01 February 2007

The Amazing Lawrence Hargrave

I've got a new hero - early aviation pioneer Laurence Hargrave, of Sydney, New South Wales. What's so great about Mr. Hargrave, other than his impressive beard?

Well, for starters, he was a genius inventor who determined, among other things, “for a wing to lift and move through air efficiently, the center of pressure ought to be located at about 25% of the chord length of the wing section.” Yeah, I think it would take me a pretty long time to figure that out on my own.

But coolest of all, he refused to patent any of his inventions. He published them instead, "in order that a mutual interchange of ideas may take place with other inventors working in the same field, so as to expedite joint progress." He would have LOVED Wikipedia.

That makes him one of the original gurus of Open Source development and collaboration... and a genuinely cool guy. He was quite the Rogue too, and one of the original practioners of the "bias for action" and a FIST approach to engineering. He wrote "there is no use in the mind's conceiving an idea, if the hands are not ready to carry out the work skillfully... my constant endeavors are directed to making the machines simple and cheap." I love this guy!
Check out this drawing of one of his flying machines. It was "actuated by compressed air and propelled by beating wings." Weighing in at 4.63 lbs, it flew 343 feet in1890 (wouldn't you love to have seen that!):


Michelle said...

Sounds like a pretty impressive guy. But it still looks like his head hair and beard came from two different individuals. I can't stop staring at it! Good thing he was great thinker to distract people from that!

Dan said...

Yeah, pretty crazy beard, eh?