Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

imageI would like to read this Darkly riveting debut novel by Emma Healey, which was One of the four shortlisted nominations for the 2014 Costa First Novel award, which it subsequently won. It is a sophisticated psychological mystery that is also an heartbreakingly honest meditation on memory, identity, and ageing. It features an elderly Grandmother named Maud, who is gradually descending into dementia, who is convinced that her best Friend Elizabeth is missing and in terrible danger. However no one will listen to Maud—not her frustrated daughter, Helen, not her caretakers, not the police, and especially not Elizabeth’s mercurial son, Peter.

So, Armed with handwritten notes she leaves for herself and an overwhelming feeling that Elizabeth needs her help, Maud resolves to discover the truth and save her beloved friend. So she embarks on a desperate quest to find the best friend Elizabeth. However her search for the truth brings back vivid memories of another tragedy that occurred more than fifty years ago and only seems to lead her deeper into her past, to another unsolved disappearance: that of her sister, Sukey, who vanished shortly after World War II. Maud discovers that Sukey’s disappearance may also hold the key to the whole mystery and is determined to find out what happened to Elizabeth.

“…One small step…” Neil Armstrong

Obit Neil ArmstrongBest known for being the first person to walk on the Moon, the American astronaut, test pilot, aerospace engineer, university professor and United States Naval Aviator Neil Alden Armstrong was Born August 5, 1930 in Wapakoneta, Ohio, Armstrong’s love for flying started from an early age when his father took 2-year-old Neil to the Cleveland Air Races. Later when he was 6, he experienced his first airplane flight in Warren, Ohio, when he and his father took a ride in a Ford Trimotor, also known as the “Tin Goose. Neil attended Blume High School. Armstrong began taking flying lessons at the county airport, and was just 15 when he earned his flight certificate, before he had a driver’s license. Armstrong was active in the Boy Scouts and he eventually earned the rank of Eagle Scout. As an adult, he was recognized by the Boy Scouts of America with its Distinguished Eagle Scout Award and Silver Buffalo Award.In 1947, Armstrong began studying aerospace engineering at Purdue University,and was also accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), but the only engineer he knew (who had attended MIT) dissuaded him from attending, telling Armstrong that it was not necessary to go all the way to Cambridge, Massachusetts, for a good education. successful applicants committed to two years of study, followed by three years of service in the United States Navy, then completion of the final two years of the degree. At Purdue, he earned average marks in his subjects, with a GPA that rose and fell during eight semesters. He was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from Purdue University in 1955, and, from the University of Southern California in 1970, a Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering Armstrong held honorary doctorates from a number of universities.Armstrong’s call-up from the Navy, lasted almost 18 months. during this time he qualified for carrier landing aboard the USS Cabot and USS Wright and two weeks after his 20th birthday, Armstrong was informed by letter he was a fully qualified Naval Aviator.

His first assignment was to Fleet Aircraft Service Squadron 7 at NAS San Diego (now known as NAS North Island). Two months later he was assigned to Fighter Squadron 51 (VF-51), an all-jet squadron, and made his first flight in a jet, an F9F-2B Panther, on January 5, 1951. In June, he made his first jet carrier landing on the USS Essex and was promoted the same week from Midshipman to Ensign. By the end of the month, the Essex had set sail with VF-51 aboard, bound for Korea, where they would act as ground-attack aircraft. Armstrong first saw action in the Korean War on August 29, 1951, as an escort for a photo reconnaissance plane over Songjin and also flew armed reconnaissance over the primary transportation and storage facilities south of the village of Majon-ni,in total Armstrong flew 78 missions over Korea, for which he received the Air Medal for 20 combat missions, a Gold Star for the next 20, and the Korean Service Medal and Engagement Star.Armstrong left the Navy at the age of 22 on August 23, 1952, and became a Lieutenant, Junior Grade in the United States Naval Reserve. He resigned his commission in the Naval Reserve on October 21, 1960.

As a research pilot, Armstrong served as project pilot on the F-100 Super Sabre A and C variants, F-101 Voodoo, and the Lockheed F-104A Starfighter. He also flew the Bell X-1B, Bell X-5, North American X-15, F-105 Thunderchief, F-106 Delta Dart, B-47 Stratojet, KC-135 Stratotanker, and was one of eight elite pilots involved in the paraglider research vehicle program. After his service with the Navy, Armstrong returned to Purdue, where he graduated in 1955 with a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering .Armstrong also completed a master of science degree in aeronautical engineering at the University of Southern California. Following his graduation from Purdue, Armstrong decided to become an experimental research test pilot. He applied at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics High-Speed Flight Station at Edwards Air Force Base , now known as the Dryden Flight Research Center, where he logged over 900 flights. He graduated from Purdue University and the University of Southern California.Armstrong’s first flight in a rocket plane was in the Bell X-1B, he later flew the North American X-15, and also flew with Chuck Yeager in a Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star, during his career, Armstrong flew more than 200 different models of aircraft

In 1958, he was selected for the U.S. Air Force’s Man In Space Soonest program. In November 1960, Armstrong was chosen as part of the pilot consultant group for the Boeing X-20 Dyna-Soar, a military space plane; and in 1962, he joined the NASA Astronaut Corp and was named as one of six pilot-engineers who would fly the space plane when it got off the design board. As a participant in the U.S. Air Force’s Man In Space Soonest and X-20 Dyna-Soar human spaceflight programs. Armstrong’s first spaceflight was the NASA Gemini 8 mission in 1966, for which he was the command pilot, becoming one of the first U.S. civilians in space. On this mission, he performed the first manned docking of two spacecraft with pilot David Scott. The last crew assignment for Armstrong during the Gemini program was as backup Command Pilot for Gemini 11, announced two days after the landing of Gemini 8. Having already trained for two flights, Armstrong was quite knowledgeable about the systems and was more in a teaching role for the rookie backup Pilot, William Anders. The launch was on September 12, 1966 with Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon on board, who successfully completed the mission objectives, while Armstrong served as CAPCOM.

Armstrong’s second and last spaceflight came After he served as backup commander for Apollo 8, and he was offered the post of commander of Apollo 11, as 8 orbited the Moon. the Apollo 11 launch much noisier than the Gemini 8 Titan II launch – and the Apollo CSM was relatively roomy compared to the Gemini capsule. The objective of Apollo 11 was to land safely rather than to touch down with precision on a particular spot.On this mission, Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended to the lunar surface and spent 2½ hours exploring, while Michael Collins remained in orbit in the Command Module. The landing on the surface of the moon occurred at 20:17:39 UTC on July 20, 1969 The first words Armstrong intentionally spoke to Mission Control were, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” and Although the official NASA flight plan called for a crew rest period before extra-vehicular activity, Armstrong requested that the EVA be moved to earlier in the evening, Houston time. Once Armstrong and Aldrin were ready to go outside, Eagle was depressurized, the hatch was opened and Armstrong made his way down the ladder first. At the bottom of the ladder, Armstrong said “I’m going to step off the LEM now” (referring to the Apollo Lunar Module). He then turned and set his left boot on the surface at 2:56 UTC July 21, 1969, then spoke the famous words “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”When Armstrong made his proclamation, Voice of America was rebroadcast live via the BBC and many other stations worldwide. The estimated global audience at that moment was 450 million listeners, out of a then estimated world population of 3.631 billion people.

On their Return to Earth. The lunar module met and docked with Columbia, the command and service module. The three astronauts then returned to Earth and splashed down in the Pacific ocean, to be picked up by the USS Hornet .In May 1970, Armstrong traveled to the Soviet Union to present a talk at the 13th annual conference of the International Committee on Space Research; after arriving in Leningrad from Poland, he traveled to Moscow where he met Premier Alexei Kosygin. He was the first westerner to see the supersonic Tupolev Tu-144 and was given a tour of the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, which Armstrong described as “a bit Victorian in nature”. At the end of the day, he viewed delayed video of the launch of Soyuz 9. Armstrong also received many honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, the Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy, the Sylvanus Thayer Award, the Collier Trophy from the National Aeronautics Association, and the Congressional Gold Medal. The lunar crater Armstrong, 31 mi (50 km) from the Apollo 11 landing site, and asteroid 6469 Armstrong are named in his honor. Armstrong was also inducted into the Aerospace Walk of Honor and the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame. Armstrong and his Apollo 11 crewmates were the 1999 recipients of the Langley Gold Medal from the Smithsonian Institution. He was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Richard Nixon along with Collins and Aldrin, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor by President Jimmy Carter in 1978, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009 and In a 2010 Space Foundation survey, Armstrong was ranked as the #1 most popular space hero. On November 18, 2010, at the age of eighty, Armstrong said in a speech during the Science & Technology Summit in The Hague, Netherlands, that he would offer his services as commander on a mission to Mars if he were asked, sadly though Neil Armstrong Tragically passed away On August 25, 2012, in Cincinnati, Ohio, at the age of 82 due to complications from blocked coronary arteries, but leaves an amazing legacy behind

Thomas Newcomen

English inventor Thomas Newcomen sadly passed away 5 August 1729. He is credited with creating the first practical steam engine for pumping water, theNewcomen steam engine. Born circa 4 February 1664 in Dartmouth, Devon, England, near a part of the country noted for its tin mines, where flooding was a major problem, limiting the depth at which the mineral could be mined. Newcomen’s great achievement was his steam engine, developed around 1712, combining the ideas of Thomas Savery and Denis Papin. It is likely that Newcomen was already acquainted with Savery, whose forebears were merchants in south Devon. Savery also had a post with the Commissioners for Sick and Hurt Seamen, which took him to Dartmouth. Savery had devised a ‘fire engine’, a kind of thermic syphon, in which steam was admitted to an empty container and then condensed. The vacuum thus created was used to suck water from the sump at the bottom of the mine. The ‘fire engine’ was not very effective and could not work beyond a limited depth of around thirty feet.Newcomen replaced the receiving vessel (where the steam was condensed) with a cylinder containing a piston. Instead of the vacuum drawing in water, it drew down the piston. This was used to work a beam engine, in which a large wooden beam rocked upon a centralfulcrum. On the other side of the beam was a chain attached to a pump at the base of the mine. As the steam cylinder was refilled with steam, readying it for the next power stroke, water was drawn into the pump cylinder and expelled into a pipe to the surface by the weight of the machinery. Newcomen and his partner John Calley built one of the first engines at the Conygree Coalworks near Dudley in the West Midlands. A working replica of this engine can be seen at the Black Country Living Museum nearby.

The Newcomen engine held its place without material change for about three-quarters of a century, spreading gradually to more and more areas of the UK and to mainland Europe. At first brass cylinders had been used but these were expensive and limited in size. New iron casting techniques pioneered by the Coalbrookdale Company in the 1720s allowed bigger and bigger cylinders to be used, up to about 6 feet (1.8 m) in diameter by the 1760s, and experience gradually led to better construction and minor refinements in layout. Its mechanical details were much improved by John Smeaton, who built many large engines of this type in the early 1770s; his improvements were rapidly adopted. By 1775 about 600 Newcomen engines had been built, although many of these had worn out before then, and been abandoned or replaced.The Newcomen Engine was by no means an efficient machine, although it was probably as complicated as engineering and materials techniques of the early eighteenth century could support. Much heat was lost when condensing the steam, as this cooled the cylinder. This did not matter unduly at a colliery, where unsaleable small coal (slack) was available, but significantly increased the mining costs where coal was not readily available, as in Cornwall.

As a result Newcomen’s engine was gradually replaced after 1775 in areas where coal was expensive (especially in Cornwall) by an improved design, invented by James Watt, in which the steam was condensed in a separate condenser. The Watt steam engine, aided by better engineering techniques including Wilkinson’s boring machine, was much more fuel efficient, enabling Watt and his partner Matthew Boulton to collect substantial royalties based on the fuel saved. Watt subsequently made other improvements, including the double-acting engine, where both the up and down strokes were power strokes. These were especially suitable for driving textile mills, and many Watt engines were employed in these industries. At first attempts to drive machinery by Newcomen engines had mixed success, as the single power stroke produced a jerky motion, but use of flywheels and better engineering largely overcame these problems. By 1800, hundreds of non-Watt rotary engines had been built, especially in collieries and ironworks where irregular motion was not a problem but also in textile mills. Despite Watt’s improvements, Common Engines (as they were then known) remained in use for a considerable time, and many more Newcomen engines than Watt ones were built even during the period of Watt’s patent (up to 1800), as they were cheaper and less complicated: of over 2,200 engines built in the eighteenth century, only about 450 were Watt engines. Elements of Watt’s design, especially the Separate Condenser, were incorporated in many “pirate” engines. Even after 1800 Newcomen type engines continued to be built and condensers were added routinely to these. They were also commonly retro-fitted to existing Newcomen engines (the so-called “pickle-pot” condenser).

There are examples of Newcomen engines in the Science Museum (London) and the Ford Museum, Dearborn amongst other places. The last Newcomen-style engine still remaining on its original site is at the Elsecar Heritage Centre, near Barnsley in South Yorkshire. The only Newcomen engines that can be shown working are believed to be the Newcomen Memorial Engine at Dartmouth and the replica engine at the Black Country Museum in Dudley, West Midlands. Sadly Newcomen died at his house in 1729, and his body was buried at Bunhill Fields, in north London. By the time of his death, about 75 of his engines, operating under Savery’s patent (extended by statute so that it did not expire until 1733), had been installed by Newcomen and others in most of the important mining districts of Britain: draining coal mines in the Black Country, Warwickshire and near Newcastle upon Tyne; at tin and copper mines in Cornwall; and in lead mines in Flintshire and Derbyshire.

David Baldacci

Best selling American novelist David Baldacci, was born August 5, 1960, and raised in Richmond, Virginia. A graduate of Henrico High School, he received a B.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University and a law degree from the University of Virginia, after which he practiced law for nine years in Washington, D.C..Baldacci began writing stories as a child, when his mother gave him a notebook in which to record them. He wrote for more than two decades, penning short stories and later screenplays without much success.

While practicing law, he turned to novel writing, taking three years to write his first novel, Absolute Power was published in 1996, and became an international best seller. Absolute Power tells the story of a fictional American President and his secret service agents who are willing to go to extreme lengths in order to cover up the accidental death of a woman with whom the president was having an affair. It has also been made into a film starring Clinton Eastwood and Gene Hackman. Since then Baldacci has written 25 bestselling novels for adults as well as three novels for children, including: The Camel Club, The Collectors, Stone Cold, Divine Justice, Hell’s Corner, Split Second, Hour Game, Simple Genius, First Family, The Sixth Man, King and Maxwell, The Whole Truth, Deliver Us From Evil, Zero Day , The Forgotten, The Escape, The Innocent, The Hit, Bullseye, The Target, The Guilty, Memory Man, Total Control, The Winner, The Simple Truth, Saving Faith, Wish You Well, Last Man Standing, The Christmas Train, True Blue and One Summer.

Baldacci and his wife, Michelle, are also the co-founders of the Wish You Well Foundation,which works to combat illiteracy in the United States and Baldacci also became involved with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society after his sister, author Sharon Baldacci, was diagnosed with MS. In addition to writing novels, Baldacci wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation of his novel Wish You Well; the movie was shot on location in southwest Virginia in Autumn 2012 starring Academy Award winner Ellen Burstyn, Josh Lucas, and Mackenzie Foy in the lead roles. Baldacci is also a consulting producer on King & Maxwell, a TNT television series based on his characters Sean King and Michelle Maxwell . So far Baldacci’s novels have been translated into over 45 languages and sold in more than 80 countries. Over 110 million copies of his books are in print worldwide. He currently lives in Vienna, Virginia, with his wife and two sons.