanned it in; and so here is the best I can get the image to appear at this point:

Rod Hyde's lecture and the above simple hand-drawn graphic on the flyer, really got my attention.

Eventually I even braved the spotlight by giving testimony before the National Commission on Space, in November 1985, including urging the serious exploration of Rod Hyde's vertical fountain-supported tower space elevator Starbridge concept; along with Keith Loftstrom's "Launch Loop" technique for lifting a rocket up to the fringes of the atmosphere via a trapezoid-shaped loop on the ground which reached up to the upper atmosphere, from where the rocket would launch, thus not needing to punch through the atmosphere to reach space. I have a page on my website with the text of my testimony to the NCS, which seemed well-received there; although did not appear in the subsequent report by the Commission:
Even that 1985 testimony's initially-discouraging outcome was helpful, as eventually I began to ferret out the weaknesses in each of those great concepts, and find ways to overcome them in combination with more ideas, and ultimately produced my "KESTS to GEO" space transportation concept.

While am at it, here is a graphic from my subsequent presentation on my KESTS to GEO concept, in 2004 - some 16 years after I initially conceived the concept integration in 1988 and posted a file about it on the GEnie network:

Hopefully my efforts at concept building toward rapid expansion of civilization into nearby space resources, will eventually be well received, even though currently they are apparently considered unwanted rivalry to the existing aerospace industry. Probably that is because the space access techniques more appropriately will begin as Civil Engineering projects, then back into space projects really big-time, including reaction-engined propelled applications too. That is why my technical papers stopped getting laughed at by aerospace, and finally accepted for formal peer-reviewed presentation and publication in space conference technical paper proceedings, by ASCE starting in 2000.

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