I will rather leave the planning, design and launching of rockets over to experts.
Or rednecks who tend to try and use their butt as a launching platform for small fireworks which is launched like a rocket.
Welcome back to Who, Me?, where this week a reader tells us how they used brute force and whiskey to solve a pyrotechnic problem. Our story comes from a fellow Regomized as "Rick" and concerns a launch campaign using sounding rockets from a European test site. Sounding rockets can't make it to orbit, but can carry scientific …
I was in the town of Malcesine on Lake Garda when they had a festival. They simply held the sticks of rockets in their hands to launch them. Hundreds of men were doing this - possibly due to the rather nice 12p a bottle RIcc.io Rosso Spumante local red champagne with a plastic cork. Never quite had the guts to try it myself despite seeing so many people doing it without any signs of injury.
In the excellent film 'Attack the Block'* (John Boyega in his first starring role, I believe, and Jodie Foster in her pre-Dr. Who days), the 'lads' use firework rockets, launched by hand, horizontally along corridors as weapons**.
*WARNING, realistic dialogue, including swearing, some unrealistic violence, drug taking and some realistic commentary on social conditions in the UK.
**DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME (OR ANYWHERE ELSE FOR THAT MATTER).
"They've started using postgrads instead of rats for clinical trials."
In the UK I suspect that undergraduates, as they pay for their tuition, are subject to contract law and the University has a legal 'duty of care' for their wellbeing. Graduate students, on the other hand, usually have grants, and, well, lets just say that the University needs as many to complete on time as possible, unless there are extenuating circumstances (such as untimely demise) ...
After a case where a chemistry PhD student decided to heat something amusingly reactive on an open flame and blew a fume cupboard into his stomach.
So HSE ruled that grad students were public not employees, which caused a whole can of worms about IP. We had to have IP assignments to use any software they wrote.
With everyone convinced they were going to be the Steve Jobs and every uni convinced that they were going to make $$$ from startups - it got a bit fraught
In my days as a Chemistry Postgrad, we were classed as employees from a H&S perspective.
This meant attending a 2 hour Fire Safety Lecture about the University Fire System each year...
Only 5 minutes was relevant as the Chemistry Building had a separate fire system.
Two sorts of people have proper jobs in Antarctica:
Scientists (also known as 'Beakers' after the character in the Muppet Show).
And mountaineers, whose job is to keep the Beakers alive and as un-frostbitten as possible when on field trips.
Read 'Terra Incognita, Travels in Antarctica' by Sara Wheeler (ISBN 0-224-14184-3) for some insights on Italian coffee machines, darts matches (dartboard optional) and 'giving tent weather'.
(OK so there are also pilots for the aircraft and probably other sorts of people, but in general...)
60 years ago at secondary school our young chemistry teacher took our class (13-14) outside onto the lawn to demonstrate the thermite reaction. A cone of the chemicals was set up - with a magnesium strip protruding from the top as the starter.
The clas formed a circle round the pile - and the teacher then lit a match and applied it to the strip. It was a windy day - and the match flame was blown out. He then had the class form a tighter circle as a windbreak. As soon as the lit match approached the strip - the boys skittered away and the wind blew the flame out. He finally persuaded the circle to stay intact until the strip ignited for what was in those days a relatively spectacular Vesuvius firework.
The grounds-keeper was not impressed by the scorch mark on the lawn.
I did that in my teenage pyro phase. A mate started work at a company making interior door handles for cars. As the colours had to match they had a warehouse full of pigments and yes, you guessed it, finely divided Al and ferric oxide. We filled a paint tin with a stoichiometric mixture. However fine powder traps a lot of air and we couldn't remove it - no vacuum pump. Anyway we lit the Mg ribbon & stood well back. Of course the trapped air expanded mightily so we got a magnificent sparkly fire fountain. Then the tin melted and we had molten iron running over the ground from the reaction & the tin. Lots of fun without the tell-tale bangs from other experiments...
Of course we would be arrested for that under anti-terrorism legislation these days. I assume there is a statute of limitations...
I was standing at a lathe beside the window of the Metalwork room at school, when the Science Sixth trooped out with a wastepaper basket full of sand containing some explosive experiment or other. They placed it against the blank brick end wall of the Science Block, which was four storeys tall, and stood around in a circle while the lecturer explained what was going to happen. They then all moved down into the basement area of the Engineering Block while the lecturer lit the fuse and ran to join them. Fizzle - Pop! - small expression of smoke.
The following week, repeat performance, and the next, and the next. By the end of term, they were so blase about the danger that they all just stood around in a rough circle to see what would happen, if anything. Then - on the last week of term, it did happen.
There was an enormous bang, and a cloud of black soot expanded rapidly, knocking the students over onto their backs, and causing a large scorch mark up the brick wall. The wastepaper basket had been opened up like a flower, with individual petals sprouting from the circular base, and every one of the party was black with soot down their fronts. A cloud of finely divided sand drifted slowly away on the prevailing breeze.
Because old farmers absolutely don't care about health & safety.
Booting a stuck bale in the baler and nearly losing a leg? Eating too quickly so you can get back out and do more stuff, then having to have a chicken bone surgically removed from your throat? Smoking a ciggy while going along in a car you've just spilled a load of petrol in? Putting the diesel tank in a barn next to a dodgey mains socket?
All things my father-in-law did, and survived. The barn didn't though.
Yep, Woomera Prohibited Area (now RAAF Woomera Range Complex). Its from there that the UK launched the Black Arrow rocket (UK designed & built) that put the Prospero satellite into orbit, making the UK only the third country to successfully place a satellite in orbit using our own launcher.
A bit of sleuthing is required to determine the veracity of this story. Firstly. there is the mention of turbo pumps. In my mind this suggests that the rocket was liquid fuelled. The great British success in sounding rockets was the Skylark which was, I believe, solid fuelled, so I think this rules out the Skylark. Similarly, the Canadian Black Brant was solid fuelled. There's the V2, of course, but what other liquid fuelled sounding rockets were there?
Good point. Sounding rockets are all solid fueled in an attempt to to keep dumb-assed scientists from hurting themselves (or so said an ex-military guy I knew at Moffett Field, who was involved with such things for NASA in the '70s and '80s).
I suspect it's more an expense thing ...
Going by some of the early history of the JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) that probably has more truth to it.
Four times that day they tried to test fire their small rocket motor. On the last attempt, they accidentally set fire to their oxygen line, which whipped around shooting fire! These were the first rocket experiments in the history of JPL. They tried again on Nov. 15, 1936, and their experiment finally worked.
Whatever Meatloaf and Jim Steinman said, two out of three doesn't quite cut it.
heading to a nearby village and finding a retired farmer willing to take some chances
I'm having real trouble envisioning this.
Guy in white coat pops into country pub and says:
"Hi Everyone , I'm from the rocket site down the road , we need a volunteer to stand next to the rocket and unplug a cable when we blast off .
We asked around in the office but no one is stupid / mad enough to do it , so .... here I am "
Except that would be Whisky without the e, Compton Mackenzie being Scottish of course. :)
Yes, I've read the books and seen the films (all three, a rare time when the remake matched, or possibly improved on, the original). No, I didn't make the connection!
No wonder they messed up the safety stuff. They don't even have a clue about the stories they are referring to. Columbus was considered crazy because he thought the globe was way smaller (10000km circumference rather than the 40000km)than people at that time already knew about. Had he not been lucky and the Americas had in his way they would all have died. Geez.
And they should have referenced Scott, not Amundsen.
Scott became famous for freezing to death in Antarctica
Columbus is remembered for thinking some island was India
General Custer's a national hero for not knowing when to run
All of these men are famous
And they're also kind of dumb
(the Arrogant Worms)
My thesis advisor was David S Evans (RIP) of NOAA Space Environment Lab. He supervised my project involving the launch of a particle mass spectrometer on a sounding rocket above the aurora. On many previous launch expeditions, he found that bringing liquor into Scandinavia was problematic, so he developed a creative approach to the problem. He loaded some translucent plastic bottles with ethanol (Everclear) doctored with food colouring and labeled them "circuit board cleaner", which was truthful to a fault. There can be quite a few idle arctic nights between the preparation of the payload for launch and the arrival of the right conditions for said launch and certain diversions and entertainments ensue.