Episode #5 of the Boing Boing Boing podcast is ready for downloading. Our guest this week is George Dyson, tech historian and author of books including "Project Orion," which chronicles America's now-aborted plans to send nuclear-powered spaceships to Mars and other planets. Excerpt:
[George Dyson]: "In a world where now you can't fly with a bottle of water, we were going to let these physicists fly with 3,000 nuclear bombs. We need to remember the freedom that we've lost. We've become the opposite of what we were trying to be."During the podcast (total time: 39:38), Mark, Pesco and I talk with him about:
* Burger King's pot patties (starts at 0:45)LISTEN:
* The selfish part of your brain (3:26)
* Batman creator Bob Kane's comic swipes (6:17)
* Roy Lichtenstein's comic swipes (9:07)
* Open source nukes, Kim Jong Il set up U.S. the bomb (12:19)
* Project Orion: nuke-powered spaceships (16:48)
* What it's like to live in a treehouse, as George once did (25:53)
* How to pee in a baidarka, or Aleutian kayak (28:01)
* George's next book, "Barricelli's Universe." (29:10)
Podcast (MP3), Podcast (.m4a, with chapters). Podcast Feed, Subscribe via iTunes, Direct MP3 Link (64K, 19MB), Direct MPEG-4 Link (20MB). About file formats: MP3 is the more commonly-used audio format for podcasts. MPEG-4 (MP4/AAC/m4a) includes support for chapters, embedded artwork, notes, and urls (iTunes-compatible).
UNPUBLISHED "ORION" DOCS:
George shared with us some scans of never-before published, previously classified documents from Project Orion, and I've posted them to Flickr. They include letters to Project Orion scientists from officials at the US Defense Department and Air Force, and internal documents from General Atomics:
He tells us a little more about his next book by email:
"Barricelli's Universe" will be a creation myth for the digital universe -- based on solid new documents, but leaving room for the imagination to fill things in. Now that we are 60 years out from the beginning, we can start trying to look ahead. With a nod to J. D. Bernal, who warned (in "The World, the Flesh, and the Devil") that “we are still too close to the birth of the universe to be certain about its death.”UPDATE, 10/17 1PM PT: More documents uploaded to the photo set, details here.
MUSIC: The tune you hear in this podcast is by Q-Burns Abstract Message, aka producer and indie digital music entrepreneur Michael Donaldson -- who is featured today in this extremely cool Apple profile.
The song is his remix of "Angel Soup" by Cold Hands, recently released on vinyl and digital via Blunted Funk Records. Listen to the whole thing here, with info on where you can purchase his DRM-free music.
TECH NOTES: We recorded this podcast as a Skype conference call, and captured it with AudioHijack. The audio was later edited in Apple's Garage Band, after some help from Levelator. Special thanks to Leo Laporte for invaluable tech advice on how to tweak Skype for better audio quality, some of which is also archived here.
Reader comment: Mark Levitt says,
I was listening to the BoingBoingBoing podcast with George Dyson and it reminded me of the novel "Footfall". Written by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, it tells the story of an alien invasion and earth's struggle for survival.
The way the earthlings eventually win is to build a spaceship powered by exploding nuclear bombs underneath.
I always liked the story and the go into a fair bit of detail about how it would work. I never realised that someone actually tried to build one or even that Niven and Pournelle hadn't just made the whole idea up themselves.
Anyway, I loved listening to the podcast. Thanks!
Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: email@example.com.