Smokeless Rockets

Reporters wrote about merry visions of smokeless space rockets and impulse-powered engines out of Star Trek when a propulsion system that emits nothing but heat was introduced this week at a conference in Southern California:

James Woodward, a history professor at California State University in Fullerton, presented his research into Mach-Lorentz thrusters Wednesday at the Future in Review conference here. Mach-Lorentz thrusters (MLTs), assuming they can be scaled up from lab tests, could provide a new source of propulsion that “puts out thrust without blowing stuff out the tailpipe,” Woodward said.

So they never got around to wondering why a professor of history would be making this kind of announcement….

[Thanks to David K. M. Klaus for the link.]

The Way the Future Was

Here’s a curiosity for collectors: Andrew Porter has scanned images of nine postcards and two souvenir buttons he bought at the Hayden Planetarium that document the popularization of space exploration long before the first Moon landing. For example, the caption on one of them reads:

THE VIKING ROCKET. This authentic 45 foot precision instrument is an actual rocket composed in part of sections recovered from the wreckage of Vikings built by the Martin Company of Baltimore and used by the Navy to probe the upper atmosphere. A rocket like this reached an altitude of 158 miles in May 1954.

And of course, the diagram of the Solar system shows 9 planets. Ah, the good old days.