Prototypes and Experiments

Filling Your Tires With Boyle’s Law

Physics is an interesting science. It basically seeks to quantify and define phenomenon that we can observe in our daily lives. Take, for instance, the air pump. It was this simple device that lead to one of the most important definitions in physics: that air (or, later, any ideal gas) will increase in […]

Military-Grade Awesome, Prototypes and Experiments

Hey Shorty, Get Your VTOL On

Why should helicopters get all the fun? Vertical takeoff should be shared by all types of aircraft! In fact, if you can have an aircraft that can take off like a helicopter, but fly like a jet then you can fly out of small areas and go faster than the speed of sound. That last part helicopters have a problem with. Enter the VTOL, and one of the earliest ones, the Short SC.1.
Continue reading Hey Shorty, Get Your VTOL On

Prototypes and Experiments

Defiantly Different

Deartháir’s piece on nearly-useless multi-purpose tools the other day got me thinking about Sarah Palin other famous failures of technology to master multiple roles. Because I’m an aircraft anorak, the Boulton-Paul Defiant immediately sprung to mind.

The Defiant was conceived during the 1930s, when WWI thinking clashed with the technological advancements of the period. One […]

Bizarre Powerplants, Prototypes and Experiments

Aunt Flow

The moon is an inscrutable old hunk of rock that’s been confounding humankind since we first turned our collective eyes skyward. But when the greatest special effects extravaganza in history moon-landings forced us all to start pretending the moon wasn’t made of cheese or occupied by Martin Landau and some weirdos […]

A-T Exclusive, Old School Gaming, Prototypes and Experiments

Embassy: Not quite “Atomic Toasters: The Game”

A mock game during alpha testing. Yellow, at the top of the photo (actually playing the smaller, light brown pieces) is leading, 4-2-2-1 going clockwise.

“The crowed streets of Alpsylvania’s capital are thick with spies and intrigue. Four foreign embassies struggle to thwart threats to their security and gain the upper hand over their adversaries through superior intelligence-gathering operations…and perhaps even dare to send a secret agent to assassinate a foreign Ambassador?

Last Friday, I asked everyone about the relevancy of low-tech board games. In a moment of self-indulgence, I used a diagram of a home-made game I’d created as the lead-in photo. I told myself at the time that I didn’t want to feature any particular game people might know well, which might lead the comments in one direction or another. But I must admit that I was also hopeful that it might pique somebody’s interest in my stillborn endeavor. Skitter and Mr. [alphabet soup] took the bait, so I hereby present to you the public debut of Embassy.
Continue reading Embassy: Not quite “Atomic Toasters: The Game”

Prototypes and Experiments, Pushing Boundaries

That Sounds Cool

Something strange happens when you pump sound through a resonator that is closed on both ends. Things get cold. The phenomenon, known as thermoacoustic refrigeration, could revolutionize the air conditioning and heating world. Or be a complete flop. Continue reading That Sounds Cool

Military-Grade Awesome, Prototypes and Experiments, Pushing Boundaries

The Napier Deltic

My post (or essay) today represents a rare opportunity for me to be proud to be British, and concerns the work of D. Napier & Son Limited, who started life as a car manufacturer. After WW1 they turned their hand to concentrate on engines and became one of the most important aircraft engine manufacturers of the first half of the 20th century. Some of their most famous engines, the Sabre, Lion etc found worldwide recognition powering aircraft and racing cars, including various land-speed record holders. Continue reading The Napier Deltic

Airborne Awesomosity, Prototypes and Experiments

Flying Tanks Don’t Fly Well

The problem with many military implements of destruction is getting them from place to place. Many times tanks and other equipment are very heave and slow. So, if you need to get a tank from one place to another in a hurry, what do you do? Continue reading Flying Tanks Don’t Fly Well

Prototypes and Experiments, Supersonic Transport Week

Shaping the Sound of Fast

In the early 2000s, NASA Dryden’s flight research team, along with DARPA, studied ways to reduce the intensity of shockwaves. This lead to a nose-job, a glider, and a bunch of microphones in the desert. Continue reading Shaping the Sound of Fast

Prototypes and Experiments, Supersonic Transport Week

A Soviet SST In King Langley’s Court

“People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?” That’s what Rodney King said, and the Russian space agency and NASA took it to heart. Continue reading A Soviet SST In King Langley’s Court