Sunday, January 31, 2010

Metallurgical Parenting

Somehow I got to reading this week about the development of the SR-71 Blackbird. Okay, okay, stay with me, now. Through a long, lucky, incredible sequence of engineering feats, the famed Skunk Works was able to deliver an aircraft that could do Mach 3.5.* Now, when you're zipping along on the edge of space at 2,500 mph photographing the Soviet missile site du jour, your plane has to withstand a lot of heat. Up to then unimaginable degrees of heat. So they built the airframe mostly out of titanium, a metal that wouldn't melt and is ridiculously light. This is all commonplace nowadays, but it had never really been done before in aeronautics history.

Still with me? Alright, so the interesting part to me was that the folks on the ground began to test the metallurgical strength of the aircraft after many missions, looking for weaknesses. Flaws. Cracks. You know what they found? The titanium, because of the great heat and incredible stress, had actually become stronger, and that the more flight hours on the airframe, the better it was. That really bakes my noodle.

I'll spare you the obvious Nietzsche quote. But feel free to insert your own pithy observations here.**

The crew were quite the little hobnobbers this week. Anyway, we had our very good friends Jason and Valerie over, hosted my parents on Saturday afternoon, and went out for a rare off-campus lunch today with Our People. Jack ate 89% of the large tomatoes on my insalata caprese himself, so I really had cheese topped with olive oil and basil. Mmmmm......Oily cheese...

Today we figured out that the Skipper is playing his loving padres for fools at the table. Majesty is annoyed at me for not sharing food with him, so she gives him half of her chicken marsala. Little does she know Jack ate half my order when she wasn't watching. So the final score is Jack: 1 adult entree; H.M. & E.C. pretty much a child's plate each. Are we suckers or what? And hungry suckers at that.

One last thing. I had dinner with some of my very favorite professional folks this week. They got wind of this here amateur weblog and all but dared me to post a blurry photo of us all. Now, their parent bank is in Paris, so I was really miffed there weren't any berets or buttered croissants in the pic.

*That's NYC to London in under 2 hours, and LA to London in just under 4.
**e.g., I wonder if
Majesty and I will unwittingly protect Jack from things that would actually better him. Okay, your turn.


Jennifer Reinsch said...

So, I forwarded my dad the whole "titanium getting stronger" info because he too enjoys useless (I mean fascinating) bits of information.

El Comodoro said...

Ouch. That stung a bit, but I'm OK.

Anonymous said...

Wow. This kid could win any 'cutest baby' contest anytime, anywhere!You just can't wipe the cute off him!!

El Comodoro said...

You've just exposed our foolproof retirement strategy.