The middle of this month featured the 520th anniversary of the first trans-hemispheric voyage led by Columbus and the 65th anniversary of Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier, while 3 new advances in human mobility made the news during that same period.
First was a significant jump in the realm of human powered flight, an effort that has been given extra motivation by the hope of winning a prize for engaging the hovering approach. This challenge is most interesting because while the bicycle represents by far the most energy efficient of transportation modes, the helicopter is one of the most inefficient.
Regardless of whether the goal is met, my guess is that a viable human-powered helicopter (or plane for that matter) will have to discard chains as the means of power transfer. They would be replaced with hydraulic lines strung between low-speed, medium-pressure pumps and turbines – like veins and arteries between heart and muscles. I also think employing code guidelines can make a contribution, or even be key to the endeavor.
As yet I cannot separate my bias from sound engineering assessment, perhaps because I am personally satisfied with the sense of low light experienced on my cruiser-style bicycle. In that more down to earth realm came this October’s next advance - a bicycle made of cardboard, one that actually works. In profile, its design corresponds closely to the code’s wheel geometry, and I suspect adhering to the transport template’s dimension of width would also be advantageous.
The 3rd October advent was the most sensational, a man going up in a balloon to an altitude of 23 miles, jumping out, attaining a speed of 800+MPH, and landing with a smile. A totally amazing feat aptly eulogized in this poem. Such accomplishments engage the human quest for speed appropriately – as opposed to the pathetic spectacle of cars going around in circles to the detriment of the human race.