Filed under: Brave New World, DARPA, Government, Heinlein, Paleo-Future, Predictions, Robert A. Heinlein, Science, Science Fiction, tech | Tags: 1812, Annie Jacobsen, DARPA, Joe Haldeman, Paul F. Gorman, powered armor, Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers, The Atlantic, The Forever War
Seems like an appropriate subject for post #1,812:
Gorman sketched out an early version of the thinking in a paper he wrote for DARPA after his retirement from the Army in 1985, in which he described an “integrated-powered exoskeleton” that could transform the weakling of the battlefield into a veritable super-soldier. The “SuperTroop” exoskeleton he proposed offered protection against chemical, biological, electromagnetic, and ballistic threats, including direct fire from a .50-caliber bullet. It “incorporated audio, visual, and haptic [touch] sensors,” Gorman explained, including thermal imaging for the eyes, sound suppression for the ears, and fiber optics from the head to the fingertips. Its interior would be climate-controlled, and each soldier would have his own physiological specifications embedded on a chip within his dog tags. “When a soldier donned his ST [SuperTroop] battledress,” Gorman wrote, “he would insert one dog-tag into a slot under the chest armor, thereby loading his personal program into the battle suit’s computer,” giving the 21st-century soldier an extraordinary ability to hear, see, move, shoot, and communicate.
At the time Gorman wrote, the computing technology needed for such a device did not yet exist. By 2001, however, DARPA had unveiled two exoskeleton programs, and by 2013, in partnership with U.S. Special Operations Command, DARPA had started work on a super-soldier suit called TALOS (Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit) unlike anything in the history of warfare. Engineered with full-body ballistics protection; integrated heating and cooling systems; embedded sensors, antennas, and computers; 3D audio (to indicate where a fellow warfighter is by the sound of his voice); optics for vision in various light conditions; life-saving oxygen and hemorrhage controls; and more, TALOS is strikingly close to the futuristic exoskeleton that Gorman first envisioned for DARPA 25 years ago, and aims to be “fully functional” by 2018. “I am here to announce that we are building Iron Man,” President Barack Obama said of the suit during a manufacturing innovation event in 2014. When the president said, “This has been a secret project we’ve been working on for a long time,” he wasn’t kidding.
Yeah, though I’d say it was much more like the powered armor from either Starship Troopers or The Forever War than Iron Man. But then, something like military applications of a powered exoskeleton is hardly a new idea, no matter how you want to look at it. And it certainly isn’t surprising that this is something DARPA has been interested in, as I have noted in a number of previous posts.
Still, interesting to see it actually being translated into reality.
Filed under: Architecture, Art | Tags: architecture, art, Historic City of Jefferson, Hurst John, jim downey, Martha John, Mid-Century Modern, The State Historical Society of Missouri
This past weekend the organization Historic City of Jefferson hosted their 10th Annual Homes Tour, featuring the historic architectural designs of Hurst John. Prior to the tour of homes, a presentation about the work and aesthetics of Hurst John was made by his daughter, Martha K. John. Martha is herself a registered architect, a member (and former state board director) of the American Institute of Architects, and serves on the Missouri State Board For Architects, Professional Engineers, Professional Land Surveyors and Professional Landscape Architects. She is also my wife of nearly three decades.
Hurst John is widely considered to have been a master of what is now known as Mid-Century Modern design. His homes are highly sought and command a premium in the market. His designs have readily-recognized characteristics. He was known for attention to detail and close supervision of construction. And his papers & architectural plans are collected at The State Historical Society of Missouri.
It was a fun event. Martha’s presentation about her father and his work was informal, relaxed, informative. The displays of Hurst John’s plans and sketches were a glimpse back in time, a chance to see how early consideration of natural lighting and use of recovered materials presaged modern passive solar and recycling efforts. And the tour of the homes was just a delight — it was the first time either Martha or I had ever seen the interior of any of these residences, and it was enjoyable to see how her father’s vision still remained after half a century of use and occasional renovations. I’m going to include a bunch of images from the event ‘below the fold’ under my name. Check it out if you would like to see some of what wasn’t covered in the links above.
Filed under: Google, Science Fiction, Travel, Wales, Writing stuff, YouTube | Tags: afineline.org, blogging, Google Earth, jim downey, Llangelynnin, Paul Levy, photography, Science Fiction, snowdoniaguide.com, St. Cybi's Well, travel, video, Wales, writing, www youtube
The title of the next chapter is “Llangelynnin” (which refers to the church/churchyard, rather than just the holy well at this site — this is a change from what I had originally planned), and in doing a little research I found this nice bit of video:
The holy well isn’t shown in this video, but is basically directly below the drone at about the 0:13 mark. It can be seen at the very southern point of the wall enclosure here, and in an image in this entry. Some of my source material is drawn from this travelogue from 2006 (towards the bottom of that post). And I think the video gives a very nice feel for the remoteness of the site, and why I have wanted to include it in the story I am telling.
Oh, I haven’t said in a while, but I now have approximately 85,000 words written (that’s actual novel, not including notes or reference material), with about 25,000 – 30,000 to go before I’m finished (and a fair amount of that is partially done already in notes and reference material). So I’m not in the closing stretch, but am getting there. It’s progress, anyway.
Filed under: Art, Book Conservation, General Musings | Tags: art, blogging, book conservation, bookbinding, E. Forbes Smiley, honesty, http://narrative.ly, jim downey, maps, Michael Blanding, The Map Thief, trust
Excellent excerpt. You should read the whole thing, but I want to highlight this passage:
Smiley may have missed the X-Acto knife blade that fell from his pocket, but a librarian named Naomi Saito had not. The Beinecke’s librarians make regular sweeps of the room to ensure that materials are handled properly — and to subtly alert patrons they are being watched. As Saito had entered to make her check, she immediately spied the blade on the floor. Few objects could be more disturbing to someone who works in a building full of rare books than a tool that can separate the pages of a book from its binding. Saito picked up the blade in a tissue and walked back out of the room.
This is one of those things which sometimes surprises even me: that I am trusted to work on books which contain maps and other prints which are often quite valuable (or just those items themselves). Oh, I’ve earned that trust, and I and the clients I work with always take steps to document and protect the items I am entrusted with (the details of which I won’t go into, for obvious reasons) for the brief period of time I have them. But still, with my skill set it would be relatively easy for me to lift out the occasional item and leave no trace of it. Such trust — along with the trust that I won’t just screw up in my work and destroy something — is humbling. And a little scary, truth be told.
Filed under: Apollo program, Art, Astronomy, BoingBoing, Carl Sagan, Jupiter, Mars, NASA, Saturn, Science, Space, YouTube | Tags: Alex Gorosh, Apollo, art, astronomy, blogging, BoingBoing, Carl Sagan, Earth, jim downey, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Moon, NASA, Neptune, Saturn, science, solar system, space, Sun, Uranus, Venus, video, www youtube, Wylie Overstreet, Xeni Jardin
That does a better job of getting the real sense of scale than just about anything else I’ve seen. Wonderful.
Filed under: Connections, Feedback, Humor, Publishing, Science Fiction, Slate, Writing stuff | Tags: blogging, direct publishing, Elena Ferrante, fate, feedback, George R.R. Martin, jim downey, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Laugh-In, Laura Miller, literature, reviews, Scarlett Thomas, Science Fiction, Slate, St. Cybi's Well, writing
Good article, worth reading the whole thing. Here’s an excerpt:
The fate of most books is a fragile thing; readers and the media get distracted easily. Any author’s beloved brainchild is more likely than not to slip through the cracks because it came out on the eve of a huge news event, or when the reading public was preoccupied with some other time-devouring darling, whether it be by George R.R. Martin, Karl Ove Knausgaard, or Elena Ferrante. If a novel does seize that fickle attention, it had better deliver on its promises, or the author may never get a second chance. Even when a novelist scores a big hit, the book that follows it isn’t guaranteed anything more than an advantage in garnering review attention. Pop quiz: Can you name the titles of the novels that Alice Sebold, Yann Martel, Mark Haddon, and Patrick Suskind published after The Lovely Bones, The Life of Pi, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and Perfume?
This also applies to self-published work, of course. Another factor that scares the hell out of me as I keep writing St Cybi’s Well.
But I *think* I’ve just finished the current chapter. I’ll take another look at it tomorrow, and decide. Slow, uneven steps, but forward progress nonetheless.
Filed under: Government, Politics, Religion, Science Fiction, Society, Wales, Writing stuff | Tags: blogging, Communion of Dreams, Dafydd ap Gwilym, Darnell Sidwell, excerpt, jim downey, Science Fiction, St David's Cathedral, St. Cybi's Well, Strata Florida, travel, Wales, writing
It’s been a month. Let’s have another excerpt from the current chapter of St Cybi’s Well I am working on, this time set at this site. A somewhat-related personal experience from a decade ago which … inspired … the larger scene from which this is drawn.
“Yes.” The old man took a deep breath, let it out in a sigh. “Think of the reliquary at St David’s. What did you feel there?”
Darnell thought back. It had only been a few days, and yet so much had happened that it seemed to be an age ago. “Solace.”
“Solace,” repeated Eleazer. “Gentle reassurance, succor for the spirit in time of turmoil.”
“Yes,” agreed Darnell.
“Comfort, but not a cure.” Eleazer looked him full in the face. “Was it enough?”
Darnell saw the reliquary in his mind, found himself standing there before it again, feeling what he felt. “No.”
“Solace is what the holy men offer. It is what they always offer. Just as the leaders, the kings and princes and politicians, offer power. That’s what they understand, how they try and shape the world.” Eleazer gestured towards the memorial to Dafydd ap Gwilym. “But the poets … ah, the poets, the artists, the musicians … they offer something else, don’t they?”
Eleazer nodded. “Yes. They offer dreams. Dreams of a better world.”