Friday, December 30, 2016

Anyone Want A Nuclear Heart...?

Yesterday, I mistimed the train back to work so I had about ten minutes to kill before next one came. Luckily for me there's a used/new bookstore right across the street from the station. 

I went in.

Five minutes later and one dollar poorer, I came out with a copy of Popular Mechanics, the May 1969 issue.

Talk about a gold mine!

I'm being serious--this thing is amazing! First, it cost 50¢ back in 1969 so the thing's doubled in price. Second, I thought it might be interesting--to be honest, I thought it might remind me of my dad because he was a mechanical engineer back in 1969 (actually, his degree was in tool engineering, but I've been told the modern name for the degree is mechanical engineering...). It did remind me of him, but I also found something in it's aging pages I didn't expect--a ton of story ideas! This thing is chuck-full of amazing bits of information that would make incredible stories. I'm going to dedicate at least one, and maybe several blog posts about this. But that's later.

For now, I'll leave you with just one story I found in the magazine. It's for a nuclear heart. When I read, "The nuclear-powered heart would function as a tiny steam engine, including a minute boiler, with pumps attached to the arterial and venous parts of the blood system" I couldn't believe it--that's steampunk, baby! And I've written several steampunk stories. Imagine a person with a nuclear steam-powered heart walking around. Once you get rid of that pesky isotope plutonium 238 decay, it's smooth sailing after that. It seems unimaginable today, but back then, they actually considered it, or thought that's how it would work.


The old magazine has so many things to think about, almost every page has something interesting. At least, I found it interesting. And it was only a buck. It's easy to look back and see what they got wrong, but what I love is that they dared to dream. They saw a problem and considered solutions using the information they had available. And, who knows--maybe in forty-five plus years someone may find a copy of a digital magazine from 2016 and laugh at what we were thinking. Someone might even want to use what they find as the subject of stories. You never know.

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