Apollo 11 – the Moon landing’s legacy

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Hand’s up who remembers 21st July 1969? Did your parents wake you up, in what felt like the middle of the night, to watch on a small black and white TV screen the moment that Neil Armstrong, leader of the Apollo 11 mission, stepped out of the Lunar Module (‘Eagle’) to became the first person to walk onto the lunar surface? There are a handful of childhood events, including this momentous step, that this viewer, as an eleven year old, remembers with absolute awe and clarity.

The enormity of men being shot into space ahead a giant fuel canister to orbit the Earth and then be pointed in a different trajectory to the Moon’s orbit and surface, there to land safely, open the sealed hatch and climb out. Simply breathtaking both in its spirit and execution. The First Walk on the Moon was simply awe inspiring.

Armstrong was followed onto the Moon’s surface by his co-venturers, Buzz Aldrin. They spent a couple of hours making auspicious speeches and collecting rocks. After nearly a day in the Sea of Tranquility they blasted back to the command module (‘Columbia’) piloted by Michael Collins. They were returned to terra firma having safely splashed down in the Pacific on 24th July 1969.

I was certainly old enough to realize that the Mission to the Moon was the most magical blend of evolutionary technology of semi-conductors and computers, the guile of America’s military aviators, the obviously immense resources of the NASA Space Program. It was also the culmination of the dream of a brilliant and driven leader, the late President John F. Kennedy, who in 1961 launched his country’s aim to land a man safely on the Moon before the end of the decade.

Aside from the warm and fuzzy feeling of all things vintage and American, Coke fridges, leather sleeved varsity jackets, Levi’s and classic muscle cars what else can be seen as the legacy of man’s early musings with space travel?

The Apollo mission kick-started a series of major innovations the legacy of which continue to be seen, felt and enjoyed today. Some of the many spin-offs from the Space Race include the following:

The Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT) scanner now more regularly used to detect cancer and other abnormalities was used to identify any imperfections in space components that would only be magnified by the unique stresses and environmental issues associated with zero gravity and the g-force associated with space travel.

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The Computer Microchip, the integrated circuits and semi-conductors used in the Apollo mission’s guidance software spawned the modern microchip that appears in everything from you laptop, to you TV remote control and your oven’s regulatory systems.

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Cordless tools. Lacking the inability to plug in electrical tools on the Moon’s surface, power tools including cordless drills and vacuum cleaners were developed – initially by Black & Decker in 1961 – with integral battery packs enabling the collection of rock and dust samples.

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In-Ear Infrared thermometer. A detector of infrared energy that is felt as heat that was developed to monitor the birth of stars found an alternative use with In-Ear thermometers.

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Freeze-dried food. Since the Moon mission we have been fascinated by rehydrated food, Thai pot soups, noodle dishes and the like. Originally devised to minimize weight these packets of goodness fueled the men in space. This technology had first been developed in the Second World War for carrying blood long distances without refrigeration. Nasa was first to create freeze dried iced cream – but it doesn’t seem to have been that popular amongst the astronauts.

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Home Insulation materials. If you have ever unrolled in the your attic reflective insulated matting you may not know that the shiny material used was developed to deflect radiation away from spacecrafts.

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Invisible braces. Each of my three children has received the attention of the dentists and the application of braces that resulted in perfectly straight teeth. The process has been improved by the use of transparent ceramic brace brackets made from materials developed for spacecraft.

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Joysticks as used on computer gaming consoles were devised for Apollo Lunar Rover.

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Memory foam – for many, me excluded, they say that sleeping on a memory foam mattress or pillow results in a splendid night’s sleep. For me they are usually too firm but the underlying tech was created to improve the comfort of aircraft seats and helmets.

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You may not be surprised to hear that satellite television technology, primarily devised to repair relay signals from spacecrafts and to unscramble satellite sound and images sent from space now sits at the core of home satellite driven services.

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At the optician when ordering a new pair of glasses you will almost certainly have been asked if you would like a ‘scratch resistant coating’ to be added. Substantially improving the long term wear and tear on glasses these coatings were developed to make astronaut helmet visors scratch resistant.

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Whilst shoe insoles have been around for years, indeed the likes of trusty beach worn Birkenstocks are based on the eponymous insole a challenge for athletic shoe companies was to adapt an insole for the Space missions boot designs to maximize on ventilation and springy comfort.

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An absolute must around any home is a smoke detector with good batteries. It may surprise you to know that Nasa invented the first adjustable smoke detector that was programmed with a level of sensitivity that prevented false alarms. Just as essential in the small cabins on board spacecrafts.

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The design of a space rocket is perhaps a classic example of drag reduction. Interestingly Nasa deployed the same principles of drag reduction to help create for Speedo a world beating, but highly controversial, swimsuit the LZR Racer.

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Aside from bottled oxygen, filtered and clean water was one of vital elements needed in space. NASA developed a filtering technique that killed bacteria in water. This has subsequently been used to deliver filtered water in millions of homes.

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Velcro – whilst not strictly a product developed for the Space Race, the system of a hook-and-loop fastener was originally conceived in 1941 by a Swiss engineer George de Mestral. NASA made significant use of touch fasteners in myriad of ways including the closing of astronauts’ suits, anchoring equipment during maintained and for trays at mealtimes to avoid them floating away.

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Artificial limbs – Nasa is a world leader in the science of robotics devised primarily to remotely control space vehicles. The technology had been adopted to give artificial limbs greater functionality.

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If you have ever completed the London Marathon, for example, you may recall crossing the line to be shrouded in a silver foil blanket. These blankets were developed in 1964 they are excellent at  reflecting infrared radiation but they also enable the body to they retain heat and reduce the risks from hypothermia.

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The Bacon hydrogen-oxygen fuel cell celebrated British engineer, Tom Bacon, developed an existing and century old technology to create a patented fuel cell that provided electrical power for the Apollo mission. The science that combined hydrogen and oxygen to create a reaction that caused heat that could be converted to electricity also had a useful by-product, water: which the astronauts drank. Fuel cells have been used to create electric vehicles including the Toyota Mirai, Honda Clarity and Mercedes-Benz F-Cell, where the technology is seen as a having great green credentials.

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The Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch is part of a range of manually winded chronometers launched by the Swiss watch brand in 1957 and used as part of Omega’s role as the official timekeeper for the Olympic Games. The “Moonwatch”, a combination of both timepiece and stopwatch, was water-resistant, shock-proof, and could withstand 12Gs of acceleration endured by the astronauts during their mission. It was first worn during NASA’s Gemini missions that included the first space walk. The Moonwatch was on the wrists of Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins, when the former two took their first steps on the Moon. It remains a firm favourite with those who love this Swiss watch brand which has created a series of Special Editions to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the first Moon landing.

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Billingham 225 Camera Bag

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Returning to my core mission of celebrating aesthetically pleasing and classically designed icons mention must be made of the beautiful English made bags of M Billingham and Co Ltd – better known to us as “Billingham Bags”.

In 1973, Martin Billingham founded his eponymous business making fishing bags and forty years on the business is still in family ownership. Indeed the essence of the light brown canvas bags are reminiscent of a trout fishing bag my father gave me over forty years ago complete with many internal sections for reels and tackle. By 1978 it was discovered that a large number of their bags were being sold to a New York based photographer thus igniting the most important connection between these durable water-resistant canvass and rubber bonded bags, edged in finest leather and their obvious target market.

Typically a Billingham bag is full of sections divided by velcro sided foam panels that can be varied to accommodate several lenses, camera bodies, flash units and filters. The larger models also feature external straps to hold tripods.

The world of photography has undergone a revolution in its transition to digital image capture and a trend away from larger SLR type cameras – Please check out here our piece on the new Hasselblad X1D – Hasselblad X1D to the more convenient “point and shoot” or even the use of a high pixel camera like that of the new iPhone X. Yet it seems that the future of the Billingham bag, as the bag of choice for the professional or serious amateur  photographer, seems set for many years to come. The Billingham range has also evolved to offer a range of smaller bags designed for compact cameras and their accessories.

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I bought my first Billingham bag, a large brown canvass 225 with chestnut leather piping, in the late 1980’s to accommodate my beloved SLR camera, a Nikon 801 body – to which I had attached a Nikon motor drive – and had a large flash unit, several Nikkor zoom and wide angled lenses, straps, boxes of Ilford and Kodachrome film – both black and white and colour – and a tripod. It was an excellent collection that I used regularly and produced some pretty decent photos. My habit of saving both boxes and receipts from my favourite camera shop “Fox Talbot” (that merged with lager rival “Jessops” in 1998 now owned by TV’s Dragon’s Den investor, Peter Jones) stood me in good stead. In the middle 1990’s, when we were away on holiday and our house was being renovated and some light fingered painter/decorator stole my entire Billingham bag and its contents. The insurance company were impressed by my proofs of purchase and refunded the entire loss allowing me to replace my favourite bag and its contents.

For me the most adaptable bag in the current Billingham range – and there are more expensive ones – and the one I have owned for several years, is the Billingham 225 – see here a live review of this bag –Billingham 225 camera bag

If you would like to enjoy the evident benefits of these most appealing icons of modern photography please click the AMAZON link below the image

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Billingham 225 Canvas Camera Bag With Tan Leather Trim – Khaki

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Image credits M. Billingham & Co Ltd and Hasselblad AB

Loctite Super Glue

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The breadth of its uses are virtually limitless. There are few surfaces – other than glass – that cannot be repaired by its judicious application. Yet infuriation is all to often experienced as you fail to notice whilst carefully applying it to the intended area of repair that you have, in fact, fused your thumb and fore-finger.

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The iconic product the can achieve this dubious success is, of course, Super Glue. “Super Glue” is a trade mark now used extensively but often associated with the “Loctite” brand – a German owned US company founded in 1956 – that was rebranded “Loctite” in 1963.

Its logo is now akin to that of a Superhero – DC Comic Book Superheroes.

The core of this small but hugely influential product is the catchily named “Cyanoacrylates”, which are a family of strong, fast-acting adhesives that have an infuriatingly short shelf life – whether or not they reopened. Included in this family of chemicals is “ethyl-2-cyanoacrylate” that is commonly sold as “Super Glue”. Other variants have medical applications, as anyone who has had a wound dressed with the last decade will attest to. Indeed first uses can be traced to 1966 when a spray was developed that was used on injured military personnel in Vietnam to reduce bleeding.

The Goodrich Company filed the original patent for cyanoacrylate in 1942. A group of scientists including Harry Coover Jr. discovered the formulation largely by accident whilst researching clear plastics to make gun-sights. It wasn’t until 1951, whilst working for Eastman Kodak on jet airplane’s cockpit construction, that Coover and his colleague, Fred Joyner, saw the commercial application for an adhesive that stuck to literally everything. A Patent for the new adhesive was applied for on 2nd June 1954 which was granted on 23rd October 1956. The product was first sold in 1958 as “Eastman #910”.

During the 1960s, Eastman Kodak sold cyanoacrylate to Loctite who repackaged it and marketed it as “Loctite Quick Set 404”. In time Loctite developed their own manufacturing capability and acquired market share very rapidly such that by the late 1970’s Loctite and Eastman Kodak (in a new guise as “Permabond”) together controlled around 75% of the US industrial cyanoacrylate market.

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The addition of rubber to the cyanoacrylate makes Superglues flexible and by adding bi-carbonate of soda it is given the properties of a very effective filler.

So what are the tried and trusted techniques to unseal glued fingers?

Solution 1 – Soak the skin in warm soapy water to soften the glue. With an acetone-based nail polish remover the cyanoacrylate will soften. Use an emery board to remove the residue of glue or let it peel off.

Solution 2 – Dip the affected fingers in sugar or salt paste – just add water!

Solution 3 – Pour olive oil or spread margarine over the affected area and gently rub together.

Solution 4 – Rub petroleum jelly or liquid detergent diluted with a small amount of water  into the stuck skin.

If the glue affects the eyes try none of the above and great straight to A&E/ER!

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Images Courtesy of Henkel/Loctite

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Volkswagen Kombi

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No, you are definitely not sitting in traffic on the ring road around your local city, in your head, if you are over 40, there’s a Beachboys track playing, surfboards are stacked on the roof – having received a fresh waxing from Dr Zog’s – you can see the shimmering ocean ahead and your straight toothed friends are lounging on the vinyl seats behind you. If you are under 40, you are listening to some cool hip hop-raggae crossover, your tanned shoulders are graced by you sun bleached locks that blend seamlessly with your companion in her El Niño bikini.

So hand’s up who’s daydreaming? I am for sure …. Where in the World could you be? Santa Cruz (California (USA)), Tarifa, (Cadiz (Spain) or Surfers Paradise (The Gold Coast, Queensland (Aus)) – any of these and several thousands more. See our earlier post here – Morey Boogie boards

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And what are you at the helm of? A iconic Volkswagen Kombi (or “Bus” (USA) or “Camper” or “Campervan” (UK)), of course!

Ben Pon, a Dutch importer of Volkswagens, visited the Wolfsburg factory in 1946 and was inspired by quality of the VW stock and, in 1947, produced a sketch – see below – of a van which he shared with Volkswagen. Early prototypes were produced but had very poor wind drag figures but splitting the screen improved this somewhat and validated the reason to commence production.

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Introduced in 1949, the Kombi was an air-cooled rear engined van then known as the “Volkswagen Type 2”, the Beetle having been Type 1 – another passion of ours – see our earlier post here. Volkswagen Beetle – an icon re-imagined.

The standard Type 2 Kombi was built between March 1950 to then end of 1967 but a number of variants, including increasingly larger engines – between 1.1 litres up to 1.6 litres, were introduced including single-cab pickups and ambulances. The early T2 (later called the T1) model production was continued in Brazil until 1975, long after production ceased in Hanover in 1967.

Originally classified by the number of windows the Kombi vehicle had such as 21, 23 plus a panoramic roof of eight windows. Subsequently, international numbering has been based on the version from T2, T3, T4, T5 and T6 – which was launched in 2015.

The first sixty years of VW T1 to T3 history are shown in the following image:

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The height of the Kombi’s popularity was its role in the Hippy subculture movement of the 1960’s when version were heavily painted often by hand in psychodelic spirals, flowers  etc. Check out our earlier post on the Summer of Love – click here – Peace Sign and The Summer of Love

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The Type 2S introduced in 1968 heavily modified the earlier vehicle. After production of the T2 ceased in Europe it was produced in Brazil – at the Anchieta plant at Sao Bernardo do Campo (Sao Paulo, Brazil) – until December 31, 2013, due to the introduction of more stringent safety regulations in the country.

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There was a final production run of 1200 vehicles called “the Last Edition” see below that celebrated 56 years of Kombi production in Brazil. I have seen these final vans available on legitimate websites – imported as is – into the UK for around £42,000.

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So, for those of you who want to relive an epic era in a new version of a classic and iconic vehicle – your dream is complete. In addition, there are several businesses around the world who maintain and rebuild original Kombis whether for sale or for hire. Indeed, I know of one intrepid soul who rented with friends a Kombi for Glastonbury. A perfect temporary home and respite from the Somerset mud!

For all you young and old hippies – the perfect desk-top dreamer is this fantastic scale model of a 1976 Hippie image clad T2 – get one here by clicking below the image:

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PremiumX 1:43 Scale “Hippie 1976 Volkswagen T2 Kombi” Model Car

Shout out about your poassion with these VW Camper retro style T shirts – click the link below the image

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Mens VW Campervan Camper Retro camp Van Volkswagen Top T-shirt NEW S-XXL (Medium, Black)

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Mens VW Campervan T25 Camper Retro camp Van Volkswagen Top T-shirt NEW S-XXL (X-Large, Indigo)

Saving for your next surf adventure – why not get this wonderful VW Campervan Money box? Click on the link below the image

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VW Collection by Brisa VW T1 Flowers Money Bank

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Images with grateful thanks – Volkswagen AG

Cross Classic Century – Sterling Silver ballpen

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The Cross family business was founded in Providence (Rhode Island) in 1846 by Richard Cross who manufactured gold and silver casings for pencils. Richard’s son, Alonzo T Cross, inherited the business from his father and developed a host of innovations including the predecessors of the mechanical pencil and modern ball-pen.

Cross pens are the essence of understatement and their simple, iconic and fine Art Deco lines make them timeless. The ladies’ Classic Century is elegant and its Sterling Silver body acquires an allure with age – a patina that, in my view, should only rarely be cleaned.

I was in New York looking for a gift for my wife and there is something classically American about this iconic and authentic pen that forms part of a range that was launched in 1946.  Its patented twist-action barrel sparked a design revolution and its sleek profile has found an army of loyal fans.

Cross is, perhaps, not regarded as being a foremost luxury brand but for me the range, style and workmanship are underrated. The Classic Century is an authentic American classic with a trade mark design that evokes the majesty of certain of New York’s skyline. See our earlier post on The iconic Chrysler Building Chrysler Building, New York City

In 2013 the business of AT Cross was purchased by Clarion Capital Partners LLC.

Should you like me be tempted to buy the special lady in your life an heirloom pen then I can highly recommend the Cross Classic Century – please click the following AMAZON link below the image – to gift this beautiful pen.

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Cross Century Classic Hallmark Silver Ball Point Pen

You may also be interested to add the matching and equally iconic Century Classic Sterling Silver Pencil to this wonderful gift. Please click the Amazon link below the image

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Cross Classic Century Sterling Silver 0.7mm Pencil (H300305)

Don’t risk losing you beautiful and valuable pens – keep them in a bespoke designed leather holder – available for one or two pens – please click the AMAZON link below the image

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Cross Classic Century Pencil Cases, 15 cm, Black

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Image Credits AT Cross & Co Inc. – with grateful thanks.

Kodak Super 8

Kodak Super 8 – re-imagine a classic

Designed by Yves Behar, Ilgu Cha, Sarah Neurnberger, Steven Overman, Danielle Atkins.

Available from Q4 2016

Kodak are predicting an analogue renaissance with Steven Spielberg and JJ Abrams – both “real” film devotees – have been very enthusiastic about this launch.

A revived version of the 1965 original Super 8 Camera that revolutionised amateur filmmaking.

The 2016 version combines the core of traditional filmmaking techniques – using the Super 8mm amateur format analogue film – with enhanced digital features for a new generation.

Included is a new digitally enhanced version is very flexible view finder – which uniquely for a Super 8 shows you what you are filming – a body mic that syncs to an SD memory card, and HDMI connectors to take to your post production suite – probably on your lap top. With the purchase of your cartridge you pay for the film and the processing which includes the return of an analogue reel of film plays digital links in 4k quality to post to the Cloud for your own post production.

The Super 8mm cartridge loading eliminated the need for threading the film and meant that a complete 50-foot cartridge could be shot without interruption.

The cartridge fed back setting formation to the camera about the speed (ASA) of the film and light filter. In 1973 a magnetic strip was added to the side of the film that made it possible to record sound and visuals simultaneously.

Still a preferred medium for short films, commercial and music videos the unique aesthetic quality of the Super 8 is re-imagined in this compact and easy to use film camera.

Its not for those seeking a quick footage fix but for those keen to to learn more Kodak have a series of tips on using your Super 8 – http://www.kodak.com/Consumer/Products/Super8/Super-8-tips/default.htm

Photo by Kodak