Air Force One Fun Facts

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Things You Probably

Didn’t Know About

Air Force One

air-force-one

Air Force One, a.k.a. that enormous plane that carts the president around, is one of the most enduring symbols of American power. To this end, the planes carrying the Air Force One designation are filled to the brim with bleeding edge technology and a bunch of other cool stuff we’re going to talk about… well, right now. For example, did you know…

 10. There are Massive Rolls of Carpet for it Lying Around Somewhere

most of the things aboard Air Force One come fitted as standard, like bulletproof windows and, we presume, high-tech anti-ninja technology, the President and his spouse have some control over what the interior of the plane looks like so it better suits their tastes. Much like a fancy car, the President, or more specifically the First Lady, can choose the color of the interior of the plane. To this end, they can make it as pimp or spartan as they like.

This, coupled with the fact the plane is specially equipped with the ability to communicate via everything from morse code to email, and can fly thousands of feet higher than even most military planes, means it could theoretically stay aloft, beaming down freedom, forever. In reality the plane could probably only stay aloft for a few months before it needed to stop for food (in a pinch even this could be delivered in mid-air), which is probably a good thing considering…

9. It Can Fly Forever

In the event these systems all fail, Air Force One is built sturdy enough to weather an undisclosed number of direct missile hits and could probably smash into the ground at Mach 3 and still not kill anyone aboard. Not that you’d ever get anywhere near the plane, given that it can fly in the upper stratosphere and secretly call on supersonic jets to aid it over any allied country. Even if you managed to do enough damage to hurt the President, he’d probably be fine, because it can stay in the air forever.

8. Everybody Aboard is a Picky Eater

Like with everything else, no expense is spared when it comes to the kitchen aboard Air Force One and prior to a flight, secret service agents will painstakingly seek out and purchase the freshest, highest-quality ingredients one at a time from nearby stores to minimize the risk of the President being poisoned.

The gourmet chefs working aboard Air Force One are said to be able to cook virtually any foodstuff known, are trained in virtually all culinary disciplines, and have access to every kind of cooking implement possible (except a deep fat fryer, for safety reasons). This is an issue because the most popular foodstuff aboard is burger and fries. Yes, despite Air Force One being basically a flying 5-star restaurant, most people aboard, including the President, normally just order burgers and sandwiches.

While the food has gotten healthier, mostly thanks to the efforts of First Lady Michelle Obama, it’s noted that journalists still mostly opt for sandwiches, coffee and soda, with the kitchen going as far as stocking peanut butter for especially picky eaters who don’t want to eat any of the fancier fare Air Force One’s chefs can cook up. While officially Air Force One does serve balanced meals, anecdotally most people just eat junk food, partly because everyone except the President is charged for their meal, with the exception of a free bag of M&M’s every person aboard is given after a flight.

Not that the President is immune from encountering food they don’t like. For example, George H.W. Bush is said to have literally ordered that brocoli be banned from Air Force One because he hated it that much, once stating: “I do not like broccoli, and I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m president of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.”

7. They Destroy Everything that Doesn’t Work

As a symbol of the American presidency, most everything aboard Air Force One is fittingly adorned with either the presidential seal, the current sitting president’s initials, or both. On top of this, every item aboard is polished, cleaned and meticulously maintained to avoid the embarrassment of a foreign leader or diplomat being given a chipped mug to drink out of, or a journalist tweeting a picture of a dirty towel. You know, stuff that would make the President and, by extension, America look bad.

To deter thieves, extensive checks are carried out on everyone leaving Air Force One and you can be sure anyone selling an official Air Force One toilet roll holder on eBay would be soundly detained and questioned by the FBI. As an added measure, anytime anything stops working on Air Force One or becomes unacceptably damaged or dirty, it is quickly removed, pulverised into dust and then burnt. An extreme measure we’ll admit but one that ensures the air of mystique about the impossibly high-standards aboard Air Force One is maintained. Hey, speaking of that…

6. Every Member of the Staff Could Kick Your Ass

 Like any plane, Air Force One has flight attendants and other staff who perform basic custodial duties aboard the plane, like telling you where the emergency exit is and handing out little bags of peanuts. Unlike a regular plane, these staff members are all highly trained military personnel with spotless records, who are carefully screened and subsequently trained to handle nearly any conceivable emergency. As a result, every member of the crew aboard Air Force One is well versed in emergency survival techniques, weapons handling, and generally messing up your day.

In other words, every member of staff aboard Air Force One, from the pilot to the guy who cleans the toilet, could snap your neck with a rolled up newspaper or beat you to death with a shoe without breaking a sweat. Essentially, while flying through the air in his big plane, the President is surrounded by an entourage of highly capable killing machines who also just so happen to be able to make a mean margarita or whip up a steak on the presidential grill. As if this wasn’t enough, when he takes off he is also…

5. Being Watched by a Special Team of Snipers

The President is an important dude, and spends much of his time being flanked, shadowed and watched over by an elite team of bodyguards versed in 80 plus ways to obliterate a human testicle at 80 yards, with their eyebrows. Specifically, whenever the Commander-in-Chief is about to board Air Force One, though, he is also being protected by a special team of sharpshooters armed with 50 caliber sniper rifles. Why 50 caliber? So that in case someone tries to hijack the plane, they can shoot through the normally bulletproof windows and decorate the cockpit with the part of their brain that thought hijacking Air Force One was a good idea.

These snipers are amongst the best, if not the best the US has at its disposal, and are said to be able to hit a target the size of a dog’s butthole from a half mile away. Their identity is obviously a secret, and they’re additionally used to protect the President during speeches and possibly while he checks his mail. And while we’re on the subject of secrets…

4. Who Made the Toilet is a Big Secret

As noted, everything aboard Air Force One is (usually custom) made to the highest possible standard of quality, using the finest available materials. Now, you’d think any company making a product that was being used aboard freaking Air Force One would boast about that fact because, well, why they hell wouldn’t you? As it turns out though, no company involved with manufacturing anything involved with the plane is permitted to advertise that fact, mostly due to it being a possible security risk, and partly because it’s kind of tacky. This means that we have literally no idea who made the toilet, or indeed any item aboard Air Force One.

The government is such a stickler for this that it sent a very stern letter to the company that manufactured the oxygen masks aboard Air Force One after they advertised that fact in a magazine in 2001. This is a shame for the companies who do make the items aboard Air Force One, because along with being associated with the presidency, they would also get to advertise their products fly…

3. On a Nuclear Bomb-Proof Plane

Like the staff, Air Force One is prepared for virtually any possible emergency scenario and is equipped to deal with nearly any potential threat, from a rogue jet firing sidewinder missiles at it, to a nuclear explosion. Along with being immune to the effects of an EMP blast, such as one produced by an exploding nuclear warhead, Air Force One is shielded against conventional damage in the form of bulletproof plating and flares to deter heat seeking missiles.

 But here’s the best part: after the First Lady or President picks out a particular style of carpet or type of soft furnishing they want to decorate the plane with, some hapless sap from the Secret Service has to go get a special fire-retardant version specially made, because regular carpet is seldom thermite proof. Because everything aboard Air Force One has to be spotless, this carpet is replaced frequently, leading to a massive stockpile of it being kept in a secret location in case someone spills beer all over the floor or something.

 2. There’s a Special Fridge Full of Blood on Board

The full specs of Air Force One have never been disclosed but we do know that it has a fully stocked medical bay staffed by seasoned medical professionals. So prepared is this medical bay that it carries, at all times, an emergency supply of blood, drugs and vaccines for most known diseases, poisons and illnesses and is specially stabilized so that doctors aboard could give someone open heart surgery during an emergency take off. You know, if they really had to.

Even better, if they had to, all the potential assassin would see is a fiery ball of freedom ascending to the heavens because…

1. Air Force One is Polished to a Mirror Sheen

The extreme efforts the government goes to in maintaining Air Force One can be no better summed up than by the exterior of the plane itself, which is said to be polished to such an offensively bright mirror sheen, you can use it to make sure your hair is suitably on point.

 Though it’s likely few people reading this will ever get all that close to Air Force One, people who have are often shocked by just how perfectly clean and shiny the exterior of the craft is, with some noting that workers sometimes wear sunglasses while polishing, buffing and otherwise maintaining it. Are there more interesting facts about Air Force One? Probably, but we think the fact that the plane is maintained to such an extent it could potentially blind foreign leaders with sheer bling is a pretty strong note to end on.

Air Force One

Fun Facts

Facts About Pirates – WIF Into History

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Facts About

the Real Pirates

of the Caribbean

captain-jack-sparrow

Piracy is as old as the sea itself … or at least since there’s been some loot to be plundered. But the pirate legacy has since been high-jacked by Hollywood and romantic fiction. And pirates have been told as being faintly noble, selfless, independent, and with a great degree of charm. But the real pirate story is much darker. Pirate life was nasty, brutal, and – especially – short. And for a brief moment in time, each of these lives terrorized the oceans and demanded the attention of the navy. Mercy and honesty were rarely in any pirate’s vocabulary. Today we’ll be taking a look at what made the real pirates the most feared “predators” on the high seas.

10. Blackbeard’s Reign of Terror

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Blackbeard’s real name was probably Edward Teach. Some documents, however, refer to him as Edward Thatch or even Edward Drummond, and he is believed to have been either from Bristol, New York, California, Philadelphia, or even as far away as Denmark. Not much is known about his origins, it would seem. But regardless, he became among the most notorious pirates to have ever terrorized the Caribbean and the American East Coast. From a very young age he went to sea and served on an English ship during the War of the Spanish Succession by privateering along the Spanish Main. With the end of the war in 1714 he, like many others, turned to piracy.

Initially serving under another pirate who later retired, Blackbeard became captain in 1717, and commandeered a French merchant vessel which he renamed Queen Anne’s Revenge. He fitted it with 40 cannons, made it his flag ship, and together with three other smaller vessels (sloops) under his command, Teach plagued the West Indies and the Atlantic coast. In May 1718 he blockaded the Charleston harbor in South Carolina for four days, plundering several ships trying to get in or out, and held the local magistrate and his son for ransom. He then headed north, where he ran two of his vessels aground, the Queen Anne’s Revenge included, marooning most of his crew, in order to get a larger share of the loot. Having the governor of North Carolina in his pocket, he was secured a pardon under the royal Act of Grace and retired himself.

His best weapon of all was fear. He made himself appear ferocious, like a psychopath addicted to violence. He always had at least six loaded pistols, a cutlass, and a musket with him, and wore a big feathered tricorn on his head. He sported a huge black beard in which he would tie hemp and light it during battle. Together with lit cannon fuses tied under his tricorn, those who saw him fighting said that he “looked like the devil” with his fearsome appearance and the smoke cloud around his head.

Regardless of his retirement, he was soon back at sea. The governor of Virginia then put a bounty on his head and on November 21, 1718 a small group of men ambushed him and nineteen others within an inlet on Ocracoke Island, in North Carolina. Following a fierce battle the following day, Blackbeard was dead. He was reportedly shot five times and stabbed more than twenty times before being finally decapitated. His head was hung from a pike in Bath, the town he was supposed to retire in. Blackbeard’s reign of terror lasted a little over 2 years, even though he was among the most feared pirates of the 18th century.

9. The Privateers and Buccaneers

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At first glance, the words pirate, privateer, and buccaneer seem to mean the same thing. And while this is true to a certain extent, there certainly are some differences. For instance, privateering made use of private ships for attacking foreign vessels under the approval of a country’s government. In a sense, piracy in the Caribbean started off as privateering under the British government. As early as the 16thcentury, many private English ships carried letters of marque, entitling them to attack, loot, sink or capture ships belonging to all enemy nations – especially Spain. They would then give part of the spoils to the government, while the rest they would keep for themselves. However, while the state stood only to gain from these private contracts, the privateers, if captured by the enemy, would be tried as pirates and swiftly executed.

The most famous privateer was Francis Drake. In 1567 he made one of the first English slaving voyages, bringing African people to the New World, and was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe. In 1577, under secret orders from Queen Elizabeth herself, Drake went around South America, plundering Spanish ports on the undefended Pacific coast. And thanks to his cunning he even managed to take over and plunder the Cacafuego (“fires**tter”), officially Nuestra Señora de la Concepción, a huge Spanish galleon, filled to the brim with Inca treasure. On his return to England, he was knighted by the Queen. However, he would be one of the few privateers who would actually do what he was intended to. Bolstered by Drake’s accomplishments, many others would try to find the same fame and riches; a standard that would never be achieved again. In time, these would-be privateers would descend to the level of blood-thirsty opportunists, operating under false flags, killing witnesses and betraying their own nations and crewmates.

Buccaneers, on the other hand, were mostly felons, many of them facing capital charges. They were former sailors who’d jumped ship, or servants who ran away from their contracts working the sugar plantations on the many Caribbean islands. The word derives from the native “buccan,” which refers to a wooden framework used for smoking or slow-roasting meat over a fire. The first buccaneers used these buccans to prepare meat and sell it to sailors. But later, they turned to piracy, operating from the jungles. Whenever there was a ship close by, a handful of buccaneers would jump into a small rowing vessel and board the unaware ship. In the beginning, the island of Hispaniola (present day Haiti and Dominican Republic) was a major buccaneering base. They were later chased off the island by the Spanish and became pirates, operating from the island of Tortuga and Port Royal in Jamaica. They, too, would later be hired in the service of the crown.

8. Pirate Weapons

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The above mentioned buccaneers made good use of the Buccaneer Musket. It was a large and heavy gun, measuring almost 6 feet in length. They used it initially for hunting boar on the islands, but also to shoot the helmsman off an enemy deck some 300 yards away. The buccaneers were really good shots, and became the masters of small arms; the first who gave them any real attention. Firing these guns continuously as they were rowing towards their target, they would disable the ship and prepare it for their boarding. The flintlock pistol was another weapon of choice, desired for its light weight and small size. It was ideal for boarding enemy ships, and pirates usually carried more than one since it was good for only one shoot before needing reloading. That’s why Blackbeard carried six with him at all times.

Pirates also made use of the Blunderbuss. It was loaded with a handful of pistol balls and when it was fired it created absolute devastation over a broad area of decks. It had a massive recoil and had to be fired from the hip. Otherwise, it would break the shoulder. Grenades were also used extensively by pirates. Basically a spherical-cast hollow iron ball about 5 inches in diameter, loaded with 5 ounces of gunpowder, the grenade had a wooden fuse sealed with wax. Once lit, it took about 6 seconds to explode. Pirates and buccaneers would throw these onboard an enemy vessel just before boarding it, creating utter chaos and devastation. However, all of these firearms were one-shot weapons, so the backbone of any boarding action was the cutlass. Used for both thrusting and slashing, the cutlass was short so it wouldn’t become a hindrance on a crowded deck. Pirates sometimes used both cutlasses and boarding axes, among other swords or knives, as melee weapons.

7. Hooks for Hands and Wooden Legs

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When thinking about a pirate, it’s almost impossible not to imagine him without either an eye-patch, a hook for a hand, or a wooden stump. And knowing the nature of their business, the weapons they were using (and which were used against them, as well), it’s no surprise so many of them had these, let’s say, “prosthetics.” But the real reason for why so many had missing limbs has more to do with infection than the many wounds they were subjected to. For instance, musket balls had the nasty habit of taking a piece of fabric with them when passing through its victim. And while doctors may have been able to take out the ball, the piece of cloth most likely stayed behind. This in turn caused the wound to fester, and many were subject to gangrene.

With no anesthetics or antiseptics, they were aware that if the limb was not amputated it would “mortify,” as they called it, and they would die in severe pain. So, the only effective method available was to chop off the limb. The way they went about it was to strap the injured to a table, have a few men hold him down, give him a good shot of rum, and then put a strap of leather in his mouth to stop him from screaming so much. Then the “doctor” would tie up his leg or arm, in order to stop the bleeding as much as possible. Next he’d take a sharp knife and start cutting the skin and muscle above the wound. When he reached the bone, the doctor would take a saw and cut that, too. The whole procedure would take between 30 to 60 seconds, depending on the doctor’s skill. Finally he’d tie off the arteries, put a dressing on, and off the limping pirate went. But not even this ensured the patient’s survival, and many still died after the procedure.

6. Captain Charles Vane – Years Active: 1716-1720

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As we said before, pirate life was brutally violent and extremely short. A good example was Charles Vane, a notorious pirate, contemporary and friend to the infamous Blackbeard. His pirating days began in 1716 and in 1718 he became a captain himself. He was renowned for his violence and ill temper, being hated even by his own crewmen. He is one of the few pirates who didn’t accept the King’s pardon, and in a mere four years after his “career” began, he would be hanged. After a mutiny aboard his ship, he was left behind on a small sloop together with a few loyal comrades. In a hurricane, he would miraculously survive, being washed ashore on a small fishing island. However, the man who found him there recognized him and brought him to justice.

Before his death however, in April 1718, Vane and his men came upon a sloop somewhere in the Bahamas and attacked it. They violently beat the crew, stole everything onboard, and chose one man, Nathaniel Catling, to be hanged. He remained suspended until everyone believed him dead, and the pirates brought him down. He somehow survived, but seeing this, one of the pirates hacked him across the collarbone with his cutlass. Vane and the other pirates then set the ship on fire and left. However Nathaniel Catling not only survived a hanging and a slash to the neck, but also escaped to describe the events in an official deposition. In a similar incident, Vane had someone tied to the bowsprit, while they were burning his eyes with matches and holding a pistol in his mouth. Vane was forcing him to tell what valuables were hidden onboard.

5. Edward Low – Years Active: 1721 – 1724

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Edward Low got his notoriety of being a psychopath first, and a pirate second. He made his fleet in Nova Scotia, where he managed to capture 13 fishing vessels, and then he moved south to the more lucrative Caribbean. As his pirating career went on, his infamy grew. A few surviving victims recalled his brutal nature where he often chained, mutilated, burned, and even forced some of his captives to eat the heart of their captain. In one particular incident, Governor John Hart described as Low was attacking a ship from Portugal bound for Brazil. As they were being boarded, the captain of the Portuguese vessel dropped a bag of gold into the ocean to keep the pirates from taking it. Seeing this, “Low cut off the said Master’s lips and broiled them before his face, and afterwards murdered the whole crew being thirty-two persons.”

Due to his increasingly violent nature, both against his victims and his own men, in 1724 the crew mutinied and left him marooned on an island. What eventually happened to him is a matter of speculation. Some believe he was found by the French who, after discovering who he was, had him hanged in Martinique. Others believe he managed to escape and lived out the rest of his days somewhere in Brazil.

4. Henry Morgan, King of the Buccaneers – Years Active: 1655-1682

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Henry Morgan is one of the successful few who managed to live to the ripe old age of 53, and die of tuberculosis, and not by hanging or decapitation. And he did so by staying somewhere in the gray area and not going full on “black,” as many other privateers or buccaneers did back then. Throughout his life he acquired a reputation as a remarkable leader and a fearsome conqueror. He sacked the city of Puerto Principe in Cuba, Puerto Bello in Panama, the towns of Maracaibo and Gibraltar in present-day Venezuela, as well as the city of Panama (which he completely burned to the ground). For his many victories for the English crown against the Spanish, Morgan was honored by the King and promoted to deputy governor of Jamaica.

Nevertheless, a pirate is still a pirate even if he’s made governor. The sacking of all of those Spanish settlements weren’t done solely for the glory of England. The booty Morgan collected from all of them made him a very rich and highly influential man. In the city of Maracaibo, he and his buccaneers tortured many citizens in order to find the hidden valuables. In Porto Bello he burned the private parts of his women prisoners and even roasted a woman alive on a stove, in order to get the information he so desperately desired. In Gibraltar they tortured a man by placing four stakes into the ground and tied him by his thumbs and big toes. They then pulled and pushed at the cords with all their strength. If this wasn’t enough, the pirates then placed a 200 pound stone on his belly and lit some palm leaves, burning his entire face.

3. Montbars the Exterminator – Years Active: 1668 – 1670s

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A French buccaneer, Daniel Montbars got the appellative “Montbars the Exterminator” from the Spanish, against which he was renowned for acting violent to the extreme. Born to a wealthy family, he was well educated and raised as a gentleman. He developed a deep hatred for the Spaniards after learning of their savage treatment of the indigenous people in the New World, and would become a fierce enemy of the Spanish Empire throughout his career. In 1667 he left France for the West Indies together with his uncle, where they served in the Royal French Navy. Their vessel was later sunk by the Spanish and his uncle perished.

Montbars then moved to Tortuga and joined the buccaneers, where he became a captain. He distinguished himself during an attack against a Spanish galleon where, “Montbars led the way to the decks of the enemy, where he carried injury and death; and when submission terminated the contest, his only pleasure seemed to be to contemplate, not the treasures of the vessel, but the number of dead and dying Spaniards, against whom he had vowed a deep and eternal hatred, which he maintained the whole of his life.” He attacked and set ablaze many Spanish strongholds and settlements across the Caribbean, giving no quarter to his enemies. One of his most famous torture methods was to cut open the abdomen of his prisoners, nail his large intestine to a post, and then force the poor man to dance away from it, all the while “beating his backside with a burning log.”

2. Francois L’Olonnais – Years Active: 1660-1668

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While on the subject of psychotic Frenchmen, let’s take a look at Montbars’ predecessor, Francois L’Olonnais, another Spanish-hating buccaneer. His real name, however, was Jean-David Neu, but he also went by “Flail of the Spaniards.” He was born in France around 1635, where he was sold to a master who took him to the Caribbean. In 1660 he joined the buccaneers stationed in Saint-Domingue and his reign of terror began. In 1663 he survived a shipwreck where all of his crewmates died, and when the Spanish came to investigate, he covered himself with his crewmates’ corpses and smeared himself with their blood to appear dead. He then dressed himself as a Spaniard, released some slaves and escaped on some small canoes. On his way to Tortuga he and his small crew destroyed an entire Spanish ship and left only one man alive to tell the story.

From Tortuga, L’Olonnais launched an attack on Maracaibo and Gibraltar, hunted down the people trying to escape through the jungles, then raped, tortured and murdered everyone. In another raid on the town of Puerto Cabellos, he “ripped open one of the prisoners with his cutlass, tore the living heart out of his body, gnawed at it, and then hurled it in the face of one of the others, saying, ‘Show me another way, or I will do the same to you.’” He wanted to find a safe route to San Pedro, another Spanish port-city close by. In 1668 his small fleet was finally captured and destroyed by the Spanish. He managed to escape the onslaught by running into the jungle. There, however, he was captured by natives who ripped him to pieces while still alive and then burned him. Some rumors go as far as saying that he was eaten by cannibals.

1. Olivier Levasseur – Years Active: 1716-1724

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Okay, let’s move out of the Caribbean for this last one. Olivier Levasseur, aka La Buse(The Buzzard) was a French privateer in service to the French crown during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714). After the war he was ordered to return home, but instead joined a pirate company in 1716. The Buzzard decided to try his luck in the Indian Ocean, on the Western coast of Africa. He and some other famous pirates like Edward England or John Taylor raided and plundered ships and ports in the region, going as far as razing to the ground the slaver port of Ouidah, in present-day Benin. From 1720 they began operating from the island of Sainte-Marie, just off Madagascar.

Taylor and Levasseur later marooned England on the island of Mauritius on the account of him being too humane with his prisoners. The Buzzard’s favorite torturing method was the “woolding.” In order to extract information he’d take a length of rope, which went around the head of his prisoners, and with a stick he would tighten it little by little. If the captive didn’t divulge his secrets, or if he had none, the rope would be twisted so much his eyes would pop out of their sockets. Levasseur called it, “the rosary of pain.”

In any case, the two pirates managed to accomplish one of piracy’s greatest exploits. Without even firing a single cannon, they captured the Portuguese great galleonNossa Senhora do Cabo (Our Lady of the Cape). This ship was carrying the treasures of the Patriarch of the East Indies, and the Viceroy of Portugal, who were both onboard, on their way home to Lisbon. Since the galleon went through a severe storm, the crew had dumped all of its 72 cannons overboard, preventing the ship from capsizing. The booty was huge, consisting of many bars of silver and gold, countless chests full of golden coins, jewels, pearls and other valuables, as well as many religious artifacts. And among them was also the Flaming Cross of Goa made of pure gold, inlaid with diamonds, rubies and emeralds. It was so heavy, it required three men to move it to Levasseur’s ship. This treasure-trove made all the pirates rich beyond their wildest dreams.

 In 1724 he sent an emissary to discuss an amnesty on his behalf. But since the French government wanted a sizable chunk of his loot (estimated at over £1 billion), he instead settled down in secret somewhere on the Seychelles archipelago. Eventually he was captured and hanged in 1730. While he was at the gallows, he threw a necklace into the crowd while yelling, “Find my treasure, the one who may understand it!” The necklace contained a cryptogram of 17 lines. The hidden message proved too hard to figure out, and to this day his immense treasure is still hidden away somewhere.

Facts About Pirates

– WIF Into History

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 31

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 31

Was one of your fares a beautiful woman and two little girls perhaps?…

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Aldona Afridi continues his defection to save Space Colony 1

“We must cross the Golden Horn to get reach Galata.”

The Golden Horn is an inlet of the Bosporus, the narrow band of water separating them from the mosque. The main bridge that connects Galata to Stamboul is choked with evening traffic and in the waters below is Image result for the bosporus waterwaynearly as busy, with floating forms of alternative transportation. Boatmen take their fares in the same dinghies driven by a hundred generations, bobbing side-by-side with a number of larger commuter boats.

A certain ferry commands Aldona’s attention. He scans each bow for the name Mother of the Black Sea, the ship of escape for (his wife) Fatima and the girls. It may be either under-sail or moored, are they aboard or are they ashore, in the safe confines of the mosque?

“There are many a ferry tonight, Saied,” the driver notices his passenger’s keen interest.

“Is the Mother of the Black Sea one of them?”

“Oh yes Saied, the largest of them, with the many lights no doubt. It is docked for the night.” He smiles fondly at the thought; the daily visits by the Black Sea ferryboat are a boon to the taxis.

“Docked this afternoon you say? Did you have any fares from that boat?”

“Oh my yes Saied, every docking brings many fares.”

“Was one of your fares a beautiful woman and two little girls perhaps?”

“No, but I may have seen such a group coming down the ramp, more baggage than my humble cab can carry. I think poor Muhammad XXVII may have gotten them, not good for his bad back.

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Turkish traffic

“Can we go faster; I need to get to the mosque yesterday?”

“We will kill more than pecking chickens…The world has gone mad for haste….”

“I don’t care; get us out of this stagnant mess.”

Never let it be said that a good taxi driver does not enjoy a challenge, especially if it involves driving obnoxiously; foot to pedal, hand on horn.

And the race is on!! The resourceful combination of a jet ski and a golf cart squirts through gaps barely wider than a bicycle, prompting Afridi to scrunch his shoulders and close his eyes. But as in old movie sight-gag, they magically appear on the other side, clear of the bottleneck.

So with the trail of tangled auto, with their fist-shaking drivers behind, the Sultan Ahmet Mosque is mere minutes away in Galata, the commercial hub of Old Constantinople.

All in all, Afridi has time to loosen the noose around his neck, having left the hardest roads behind. That he
lives to tell the tale is testimony to his firm resolve and evidence of his good fortune. When he was back in that cold river, bullets splashing like rain around him, his long term welfare was undecided at best. Hopefully there will be sympathetic ears to hear his story, at the end of his cross-continental campaign, ending here in the land of the Great Crusades.

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THE RETURN TRIP

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Episode 31


 

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Contents TRT

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 17

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 17

…Tycho Brahe’s theoretical calculations were the foundation of astronomical law, eventually expanded by Johannes Kepler and that Newton fellow

That Newton fellow

That Newton fellow from Study.com

World Space Consortium

World Space Consortium

The events of that day in the year 2014, provides two important indicators to what led to this eventual orbiting cohabitation: Miss Bergestrom would become Mrs. McKinney in the coming months and together they would aggressively pursue a life spearheading the World Space Consortium’s grand venture out to Mars.

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Tycho

Tycho lander

This brings us (forward) to the business of bringing Space Colony 1 to full functionality. Part of that plan includes a Martian Lander named Tycho, which is going to be the first major project to be tackled by the McKinney’s. It is the only link between the orbiting Colony and the Martian surface.

The name “Tycho” pays homage to the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, who used his 16th Century observations to disprove mistaken notions that Tycho Brahe.JPGapplied to the proper planetary grouping that they know in 2030. His theoretical calculations were the foundation of astronomical law, eventually expanded by Johannes Kepler and that Newton fellow.

The versatile two-man lander saves wear and tear on the shuttle fleet, like Chronicle or any lifting systems like the Jupiter Piggyback workhorse. The deep-space shuttles do have the ability to achieve escape velocity, but dense atmospheres are a drag and it is far too heavy to put down on unpaved landing strips.

The task of preparing Tycho for its maiden mission will occupy the both colony pioneers, right up until departure time.


THE RETURN TRIP

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Chronicle

Episode 17


page 22

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 Contents TRT

Remote Cities and Capitals – WIF Geography

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Remote Cities and

Capitals on Earth

Many of us spend our days dreaming of getting away from it all. The hustle of the city, the stress of the commute, the noise and pollution… what could be better than escaping all that for one of the remotest spots on Earth?

Well, you may be surprised by what qualifies for ‘remote’. Each of the cities and capitals below is in some way cut-off from the rest of the world. They may be hard to get to, they may be geographically distant, or they may simply be isolated in some profound sense. Yet not all of them would naturally spring to mind when you hear the word ‘remote’. From the super-famous to the super-obscure, here are 10 places on Earth so out-of-the-way they make living in the sticks look like renting in downtown Manhattan.

10. Iquitos, Peru

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One way you can judge a city’s remoteness is by imaging what would happen there if all modern tech suddenly stopped functioning. For people living in London and New York, it would be a major hassle. For people living in Iquitos, Peru, it would quickly turn into Lord of the Flies.

 Iquitos is buried deep in the heart of the Amazon, surrounded by hundreds of miles of impenetrable rainforest. How deep is it buried? So deep that jumping on a boat will take you four days to reach civilization. And forget about roads. Iquitos has only a single outward road, and that dead-ends in a related settlement 65 miles away. With a population of nearly 400,000, Iquitos is the largest city on Earth not connected to the outside world by road.

In this wasteland of vegetation and violent, screaming nature, everything has to be imported. The price of everything from food, to clean water, to luxuries and clothes is sky-high (for Peru). Yet Iquitos isn’t exactly hard to visit. A local airport connects the town to the capital Lima. You just better pray nothing happens to ground all flights in Peru during your visit.

9. Ürümqi, China

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Ürümqi in China holds the distinction of being the furthest city from coastline anywhere in Eurasia (possibly on Earth). If you fancy a dip in the sea, you’re gonna have to trek over 2,240km to get there. Located in China’s remote northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Ürümqi is surrounded by a whole lot of nothing. Deserts, mountains, plains… basically, once you leave Ürümqi, there’s almost nothing to break up the monotony.

Another way Ürümqi is remote from the rest of China is culturally. The province it is part of is mostly Muslim, and signs appear in Arabic. People here are generally so suspicious of Beijing and ethnic Han Chinese that major riots sporadically break out, killing dozens.

 On the other hand, Ürümqi doesn’t exactly feel remote. A major outpost on the old Silk Road, it’s still a major transport hub for people travelling through Central Asia. That means visiting there feels less like traveling to one of the remotest cities on Earth, and more like stepping into the world’s largest bus station.

8. Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Russia

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You’d have to be stupid, mad or both to build a town like Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. A city of 180,000 situated on a cold, storm-lashed Russian peninsula, it’s almost hilariously inhospitable to life.

The whole town is surrounded by rumbling volcanoes and impassable mountains that have stopped anyone driving roads through to it. As a result, everything and everyone has to come in on tiny, rickety planes. There’s no settlements close to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky because it’s friggin’ impossible to build any on this hostile stretch of land. Moscow is over 4,000 miles away. The closest significant capital is probably Alaska’s state capital of Juneau. It’d be easier for residents to take a trip down to North Korea than it would be for them to visit their own government.

The town was founded as a base for the Russian navy, and wound up surviving thanks to good fishing. Today, it also gets a smattering of tourists who want to visit the nearby national park, and don’t mind stumping up insane amounts of money to get there.

 7. King Edward Point, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

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The capital of icy, windswept South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, King Edward Point isn’t a city by any stretch of the imagination. The summer population is below 25, and the winter population drops to about 12. A scientific and cultural outpost administered by the government of Great Britain, it’s a tiny blip of civilization surrounded by an ocean of howling emptiness.

Seriously, here’s the island on Google Maps. That tiny dot to the left? That’s the Falkland Islands, itself a pretty-darn remote settlement. The capital of the Falklands is nearly 500km from the fringes of the nearest country (Argentina). King Edward Point is a further 1,500km away. Although it’s employees are part of the British Antarctic Survey Team, British Antarctic Territory itself is 2,300km away. Stand in King Edward Point and look in any direction and you’re probably facing over 1,000km of terrifying emptiness.

The South Georgian capital is so remote that it doesn’t have a permanent population. The British Government, perhaps hoping to stop people from going mad, rotates its staff so no-one ever spends more than a couple of years living there.

6. Siwa Oasis, Egypt

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In terms of time taken to get there, Siwa Oasis in Egypt isn’t remote. You can catch a bus from Cairo and be there in less than half a day. But it’s what surrounds Siwa Oasis that earns it a place on this list. The town of 23,000 sits slap bang in the middle of the Sahara Desert.

This is an area of the world where the burning heat and mountains of sand mean it’s logistically-impossible for governments to police their own borders. Step outside in the middle of the day and you’re gonna find yourself flash-fried before you can say “burning flesh”. Even if Cairo is within easy driving distance, it feels like it’s in another universe.

Siwa Oasis’s remoteness can be seen in its history. Essentially cut-off from civilization prior to the invention of the automobile, it wound up with a unique Berber culture that’s different from anything else seen in the region. For one thing, it had a strong tradition of homosexuality and forms of gay marriage until King Fuad outlawed it in 1928. Less-surprisingly, it also clung to nomad customs not seen elsewhere for decades or even centuries. It might be an easy visit now, but historically Siwa Oasis has been one of the most-isolated places on Earth.

5. Mêdog, Tibet

medog

Mêdog in Tibet is a long, difficult, hair-raising drive from civilization that involves crossing frequently-impassable mountains and battling horrendous weather. Believe it or not, this is an improvement. Prior to 2013, there was no road connecting Mêdog at all. If you wanted to get there, you had to saddle up a horse and climb some 4,000 feet over two freakin’ mountains.

Why was Mêdog previously so difficult to get to? A lot of that has to do with where its founders chose to settle. Nestled in a narrow valley between towering mountain peaks, the city of 10,000 is both stupidly beautiful and basically just stupid. For decades, the trade-off for Mêdog’s sublime views was knowing that law enforcement couldn’t get out there in an emergency, and that there was no chance of you getting to a hospital if you got ill or hurt. Locals were at the mercy of nature, which sounds kinda cool until you realize it was totally possible to die in Mêdog from something as simple as an infected cut.

Even today, Mêdog is difficult to get to. The road Beijing built is only open 8 months of the year, and even then it is frequently closed by mudslides and snowfall.

4. Perth, Australia
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You’re probably wondering what the heck Perth is doing on this list. The 4th biggest city in Australia, Perth has a population of nearly 2 million, a jumping nightlife district, frequent flights to the rest of Australia and road connections to other cities. Yet this misses out two crucial facts. One: Perth is on Australia’s barren West Coast, where almost nobody lives. And Two: Australia is freakin’ massive.

To get to Sydney, you’d need to drive 2,045 miles across a sun-scorched bed of limestone so desolate it looks like something from a sci-fi film. The nearest city of at least 100,000 people (Adelaide) is 1,300 miles distant, only slightly-less than the distance from New York to Houston. And that’s traveling through the Outback, a place so hostile to life that they might as well rename it ‘the Punisher’.

For Australians living in Perth, it’s cheaper and easier to get to Indonesia than it is to almost anywhere else in their own country. If all modes of transport were to vanish tomorrow, residents of Perth would be utterly isolated from the rest of humanity (but, hey, at least their nightlife would still be good).

3. Funafuti, Tuvalu

funafuti

If it weren’t for the advent of affordable air travel, no-one in their right mind would ever go to Funafuti. The capital of the absurdly-tiny island nation of Tuvalu (itself only 26 km²), Funafuti is home to a mere 6,000 people. Little more than a collection of squat houses fringed by palm trees, it sprawls out alongside the narrow road that essentially marks Tuvalu’s entire landmass. The nearest lump of land with a population approaching 1m is Fiji, 1,134 kilometers away. To get to a major city, you’d have to fly to either New Zealand or Hawaii.

Although plenty of Pacific Island states are remote, Tuvalu takes the biscuit. A strip of coral surrounded by endless, roiling sea, it feels like the last place on Earth. To get there, you first have to get to Fiji, itself a pretty remote place. Then it’s hop on a rickety plane, cross your fingers and hope you don’t ditch into the sea hundreds of kilometers from civilization. According to one estimate, Funafuti is so distant it only receives 350 tourists a year – less than one a day. Equally-isolated Kiribati, by contrast, receives as many as 5,000.

2. Nuuk, Greenland

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Nuuk is the capital of and largest city in Greenland, a sentence which deftly disguises just how breathtakingly remote and tiny it really is. The entire population of Nuuk clocks in at 16,583, a number so small that if the city were in any other country, it’d be known instead as a village. The same sort of thinking applies to its remoteness. By Greenland standards, Nuuk isn’t remote (Ittoqqortoormiit in the east probably takes the prize). But that’s like saying Batman isn’t strong compared to the Incredible Hulk. Compared to you and me, he’s still the freakin’ Batman.

No other capital city on Earth is more northerly than Nuuk. And getting there is a gigantic pain in the derriere. Visitors have to transit via Iceland or Copenhagen, and flights are expensive. Once in Nuuk, getting anywhere else can be a challenge: Greenland is essentially one gigantic ice sheet with terrible weather and non-existent roads. Wander out of Nuuk in almost any direction and you’re soon lost in a wilderness of ice and nothingness. On the plus side, the wages in Nuuk are so stratospherically high that young Danes move here purely to make a killing.

 1. Yakutsk, Russia

yakutsk

Yakutsk is so comically-remote it feels like a joke. It’s the capital of the Yakutia region in Siberia, a region that covers over 1 million square miles, yet houses fewer than a million people. There are enough lakes and rivers in Yakutia for each resident to own one of each. It is divided into multiple administration centers the size of Utah, many only containing one tiny village.

Getting to Yakutsk itself is near-impossible. There’s only one road, which can only be used in winter (when the rivers freeze solid), and breaking down on it would mean certain death. There’s no railway. The river trip is 1,000 miles and can only be undertaken in summer, when the river isn’t frozen. You can fly in from Moscow, over 3,000 miles away, on a 6-hour plane, but most Russians can’t afford to do that.

Once you get there, Yakutsk is mind-blowingly inhospitable. It used to be used as a prison for political dissidents and it’s easy to see why. In a warm winter, the temperature ‘only’ drops to -30C. Most years it hits -50C. In other words, not only is Yakutsk hard to get to, it also makes you wonder why anyone would bother.


Remote Cities and Capitals

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– WIF Geography

Sci-Fi Commuting – WIF Into the Future

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Sci-Fi Methods of Travel

We May Soon Be Using

The world’s population is growing every day, which means that there are more commuters who need to get around. The increase in commuters will make gridlock in urban areas much worse, and will also put a lot of pressure on aging and outdated public transit systems. Not to mention, it could be devastating to the environment. To combat the growing problem, new, inexpensive, and innovative forms of transportation are going to be needed. While self-driving cars are expected to become the norm in about 25 years, what other forms of transportation will we be using?

10. Drone Train

In his video, designer Dahir Insaat shows how a large drone tethered to a track would be a cheap and eco-friendly way to transport lots of people. Insaat doesn’t give many details about his system, but claims that it can all be made with current technology and would be environmentally friendly.

Besides being a tethered drone, something else that stands out about the design is the inside of the drone where the passengers are held. It looks more like a bar and restaurant than a cramped train or airplane. And if you had to travel over a long distance, which would you rather choose?

9. Lopifit

If our ancestors knew that we had machines that allowed us to run or walk in one spot, they would probably laugh at us (but hopefully if you time travel and meet your ancient ancestors, the treadmill isn’t the topic you lead with). Trying to remedy the ridiculousness of treadmills and turn them into functional modes of transportation is the Dutch company Lopifit.

The Lopifit is a scooter-type vehicle that utilizes a battery and is powered by someone walking on a treadmill. The battery range is 34 miles and its top speed is about 15 miles per hour, which is faster than the average speed of a bicycle. It has six gears, can climb hills and even has interchangeable wheels for off road excursions. One Lopifit will set you back 1,899 Euros ($2,100 USD).

8. Quadrofoil

There’s a saying about boats: they’re holes in water that you dump money into. They are hard to maintain and most of them aren’t exactly energy efficient, meaning they’re expensive to drive as well.

For these reasons, boats like the Quadrofoil may become more popular in the future. The two passenger boat has an all-electric motor and from one charge, it has a 60 mile range. The boat uses hydrofoil technology, which means it uses special vanes, or wings, that push it out of the water, which cuts down on resistance and makes the boat go faster. In the case of the Quadrofoil, that’s about 21 knots (about 18 MPH).

The boat is almost silent and can be used in environmentally protected sanctuaries. If you want one, it costs about $18,700 for a baseline model.

7. The Shweeb

Bicycles are great for getting around, but they do have a few downsides. Once you get somewhere, you have to lock it up, then you have to find some place to store your helmet. Not to mention the contemptuous relationship between cyclists and drivers and how many people are killed and injured every year while riding a bike. For these reasons, the future of cycling may be something like The Shweeb, which is a human-powered monorail. The system uses aerodynamic pods in a tube that hang from low resistance tracks. By just pedaling, most riders reach 28 MPH, and up to five cars can be linked together.

A proof of concept was built at an amusement park in New Zealand and the designer says that they could be easily and inexpensively expanded to cities. Since they are powered by humans, there would be a minimal carbon footprint. Now, we just need to do something about that ridiculous name and we’re all set.

6. cTrain

Boston boasts a population of over 667,000 people and is one of the major tourist cities in the United States. That means when there is an event or bad weather, the city can become nightmarishly gridlocked. Their transit infrastructure is also badly out of date and to get moderate upgrades, it is going to cost the city $7.3 billion. Of course, Boston isn’t alone in this and cities across the world are struggling with gridlock and aging and inadequate public transit systems. However, we use Boston as the example, because a transit designer in Boston has a way to alter the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority for a measly $2.3 billion.

Emil Jacob’s idea is to replace all the buses, subways, and commuter rail with elevated electric street cars. The cTrain, which is short for Caterpillar Train, would use narrow cable-like rail lines that are elevated about two stories over the road. The system would run cars on top of the track, while other cars hang below, meaning two trains could use the track at the same time. A 40-foot train car could run on the same amount of power required to operate three golf carts and it could travel at speeds of 50 to 100 MPH.

Besides just being cheaper to install instead of upgrading, the cTrain would be less expensive to operate and it would be much more environmentally friendly.

5. 3D Express Coach

If you hate traffic, you might want to avoid China. It’s already home to the world’s longest traffic jam (it was 62 miles long and lasted for 12 days) and 14 million new cars are bought there every year. China’s population is also expected to increase by over 100 million people over the next 15 years – meaning the Chinese government will really need to think outside the box if they want to keep their citizens moving without poisoning everyone. One proposal is the 3D Express Coach that was first unveiled by the Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Company in 2010.

The vehicles, which can carry 300 people, span the whole road and on both sides of the double lane road are tracks. This would allow the bus to travel over the cars, which would have a twofold effect. The first is that it removes buses from the road, which would alleviate traffic. Secondly, by avoiding traffic and going above it, the 3D Express Coach can keep to their schedule, making them more reliable.

Test tracks for the Coach Express are set to be laid in China in 2016.

4. The Horizon System

An interesting, but far out way to travel long distances is the Horizon System, which was developed by a group of Scottish students. How it works is that you arrive at the airports of the future, which they call SkyStations. They will be placed throughout the cities and equipped with restaurants, bars, and an augmented reality mall. Which we guess is a thing that might exist at some point?

Once your SkyLink pod arrives, you board it, and you can go to another SkyStation nearby, or if you have a longer distance to travel, your pod will meet up with other pods on a specialized airstrip. Then, a drone will swoop down and, using powerful magnets, the SkyShip will pick up your pod like an “Eagle catching its prey.” This recharges the SkyShips’ battery, which allows the SkyShips to always be running.

After picking up the pods, the SkyShip will start to climb. Once it reaches a certain elevation, the pods will open up and you’ll be able to leave your seat. When you reach your destination, the SkyShip will drop off your pod at the airstrip and it will take you to the nearest SkyStation.

Of course, there is a long way to go before we have drones that can pick up trains, but the Horizon System shows what exciting things may come with advancements in transportation.

3. skyTran

Bordering the line between transportation and amusement park ride is NASA’s skyTran. The system uses rocket shaped cars that hold four people and hang from a cable. Using electromagnets, each car can reach 60 MPH, but they only use one-third of the energy of a hybrid car.

To install a skyTran system, it would cost a city $8 million per a kilometer and then it’s $25,000 to $30,000 per car, which is relatively cheap compared to the alternatives. For example, it costs anywhere from $100 million to $2 billion to build one kilometer of an underground system. Another bonus is that the skyTran can be set up in a matter of days, instead of months or years. The electromagnets also mean that it uses less energy, making the cars cheaper to run. SkyTran would be a personal transit system where electricity isn’t relied on.

Currently, skyTran is being tested in Tel Aviv, Israel. If the tests are successful, three other cities in Israel and several in the United States will be installing skyTran systems in 2018.

2. Passenger Drones

Flying cars may look cool in movies like Blade Runner, but there are some serious problems with them. For example, if you get into a fender bender or your flying car stalls in the sky, it could be a lot more serious than having a head-on collision on the ground. Plus, instead of just a driver’s license, people would also need a pilot’s license, which would be much harder to get because flying is obviously more complicated than driving. And if you’ve done some driving in a city with a lot of traffic, you know that many people should have never been granted their driver’s license (Toronto, we’re looking in your direction), so why would anyone risk using a flying car?

Tackling many of these potential problems is EHang Inc., a Chinese drone company. At the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, they unveiled the 184, a personal autonomous aerial vehicle, which is the world’s first passenger drone. It’s a single person drone that uses eight propellers and goes 1,000 to 1,650 feet off the ground, but it has a maximum altitude of 11,500 feet . It has a top speed of 62 MPH, and it can carry 264 pounds. The biggest limitation is that it can only keep a passenger airborne at sea level for 23 minutes and it takes two hours to charge it.

The controls for flying one are Idiocracytype easy. There are two commands that can be controlled on a tablet: take off, and land. Once the drone is in the air, it will guide itself to your destination and land safely on its own.

The EHang is expected to go on sale later in 2016 with a price tag between $200,000 and $300,000.

1. Evacuated Tube Transport

An interesting thing about air is that while we can’t feel it while we are standing still or moving slowly, the faster you move, the more air resistance you meet, and the more it slows you down. However, if there was no air, we could move around much more freely. Of course if there was no air we’d all die, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, a lack of air resistance is the idea behind evacuated tube transport, which would use frictionless vehicles in an airless or near airless tube.

One example of an evacuated tube transport system is Elon Musk’s Hyperloop. The Hyperloop removes most of the air from a steel tube, and then cars are pushed using a tiny amount of air compression. Musk proposed that the first Hyperloop would connect Los Angeles to San Francisco, a distance of about 380 miles. The passenger cars could leave every 10 seconds and they could reach 760 MPH, meaning the trip would be done in half an hour (whereas by car, it would be about a six hour drive). The cost of the Hyperloop is $6 billion, which sounds like a lot of money. However, California is already building a much-delayed, high speed train, and it’s costing them ten times more with a price tag of at least $64 billion. Then when it is done, it will only go 220 MPH – not nearly as fast as the Hyperloop. Musk has already raised $120 million in investor money and wants to have the systemcarrying passengers by 2021.

Beyond California, another company called ET3 wants to use the same principle and have frictionless trains that travel from continent to continent. Their vacuum tube uses electromagnets and cars would carry six people, reaching speeds of 4,000 MPH, which is more than five times faster than the current land speed record. However, due to the way the car increases its velocity, passengers inside never feel like they are going faster than a sharp turn in a car.


Sci-Fi Commuting

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– WIF Into the Future

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #218

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #218

…Upon leaving Orange County California Judith is faced with one big uphill named the Rocky Mountains; sea level to fifteen thousand feet in a matter of 200 miles…

Rocky Mountain Railroad Excursion by Howard Fogg

The three day return trip is doubly melancholy for Judith Eastman; she leaves something behind and she doesn’t know what to expect when she gets home, having been gone over three weeks. She stares blankly out her window during the day, tosses and turns in her Pullman at night. Reality has indeed settled in.

If she were in a taxicab, she could tell the driver to step on it, but a train has its own plodding pace, 60 mph, downhill, full throttle. And sure as there is a downhill, there is an uphill to match. Upon leaving Orange County California you discover one big uphill named the Rocky Mountains; sea level to fifteen thousand feet in a matter of 200 miles. At the highest elevations, snow has taken over the mountain peaks, very pretty indeed, but two months from now, passage over the mountains is touch and go. Even a thousand horsepower has trouble with four feet of fresh fallen snow.

But once you have passed the Nevada Territory, the leeward deserts and wasteland, the locomotive is faced with a thousand miles of seemingly level terrain. Of course the quality of sight-seeing goes downhill with the land, with nothing but endless waves of windblown prairie grasses. Throw in the occasional bison and a rodent hunting hawk for every acre, you have the American heartland in a nutshell.

  Judith just stares past it all, homesick and alone.

Rocky Mountain Steam Train by Max Jacquiard

What she finds at home will not comfort her.

“Harv is very sick,” tells brother, George Eastman, wearing a surgeon’s mask who greets her along with her old dog.

“Hello, Frisky,” she acknowledges her faithful pet. “Sick? Where? Paris?”

“No, he came home four days after you left, seemed fine and sorely happy to be back, even worked at the office for a couple of weeks.” George gathers the courage he will need. “Then that damned flu hit him from out of nowhere. I found him in bed, after the magazine called me wondering if I had seen him.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Pearson Eastman Journal-001

Episode #218


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