quadibloc on July 26, 2011, 07:16:02 pm
Although I'm older than seven years, and while I didn't think it was odd that the sails of the boat were inside the air bubble, thus being there just for decoration, I didn't pause to think about the matter to recognize the point that Reggie King made in today's strip.

He is, of course, quite right that one couldn't really do everything with the sails of the boat that one can do with the sails of a real boat. Without a second medium, one can't tack against the wind, for example.

But that doesn't mean that sails exposed to the wind are utterly useless in the single-medium case. Kites fly, and so do the seeds of dandelions. So for a naive observer to note that the sails are prevented from catching the wind in this configuration is not actually that mistaken - even if using the sails to catch the wind wouldn't have the same versatility as experienced in ocean sailing.

wdg3rd on July 26, 2011, 09:16:10 pm
Not sure what you mean.  A kite indeed has a second medium - somebody holding the string.  And dandelion seeds are blown whichever way the wind takes them, no second medium.
Ward Griffiths        wdg3rd@aol.com

Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.  --  Denis Diderot

quadibloc on July 26, 2011, 11:00:07 pm
My point is that a non-aerodynamic shape, such as created by sails, can cause an object to be more effectively taken where the wind would blow it, when that is desired, without the need for a second medium.

Hence, Babette the Elder's reasoning is not as inherently poor as the strip makes it out to be. Sails lose some of their usefulness, but not all of it, without a second medium.

ZeissIkon on July 27, 2011, 07:33:31 pm
Actually...

Near the middle of the 19th century, if I recall correctly, there were a number of early attempts to steer balloons (ultimately concluding with Santos-Dumont and others creating the dirigible that had such an effect in WWI and created such spectacular disaster at Lakehurst in 1936.  However, before they made them cigar shaped and mounted engines and control surfaces, one early attempt mounted sails on a balloon -- on both top and bottom.  If the balloon is tall enough, there can be enough differential in wind speed from top to bottom to allow a sail to be effective; with very fine altitude control, it's even possible for the winds to vary significantly in direction over that couple hundred feet of altitude (another sail-on-balloon concept used a rope dragging on the ground or sea to act like the string of a kite, but that's genuinely two mediums).

The method with sails on top and bottom did work -- not very well, most of the time, but if you could find one of those "wind shears", as we call them now, you could do some genuine steering...

wdg3rd on July 27, 2011, 09:40:40 pm
Wind shear boundary does indeed split local atmosphere into two media.  Hard to detect in advance and a bitch to control.  Easier to rise and drop between the two zones than to hang in the middle and wrangle sails.  Either way dangerous in a balloon, I'd be wary even in a rigid airship of my own design.  I've seen wind shears destroy big-ass solid airplanes (admittedly usually by throwing them against the ground when the true airspeed suddenly went away).
Ward Griffiths        wdg3rd@aol.com

Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.  --  Denis Diderot

quadibloc on July 28, 2011, 12:32:10 am
My point, though, was not that sails would "work" on a balloon, except for the most primitive function of catching the wind when it happened to be blowing your way.

Rather, it was that Babette was only making a "Landlubbers don't know what a sailboat can do" mistake, and not a "Girls can't do physics" mistake.

J Thomas on July 28, 2011, 07:03:04 am
Wind shear boundary does indeed split local atmosphere into two media.  Hard to detect in advance and a bitch to control.  Easier to rise and drop between the two zones than to hang in the middle and wrangle sails.  Either way dangerous in a balloon, I'd be wary even in a rigid airship of my own design.  I've seen wind shears destroy big-ass solid airplanes (admittedly usually by throwing them against the ground when the true airspeed suddenly went away).

Maybe use two balloons with a strong cable between them. In ideal conditions you could winch them together or farther apart to control direction.

codyevens on September 04, 2011, 01:39:39 pm
The cost of liberty is less than the price of oppression.     
:-) :-) :-) :-)

dough560 on September 05, 2011, 06:33:55 am
That doesn't keep the TransProgs from trying.