May 16, 2005

From Bromley to Kenosha to the red planet with a bang

Here's a good quote from Bick:

Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.
-H.G. Wells, writer (1866-1946)

Made me think about Herbert George Wells, (as opposed to thinking about GHWB), a quite interesting fellow and the youngest of four. His father was a gardener, shopkeeper and professional cricket player in Bromley England. H.G. broke his leg when he was 8 and passed the time reading, which changed the direction of his life. Later his father had an accident which ended his cricket career and the family was forced to send their sons out as apprentices, H.G. going to the local draper. He was a failure as a draper and turned to the world of ideas-- science and socialism, he won some scholarships and became a writer. One of his best known works is The War of the Worlds (Pearson's Magazine, London, 1897) in which he foresees the invention of the infrared laser:

'Many think that in some way they (the Martians) are able to generate an intense heat in a chamber of practically absolute non-conductivity. This intense heat they project by means of a polished parabolic mirror of unknown composition, in a parallel beam against any object they choose... However it is done, it is certain that a beam of heat is the essence of the matter...Whatever is combustible flashed into flame at its touch, lead runs like water, it softens iron, cracks and melts glass, and when it falls on water incontinently that explodes into steam.'

Wells' War of the Worlds was used in a radio broadcast in 1938 by a man from Kenosha Wisconsin by the name of Orson Welles, no relation. Orson's mother passed away when he was 9 and his father started drinking, and Orson had to fend for himself.

In one novel in 1914 Wells wrote about a process that would speed up the rate of radioactive decay. In the novel this invention was used to create bombs of incredible force. The physicist Leó Szilárd acknowledged that the book inspired him and led to his discovery of the nuclear chain reaction.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

Web Counter
Web Site Counter

Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]