O.B.I.T. – The machine that allows the observation of anyone, anywhere, at any time.

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O.B.I.T. in action

O.B.I.T. in action.

The ‘all-seeing eye’ has been a source of fascination to futurists for quite some time. In a previous post on Atomic Flash Deluxe we considered the 1948 DC comic, How Television Will Change Your Future, with its ‘Eye-In-The-Sky’ and how it relates to George Orwell’s 1948 classic, 1984. In a common vein, The Outer Limits episode, O.B.I.T. – originally aired during the first season of the classic sci-fi television series on 4 November 1963 – takes the concept to a much more sinister level. Wikipedia gives a very nice synopsis of the episode:

Opening narration:

In this room, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, security personnel at the Defense Department’s Cypress Hills Research Center keep constant watch on its scientists through O.B.I.T., a mysterious electronic device whose very existence was carefully kept from the public at large. And so it would have remained but for the facts you are about to witness…

Plot:

While inquiring into the murder of an administrator at a government research facility, a U.S. senator is confronted with paranoia, secrecy, and intimidation. He ultimately learns the cause: An unusual security device that is used to monitor its employees. The Outer Band Individuated Teletracer (known by the acronym O.B.I.T.)[1] is so pervasive and invasive that no one can escape its prying eye, at any time or within 500 miles. It is even deemed addictive by some of its operators. After a missing administrator is found and reveals his knowledge of O.B.I.T., its sinister, unearthly origins and purpose become apparent; the device is, in actuality, an alien invention that was designed to demoralize and desensitize the human race in preparation for invasion. During government hearings, Lomax, one of the projects administrators reveals himself to be an alien, proudly warning onlookers as to the horrific impact O.B.I.T. will have on mankind. As he speaks, a nearby O.B.I.T. machine shows Lomax in his true alien form.

Quotes:

Lomax: People with nothing to hide have nothing to fear from O.B.I.T.
Orville: (scoffs) Are you that perfect, Mr. Lomax?

Senator Orville (taking Grover’s testimony in the hearing room): Weren’t you in favor of O.B.I.T?
Colonel Grover: I was at first. But I was wrong. (now fighting to compose himself) It’s the most hideous creation ever conceived. No one can laugh… or joke. It watches!

Lomax (revealed as an alien): The machines are everywhere! Oh you’ll find them all, you’re a zealous people. And you’ll make a great show of smashing a few of them. But for every one you destroy, hundreds of others will be built. And they will demoralize you, break your spirits, create such rifts and tensions in your society that no one will be able to repair them! Oh, you’re a savage, despairing planet, and when we come here to live, you friendless, demoralized flotsam will fall without even a single shot being fired. Senator, enjoy the few years left you. There is no answer. You’re all of the same dark persuasion! You demand – insist – on knowing every private thought and hunger of everyone: Your families, your neighbors, everyone — but yourselves.

Closing narration:

Agents of the Justice Department are rounding up the machines now. But these machines, these inventions of another planet, have been cunningly conceived to prey on our most mortal weakness. In the last analysis, dear friends, whether O.B.I.T. lives up to its name or not will depend on you.

Certainly a prescient episode so very relevant for the current times: the most incredible invention of the 20th century – the internet – could be used as a source of education and global communication that would better the world, but instead of this its been turned into a source of corporate consumerism, conflict, pernicious gossip, surveillance, and…control.

The prophets of the early-to-mid 20th century were truly remarkable in their visions – it’s unfortunate that we’ve failed to heed their warnings.

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The Talking-Eye Television: Not A Prediction – But A Preview! (1948)

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The Time – Tomorrow.

Dad – It’s the emergency signal!

Television Will CHANGE Your Future

Television Will CHANGE Your Future, 1948

In this 1948 DC comic, a benevolent Eye-In-The-Sky presented a stark contrast to George Orwell’s Big Brother of 1984. Orwell completed his classic in 1948 – it was a warning to the future based on his observations of British propaganda and the government use of communication technologies during that time.

In 2017, ‘He who owns the Internet, Owns minds.’

Imagining Human Space Exploration During the Early Space Age

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There once was a time when it was just assumed that by the early 21st century humans would be well on the way in space exploration. Of course, a trip to the moon was always considered the first stop – or ‘start’.

On 20 July 1969, Americans were glued to their television sets as they watched images of Apollo 11 touch down on the Moon’s Sea of Tranquility – the words, The Eagle has landed, went into the history books. Four more manned space flights to the Earth’s only natural satellite would occur between 1969 and 1972 but none were as exciting or interesting to the public as the first.

When people of the Earth saw the barren landscape – and no little green men to welcome the Earthlings – they lost interest in the thought of man on the moon. In the decades that followed there was more interest in conspiracy literature regarding the moon landing as a fraud – with many people believing that it never happened at all. The bulk of this argument focuses on the first expedition to the Moon, and rarely if ever, do the following four missions appear in that regard. The bottom line of the entire Moon missions experience is that nothing much came out of it, except a huge cottage industry of books, films, videos, and conventions all designed around a kind of myth-making.

Needless to say, it’s now the 21st century and humans are no closer to galactic space exploration than they were in 1969. Yes, there are companies working really hard at making this a reality – some day. Still, with this in the works, very few possess the wonder of space exploration that the world did before and during the original Space Age. Perhaps it’s because the entire science fiction genre has turned out so many dark, violent, and foreboding works that there is less wonder and more fear of what is ‘out there’. Or, perhaps the world has become so consumed with the terrors of this world that when it comes to other worlds, ‘we ain’t got time for that.’

Be that as it may, let’s focus just a bit on the wonder and the magic that once was.

Werner Büdeler was one of the earliest writer/journalists in the space-pop tradition. His works helped spread an interest in, and an understanding of, modern scientific principles in everything from the atom, to astronomy, to aerospace – the last two were his specialty.

From among his earliest works one book stands out for its classic imaginative qualities – Flug zum Mond (Flight to the Moon), 1960. Originally published in 1954 with the title, Junge, das ist Tempo (Boy, that’s Speed), it’s a gem for the illustrations alone.

Flug Zum Mond - Cover

Artist Erik Theodor Lössig took the basic conceptual ideas of engineers like Wernher von Braun, H. E. Ross, and R. A. Smith, and created some wonderful works in black and white. They capture the visionary ideas of the early Space Age perfectly.

The idea of getting to the moon involved first building an outer space station which would then be used to build the modules that would launch to the moon – the idea being that launching from space itself decreased the amount of energy which would otherwise be used just to get out of the Earth’s atmosphere and gravitational pull. This allowed for the conservation of fuel that would be needed for the trek to the moon – and someday beyond.

As you can see from these concepts, the journey to the Moon wasn’t thought to be a step-on-step-off experiment – these imagineers saw the Moon as a new frontier for settlement as a base, and potentially a launching site for further space exploration.

A Staging Concept

A two-stage large-scale rocket designed to transport materials.

A Multi-stage Rocket

A Multi-stage Rocket designed to transport technicians and construction workers.

Another Staging Concept

Separation of the personnel transport top stage.

The Space Pilot

The Space Pilot

Weightless in Zero Gravity

The Central Station – weightless in zero gravity

The Space Station Construction Site

The Space Station Construction Site

The Space Taxi

Mounting the Mirror – The mirror would utilize solar energy and act as a reflective shield, the ‘Space Taxi’ would transport materials and technicians.

The outer station revolves around the Earth.

The outer station revolves around the Earth.

Assembly of the Lunar ships

Assembly of the Lunar ships.

Moon Landing

Moon Landing

The First Step

The First Step

The Moon Base

The Moon Base

As we now know, this wasn’t the way things were done with the Apollo program – the US was in too much of a rush to beat the USSR in the ‘space race’ to take the time for such an intelligent endeavor. Perhaps, someday, these still viable ideas will be considered when human space exploration once again captures the world’s imagination.

A special thanks to Retro-Futurismus for the beautiful scans – they are much better than the images that my well-used copy could have produced.

A Fab Car From A Fab Stunt: James Bond’s ‘Barrel Roll’ AMC Hornet Up For Auction

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Remember this…?

The stunt was revolutionary.

The vehicle used in this marvy ‘astro spiral’ is soon to be auctioned off. Read all about it in the following entry from Just Collecting – the condition of this beauty attests to the perfection of that cutting-edge stunt.


1974 AMC Hornet Front Right Tire Profile

A car used in one of the most famous James Bond stunts of all-time is heading for auction later this year.

Auctions America is set to offer the AMC Hornet used for the iconic barrel-roll jump in The Man with the Golden Gun, in which Roger Moore corkscrews over a collapsed bridge in Thailand.

Completed in a single take by stunt driver Loren ‘Bumps’ Willard, years before the advent of CGI, the stunt remains one of the most spectacular car jumps in movie history.

The 1974 AMC Hornet X ‘Astro-Spiral’ stunt car is expected to sell for $250,000 – $350,000 when it goes under the hammer in Auburn, Indiana over the Labour Day weekend.

1974 AMC Hornet

The stunt was originally conceived by US racing driver Jay Milligan, who first performed it at the Houston Astrodome back in 1972.

He then contacted the producers of the James Bond movie series, who immediately snapped up the rights to use the stunt in their next instalment.

To make sure the stunt went according to plan whilst filming on location, and ensure the safety of their driver, producers used groundbreaking computer technology to simulate the jump beforehand.

They turned to computer engineer Raymond R. McHenry, who had designed a pioneering piece of simulation software known as HVOSM (Highway Vehicle Object Simulation Model) whilst working at Calspan

The mathematical computer model had been created to simulate car accidents, and help design safer vehicles. But McHenry realised that he could also use it to design a really cool car stunt, and spent two years perfecting it.

When it came time to actually perform the stunt, the painstaking calculations and planning paid off.

1974 AMC Hornet 'Astro Spiral'

Willard nailed the jump on the first attempt, with the car landing exactly where McHenry’s software had predicted it would.

The result was cinematic and technological history – the first movie stunt ever designed on a computer.

McHenry’s software was years ahead of its time, and led directly to the simulation models used by modern-day racing video games.

Having loaned his original stunt car to the production, Jay Milligan then shipped his AMC Hornet back to the U.S, where it remained in his collection for more than 40 years.

The Auctions America Auburn Fall Sale takes place at the historic Auburn Auction Park from August 31 until September 3.

via Just Collecting

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New App Explores the Secret Development Location of the First Atomic Bombs – Atlas Obscura

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Editor’s note: The app is available for Android people at the Play Store – it’s called, Secret City.

Take a virtual tour of Los Alamos Laboratory, home of the Manhattan Project.

During the early part of WWII, the U.S. military brought some of the brightest scientific minds in the U.S. together in an isolated pocket of New Mexico. The top-secret location became known as the Los Alamos Laboratory. There, scientists worked on the Manhattan Project, designing and building the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945.

The Manhattan Project no longer exists, but as this video shows, the secret location has been rebuilt, virtually. Using a new, free iPhone app called Los Alamos: The Secret City of the Manhattan Project, you can tour the secret atomic city as it existed in 1945.

By exploring buildings, reading documents, and playing games, you can become part of the top-secret Manhattan Project—though the app stops short of showing users how to actually make a bomb. The experience finishes at the Trinity atomic test site, where scientists detonated the first test bomb. It’s a virtual, time-traveling counterpart to the real-world site, which still opens to visitors twice per year.

via Atlas Obscura