Posts Tagged ‘Fritz Lang’

MIGRANT APES IN THE GASOLINE CRACK OF HISTORY

November 3, 2008

Rocket cars. Rocket dragsters. It was only a matter of time before the technology designed to put a man on the moon and vaporize entire cities was appropriated by the speed demons on wheels…

It’s simple: the common method for propulsion of the rocket dragsters utilized the following method: pressurized nitrogen forces the hydrogen peroxide onto a silver plate and the ensuing, instantaneous chemical reaction creates a tremendous cloud of hot stream that is force fed out of a nozzle, creating thrust.

Rockets summon, tickle and reanimate many primal notions dormant within the collective human consciousness… they tap into the memories of fire and they evoke the spirit of the transcendental, the exaltation and elevation of the human body and of the human spirit… “They wanted to escape from their misery and the stars were too far for them” – thus spoke Zarathustra and Friedrich Nietzsche about the very banality of existence… rockets are the stuff of Jules Verne books (From the Earth to the Moon) and Fritz Lang movies (Frau Im Mond), of Arthur C. Clark and Stanley Kubrick and 2001 whose symphonic score (Richard Strauss’ “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”) observed a human destiny far beyond the confines of Planet Earth; of the Ancient Chinese and tossed bamboo tubes filled with saltpeter, sulfur and charcoal as part of ceremonial fires and noisy explosions scaring away evil spirits. A full millennia subsequent, this is the stuff of the Sung Dynasty attaching tubes of powder to spears and using the projectiles to repel the invading Mongol hordes… “thunder that shakes the heavens” was the Chinese description of the dual elements of physical devastation and psychological terror… the Mongols appropriated the technology for use in their conquests of Baghdad and from there rocketry spread into Europe… as the Dark Ages gave way to the Renaissance, Sir Isaac Newton solved the theorem of equal and opposite reactions, which became his Third Law of Motion and a pithy explanation of how a rocket generates altitude and velocity… this is the stuff of unmanned rockets built from the blood of indentured Hebrews, subjugated into aiding the Third Reich as it bombed the shit out of London in its quest to establish a Master Race; of the Space Race and the rocket to the moon with spacemen in aluminum suits establishing beachheads on extra terra firma… this is the stuff of our id and a Jungian subconsciousness – of “migrant apes in the gasoline crack of history,” William Burroughs said – of apocryphal legend and honky imperialism and of dusty teenagers ratchet-strapping forgotten solid-fuel rockets onto the hoods of their rusted Chevy Impalas and smashing man and machine into the eternal oblivion of desert stone…

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MAXIMUM THRUST (KAPUT) (Germany, 1929)

November 3, 2008

Since Fritz Lang’s film Frau Im Mond, it was more than obvious that rockets were the only form of propulsion that would put a mensch or frau on the moon…

Rocket engines were useful in that they did not need to induct oxygen into its combustion system. Its propellant system carried its own oxidizer, which is necessary when one is propelled and elevated to heights beyond the earth’s atmosphere and whereupon there is no oxygen. (No oxygen, no fire. No fire, no thermodynamics in the thin, rarefied air of the cosmos… )

Jets, however, sucked in copious amounts of oxygen. Due to this system of propulsion, they become less efficient at higher altitudes as the air is thinner and less oxygen is available for combustion.

In aerospace, that is how it shakes out. On land, there are different reasons for using different forms of propulsion.

The first documented LSR rocket car explosion involved the Opel RAK 3, built in Germany in the 20s and campaigned by Fritz Von Opel and Max Valier. The initial runs in Berlin were followed by a few attempts made on rails, during which RAK 3 pushed the world speed rekord up to 158 mph with clusters of solid fuel, black powder rockets arranged in a cylindrical cone. After a successful flight with the RAK 1 Friedrich rocket propelled aircraft, the experiments conducted by Opel as a pioneer in rocket propulsion end in 1929. Patron Shell Oil (who was floating the nearly bankrupt Valier) insisted that the propulsion system be modified from a water ‘spiritus’ and oxygen combination to a paraffin-based system; a subsequent test ended in a holocaustic explosion that killed Valier, moments after his aorta was punctured by metallic fallout. It was high stakes techno-mechanical vaudeville, with Valier a mortal victim of his own schtoink …

The moral? The folks cutting the checks may not have the best approach to maximum velocity. The trick is to take their money and not their ideas…