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The Substance of a Dream

The Substance of a Dream Aircraft Engineering THE MONTHLY SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL ORGAN OF THE AERONAUTICAL ENGINEERING PROFESSION VOL XXIII No 270 AUGUST 1951 pects of expeditions to various planets which are unlikely (to say the least) to materialize in the immediately foreseeable future. NCE more we are indebted to the INSTITUTION OF MECHANI­ CAL ENGINEERS for giving us permission to reproduce a con­ Opening the Window O tribution to its Transactions. In the last few years the INSTITU­ The cold logical approach to the matter adopted by M R THOMPSON TION has benefited engineers by making available a number of quite is, therefore, to us at any rate, most welcome. He examines the prob- outstanding papers on aeronautical and allied subjects and has always lsm from first principles and brings it, in more senses than one, down been most courteous and obliging in giving us facilities for publishing to earth from the starry heights to which it has tended to travel on in AIRCRAFT ENGINEERING such of them as we have wished to re­ the wings of enthusiasm. His early paragraph on 'Fundamentals', for produce. example, very clearly sets out the essential elements of the 'escape velocity' or 'velocity of liberation' which has been the subject of a good deal of misunderstanding. He points out with simple truth that A Considered Policy certain conditions of velocity at the 'operative' radius from the planet centre in relation to its force field must be satisfied before the As regular readers will be aware, we have always felt it to be one vehicle achieves complete permanent escape from it—otherwise it of our most useful functions to bring to the notice of members of the will fall back. On the other hand, once this point is attained the aeronautical engineering profession papers read before learned vehicle will continue outwards 'automatically', so to speak, which in­ societies, or published in various foreign periodicals, which they might volves abstruse calculations of fuel requirements. Put in this way it not otherwise see, or, if unfamiliar with the language concerned, sounds like a self-evident truism but none the less the point has understand except in translation form. It will perhaps be remembered frequently been so clouded that sight of its simplicity has to a large that during the 1939-1945 war period we made special efforts to keep extent been lost. Another point that he well brings out is the very our eyes open for important articles published abroad—particularly large size which a 'space vehicle' will have to be—he speaks of 'hun­ in Germany—and have them translated so that readers could benefit dreds of tons'—to satisfy the conditions in regard to weight of fuel from the information contained in them. Of course, quite a con­ etc. to be carried. siderable proportion of our home readers are themselves members of 'the Mechanicals' but there are many, particularly students and younger subscribers who are not. and would therefore be likely to Summing It Up miss these papers. In any case, those overseas are, we know, glad to The whole gist of the matter is admirably summed up in his 'Con­ have them brought to their notice. The reproduction of them here is, clusions', in which , after a consideration of the various figures he therefore, hardly more than a technical breach of our regular rule to has adduced earlier, he decides that flights to the planets are im­ publish in these columns only articles which are, in journalistic possible with any of the chemical fuels now available and virtually jargon, known as 'exclusive'. so even with the most powerful of future hypothetical chemical rocket-fuels of which we have any knowledge. It all comes down in fact to the possibilities of atomic energy. This is nowadays looked Looking Backwards upon as the universal panacea for all energy ills— somewhat akin to the 'lodestone' of the ancients—but on serious consideration the The particular subject of M R THOMPSON'S paper is one that has had prospect of enclosing adequate power of an atomic nature within the a romantic popular appeal ever since, to those who know their aero­ limitations of a practicable vehicle seems at present to be hoplessly nautical literature, the appearance of seventeenth century imagina­ remote. As our author concludes, 'It is reasonably safe to assert that tive publications. The Man in the Moone: Or a Discourse of a Voyage suitable methods of using nuclear energy must be developed, or man thither by Francis Godwin, Bishop of Hereford, and The Discovery must remain in effect permanently earth-bound' and, as we have of a New World, or, a Discourse tending to prove that ('tis probable) already suggested, the possibilities in that direction no man is at there may be another Habitable World in the Moon. With a Discourse present in a position to state without venturing into the realms of concerning the possibility of a Passage thither, by (strangely enough) prophecy. another bishop, John Wilkins, a famous Bishop of Chester. Both of these well-known, but now unfortunately scarcely obtainable, On the other hand, though he points out that they do not greatly curiosities of aeronautical history are, incidentally, treasured items affect the basic problem, he does throw out the suggestion that 'space in the editorial collection of such books, while, for those who feel stations', or artificial satellites, offer a promising field for investiga­ moved, by having their attention called to them now, to delve into tion. The idea of having a 'half-way house' on which to pause before them, they are available in the library of the ROYAL AERONAUTICAL jumping off again is, of course, undoubtedly attractive; though to the SOCIETY and, we believe, the archives of the INSTITUTION OF THE lay mind—among which in this respect we regretfully confess our own AERONAUTICAL SCIENCES. to be numbered—it does not present itself .as a wholly practicable proposition; We do not know how the necessary caches of fuel are The above digression is not wholly irrelevant because there is no to be placed in them; nor indeed how they are to be located by the doubt that recent developments in rocket motors have led certain voyagers, particularly as their gravitational pull would, it would enthusiasts for the ar t of 'space travel' to allow their imagination to seem, be quite puny. run considerably riot and hold out to the less-informed public pros­ http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology Emerald Publishing

The Substance of a Dream

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology , Volume 23 (8): 1 – Aug 1, 1951

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
0002-2667
DOI
10.1108/eb032064
Publisher site
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Abstract

Aircraft Engineering THE MONTHLY SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL ORGAN OF THE AERONAUTICAL ENGINEERING PROFESSION VOL XXIII No 270 AUGUST 1951 pects of expeditions to various planets which are unlikely (to say the least) to materialize in the immediately foreseeable future. NCE more we are indebted to the INSTITUTION OF MECHANI­ CAL ENGINEERS for giving us permission to reproduce a con­ Opening the Window O tribution to its Transactions. In the last few years the INSTITU­ The cold logical approach to the matter adopted by M R THOMPSON TION has benefited engineers by making available a number of quite is, therefore, to us at any rate, most welcome. He examines the prob- outstanding papers on aeronautical and allied subjects and has always lsm from first principles and brings it, in more senses than one, down been most courteous and obliging in giving us facilities for publishing to earth from the starry heights to which it has tended to travel on in AIRCRAFT ENGINEERING such of them as we have wished to re­ the wings of enthusiasm. His early paragraph on 'Fundamentals', for produce. example, very clearly sets out the essential elements of the 'escape velocity' or 'velocity of liberation' which has been the subject of a good deal of misunderstanding. He points out with simple truth that A Considered Policy certain conditions of velocity at the 'operative' radius from the planet centre in relation to its force field must be satisfied before the As regular readers will be aware, we have always felt it to be one vehicle achieves complete permanent escape from it—otherwise it of our most useful functions to bring to the notice of members of the will fall back. On the other hand, once this point is attained the aeronautical engineering profession papers read before learned vehicle will continue outwards 'automatically', so to speak, which in­ societies, or published in various foreign periodicals, which they might volves abstruse calculations of fuel requirements. Put in this way it not otherwise see, or, if unfamiliar with the language concerned, sounds like a self-evident truism but none the less the point has understand except in translation form. It will perhaps be remembered frequently been so clouded that sight of its simplicity has to a large that during the 1939-1945 war period we made special efforts to keep extent been lost. Another point that he well brings out is the very our eyes open for important articles published abroad—particularly large size which a 'space vehicle' will have to be—he speaks of 'hun­ in Germany—and have them translated so that readers could benefit dreds of tons'—to satisfy the conditions in regard to weight of fuel from the information contained in them. Of course, quite a con­ etc. to be carried. siderable proportion of our home readers are themselves members of 'the Mechanicals' but there are many, particularly students and younger subscribers who are not. and would therefore be likely to Summing It Up miss these papers. In any case, those overseas are, we know, glad to The whole gist of the matter is admirably summed up in his 'Con­ have them brought to their notice. The reproduction of them here is, clusions', in which , after a consideration of the various figures he therefore, hardly more than a technical breach of our regular rule to has adduced earlier, he decides that flights to the planets are im­ publish in these columns only articles which are, in journalistic possible with any of the chemical fuels now available and virtually jargon, known as 'exclusive'. so even with the most powerful of future hypothetical chemical rocket-fuels of which we have any knowledge. It all comes down in fact to the possibilities of atomic energy. This is nowadays looked Looking Backwards upon as the universal panacea for all energy ills— somewhat akin to the 'lodestone' of the ancients—but on serious consideration the The particular subject of M R THOMPSON'S paper is one that has had prospect of enclosing adequate power of an atomic nature within the a romantic popular appeal ever since, to those who know their aero­ limitations of a practicable vehicle seems at present to be hoplessly nautical literature, the appearance of seventeenth century imagina­ remote. As our author concludes, 'It is reasonably safe to assert that tive publications. The Man in the Moone: Or a Discourse of a Voyage suitable methods of using nuclear energy must be developed, or man thither by Francis Godwin, Bishop of Hereford, and The Discovery must remain in effect permanently earth-bound' and, as we have of a New World, or, a Discourse tending to prove that ('tis probable) already suggested, the possibilities in that direction no man is at there may be another Habitable World in the Moon. With a Discourse present in a position to state without venturing into the realms of concerning the possibility of a Passage thither, by (strangely enough) prophecy. another bishop, John Wilkins, a famous Bishop of Chester. Both of these well-known, but now unfortunately scarcely obtainable, On the other hand, though he points out that they do not greatly curiosities of aeronautical history are, incidentally, treasured items affect the basic problem, he does throw out the suggestion that 'space in the editorial collection of such books, while, for those who feel stations', or artificial satellites, offer a promising field for investiga­ moved, by having their attention called to them now, to delve into tion. The idea of having a 'half-way house' on which to pause before them, they are available in the library of the ROYAL AERONAUTICAL jumping off again is, of course, undoubtedly attractive; though to the SOCIETY and, we believe, the archives of the INSTITUTION OF THE lay mind—among which in this respect we regretfully confess our own AERONAUTICAL SCIENCES. to be numbered—it does not present itself .as a wholly practicable proposition; We do not know how the necessary caches of fuel are The above digression is not wholly irrelevant because there is no to be placed in them; nor indeed how they are to be located by the doubt that recent developments in rocket motors have led certain voyagers, particularly as their gravitational pull would, it would enthusiasts for the ar t of 'space travel' to allow their imagination to seem, be quite puny. run considerably riot and hold out to the less-informed public pros­

Journal

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace TechnologyEmerald Publishing

Published: Aug 1, 1951

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