Up, Up and Away!

CEBOOKMARK Cara/Andrea here, Recently, some of the Wenches have been traveling to fabulously interesting places, rich with history and lore. (See Mary Jo’s wonderful pics from Wednesday!) I, alas, have been at home, madly scribbling to meet deadlines. So my journeys have been of the armchair variety. I’ve had to curl up with a good book and let my imagination take flight. Luckily, I started reading a wonderful book that really caught my fancy. It was on a subject that I don’t really know much about, but the title sounded intriguing: “The Age of Wonder—How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science.” So I picked it up . . . and off I went on a magical mental journey.

Letting the Mind Soar

AgeOfWonder The author, Richard Holmes, creates a vivid picture of a wondrous time—he paints captivating portraits of pioneer scientists and through fascinating—and often amusing—vignettes explains how their discoveries profoundly affected the world around them, influencing art, literature, music, politics, and religion. In other words he made science really come alive! Oh, if only high school biology had been this interesting!

By fortuitous coincidence, I saw that Holmes was giving a lecture near my home, so off I went to hear him. I’m delighted to report he spoke with the same passion and humor with which he writes. He ended his talk by saying his mission is to make people realize that science isn’t a dull, dry compilation of arcane formulas and boring tables. Like the arts, it’s about curiosity and creative genius, imagination and courage, faith and, yes, humor.

Imagination In Flight

Montgolfierballoon Given the penchant for Wenchly travels of late, I thought I’d share some of the fun facts from the book’s section on early aeronautics, which I found particularly amusing. So take a deep breath, and off we go!

The Montgolfier brothers, Joseph and Etienne, were French paper manufacturers with an interest in chemistry. Inspired by watching his wife’s chemise inflate while drying by the hearth, Joseph conceive that his company could make flying machine out of very large paper bags filled them with hot air—or the new “inflammable air” (hydrogen.) He and his brother tested the idea by sending up a sheep, duck and a cockerel in a wicker basket attached to a beautifully decorated balloon. (They referred to it as “putting a cloud in a paper bag.”) When the animals came back down to earth unharmed, the space race was on!

  Montgolfier-Balloon1 Their first manned flight—piloted the swaggering, skirt-chasing Jean-Francoise Pilatre de Rozier—was launched on November 21, 1783. It was colored a glorious sky blue and stood over 70 ft high. An open brazier burning straw provided the lift-off. He was joined by the Marquis d’Arlandes who provided a counterweight as well as muscle to stoke the fire. The 27-minute flight was apparently a comic ballet as the balloon floated over the rooftop of Paris, narrowly missing the church steeples and windmills as Pilatre kept warning the marquise to stop admiring the view and keep shoveling!

Taking Celebrity to New Heights

Lunardi Across the Channel in England, the Royal Society was not happy that their Gallic confreres were stealing the show. (Partly because even back then, people were quick to realize the military implication of flight. Benjamin Franklin calculated that 5,000 balloons carrying two men “ . . . might in many places do an infinite deal of mischief before a regular force could be brought together to repel them.”) It was, however, an Italian who pioneered English ballooning. On September 15, 1784, Vincent Lunardi took off from London on the first manned ascent from British soil, observed by a cheering crowd that included the Prince of Wales. Drifting over the countryside, he enjoyed a meal of cold chicken and champagne while once in a while attempting to “row” his contraption with a pair of oars. (He was accompanied by his cat, who did not seem to appreciate the honor—Lunardi descended to set the animal back on terra firma and then resumed his flight.) A marketing genius, Lunardi had raised money for his exploits by exhibiting his red-and-white striped balloon at the Lyceum Theater before the launch, charging 2 shilling, sixpence for a visit.

Patheon-Lunardi- He became an instant celebrity after the flight, selling his story to the Morning Post, and spawning a host of trinkets with his likeness—cups, snuffboxes and ladies’ garters were great favorites. Ever the showman, Lunardi then went on to invite the first female “aeronaut” to join him on a flight.

Ladies Aloft!

Ascent The actress Mrs. Sage played the starring role, along with a dashing Old Etonian named George Biggin. The gondola, a lavish affair draped in heavy silk, had some trouble getting airborne (Mrs. Sage later said she had lied about her weight and Lunardi was too much of a gentleman to press her.) In any case, there was much scrabbling about in the cockpit, leading to speculation on the ground of whether the Mile High Club was conceived on that first co-ed flight. After floating above the Thames for a while, the balloon fell to earth and was dragged through a field and into a hedge by the wind. Students from Harrow, which was close by,  rushed out to rescue Mrs. Sage, who had injured her foot, and carried her off to a nearby tavern where “everyone evidently got gloriously drunk.”) The event inspired the members of Brooks to start placing bets on who would be the first to have “an amorous encounter” in a balloon.

Wind and Water

Jeffries The stories get even better as the race to be the first to cross the English Channel heated up. Both countries were rushing madly to prepare for a try, but the British balloon launched first. It was manned by an American, John Jeffries, and a Frenchman, Jean-Pierre Blanchard (an inventor in his own right who had experimented with different ways to steer flight, including oars, flapping wings and a primitive propeller.) The flight itself was a wild ride, and as the balloon began losing altitude, the two men stared throwing things overboard. Out went the brandy bottles—after they had drunk the brandy. Next went their clothes (Jeffries has started out wearing a very natty beaver flying hat and chamois gloves, an early exponent of ‘aviator cool.”) Once they had stripped down to their only their drawers, the balloon began to stabilize. Finally, after furiously emptying their bladders, they made it to a dry landing in France—a triumph of the human ingenuity and pluck!

Aerialview I hope you’ve enjoyed this tiny glimpse into heady first days of “modern science!” As you can see, there was nothing stuffy about these experiments! I’ve not done the stories or Holmes’s writing style justice—but trust me, the sections are all wonderful. (Another wonderful anecdote involves Byron, Percy Shelly and Mary Shelley’s fascination with the new “voltage” machines, and whether electrical current could bring the dead back to life.)

  I wasn’t very interested in science when I was in school, but if I had had teachers as excited and inspired by the subject as Richard Holmes, I would have seen the subject in a whole new light. Suffice it to say, I learned so much from his book!

MontgolfierMs So how about you? Did you like science growing up? Does it interest you now? Do you have a favorite invention, or a memorable “first” that you’ve witnessed, like the shuttle flight or some such event?

115 thoughts on “Up, Up and Away!”

  1. I loved science when I was growing up, and I still love watching science programs on TV and reading about science, so thank you for the recommendation of Richard Holmes’ book. I will try to get it from the library, but if not there, I might even lash out and buy it. I believe it would be a wonderful addition to my small library.
    As far as the ‘first’ thing I remember, it is of going, along with my parents, to a designated part of our town where they turned all the lights down and watching sputnik fly over. It was wonderful, but quite hard to believe that something man made was actually up in space.

    Reply
  2. I loved science when I was growing up, and I still love watching science programs on TV and reading about science, so thank you for the recommendation of Richard Holmes’ book. I will try to get it from the library, but if not there, I might even lash out and buy it. I believe it would be a wonderful addition to my small library.
    As far as the ‘first’ thing I remember, it is of going, along with my parents, to a designated part of our town where they turned all the lights down and watching sputnik fly over. It was wonderful, but quite hard to believe that something man made was actually up in space.

    Reply
  3. I loved science when I was growing up, and I still love watching science programs on TV and reading about science, so thank you for the recommendation of Richard Holmes’ book. I will try to get it from the library, but if not there, I might even lash out and buy it. I believe it would be a wonderful addition to my small library.
    As far as the ‘first’ thing I remember, it is of going, along with my parents, to a designated part of our town where they turned all the lights down and watching sputnik fly over. It was wonderful, but quite hard to believe that something man made was actually up in space.

    Reply
  4. I loved science when I was growing up, and I still love watching science programs on TV and reading about science, so thank you for the recommendation of Richard Holmes’ book. I will try to get it from the library, but if not there, I might even lash out and buy it. I believe it would be a wonderful addition to my small library.
    As far as the ‘first’ thing I remember, it is of going, along with my parents, to a designated part of our town where they turned all the lights down and watching sputnik fly over. It was wonderful, but quite hard to believe that something man made was actually up in space.

    Reply
  5. I loved science when I was growing up, and I still love watching science programs on TV and reading about science, so thank you for the recommendation of Richard Holmes’ book. I will try to get it from the library, but if not there, I might even lash out and buy it. I believe it would be a wonderful addition to my small library.
    As far as the ‘first’ thing I remember, it is of going, along with my parents, to a designated part of our town where they turned all the lights down and watching sputnik fly over. It was wonderful, but quite hard to believe that something man made was actually up in space.

    Reply
  6. I’ve always been fascinated by science and by those adventurous souls who first say “I wonder …”
    I think one of the most vivid memories I have of scientific wonder is the day the first shuttle flight landed back on earth. I was doing my student teaching in an elementary school in Selma, Alabama. The school was one big pod with movable walls. They opened them up and had the televisions on in every classroom. What amazed me was the quiet. The anticipation as every student and teacher in that school stared at the television screens and we held our breaths. And then when the shuttle appeared out of the clouds you heard a collective gasp. And finally as it touched down the silence erupted into this roar of cheering and applause. It truly was an awe-inspiring experience and I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.

    Reply
  7. I’ve always been fascinated by science and by those adventurous souls who first say “I wonder …”
    I think one of the most vivid memories I have of scientific wonder is the day the first shuttle flight landed back on earth. I was doing my student teaching in an elementary school in Selma, Alabama. The school was one big pod with movable walls. They opened them up and had the televisions on in every classroom. What amazed me was the quiet. The anticipation as every student and teacher in that school stared at the television screens and we held our breaths. And then when the shuttle appeared out of the clouds you heard a collective gasp. And finally as it touched down the silence erupted into this roar of cheering and applause. It truly was an awe-inspiring experience and I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.

    Reply
  8. I’ve always been fascinated by science and by those adventurous souls who first say “I wonder …”
    I think one of the most vivid memories I have of scientific wonder is the day the first shuttle flight landed back on earth. I was doing my student teaching in an elementary school in Selma, Alabama. The school was one big pod with movable walls. They opened them up and had the televisions on in every classroom. What amazed me was the quiet. The anticipation as every student and teacher in that school stared at the television screens and we held our breaths. And then when the shuttle appeared out of the clouds you heard a collective gasp. And finally as it touched down the silence erupted into this roar of cheering and applause. It truly was an awe-inspiring experience and I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.

    Reply
  9. I’ve always been fascinated by science and by those adventurous souls who first say “I wonder …”
    I think one of the most vivid memories I have of scientific wonder is the day the first shuttle flight landed back on earth. I was doing my student teaching in an elementary school in Selma, Alabama. The school was one big pod with movable walls. They opened them up and had the televisions on in every classroom. What amazed me was the quiet. The anticipation as every student and teacher in that school stared at the television screens and we held our breaths. And then when the shuttle appeared out of the clouds you heard a collective gasp. And finally as it touched down the silence erupted into this roar of cheering and applause. It truly was an awe-inspiring experience and I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.

    Reply
  10. I’ve always been fascinated by science and by those adventurous souls who first say “I wonder …”
    I think one of the most vivid memories I have of scientific wonder is the day the first shuttle flight landed back on earth. I was doing my student teaching in an elementary school in Selma, Alabama. The school was one big pod with movable walls. They opened them up and had the televisions on in every classroom. What amazed me was the quiet. The anticipation as every student and teacher in that school stared at the television screens and we held our breaths. And then when the shuttle appeared out of the clouds you heard a collective gasp. And finally as it touched down the silence erupted into this roar of cheering and applause. It truly was an awe-inspiring experience and I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.

    Reply
  11. Jenny, I think you will really enjoy the book. (it’s out in trade paperback) There is a whole section on astronomy that you will find fascinating—one of the early pioneers was a woman, Caroline Herschel,who is credited with s discovering many early comets. I was so surprised to learn that many of the people interested in astronomy and telescopes had many serious discussions on the size of the universe, and the possibility of alien life.
    On my first visit to the Air and Space Museum in Washington DC I remember being absolutely shocked by how tiny John Glenn’s space capsule was—thinking of him orbiting the earth in something barely large enough to sit in really brought home how incredibly brave those early astronauts were.

    Reply
  12. Jenny, I think you will really enjoy the book. (it’s out in trade paperback) There is a whole section on astronomy that you will find fascinating—one of the early pioneers was a woman, Caroline Herschel,who is credited with s discovering many early comets. I was so surprised to learn that many of the people interested in astronomy and telescopes had many serious discussions on the size of the universe, and the possibility of alien life.
    On my first visit to the Air and Space Museum in Washington DC I remember being absolutely shocked by how tiny John Glenn’s space capsule was—thinking of him orbiting the earth in something barely large enough to sit in really brought home how incredibly brave those early astronauts were.

    Reply
  13. Jenny, I think you will really enjoy the book. (it’s out in trade paperback) There is a whole section on astronomy that you will find fascinating—one of the early pioneers was a woman, Caroline Herschel,who is credited with s discovering many early comets. I was so surprised to learn that many of the people interested in astronomy and telescopes had many serious discussions on the size of the universe, and the possibility of alien life.
    On my first visit to the Air and Space Museum in Washington DC I remember being absolutely shocked by how tiny John Glenn’s space capsule was—thinking of him orbiting the earth in something barely large enough to sit in really brought home how incredibly brave those early astronauts were.

    Reply
  14. Jenny, I think you will really enjoy the book. (it’s out in trade paperback) There is a whole section on astronomy that you will find fascinating—one of the early pioneers was a woman, Caroline Herschel,who is credited with s discovering many early comets. I was so surprised to learn that many of the people interested in astronomy and telescopes had many serious discussions on the size of the universe, and the possibility of alien life.
    On my first visit to the Air and Space Museum in Washington DC I remember being absolutely shocked by how tiny John Glenn’s space capsule was—thinking of him orbiting the earth in something barely large enough to sit in really brought home how incredibly brave those early astronauts were.

    Reply
  15. Jenny, I think you will really enjoy the book. (it’s out in trade paperback) There is a whole section on astronomy that you will find fascinating—one of the early pioneers was a woman, Caroline Herschel,who is credited with s discovering many early comets. I was so surprised to learn that many of the people interested in astronomy and telescopes had many serious discussions on the size of the universe, and the possibility of alien life.
    On my first visit to the Air and Space Museum in Washington DC I remember being absolutely shocked by how tiny John Glenn’s space capsule was—thinking of him orbiting the earth in something barely large enough to sit in really brought home how incredibly brave those early astronauts were.

    Reply
  16. Lousia, that the perfect comment—a sense of wonder! We have to figure out how to inspire that in kids today. I wish we could tear them away from video games and text messages to show them that the natural world around them is far more fascinating!

    Reply
  17. Lousia, that the perfect comment—a sense of wonder! We have to figure out how to inspire that in kids today. I wish we could tear them away from video games and text messages to show them that the natural world around them is far more fascinating!

    Reply
  18. Lousia, that the perfect comment—a sense of wonder! We have to figure out how to inspire that in kids today. I wish we could tear them away from video games and text messages to show them that the natural world around them is far more fascinating!

    Reply
  19. Lousia, that the perfect comment—a sense of wonder! We have to figure out how to inspire that in kids today. I wish we could tear them away from video games and text messages to show them that the natural world around them is far more fascinating!

    Reply
  20. Lousia, that the perfect comment—a sense of wonder! We have to figure out how to inspire that in kids today. I wish we could tear them away from video games and text messages to show them that the natural world around them is far more fascinating!

    Reply
  21. I’m a astronomy nut from way back. When I was a kid, I went out every clear night with my little Golden Guide to the Stars and picked out the constellations. I wanted to be an astronomer, but never made it. Instead, I’ve been a geophysicist and a software engineer. I like to read science books, mainly ones on astronomy. The weird reality of quantum physics and relativity fascinates me, but I don’t care for science fiction unless there’s romance in it. I enjoy complexity, so I like romances with lots of things going on besides the romance.

    Reply
  22. I’m a astronomy nut from way back. When I was a kid, I went out every clear night with my little Golden Guide to the Stars and picked out the constellations. I wanted to be an astronomer, but never made it. Instead, I’ve been a geophysicist and a software engineer. I like to read science books, mainly ones on astronomy. The weird reality of quantum physics and relativity fascinates me, but I don’t care for science fiction unless there’s romance in it. I enjoy complexity, so I like romances with lots of things going on besides the romance.

    Reply
  23. I’m a astronomy nut from way back. When I was a kid, I went out every clear night with my little Golden Guide to the Stars and picked out the constellations. I wanted to be an astronomer, but never made it. Instead, I’ve been a geophysicist and a software engineer. I like to read science books, mainly ones on astronomy. The weird reality of quantum physics and relativity fascinates me, but I don’t care for science fiction unless there’s romance in it. I enjoy complexity, so I like romances with lots of things going on besides the romance.

    Reply
  24. I’m a astronomy nut from way back. When I was a kid, I went out every clear night with my little Golden Guide to the Stars and picked out the constellations. I wanted to be an astronomer, but never made it. Instead, I’ve been a geophysicist and a software engineer. I like to read science books, mainly ones on astronomy. The weird reality of quantum physics and relativity fascinates me, but I don’t care for science fiction unless there’s romance in it. I enjoy complexity, so I like romances with lots of things going on besides the romance.

    Reply
  25. I’m a astronomy nut from way back. When I was a kid, I went out every clear night with my little Golden Guide to the Stars and picked out the constellations. I wanted to be an astronomer, but never made it. Instead, I’ve been a geophysicist and a software engineer. I like to read science books, mainly ones on astronomy. The weird reality of quantum physics and relativity fascinates me, but I don’t care for science fiction unless there’s romance in it. I enjoy complexity, so I like romances with lots of things going on besides the romance.

    Reply
  26. Linda, there is an extensive section on early astronomy, which I think you will really enjoy. And it’s interesting to see how their work inspired many of the great poets. (Plus a fun anecdote about a party held inside William Herschel’s 40 ft. telescope!)

    Reply
  27. Linda, there is an extensive section on early astronomy, which I think you will really enjoy. And it’s interesting to see how their work inspired many of the great poets. (Plus a fun anecdote about a party held inside William Herschel’s 40 ft. telescope!)

    Reply
  28. Linda, there is an extensive section on early astronomy, which I think you will really enjoy. And it’s interesting to see how their work inspired many of the great poets. (Plus a fun anecdote about a party held inside William Herschel’s 40 ft. telescope!)

    Reply
  29. Linda, there is an extensive section on early astronomy, which I think you will really enjoy. And it’s interesting to see how their work inspired many of the great poets. (Plus a fun anecdote about a party held inside William Herschel’s 40 ft. telescope!)

    Reply
  30. Linda, there is an extensive section on early astronomy, which I think you will really enjoy. And it’s interesting to see how their work inspired many of the great poets. (Plus a fun anecdote about a party held inside William Herschel’s 40 ft. telescope!)

    Reply
  31. What a wonderful post! I love the history of ballooning (I’ve been toying with a balloonist hero plot of a couple of years now, but all I have is the opening chapter, LOL!).
    I love sexy professor heroes, and would love to write one someday. I also love pouring over the “Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London”. I have tons of them (1776-1816). Topics include the weather, phenomena, fauna, travel, botany, chemistry, all kinds of crazy stuff.

    Reply
  32. What a wonderful post! I love the history of ballooning (I’ve been toying with a balloonist hero plot of a couple of years now, but all I have is the opening chapter, LOL!).
    I love sexy professor heroes, and would love to write one someday. I also love pouring over the “Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London”. I have tons of them (1776-1816). Topics include the weather, phenomena, fauna, travel, botany, chemistry, all kinds of crazy stuff.

    Reply
  33. What a wonderful post! I love the history of ballooning (I’ve been toying with a balloonist hero plot of a couple of years now, but all I have is the opening chapter, LOL!).
    I love sexy professor heroes, and would love to write one someday. I also love pouring over the “Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London”. I have tons of them (1776-1816). Topics include the weather, phenomena, fauna, travel, botany, chemistry, all kinds of crazy stuff.

    Reply
  34. What a wonderful post! I love the history of ballooning (I’ve been toying with a balloonist hero plot of a couple of years now, but all I have is the opening chapter, LOL!).
    I love sexy professor heroes, and would love to write one someday. I also love pouring over the “Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London”. I have tons of them (1776-1816). Topics include the weather, phenomena, fauna, travel, botany, chemistry, all kinds of crazy stuff.

    Reply
  35. What a wonderful post! I love the history of ballooning (I’ve been toying with a balloonist hero plot of a couple of years now, but all I have is the opening chapter, LOL!).
    I love sexy professor heroes, and would love to write one someday. I also love pouring over the “Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London”. I have tons of them (1776-1816). Topics include the weather, phenomena, fauna, travel, botany, chemistry, all kinds of crazy stuff.

    Reply
  36. Cara,
    I agree with you completely. Many think that the video games and electronic stimulation enhances the imaginations of today’s children. I tend to think not. I think all of the imagining is done for them.
    If we can ever get them back into the wide world and under the stars they might see that the possibilities are endless and more important that the possibilities are all theirs.
    That sense of wonder is not dead. It is still out there waiting for them to discover it in the stars, in the eyes of a tiger hiding in the jungle, in the flight of a hawk as he dives for a mouse and in all the things they can learn from history and the written word and the languages and cultures of everyone around them.

    Reply
  37. Cara,
    I agree with you completely. Many think that the video games and electronic stimulation enhances the imaginations of today’s children. I tend to think not. I think all of the imagining is done for them.
    If we can ever get them back into the wide world and under the stars they might see that the possibilities are endless and more important that the possibilities are all theirs.
    That sense of wonder is not dead. It is still out there waiting for them to discover it in the stars, in the eyes of a tiger hiding in the jungle, in the flight of a hawk as he dives for a mouse and in all the things they can learn from history and the written word and the languages and cultures of everyone around them.

    Reply
  38. Cara,
    I agree with you completely. Many think that the video games and electronic stimulation enhances the imaginations of today’s children. I tend to think not. I think all of the imagining is done for them.
    If we can ever get them back into the wide world and under the stars they might see that the possibilities are endless and more important that the possibilities are all theirs.
    That sense of wonder is not dead. It is still out there waiting for them to discover it in the stars, in the eyes of a tiger hiding in the jungle, in the flight of a hawk as he dives for a mouse and in all the things they can learn from history and the written word and the languages and cultures of everyone around them.

    Reply
  39. Cara,
    I agree with you completely. Many think that the video games and electronic stimulation enhances the imaginations of today’s children. I tend to think not. I think all of the imagining is done for them.
    If we can ever get them back into the wide world and under the stars they might see that the possibilities are endless and more important that the possibilities are all theirs.
    That sense of wonder is not dead. It is still out there waiting for them to discover it in the stars, in the eyes of a tiger hiding in the jungle, in the flight of a hawk as he dives for a mouse and in all the things they can learn from history and the written word and the languages and cultures of everyone around them.

    Reply
  40. Cara,
    I agree with you completely. Many think that the video games and electronic stimulation enhances the imaginations of today’s children. I tend to think not. I think all of the imagining is done for them.
    If we can ever get them back into the wide world and under the stars they might see that the possibilities are endless and more important that the possibilities are all theirs.
    That sense of wonder is not dead. It is still out there waiting for them to discover it in the stars, in the eyes of a tiger hiding in the jungle, in the flight of a hawk as he dives for a mouse and in all the things they can learn from history and the written word and the languages and cultures of everyone around them.

    Reply
  41. Fabulous post, Cara/Andrea. The whole adventure of ballooning is, I think, so thrilling — even now, when so much of it is known and the science of it all clear. But it’s still bold and risky and exciting.
    Loved, too the stories of the various characters who starred in the earliest balloon adventures — that mix of scientist and adventurer and publicity hound.
    Can’t wait to read the book that will have this research in it. I’ve wanted to write a balloon story in it for ages — probably since I was a kid and first read Georgette Heyer’s Frederica.

    Reply
  42. Fabulous post, Cara/Andrea. The whole adventure of ballooning is, I think, so thrilling — even now, when so much of it is known and the science of it all clear. But it’s still bold and risky and exciting.
    Loved, too the stories of the various characters who starred in the earliest balloon adventures — that mix of scientist and adventurer and publicity hound.
    Can’t wait to read the book that will have this research in it. I’ve wanted to write a balloon story in it for ages — probably since I was a kid and first read Georgette Heyer’s Frederica.

    Reply
  43. Fabulous post, Cara/Andrea. The whole adventure of ballooning is, I think, so thrilling — even now, when so much of it is known and the science of it all clear. But it’s still bold and risky and exciting.
    Loved, too the stories of the various characters who starred in the earliest balloon adventures — that mix of scientist and adventurer and publicity hound.
    Can’t wait to read the book that will have this research in it. I’ve wanted to write a balloon story in it for ages — probably since I was a kid and first read Georgette Heyer’s Frederica.

    Reply
  44. Fabulous post, Cara/Andrea. The whole adventure of ballooning is, I think, so thrilling — even now, when so much of it is known and the science of it all clear. But it’s still bold and risky and exciting.
    Loved, too the stories of the various characters who starred in the earliest balloon adventures — that mix of scientist and adventurer and publicity hound.
    Can’t wait to read the book that will have this research in it. I’ve wanted to write a balloon story in it for ages — probably since I was a kid and first read Georgette Heyer’s Frederica.

    Reply
  45. Fabulous post, Cara/Andrea. The whole adventure of ballooning is, I think, so thrilling — even now, when so much of it is known and the science of it all clear. But it’s still bold and risky and exciting.
    Loved, too the stories of the various characters who starred in the earliest balloon adventures — that mix of scientist and adventurer and publicity hound.
    Can’t wait to read the book that will have this research in it. I’ve wanted to write a balloon story in it for ages — probably since I was a kid and first read Georgette Heyer’s Frederica.

    Reply
  46. Cara/Andrea and Louisa, I do so agree with you about video games limiting, rather than enhancing kids’ imaginations.
    It’s the making up of games that’s the imaginative thing, not the following the rules or conventions or restrictions others have formed.

    Reply
  47. Cara/Andrea and Louisa, I do so agree with you about video games limiting, rather than enhancing kids’ imaginations.
    It’s the making up of games that’s the imaginative thing, not the following the rules or conventions or restrictions others have formed.

    Reply
  48. Cara/Andrea and Louisa, I do so agree with you about video games limiting, rather than enhancing kids’ imaginations.
    It’s the making up of games that’s the imaginative thing, not the following the rules or conventions or restrictions others have formed.

    Reply
  49. Cara/Andrea and Louisa, I do so agree with you about video games limiting, rather than enhancing kids’ imaginations.
    It’s the making up of games that’s the imaginative thing, not the following the rules or conventions or restrictions others have formed.

    Reply
  50. Cara/Andrea and Louisa, I do so agree with you about video games limiting, rather than enhancing kids’ imaginations.
    It’s the making up of games that’s the imaginative thing, not the following the rules or conventions or restrictions others have formed.

    Reply
  51. Lousia, that a perfectly lovely summation! You should post it elsewhere too! Using one’s imagination—making that leap from reality to imagining “what if?” is so important. I think you are right—it’s out there. We just aren’t doing enough to encourage kids to use their own heads—to be active rather than passive!

    Reply
  52. Lousia, that a perfectly lovely summation! You should post it elsewhere too! Using one’s imagination—making that leap from reality to imagining “what if?” is so important. I think you are right—it’s out there. We just aren’t doing enough to encourage kids to use their own heads—to be active rather than passive!

    Reply
  53. Lousia, that a perfectly lovely summation! You should post it elsewhere too! Using one’s imagination—making that leap from reality to imagining “what if?” is so important. I think you are right—it’s out there. We just aren’t doing enough to encourage kids to use their own heads—to be active rather than passive!

    Reply
  54. Lousia, that a perfectly lovely summation! You should post it elsewhere too! Using one’s imagination—making that leap from reality to imagining “what if?” is so important. I think you are right—it’s out there. We just aren’t doing enough to encourage kids to use their own heads—to be active rather than passive!

    Reply
  55. Lousia, that a perfectly lovely summation! You should post it elsewhere too! Using one’s imagination—making that leap from reality to imagining “what if?” is so important. I think you are right—it’s out there. We just aren’t doing enough to encourage kids to use their own heads—to be active rather than passive!

    Reply
  56. My brain is more about words than numbers, so math and science haven’t always topped my list. But I love to learn, to know how things work, and have found that books on the *history* of science and math fascinate me. “Against the Gods”, about the development of probability as a science and its impact, is another excellent book. I also have a lot of those photo-heavy science books for teens that are always on sale in Barnes & Noble. They’re about my speed! (Do you think a difference between a writer and a scientist is that the writer asks first, “What if..?” and the scientist asks “How does…?”)

    Reply
  57. My brain is more about words than numbers, so math and science haven’t always topped my list. But I love to learn, to know how things work, and have found that books on the *history* of science and math fascinate me. “Against the Gods”, about the development of probability as a science and its impact, is another excellent book. I also have a lot of those photo-heavy science books for teens that are always on sale in Barnes & Noble. They’re about my speed! (Do you think a difference between a writer and a scientist is that the writer asks first, “What if..?” and the scientist asks “How does…?”)

    Reply
  58. My brain is more about words than numbers, so math and science haven’t always topped my list. But I love to learn, to know how things work, and have found that books on the *history* of science and math fascinate me. “Against the Gods”, about the development of probability as a science and its impact, is another excellent book. I also have a lot of those photo-heavy science books for teens that are always on sale in Barnes & Noble. They’re about my speed! (Do you think a difference between a writer and a scientist is that the writer asks first, “What if..?” and the scientist asks “How does…?”)

    Reply
  59. My brain is more about words than numbers, so math and science haven’t always topped my list. But I love to learn, to know how things work, and have found that books on the *history* of science and math fascinate me. “Against the Gods”, about the development of probability as a science and its impact, is another excellent book. I also have a lot of those photo-heavy science books for teens that are always on sale in Barnes & Noble. They’re about my speed! (Do you think a difference between a writer and a scientist is that the writer asks first, “What if..?” and the scientist asks “How does…?”)

    Reply
  60. My brain is more about words than numbers, so math and science haven’t always topped my list. But I love to learn, to know how things work, and have found that books on the *history* of science and math fascinate me. “Against the Gods”, about the development of probability as a science and its impact, is another excellent book. I also have a lot of those photo-heavy science books for teens that are always on sale in Barnes & Noble. They’re about my speed! (Do you think a difference between a writer and a scientist is that the writer asks first, “What if..?” and the scientist asks “How does…?”)

    Reply
  61. The way the world works is science and it shouldn’t be a scary thing.
    My daughter who is a artist through and through has finally admitted to her Dad ( an engineer!) that chemistry and physics should be taught to everyone at a basic level, ‘it is fun and explains so much of the world.’ say she at 17…..
    I am glad to hear there are some approachable science books out here. Too many of us ( I mean me anyway) are intimidated by integrals and derivatives and proofs etc.
    I am going to look for the book too.
    My first memory of ‘space science’ was watching the first man on the moon. The more mundane was watching my Granny do science by mixing butter, sugar, eggs flour and chocolate and miraculously creating a yummy chocolate cake!!!!

    Reply
  62. The way the world works is science and it shouldn’t be a scary thing.
    My daughter who is a artist through and through has finally admitted to her Dad ( an engineer!) that chemistry and physics should be taught to everyone at a basic level, ‘it is fun and explains so much of the world.’ say she at 17…..
    I am glad to hear there are some approachable science books out here. Too many of us ( I mean me anyway) are intimidated by integrals and derivatives and proofs etc.
    I am going to look for the book too.
    My first memory of ‘space science’ was watching the first man on the moon. The more mundane was watching my Granny do science by mixing butter, sugar, eggs flour and chocolate and miraculously creating a yummy chocolate cake!!!!

    Reply
  63. The way the world works is science and it shouldn’t be a scary thing.
    My daughter who is a artist through and through has finally admitted to her Dad ( an engineer!) that chemistry and physics should be taught to everyone at a basic level, ‘it is fun and explains so much of the world.’ say she at 17…..
    I am glad to hear there are some approachable science books out here. Too many of us ( I mean me anyway) are intimidated by integrals and derivatives and proofs etc.
    I am going to look for the book too.
    My first memory of ‘space science’ was watching the first man on the moon. The more mundane was watching my Granny do science by mixing butter, sugar, eggs flour and chocolate and miraculously creating a yummy chocolate cake!!!!

    Reply
  64. The way the world works is science and it shouldn’t be a scary thing.
    My daughter who is a artist through and through has finally admitted to her Dad ( an engineer!) that chemistry and physics should be taught to everyone at a basic level, ‘it is fun and explains so much of the world.’ say she at 17…..
    I am glad to hear there are some approachable science books out here. Too many of us ( I mean me anyway) are intimidated by integrals and derivatives and proofs etc.
    I am going to look for the book too.
    My first memory of ‘space science’ was watching the first man on the moon. The more mundane was watching my Granny do science by mixing butter, sugar, eggs flour and chocolate and miraculously creating a yummy chocolate cake!!!!

    Reply
  65. The way the world works is science and it shouldn’t be a scary thing.
    My daughter who is a artist through and through has finally admitted to her Dad ( an engineer!) that chemistry and physics should be taught to everyone at a basic level, ‘it is fun and explains so much of the world.’ say she at 17…..
    I am glad to hear there are some approachable science books out here. Too many of us ( I mean me anyway) are intimidated by integrals and derivatives and proofs etc.
    I am going to look for the book too.
    My first memory of ‘space science’ was watching the first man on the moon. The more mundane was watching my Granny do science by mixing butter, sugar, eggs flour and chocolate and miraculously creating a yummy chocolate cake!!!!

    Reply
  66. Great post! I need that book :o)
    I too remember sitting in the library of my elementary school and watching the first man step foot on the moon. It was thrilling, it was amazing, it was frightening and I was glued to the TV.
    And I love science. I would have loved it more, I’m sure, had it been taught with the kinds of stories you’ve given examples of.
    As an aside, you can read the transcript of that landing here:
    http://goo.gl/pNkeb
    with Armstrong’s famous line and the little teenie tiny word no one heard…

    Reply
  67. Great post! I need that book :o)
    I too remember sitting in the library of my elementary school and watching the first man step foot on the moon. It was thrilling, it was amazing, it was frightening and I was glued to the TV.
    And I love science. I would have loved it more, I’m sure, had it been taught with the kinds of stories you’ve given examples of.
    As an aside, you can read the transcript of that landing here:
    http://goo.gl/pNkeb
    with Armstrong’s famous line and the little teenie tiny word no one heard…

    Reply
  68. Great post! I need that book :o)
    I too remember sitting in the library of my elementary school and watching the first man step foot on the moon. It was thrilling, it was amazing, it was frightening and I was glued to the TV.
    And I love science. I would have loved it more, I’m sure, had it been taught with the kinds of stories you’ve given examples of.
    As an aside, you can read the transcript of that landing here:
    http://goo.gl/pNkeb
    with Armstrong’s famous line and the little teenie tiny word no one heard…

    Reply
  69. Great post! I need that book :o)
    I too remember sitting in the library of my elementary school and watching the first man step foot on the moon. It was thrilling, it was amazing, it was frightening and I was glued to the TV.
    And I love science. I would have loved it more, I’m sure, had it been taught with the kinds of stories you’ve given examples of.
    As an aside, you can read the transcript of that landing here:
    http://goo.gl/pNkeb
    with Armstrong’s famous line and the little teenie tiny word no one heard…

    Reply
  70. Great post! I need that book :o)
    I too remember sitting in the library of my elementary school and watching the first man step foot on the moon. It was thrilling, it was amazing, it was frightening and I was glued to the TV.
    And I love science. I would have loved it more, I’m sure, had it been taught with the kinds of stories you’ve given examples of.
    As an aside, you can read the transcript of that landing here:
    http://goo.gl/pNkeb
    with Armstrong’s famous line and the little teenie tiny word no one heard…

    Reply
  71. Kirsten. how heartening that your daughter realizes how important it is to understand the basics of the world around her. I’ve become more and more interested in learning the basic “whys”, probably because for me knowledge makes things so much more enjoyable. It’s just plain fun to understand what makes something happen, like a balloon rise, or a cake bake. (huzzah for grannies and chocolate cake. The kitchen is indeed the first wondrous laboratory we see!)

    Reply
  72. Kirsten. how heartening that your daughter realizes how important it is to understand the basics of the world around her. I’ve become more and more interested in learning the basic “whys”, probably because for me knowledge makes things so much more enjoyable. It’s just plain fun to understand what makes something happen, like a balloon rise, or a cake bake. (huzzah for grannies and chocolate cake. The kitchen is indeed the first wondrous laboratory we see!)

    Reply
  73. Kirsten. how heartening that your daughter realizes how important it is to understand the basics of the world around her. I’ve become more and more interested in learning the basic “whys”, probably because for me knowledge makes things so much more enjoyable. It’s just plain fun to understand what makes something happen, like a balloon rise, or a cake bake. (huzzah for grannies and chocolate cake. The kitchen is indeed the first wondrous laboratory we see!)

    Reply
  74. Kirsten. how heartening that your daughter realizes how important it is to understand the basics of the world around her. I’ve become more and more interested in learning the basic “whys”, probably because for me knowledge makes things so much more enjoyable. It’s just plain fun to understand what makes something happen, like a balloon rise, or a cake bake. (huzzah for grannies and chocolate cake. The kitchen is indeed the first wondrous laboratory we see!)

    Reply
  75. Kirsten. how heartening that your daughter realizes how important it is to understand the basics of the world around her. I’ve become more and more interested in learning the basic “whys”, probably because for me knowledge makes things so much more enjoyable. It’s just plain fun to understand what makes something happen, like a balloon rise, or a cake bake. (huzzah for grannies and chocolate cake. The kitchen is indeed the first wondrous laboratory we see!)

    Reply
  76. I had a wonderful science teacher in seventh and eighth grade. Mr. Milstead got me* interested in radio and electronics and I worked in that field all of my working career.
    Very interesting column Ms. Cara. Thank you.

    Reply
  77. I had a wonderful science teacher in seventh and eighth grade. Mr. Milstead got me* interested in radio and electronics and I worked in that field all of my working career.
    Very interesting column Ms. Cara. Thank you.

    Reply
  78. I had a wonderful science teacher in seventh and eighth grade. Mr. Milstead got me* interested in radio and electronics and I worked in that field all of my working career.
    Very interesting column Ms. Cara. Thank you.

    Reply
  79. I had a wonderful science teacher in seventh and eighth grade. Mr. Milstead got me* interested in radio and electronics and I worked in that field all of my working career.
    Very interesting column Ms. Cara. Thank you.

    Reply
  80. I had a wonderful science teacher in seventh and eighth grade. Mr. Milstead got me* interested in radio and electronics and I worked in that field all of my working career.
    Very interesting column Ms. Cara. Thank you.

    Reply

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