Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sputnik on...

All 3 of the regular readers of this blog will not be surprised to hear that I'm a pretty keen monkey on all matters of space. As a kid I wanted to be an astronaut, but the NZ space administration would have had trouble organising a car boot sale, let along lobbing something into space.

So, today, the 4th October 2007, hearlds 50 years since the Soviets blasted 'Sputnik' into space, the first man made object to orbit the earth. It was a shade under 60cm in width and a shade over 80kg in weight and couldn't do much except electronically bleep "I'm sputnik", or the russian equivalent.

Well done to the Ruskies, it was a stirling effort and the igniter that sparked the Space Race...

it's always interesting to relate relative technology and one comparison I love is that the computer on board of Apollo 11 (the one that took Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin & Michael Collins to the moon and back) had a 8KB processor on it. What is that you ask, well, effectively, it had the computing power of the most basic calculator you could find in a shop now i.e. one that could add, subtract, divide & multiply and that's about it.

In my own homage to space I have always named my computers / technological bits of kits after major space components. There has been Sputnik, Voyager, Apollo, Titan and others. Only my first computer didn't adhere to the system and he was called 'larry', as in 'Larry the Laptop' - perhaps I should write to NASA with a down-to-earth naming suggestion.

As it goes, I've had a bit of a technological day today myself as I took receipt of a long dreamt of Garmin Forerunner 305. Essentially it's a stopwatch, but it also records your heartrate and, with thanks to it's onboard GPS, it also maps your route, change in altitude in a spatial 3D manner, all of which can be downloaded to a computer.

Last Sunday, 30 Sep, I chalked up my 100th run for the year and as I've wanted one of these puppies for years, I treated myself. Earlier in the year when i did the bulk of the work toward this goal (back in NZ), I thought if/when I get to the centennial target, I will treat myself to something nice as a wee pat on the back for my efforts (as you get older there ain't too many people to pat you on the back, so you've got to do it yourself sometimes), even though, financially, there are plenty of other things that I should be putting my money towards at the moment.

I'm lucky if I get to 60 runs in a year, so I've broken all previous records and still have 3 calendar months to go in this year. So, i'm quite aware that I'm setting a personal record this year that I ain't ever going to beat. I've always wanted to be a person who just happily bounds out on runs 3 times a week, but that is not my mindset.

I'm the kind of guy who gets fit for 6 weeks and then craps out, only having to go through the whole painful 'getting fit again' phase again, 2 months later (this has been going on for about 25 years now).

Anyway, well done to Sputnik and a pat on the back to myself too. I now need to go and name the little bugger - sadly i've used 'Sputnik' before, so I need to dream up something else... Albert II was the first monkey in space (erm, on a one way ticket), but it doesn't quite have the ring I'm looking for.

Any suggestions welcome...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about Buzz? That'd be a good name for a watch.

9:04 pm  
Blogger Captain Fargon said...

yeah... i like it!

1:35 pm  
Blogger Phil said...

You could call it Gordon after Flash Gordon. He was quite a major space traveller.

And I once heard that the entire bank of computers which powered the first Apollo space flights, which at the time took up about as much space as a double decker bus, featured the same processing power as you could now find in a single chip the size of a pin head.

It's probably not true, but it sounds good.

11:29 am  
Blogger Captain Fargon said...

Well, the internet is the perfect place to launch such facts… whether true or not (although, in this case, it sounds about right). Now, you folks have got me thinking of a whole new avenue for naming conventions - using monkeys which have been lobbed into space!

In the article I had mentioned Albert II and had previously considered Laika the dog (Sorry Laika -, but do like the thought of using the great-grandchildren++ of the mighty Cro-Magnon’s. I’d have to say, at this stage, that Buzz has it over Flash by a NASA crew-cut, but I do kinda like ‘Yuri’, as in Yuri Gagarin, the first the person in space (who died in another spectacular fireball 7 years later, some 9 weeks before I made my own first ‘small steps for man’).

Aside from anything, Yuri could be quite useful for giving it some character it i.e. “Yuri looking like a fat bastard, time you went for a run pal!”

2:06 pm  

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