Tarpinian: AltCar Expo Report

Bill Goodwin, Greg Bear, and Howard V. Hendrix. (The image behind them is a 3D photo of a 50 mile section of Gale crater)

By John King Tarpinian: The AltCar Expo was held at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on September 29. If you are in the market for a 100% electric BMW or a Dodge 2500 CNG pick-up this was the place to be. My little Volvo only has 26,000 miles on it so I’ll have to wait for next year when they show off the hovercrafts.

My attendance and the only reason to run the gauntlet known as Carmageddon was to hear the talk, “Mars and the Heart of Humanity: Ray Bradbury’s Million-Year Picnic.” Bill Goodwin, Greg Bear and Howard V. Hendrix each took turns talking about Mars in fiction and how it relates to reality, giving credit to Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, H.G. Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs. It is hard to talk about Mars, in science, without mentioning these four gentlemen and their contributions to literature.

Charles Baker brought with him a $30,000 1/10th scale model of Curiosity along with a 20” diameter wheel from the sister rover that is used to test possible maneuvers here on earth before they try them on the Red Planet.

If you have seen photos of the rover you may have noticed holes in the wheels’ treads. The reason for the holes is so that sand/pebbles will “fall out” and not weigh down the rover. The original design had the openings be the letters JPL but politics got in the way. So they redesigned it with the holes. What the geeks at JPL did not mention was that the three rows on each wheel spell out JPL in Morse Code. The geeks won!!! (You can see the holes in the photo with the rover model sitting on top of the wheel.)

1/10th scale model of Curiosity Rover being held by Charles Baker.

An extra wheel for Curiosity.