Apollo 16 Lunar Rover “Grand Prix”

An evening pause: This seems especially appropriate with the arrival of another rover on Mars last week.

On their first day of three on the lunar surface, John Young and Charles Duke deployed their rover and took it for a test drive before heading out to nearby Plum Crater for two hours of sample gathering and exploration.

This footage shows Young driving with Duke filming and reporting what he sees. The goal was to gather engineering data on how the rover’s wheels functioned in the very dusty lunar soil.

This short clip nicely illustrates the ambitious achievement of the American Apollo missions that should give pause to any arrogant modern young engineer. This was before home computers and CAD-CAM. It was designed by hand and slide-rule, using inches, pounds, and feet. And it worked, and worked magnificently. Oh if we today could only do as well.

Hat tip Björn “Local Fluff” Larsson.

Iron Butterfly – In a Gadda Da Vida

An evening pause: Hat tip Mike Nelson, who adds this tidbit of the song’s history:

The lyrics are about Adam and Eve living “In the Garden of Eden” but Doug Ingles, the composer, consumed an entire gallon of wine the night he wrote it, and when he sang it to a bandmate to transcribe the lyrics he slurred words so badly it got transcribed as In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida instead, which in the end stuck.

Abraham Lincoln – an annual tribute

An evening pause: On this, the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, I must once again honor his memory, most especially because the Marxist, anti-American bigots who are now running roughshod across our once free nation wish to cancel him by actually accusing the man who freed the slaves of being a racist.

And though he freed the slaves, I think Lincoln’s most enduring contribution to American history, a contribution that now has sadly been lost, was his limitless good will for everyone, even to those who hated him and wished to kill him. Had he not been assassinated, American history might have been far better because Lincoln would have had the clout to ease the worst elements of Reconstruction, while forcing through reforms in the former southern slave states.

The modern Democrats in Congress — and their supporters nationwide — might benefit by reading some history about Lincoln. Alas, I have no hope of this.

As I wrote for last year’s tribute,

Lincoln stood for freedom for all humans, the central heart of the American experiment. He was willing and did die for that stance. We should all be willing to do no less.

The video below shows probably every photograph ever taken of Lincoln, in chronological order. You can see him age and mature. You can also see a gaunt and serious man who appears to care deeply about whatever he does.

The Muppets – Bohemian Rhapsody

An evening pause: I know I’ve posted this song more than a few times previously, but this version is truly unique. I had even posted it previously, back in 2012. More than enough time however has passed, so I think it okay to show it again. As I noted then, “A very talented actor once told me that a great deal of all comedy is based on contrast, on juxtaposing extreme opposites in unexpected ways.”

This does that quite well I think.

Hat tip Frank Kelly.

Bell Labs – The Transistor

An evening pause: This 9-minute documentary, made in 1952 by Bell Labs, provides a short and clear history of the transistor as well as its predecessor, the vacuum tube. It also tries to imagine the future that such a new invention might bring. As the youtube page notes,

While The Transistor’s vision of the future seems somewhat quaint in retrospect, it captures a moment in time before the transistor became ubiquitous; a time when Bell Labs wanted the world to know that something important had occurred, something that was about to bring tremendous change to everyone’s daily lives.

Hat tip Jim Mallamace.

Beals Science – Resurrecting a carbide lamp

An evening pause: Long time cavers are very familiar with the carbide lamp, as it was used routinely until around 1998, when LED lights arrived and finally superseded it.

Until then, the advantage of a carbide light was the quality of the light it produced, a soft bright glow rather than the harsh reflective rings produced by older electric lights.

The disadvantage however was the endless fiddling required to keep them working. For example, near the end of this video when he finally gets the light to work, he turns up the water flow to brighten the light. I guarantee that very soon the light would go out, as he was flooding the carbide. The water drip had to be precisely right. Too slow and not enough gas. Too fast and too much water.

I personally hated carbide lights because of that fiddling, especially because lamps made after 1970 were junk and didn’t work well. Most cavers who used carbide would scour yard sales to find old lights like this one, as older carbide lamps were made well and would work reliably.

Hat tip Jeff Poplin.

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