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The Fight Book by Hans Talhoffer circa 1459
MEDIEVAL FIGHT BOOK – The leather covered book dates to over 5 centuries ago, written in Old German, illustrating war technology in middle aged Europe. It’s an enigma, not so much for what it leaves in, but for what it leaves out. What is known? It was authored by master of arms Hans Talhoffer in the year 1459. Few facts are known about his life, other than the Lion of St. Mark in his coat of arms, a possible sign of him being the founder of an early fencing guild. The volume portrays footwork, weapon-handling, defensive moves, wrestling and horseback fighting. One of the key images is said to be of Talhoffer himself, displayed as a blonde knight, shown holding a broken chain. It appears that medieval times were more advanced than previously recognized. Trebuchets, diving suits, siege machines, tanks, strange shields and elaborate blade designs are depicted therein. While the inventions are incredible, the exact functions of many apparatus are obscured. Presumably only Talhoffer has the key to the puzzle. What do you think? Can you unlock the enigma?
THE EVOLUTION OF FLIGHT – Around the year 1500, Leonardo da Vinci produced sketches, mostly ornithopters, of flying machines and bird flight. The man-powered helical airscrew might have been able to lift off the ground. Unfortunately the engine wasn’t available at that time to produce a functioning helicopter. Prior to 1700, kite jumping and tower jumping were the earliest forms of human flight. The first manned hot air balloon was piloted in 1783 by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier on the order of King Louis XVI. The design consisted of a fire in an iron basket under a balloon neck, it sustained for 25 minutes at a distance of 5 miles. Gas balloons, blimps, dirigibles and zeppelins came later – relying on the tenants of the original design. Sir George Cayley developed a flying machine concept in 1799, actually built a glider in 1849, which carried a boy on a short flight. He correctly predicted a flying machine wasn’t possible without a powerful engine. After years of experimentation, the Wright brothers made their first flight in 1903 at Kitty Hawk. Orville and Wilbur’s manned/ powered flight measured 120 feet in length and lasted 12 seconds. Biplanes, monoplanes, jets and bombers succeeded one after the other – each one improving on previous designs. The world’s first practical helicopter took flight in 1939, invented by Igor Sikorsky, it was based on a single blade design still in use today. The Soviet Union launched the first human in space, Yuri Gagarin on the Vostok 1, for a single orbit around Earth in 1961. With the Apollo 11 spaceflight in 1969, the United States landed Charles Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon. They spent 2 hours on the surface and collected rocks to bring back to Earth. NASA is planning a human surface expedition to Mars slated for mid-2030. The crew will explore the Martian surface for a year, 6 decades after the first human stood on another celestial body. And the next step into our solar system? The Milky Way … and beyond.