Jellyfish Propulsion

Coming soon – an interview with Brad Gemmell – a researcher who discovered the secret to the propulsive power of jellyfish!

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky

Google Doodle Konstantin Tsiolkovsky

More about Tsiolkovsky:
Rocket Men: Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky
Tsiolkovsky: Sixteen Stages of Space Exploration
Science Fiction and Science

Rocket Men: Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky

Wiki TsiolkovskyKonstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky was born in Russia in 1857. The fifth of eighteen children, Tsiolkovsky first imagined a place without gravity when he was 8. It was a small hydrogen-filled ballon that rose to the ceiling each time he let it go that excited his imagination. Tsiolkovsky’s mother taught him to read and write. Before he entered his teens, his life took a turn that would forever alter his path.

As Tsiolkovsky wrote later, ” Age of 10 or 11, the beginning of winter, I rode a toboggan. Caught a cold. Fell ill, was delirious. They though I’d die but I got better, but became very deaf and deafness wouldn’t go. It tormented me very much.” The reality of a profound hearing loss a the time and in the area that Tsiolkovsky lived meant that his opportunities for education were extremely limited. He needed to depend upon himself to set goals and seek knowledge on his own.   Continue reading

Tsiolkovsky: Sixteen Stages of Space Exploration

Wiki TsiolkovskyRussian Rocketman Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky, truly a “Citizen of the Universe,” introduced these Sixteen Stages of Space Exploration in 1926. He believed that these incremental steps would bring man into space and allow him to thrive:

  1. Design of rocket-propelled airplanes with wings.
  2. Progressively increasing the speeds and altitudes reached with these airplanes.   Continue reading

Science Fiction and Science

The development of rocket technology is a story of international accomplishment. Three men, working independently in three different countries, were at the forefront of liquid-fueled rocket development. All three did their work at the start of the 20th century, yet none of them knew of the others’ work in time to use that work in his own investigations.

  • One of these “rocket men” was Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky of Russia. Born in 1857, he was the fifth of 18 children. Intrigued as a child by the way a small hydrogen-filled balloon rose to the ceiling each time he let it loose, as an adult he was determined to reach and live in space.
  • Robert Goddard was the American rocket man. Born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1882, he  was 17-years old when he decided he would find a way to ascend to Mars.
  • Hermann Oberth, born in 1894 in Romania, of German nationality, designed his rocket to work in stages. He also worked on research projects for Germany in the late 1930’s.

What did these three men have in common?    Continue reading

Early Aerodynamicists

Looking back on Andre-Jacque Garnerin’s parachute ‘drop‘ of 1797, we can easily say that his parachute had to work. He, of course, had no way of knowing his parachute would work or that it would slow him sufficiently for a safe landing. He also had no experience with making a safe landing. That didn’t stop him. In fact, that didn’t stop any of the early aerodynamic innovators.

Garnerin

True to the process of scientific discovery, Garnerin’s parachute experiment would not have been possible without the work of those who came before him – most notably the Montgolfier Brothers.    Continue reading

First Parachute Jump

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Today is a big day in fluid dynamic history! It’s the 216th anniversary of the first successful parachute jump. Andre-Jacques Garnerin (1769-1823) accomplished this feat by going aloft attached to the bottom of a hot air balloon.

“I was on the point of cutting the cord that suspended me between heaven and earth… and measured with my eye the vast space that separated me between heaven and earth…” Garnerin wrote. He cut the cord and “I felt myself precipitated with a velocity that was checked by the sudden unfolding of my parachute.”   Continue reading

Wright Brothers 1901 Glider

The Wright brothers were off and running with their ideas for manned flight. The camber of their wing matched that of the wings used by Lilienthal. Unfortunately, Lilienthal’s figures were incorrect due to an error in the Smeaton coefficient. To get around this, the Wright’s came up with a way to modify the curvature of the wing.

The poor results from these tests led the brothers to undertake wind tunnel tests of their own.

Read more about the Wright Brothers in Modeling Ships and Space Craft: The Science and Art of Mastering the Oceans and Sky by Gina Hagler — Part III – Scale Model Testing Begins, Chapter Nine – The Wright Brothers

Wright Brothers Wing Warping Test 1899

The Wright brothers were able to control the flight of their manned aircraft through the use of wing warping. Far more sophisticated than Lilienthal’s use of shifting body weight, wing warping allowed aerodynamic control of the wing.

The Wright brothers were meticulous in their research. This research, along with their can-do and innovative approach to flight, resulted in their first successful, controlled, heavier than air flight at Kitty Hawk.

Read more about the Wright Brothers in Modeling Ships and Space Craft: The Science and Art of Mastering the Oceans and Sky by Gina Hagler — Part III – Scale Model Testing Begins, Chapter Nine – The Wright Brothers

Smeaton’s Coefficient

John Smeaton (1724-1792) had a long and illustrious career as a civil an mechanical engineer. One byproduct of his work is something known as “Smeaton’s Coefficient.” This coefficient was derived from his work – not calculated by Smeaton himself. Unfortunately, the coefficient became of vital importance to the Lillienfeld,  the Wright Brothers, and other pioneers of aviation around the globe.

Continue reading

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