Last night I had the strangest dream…

| June 6, 2009

Somewhere before dawn this morning, I started a long, low-key dream in which I was composing a blog post about one of my favorite books: The CRC Handbook of Astronautics. The book was about the same size as the old classic CRC math tables handbooks (as opposed to one of the massive CRC chemistry & physics volumes), but contained a mixture of history, little-known facts, and mathematical details and calculations about the start of manned (and womanned) space flight.

In my dream, I was actually thumbing through the book itself, rediscovering historical items about the early space race between the US and the USSR (including the Russians sneaking onto a US aircraft carrier and recovering a long-stolen historical artifact). I remember hitting the 10-page discussion of calculus around page 162 — a digression to better explain orbital mechanics — and mentally composing a passage about how I almost wept the first time I saw that out of admiration for the authors’ and editors’ willingness to tackle the hard stuff required to understand astronautics rather than dumb the book down. As I went on through the book, I kept expecting it to end post-Apollo, pre-Shuttle, but found that the book kept going on. When it started discussing the US space program under Pres. Clinton, I became puzzled — surely the book was older than that. I checked the copyright date up at the front of the book and saw it was 2006. I thought, “That can’t be right; I’ve had this book for decades.”

At which point I woke up and thought, “Wait — I don’t own the CRC handbook of astronautics; in fact, I’m not ever sure such a book exists.”

As it turns out, it appears there was a CRC Handbook of Space Technology (1985), though I’m sure I never owned a copy. But the Astronautics volume I dreamed about had some great stories, and I wish I could remember them better. 🙂  ..bruce w..

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Category: Humor, Main, Personal, Science, Space

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at bwebster@bfwa.com, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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