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Feather-based Jacobean Space Chariot

Hemos posted more than 9 years ago

Space 173

simonmsh writes "The article Cromwell's moonshot: how one Jacobean scientist tried to kick off the space race describes 17th century plans to build a space chariot out of springs, feathers and gunpowder. The design was based on the idea that gravity disappeared at an altitude of 20 miles, which was called into question by Hooke ? and Boyle ? 's work. It sounds like the plot of a Neal Stephenson book." Said book, and its sequels are phenomenal.

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173 comments

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Still no Christopher Reeve story? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10492753)

Come on, he was Super F'n man!

Re:Still no Christopher Reeve story? (3, Funny)

Chuck Bucket (142633) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493002)

Yeah, but it's not like Stephen King died or anything...

CBA@#$

Re:Still no Christopher Reeve story? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10493094)

oh yeah? this [historytoday.com] says he is dead...

Re:Still no Christopher Reeve story? (0, Offtopic)

Chuck Bucket (142633) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493119)

Nice 1, I stand corrected!

CB*#@$(

20 Miles Up (4, Funny)

deliciousmonster (712224) | more than 9 years ago | (#10492767)

That's funny, I could have sworn gravity dissapeared within 3 inches of our receptionist's breasts...

Although I think getting within 20 miles of them is a longshot...

Re:20 Miles Up (5, Funny)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 9 years ago | (#10492835)

That's funny, I could have sworn gravity dissapeared within 3 inches of our receptionist's breasts...

In the pursuit of scientific inquiry, I think we need pictures...

Re:20 Miles Up (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10493238)

I volunteer to be the spy satellite!

Feather-Brained "President" George W. Bush: (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10492963)


"I get up every morning worrying about how to protect the
'merican people."

I wouldn't bet on it.

Thanks in advance,
Kilgore Trout

Redubyacans For Fascism [mnftiu.cc]

Re:Feather-Brained "President" George W. Bush: (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10493084)

We are not sure whether Kerry agrees with that on alternate days. Tomorrow he may deny it.

KerrySenate.com [kerrysenate.com] - What's Kerry been up to?

Favorite Quote (4, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#10492779)

"In space we wouldn't need to eat because the reason why we need to eat on Earth is that the pull of gravity pulls food through our bodies and constantly empties our stomachs," Professor Chapman explained.

Quotes like this remind you of a child trying to divine where all the food they eat goes. I remember thinking at 3 or 4 years old that there must be some sort of containers inside us to hold the food forever. Then I considered the volume of food we eat and just couldn't fathom what was happening to it. It didn't quite connect that the food might get processed then *ahem* ejected. :-)

Re:Favorite Quote (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10492858)

I don't mean to insult the poster, but I wonder what's so interesting about that post? Did the mods go "ooh, yes, infinite containers in our bodies, that's an interesting thought"...

I'm scared.

Re:Favorite Quote (1, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#10492881)

I don't know why the mods found it interesting. I was just musing for the sake of musing. What I want to know is why they found it offtopic. Overrated perhaps, but how can it be offtopic when it was in the article?

Go figure.

Re:Favorite Quote (1)

das_katz_socrates (641745) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493790)

Simple they found it offtopic because the mods are insane.
That or the moderators are nothing more than a bunch of monkeys locked in a room forced to read slashdot all day.

Re:Favorite Quote (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10492982)

I think you can read it in this case as "+5, Mocks Idiotic Theist by Comparing him to a Child". It's not the first time "Interesting" has been used this way.

Re:Favorite Quote (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10492949)

Also remember that back then you were called a professor not on your smarts but on how rich you or your family was.

Money bought fandom. and most of the real scientists were shunned, stoned or hanged for daring to go against the lunatics.... I mean "professors" of the day.

Hell President Lincoln was not killed by the bullet but by the QUACKs that were the doctors of that day.

A little knowlege is extremely dangerous, and history shows us a large number of "little knowlege" people that caused lots of pain and suffereing for hundreds of years afterwards.

Re:Favorite Quote (0, Troll)

Troed (102527) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493062)

A little knowlege is extremely dangerous, and history shows us a large number of "little knowlege" people that caused lots of pain and suffereing for hundreds of years afterwards.

Enter George W Bush. ... and most of the US.

Re:Favorite Quote (2, Funny)

slashdot_punk (813387) | more than 9 years ago | (#10492974)

You were a bit slow as a child... weren't you?

Re:Favorite Quote (1, Troll)

bombadillo (706765) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493056)

Quotes like this remind you of a child trying to divine where all the food they eat goes.

Or more sadly it may remind you of our current president. Which of the "internets" am I using to post right now?

Re:Favorite Quote (0)

shokk (187512) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493115)

Perhaps there are other 'internets' than the commercial and university research internets you might be familiar with. Does that actually seem far-fetched? Try for a moment to see little things like that as information slips rather than immediately going for the "he doesn't know the same things I know, so he must be dumb" knee-jerk reaction.

Re:Favorite Quote (1)

bombadillo (706765) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493284)

All of us civillians use the "Internet" for email and surfing. There are other large private networks for the Military or Corporations... However, they are not the Internet. If I called our LAN at work an Internet I would be using incorrect terminology and I would be confusing my co workers. He could have been confused with an intranet. However, Bush was addressing the Nation and refering to websites that are available to everyone on the Internet. His statement showed his ignorance of technology.

Re:Favorite Quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10493557)

If I network my house with my neighbors', we have an internet. Not Internet (with a capital I), which refers to a specific internet - but an internet nonetheless.

Re:Favorite Quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10493586)

Your Joking Right?

Re:Favorite Quote (1)

Zaiff Urgulbunger (591514) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493575)

When I was little, I though that "food" went down one tube and drink down another... the reason I thought this was because the dangley bit (note to self: find out proper name of dangley bit, so as not to look stupid in public forums!) at the back of my throat made it look like there were two tubes.... oh, and our bath room mirror was too high up for me to see the bottom of said dangley bit, so it really just looked to me like *two* separate tubes.

This ofcourse has nothing to do with space travel, however, to keep the thing on topic, I too am from England! So maybe theres a pattern emerging!! :-D

Re:Favorite Quote (3, Funny)

Feanturi (99866) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493681)

Then I considered the volume of food we eat and just couldn't fathom what was happening to it.

When I was little, some grownup mentioned me eating like I had a hollow leg. Well that's what I wound up seriously believing for a brief period. :) But like you, I couldn't see how it would keep from filling up. Weird how one can be going to the bathroom on one's own for a couple years and still not get it, heh.. This also reminds me of a more recent bit of idiocy I read only a few years ago. Somebody was saying the reason you get the munchies from smoking pot is because it warms up your liver, which heats your stomach causing it to expand, and thus feel less full.

Remember what Archimedes said: (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10492785)

Give me a big enough spring, and I can move Rubin Studdard into low earth orbit.

Re:Remember what Archimedes said: (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10492797)

Actually, it was "Give me a big enough spring, and I can move Earth into low Robin Studdard orbit."

Hrmm (5, Funny)

acehole (174372) | more than 9 years ago | (#10492792)

I wonder if macgyver could have done better...

Re:Hrmm (2, Funny)

Ledora (611009) | more than 9 years ago | (#10492816)

I guess you don't watch SG-1, macgyver is alot better at space travel.

Re:Hrmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10492842)

He had in his posession a Swiss army knife, and a chewing gum wrapper. So, in short: Yes.

Re:Hrmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10493083)

Of course he could have done better. He could have built a ship out of match sticks and tampons, and used garbage as a fuel.

Re:Hrmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10493117)

He could. He decided to forego the spring+feather+gunpowder route in favor of a big circle that flushed sideways and acted as a portal to a new planet every week.

Stupid people (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10492795)

People were so stupid back then.

Re:Stupid people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10492867)

Unlike you lot, we, the people living in the 25th century, are smart.

Re:Stupid people (3, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493215)

I, for one, welcome our timetravelling anonymous coward posting timelords.

Yet not the first (5, Interesting)

JUSTONEMORELATTE (584508) | more than 9 years ago | (#10492802)

According to legend [cnn.com] the Chinese sent a man up around 1500AD.
He didn't come back, but that's the way with pioneers


--
US$10, really [slashdot.org]

Re:Yet not the first (2, Funny)

Solder Fumes (797270) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493004)

Ah...I knew *something* bothered me about John Carmack's X-Prize vehicle.

Re:Yet not the first (1)

jd (1658) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493320)

You noticed the medieval chinese astronaut stuck to it too, then?

Re:Yet not the first (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10493132)

but that's the way with pioneers

Don't you mean "fireworks"?

Re:Yet not the first (2)

earthforce_1 (454968) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493266)

Just think, the chinese guy might well have earned history's first Darwin award, had they existed at the time.

I remember seeing a very early movie about a guy who jumped off the Eiffel tower, in order to test a prototype parachute. Unfortunately, the thing failed to open, and the unfortunate man plunged to his death.

Prof. Picard was nearly killed in his balloon contraption as well. Many considered him a nut when he went up, and figured he would never come back alive. They were very nearly right, as the controls intended to bring him back to earth jammed, and he sailed on and on at incredible altitudes. To make matters worse, his capsule developed a leak which he had to find and seal en-route in order to save his life.

Re:Yet not the first--Dyno-MYTE (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493842)

I am sure that if they sent him up on to top or back of enough propellant (dynamite), he probably incerated on the way to the heavens. Either that or he landed in pieces somewhere.

List of Chinese Inventions:

http://www.google.com/search?q=list%20of%20chine se %20inventions&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

More important news (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10492803)

TIme Travel Possible:-

It came in the shape of a 17th-century clergyman who drew up plans for a spaceship powered by wings, springs and gunpowder, a leading science historian will reveal this week

I mean wow, just wow.

Re:More important news (1)

jd (1658) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493361)

What you didn't know is that the anonymous "leading science historian" is, in fact, the 17th century clergyman in question. This is the reason said historian is: (a) anonymous, and (b) so knowledgable about the 17th century clergy.

Someone should try it (3, Funny)

contagious_d (807463) | more than 9 years ago | (#10492809)

"17th century plans to build a space chariot out of springs, feathers and gunpowder. The design was based on the idea that gravity disappeared at an altitude of 20 miles"

I wonder if the thing could have made it 20 miles up. If someone builds one, I will supply the bound and gagged - erm, I mean "Jacobean Spacesuited" test pilots.

Re:Someone should try it (1)

shokk (187512) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493135)

I'm sure some of the pieces of human and springs might have made it 20 miles up from the initial explosion. 17th century testing:

"OK Reginald, we've blown some stuff out of this tube to make sure it goes up really high. Now get in."

After all, I saw no mention of a parachute in case the 20 mile up belief might have been wrong.

Hmmmmmm, curious (3, Interesting)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 9 years ago | (#10492815)

This kind of stuff makes me wonder which current technology will be looked back upon with the same feeling we look back at this "technology"??

Re:Hmmmmmm, curious (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 9 years ago | (#10492869)

The difference, I think, is that our technology does what it's supposed to do. I mean, I look at an abacus or slide rule and I don't think, "Oh, hah hah, those silly pre-computer people, what cute toys they had!" I think, "Wow, that's a really elegant solution to a difficult problem ... but I'm glad I don't have to use that thing." Our cars and trains and ships and planes do move us around; our computers do crunch numbers; our space technology did (and hopefully someday will again) get us to the Moon. There's a difference between doing the best you can with what you've got, and flights of fancy.

Re:Hmmmmmm, curious (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10492891)

Well, apparently what we know a lot more about now was highly speculative back then. So I suppose our most extreme ideas today would include things like negative matter, wormholes and our concepts for interstellar travel. 300 years from now they will look back at our such theories and smile the same we do now.

Re:Hmmmmmm, curious (1)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 9 years ago | (#10492912)

Actually it makes me more curious about the future technology.

What will they have to replace our "obsolete" tech?

Re:Hmmmmmm, curious (1)

FictionPimp (712802) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493444)

"He doesn't know how to use the 3 sea shells"

Re:Hmmmmmm, curious (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493801)

Replacing all restaurants with Taco Bells was a far more impressive advancement.

Re:Hmmmmmm, curious (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 9 years ago | (#10492939)

I can't really say anything like that about things we've succeeded in. Stuff like the first man on the Moon or vehicle on Mars is more like honorable pioneering efforts to me. I wouldn't laugh at space chariots if they had made it to the atmosphere with one. :-)

But sure, maybe we'll laugh at the suggested space elevator to the Moon or something, if it turns out to be way too hard to make and cancelled.

Re:Hmmmmmm, curious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10493276)

Gunpowder : Computer :: 18th century Space Chariot : 21st century Robotic Lobster

Re:Hmmmmmm, curious (4, Insightful)

dustman (34626) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493372)

Our technology and science, though it may be primitive to someone in the future, will never be looked back on with the same feelings as this crap.

By actually using the concepts of the scientific method (experimentation etc), we come up with things that are true (as far as we can measure them) rather than stories we make up that sound good.

"Gravity is what requires us to eat, it pulls the food out of our bodies"... The fact that this explanation was considered shows that the concept of digestion wasn't understood. There is nothing wrong with that. The problem is that this theory is easily tested, by laying down or standing on your head for a day and seeing if you get hungry.

Newton's model of physics has been shown to be "wrong", but we don't fault him for that, he drew proper conclusions from the available data.

Re:Hmmmmmm, curious (2)

jd (1658) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493523)

Probably quite a lot. I've a fascinating book that dates to 1752, which describes thunder as the product of evaporating gunpowder. Storms are rather better understood today, but there is still a lot that is uncertain. Strange plasmas are sometimes seen above storm clouds, for example. There is still no universally-accepted theory on ball lightning. Observations on the internal workings of tornados are still extremely limited.


The problem with the Jacobean notions of space travel was the limited data on natural phenomina that existed at the time. By implication, any technology we have that is ALSO based on very limited data is also likely to be shown to be wide of the mark.


In defence of the Jacobean hypothesis, though, the idea of there being a point at which you can travel unhindered by gravity is not worlds away from modern descriptions of an escape velocity. Both conjecture that you merely have to reach certain finite, achievable, conditions, in order to escape the Earth's gravitational pull.


True, the method chosen was rather... impractical. However, not dramatically more so than the Ornithopter or other early attempts at flight. Even the early attempts by the Wright Brothers were wide of the mark - and, again, largely by inadequate science and insufficient data. The biggest difference is that the Wright Brothers put in the extra time to gather the data, correct the science, and determine what really would work.


The only reason we have flight today is that they did go the extra mile. The only reason we didn't have flight in the 1700s is that they chose not to. They would certainly have been technically capable, had they put in the time.

lol (1, Troll)

antivoid (751399) | more than 9 years ago | (#10492821)

Maybe if you had a REALLY REALLY big spring ...

The "Mars Direct" of its day (3, Interesting)

OnanTheBarbarian (245959) | more than 9 years ago | (#10492836)

Re Stephenson books: Phenomenally large? Phenomenally self-indulgent? Phenomenally didactic?

At any rate, it's an amusing story.

All that hand-waving is vaguely reminiscent of "Mars Direct" or whatever they're calling it these days. Once upon a time, we didn't have to eat in space because of the absence of gravity. Now, we just hand-wave away radiation damage to the crew and the logistics of setting up a nuclear reactor on Mars to produce fuel for the return journey.

Re:The "Mars Direct" of its day (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493164)

Actually, while the Mars Direct mission plan is highly ambitious, I wouldn't say they "hand-wave" away anything. They have extensive plans on how to deal with these issues, as you can see by browsing the Mars Society web site [marssociety.org] .

Radiation Effects on Mars Crew; Mars Reactor (1)

justanyone (308934) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493278)


Mars Direct....hand-wave away radiation damage to the crew...

Various people have a rather strange, almost religious fervor about how "evil" radiation is, and radioactive materials are. There is a lot of both justified and irrational fear about the use of radioactive materials and techniques on Earth.

However, yes, space is filled with radiation. So is the Earth, just at different strenghts. We've had from 60 to 100 years of experience dealing with effects of radation, and I believe most of the hard-science-informed (not necessarily the 'popular science' crowd) understands the various dangers, and lack thereof.

So, the quote above dealt with radiation effects on the crew of an approx. 2 year long mission to Mars ("Mars Direct") comprising 9 months journey, 6 months on the surface, and 9 months coming home.
  • the amounts, types, and densities of radiation over the entire Earth-Mars trajectory are what most scientists would call 'well characterized', meaning mostly known (the shapes and locations of their bell curves are known with reasonable levels of uncertainty);
  • Effects of radiation on humans, electronics, food, etc. are also well-characterized;
  • ISS (space station Alpha) personnel living in orbit have demonstrated these measurements to be roughly correct (no 'mysterious radiation' has shown up or had any other effects);
The other comment, about a nuclear reactor on Mars to generate power, will have some reaction among the anti-nuclear crowd here, methinks. This is worrisome. Unless we can come up with a means to generate solar power that is far less massive (lighter), we cannot deliver it to Mars. Thus, we need a reactor. This will NOT pollute Mars.

The design of the reactor is as follows:
Big-shielded-container-of-plutonium stays permanently sealed, no working fluids or moving parts. Plutonium generates lots of heat. Big copper bar attached to plutonium container conducts heat. Along the way, (I believe this is the method! Please correct?) a specially designed thermo-sensitive photocell 'receptor' (photovoltaic cell sensitive to infrared) generates electrical power. The other side of the receptor is connected to a big radiator (a "heat sink", alumnium or copper with lots of fins that radiates heat).

The method has no moving parts, is passively cooled, emits fairly low amounts of radiation but lots of heat, for free, with no by-products to pollute the atmosphere or soil. Just like on Earth (only slighty more so) cosmic rays, gamma rays, and other radiation rains down on the surface anyway.

Yes, ideally we'd have sets of large photocell tarps that could be spread out on the ground and used to generate power. We could use that technology here on Earth, too. There's certainly enough land there to spread it out on. The land surface area of mars is the same as Earth (but 66% of Earth's surface is ocean). So, there's lots of acreage available.

-- Kevin

Re:The "Mars Direct" of its day (3, Insightful)

roystgnr (4015) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493318)

All that hand-waving is vaguely reminiscent of "Mars Direct" or whatever they're calling it these days. Once upon a time, we didn't have to eat in space because of the absence of gravity. Now, we just hand-wave away radiation damage to the crew and the logistics of setting up a nuclear reactor on Mars to produce fuel for the return journey.

Radiation hazards are discussed on pages 10, 13, 81, 83, 95, and 114-120 of _The Case for Mars_. The fuel production processes are detailed starting on page 148, and end on page 156 with a mention of the power requirements (300 watts, which makes the "nuclear reactor" just another RTG) for a sample return mission. The mass requirements of a fission generator are on page 205. This is just the discussion in the popular non-fiction book; don't be too surprised if the actual studies (the first study by JPL claimed the human mission would be doable for $50 billion; more recent studies by NASA claim $33e9 + $7e9 per mission, and the ESA thinks they could do it for under $22e9 + $6e9 per mission.)

If you have some specific concerns with the proposals, it would be more credible of you to bring them up rather than pretend that these problems haven't been considered at all. Do you really think that a NASA engineer might read your post and exclaim "There's radiation in space! Why didn't I think about that!?"

Completing the truncated sentence (1)

roystgnr (4015) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493342)

This is just the discussion in the popular non-fiction book; don't be too surprised if the actual studies thought about them as well.

Yeah, yeah, I can see the preview button just fine...

Re:The "Mars Direct" of its day (1)

mattdm (1931) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493428)

Re Stephenson books: Phenomenally large? Phenomenally self-indulgent? Phenomenally didactic?

I'll give you the first two, but I don't see them as particularly preachy. (Unless you mean the more literal but less interesting meaning of "designed to convey information as well as entertain". I assume you _don't_, because that's not a very interesting accusation....)

plan to return (1)

virtualone (768392) | more than 9 years ago | (#10492843)

i wonder if they made any preperations for his return. or was that supposed to be a one-way ticket? (like the proposed manned mars missions)

it didn't work (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10492844)

"Of course his approach did not work because he based it on the premise that the Earth's pull only went up 20 miles and if you crossed that 20 miles, you could float after that," no, i think the main reason it didn't work was because it was a clockwork flapping machine..

html formatting (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10492863)

nice work with the super-script!

Re:html formatting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10492932)

I wonder if the Jacobean scientist got as high as the question marks?

Ancient Flying Machines in India (5, Interesting)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 9 years ago | (#10492874)

Ancient Indian Aircraft Technology

According to ancient Indian texts, the people had flying machines which were called "Vimanas." The ancient Indian epic describes a Vimana as a double-deck, circular aircraft with portholes and a dome, much as we would imagine a flying saucer.

It flew with the "speed of the wind" and gave forth a "melodious sound." There were at least four different types of Vimanas; some saucer shaped, others like long cylinders ("cigar shaped airships"). The ancient Indian texts on Vimanas are so numerous, it would take volumes to relate what they had to say. The ancient Indians, who manufactured these ships themselves, wrote entire flight manuals on the control of the various types of Vimanas, many of which are still in existence, and some have even been translated into English.

The Samara Sutradhara is a scientific treatise dealing with every possible angle of air travel in a Vimana. There are 230 stanzas dealing with the construction, take-off, cruising for thousand of miles, normal and forced landings, and even possible collisions with birds. In 1875, the Vaimanika Sastra, a fourth century B.C. text written by Bharadvajy the Wise, using even older texts as his source, was rediscovered in a temple in India. It dealt with the operation of Vimanas and included information on the steering, precautions for long flights, protection of the airships from storms and lightening and how to switch the drive to "solar energy" from a free energy source which sounds like "anti-gravity."

The Vaimanika Sastra (or Vymaanika-Shaastra) has eight chapters with diagrams, describing three types of aircraft, including apparatuses that could neither catch on fire nor break. It also mentions 31 essential parts of these vehicles and 16 materials from which they are constructed, which absorb light and heat; for which reason they were considered suitable for the construction of Vimanas. This document has been translated into English and is available by writing the publisher: VYMAANIDASHAASTRA AERONAUTICS by Maharishi Bharadwaaja, translated into English and edited, printed and published by Mr. G. R. Josyer, Mysore, India, 1979 (sorry, no street address). Mr. Josyer is the director of the International Academy of Sanskrit Investigation located in Mysore.

Sources: Ancient flying machines [world-mysteries.com] (Contains diagrams/details).
Wikipedia reference to the term-Vimanas [wikipedia.org]

Re:Ancient Flying Machines in India (5, Informative)

RandomWordGenerator (813207) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493028)

Hmm, this sounds great - but as with all these things I would welcome a Vedic scholars perspective. With my massive researching skills I found this quote which sheds a little light.

"...There is one book entitled Vaimanika-sastra that was dictated in trance during this century (20th - I assume. RWG)and purports to be a transcription of an ancient work preserved in the Akashic record." "The medium in this case was Pandit Subbaraya Sastry, a 'walking lexicon gifted with occult perception', who began to dictate the Vaimanika-sastra to Mr. Venkatachala Sarma on August 1, 1918. The complete work was taken down in 23 exercise books up to August 23, 1923. In 1923, Subbaraya Sastry also had a draftsman prepare some drawings of the vimanas according to his instructions." quote ref [mystae.com]

This sounds a little suspicious to me. A little like John Edward 'dictating' a new chapter of the Old Testament called "Moses had Laser Pistols"

Re:Ancient Flying Machines in India (0, Troll)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493170)

It flew with the "speed of the wind" and gave forth a "melodious sound."

It would have to fly quickly, playing all the "melodious sounds" without a license wouldv got ye olde RIAA (Red Indian Acoustic Americans) on their asses.

Outsourcing.. (1)

slashmojo (818930) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493646)

Quite clearly this is evidence of outsourcing in the early days of the aerospace industry.. I suppose we'll never learn.. ;)

Re:Ancient Flying Machines in India (0)

Rinikusu (28164) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493666)

Fucking Christ. History's first trekkies!

Re:Ancient Flying Machines in India (2, Funny)

Feanturi (99866) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493786)

A slip in the translation is always possible. Maybe these 'manuals' are just player handbooks for a really early RPG. :)

just 2 more miles and they'd have made it ! (3, Funny)

RandomWordGenerator (813207) | more than 9 years ago | (#10492885)

Although gravity doesn't disapear after 20 miles, you can acheive geostationary orbit at 22 miles [nus.edu.sg] - so they weren't too far off.

No, wait - I think I'm missing the obvious ... they were 22 miles off

Re:just 2 more miles and they'd have made it ! (2, Informative)

91degrees (207121) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493025)

ehm... wouldn't that be 22000 miles.

a grave and gathering threat (3, Funny)

EugeneK (50783) | more than 9 years ago | (#10492887)

It's obvious 17th century England is trying to use its stocks of springs, feathers and gunpowder to develop WMDs. I say we invade now. We don't want to wait until the smoking feathers becomes a mushroom cloud.

Re:a grave and gathering threat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10493011)

Invading 17th century England, eh? You should've said something earlier, I would've brought the time machine. I wonder when I left it...

Re:a grave and gathering threat (1)

Chrispy1000000 the 2 (624021) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493654)

It's back there, about 24 fathoms ubdeger in my forth spatial dimension.

Always a damn plug for NS (3, Insightful)

lidocaineus (661282) | more than 9 years ago | (#10492924)

I love how we turn an interesting bit of history into a plug for Mr. Stephenson's ego.

Re:Always a damn plug for NS (2, Insightful)

thelexx (237096) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493205)

Not sure what it is with the Stephenson worshipping that goes on here. I suspect he rides a wave of young people just discovering a genre. I recently was given a copy of Snowcrash and have to say I didn't think it was that great. It read like a comic..err, graphic novel, but without the graphics.

Re:Always a damn plug for NS (1)

rco3 (198978) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493393)

Perhaps it's a matter of differing tastes? I, as an example, have been reading sci-fi for close to 30 years - I can hardly be referred to as "just discovering" the genre - yet I enjoyed "Snow Crash" very much. I also enjoyed Cryptonomicon most thoroughly. My stepfather, OTOH, has been known to not only start but completely finish MORE THAN ONE John Brunner novel, which I've never been able to do even once.

I don't see why being fun to read is such a crime with some people.

..and Quicksliver was a horrid bore (1)

Anonymous Meoward (665631) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493378)

Agreed, one and all. Yes, the historical and scientific detail that NS employs is astounding. But for either literary merit or entertainment value, you'd be better off reading the Encyclopaedia Britannica from start to finish.

Pity. Cryptonomicon was a lot of fun. WTF happened???

Interesting man (5, Interesting)

frankthechicken (607647) | more than 9 years ago | (#10492926)

Dr. John Wilkins, the Jacobean scientist in question, was quite an interesting chap really.

For example, with his book, A Discourse concerning a New Planet, he tried to popularise the view of the universe according to Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo. He attempted to explain in the book that the Moon is not purely a shiny, cut out disc but rather it is a world with a landscape like that of the Earth.

Fairly radical stuff for the time, though admittedly he did publish the book annonymously.

For more info, try this [bbc.co.uk] or this [st-and.ac.uk]

Re:Interesting man (3, Interesting)

mattdm (1931) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493108)

And he reminds the /. editor of a Neal Stephenson story because Wilkins actually features quite prominently in Cryptonomicon (Stephenson makes Wilkins the author of the fictional tome from which the book takes its title) and in Quicksilver (and therefore in the rest of the Baroque Cycle books). Daniel Waterhouse, one of the chief heros/protagonists, is a protege of Wilkins's.

You can find a lot more about the real (in addition to Stephenson's historical fiction version) Wilkins at Stephenson's metaweb [metaweb.com] .

What a co-incedence! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10492931)

India's spaceshot will be accomplished using the same technique!

Hooke and Boyle? (3, Interesting)

Royster (16042) | more than 9 years ago | (#10492965)

Newton was the first to suggest that the same force which keeps us on the Earth was responsible for the orbits of the plants around the sun. The planets are demonstrably further than 20 miles from the surface of the Earth.

Re:Hooke and Boyle? (1)

mattdm (1931) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493507)

Yeah, but before that, it was suggested that space was largely vacuum -- ruining the plan before gravity is even considered.

Sweet (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10492993)

That is awesome, I cannot believe it.

Stephenson... (5, Insightful)

kzinti (9651) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493021)

It sounds like the plot of a Neal Stephenson book.

Hmm... Also reminds me of the plot of a Jules Verne book - one that predates Stephenson by a number of years.

Too Bad they did not consider Space Travel Sooner (4, Funny)

lcsjk (143581) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493032)

A few hundred years earlier, it would have been much easier. One only had to board a ship and sail to the edge of the earth. Since it was flat, they would have been able to sail to the edge and merely jump off into space. Unfortunately, space travelers at the time had no way to return, so it was very difficult to sell tickets to rich kings.

Re:Too Bad they did not consider Space Travel Soon (2, Informative)

youngerpants (255314) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493160)

Actually, in the middle ages they never actually believed the earth to be flat; this is backed up by religious and maritime texts of the age.

The myth was actually started in 18th Century England to prove the cultural and scientific superiority of the time.

Sail On! Sail On! (3, Interesting)

jenkin sear (28765) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493106)

Stephenson is great and all, but Phillip Jose Farmer had a great short story on a similar topic about twenty years back.

Sail On, Sail On! posited that Francis Bacon turned his experiments toward electromagnetism, inventing the radio- except, that instead of electrons, they refered to them as Cherubim. So the AM radios of the day were tuned to various CW's - Cherubim wavelengths, which where the slope the cherubim's wings described as they flew through the ether.

The story takes place on columbus' ships as he travels to discover America- it's terrific. Strongly recommend digging this one up out of your local library.

Exhibit A (0, Troll)

Somegeek (624100) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493125)

This story should be Exhibit A in the argument that we need to be able to moderate entire articles. This one should be -1 Offtopic.

<sarcasm>
Wow, once upon a time people had hairbrained ideas for inventions or crazy concepts about how the world works. How newsworthy!</sarcasm>

Tell me, was this article: 1) 'news for nerds', 2) 'stuff that matters', or 3) offtopic?

Re:Exhibit A (1, Funny)

Imidazole (775082) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493275)

I think the correct answer is:

4) You're an ass.

Re:Exhibit A (0, Offtopic)

gclef (96311) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493309)

4) cute/funky & old tech.

Sounds like someone needs a hug, or at least some outside time.

Nobel Prize Winner (3, Informative)

bayers (155001) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493332)

I wonder if this 'space chariot' is the basis of Balthazar and Blimunda [amazon.com] . The author won a Nobel Prize for the book. In the book, the device works. It's a good read.

The author is so cruel (2, Funny)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493355)

Unfortunately, Wilkins never had the chance to test his theories, and what Professor Chapman terms the Jacobean Space Programme was grounded. - I don't think the author of this likes this Wilkins guy too much.

Gunpowder Boosters? (2, Interesting)

curtvdh (738461) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493416)

I wonder if the inventor had any idea how much black powder would have been required to lift even a moderately sized object into orbit? By my calculations, the energy released by the boosters would have atomized said flying machine, plus its unlucky passenger...

Odd commentary....... (1)

/dev/trash (182850) | more than 9 years ago | (#10493455)

The only theng the editor could find to say about this was that it's like a book by some author????? Huh?

"Phenomenal"? You're on crack. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10493551)

Said book, and its sequels are phenomenal. ...if by "phenomenal" you mean "SUCK like nothing on this planet has ever sucked before."

Of the four independent and unrelated plot lines, only one is even the slightest bit interesting-- and it's not the same as the one plotline that makes even a tiny bit of sense.

Wake me when Stephenson remembers how to write.

Was he smart or not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10493589)

Was Dr. Wilkins an intelligent man? He might well have been. Perhaps he just didn't have access to enough information to develop an approach that could have succeeded. What would he be doing in today's world? Building a perpetual motion machine? Would he be working for NASA?

feathers, springs and gunpowder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10493696)

..sounds a lot like the contraptions I build..to which my girlfriend always has this comment "NO! I'M NOT 'TRYING THAT OUT' YOU PERVERT!"
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