Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Gotta get me one!

Looking at technology and science websites last night. Found some wonderful things.

Did you know that there is an aeronautics company that is developing cargo airships?
Yes, you read that right. It makes you think that maybe thousands of helium balloons lifting up a whole house and sailing down to the Amazon isn't that far-fetched.

They require very little ground infrastructure, no flight crew or air traffic control (which is done on board by the co-pilot) and can be landed like a helicopter on nearly any flat bit of land. They can go into climates that fixed-wing aircraft can't go like the high arctic, very tall mountain regions, even on the surface of water, and can withstand an incredible range of external temperatures.

They can be used for ground surveillance and to drop of cargo, supplies or "humanitarian aid" to horrible places where no aircraft can land. Most incredibly, they have the advantage of being able to carry thousands of tonnes of stuff, things like heavy equipment, tanks, containers worth of supplies.

And they can stay in the air for three weeks. One guy working to develop this technology said it's not so much like a slow airplane, but like a fast ship, that doesn't have to stay on the ocean, but can deliver the goods right to the middle of your disaster zone.

Oh MAN do I ever want one of these!

I think one of the best signs that the world is getting better, coming to its senses, will be the proliferation and popularity of dirigibles for travel.

And they have a blog!

Also, microscopes...

I wanted a microscope especially keenly this month. The leaves of my precious (and now gigantic) hibiscus plant started yellowing and falling off. I was greatly puzzled since there seemed to be no sign of a bug infestation. But upon consulting Wiki, and looking very closely with both my magnifying lenses, I discovered that it was infested with red spider mites, which are too small to see unaided. The only give-away was a nearly impossibly fine webbing strung between the teeth of the leaves, so small it was almost invisible even with the lenses. Fortunately, they responded well to a little aphid spray.

Then there was the business with the scale insect I plucked from one of my balcony plants. It was carrying a huge egg sac which looked fascinating under the lens, and which I would loved to have love to draw if I'd had sufficient magnification.

I wish I could go back to my 20 year-old self and say, 'Stop all this futzing around, and go to England and study biology. You'll be much happier as a field naturalist working for British Wildlife than a pro-life activist." But maybe it's not too late to do something with this interest.


1 comment:

Greg Williams said...

One big problem with airships is wind.

And on going to the UK to study biology, you might have met a charming fellow (sarcasm) named Richard Dawkins.