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IT'S A STRANGE THING....

The funny thing about the Flying Kettle Project is that the basic idea is so simple and low-tech.

Many times I am asked, "Why, if it's such a great idea, hasn't anyone done it already?"

(Although this seems to be, and in fact is, a perfectly valid query, it is sometimes spoken of as the Noodle's Objection, because of course it could be raised against any innovation whatever, high-tech or low-tech!)

The nineteenth century was the era of world-shaking yet quite simple technological advances: telephones, steamships and steam railroads, the gasoline engine, the machine gun and barbed wire, efficient steelmaking...... the list is endless....

In fact there is an (apocryphal) account that around 1900 the head of the US Patent Office advocated closing his office on the grounds that everything useful had already been discovered!

Anyway, the Steam Balloon and the Steam Airship do seem to be pretty promising ideas, as I hope I have demonstrated elsewhere on this site, and they are certainly low-technology in the sense that they do not require any highly sophisticated materials or processes - they are even relatively low-cost developments - and they have never been done before. I intend to run with them for some time.

I think there are quite a few other possible concepts like this that haven't actually been put into practice yet.... What does "existence" mean in this context, eh? I'm really referring to pure potential...

A parallel is the principle of the windsurfer. The essence of the windsurfer is the swiveling mast. Nobody seems to have thought of such a craft until 1970 or so. Yet the basic structure could easily have been made by the Ancient Greeks or Chinese.

There is the saying "Nobody builds railroads until it's time to railroad". This is a truism because it is impossible to disprove, so it doesn't actually say anything. However it is true that the main thrust of technological progress is completely dependent upon the progression of basic physics and of materials science. For example, we couldn't make transistors until we had figured out some quantum physics and also had the ultra-pure materials required. From this point of view the Steam Balloon, like the windsurfer, the modern type of catamaran, and the paraglider, is a technological curiosity or backwater, because it could have been made anytime in the last two hundred years. That doesn't mean that it can't be a most effective development, however... We shall see!



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