November 13th, 2013

TeslaCon 4, Sunday

Sunday morning, we arose, dressed, and packed our car. The breakfast today included cute little single-egg omelets with a cheese filling, which were kind of nice.

We got back to the con in time for "Dropped Once, Never Fired," which was the lead item in Zebulon Vitruvius Pike's "TED Talk" set, which covered the probabilities of being wounded in a mass battle and other interesting topics.

After that, Mr. Pike was again the presenter for "Victorian Spacecraft," which covered how spacecraft in Victorian literature would actually fare given what we now know about the realities of spaceflight. I'd always expected that the occupants of Verne's space projectile in "From the Earth to the Moon" would have been crushed by the acceleration. Turns out, it's far worse than that-so titanic are the G-Forces caused by sudden acceleration to the speed required by Verne, that both crew and craft would essentially be vaporized. Wells' Cavorite sphere in "First Men in the Moon" has a different set of issues, mainly related to steering: when the craft's only thrust is directly away from something (Earth) how do you get it to take you toward something (the Moon)? Pike also covered the sheer entertaining improbability of whimsical constructions such as Edward Everett Hale's "Brick Moon," and others.

Next, we went to study the exhibits at the Promethean Society (mad) Science Fair, which were very interesting. Exhibits were divided into non-functional props, and those that actually (sort of) did what they claimed to do. Among the latter were a functioning Wimshurst machine (static electricity generator), and a truly awesome shoulder-fired cannon, which used the detonation of a propane-air mixture to propel a two inch diameter wooden bolt. This, according to the exhibitor, was capable of penetrating a car door at some hundreds of yards. It should be needless to say, no live demonstrations were given--. Among the prop devices were a very clever time-machine repair kit, and a wonderfully impractical (not to mention uncomfortable) looking device that was supposed to convert the sound and odor of flatulence to more pleasant phenomena.

After the obligatory last pass through the dealers, we decided we were ready to roll out, and so headed home, having enjoyed a very good convention. We are signed up for next year, and are already making some plans--.

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