Saturday, 26 March 2016

A New Chapter In Aviation – Airlander 10 – A Hybrid Airship

“When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned upward, for there you have been,and there you will always long to return.”
– Leonardo da Vinci
Image credit: Hybrid Air-Vehicles
In the 1920s, when commercial aviation was still in its infancy, the main method of crossing the Atlantic Ocean was by steamship and ocean liner. However, there was also a luxurious alternative…the airship.

The mention of airships, for many, will conjure up an image of a Zeppelin, the archetypal airship with its elegant streamlined design. In 1929 the Graf Zeppelin managed to circumnavigate the globe. This wonderfully evocative video captures the end of its journey in New York.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Fractured Light – A Ten Year Creative Journey

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” 
― Ernest Hemingway
Sometimes when you start a journey you never know where you’ll end up. A case in point is when I have a creative writing project – WIP – work in progress, underway.

My writing process has evolved considerably over the years. These days I always start with a clear plan, with my key scenes, story arc events, and major characters, all worked out before I even begin. But there is one story that I have been recently working on, that was born in a very different way. 

Ten years ago, I left my job as an art director at a very successful games studio that I had helped co-found, to pursue a long held dream of becoming a full-time writer. 

It was the bravest decision of my life, but I was partly propelled to take it, by a story that was not so much book whispering into my ear, as screaming at me to be born. Enthusiasm is one thing, but I was a much less experienced writer ten years ago. However, with bright-eyed optimism, I began what was going to be a long creative dance, and  dived straight into writing that first book. No plan to guide me, no thought of the destination, just a burning passion to write… You can probably guess how that worked out...

Saturday, 12 March 2016

A Permanent Moon Base May be Realised Within Ten Years

“We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people.”
John F. Kennedy (Moon Speech - Rice Stadium)
Image credit: ESA/Foster + Partners

When I was growing up during the era of the space race, I clearly remember how it felt at the time that we were heading towards a revolution in space exploration. The film, 2001 – A Space Odyssey, neatly captured that vision...of an orbiting space station that you could take a domestic flight up to (courtesy of Pam Am – there was even an Airfix model of the craft) and then a shuttle from it on towards the moon base. And this really what we believed was just around the corner back then, but subsequent history, since those heady days of the 70s,  had other ideas.

A base on the moon rapidly became the stuff of dreams, the cost too great to be practical. As that dream and other crewed space exploration crashed around it, it wasn't long before some claimed that the moon landings were fake. But of course  there will always be a few who prefer to believe in conspiracies, rather than the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Regardless of the chequered past of human space exploration, we do now at last seem to be heading towards a new dawn. 

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Grid Parity – A Revolution That Will Change Power Generation Forever

“All revolutions are, until they happen, then they are historical inevitabilities.” 
― David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas (image copyright, NASA)
Here’s a date to put in your calendars…2020. Why? Because, based on the more conservative projections, that’s the year that countries like the UK will reach a tipping point in power generation. Slipping under the radar of many people, there has been a quiet revolution that’s been steadily building momentum for many years now. It has everything to do with all those solar panels that have been appearing up on the roofs of many homes, the numbers of which have growing exponentially over the last few years.

In the UK, government feed in tariffs (FITS) have partly helped fuel the rapid deployment of photo voltaic (PV) panels. Unfortunately for an industry that’s just started to hit their stride, the subsidies they have recently been slashed by the UK government, a decision that many believe is very short sighted.

However, things aren’t necessarily as bad as they might as first seem. There is something rushing towards us that will change everything – grid parity – a phrase that we are all going to be hearing a lot more about, over the next few years.

So why all the excitement?