Fly US to the Moon: von Braun vs. Houbolt

To this day, the questionable Wernher von Braun gets credit for most American space accomplishments of the 1950s and 1960s. He tirelessly aimed at the stars (with the occasional drops on London) but engineering realities were at odds with his grandiose plans and even grandioser rockets. John Houbolt’s Lunar Orbit Rendezvous approach eventually won out and his role in Apollo’s success is insufficiently known. Here’s a comparison.

Channel: Dan Beaumont Space Museum

Wernher von Braun explains the possibility to reach the Moon. "Man and the Moon", Dec. 28, 1955

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Channel: Jeff Quitney

Project Apollo: "Lunar Orbit Rendezvous" 1968 NASA Mission Planning and Analysis Division

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Before the inevitable: Henle’s musical engraving

The well-known music publisher held onto manual engraving into the late 1990s when computers finally got good enough. Now the trend is to replace paper altogether with screens. Here are lookbacks to the bygone craft.

Sharp as a Tack – Music Engraving: an Art and a Craft

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Music Engraving on Metal Plates (with sound)

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Engulfed Keyboard: Freire and Richter play Debussy

I’m relearning ‘Canope,’ one of Debussy’s amateur friendly Preludes that stretches hands all over the 88s and reading skills across three staves. One day I hope to don the scuba gear and visit ‘La Cathédrale Engloutie’.  Here are Nelson Freire and Sviatoslav Richter wrapping their very differently-sized flippers around it.

Claude Debussy – La Cathédrale Engloutie (Nelson Freire)

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SVIATOSLAV RICHTER La Cathedrale engloutie CLAUDE DEBUSSY

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Feathered prop: R.I.P Bob Hoover

Photo: D. Ramey Logan - Wikimedia Commons

Photo: D. Ramey Logan – Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a teenager, I was privileged to see him fly his Shrike Aero Commander at a Northern California airshow. As an adult, I got to see him at an event in his honor at Torrance Airport. Robert Hoover, the pilot’s pilot and long-time South Bay resident, passed away today in Torrance at age 94. Rest in Peace, Sir.

Bob Hoover Shrike Aero Commander in Denver, 1986

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Bob Hoover & Salute to North American Aviation

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A star is born: But the details aren’t easy

A large, cold, dilute gas of hydrogen and space dust collapses slowly under its own gravity, compression, heating, and fusion take place aided and abetted by shock waves, and then a star glows for millions to trillions of years.

That’s how it is usually explained but the numbers are hard to grasp. The clouds can be dozens of light years across, the gas pressures are lower than the best vacuums on earth, the shock waves aren’t the kind we associate with sonic booms, and it can take tens of millions of years to get the party started.

Yet it happens and we are here because of it. The details are very tough sledding but equally interesting.

Introductory Astronomy: Star Formation and the Lifetimes of Stars

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"Star Formation and Feedback" – Eve Ostriker

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