Communion Of Dreams

Now, that’s how to make use of the ISS.
January 18, 2008, 2:30 pm
Filed under: BoingBoing, Cory Doctorow, Humor, ISS, NASA, Science, Space

How? Use it as a launching platform for paper airplanes.

Nope, I’m not kidding.

Via Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing, a link to this report:

Researchers from the University of Tokyo have teamed up with members of the Japan Origami Airplane Association to develop a paper aircraft capable of surviving the flight from the International Space Station to the Earth’s surface.

The researchers are scheduled to begin testing the strength and heat resistance of an 8 centimeter (3.1 in) long prototype on January 17 in an ultra-high-speed wind tunnel at the University of Tokyo’s Okashiwa campus (Chiba prefecture). In the tests, the origami glider — which is shaped like the Space Shuttle and has been treated to withstand intense heat — will be subjected to wind speeds of Mach 7, or about 8,600 kilometers (5,300 miles) per hour.

First, a note – I tried checking sources on this, and pretty much everything points back to the Pink Tentacle report. This could all be a joke.

But even if it is, I think that it’s great.

There will undoubtedly be those who say that such activities are a waste of time, money, and scientific talent. Yeah, maybe they are. But you know, if we completely lose all sense of whimsy just because something is associated with “science”, then an essential element of creativity – play – will be missing. This is an excellent way to pique the interest of anyone who has ever thrown a paper airplane, to tie a very basic human toy to real science and technology.

As a public relations move, it’s brilliant. Even if it is just a joke.

Jim Downey

2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Whimsy I have no problem with. I’d love to participate.

But … this really should be a whimsical addition to an already crowded schedule, scheduled between the launch of the 3rd UN Manned Mission to Mars, the launch of the first commercial expedition to the belt, the fourth unmanned Oort probe .. you get my drift.

Paper airplanes – cool. But we’re not doing nearly enough other cool and groovy stuff. I want to be doing whimsical stuff on Mars, god-dammit.

Comment by Brian

OK, Brian, fair point. And one I can completely agree with.

But the comments at the sites I linked to showed how some people were reacting to this news, with the “why are we wasting money on this crap when there are starving people in . . .” line. And others saying “well, they should only be doing technical things.”

So, sure, this’d be better if it was a whimsical addition way down the line – like my idea for developing something like actual quidditch in the low gravity environment of say the Moon (using technology rather than magic for the brooms and whatnot, of course). [That, by the way, is something I’ve played with for one of the other books in my future history series, set in the 2030s.]

Jim D.

Comment by Communion of Dreams

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