My character in our role playing game was ordered to make a public presentation about some of the technological advancements embodied in our Airship. Basically the Government wanted to share these advancements with the Civilian companies as a way to boost the Empire's commercial competitiveness.
Just for fun I decided to actually give the presentation as part of an ongoing series of Absinthe Cafes here in Calgary.
I presented it in character and in costume, and it was a lot of fun.
|Lt Cmdr(E) Maxwell MacDonald-Smythe|
Photo by Lewis King
Here is the text of my speech.
Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced.
Madame and Mr Chairman, My Lord, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I have been asked, by the Experimental Airship Division of the Royal Navy, also known as the the EAD, to present some of the technical details of one of the marvels of our age!
It is the hope of Her Majesty's Government that by releasing this, hitherto classified, information to the British business and manufacturing community, that the further development of these exotic and ground breaking technologies will help to maintain our Empire's lead in global commercial and military affairs.
Many of you have probably seen or heard the reports concerning the latest experimental airship of Her Majesty's Navy. You may also have seen the speculation concerning many of the developments and mechanisms that she has on board.
I have the honour to have been, and continue to be, her Chief Engineer.
And, Ladies and Gentlemen, as much as I would like to confirm that she is powered by exotic Indian demons and lifted by some remarkable gaseous material never seen before, and even that she can fly in the vast reaches of space, I must assure you that everything we will discuss this evening is in fact the product of the investigations into Natural Philosophy conducted over many years by brilliant men and women just like yourselves.
Nothing of what I will be showing this evening is in the province of the Metaphysical realm.
Having, alas, thus ruined your excitement concerning the information I am about to present to you, I hope that you will find the real information just as intriguing.
And so, to begin…
Here is the object of our discussion this evening.
She is truly a marvelous vessel, the largest self mobile object ever built by human beings!
Her dimensions are enormous,
- Her Length is 245 m or 800 ft, longer than the largest ocean liner.
- The Diameter of her hull is 42 m or 137 ft
- She contains a Gas Volume of 231,000 cubic meters or 8 million cubic ft
- She weighs uninflated 150 tons
- When in flight trim she can carry a cargo load of 28 tonnes
- Her propulsion system can move her at a steady cruising speed of almost 120 km/hour or 65 knots, thus making her one of the fastest ships in the Airship Navy.
- Her maximum speed is still classified as is her maximum altitude, however; I can say that she has maintained that 120km/h value at elevations in excess of 1800m or 6,000 ft above sea level on numerous occasions. Her operational pressure height is 1200m or 4,000 ft under normal load conditions.
- Her maximum cruising range is currently unknown!
Ladies and Gentleman the Velvet Brush is a truly amazing ship, and despite the controversies and scandals attending her construction, she will be a model for future large Aerial Vehicles.
So to the technological developments that allowed the Royal Navy to construct such a stupendous vessel.
There are three developments that I will discuss this evening.
The first is the intellectual development that permitted her to be designed,
The second concerns the key material used in her construction,
And the third is the novel form of her lift generating system.
Many of you I am sure are aware of the advances in mechanical computation that have attended the construction of the Lovelace-Babbage engines in use at Oxford and Cambridge. The Difference Engine, designed by Charles Babbage under contract to the Royal Navy to produce navigational tables, was completed in 1849. Babbage completed the design for his more advanced Analytical Engine but it had not been constructed by the time of his death in 1871.
However his associate Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, continued working on the design, again under contract to the Royal Navy and the new machine was produced and first began calculations in 1880. Along with the physical design of the machine, the countess was instrumental in composing the grammar for the lists of instructions that the machine uses. Her treatise on "Simulation of mechanical processes by computation", published when she was in her 60s in 1875, earned her a worthy place in the Royal Academy.
One of the first applications of the Lovelace-Babbage machine was the analysis of stress and strength in the metal components of ships hulls. It was also used in the computations to design the first Naval scouting Airships and the first Cunnard Passenger Airships that followed soon thereafter.
The design of such a magnificent vessel as the Velvet Brush would not be possible without the speed of computation, and the elegance of the Countess's Analytical Engine Grammar.
As part of the technology transfer program of her Majesty's Government, two new Lovelace Babbage machines, of the latest design, will be available for public use starting later in the year. One will be in London the other in Liverpool.
Now, as to the construction of the Velvet Brush herself.