Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Men Only January 1958 Vol. 67. No. 265: Front Cover & Ads.

Men Only Jan 1958 Vol. 67 No.265
Chilton Accu Lux Torch
Dry Sack Sherry
The Amazing Potentialities of Memory Ad

Ad text:

I little thought when I arrived at my friend Borg's house that I was about to see something truly extraordinary, and to increase my mental powers tenfold.

He had asked me to come to Stockholm to lecture to the Swedes about Lister and other British scientists.  On the evening of my arrival, after the champagne, our conversation turned naturally to the problems of public speaking and to the great labour imposed on us lecturers by the need to be word perfect in our lectures.

Borg then told me that his power of memory would probably amaze me - and I had known him, while we were studying law together in Paris, to have the most deplorable memory!
So he went to the end of the dining-room and asked me to write down a hundred three-figure numbers, calling each one out in a clear voice.  When I had filled the edge of an old newspaper with figures, Borg repeated them to me in the order in which I had written them down and then in reverse order, that is beginning with the last number.  he also allowed me to ask him the relative position of different numbers: for example, which was the 24th, the 72nd, and the 38th, and I noticed that he replied to all my questions at once and without effort, as if the figures which I had written on the paper had been also written in his brain.

I was dumbfounded by such a feat and sought in vain for the trick which enabled him to achieve it.  My friend then said: "The thing you have just seen and which seems so remarkable is, in fact, quite simple; everybody has a good enough to do the same, but few indeed can use this wonderful faculty."

He then revealed to me how I could achieve a similar feat of memory, and I at once mastered the secret - without mistakes and without effort - as you too will master it tomorrow.

But I did not stop at these amusing experiments.  I applied the principles I had learned in my daily work.  I could now remember, with unbelievable facility, the lectures I heard and those which I gave myself, the names of people I met - even if it was only once - as well as their addresses, and a thousand other details which were most useful to me.  Finally, I discovered after a while that not only had my memory improved, but I had also acquired greater powers of concentration; a surer judgment - which is by no means surprising since the keenness of our intellect is primarily dependent on the number and variety of the things we remember.

If you would like to share this experience and to possess those mental powers which are still our best chance of success in life, ask H. L. Borg to send you his interesting booklet The Eternal Laws of Success - he will send it free to anyone who wants to improve his memory.  Here is the address: H.L.Borg ℅ Aubanel Publishers, 14 Lower Baggot St., Dublin, Ireland.

Write now - while copies of this booklet are still available.

Haig Whisky

For No Particular Reason: "The Helicopter Spies" (Sudden) performed by Swell Maps

I feel much better now, I really do.

Monday, 30 July 2012

More 'On Horses'.

In todays post 'On Horses' over at Hooting Yard Mr. Key contemplates various aspects of,
well, horses.
Mr. Key confesses to not really knowing very much about horses this of course doesn't prevent him from being entertaining on the subject.

Although I'm not given to examining my early youth in any great detail, Mr. Key's post nudged a couple of the delicate vases I keep my memory in.

I remembered 'Crackers' the enormous racehorse owned by the Dunbars on whose country estate my family lived.
I remembered 'Rosie' a fat, mild-mannered pony I not so much rode as sat on while she ambled about in  the paddock.
Then there was this magnificent beast which I had the illusion of being in control of, in that I was holding one of the sets of reins, when I was page-boy to the May Queen in a tiny village in the Yorkshire dales long, long ago:
Time was I could recall the names of everyone in this picture but memory's like a train, you can see it getting smaller as it goes away and I'm damned if I can remember more than about 3 names now (including my own).
The significant person in this picture is the woman who actually is in control of the horse, her name was Dolly Rodwell.
Over at Hooting Yard she'd be called a Woohoohoodiwoo Woman.  She was the unofficial mid-wife, layer-out of the dead (she 'did' my Granny) and newspaper delivery person.

It was the last time a horse was used to pull the May Queen's wagon.
I never knew the name of the horse.

(Thanks to Heather and Dayne for letting me have their copy of the picture.)

Sunday, 29 July 2012

My Track of the Week: "I'm Okay!" performed by Andrew.

Thanks to AK1994er

Finger-poppin GBS

Flights into the Future: Illustration Set.

Astronautical ManReady for the great adventureThey watched from the control towerCrowds WaitedThe Huge Metal Space-ShipWith in the Space-Ship
The Motor FailedHis head bowedThey watched the HelecopterThe Space-ShipLast Days on EarthAtomic Space-Ship
I blazed off both barrels of my gunShot a tentacle toward the planeLike a soap bubbleNameless CreaturesTwo more meteor-stones whizzed past meSuddenly grey vapour swirled round me
Perkins knew there was something strange onThat was the last seen of BaxterThe machine jerked upwardsMyrtle's HeadJungle of the AirMars. A world of Machines
Flights into the Future., a set on Flickr.
I'm sure there's a comic book story in here trying to get out...

Saturday, 28 July 2012

More 'SpacePunk' (pardon?)

Mr. Glyn Webster directs my attention to the following astounding film evidence of a Soviet conquest of the Moon:
As this film was made in 1965 it's unsurprising that the space-suits worn by the cosmonauts have integrated checked mini-skirts.

Flights into the Future 08: Last Days on Earth.

Last Days on Earth
This final "flight into the future" tells of the great hour in that unknown year yet to come when a space-ship embodying all the elements deemed by scientists and rocket-experts necessary for success leaves the Earth on a voyage to the Moon.  It is fiction - but one day it well be fact
The moment Latimer came into the rest-room, Demarel knew that something was wrong.
"What is it, George?" he asked.
Latimer stood for a moment, looking down at the dark, calm little man in the armchair.  Then he grinned wryly, and his large frame relaxed.
"All right, Jacques," he said, "you're the perfect cure for panic, aren't you?  But it's bad enough.  The Americans have got it, that's all.  Heaven knows how, but they've got it."
"What exactly have they got?"
"The news about Max.  And they're plugging it for all they're worth." 
Demarel laughed.  "And that is all, old fellow?  For a moment, I thought they might have something worth having - Specifications S, perhaps.  But still, as you say, it's bad enough.  You have just heard this on their radio, I suppose?"
"Yes.  They're putting it out all the time on the continuous news-waves.  Here…"
"No - please.  Don't switch on.  Let's get it from the monitors.  I am old-fashioned, George.  I still need the written word if I am to - how do you say? - grasp it properly."
Demarel pressed a switch on the little internal radio cabinet.  "Monitors?  Demarel here.  Teleprint copy of the American continuous news, please."
The flimsy sheets began to come out from the delivery slot in the built-in teleprinter almost as soon as he had finished speaking.
The Space-Ship
Demarel read aloud.  His tone had a sardonic twang.  "New alibi for non-departure of United Europe's white elephant Space-Ship One is fore-shadowed by news, exclusive to All-American Teleradio, of injury to veteran crew-member, Max Armenfeldt.  After his helicopter crash yesterday, Armenfeldt, pioneer German member of the European interplanetary team, spent about two hours with specialist Petronov, fixed date for a further vetting today.  Departure of Space-Ship One, twice postponed for technical re-checks, seems set for another put-off.  'Stalling at the European end stopped being news last February,' commented American atomic chief Wilber J. Sykes, interviewed by A.A.T.; 'and it's more likely to be cracked combustion chambers than cracked ribs,' he said.  But while Europe waits for Petronov's report last details are going right ahead at the departure base of America's Seattle Moonraker.  Iron-jawed crew boss, Martin Jarman - "
Demarel stopped reading.  His white teeth showed above the little beard.  "Are we really interested in the opinions of Mr. Jarman?" he asked.
Latimer snorted.  "No. Confounded quack -"
"Well, yes, George, he is.  But Wilber J. Sykes is not, you know.  As an individual, he may be a bit unpleasant, but he is a brilliant scientist.   Still, is this your bad news, George?  The Americans know about Max."  Demarel shrugged.  "Well, it will not help them to solve their ejection-temperature problem - "
"But how did they know?  We'd kept it even from station personnel here, never mind news-men.  We'd even kept it from - "
Demarel gave him a quick look.  "Yes, even from the Boy.  I know, George, and it's disturbing - but not a tragedy.  Our good friend Bailey must check his security measures, that's all.  As to the confident statement of our American colleagues, that there will be more - what was the barbaric term? - more stalling, they will be disappointed.  We take off on the 9th, with or without Max."
"With the Boy?"  Latimer's voice was flat.
"Of course.  That was agreed long ago.  Don't be sentimental, George."
"He's so very young."
"And therefore better able to stand acceleration effects than either you or me.  Do you know what you are really saying, George?  One of two things.  Either that youth means incompetence, and that's an insult to the Boy, or that it is sad for a man to die young, and that is defeatism."
"I have every confidence in the Boy."
"Good.  And in our calculations?"
Latimer did not answer.   Demarel glanced keenly at the long lined face with its composed mouth and steady eyes.  He leaned forward.
"George!"  Latimer turned to look at him.  "George!  You do not believe that we shall come back, do you?" 
"No.  But you do."
"Naturally.  I believe in my slide-rule.  I have evidence.  But what have you?"
Latimer was smiling.  "Dear old Jacques.  You're a scientist.  I'm only an adventurer with a veneer of science.  In any case, what I told you was not quite true.  I do not believe absolutely that we shan't come back.  I do believe that certain variables - we've discussed them before;  instrumental deviation is one of them - leave a bigger margin of error than you estimate.  But it makes no difference.  Twenty years ago - it sounds like a long time - I knew that when I took off to bomb Hamburg there was one chance in three that I should not come back.  If I had let it worry me, there would have been more than one chance in three."  Latimer laughed.  "Eight hundred miles to Hamburg, 240,000 for this trip of ours.  But no flak at the other end."
Demarel jerked his lithe body from the long armchair.  "Come for a walk, George," he said; "you need it."
The two men strolled out through the sliding door in the sun-glass wall of the rest-room.  The summer evening was ending in a welter of cloud-streaked yellow in the western sky.  
They walked away from the low dwelling-block towards the old aerodrome.  Latimer could remember when it was still in use, in the early '50s, before the helicopter had ousted the fixed-wing aircraft for everything but long-range traffic.  But it was also before Stoneley had become Experimental Station39.  Even then, they had started the earlier rocket experiments.  The first launching sites stood, derelict, by the television building.
Experimental Station 39 had grown from north to south.  Past the old aerodrome the rocket sites.  Past them again, the bases from which the artificial satellites had taken off.  Latimer remembered the triumph of that moment when the first signals had come back from their automatic transmitters to tell Earth that she had new planets, things of her own creation, circling as steadily as the old; to tell the men of Experimental Station 39, too, that they had established new outposts in space.
Past the satellite sites, across the quarter of a mile of open space, was the vast dark bulk which had become, for the last five years, the heart of Experimental Station 39 - the launching shaft  where Space-Ship One was cradled, more than half sheathed, her sharp snout pointing to the heavens. 
Space-Ship One - the product of a generation of effort by the best scientific minds of Europe.  A generation of effort - and how many man-hours of labour?  Latimer could grasp that less easily than the huge distances in which he had dealt for so long.  And now - he looked at the luminous dial of his watch - now, in just over two days, three men would have all that in their hands.  And he would be one of them.
Three men - ahead of them, space; behind them a vast mass of calculation, much of it verified experimentally, much of it confirmed brilliantly by the placing of the satellites.  Some of it . . . but there had always been that.
He frowned thoughtfully.  For five years, ever since their selection by the European Federation, Latimer had lived and worked with Demarel and Armenfeldt.  For three year the Boy had been with them.  Until twenty-four ago, Latimer had not once had a doubt.  But now . . .
Dremarel's hand was on his arm.
"We shall very soon know about Max, my friend.  It is nearly conference-time, and our good M'sieur Bailey does not like to be kept waiting.  We must go back."
Silently, the two men retraced their steps to the floodlit space round the main buildings.  When they were not more than a hundred yards away, something swished overhead like a giant moth making of the light.
They watched while the helicopter settled gently in the parking place, its rotors two glinting discs.
"That's probably the Boy coming back," said Latimer.  "He always cuts things fine - even Bailey's conferences."
They watched the Helecopter
They entered Bailey's big airy office without knocking.  This was the routine of years.  The others were already waiting for them.
Nobody in the twentieth century - nobody in all history - had been so well known to so many of the world's people as this little group of men who sat round the low plastic table.  The most elaborate news-distributing machine ever created had recorded their words audibly and in print, had broadcast them and televised them.
Not that Experimental Station 39 had attracted so much attention in its earlier days.  Then, apart from articles in the scientific journals, its chief claim to fame had been that amount of money spent on it.  But when the first robot rocket had actually sent back its visual signal from the moon, the news-services had woken up to it with a vengeance.
Another giant wave of publicity followed when the first artificial satellite settled in its orbit.  Since that time there has been an increasing flood of information - much of it inaccurate - upon the progress of Space-Ship One, the biggest and most dramatic story since news became a commodity. 
Now, every schoolboy could have told something of these seven men, and especially of the three who had been chosen to man Space-Ship One - Demarel, brilliant French physicist; Latimer, Englishman, bomber pilot in the last of the world wars; Armenfeldt, German rocket expert.  Less picturesque figures were the two men at the head of the table - slight, silver-haired James Bailey, director of research, and his assistant, the Swiss scientist, Mathie.
Bailey's opening remarks were formal, but there was drama in the air.
"Our first business, gentlemen, is to hear the report of Dr. Petronov."
Petronov was one of Russia's greatest surgeons.  He looked round the table with little friendly eyes, set above high cheek-bones.  Each face that he saw was watching him except one.  Max Armenfeldt sat with his head bowed, showng clearly the slight flecks of grey in his close-cropped hair.
His head bowed
"As you all know," said Petronov, "what I found after the helicopter accident yesterday led me to make a further examination of our friend Armenfeldt."  Bailey, too, was now looking at his blotting pad.  Petronov's quiet precise voice continued.  "This second examination left no doubt.  Besides the obvious bruising and some muscular strain, he is suffering from the effects of slight concussion.  It is nothing serious by any ordinary standards; but" - Petronov paused - " in my judgment, he is not fit to be a member of the Space-Ship crew."
In the silence which followed, Armenfeldt looked up for the first time, and Latimer found himself unable to meet the misery in the German's eyes.  Suddenly he realised Armenfeldt's age.
Bailey leaned back.
"Are there any questions on Dr. Petronov's report?" he asked.  "Very well.  This is something that we knew from the beginning might happen.  We know each other too well, all of us, for me to have to tell Mr. Armenfeldt of our sympathy."  He spoke into the internal radio.  "Mr. Weston, please."
The tension in the room relaxed when Peter Weston came in.  There was a cheerful vitality which would not be denied about this fresh, broad-shouldered young man with blue eyes and a shock of untidy hair.  It was Latimer who had first christened him "The Boy", Demarel who had first realised his ability.
"Hello, everybody," he said.  He fitted his long legs under the table, and looked dutifully at Bailey.  He was quite incapable of being awed, even by "the conference."
"Mr. Weston," said Bailey, quietly, "we have not called you for consultation today."  Something in his voice made the Boy's face suddenly serious.  "Mr. Armenfeldt has been found physically unfit for crew duty.  You, as the reserve member, will take his place.  It is unfortunate, I know, that this should have happened so shortly before zero hour, but you have trained with the team, and we have every confidence in you.  Mr. Latimer will replace Mr. Armenfeldt in No.2 position.  You will take over No.3."  Bailey coughed, dryly.  "I congratulate you."
The Boy laughed.  "That's grand - "  He stopped suddenly.  "Max, old man, I'm sorry.  I'm a ham-fisted fool."
Armenfeldt's lined face became warm for a moment.  "You are a very good boy," he said.
The Boy turned again to Bailey.  "Thanks," he said.  "I'll be all right."
"Good," said Bailey.  "So it is agreed.  Shall we proceed, gentlemen?  Tomorrow's timetable . . . "
It was little more than half an hour later when the conference broke up.  There were only details to consider.  The routine of those days before the take-off had been planned, not weeks, but months before.
As Latimer pushed his chair back, he found Demarel's light touch on his arm.  "Half an hour with Max," said Demarel, quietly.  Latimer nodded.
Armenfeldt was on his way to the door when they caught up with him.
"You're not going to bed yet, Max?" asked Demarel.  "Even Petronov wouldn't expect it.  Whom are we visiting tonight, George?"
"Matter of fact, it's Max's turn for host,"  said Latimer.
The little flats in the dwelling block were as alike as so many peas, but this game of social calls had been going on for years.
"I had forgotten.  My apologies," said Armenfeldt.  "Of course, we go - chez moi, Jacques; that it, we dump ourselves in my 'ole, George."
The old joke, thought Latimer, as the lift took them up; but the strain in Armenfeldt's face was pathetic.
Armenfeldt's room was a small museum.  The walls were plastered with photographs - most unframed, some framed - of aircraft, land vehicles, boats, rockets in flight and on launching ramps.  Scattered about, too, were a few instruments and the oddest objects - some recognisable as complete projectiles, some apparently empty shell-cases, some mere scraps of metal of plastic.  They littered the tops of bookcases, and one or two hung from the walls.
In this strange place, the three men had spent many hours talking, smoking as much as the martinet Petronov would allow, relaxed and happy.  Often the Boy had joined them.  But tonight Latimer could not relax.  This was a mockery of those old days.
Demarel alone was himself - keen, witty, tactful, ironical.  Armenfeldt tried desperately to meet hi, but the effort was obvious.  Of course, Max was heartbroken.  The take-off to the Moon, for him, was the culmination of those decades of work whose relics were scattered about the room.  Now he could not go.  After all, he was not to be one of the three who, for a few tense hours in the control room of Space-Ship One, would make history - or pass out of it.
Latimer was glad when the time came to go.  Early hours were a habit long established.
They paused outside the door of Demarel's apartment.  Demarel looked at Latimer, shook his head.
"It is not to be taken too seriously, my friend," he said.
"It's tragic," said Latimer.
"It is also absurd. Max is ready to face a quarter of a million miles of space - and he falls fifty feet in a helicopter.  Am I being flippant, George?"
Latimer grinned.  "Yes - bless you for it.  By the way, what happened to Max's machine?"
"I don't know, exactly.  Neither does he.  He'd just taken off when the motor failed.  Apparently there was a partial seizure of the rotor-head as well.  You've seen the machine since, perhaps?  No?  At any rate, it came down fast enough to fracture the undercarriage and buckle the fuselage.  Max was flub against the port side of the cabin and it was simply the worst possible luck that his head struck one of the struts.  I don't think that Petronov would have grounded him for the damage to his shoulder alone."  Demarel shrugged.  "These things happen."
"In spite of calculations, Jacques?"
"Of course.  Don't make debating points, George.  You are a scientist, not a politician.  In any case, the possibility of accident itself can be calculated.  The old insurance companies did it every day."
"On the basis of experience, Jacques.  There's no precedent for our trip.  We're going to the Moon, you know."
Demarel glanced quickly into Latimer's face, then laughed.  "You're fencing, George.  You are - how do you say it? - pulling my leg.  It is too late for that game.  We need sleep: tomorrow is our last complete day before take-off.  Good night!" 
Latimer strolled slowly to his rooms.  That had been decent of Jacques - very decent.  He must have known that it was not all leg-pulling.
The Motor Failed


So this was his last day on earth, thought Latimer, as he felt the thin warmth of the morning sun through the wall of his solarium bedroom.  He chuckled to himself.  Better not put it like that to Demarel, or he would be told to add "for five days."
Then, as he swung his long legs out of bed the remembered the events of the previous day.
"Put it all behind you!"  said Latimer to himself.
Latimer could do that.  His practice had started twenty years before.  When you took off for Germany you didn't think about the flak at the other end . . . .
He breakfasted with Demarel and the Boy.  Armenfeldt was not there.  The Boy was a volcano of high spirits.
"Lovely moon last night, George." he erupted through a mouthful of toast.  "I looked at it and thought, 'You've had enough sonatas, my girl.  Hold your had on; we're coming'!"
Latimer felt better.  The Boy had that effect.
They were nearly ready to leave the dining-room when Demarel took the latest news-sheets from the teleprinter.
"Hallo!" he said.  "Flash - only a few minutes old.  The Americans are ready at last.  They take off at 19:00 hours on Monday.  Wilbur J. Sykes said it, so it must be true."
The Boy laughed.  "All right, Jacques.  They'll be forty-eight hours late, and that's all there is to it.  At least forty-eight hours, because if old Bill Sykes' outlet vents will stand the same gas temperatures as Bailey's I'm a Dutchman."
"That's the kind of statement to give to the Press," said Latimer.  "But Bailey wouldn't let you.  Come on, blokes - time for work."
For the last seven months, ever since Space-Ship One had been completed in all its essential detail, "work" at Experimental Station 39 had meant roughly the same routine.  Morning - crew drill in the control-room of the ship itself, or in the robot mock-up where flight conditions were artificially reproduced on the instruments and, as far as possible, on the crew.  Afternoon - theoretical conferences (Bailey had banned the word "classes") and supervision of the detail work which remained to be done on Space-Ship One. 
Today there was to be a final check of the flight drill in the control-room.  They entered through a tunnel in the sloping side of the launching shaft's concrete base, leading directly to the entrance hatch in the smooth flank of the great rocket.
Inside, they paused in the tiny metal chamber of the airlock while Demarel threw the switch which closed the electrically operated outer door.  Through the inner door was the control-room - a circular compartment twenty feet in diameter.
The three men knew every inch of this clean, instrument-packed box, with its three reclining chairs and control-panels.  Bailey and Armenfeldt were waiting for them there.  Under their watchful eyes, they put on the metallised suits which, with a magnetic field, would replace gravity for them once they were in space.  Demarel took his place by the master control-panel, Latimer in the navigator's chair, the Boy at the position flanked by the recording instruments.
Easily, they passed through the take-off drill, the inter-gravity routine, testing the oxygen supply, the movements between essential positions,  Latimer's access to the navigator's observation chamber in the nose portion above.
Then came the drill of landing - first, reversal of the ship by the auxiliary jets in the flanks, then the controlled descent, the lowering of the retractable landing legs, the use of the auxiliary jets for lateral movement before touch-down, and, finally, exchange of the metallic suits for oxygen suits and exit through the air-lock.
With in the Space-Ship
This was the last time, thought Latimer.  But was this the only reason for his uneasiness?  No! Each time he caught the eye of Armenfeldt he knew that it was not.  He found himself becoming impatient.  He wanted this day to end.
The feeling grew in the afternoon.  According to Petronov, he should have been resting; instead he visited Demarel and talked.  It was aimless talk, and he knew it.  His first reaction when Armenfeldt appeared was merely relief from boredom.  He was pleased, too, that Max should seek them out - he had been too much alone since the accident.  But one look at Armenfeldt's face brought his mind fully awake. 
Demarel had sensed it, too, "Sit down, Max," he said.  "What is it?"
Armenfeldt spoke deliberately, quietly.
"I have had a report on the accident to my helicopter," he said.  "I was not interested - you understand why - but young Endriksen insisted that it was important.  He is a good boy.  This is what he showed me."
On the palm of Armenfeldt's hand, with its long draughtsman's fingers, lay the two parts of a bolt, discoloured and slightly twisted.
"You recognise it, perhaps?  One of the volute bolts from the atomic motor.  It has sheared.  Inter-crystalline failure at high temperature."  Sombrely, Armenfeldt looked at the two men opposite.  The room was very quiet.  "That bolt had an estimated safety factor of two.  And the material is 'S'."
Latimer shifted in his chair.  "You're sure . . . ?" he began, and broke off as he realised the futility of the question.
"Of course," said Armenfeldt, as though he had completed it.
"Have you told Bailey?" asked Demarel.
Demarel nodded.  Close as Bailey had been to them, there was an inner camaraderie among the crew.
"And the Boy?" said Latimer.
Armenfeldt hesitated. "No."
"The Boy has as much right to know as we have, Max," said Demarel.
Latimer nodded, reached towards the internal radio.
"Wait, George!"  Armenfeldt's voice was imperative.  "First, there is a matter for us to settle.  Take your hand away from the radio . . . So."  For a second or two, Armenfeldt toyed with the broken bolt.  He looked up suddenly.
"You still intend to take off tomorrow?" he asked.
"Yes," said Demarel.
"Then you will take me with you, not the Boy.  No, Jacques - I am not being sentimental.  It is a simple calculation.  The Boy still had a lifetime to give to science, but I - "
Demarel shook his head.  "It won't do, Max.  You are talking nonsense - nice, humane nonsense.  You want me to prove it?  Right.  You are saying that there is a greater risk of failure because you have found a fault in a component of 'S' alloy.  If we really believed that, what could we do?  We could ground Space-Ship One while we instructed the metallurgical laboratories to re-examine 'S'.  And then?  They could not apply a single test to 'S' which they have not applied already - and you know it, my friend.  'S' has been proved under every condition of temperature and pressure and cosmic-ray exposure that we can reproduce."
Demarel looked straight into Armenfeldt's face.
"If you had been going with us, would you have shown us that bolt?"
Armenfeldt's light blue eyes were unhappy, his lips tight.
"Would you, Max?"
"Good."  Demarel pressed the radio-switch.  "Hello!  Peter?  Jacques here.  Are you coming to see us?  Yes?  We shall be honoured."
Within two minutes the Boy was stretching himself luxuriously in Demarel's best chair.
"What's in the wind?"  he asked.  He looked at Demarel and laughed.  "Come off it, Jacques.  I know you three have been cooking something.  You look about as innocent as Guy Fawkes with a match in his hand.  And Max is giving a very fair imitation of an undertaker's mute.  Come clean - as Wilbur J. Sykes would put it." 
Unconsciously, Latimer's eyes strayed to the table.  In a flash, the Boy's had followed them.  Lazily, he stretched out a long arm and grabbed the fragments of bolt.
"Hello-o-o!"  he said, and whistled between his teeth.  "So this is what jiggered up your rotor-head, Max?"
"Good guess," said Latimer.
"It wasn't a guess," said Demarel.
"Quite right, Jacques," said the Boy.  "You don't miss many points, do you?  No - Endriksen was telling me all about it, a couple of hours ago."
"All about it?"  asked Armenfeldt.
"Yes.  Saw the X-ray prints, too.  Classic spot of inter-crystalline what-not."
There was a flat silence.  The Boy looked up sharply.  "Why?  What about it?"
Demarel shrugged.  "Simply, Peter, that if Endriksen has told you all about it, we need not."
The Boy sat bold upright.  "So that was it," he said.  "Holy smoke!  You're not going to let this - ?"
"No, we're not,"  said Latimer.  "We only thought that you should know."
"And we would like your opinion," added Demarel.
The Boy laughed.  "Bless your dear old hearts," he said.  "You're both so consistent.  George - strictly honourable.  Jacques - strictly polite.  And Max - ?"
For the first time, Armenfeldt smiled.  "Max - strictly scientific," he said.
"All right.  I'll give you my opinion on Max's basis.  Some hundreds of specimens of 'S' have been proof-tested to destruction.  One bolt made of 'S' has sheared.  You don't alter the shape of a graph because one point is off the curve.  Right?"
There was a long silence.
"Right," said Armenfeldt, at last, and the one word seemed enough for all.
"No more shop," said Latimer.  He looked at the clock.  "I'm going to get some sleep."
"Me, too," said the Boy.
Demarel rose to show his guests out.
Armenfeldt had reached the door of his own room when somebody called, "Hey Max!"
He turned.  The Boy was at his elbow.
"Here - take this.  You're only to do anything with it if - we don't come back."
Reflectively, Armenfeldt looked at the envelope in his hand.
"You will permit a question?"  he said.
"Of course."
"When did you write this?"
"An hour ago - after I'd spoken to Endriksen."
"That was - not so scientific, Peter."
"You showed them the bolt.  That was not so scientific, either. 'Night, Max."
Armenfeldt walked across his dark room to the glazed outer wall, and looked out.
There were two focal points of light in the darkness outside.  Above, low in the sky, hung the great June moon, a mild yellow, craters etched clearly on its surface, incredibly near.  Below his eye-level and apparently more distant, because he was conscious of the black open space between, the launching-site of Space-Ship One showed in the centre of a patch of blue-white light.  There, he knew, the technicians were making their last unhurried in sections under the eyes of the powerful sodium arcs.
Tomorrow, that moon would still be there - a little larger.  Space-Ship One would not. 
Armenfeldt glanced at his watch.  Tomorrow, in three hours' time, Space-Ship One would have bridged the quarter-million miles between those two points.  He pictured it, as he had pictured it a thousand times - that moment when the big chronometers would tell the men in the control-cabin that they were about to enter the moon's field of gravity;  when the accelerometers would confirm it.  And then - how well he could see it - that huge metal projectile veering in space as the auxiliary jets reversed it (it would be Demarel, not he, who would watch the course-indicator) . . . 120 degrees  . . . 160 . . . 170  . . . 180 . . . and then the automatic control would hold her at that;  main motors still on, controlling the rate of descent . . . undercarriage lowering . . . Space-Ship One creeping down, a gigantic shell with sprawling tripod leg, and below, growing every second in the viewing-screen of the control-cabin, the arid, shadowed landscape of the Moon.
"Nightmare landscape"  was the stock phrase of the journalists.  But that was not Armenfeldt's nightmare,  not the nightmare which had haunted him, paradoxically, ever since he had known that he would not have to face it.  Again, his mind raced through the possibilities of failure.  Some he found it easy to discount.  Collision with a meteorite, or some unpredicted effect of cosmic-ray exposure; power-failure, a possibility less remote, its effects only too clear.  Of course, it might be partial.  They had an emergency drill for returning to earth; but that, too, depending on having at least enough thrust to arrest the ship's descent.  Otherwise, power failure might mean . . .  Armenfeldt's thoughts would not stop now . . . might mean almost anything.  Suspension in the earth's gravitational field, another artificial satellite, a tomb circling in space.  Or an uncontrolled fall at either end of the journey, with Space-Ship One and its crew a few tons of crushed matter.  Or of course, inability to take off for the return and a death from oxygen starvation on the lifeless surface of the Moon.
Sharply, Armenfeldt checked himself.  He was being illogical as well as morbid.  With the atomic-energised motors, they had a far bigger power-reserve than they had ever believed possible in the days when he and Bailey had worked on the plans of the original Space-Ship One - a multi-step ship, powered by liquid fuel, which had never gone beyond the drawing-board.
He was behaving like a fool - and he needed sleep. 
But sleep did not come easily.  More than once, Armenfelt woke from a half-remembered dream - the Boy's face had been part of it, pale and wet with sweat (of course, the oxygen was going), and a voice which said "Estimated . . . estimated proof stress  . . . " and the two halves of a broken bolt, and somebody laughing.

"The place looks like Hampstead Heath on a bank holiday," said the Boy.
From the control-tower, some quarter of a mile from the launching-site, they could see the black fringe of crowds at the boundary of the old aerodrome.  Inside the station itself, too, was a sight which had not been seen for five years.  The news-services, banned from Experimental Station 39 since Space-Ship One had begun to take shape, were having a field-day.  Spread in a wide semi-circle were brightly coloured television vans, with their telescopic super-structures extended.  Overhead hovered three or four helicopters.
Bailey glanced at the clock, spoke into the radio.  "Airfield control?  Tell those news-service machines that their time's up and that they must go back to the park.  You've checked that all ground personnel are clear of the launching area?  Good!  Yes, now . . ."
He turned to the others.  "We should go now," he said.
Two cars were waiting to take them to the launching-site.  Demarel, as he took his seat, was chuckling quietly.  "I'm sorry, George," he told Latimer. "I suppose that I should to be amused - but you noticed poor Bailey?  He might be escorting us to the scaffold.  The sentiment of you Englishmen . . . "
Latimer grunted.  Demarel had interrupted the onset of a familiar mood - a mood which sprang from old memories of evenings on muddy airfields, with the cars taking bomber crews out to dispersal point.  And the Boy's face was of a piece with that picture.  There had been so many boys like that . . . 
But even Demarel was silent as they filed through the corridor in the base of the shaft and into the entrance hatch of Space-Ship One.  There were on last-minute instructions to give.  Every action, every movement, had been rehearsed so often.
"There's on thing," said Bailey.  "I've kept it to the last.  There was a news-flash an hour ago:  'America's Seattle Moonraker's departure indefinitely postponed.  Solution to ejection-temperature problem not satisfactory'."  A ghost of a smile lit up Bailey's face.  "You've got a clear field," he said.
"Poor Wilber J.," said the Boy, and chuckled.
They put on the metalled suits, Bailey and Armenfeldt watching.  Demarel threw the master-switch, ran methodically through the ground-checking of the instruments.  So far, this was the routine of yesterday.  Now came the break.  Demarel turned from the master control-panel, nodded.  "That's it," he said.
Ready for the great adventure
Bailey came forward, hand out-stretched.  "A good journey," he said.
Armenfeldt followed him.  He smiled as he shook their hands.
"Heaven knows what that's costing you," thought Latimer.
But only the Boy spoke to him.  "You'll come with us on the next trip, Max,"  he said, and Armenfeldt nodded.
Demarel followed them out through the air-lock.  Latimer heard the click of a switch and the brief hum of the motor as the outer door closed smoothly.  Demarel returned, shut the inner hatch, and glanced at the chronometers.
"Nine minutes to go," he said.  "That gives Bailey and Max plenty of time to get back to the control-tower.  Are we - all set, I think you would say, George?"
"I'm O.K. And you, Peter?"
"Fine, thanks."  The Boy chuckled.  "Did you notice the nearest of those television vans which we passed - the one with a yellow star on it?  That was All-America Teleradio's outfit.  This'll knock Wilbur J. Sykes for six."
"Right," said Demarel.  "Let's get down."
The three men stretched themselves in the long, padded reclining chairs.  Latimer, from sheer habit, adjusted slightly the inclination of his back.
The chronometers stood at four minutes to the hour.
Latimer turned his head so that he could see the red sequence switch on the panel by the arm of Demarel's chair.  Once that switch was thrown, the automatic sequence-gear would take care of everything, with an accuracy greater than that of any human.  Synchronised with the chronometers, it would start the jets at the moment pre-selected for take-off, then control the rate of discharge so that acceleration would follow exactly the estimated figures.  And when that robot's task had finished, Space-Ship One would be outside Earth's atmosphere, outside its gravitational field - travelling in space at more than 200,000 miles an hour.
Demarel's forefinger pressed the switch.
Two minutes to go.
Latimer leaned back, tried to wait, relaxed, for the dead grip of acceleration to push his body down into the chair.  He felt utterly helpless.  This was worse than baling-out - then, at least, you could pull on the shroud lines.  But now there was nothing he could do . . . nothing . . . nothing.
The chronometers showed thirty seconds.  Then, from the tail of his eye, Latimer saw a fist appear over the arm of the chair to his right - a fist with the thumb up.  Good for the Boy!  Latimer signalled back.
Ten seconds.
Then a sigh.
That was all.  Then the space-ship was gone.
Armenfeldt turned away.  There were tears in his eyes.  A dead weight seemed to be pulling at his heart.  The dead weight was in his pocket - two halves of a broken bolt.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Flights into the Future 07: Peeps into the Speed Age.

Peeps Into The Speed Age.

In this "flight into the future" HARRY HARPER foresees men and mails being flashed across the Atlantic in rockets, everyday people going round the world by air for their annual holiday, and regular rocket passenger services operating through outer space.

It is a new world that is dawning for us all - a wonderful world!
During the war science, chemistry, and engineering made such strides that more was done in those six war years than in fifty or even a hundred years of slower progress.
Now all that war taught our scientists, chemists, and engineers can be switched over to useful purposes - to purposes which will make the world a better, happier, and far more interesting place for all of us to live in.
Our new world will be a world of speed.
We shall all be moving faster than we have ever moved before.  Journeys which used to take weeks will be made in days, and those of days will shrink to hours.
Suppose I give you an example of what this speed age will be really like compared, say, with anything we know.
Let's say that today I have an urgent business letter I want to send from one part of London to another.  I ring for a messenger-boy.  He hurries off with this letter for me, and most likely it will have gone from door to door, and will have been duly delivered, in somewhere about half-an-hour.
Now let's turn from present to future, and to the not-so-very-distant future, either.  This time, let's suppose, I have an urgent letter I want to go not just to another part of London, or to any town or city in this country, but right across the Atlantic Ocean from London to New York.
What do I do this time?
I send this letter by the super-express ocean rocket mail which, by this time, we shall have in regular operation.  Placed in a mail compartment in a great streamlined projectile, that letter of mine will go rushing up clear of the Earth's atmosphere and into the outer space above, and there it will have flashed high above the Atlantic at such a colossal speed that in not much more then half-an-hour it will have completed its 3,000-miles journey between London and New York.
There you have the idea I want to give you.  Today it may take an express letter, say, half-an-hour to travel from one part of London to another, while in our coming era of the rocket-mail we shall be able, in about the same time, to flash an urgent letter right across the wide Atlantic from London to New York. 
Let me give you another example.
Today, if we make up our minds to slip down from London to Brighton for a little sea air and a battle, it takes us an hour by electric train.  But in these coming days, when giant rocket-driven air-machines will be carrying passengers as well as mails on upper-zone rushes above the oceans of the world, we shall be able to dash across on an urgent visit to New York in that same space of an hour that it now takes us to get down from London to Brighton.
Fifty miles in an hour by train today!  Three thousand miles in a hour by rocket air-liner in those coming wonder-days of super-express high-flying travel!
To me there is nothing more fascinating than to run over in my mind all that great pageant of progress by which man has been quickening and improving his methods of travelling from place to place.  Far away back in the dim past, when he wanted to go anywhere, he had just to use his own feet and walk.  Then came the day of the horse, and of the first crude vehicles with wheels.  These were improved until we had our coaches with their horses, carrying people from city to city.  After the coach came the train, and after the train the motor-car and the 'plane.
Always it has been a tale of speed and still greater speed - from the 12-miles-an-hour jog-trot of the horsed vehicle to the 60 or 70 miles an hour of the express train, and from that to the hundreds of miles an hour of our fast-flying 'planes; and those hundreds of miles an hour will increase to thousands in our coming days of rocket-travel high above the Earth's atmosphere.
As with the land, so with the sea.
Away back in the past men took tree-trunks and hollowed them out to form first rough canoes.  Crude paddles gave place to oars.  Then came the era of the sailing vessel, to be followed by that of our steam-driven ships.  And now today we have great flying-boat which are really ships with wings.  The ship has, in fact, left the sea and gone up into the air.  And again the story is of speed, speed, still more speed.
Nobody will welcome the dawning speed age more than our captains of industry - those chairman and managing directors who are at the helm of our great business enterprises.
Not so many years ago, when the head of some big firm in England found he had to travel 10,000 miles to Australia for important business talks, the only thing he could do was to make a journey by sea, which took him a month, and if he stayed a month our in Australia, and then needed another month to get back to England, this meant that he would have to be as long as three months away from his office in London - a very inconvenient thing for anyone with a lot of important and probably urgent affairs on hand which needed his personal attention.
As soon as the first air services began to fly through to Australia, this helped quite a lot, the time of an air journey on this route across the world coming down from weeks to days.  But it will go on getting quicker and quicker until we get to the thousands of miles an hour of our great space-flying passengers rockets.
Don't think it will be only people like Government officials or business chiefs who will benefit by our tremendous speeding-up of all forms of transport.  
Ordinary folk will find themselves in a new world, too.  This great speed age will make all the difference to you and me, and all of us, more especially when we are planning our annual holidays.
Instead of just going down to some seaside place in this country, or perhaps taking a trip over to the Continent, we shall find the entire world beginning to open up for us as a holiday resort.  In the few weeks of an ordinary vacation we shall be able, if that appeals to us, to take a trip by air to explore, say, the wonders of the Rocky Mountains, or we may book a flying passage which will waft us down all the beauties of the South Pacific islands.
As for a complete round-the-world tour by air, this will become just as simple as is the case, today, with a motor-coach tour of this country.
It will not only be the sheer speed of our great air age which will be making things so different for us.  The use of big commercial aircraft, able to lift and carry loads weighing tons, will enable prospectors and explorers to go out into remote parts of the globe where all sorts of wealth still awaits those who can overcome barriers of Nature that have, so far, prevented such wealth from being reached - barriers in the shape of great mountain ranges and thick forests and jungles.
Away out in Peru there are mines containing all kinds of rich minerals high among mountains difficult and dangerous to scale from ground-level, mountains which have made impossible, so far, the working of those mines in any sort of useful way.  But given powerful multi-motored cargo 'planes - big lorries of the air - and regular flights could be made from a coastal station up to a landing-ground among the mountains, carrying machinery and stores on the upward flights, and bringing back ore from the mines on the trips back to the coast.
We have had a good example, already, of what can be done in this way.  It comes from New Guinea,  where there are rich gold-mines hidden away among great mountain ranges in the interior of the country.  By started a flying service to and from these mountain-mines, it was possible to make by air, in only half-an-hour, a journey which by tedious and difficult surface routes up the sides of the mountains might take something like a fortnight.
All sorts of things were flown up from the coast to those New Guinea mines - not only pieces of machinery but portable buildings which were arranged in sections small enough to fit into the cargo compartments of the aircraft.  Even a piano and a billiard table went up by air for the amusement of the miners in their huts.
Atomic Space-Ship
Great new air machines are in design for world exploration.  Some will be what one might call "land-sea-air" craft.  In one and the same machine will be combined car, boat, and 'plane.  They will have a wheeled chassis, making them capable of moving at high speed across the surface of a desert.  They will have boat hulls, enabling them to be navigated across lakes or rivers.  When required those using them will be able to extend telescopic metal wings from the sides of these machines and go soaring into the air.
With machines like these, and others designed for special jobs, it will be possible to explore every corner of this globe.
It was an aircraft-designer friend of mine who, while we were discussing such wonders of the future, suggested going one better and building one of these machines with a hull enabling it to act as a submarine when the explorers using it wanted to do under-water investigations.  If one could do this, one would have in actual fact that "four element" machine which has been dealt with more than once by fiction-writers - that is to say, a magic craft which would fly through the air, run along the ground, move across the water, and finally, dive beneath the surface of the water.
What designers are actually working on, and what has been tested already, is a form of machine which, when it can be turned into a regular production job and built in large numbers, may become known as "everybody's flying car."  It's body, as worked out at present, is much like that of a car, and it has pneumatic-tyred running wheels like those of a car.  Above the roof of the body, fitting into a special recess of casing when not in use, is a two-bladed rotor, or vane, such as is used in any revolving-wing helicopter type of aircraft.  At the back of the car-body, also sliding into a recess or compartment when not required, is a rudder of the type used in aeroplanes.
You can put this machine in an ordinary motor-car garage, and when you take it out its engine will drive it along the roads just as is the case with a car.  But when you feel tired of motoring, and want to do a bit of flying, the movement of suitable levers will cause the revolving wing above the top of your care to rise into position, and the air rudder at the back to move our of its casing.  And then by special gearing you can turn the power of the engine from the road-wheels into the overhead rotor, and rise from the ground and fly through the air.
When you want to turn your machine back again from flying machine into a motor-car, it will be a simple matter to guide it to the ground, and to slide back rotor and rudder into their casings.  That's the idea, anyhow, and more than one of these flying motor-cars has already been tested on the roads and up in the air.
To me, having watched the first tiny man-carrying 'planes make their way slowly across the sky, it is fascinating to picture in my mind what great passenger air-liners will look like as they go on evolving stage by stage.
Already I have seen the little 'planes of our pioneers grow into great multi-motored craft developing thousands of horse-power.  Yet all we have seen is just the beginning of that great super-express era which will make any of the speeds attained so far seem just like dawdling along through the air.
Wonder-craft, truly, will be these coming air-giant I see already in my mind's eye.  Huge, gleaming machines, they will stand out on the aerodrome ready to waft their passengers to any part of our globe.  They will be a combination of both aeroplane and rocket.
The power plants of such sky-giants, the engine-rooms within their hull, will have two purposes to serve.  In the first place they will have to drive the great machines at high speeds up through the atmosphere surrounding this earth, and, in the second, they will have to send them rushing at even higher speeds through those outer-space zones lying just above the Earth's air-belt.
One part of the power-plant will be a jet-propulsion unit, drawing in air in front of the machine, and, after heating and expanding it in combustion chambers, thrusting it out rearwards in a mighty stream which will send the air-liner climbing at ever-increasing speed.  This jet unit will go on working until the machine, in its upward rush, has come into thin air just at the limit of the Earth's atmosphere.  Then, when the air-intake system of the jet-plant begins to lose its power, the engineers in the control-room will switch over to a rocket propulsion unit, the intake of fuel in its combustion chamber not requiring any mixture of air at all.
It will be this rocket plant which will go on driving the machine higher and higher till it is out beyond the Earth's atmosphere and rushing through the airless void of space.
As it leaves the Earth's atmosphere, and becomes a space-machine rather than an air machine, those controlling it will be able to draw in gradually, or telescope into recesses or casings in the sides of their machine, the outstretched metal wing surfaces which have been bearing it in its upward climb through the air-belt, but which will be no longer needed to support it when it is flashing like a huge projectile at enormous height above oceans and continents.
Through outer space the rocket air-liner will pursue its meteor-like course, those in its luxury saloons being provided with a supply of air just as breathable at at earth level, and with heating and ventilating devices ensuring them every personal comfort.
When after an hour or so they have flashed half across the globe, and the time comes to descend, their great machine will be guided down again into the earth's air-belt, and as it glides lower and lower the telescopic wings will be extended again, not only to support it but also to act as air-brakes, gradually slowing it up till it is able to make its contact with the ground as would any ordinary flying machine.
So far, in picturing such great rocket-planes, I have been looking into days lying not so very far ahead - into an era of progress which lies, so to say, just round the corner.  These are the sort of machines we can see on the way now.
But what about the coming of atomic power?  What will that mean?  Well, our designers are already going into that; but ti may take years of experiment - and pretty costly experiments too - before we get an atomic power plant suitable for installing as a regular commercial job in any big passenger air machine.  It will come, through.  Experts are confident about that; and when it does come it will mean that we shall have at our command a titanic power something like a million times more powerful than anything we could put in a flying machine today.
Just picture what that will mean.
We shall have great distance-devouring machines of a size and speed eclipsing utterly anything that is possible with any form of power today.  Rushing up through the Earth's atmosphere at hundreds of miles an hour, these atomic sky-liners of the future will flash across outer space, with their mails, passengers, and urgent freight, at thousands of miles an hour.  No part of the Earth's surface, however remote, will be more than an hour or so's "flip" in such a "magic carpet" of the future.
The atomic age!  The speed age!
It is these between them which will usher in for us our new world - a world in which we shall have to alter our present notions as to the meanings of those two vital words "time" and "distance"; a world in which our very lives on this earth will seem to be growing longer, seeing that we shall be able to so so much more, and see so much more, in any given period of days, weeks, months, or years.
The very world itself will seem to be growing smaller and smaller, with air speed making next-door neighbours of all the peoples of the globe.