Saturday, 15 September 2007

(MAR 23) Born on this day: Wernher von Braun

Photo: NASA. (public domain)

Born on 23 March 1912 in Wyrzysk in the German Kingdom of Prussia (now Poland), Wernher von Braun has become known as ‘the father of modern space flight’, and is pictured here standing by the five F-1 engines of a Saturn V launch vehicle. His modest contribution to science fiction was his novel Project Mars: a Technical Tale, set in 1980, and which, according to his biographer Erik Bergaust, was rejected by no less than eighteen publishers. He later published portions of this work in magazines to illustrate and popularize Project Mars, and only in 2006 was the complete manuscript published as a book. The novel was also used as the basis for Byron Haskin’s film Conquest of Space in 1955, though von Braun was not credited.

We Can Build You

Photos: publicity shots, © 2005 Hanson Robotics, all rights reserved.

The PKD-A Android, also known as ‘RoboPhil’ and built by Hanson Robotics, converges numerous machine perception and AI technologies to mimic Philip K. Dick’s conversation style and facial movements. RoboPhil also had his own living environment known as ‘Club VALIS’, and has since attended several conventions, including Comic-Con in July 2005 at which he appeared as a panelist. ‘RoboPhil’ went missing in January 2006: he was packed for a flight to California, was last seen being loaded onto the plane, and has still not been recovered.