It’s Busterheimer Time!

Barbie + Oppy + Buster = Busterheimer

Hi kids!

How’s your summer going?  Have you jumped on the BarbieHeimer cultural zeitgeist  yet?

I’ve jumped on half of it.

I went to see Oppenheimer last week, and have already written a couple of things about it.  Rather than duplicate those efforts, here’s the links:

First, I started a discussion at fusor.net – the site I create (in 1998!) to explore the one form of nuclear energy (controlled fusion) that we do not have at our disposal (the one Einstein said was “the good part of my theories”!).

I am nobody’s idea of a film critic, but I can play one on the Internet so I posted my idea of a review here – with some links to some useful background material. There are a few add-on thoughts that I posted as well.

What I really wanted to write about is what I have always considered the missing piece in this puzzle.

Now for today’s science lesson:

There are four ways to release nuclear energy.  Two of them involve fission – splitting atoms,  and two of them involve fusion – squeezing atoms together.  In either case – fission or fusion – the reaction can be explosive:  ‘Atomic’ bombs are explosive fission and ‘hydrogen’ bombs are explosive fusion. Or the reaction can be controlled: The kind of nuclear reactor that pumps electricity into the grid is controlled fission.

A controlled fusion reaction…that’s the missing piece, the ‘star in a jar’ we seemingly haven’t figured out yet.  And that’s what’s fascinated me since 1973.

All of this discussion of atoms and energy started when Einstein whipped up his little equation E=mcway back in 1905.  There were many steps and many physicists who embellished on Einstein’s theories in the ensuing four decades leading up to the Trinity Test in New Mexico, but Einstein’s equation was (pardon the expression) ‘ground zero’ for the whole undertaking.

So I was intrigued when I kept seeing a scene in the trailer for Oppenheimer that showed an encounter between the title character (Cillian Murphy) and Einstein (Tom Conti) at the edge of a pond.  That scene turned out to supply a critical thematic underpinning for the entire three hour film.

Once I’d seen the movie and understood how that scene fit in (never mind that it never actually happened), I knew what I wanted to write about those two characters and the one I’ve been obsessed with.  Behold….

Oppenheimer, Einstein – And Farnsworth

I hope y’all have time to click over there and take a gander.

*
Now then, About Buster…

Those of you who subscribe to my ‘Buster Sez’ occasional weekly newsletter will notice that Buster is dressed a little oddly in this week’s masthead photo.

Buster in Collar

Oh please. You want me to wear this???

How shall I say? Buster’s been feeling poorly the past couple of weeks.  Something must have bit her on her back, just below the neckline, and she’s licked on it to the point that there’s a big hole in her fur, and I guess that caused some kind of infection.  She spent a whole weekend hiding under the covers before I could get her to the vet, who gave her a couple of injections.

She’s mostly recovered since then and is much more like her usual rambunctious self, but that damn sore on her back has been slow to heal, hence the collar.  That collar really didn’t work though, so I’m waiting for Amazon to deliver a “kitty onesie” that I hope will cover the bald spot so I an apply the ointment the vet prescribed and keep her from licking it off.

She’s back to spending a lot of time under the covers but I think she’ll be OK. I’m sure she’ll be crawling over me tonight as usual.

*

So that’s how my summer has been going.  How’s yours?

If you have any idea what a piston is supposed to look like, then you’ve got a pretty good idea “what’s wrong with this picture?”

Oh. And.  One other thing:

I got a new car.  The original Mustang – the one I got back in 2019 just after the divorce – was cursed.  Long story short: it was in the shop like ten times this year, ending with the two words you don’t ever want to hear in the same sentence: “engine” and “replacement.”

So fuck it.

I  just replaced the whole damn car.  And this time –instead of replacing the engine – I got one with twice as many cylinders.

This thing is awesome! 

2020 Mustang GT Convertible

It’s a 2020 Mustang GT Convertible. I got it with 16K miles! 

Some things never change.

That’s Me Up On The Jukebox (2)

The Higherside Chats

I did another podcast interview that was released this week.

A lot of this will be familiar to you if you tuned into the first one.  

But this time the Greg Carlwood went a little deeper into ‘The Caroline Group’ and some of the, umm… more… ah… conspiratorial? … aspects of the Townsend Brown story.

And I got to expound a little further on the place where the Philo Farnsworth and Townsend Brown stories dovetail together…

Listen on Apple Podcasts:

The Higherside Chats

 

Today’s Guest: Paul Schatzkin is a biographer of obscure 20th century scientists. He has written “The Boy Who Invented Television” about Philo T. Farnsworth and “The Man Who Mastered Gravity” about T. Townsend Brown. Together, the two stories hint at – as science fiction pioneer Eden Philpotts predicted – a “Universe of magical things, patiently waiting for your wits to grow sharper.”

 

Listen on Spotify:

A Tale of Two Biographies (Part 1)

Philo. T. Farnsworth and T. Townsend Brown

 

The initial impulse was innocent enough. 

After Apple canned me in January ’22 and I had nothing but time on my hands, I started to wonder two things: 1) what to do with the time and 2) how to restore that little bit of income, which for five years had made the difference between living on ‘portfolio income’ and running out of capital before I run out of breath.  

A couple of months after I’d hung up my Apple T-shirts I got a check from the self-publishing service called ‘Lulu.com‘ – which I’d used to publish the unfinished Townsend Brown biography after I abandoned the project back in 2009.  The check was not very much, maybe $60 or $80 for a quarter.

Necessity being the mother of invention stories, that was enough to get me wondering: if I dusted off the manuscript, could that trickle be turned into an actual stream?

By then I’d had Mike Williams’ rewrite for several years.  I tried to do something with it when Mike first presented it to me in 2018, but I didn’t have the patience then for the very granular work of restoring my ‘voice’ to the expedited narrative Mike had distilled. 

It’s not like I’d ever stoped thinking about what-the-hell had happened back in 2009 – when my collaboration with Brown’s daugther went off the rails, when the only interested agent rejected the proposal, saying “there’s no meat on the bones” – when I closed the book and put it away.  I did expect I might return to it some day.  I just didn’t think it would be another twelve years. 

Still, over the ensuing years I found myself returning to certain themes I could dwell on and some story points I could focus on.  

My computer workstation

The Room Where It Happened.

With nothing but time on my hands (and, more importantly, no co-habitant  telling me not to) I re-visited the files in the spring of 2022. 

I opened three windows on my 27″ display: my 2009 manuscript, Mike’s 2018 rewrite, and a new window where I cobbled the pieces back together.  It took about six months to reconcile my original manuscript with the Mike’s scaled down version.  

Fast forward to this recent spring.  With the help of designers in Pakistan and Bangladesh I found through Fiverr.com, I had a book ready to upload to Amazon’s Kindle Direct platform. 

I didn’t stop there.  

Not only had I thought a lot about the themes running through the Townsend Brown story, I also thought a lot about what that story had in common with the Philo Farnsworth story that was published back in 2002.⁠1  And it occurred to me that so much has happened since that book was first published that it was time for an update – and a new introduction to explore what ties the two books together.   

These two stories – Farnsworth and Brown – are like swamp creatures crawling out of the priordial soup of 20th century cosmology – that bubbling cauldron of novel thinking from the likes of Planck, Einstein, Bohr, Schroedinger and all the others that gave us Relativty and Quantum Mechanics. 

For example: You might be surprised to learn that Albert Einstein did not win his Nobel Prize in 1921 for either his Theories of Relativey or E=mc2.  No, Einstein won his Nobel for the first paper he published in 1905 on the Photoelectric Effect.  

You’ll be hearing a lot about the bomb and E=mc2  in a few weeks when the big feature film Oppenheimer is released.  In the meantime, think about this: 

E=mc2 gave us the atomic bomb, but the Photoelectric Effect gave us television and every video screen on the planet (including the one you are looking at now). 

Both came out of the New Cosmology of the 20th Century.  

Now I have two books in circulation.  They both draw from that well. 

And now, this: Last month Amazon put more money in my bank account than I have ever earned from something I created and put into the world⁠.2

At the ripe age of 72, I am actually earning a living (well, subsidizing my retirement) as an author.  I’m not certain yet that the model is sustainable, but I’ve been learning how to run ads on Amazon and the results are quite encouraging.  

Who’da thunk⁠3?  

In addition to the targeted advertising I’ve been doing on Amazon (thanks again, Holly Butler), I have also been interviewed for a couple of podcasts in the past few weeks, and each conversation has given me an opportunity to articulate some of the not-yet-fully-formed things I’ve been thinking about since I went back down the rabbit hole last year.  

You can read all about that in “A Tale of Two Biographies, Part 2.   

Or you could watch the trailer for Oppenheimer:

CYA at the bijou… and bring plenty of popcorn, it’s long one!

_______________________

1 Isn’t it curious that the Farnsworth book was published the last time I got fired from a job – when Gaylord took songs.com out to the woodshed and put it out of their misery?

2 songs.com not withstanding – that was mostly an aid to others putting their creative  work into the world.

3 Certainly not my ex-wife.

Hey Mister, That’s Me…

…up on the jukebox*!

My last post here was a couple of weeks ago after I learned that the Mysterious Universe podcast had been talking about my new book, The Man Who Mastered Gravity. 

I contacted the host/producers of Mysterious Universe, and we spent more than two hours talking about the Townsend Brown biography and my earlier (recently re-released) bio of Philo T. Farnsworth, The Boy Who Invented Television.  This was really the first opportunity I’ve had to talk about how the two stories dovetail to suggest a single story of forbidden science (fusion and gravity control) and the veil of mysteries surrounding both men.

Here are links if you listen via Apple Podcasts:

Paul Schatzkin joins us in this episode to explore his remarkable research on the obscure historical figures of Philo T. Farnsworth and Thomas Townsend Brown. We delve deeply into the narratives of these men, who pioneered technologies that revolutionized the world, while also contemplating some of the unrevealed technological advancements. Did Farnsworth unlock the enigma of fusion energy? Was Brown connected to a clandestine, highly advanced group?

..or here if you listen to podcasts on Spotify:

I am rather surprised and delighted that both books are starting to sell. It’s not huge numbers by any stretch, but I’ve been learning how to run ads on Amazon and get them to show up when users are searching related titles.  I’m also working on tying my books into the release of the expected-to-be-a-blockbuster feature Oppenheimer when it comes out this summer:

*

I have been thinking a lot about what ties all these stories together: that all the science involved begins with Einstein in 1905.

Townsend Brown was born in 1905, Philo Farnsworth in 1906.  So both men were “relativity natives.” Like kids today who grew up with computers and smartphones and are considered ‘digital natives’ – these men who were born in the first decade of the 20th century never knew a world where relativity and its related discoveries didn’t exist.

At the very least, the breakthrough theories that led to the atomic bomb also led to electronic video – yes, the the screen you’re looking at now.   Even though video is by far the more common and useful technology (lemme check… nope, no a-bomb in my pocket), that connection is largely lost to history. That is mostly because  corporate greed and public relations swept Philo Farnsworth under the rug of history after the 1940s.

And Townsend Brown?  Who the hell knows what happened there.  I’ve been on that story for twenty years now and still have more questions than answers.

You can get a better idea what I’m driving at here:

Television: The Theory of Relativity in Our Living Rooms

Such are the things I think about…

___________

*And in case you don’t recognize the song, Hey Mister, That’s Me Up On The Jukebox, listen to James Taylor from the album Mud Slide Slim (from 1971 –back when he, like me, still had hair:

First Podcast Coverage:
The ‘Mysterious Universe’

The Mysterious Universe Podcast - featuring Townsend Brown

I’m not exactly sure how this came to pass, but I learned this week that The Man Who Mastered Gravity has been discussed at considerable length on the Mysterious Universe podcast.

You can find the podcast here.

Discussion of the Townsend Brown story begins about 38:20 in – after some discussion of something called “The Ghost Moose.’  I guess that’s one thing I can cross off the bucket list: playing second-fiddle to a ‘ghost moose.’

Mysterious Universe is a very popular and long-standing podcast, ranking #5 in Apple’s listings of social science podcasts.  From the listing:

Always interesting and often hilarious, join hosts Aaron Wright and Benjamin Grundy as they investigate the latest in futurology, weird science, consciousness research, alternative history, cryptozoology, UFOs, and new-age absurdity.

Just a quick scroll through the Mysterious Universe home page displays the depth and breadth of this podcast and its affiliated enterprises. These guys cover a lot of territory,  some of it within the wheelhouse of my work (i.e. ‘lost science’ outside the realm of orthodoxy) and some of it, let’s be charitable and just say, ummm…. not so much.

Most of the discussion that is freely available is a recap of the early chapters of the book.  There is a further discussion that gets into The Caroline Group and the rest of the story, but that’s behind a prescription paywall.

Gratitude

I have reached out to the producers of Mysterious Universe to see if I can get access to the subscriber-only edition. And (perish the thought!) offering myself up for an interview.

As I said, I don’t know how this came about, or how the book fell into their hands. I’m just glad that it did.

Yesterday, I listened to the episode in my – and had something of a moment.  I listen to dozens of podcasts.  I rarely listen to radio any more, just podcasts.  And too often I’m listening with a twinge of envy, like “hey, I’ve written books… I’m interesting… why doesn’t anybody want to talk to me?”

So yesterday… finally! Hearing my own name and work mentioned in a credible manner was the most ‘external validation’ I’ve had for about twenty years.  I know, we’re not supposed to rely on ‘external validation,’ we’re always just supposed to believe in our own work and purpose and just forge on in obscurity.

Well, fuck that.  It’s nice to know that somebody else finds merit in the work.

I think there is more to come.  Stay tuned.

*** Wisdom From A Typewriter #69 ***

WFAT 69 - Kara Swisher

I used to think Kara Swisher is a bit of a blowhard.  I’d listen to some of her interview/podcasts and think “shut up, Kara, and let your guest talk.”  It seemed she always had more to say than whoever she was interviewing.

That is still often the case, but I’ve warmed up to her, particularly since I started listening to the Pivot podcast with Scott Galloway. I listen to Pivot mostly to hear from Galloway.  Don’t anybody tell him, but he’s a Staunch McLuhanist, too.

I found this week’s Wisdom From A Typewriter in this profile in Vanity Fair.

Also, apparently, she lives with a relative of Buster’s:

Kara Swisher, cat person

Kara Swisher, cat person

 

We’re Number One !!

The Man Who Mastered Gravity has earned a #1 Listing on Amazon.com

I discovered last week that The Man Who Mastered Gravity is rocketing to the top of the charts on Amazon.com .

(…in the admittedly narrow category of “New Releases in Nuclear Weapons & Warfare History” but… who’s counting? A win is a win.  Take the win.)

If you are among the faithful who have purchased a copy of the book….

First, THANK YOU.

Second, if you find the material worthy, it would be great if you’d take a minute to rate or review the book on Amazon.

I thank you and Buster thanks you.

Buster thanks you for reading my book and posting a review on Amazon!

Buster thanks you for reading my book and posting a review on Amazon!

Anybody Wanna Buy A Book?

Townsend Brown - The Man Who Mastered Gravity - now 'live' on Amazon.com

(This is a cross-post of an item posted to ttbrown.com on March 18, 2023)

“Writing a book is adventure to begin with. It’s a toy and amusement; then it becomes a mistress and then it becomes a master and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.

– Winston Churchill

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The deed. Is. Done.

I can’t believe I’m saying this… it’s been such a long haul, and for a minute there it felt like the universe was putting up an impenetrable goal-line defense.

But the deed. Is DONE.

As of yesterday morning (Saturday March 18, 2023), all three versions of the The Man Who Mastered Gravity are available from Amazon. com. <– That’s the link.

That’s hardcover ($29.99), softcover ($19.99) and Kindle edition ($9.99).

What can I say other than, “I hope y’all will run right out (well, actually, sit right down) and buy a copy – and leave a glowing review on Amazon!”

Please note, the hardcover and softcover editions are print on demand (PoD), so delivery times are a tad longer than typical Amazon titles that are pre-printed and sitting in a warehouse somewhere.

I guess this is what the self-publishing gurus call a ‘soft launch.’  I don’t think of it so much as a ‘launch’ as just, well… like Churchill said, flinging it out to the public.

I am reasonably certain this edition is 98% perfect in terms of proofreading.  I just haven’t found the other 2% yet.  I was still finding typos etc. right up until I uploaded the files, so I am sure there are still some waiting to be detected.  If readers will point them out to me, I’ll round ’em up and fix as many as I can all once.

The title has also been established with IngramSpark, which will distribute the print editions to bookstores if there is any demand.

Demand.  Right.

Now comes the hard part.