Fabio Cian

Fabio Cian

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Pandemic thoughts with some delay

May 13

Today I was reading Jurij Gagarin’s biography. I read that one thing that particularly upset him and took him close to space was reading Ciolkovskij, who is considered to be one of the founders of modern astronautics.  

Man will not always stay on Earth; the pursuit of light and space will lead him to penetrate the bounds of the atmosphere, timidly at first, but in the end to conquer the whole of solar space”, wrote Ciolkovskij some time between late 19th and early 20th century.


Draft first space ship by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (source Wikipedia)

I studied Ciolkovskij at school. To me that was just an equation, the Ciolkovskij’s equation, also know as “the rocket equation”, which looks like this:

It defines the delta-V (i.e. the maximum change of speed of a rocket if no other external forces act), given the propellant effective exhaust velocity and the initial and final mass of the rocket.

Reading about Ciolkovskij in Gagarin’s biography, besides my days in school, it reminded me also of last summer, when I visited the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles, a bizarre place that cannot be described, it can only be visited. While I was wondering around a labyrinth of rooms, I stumbled upon an entire section on Ciolkovskij. I was almost shocked. Ciolkovskij! It sounded such an old reminiscence… why on Earth him? Now it became clear why it was in that museum. Poetry. 

There has been a lot of poetry in what I studied, space engineering. Today I think I finally understood why I chose to study that, twenty years ago. But I forgot to keep that in mind. Rarely, it has been showed to me. What a pity. What a pity it has been. 

To me, outer space and its “conquest” by humans is fascinating and poetic as only few other things.

This has been a sobering reading. It made me think that the way we have been taught and the way we still teach science, it’s wrong. We can’t ignore the poetry, the stories behind scientists’ lives, their endeavors, their discoveries. We can’t ignore them as human beings.  

This is mainly a note to myself, during this quarantine that leaves me no space to work on the things I love the most. Photos and stories. 

I mainly want to remind myself the reason why I started working on Climate Labs, which is to try to unearth poetry from science. At the same time, I also thought that this may sound interesting for some of you.  

Some references about: 
Ciolkovskij:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsiolkovsky_rocket_equation
http://blogs.esa.int/rocketscience/2012/10/14/a-man-and-an-equation/
https://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/rocketry/home/konstantin-tsiolkovsky.html

Juri Gagarin’s biography, Road to the Stars:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1474287.Road_to_the_Stars

The museum of Jurassic Technology:
https://www.mjt.org