November 12, 2006 at 8:12 pm | Posted in Books, Globalization, History, Research, Science & Technology, USA | Leave a comment







Samuel P. Langley (1834-1906)



Samuel Pierpont Langley was born in Roxbury, Massachusets, in 1834. Langley’s formal education ended with his graduation from high school, and in
astronomy was largely self-taught. In 1866, after working as an assistant astronomer at
Harvard College Observatory for a year or so, he took on an astronomer position at the
U.S. Naval Academy. However he chose to move on again the next year, to become director of
the then newly endowed Allegheny Observatory of the Western University of Pennsylvania.
In 1887 he left Allegheny Observatory (in much better shape than
he found it) to become assistant secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington
DC, where he succesfully pushed for the founding of what is now known as the Smithsonian
Astrophysical Observatory, of which Langley became director in 1890.

Today Langley is primarily remembered for his pioneering work on the measurement of the
solar constant, and equally pioneering studies of the infrared portion of the solar
spectrum. By 1880 Langley has perfected his bolometer. This instrument was based on a then
already well-known property of metals, namely the fact that their electrical resistivity
is a sensitive function of temperature. Langley’s bolometer was so sensitive that it could
detect thermal radiation from a cow a quarter of a mile away. His first “map” of the
infrared portion of the solar spectrum was published in 1894.
1895, badly in need of addidional manpower due to ever increasing administrative duties,
Langley hired Charles Greeley Abbot (1872-1973), then a 23 year old graduate student at
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Abbot became equally fascinated with the
solar constant problem, and carried out
Langley’s program with flying colors for the following half century.

In 1888 Langley published a beautifully written popular science book entitled The
New Astronomy
, with a strong emphasis on recent developments in Solar Physics, which
gained a very broad readership and did much to popularize the rising science of

Starting in 1886, Langley became increasingly fascinated with the prospect of
heavier-than-air flight.
Once again self-taught in aerodynamical
principles, he launched his first steam engine-powered unmanned aircraft in 1896, with
limited success, though sufficient to secure steady funding from the War Department to
pursue his aircraft development efforts. In October 1903 his first manned aircraft was
launched by catapult… into the Potomac river, with the young pilot Charles Manley
sufficiently thrilled by the experience to try again less than three months later,
unfortunately with much the same results. This last public and highly publicized failure
was particularly hard on Langley, especially since a mere nine days layer Wilbur and
Orville Wright flew themselves off the ground and into history.

Langley was a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, and was for a time
president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1886 he was
awarded both the
Rumford Medal by the Royal Society
of London
, and the Draper Medal of the National Academy of Sciences,
and in 1893 the Janssen Prize of the Paris Academy. In 1905 Langley suffered a stroke that
left him partly paralyzed and in the care of his sister. He died of a second stroke in
February 1906.


Eddy, J.A. 1990, Journal for the History of Astronomy, 21, 111-120.

Hufbauer, K. 1991, Exploring the Sun, Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University

Langley, Samuel (Pierpont)

(born Aug. 22, 1834, Roxbury, Mass., U.S.-died Feb. 27, 1906, Aiken, S.C.)

U.S. astronomer and aeronautics pioneer. He taught for many years at the future
University of Pittsburgh. He studied the effect of solar activity on weather and invented
the bolometer (1878), a radiant-heat detector sensitive to extremely small temperature
differences. He began conducting experiments on lift and drag of wings by building flying
machines, and in 1896 one of his heavier-than-air machines became the first to achieve
sustained unmanned flight, flying 3,000 ft (900 m) along the Potomac River.


November 12, 2006 at 7:19 pm | Posted in Financial, Globalization, History, Middle East, Military, Research | Leave a comment










November 12, 2006 at 1:51 pm | Posted in Arabs, Economics, Financial, Globalization, Middle East, Oil & Gas, Research, Science & Technology | Leave a comment









2nd International

Refinery Forum

5th – 6th December 2006

Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai, UAE

2nd International Refinery Forum


Mon, 6 Nov 2006

For most of the last three decades, the oil industry was burdened with surplus refining
capacity and margins were low and hardly encouraging. Many refineries were shutdown and
many projects were cancelled.

Environmental legislation has become so wide-spread that the industry channelled most
investment to meet the often-changing product specification in order to stay in business.
The industrial and developed countries hardly grant licenses for new plants, or make them
very expensive to grant on account of public objections and the environment.

The continuing rise in oil prices during the last three years has often been attributed
among other things, to the state of the refining industry worldwide – particularly
refinery configuration and capacities in the US, which have been affected by the
introduction of new fuel specifications, coming at a time of reduced throughput capacity
at US refineries. The result has been an increase in product prices and refinery margins
that are at the highest levels since the beginning of 2006.

The world is suddenly aware of the lack of an adequate refining capacity and quality. This
is likely to persist for some time. However, with greater accessibility to feedstock, high
liquidity and its advantageous geographical position to supply markets in North America,
Europe and the Far East, the Middle East’s commercial advantages for new refinery projects
are clear.

China and India have also
become important players in the downstream sector given their high economic growth that
has further fuelled demand for Middle Eastern petroleum. Investors are now looking for
opportunities closer to the growing consumer markets in these countries with a result that
new refining capacity is now planned in China and India as well as the Middle East.

This international forum will assess the most salient issues currently impacting the
regional and international refining sector. An influential panel of experts will analyse
the current commercial environment and future prospects for the refining sector given the
growth that is being fuelled by increasing demand for refined products from China, India,
Latin America and the Middle East.


Dr. Ahmed Al Refai
Jordan Petroleum Refinery Co. Ltd, Jordan

Gary King
Dubai Mercantile Exchange, UAE

Ed Arnold
Group Manager
Jacobs Consultancy, USA

Peter Stewart
Director of Oil, Europe, Middle East & Africa
Platts, UK

George Orwel
Oil Analyst & Senior Writer
The Energy Intelligence Group, UK

Alan Gelder
Vice President – Downstream Oil
Wood Mackenzie, UK

Ravi Narayanaswami
Purvin & Gertz, Singapore

Martin Amison
Head of International
Trowers & Hamlins, UK

Lee Dacey
Group Manager
Jacobs Consultancy, UK

Dr. Dalton Garis
Associate Professor
The Petroleum Institute(An ADNOC Affiliate), UAE

Sumita Bose Roy
General Manager, International Trading
Bharat Petroleum Corp. India

Dr. Mohammad Fatemi
President & Managing Director
Middle East PetroChem Engineering & Technology, UAE

Senior Executive
Honeywell Middle East,

Roger Newenham
Group Manager
Jacobs Consultancy, UK

John Metcalfe
Senior Consultant
Jacobs Consultancy, UK

Senior Official
Ministry of Petroleum & Mineral Resources, Syria

For more information CLICK

Pre-Forum Workshop
Refining & Margin Outlook
3rd-4th December 2006

For more information CLICK HERE.

2nd International Refinery Forum


Mon, 6 Nov 2006


November 12, 2006 at 12:41 pm | Posted in Globalization, History, Israel, Judaica, Middle East, Zionism | Leave a comment







Manhigut Yehudit

(The Jewish Leadership Movement)

5760 – 5766 (2000 – 2005

Contact us at :

Simply Jews

We are simply Jews — with no added definitions. We do not call ourselves Orthodox, Conservative or Reform — neither “right-wing” nor “left-wing.”

Like the overwhelming majority of Jews, we believe in God, Who has brought us back to our Jewish home –the Holy Land of Israel. In Israel, the natural predisposition of the Jewish People to illuminate the world with God’s light is brought to perfection, enabling us to perform our task in the most consummate way.

The natural predisposition of the Jewish People is to illuminate the world.

Our aim is to create a genuinely Jewish consciousness in the Land of Israel, motivated by the awareness that our faith and our country are intrinsically woven together. An Israeli society predicated on Jewish faith — the Torah — is an ethical and loving society whose ultimate goal is to illuminate the entire world with God’s benevolence.

The Modern State of Israel in Crisis

The Zionist movement, which founded the modern State of Israel, was a product of the millennia of longing for return to the Land of Israel. However, it was also a product of the times in which it was born. Basing itself on secular 19th century Western values, Zionism came to fill the need for a safe haven for the Jews of the world. Miraculously, the Zionist movement succeeded in building the complete infrastructure of a modern state — replete with a strong army, high tech, immigration absorption etc. out of the wilderness.

In its essence, though, the secular Zionism on which Israel was built negates holiness. In doing so, it has stripped itself of the tools necessary to reflect the Jewishness of Israel and its ultimate holy purpose.

The very Zionist ideology that built the modern state of Israel has now turned against itself.

We are now witnessing a complete unraveling of the fabric of Israeli society. The very Zionist ideology that built the modern state of Israel has now turned against itself as it seeks to counter its Biblical roots and Divine purpose. This self-destructive bent is the ultimate conclusion of the secular ideology upon which Zionism is based.

The Essential Question: Is Israel a State of Jews — or a Jewish State?

Until now Israel has been a state of the Jews. It is vital to our future to transform Israel into a Jewish state. Israel’s elected officials must lead the country with policies based exclusively on Jewish identity, values and ethics.

An Alternative

In 1994, Moshe Feiglin began the Zo Artzeinu (“This is Our Land”) protest movement that opposed the self-destructive Oslo Accords with a massive civil disobedience campaign.

It became clear, though, that it was not enough to protest; we had to offer a fundamental alternative — a new strategic objective — in place of the process of collapse that gave rise to the Oslo Accords. Such an alternative would need to be based on both an alternative ideology that would inspire the nation and possess the means for implementation.

Belief-Based Leadership

Only leadership motivated by an authentically Jewish vision will be capable of meeting all the challenges.

There is only one way to truly imbue the State of Israel with the meaning it deserves and needs: to promote an alternative leadership for the State of Israel that is based on Jewish belief. Only leadership motivated by an authentically Jewish vision will be capable of meeting all the challenges currently facing the State of Israel and the Jewish People. Only leadership of this kind will be capable of reinvigorating the State of Israel and the Jewish People and leading it towards the realization of the vision of the prophets.

Leadership of the Likud

In 1998, Manhigut Yehudit (The Jewish Leadership Movement) was established as the successor to Zo Artzeinu.

Our aim is to enlist thousands of believing members in the Likud — Israel’s central ruling political party — and to elect a party leader who will be motivated by Jewish ideals and values. As the Likud’s candidate for Prime Minister, this candidate would be the natural leader of the national camp and would be elected as the Prime Minister of the State of Israel.

Our weapon is our ideology.

What began as a dream has become a reality. Already today, Manhigut Yehudit (The Jewish Leadership Movement) has the largest bloc inside the Likud’s Central Committee. In a very short time we became known as the group which “does not come with a price tag.” Our weapon is our ideology and tens of thousands of supporters have already joined our ranks. Many Israelis throughout the political spectrum believe that we are the future of Israel’s political life and the path we have chosen is correct and viable.

Our Future

With firm faith in the God of Israel, Manhigut
Yehudit (The Jewish Leadership Movement)
is confident that our future is bright. Indeed the totality of our strategic goals could be summed up in a single phrase from the traditional Aleynu prayer recited daily:

To perfect the world in the kingdom of the Almighty

Your Feedback is Important to Us

Click here to send us your comments

This web site is presented by:

Manhigut Yehudit (The Jewish Leadership Movement)

5760 – 5766 (2000 – 2005)

Contact us at :

This website has been dedicated to the beloved memory of

Abraham ben Sarah


Yehuda Lev ben Baruch

To dedicate our website in honor or memory of a loved one email:

You can turn the State of Jews into the Jewish State.

Now is the Time!

Join Manhigut Yehudit Today

Joining Manhigut Yehudit is much more than just a donation.

Now you’re part of the team!

Learn about our special Members Club

The Jewish Leadership

Web Poll

Would you like to see general elections in Israel soon?

Yes – We need authentic Jewish leadership ASAP

Yes – We must get rid of Olmert. No matter who replaces him.

No – A weak Left government is better than a faithless Right.

No – The present government is just fine.

Current Results

The Jewish Leadership

Web Poll

Would you like to see general elections in Israel soon? [2963 votes total]

Yes – We need authentic Jewish leadership ASAP (2767): 93%

Yes – We must get rid of Olmert. No matter who replaces him. (122): 4%

No – A weak Left government is better than a faithless Right. (59): 2%

No – The present government is just fine. (15): 1%

Full Results

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Feiglin’s Perspective

by Moshe Feiglin

What Does Bush Want?

Nobody Stopped to Think


Feiglin Speaks on the current situation in Israel:

Moshe weighs in on the worldwide religion war being fought between Islam and

Listen to Jewish Leadership Audio

Become a Member

or Donate

Join US

Now is the Time!

Joining Manhigut Yehudit is much more than just a donation.

Now you’re part of the team!

Our Views

Meet the New Messiah

by Shmuel Sackett


Manhigut Yehudit’s working plan for its first 100 days in government

What’s New?

Links to our latest articles, views, and audio uploads

Manhigut Yehudit —

The Jewish Leadership Movement:

Diagnoses the


Israel lacks Jewish identity and its natural connection to G-d. This has led to moral
breakdown in all facets of Israeli life. Learn more…




The time has come to make Israel the authentic Jewish homeland we’ve dreamed of for
millennia — an Israel motivated and governed by Jewish values and love for every Jew.
Learn more…

Formulates the


To provide authentic Jewish leadership for Israel. Manhigut’s Prime Minister will lead
an Israel based on authentic Jewish values and concepts. Learn more..




Reaching out to the People of Israel and connecting them to our goals. Now’s the time
to join us! Learn more…

Meet Moshe Feiglin — Manhigut Yehudit’s candidate for Prime Minister of Israel

Your Feedback is Important to Us

Click here to send us your comments

This web site is presented by:

Manhigut Yehudit (The Jewish Leadership Movement)

5760 – 5766 (2000 – 2005

Contact us at :

This website has been dedicated to the beloved memory of

Abraham ben Sarah


Yehuda Lev ben Baruch

To dedicate our website in honor or memory of a loved one email:

You can turn the State of Jews into the Jewish State.

Now is the Time!

Join Manhigut Yehudit Today

Joining Manhigut Yehudit is much more than just a donation.

Now you’re part of the team!

Learn about our special Members Club


November 12, 2006 at 5:58 am | Posted in Books, Globalization, History, Israel, Middle East, Military, Research, Science & Technology | Leave a comment









Arms Control in the Middle East

Moshe Grundman

Director of Publications

Moshe Grundman jcss2@POST.TAU.AC.IL

On Behalf Of TAU Jaffee Center for
Strategic Studies

Dear Subscriber,

I am pleased to inform you of the publication of Arms Control in the Middle East:
Cooperative Security Dialogue and Regional Constraints
, by Emily Landau, published
jointly this summer by Sussex Academic Press and the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies.

Arms Control in the Middle East focuses on the Arms Control and Regional Security
working group (ACRS) as it unfolded during the years 1992-1995, as part of the
multilateral track of the Arab-Israeli peace process initiated in October 1991 at Madrid.
Attempting to apply a particular logic of arms control to the region in the wake of the
1991 Gulf War, the four-year dialogue constituted the first region-wide attempt to develop
a concept of regional security for the Middle East. Dr. Landau documents how this forum
became the setting of unprecedented positive regional dynamics with potentially
far-reaching implications.

Emily Landau is a senior research associate at the Institute for National Security
Studies, and director of the Institute’s project on arms control and regional security.
Her fields of research include regional dynamics and processes in the Middle East,
developments in arms control thinking, and new proliferation challenges.

More information on Arms Control in the Middle East is available at


Moshe Grundman

Director of Publications


Arms Control in the Middle East: Cooperative Security
Dialogue and Regional Constraints

by Emily Landau

Moshe Grundman jcss2@POST.TAU.AC.IL

On Behalf Of TAU Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies


Thu, 9 Nov 2006


November 12, 2006 at 5:02 am | Posted in Globalization, History, Japan, Military, USA | Leave a comment










Willoughby was the chief of intelligence on General MacArthur‘s staff during World War II, the occupation
of Japan
, and the Korean war.
Willoughby became a major general on 12 April 1945.

Major General Charles Willoughby (18921972) was a soldier in the U.S. Army.

Willoughby was born Adolf Tscheppe-Weidenbach in the town of Heidelberg,
Germany, the son of Baron T. von Tscheppe-Weidenbach from
Baden, Germany.

Willoughby served in the Army as an enlisted man for a few years, beginning in 1910. He
graduated from Gettysburg College in 1914. He was
commissioned in the Army in 1915.

Willoughby was the chief of intelligence on General MacArthur‘s staff during World War II, the occupation
of Japan
, and the Korean war.
Willoughby became a major general on 12 April 1945.

He was involved in the creation of Field Operations Intelligence, a top secret
Army Intelligence unit that later came under joint military and CIA control. Willoughby retired from the army in 1951.

After his retirement, Willoughby travelled to Spain and became an unofficial advisor
to the Spanish dictator,
, whom he described as "the second
greatest military commander in the world" (MacArthur being the ‘greatest’.)
Willoughby had first met Franco in the 1920s, and had admired him ever since.

An avowed racist and fanatical supporter of extreme right wing causes, Willoughby was once
described as "my little fascist" by MacArthur. In this vein, Willoughby had once
written of
Italian dictator Mussolini: "Historical judgement, freed from the emotional haze of
the moment, will credit Mussolini with wiping out a memory of defeat by re-establishing
the traditional military supremecy of the white race."

In his later years, Willoughby would publish the racist ‘Foreign Intelligence Digest’
newspaper, and work closely with
Texas oil tycoon H.L. Hunt on the International Committee for the Defence of Christian
Culture, an extreme right "umbrella" organization that had connections to
para-military groups such as the John Birch Society and the Minutemen.

In September 1975, investigative reporter Dick Russell received an anonymous
letter that stated, in part:

"… You are now part of the great game of solving the JFK assassination riddle.
The danger to those involved is immense, tantamount to playing Russian Roulette… Prior
to his death some time ago I spent several days with Tscheppe Weidenbach… an enlightened
conversation… you may want to research down to the name which is part of the game we
can’t make it too easy… "

Enclosed with this anonymous letter was a type-written note, with the letterhead of the
King Edward Sheraton Hotel
in Toronto, Canada. It read:


Willoughby is a member of the Military
Intelligence Hall of Fame

The Military Intelligence Hall of Fame is a Hall of Fame established by the Military
Intelligence Corps of the U.S. Army to honor
soldiers and civilians who have made exceptional contributions to Military Intelligence.


November 12, 2006 at 1:55 am | Posted in Asia, Globalization, History, India, Literary, Philosophy, Science & Technology | Leave a comment








<b>Rabindranath Tagore’s Boyhood Days</b>

Rabindranath Tagore’s Boyhood Days

Translated by Radha Chakravarty

Puffin Classics, 2006


Amartya Sen

This is an odd book. Boyhood Days is
Rabindranath’s own account of his early childhood written by him at a ripe old age,
shortly before his death.
His recollections are invariably sharp, and yet, as Radha
Chakravarty points out in her "Translator’s Notes," not in all cases in line
with those factual matters on which other evidence exists. And yet who better than
Rabindranath himself to give us a glimpse of his life as a child? In fact, much the most
interesting parts of this autobiography relate to his young mind: what the child
Rabindranath thought, what ideas aroused the young boy, what he made of the world around
him (his family, his city, his country, his globe), and what the school-age Rabindranath
found sad in that world and in need of change – many of those diagnoses would stay with
him through his entire life. On these matters there are no competing sources of real
knowledge, and indeed the picture that we get from Tagore’s recollections are both
gripping in themselves and deeply insightful in giving us an understanding of the adult
man that would emerge from those boyhood days.

I am delighted, therefore, that a new translation and a fuller edition
of this great book is now coming out as a Puffin Classic. Much has already been written
about this book, based both on the Bengali original and the earlier translation by
Marjorie Sykes (first serialized in
Visva Bharati
and then published as a book in the same year, 1940).
Obviously, Tagore’s own account of his childhood days has intrinsic interest of its own,
but it also tells us something about the development of the priorities that deeply
influenced his later life. Of the many different connections that are of interest, let me
select three for brief comments.

First, Rabindranath passionately disliked the schools he encountered,
and as a drop-out, he was educated at home, with the help of tutors.
Already in his childhood he formed some views on what precisely was wrong
with the schools he knew in the Calcutta of his day, some, as it happens, with fairly
distinguished academic records. When Tagore established his own school in Santiniketan in
1901, he was determined to make it critically different from the schools he knew.
It is not always easy to spot what made his school in Santiniketan so different
(this is in fact even more difficult to identify if you have been mainly schooled there,
as I have been), but the Boyhood Days tells a great deal about what Tagore was
looking for in his vision of a school appropriate for children.

Sometimes a complete outsider can see things more clearly – and can
explain more pithily – what is so special about an innovative institution than those
engulfed in it can. The special qualities of the Santiniketan school were caught with much
clarity by Joe Marshall, a perceptive American trained at Harvard, who visited
Santiniketan in August 1914. He put it thus:

The principle of his method of teaching is that the individual must be
absolutely free and happy in an environment where all is at peace and where the forces of
nature are all in evidence; then there must be art, music, poetry, and learning in all its
branches in the persons of the teachers; lessons are regular but not compulsory, the
classes are held under the trees with the boys sitting at the feet of the teacher, and
each student with his different talents and temperament is naturally drawn to the subjects
for which he has aptitude and ability.

All the points that caught Marshall’s attention figure, in one way or
other, in Boyhood Days – in the dialectical form of what Tagore missed most in the
schools he knew in his Calcutta.

Some of the things he missed and longed for, he actually did get at his
own home, like the presence of music and poetry in everyday life. But he knew he was
privileged and exceptionally fortunate, and he wanted to have schools where these
facilities should come as standard parts of the system, along with arrangements for
academic training. I don’t want to turn this Introduction into a "Q & A"
programme, but I will suggest to the reader, especially the young reader, that it could be
useful as well as fun to look for the connections that are plentifully there in Tagore’s
own account of his creative dissatisfaction about early education (not all the connections
refer explicitly to schools at all – this is called, I believe, a "hint" in
"help books").

One particularly important idea to look for is Tagore’s focus on
freedom, even for school children, on which Marshall did comment. This, in fact,
identifies an aspect of Rabindranath that the standard commentaries on him – from W.B.
Yeats and Ezra Pound onwards – missed. Yet his yearning for substantive freedom in human
life comes through very clearly in Boyhood Days, and it stays throughout his life
as a constant thought.

Let me now turn to a second connection that deserves some attention. At
his home Rabindranath was surrounded by people who loved music, varying in taste from
austerely classical to more relaxed art forms of song-making and singing. Rabindranath had
a fine introduction to classical Indian music, but he resisted the usual long years of
formal training of the aspiring specialist. The range of Tagore’s exposure and the choices
he made profoundly influenced the development of his own musical genre, the astonishingly
influential "Rabindra-sangeet," still so very popular in Bangladesh and India.

Kalpana Bardhan has commented on this connection between
Rabindra-sangeet and Tagore’s boyhood years in presenting her own translation of songs and
commentaries on Tagore’s work:

….while as a youngster Rabindranath had resisted systematic formal
training; though he took quite a bit of his lessons, he was constantly surrounded by music
lessons and voice practice in the classical techniques of singing, especially as he
stopped going to school and stayed home, always listening, humming, nourishing his memory
cells and vocal chords with tunes and play of notes. In a way, as he told some in his
later years, his resisting of formal training in classical music, while imbibing it
informally and practising it as he liked, freed him from the strictures of water-tight
purity of raga music, and enabled him to intuitively mix ragas with each other, and
to mix classical modes with folk tunes. And his mixings worked beautifully. The way the
melody carried the lyric balanced the way the lyric carried the melody.

As we read through Tagore’s account of his childhood years, we can find
many scattered remarks on what would prove to be critically important preparation for the
emergence of the wealthy tradition of Rabindra-sangeet. The Boyhood Days contains
many glimpses – this is another "hint" – of Rabindranath’s exposure to the music
around him which would ultimately help the birth of a new genre of Bengali music.

The third connection I want to comment on concerns Tagore’s
intellectual world, in particular the emergence of Tagore’s rather special priorities in
analytical and empirical inquiries and his expectations from them. This is a complex
subject and has been much misunderstood. However, since the beginnings of Tagore’s
priorities and expectations are clearly noticeable in Boyhood Days, the subject
deserves a little exploration here, for a better understanding even of the later

Tagore’s commitment to reasoning was strong – sometimes fierce –
throughout his life. This is well reflected in his arguments, for example, with Mahatma
Gandhi (whom he chastised for obscurantism), with religious parochialists (whose
reasonless sectarianism upset him greatly), with the British establishment (for their
crude treatment of India, in contrast with what he admired greatly in British intellectual
life and creativity), with his Japanese admirers (who received, despite Tagore’s general
admiration of Japan. his sharply angry critique for their silence – or worse – in the face
of Japan’s newly-emerging supernationalism, including the Japanese treatment of China),
and with the administrative leadership of both British India and the Soviet Union (he
compared the Soviet achievements in school education across its Asian and European span
very favourably with the gross neglect of school education in British India, while also
chastising the Soviet leadership for its intolerance of criticism and of freedom of

Tagore’s commitment to a reasoned
understanding of the world around us came through also in his wholehearted support for
scientific education (his school insisted on every child’s exposure to the new findings
emerging anywhere in the world). The same commitment to reason is seen also in Tagore’s
cultural evaluations, including his firm mixture of pride in Indian culture and rejection
of any claim to the priority of Indian culture over all others. It is also seen in his
refusal to see something called "the Indian civilization" in isolation from
influences coming from the rest of the world: this remains very relevant today, not just
as a critique of what is now
the "Hindutva" approach, but also of the widely popular theses of the
"clash of civilizations," which is frequently invoked these days as a gross –
and rather dangerous – simplification of the complex world in which we live. In every
case, Rabindranath’s firm convictions were driven explicitly by critical reasoning which
he clearly spelt out.

And yet to many contemporary observers in Europe and America,
Rabindranath appeared to be anything but a follower of reason. It was faith he was
identified with, and with a penchant for mystification over seeking clarity. While some of
Tagore’s admirers (of suitably mystical kind themselves) loved this "re-done
Tagore," others found it unattractive, even detestable. A clear formulation of that
interpretation of Tagore can be found in two unpublished letters of Bertrand Russell to
Nimai Chatterji. On 16th February 1963, Earl Russell wrote to Nimai Chatterji:

I recall the meeting [with Tagore] of which Lowes Dickinson writes only
vaguely. There was an earlier occasion, the first upon which I met Tagore, when he was
brought to my home by Robert Trevelyan and Lowes Dickinson. I confess that his mystic air
did not attract me and I recollect wishing he would be more direct. He had a soft, rather
elusive, manner which led one to feel that straightforward exchange or communication from
which he would shy away. His intensity was impaired by his self-asorbtion [absorption].
Naturally, his mystic views were by way of dicta and it was not possible to reason about

In a later letter, dated 26th April 1967, Russell was even sharper in
his denunciation of what he took to be Tagore’s flight from reason:

His talk about the infinite is vague nonsense. The sort of language
that is admired by many Indians unfortunately does not mean anything at all.

So what’s going on here? Why would the reason-centred priorities of
Tagore appear just the opposite of that to some towering intellectuals in Europe and
America whom he met? And, in the present context, what insights can we get from Tagore’s
recollections in his Boyhood Days about this dissonance between Tagore’s consistent
championing of reason and Russell’s belief that Tagore hated reason with a passion – a
passion of the "self-absorptive" kind. For an adequate understanding of what is
happening, we have to take out, first, two incidental factors that no doubt had their
influence but which could obscure a fuller picture of the contrast of epistemic priorities
that lies behind the apparent dissonance.

The first incidental factor is Tagore’s partial inclination to play the
role that was assigned to him by his early admirers in England – W.B. Yeats, Ezra Pound
and others – in which his poetical exposition, particularly in Gitanjali, of what
can be seen as extraordinary features of the world overwhelmed his understanding of
ordinary but very important things that make up the world and in which Tagore was (as Boyhood
confirm) deeply interested from his very early days. This would later flower into
his interest in science, culture, education, politics, ethics and epistemology. Russell
"knew" what to expect from the man that Lowes Dickinson brought to Russell’s
home, and he seemed to have decided that he got plentifully exactly what he expected to
get from Rabindranath. Tagore’s admirers in England would not leave much room for any way
of contrasting the allegorical poetry of Gitanjali (itself over-mysticised by its
English rendering) and Rabindranath’s prosaic beliefs about the ordinary world. As I have
discussed elsewhere, Rabindranath was initially happy enough to play this role, even
though he was shocked by the over-praise he was getting.

The second factor is Russell’s propensity to dismiss anything that he
did not find to be immediately clear to him. If Rabindranath got the raw end of that
perspective in Russell’s reactions to him, he did not fare any worse than Friedrich
Nietzsche had in the caricature of him that Russell had produced in his History of
Western Philosophy
, in the form of a simulated conversation between Nietzsche and
Buddha concocted by Russell to bring out the stupidity – as well as some possible
nastiness – of Nietzsche’s ideas as interpreted by Russell.

Despite the importance of these associative factors, Rabindranath’s
understanding of intellectual priorities did, in fact, have some special features which
contributed to the misunderstanding that is being examined.
One of them was Tagore’s willingness to accept that many questions will
remain unresolved and their answers can remain uncompleted. The domain of unfinished
accounts would change over time, but not go away, and in this Rabindranath saw not a
defeat but a humble – and also beautiful – recognition of our limited understanding of a
vast world, even an incomprehensibly large, possibly infinite, universe (the kind of
remark that so exasperated Russell). Rather than seeing this as a defeat of reason he
clearly saw this as the way reason works in
human life, at any point of time. He also saw some aesthetic beauty in the
continuing incompleteness of our answers: this is where, I presume, Russell would have
walked away had Tagore not been sitting at Russell’s own home.

We can glimpse the early beginnings of this celebration of the
unresolved and the incomplete in many remarks in Boyhood Days (this is another
"hint" to the young reader), but none perhaps more spectacular than the youthful
Rabindranath’s retreat from the discipline of tutored knowledge that was being poured into
him. He would regain his peace when he could resume his reflection of the vast universe
that lay beyond his tutors’ grasp (p. 43):

In bed, at last, I found some moments of leisure. There, I listened to
the story that never reached its conclusion.

"The Prince rides across the boundless terrain…."

This is not the occasion to pursue Tagore’s views of knowledge and
reason further, and yet I found it striking, as I was rereading Boyhood Days (I had
read the book, in Bengali, in my own boyhood days), how many of these connections with
Tagore’s epistemic and aesthetic priorities were already beginning to take shape in those
early days.

Before ending, I would like to make a couple of comments on a more
mundane subject. It has been claimed that to say goodbye is "to die a little."
To read the translation of a book one knows in the original is also to die a little, and
no translation, no matter how good and accurate, can prevent that.

One of the special problems arises in this case from the fact that
words in one language sometimes do not have exact equivalents in another language. The
problem is compounded by the fact that some words have more than one near-equivalent in
another language. In fact, the English rendering of Gitanjali, somewhat influenced
by Tagore’s early admirers in England, had tended to select the most "mystical"
of the near-equivalents, sometimes mercilessly killing the necessary ambiguities in
Tagore’s Bengali expressions.

The plurality of near-equivalent English words applies even to the
title of this book. "Chelebela" in Bengal refers to
, even though the word used in that compound expression, to wit
"chele," also does mean a boy, in its literal and original use. Bengali dropped gender about seven hundred years ago (there is not even
any equivalent of the English distinction between "he" and "she," or
between "him" and "her"), and it is quite standard for words like
"chele" to be used to cover both sexes, that is, girls as well as boys. So
"chelebela" could be translated as "Childhood Days," and not
specifically as "Boyhood Days." In this case, this might not matter
tremendously, since Rabindranath was indubitably a man and his childhood was clearly his
boyhood as well.

There is perhaps more of a problem with Tagore’s "Preface"
which begins with the sentence: "I received a request from Goswamiji to write
something for the boys." There were both boys and girls in the school (indeed my
mother herself had been a student there long before me), and no matter what the genderized
form of the Bengali expression is, Tagore’s interest in presenting his recollections of
his early years would have involved his willingness to cater to the curiosity of both boys
and girls in the school (there is internal evidence of this in the text as well of
Tagore’s reach across the gender divide). Goswamiji too whose request, we learn from the
Preface, started off this entire project, was a marvellous teacher, and as I remember
vividly, cared no less for the girls than for the boys. The request for "something
for the boys" (taking the genderized form of words in the restrictive sense) must
have included the girl students at the school as well. The coverage of many Bengali words,
such as "chele," has this plasticity.

These uncertainties are, I suppose, inescapable in moving a book from
one language to another. What is altogether remarkable is how much of the basic content of
the Bengali original (including the atmosphere, the stories, the fears and the
excitements, and Tagore’s early reflections and analyses) have come through vividly and
powerfully in this English version. I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to
introduce this fine translation of a remarkably engaging and stimulating memoir to the
English-reading public. There is much to enjoy and learn from in this little book.

Amartya Sen

October 2006


Wednesday, November 8, 2006


November 12, 2006 at 12:27 am | Posted in Globalization, History, Research, Science & Technology | Leave a comment









Both Cayley and Walker were theorists, though Cayley supported his
theoretical work with enough of practice to show that he studied along right lines; a
little after his time there came practical men who brought to being the first machine
which actually flew by the application of power. Before their time, however, mention must
be made of the work of George Pocock of Bristol, who, somewhere about 1840 invented what
was described as a ‘kite carriage,’ a vehicle which carried a number of persons, and
obtained its motive power from a large kite. It is on record that, in the year 1846 one of
these carriages conveyed sixteen people from Bristol to London. Another device of Pocock’s
was what he called a ‘buoyant sail,’ which was in effect a man-lifting kite, and by means
of which a passenger was actually raised 100 yards from the ground, while the inventor’s
son scaled a cliff 200 feet in height by means of one of these, ‘buoyant sails.’ This
constitutes the first definitely recorded experiment in the use of man-lifting kites. A
History of the Charvolant or Kite-carriage, published in London in 1851, states that ‘an
experiment of a bold and very novel character was made upon an extensive down, where a
large wagon with a considerable load was drawn along, whilst this huge machine at the same
time carried an observer aloft in the air, realising almost the romance of flying.’

Experimenting, two years after the appearance of the ‘kite-carriage,’ on
the helicopter principle, W. H. Phillips constructed a model machine which weighed two
pounds; this was fitted with revolving fans, driven by the combustion of charcoal, nitre,
and gypsum, producing steam which, discharging into the air, caused the fans to revolve.
The inventor stated that ‘all being arranged, the steam was up in a few seconds, when the
whole apparatus spun around like any top, and mounted into the air faster than a bird; to
what height it ascended I had no means of ascertaining; the distance travelled was across
two fields, where, after a long search, I found the machine minus the wings, which had
been torn off in contact with the ground.’ This could hardly be described as successful
flight, but it was an advance in the construction of machines on the helicopter principle,
and it was the first steam-driven model of the type which actually flew. The invention,
however, was not followed up.

After Phillips, we come to the great figures of the middle nineteenth
century, W. S. Henson and John Stringfellow.
Cayley had shown, in
1809, how success might be attained by developing the idea of the plane surface so driven
as to take advantage of the resistance offered by the air, and Henson, who as early as
1840 was experimenting with model gliders and light steam engines, evolved and patented an
idea for something very nearly resembling the monoplane of the early twentieth century.
His patent, No. 9478, of the year 1842 explains the principle of the machine as follows:–

In order that the description hereafter given be rendered clear, I will
first shortly explain the principle on which the machine is constructed. If any light and
flat or nearly flat article be projected or thrown edgewise in a slightly inclined
position, the same will rise on the air till the force exerted is expended, when the
article so thrown or projected will descend; and it will readily be conceived that, if the
article so projected or thrown possessed in itself a continuous power or force equal to
that used in throwing or projecting it, the article would continue to ascend so long as
the forward part of the surface was upwards in respect to the hinder part, and that such
article, when the power was stopped, or when the inclination was reversed, would descend
by gravity aided by the force of the power contained in the article, if the power be
continued, thus imitating the flight of a bird.

Now, the first part of my invention consists of an apparatus so
constructed as to offer a very extended surface or plane of a light yet strong
construction, which will have the same relation to the general machine which the extended
wings of a bird have to the body when a bird is skimming in the air; but in place of the
movement or power for onward progress being obtained by movement of the extended surface
or plane, as is the case with the wings of birds, I apply suitable paddle-wheels or other
proper mechanical propellers worked by a steam or other sufficiently light engine, and
thus obtain the requisite power for onward movement to the plane or extended surface; and
in order to give control as to the upward and downward direction of such a machine I apply
a tail to the extended surface which is capable of being inclined or raised, so that when
the power is acting to propel the machine, by inclining the tail upwards, the resistance
offered by the air will cause the machine to rise on the air; and, on the contrary, when
the inclination of the tail is reversed, the machine will immediately be propelled
downwards, and pass through a plane more or less inclined to the horizon as the
inclination of the tail is greater or less; and in order to guide the machine as to the
lateral direction which it shall take, I apply a vertical rudder or second tail, and,
according as the same is inclined in one direction or the other, so will be the direction
of the machine.’

The machine in question was very large, and differed very little from the
modern monoplane; the materials were to be spars of bamboo and hollow wood, with diagonal
wire bracing. The surface of the planes was to amount to 4,500 square feet, and the tail,
triangular in form (here modern practice diverges) was to be 1,500 square feet. The
inventor estimated that there would be a sustaining power of half a pound per square foot,
and the driving power was to be supplied by a steam engine of 25 to 30 horse-power,
driving two six-bladed propellers. Henson was largely dependent on Stringfellow for many
details of his design, more especially with regard to the construction of the engine.

The publication of the patent attracted a great amount of public
attention, and the illustrations in contemporary journals, representing the machine flying
over the pyramids and the Channel, anticipated fact by sixty years and more; the
scientific world was divided, as it was up to the actual accomplishment of flight, as to
the value of the invention.

Strongfellow and Henson became associated after the conception of their
design, with an attorney named Colombine, and a Mr Marriott, and between the four of them
a project grew for putting the whole thing on a commercial basis–Henson and Stringfellow
were to supply the idea; Marriott, knowing a member of Parliament, would be useful in
getting a company incorporated, and Colombine would look after the purely legal side of
the business. Thus an application was made by Mr Roebuck, Marriott’s M.P., for an act of
incorporation for ‘The Aerial Steam Transit Company,’ Roebuck moving to bring in the bill
on the 24th of March, 1843. The prospectus, calling for funds for the development of the
invention, makes interesting reading at this stage of aeronautical development; it was as


For subscriptions of sums of L100, in furtherance of an Extraordinary
Invention not at present safe to be developed by securing the necessary Patents, for which
three times the sum advanced, namely, L300, is conditionally guaranteed for each
subscription on February 1, 1844, in case of the anticipations being realised, with the
option of the subscribers being shareholders for the large amount if so desired, but not
otherwise. ——— An Invention has recently been discovered, which if ultimately
successful will be without parallel even in the age which introduced to the world the
wonderful effects of gas and of steam.

The discovery is of that peculiar nature, so simple in principle yet so
perfect in all the ingredients required for complete and permanent success, that to
promulgate it at present would wholly defeat its development by the immense competition
which would ensue, and the views of the originator be entirely frustrated.

This work, the result of years of labour and study, presents a wonderful
instance of the adaptation of laws long since proved to the scientific world combined with
established principles so judiciously and carefully arranged, as to produce a discovery
perfect in all its parts and alike in harmony with the laws of Nature and of science.

The Invention has been subjected to several tests and examinations and the
results are most satisfactory so much so that nothing but the completion of the
undertaking is required to determine its practical operation, which being once established
its utility is undoubted, as it would be a necessary possession of every empire, and it
were hardly too much to say, of every individual of competent means in the civilised

Its qualities and capabilities are so vast that it were impossible and,
even if possible, unsafe to develop them further, but some idea may be formed from the
fact that as a preliminary measure patents in Great Britain Ireland, Scotland, the
Colonies, France, Belgium, and the United States, and every other country where protection
to the first discoveries of an Invention is granted, will of necessity be immediately
obtained, and by the time these are perfected, which it is estimated will be in the month
of February, the Invention will be fit for Public Trial, but until the Patents are sealed
any further disclosure would be most dangerous to the principle on which it is based.

Under these circumstances, it is proposed to raise an immediate sum of
L2,000 in furtherance of the Projector’s views, and as some protection to the parties who
may embark in the matter, that this is not a visionary plan for objects imperfectly
considered, Mr Colombine, to whom the secret has been confided, has allowed his name to be
used on the occasion, and who will if referred to corroborate this statement, and convince
any inquirer of the reasonable prospects of large pecuniary results following the
development of the Invention.

It is, therefore, intended to raise the sum of L2,000 in twenty sums of
L100 each (of which any subscriber may take one or more not exceeding five in number to be
held by any individual) the amount of which is to be paid into the hands of Mr Colombine
as General Manager of the concern to be by him appropriated in procuring the several
Patents and providing the expenses incidental to the works in progress. For each of which
sums of L100 it is intended and agreed that twelve months after the 1st February next, the
several parties subscribing shall receive as an equivalent for the risk to be run the sum
of L300 for each of the sums of L100 now subscribed, provided when the time arrives the
Patents shall be found to answer the purposes intended.

As full and complete success is alone looked to, no moderate or imperfect
benefit is to be anticipated, but the work, if it once passes the necessary ordeal, to
which inventions of every kind must be first subject, will then be regarded by every one
as the most astonishing discovery of modern times; no half success can follow, and
therefore the full nature of the risk is immediately ascertained.

The intention is to work and prove the Patent by collective instead of
individual aid as less hazardous at first end more advantageous in the result for the
Inventor, as well as others, by having the interest of several engaged in aiding one
common object–the development of a Great Plan. The failure is not feared, yet as perfect
success might, by possibility, not ensue, it is necessary to provide for that result, and
the parties concerned make it a condition that no return of the subscribed money shall be
required, if the Patents shall by any unforeseen circumstances not be capable of being
worked at all; against which, the first application of the money subscribed, that of
securing the Patents, affords a reasonable security, as no one without solid grounds would
think of such an expenditure.

It is perfectly needless to state that no risk or responsibility of any
kind can arise beyond the payment of the sum to be subscribed under any circumstances

As soon as the Patents shall be perfected and proved it is contemplated,
so far as may be found practicable, to further the great object in view a Company shall be
formed but respecting which it is unnecessary to state further details, than that a
preference will be given to all those persons who now subscribe, and to whom shares shall
be appropriated according to the larger amount (being three times the sum to be paid by
each person) contemplated to be returned as soon as the success of the Invention shall
have been established, at their option, or the money paid, whereby the Subscriber will
have the means of either withdrawing with a large pecuniary benefit, or by continuing his
interest in the concern lay the foundation for participating in the immense benefit which
must follow the success of the plan.

It is not pretended to conceal that the project is a speculation–all
parties believe that perfect success, and thence incalculable advantage of every kind,
will follow to every individual joining in this great undertaking; but the Gentlemen
engaged in it wish that no concealment of the consequences, perfect success, or possible
failure, should in the slightest degree be inferred. They believe this will prove the germ
of a mighty work, and in that belief call for the operation of others with no visionary
object, but a legitimate one before them, to attain that point where perfect success will
be secured from their combined exertions.

All applications to be made to D. E. Colombine, Esquire, 8 Carlton
Chambers, Regent Street.

The applications did not materialise, as was only to be expected in view
of the vagueness of the proposals. Colombine did some advertising, and Mr Roebuck
expressed himself as unwilling to proceed further in the venture. Henson experimented with
models to a certain extent, while Stringfellow looked for funds for the construction of a
full-sized monoplane. In November of 1843 he suggested that he and Henson should construct
a large model out of their own funds. On Henson’s suggestion Colombine and Marriott were
bought out as regards the original patent, and Stringfellow and Henson entered into an
agreement and set to work.

Their work is briefly described in a little pamphlet by F. J.
Stringfellow, entitled A few Remarks on what has been done with screw-propelled Aero-plane
Machines from 1809 to 1892. The author writes with regard to the work that his father and
Henson undertook:–

‘They commenced the construction of a small model operated by a spring,
and laid down the larger model 20 ft. from tip to tip of planes, 3 1/2 ft. wide, giving 70
ft. of sustaining surface, about 10 more in the tail. The making of this model required
great consideration; various supports for the wings were tried, so as to combine lightness
with firmness, strength and rigidity.

‘The planes were staid from three sets of fish-shaped masts, and rigged
square and firm by flat steel rigging. The engine and boiler were put in the car to drive
two screw-propellers, right and left-handed, 3 ft. in diameter, with four blades each,
occupying three-quarters of the area of the circumference, set at an angle of 60 degrees.
A considerable time was spent in perfecting the motive power. Compressed air was tried and
abandoned. Tappets, cams, and eccentrics were all tried, to work the slide valve, to
obtain the best results. The piston rod of engine passed through both ends of the
cylinder, and with long connecting rods worked direct on the crank of the propellers. From
memorandum of experiments still preserved the following is a copy of one: June, 27th,
1845, water 50 ozs., spirit 10 ozs., lamp lit 8.45, gauge moves 8.46, engine started 8.48
(100 lb. pressure), engine stopped 8.57, worked 9 minutes, 2,288 revolutions, average 254
per minute. No priming, 40 ozs. water consumed, propulsion (thrust of propellers), 5 lbs.
4 1/2 ozs. at commencement, steady, 4 lbs. 1/2 oz., 57 revolutions to 1 oz. water, steam
cut off one-third from beginning.

‘The diameter of cylinder of engine was 1 1/2 inch, length of stroke 3

‘In the meantime an engine was also made for the smaller model, and a wing
action tried, but with poor results. The time was mostly devoted to the larger model, and
in 1847 a tent was erected on Bala Down, about two miles from Chard, and the model taken
up one night by the workmen. The experiments were not so favourable as was expected. The
machine could not support itself for any distance, but, when launched off, gradually
descended, although the power and surface should have been ample; indeed, according to
latest calculations, the thrust should have carried more than three times the weight, for
there was a thrust of 5 lbs. from the propellers, and a surface of over 70 square feet to
sustain under 30 lbs., but necessary speed was lacking.’

Stringfellow himself explained the failure as follows:–

‘There stood our aerial protegee in all her purity–too delicate, too
fragile, too beautiful for this rough world; at least those were my ideas at the time, but
little did I think how soon it was to be realised. I soon found, before I had time to
introduce the spark, a drooping in the wings, a flagging in all the parts. In less than
ten minutes the machine was saturated with wet from a deposit of dew, so that anything
like a trial was impossible by night. I did not consider we could get the silk tight and
rigid enough. Indeed, the framework altogether was too weak. The steam-engine was the best
part. Our want of success was not for want of power or sustaining surface, but for want of
proper adaptation of the means to the end of the various parts.’

Henson, who had spent a considerable amount of money in these experimental
constructions, consoled himself for failure by venturing into matrimony; in 1849 he went
to America, leaving Stringfellow to continue experimenting alone. From 1846 to 1848
Stringfellow worked on what is really an epoch-making item in the history of
aeronautics–the first engine-driven aeroplane which actually flew. The machine in
question had a 10 foot span, and was 2 ft. across in the widest part of the wing; the
length of tail was 3 ft. 6 ins., and the span of tail in the widest part 22 ins., the
total sustaining area being about 14 sq. ft. The motive power consisted of an engine with
a cylinder of three-quarter inch diameter and a two-inch stroke; between this and the
crank shaft was a bevelled gear giving three revolutions of the propellers to every stroke
of the engine; the propellers, right and left screw, were four-bladed and 16 inches in
diameter. The total weight of the model with engine was 8 lbs. Its successful flight is
ascribed to the fact that Stringfellow curved the wings, giving them rigid front edges and
flexible trailing edges, as suggested long before both by Da Vinci and Borelli, but never
before put into practice.

Mr F. J. Stringfellow, in the pamphlet quoted above, gives the best
account of the flight of this model: ‘My father had constructed another small model which
was finished early in 1848, and having the loan of a long room in a disused lace factory,
early in June the small model was moved there for experiments. The room was about 22 yards
long and from 10 to 12 ft. high…. The inclined wire for starting the machine occupied
less than half the length of the room and left space at the end for the machine to clear
the floor. In the first experiment the tail was set at too high an angle, and the machine
rose too rapidly on leaving the wire. After going a few yards it slid back as if coming
down an inclined plane, at such an angle that the point of the tail struck the ground and
was broken. The tail was repaired and set at a smaller angle. The steam was again got up,
and the machine started down the wire, and, upon reaching the point of self-detachment, it
gradually rose until it reached the farther end of the room, striking a hole in the canvas
placed to stop it. In experiments the machine flew well, when rising as much as one in
seven. The late Rev. J. Riste, Esq., lace manufacturer, Northcote Spicer, Esq., J. Toms,
Esq., and others witnessed experiments. Mr Marriatt, late of the San Francisco News Letter
brought down from London Mr Ellis, the then lessee of Cremorne Gardens, Mr Partridge, and
Lieutenant Gale, the aeronaut, to witness experiments. Mr Ellis offered to construct a
covered way at Cremorne for experiments. Mr Stringfellow repaired to Cremorne, but not
much better accommodations than he had at home were provided, owing to unfulfilled
engagement as to room. Mr Stringfellow was preparing for departure when a party of
gentlemen unconnected with the Gardens begged to see an experiment, and finding them able
to appreciate his endeavours, he got up steam and started the model down the wire. When it
arrived at the spot where it should leave the wire it appeared to meet with some
obstruction, and threatened to come to the ground, but it soon recovered itself and darted
off in as fair a flight as it was possible to make at a distance of about 40 yards, where
it was stopped by the canvas.

‘Having now demonstrated the practicability of making a steam-engine fly,
and finding nothing but a pecuniary loss and little honour, this experimenter rested for a
long time, satisfied with what he had effected. The subject, however, had to him special
charms, and he still contemplated the renewal of his experiments.’

It appears that Stringfellow’s interest did not revive sufficiently for
the continuance of the experiments until the founding of the Aeronautical Society of Great
Britain in 1866. Wenham’s paper on Aerial Locomotion read at the first meeting of the
Society, which was held at the Society of Arts under the Presidency of the Duke of Argyll,
was the means of bringing Stringfellow back into the field. It was Wenham’s suggestion, in
the first place, that monoplane design should be abandoned for the superposition of
planes; acting on this suggestion Stringfellow constructed a model triplane, and also
designed a steam engine of slightly over one horse-power, and a one horse-power copper
boiler and fire box which, although capable of sustaining a pressure of 500 lbs. to the
square inch, weighed only about 40 lbs.

Both the engine and the triplane model were exhibited at the first
Aeronautical Exhibition held at the Crystal Palace in 1868. The triplane had a supporting
surface of 28 sq. ft.; inclusive of engine, boiler, fuel, and water its total weight was
under 12 lbs. The engine worked two 21 in. propellers at 600 revolutions per minute, and
developed 100 lbs. steam pressure in five minutes, yielding one-third horse-power. Since
no free flight was allowed in the Exhibition, owing to danger from fire, the triplane was
suspended from a wire in the nave of the building, and it was noted that, when running
along the wire, the model made a perceptible lift.

A prize of L100 was awarded to the steam engine as the lightest steam
engine in proportion to its power. The engine and model together may be reckoned as
Stringfellow’s best achievement. He used his L100 in preparation for further experiments,
but he was now an old man, and his work was practically done. Both the triplane and the
engine were eventually bought for the Washington Museum; Stringfellow’s earlier models,
together with those constructed by him in conjunction with Henson, remain in this country
in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

John Stringfellow died on December 13th, 1883. His place in the history of
aeronautics is at least equal to that of Cayley, and it may be said that he laid the
foundation of such work as was subsequently accomplished by Maxim, Langley, and their
fellows. It was the coming of the internal combustion engine that rendered flight
practicable, and had this prime mover been available in John Stringfellow’s day the Wright
brothers’ achievement might have been antedated by half a century.


Lesson 8: A History of Aerodynamics – Part II

In this session, we will continue to learn about some of the great
contributors to the field of aerodynamics tracing from Leonardo da Vinci, Issac Newton,
George Cayley, and the Wright Brothers, and other great flyers and inventors.

Section 1 – On the Wings of the Prophets


The greatest boost to the science of heavier-than-air flight came with the
contributions of Sir George Cayley, the “Father of British Aeronautics” who is
also considered to be the father of modern aviation.

As a credit to Sir George Cayley, Theordore von Karman, a leading modern
aerodynamicist said in 1954, “The principle as we know it now, that of the rigid
airplane, was first announced by Cayley.”

Cayley was born in 1773 of an aristocratic family at Scarborough,
Yorkshire, England. He began as the sixth Baronet, following the death of his father in
1797. Following his initial schooling, he studied science with tutors and built his own
laboratory in a barn near the manor house at Brompton Hall.

In addition to the field of aviation, Cayley contributed much to several
branches of science and engineering. His technical work was also interspersed with
activities as a member of Parliament.

His efforts covered nearly all branches of aerodynamics including an
amazing variety of theories, designs, and experiments. He also tested airfoils, which we
known as sections of airplane wings, with a whirling arm.

Cayley’s ideas touched upon ideas on bird propulsion, aerodynamically
stabilized projectiles, a gunpowder engine, studies of airfoil geometry, a hot-air engine,
ornithopters, beam construction, streamlined shapes of minimum air drag, kites, control
surfaces, and other aspects of aeronautics.

Cayley made the world’s first scientific experiments with gliders,
generating interest in an aeronautical society. He remained an inspiring figure in aerial
navigation for more than half a century.

Cayley was only nine years old when the French Montgolfier brothers made their first balloon
flight and had an early interest in the science of flight.

He experimented with an aerial top when he was twenty-three, and began
investigating the properties of air and power necessary for flight. He was also the first
to point out that it would be impossible to fly unless by way of a sufficiently light
engine. Although it did not exist at the time, he forecast the internal combustion engine.

In this realm, Cayley was clearly ahead of his time, and in 1810, he
stated publicly that he could construct a balloon “that could carry twenty passengers
at twenty miles an hour”. He attempted to form a national aeronautical society in
1837, but was unsuccessful.

Cayley’s first writings on mechanical flight were made known in 1810,
and his last in 1854. He designed a model glider as early as 1804. But interestingly
enough, he devoted most of his efforts toward the construction of a dirigible.

He could be, in fact, considered the real pioneer of the rigid airship.
Cayley was the first man to suggest the division of the airship frame into separate
compartments, and the need of bracing the structure to maintain its shape. However, most
of the early credit for the airship was granted to Count Ferdinand von Zepellin.

In further examining Cayley’s efforts in mechanical flight, it should
be noted that he also made careful calculations of the lift and motor power required, the
weight of the fabric to be used, and the possible methods of propelling any airship.

Cayley was the first man to study the problems from the scientific and
engineering points of view. His notebooks were full of diagrams and calculations of bird
flight, notes of experiments in aerodynamics with a whirling arm to find the resistance
and lift of a flat plane which were the first known test of that kind.

He studied streamlined forms, made notes on the first attempt to
investigate the law of the center of pressure, and many other knotty problems bearing on

Cayley should be credited with the development of the first
heavier-than-air flying machine. This design was published in “Mechanics’
Magazine” in April 1843. This machine only required suitable power to produce the
necessary lift and forward propulsion which has since been proven by tests made with a
model based on Cayley’s original plans.


John Stringfellow first produced a model airplane,
powered with an engine, that would fly. Stringfellow began as apprentice to the lace trade
in Nottingham, England, showing rare mechanical ability in his early years.

Born in 1799, he left his original master in 1830
and opened his own lace factory at Chard in Gloucestershire.
Once his project was operational and running, he turned his attention to
mechanical flight, joining with W.S. Henson who was interested in power-driven models.

Henson gave up in despair, but by 1848 Stringfellow had produced his large
engine-driven model that was the first machine of its kind to fly under engine power. His
one-half horsepower steam engine, including water and fuel, weighed a total of 16 ½ lbs.

In a later model, raised to one horsepower, able to sustain a pressure of
500 lbs to the square inch. He perfected his quest for power by designing a one-horsepower steam engine weighing less than 14 pounds.

He died December 13, 1883 after realizing steam as a means of propulsion,
nearly twenty years to the day before the Wright brothers made their historic flight at
Kitty Hawk.


Henson and Stringfellow are
mentioned in the 1966 movie, “The Flight of the Phoenix.”

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