Say Hello To Weed-Beer, Which Will Finally Unite Stoners And Beer Lovers!

What is Cannabis Beer? – Everything You Need to Know About Cannabis-Infused Beer

The close relationship between cannabis and hops plants is well-known, but getting effective and repeatable results from a cannabis infusion in finished beer is still an emerging science but does Cannabis Beer actually get you high? What’s the difference between CBD-infused beer and THC-infused beers?

If we were to divide ‘getting high’ into two parts, it would clearly be ‘High on Alcohol’ and ‘High on Weed’. It is a known fact that the stoner crowd is a completely different one from the lads who like to spend their parties on pegs and the argument is a really strong one.

An interesting fact is that cannabis and hops (the main ingredient in beer) are related by nature? They are both members of the Cannabaceae plant family, which share distinctive features such as actinomorphic flowers (displaying radial symmetry) and short calyxes due to the fact that both are naturally pollinated by the wind.

Both plants share a long history of usage by mankind. There is great discussion about when the first beer was brewed, but archaeological reports suggest it could have been as long as 7000 years ago (in the region we now know as Iran). Strangely enough the history of the use of cannabis hemp as fiber can also be traced back to this region of the world as far back as 8000 BC.

Those two great traditions have officially collided in the Twenty First Century with the rising popularity of cannabis beers.  

Does Cannabis Beer actually get you high?

Yes and no. Whether or not cannabis beer gets you high is dependent on whether the beer is made/infused with THC or CBD. Cannabis beers made or infused with THC have the potential to get you high. Cannabis beers brewed/infused with CBD will not get you high, but will give you the “relaxing” sensation of cannabis.

Cannabis Beers brewed with the marijuana plant will contain THC and will provide the effects of a “very quick” high.

Edibles are a popular way to get high without actually smoking. Edibles usually come in the form of chocolates, gummies or baked goods that are made using THC to produce a “body high” upon consumption.

Body highs produce feelings of relaxation and lethargy. Head highs produce more mood-altering/energetic effects. Body highs are usually attained by ingesting cannabis as the THC enters the bloodstream through digestion… these highs typically take a while to begin whereas head highs (smoking) can have effects almost immediately.

A cannabis beer or cannabis-infused beer would produce a body high.

What are the Effects of THC-infused Beer?

This nano-technology is a big deal for cannabis-infused beverages and is designed to mimic the mood-enhancing effects of alcohol in a similar time-frame. While each product has its own signature recipe and each of us has our own tolerance level, you can generally expect to feel an elevated mood in about 15 minutes and the effects wear off in about 90 minutes. So while you may not get drunk off of these beers, you will get jolly. 

Final Thoughts

While cannabis-infused beer may not be exactly like the real thing, it is pretty dam close and it will get you high. So what’s not to love? As the market continues to grow and more of our favorite breweries hop on board the cannabis train, it can only bring positive things to the realm of weed. We hope this guide answered all of your immediate pressing questions and helped guide you to weed beer success.

Think Your a Kung Fu Master Fast enough to Catch a fly? You’re not Here’s why.

You dont need the skills of a Kung Fu master to catch a fly but you’d think that they’d be easier to swat one down, but no, the fly almost always outmaneuvers your attack and escapes, living to see another one of its 28 days. 

Flies avoid being swatted in just the same way Keanu Reeves dodges flying bullets in the movie The Matrix – by watching time pass slowly they experience time in an almost Slow-mo like fashion.

To the insect, that rolled-up newspaper moving at lightning speed might as well be inching through thick treacle.

Like Reeves standing back and side-stepping slow-mo bullets, the fly has ample time to escape. And it is not alone in its ability to perceive time differently from us. Research suggests that across a wide range of species, time perception is directly related to size.

Generally the smaller an animal is, and the faster its metabolic rate, the slower time passes.

The evidence comes from research into the ability of animals to detect separate flashes of fast-flickering light.

“Critical flicker fusion frequency”

It’s like you’re moving in slow motion.

Actually, from the fly’s perspective, you quite literally are moving in slow motion, because every species experiences time differently. The reason? Differences in sight.

All animals, including humans, see the world in what’s essentially a seamless movie. What’s really happening, however, is that the brain is taking individual images sent from the eye at a fixed rate per second in distinct flashes and piecing them together.

The rate at which this occurs is called “flicker-fusion frequency,” which is measured by determining how rapidly a light needs to be switched on and off before it appears to an animal as a continuous stream. Scientists measure this in insects by hooking up tiny glass electrodes to the photoreceptors of its eyes and flashing light at increasingly fast speeds, all while a computer graphs the signals sent from the photoreceptors.

It turns out this rate is different for every animal. The general rule is: the smaller the species, the quicker the vision.

Humans see about 60 flashes per second while flies see about 250 — a full four times faster than humans. 

In fact, the majority of flying animals, including vertebrates, have faster vision than humans – possibly because it’s mortally important that they’re to quickly react and dodge obstacles.

(A quick note about trying to get your dog to watch TV: The refresh-rate on traditional TVs is about 60Hz, which is on par with the flicker-fusion frequency of humans. However, dogs see at about 80Hz, which means that unless you have a high-quality TV, your favorite movie appears as rapid-fire still images to your dog.)

The fastest-seeing flies are blindingly quick, even relative to their own kind. A “killer fly,” a predatory species found in Europe, is able to launch from a resting position into the air, circle several times around another fly in mid-flight, catch it, and bring its twitching body down to the ground in less than a second.

Why is the killer fly so much faster? The light-detecting cells in its eyes contain more mitochondria, essentially the “batteries” of cells, than other flies, and this powers its supercharged vision. For this insect, time moves in extra-slow motion – about six times slower than it does for humans.

It begs the question: If certain flies see more quickly than other flies, then do some people experience time differently than other people? Does that have anything to do with why times seem to speed up as we get older?

Quite possibly, according to Andrew Jackson, an associate professor at Trinity College Dublin in the Republic of Ireland who has researched flicker fusion rates among various species.

“It’s tempting to think that for children time moves more slowly than it does for grownups, and there is some evidence that it might,” he told The Guardian. “People have shown in humans that flicker fusion frequency is related to a person’s subjective perception of time, and it changes with age. It’s certainly faster in children.”

The Famous Ship Burial And Helmet That May Belong To Raedwald, King Of All The Kings Of Britain

A medieval ship burial in England that is so impressive and mysterious that it’s been compared to the world of the Old English epic “Beowulf” But who is actually buried at the 1,400-year-old site known as Sutton Hoo? Here mysterious grassy mounds covered a number of ancient graves. In one particular grave, belonging to an important Anglo-Saxon warrior, some astonishing objects were buried, but there is little in the grave to make it clear who was buried there historical records dating to the period are limited, and the remains of those buried at the site are completely decayed, leaving no physical remains to analyze,

 The royal burial site at Sutton Hoo, a few miles from the Suffolk coast, East England, is the most famous of all Anglo-Saxon sites. It is mainly known for its outstanding funerary discoveries and in Mound 1, sheds light on the war gear of early seventh-century Anglo-Saxon rulers.

In the summer of 1939, an amateur archaeologist, Basil Brown (1888 – 1977), made one of the most exciting discoveries in British archaeology; they found the tomb of an Anglo-Saxon who had been buried there in the early 600s. Beneath the mound was the imprint of a 27-metre-long ship. At its centre was a ruined burial chamber packed with treasures: Byzantine silverware, sumptuous gold jewelry, a lavish feasting set, and most famously, an ornate iron helmet. Dating to the early 600s, this outstanding burial clearly commemorated a leading figure of East Anglia, the local Anglo-Saxon kingdom. It may even have belonged to a king. Many thought that King Raedwald, who ruled a kingdom in East Anglia and died around A.D. 627, is the best candidate. But even that’s just a best guess. 

Artist interpretation by Alan Sorrell of the moving of the burial ship over to the grave. Image credits: A.C. Evans, 1986 via Archaeology of Britain.

Who was Raedwald?

Archaeologists point to Raedwald because the date of the coins and other artifacts matches well with the time of his reign and because the burial does not seem to be fully Christian — something that jibes with what historical records say about him. Sutton Hoo’s location in East Anglia and the richness of its artifacts link it to the East Anglian royal dynasty. 

Raedwald ruled a kingdom in East Anglia and struggled over whether he should be Christian or pagan. At one point, he built a temple that had a Christian altar and a pagan altar side by side, St. Bede (lived A.D. 672-735) wrote in his book the “Ecclesiastical History of the English People.” 

Raedwald’s religious dilemma is important, as scholars have noted that there are few artifacts at Sutton Hoo that have Christian motifs. “He seemed at the same time to serve Christ and the gods whom he had served before,” wrote St. Bede (translation by J.A. Giles). “In the same temple, he had an altar to sacrifice to Christ and another small one to offer victims to devils,” Bede wrote, calling Raedwald “noble by birth, though ignoble in his actions.”

Moreover, Raedwald was a prominent king during his time, intervening in a dispute over who should be King of Northumbria by using his army to ensure that Edwin, one of the claimants, was crowned.  The Sutton Hoo ship burial — with its ornate accessories made of gold and jewels — seems rich enough for such a ruler. 

In this reconstruction drawing, the Sutton Hoo ship burial holds a wealth of Anglo-Saxon artifacts and the body of what is likely a king from East Anglia. (Image credit: English Heritage/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

However, some archaeologists were more cautious in their assessments.

“I think the balance of evidence suggests the burial site is connected to the East Anglian royal dynasty, and I think this is as far as we can, and should, go with this question,” Howard Williams, an archaeology professor at the University of Chester in England, told OTCB He noted that although Raedwald, or perhaps another East Anglian king, could be buried at Sutton Hoo, we shouldn’t rule out the possibility that the burial could be from a king of a neighboring East Saxon kingdom. 

Another possibility is a relative of Raedwald. “If you held a gun to my head, I would say Raedwald, but equally I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it turned out to be someone else,” said Alex Woolf, a senior lecturer in medieval history at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. “Raedwald is probably the best bet, but far from certain. His son Eorpwald had a short reign after him, and there are other members of the family in the seventh century we know little about.” 

In 1993, Woolf and two colleagues wrote a paper published in the journal Anglo-Saxon England suggesting that the burial could hold the remains of someone from the East Saxon kingdom. Ultimately, “I don’t think we can know for sure” who was buried in the boat grave, Woolf said.

However, Barbara Yorke, an emeritus professor of early medieval history at the University of Winchester in England, said other East Anglian kings from the time period seem unlikely for a variety of reasons. For example, these kings reigned for short periods, had strong ties to Christianity or died before the minting of the coins. Therefore, Raedwald is the most likely candidate, she said.

“Raedwald was the most powerful of the East Anglian kings, and the ship burial seems the richest and most impressive of the Sutton Hoo burials,” Yorke said. 

Some of the researchers cautioned that we cannot be certain the boat burial even belongs to a king. “The Staffordshire hoard and other more recent finds show that finds of very high-quality gold and garnet work were more common than was thought at the time of the main publication of Sutton Hoo in the 1970s, and although there is no doubt that such items denoted very high status, they may not have been held exclusively by kings,” said Gareth Williams, a curator at The British Museum. (Discovered in 2009, the Staffordshire hoard is an Anglo-Saxon treasure holding some 3,500 items made from gold, silver and other metals that dates to the seventh century.)

Williams pointed out that there is also a debate over the age of the coins at Sutton Hoo. “Most recent commentators would prefer a broader date range, which would certainly include A.D. 625 but would extend by some years to either side. Raedwald is therefore a strong possibility, but not the only one,” Williams said. 

Ongoing research at Sutton Hoo

Recently, archaeologists at Sutton Hoo have been using lidar, a technology that uses a laser to map out terrain, along with ground- penetrating radar to examine details of how the cemetery was constructed. Many researchers told Live Science that although it is unlikely that we will know for sure who was buried at the site, Sutton Hoo is still worth studying. 

“I do not think we will ever be able to name the individual buried at Sutton Hoo with certainty, but this does not keep me awake at night,” said Sue Brunning, curator of early medieval and Sutton Hoo collections at The British Museum. “While a name would be the cherry on the cake, there is so much of value to learn from the archaeology of the burial, and I feel that it is more rewarding to direct our ideas and energy into the wider context.”

European timeline, AD 300–1100

AD 300–1100

Celtic Britain and Ireland

The people of Ireland and northern and Western Britain spoke Celtic languages and shared ancient traditions and beliefs.

AD 300–500

The Roman Empire and beyond

At its height, the Roman Empire extended all around the Mediterranean and into continental Europe and Britain.

AD 330–650

The Byzantine Empire

The Byzantine Empire comprised the eastern part of the Roman Empire following its division in east and west in AD 395. Its capital was Constantinople. 

AD 400–750

Great migrations

As Roman control in Western Europe weakened, Germanic peoples from outside the Empire began to enter and settle on former Roman territories. 

AD 450–1100

Anglo-Saxon England

After the Roman army withdrew from Britain in AD 410, groups of Germanic peoples from Northwest Europe crossed the North Sea to settle in parts of southern and eastern Britain. 

AD 750–1100

The Vikings

Originating from Scandinavia, the Vikings voyaged overseas to raid, trade and settle in new lands at this time. 

Model of the Sutton Hoo ship-burial 1, England. The placement of the burial chamber is marked white.Image credit: Eebahgum – CC BY-SA 3.0

1939 excavation of Sutton Hoo burial ship. Image credit: Harold John Phillips  – Public Domain

In “The Sutton Hoo Ship Burial,”The cap of the helmet was formed from a size piece of iron, and it is divided into ornamental zones, each with detailed engraved by the metalsmith who created it, due to the use of different metals.”

People wondered whether this could be a cenotaph, a symbolic burial, where the body had been lost.

The Sutton Hoo helmet is a remarkable example of the Saxon craft.

How Morse Code Confused the World… What Does SOS Stand For?


A lot of people think that the distress signal is an abbreviation for “save our souls” or “save our ship.” But in reality, “save our souls” and “save our ship” are backronyms, and the letters don’t actually stand for anything.

In fact, the signal isn’t even really supposed to be three individual letters. It’s just a continuous Morse code string of three dots, three dashes, and three dots all run together with no spaces or full stops (…—…). Since three dots form the letter “S” and three dashes form an “O” in International Morse code, though, the signal came to be called an “SOS” for the sake of convenience. That connection has led to the letters coming into their own as a visual distress signal divorced from Morse Code, and those in need of rescue sometimes spell them out on the ground to be seen from above.

You could also break down the string into IJS, SMB and VTB if you wanted to.

To understand how the term SOS came into common use, we have to go back in time and look at morse code.

The beginnings of wireless communication

In the late 19th century, there was a lot of interest in the idea of wireless telegraphy—the concept of transmitting signals without wires. Guglielmo Marconi, a young Italian aristocrat with an interest in science, was one of the most prominent researchers in this field.

Publicity photo in a magazine of British-Italian radio entrepreneur Guglielmo Marconi with his early wireless radiotelegraphy transmitter and receiver, invented around 1895. On the left is his spark gap transmitter, consisting of a dipole antenna made of two brass rods with a spark gap between them, which transmits pulses of radio waves spelling out text messages in Morse code. On the right is his receiver, consisting of a coherer which rings a bell when it receives the dots and dashes of Morse code The bell and batteries are in the box. (Photo: Wikimedia)
Publicity photo in a magazine of British-Italian radio entrepreneur Guglielmo Marconi with his early wireless radiotelegraphy transmitter and receiver, invented around 1895. On the left is his spark gap transmitter, consisting of a dipole antenna made of two brass rods with a spark gap between them, which transmits pulses of radio waves spelling out text messages in Morse code. On the right is his receiver, consisting of a coherer which rings a bell when it receives the dots and dashes of Morse code The bell and batteries are in the box. (Photo: Wikimedia)

A series of private tutors educated Marconi at home. He never formally attended any college of higher education. That didn’t stop him from experimenting with radio waves as a basis for a wireless telegraphy system.

The butler did it

Twenty years old, and with a thirst for knowledge, Marconi began building his own equipment and conducting experiments. An interesting factoid that gets less attention than Marconi himself is that his butler, a man called Mignani, helped to build the first wireless machines.

After some initial success, Marconi had a working device that could send and send messages for up to 2 miles. But, he needed funding and support to continue his work. With little encouragement from the Italian government, Marconi moved to London. After a series of ever greater demonstrations, the first wireless transmission systems were born.

People used these machines to messages using a system of dots and dashes to represent individual letters. This was known as Morse code.

The Logic Behind “SOS”

So why use that specific string of dots and dashes if there’s no meaning to it? Because it was the best way to get the job done.

When wireless radiotelegraph machines first made their way onto ships around the turn of the 20th century, seamen in danger needed a way to attract attention, signal distress, and ask for help — a unique signal that would transmit clearly and quickly and wouldn’t be confused for other communications. At first, different organizations and countries had their own “in-house” distress signals. The U.S. Navy used “NC,” which was the maritime flag signal for distress from the International Code of Signals. The Marconi Company, which leased its equipment and telegraph operators to various ships, used “CQD.”  The “German Regulations for the Control of Spark Telegraphy” of 1905 mandated that all German operators use “…—…”.

Having these multiple distress signals was confusing and potentially dangerous. It meant that a ship in distress in foreign waters had a language barrier to overcome with would-be rescuers, even if using International Morse Code. Because of this and other issues, various countries decided to get together and discuss the idea of laying down some international regulations for radiotelegraph communications. In 1906, the International Wireless Telegraph Convention convened in Berlin, and delegates attempted to establish an international standard distress call. Marconi’s “-.-.–.–..”, and “………-..-..-..” (“SSSDDD”), which Italy had proposed at a previous conference, were deemed too cumbersome.  Germany’s “…—…”, though, could be sent quickly and easily and was hard to misinterpret. It was chosen as the international distress signal for the nations who met at the conference, and went into effect on July 1, 1908.

Blue Peter Fun Quizzes | Morse Code Mystery Quiz | Learn Morse Code - CBBC  - BBC

Early distress signals

Shipping became one of the early adopters of Marconi’s wireless system. Suddenly, and for the first time, vessels at sea could stay in contact with the land and each other, even when out of sight.

By the early 20th century, many vessels had wireless communication. It quickly became apparent that a universal distress call was necessary. The UK used a call sign of CQ for land-based, wired communications to identify a general message. The Marconi company suggested a signal of CQD as the general distress call for wireless operators.

Radio operator on a sinking ship, with the captain behind him, during the wireless telegraphy era prior to 1920 sending a call for rescue. (Image: Wikimedia/Helix84)
The radio operator on a sinking ship, with the captain behind him, during the wireless telegraphy era prior to 1920 sending a call for rescue. (Image: Wikimedia/Helix84)

International confusion

At the same time, Germany had begun to adopt a morse code sequence of three dots followed by three dashes followed by three dots as their distress code. Other nations and navies were using different call signs for their distress signals. This caused confusion on the high seas when different national vessels sent out calls for help.

At an international radiotelegraph convention held in Berlin in 1906, the world adopted the German morse code sequence as the standard global distress signal. The adopted international regulations described a series of dots and dashes with no reference to the alphabet. So, they did not officially call the original distress signal by the letters SOS.

SOS in its infancy

Since the international morse code representation of the letter S was three dots and the letter O three dashes, it wasn’t long before the distress signal became known as SOS. History records the first real SOS calls sent in 1909.

As with all things, it took a few years for previous practices to die out. During the Titanic disaster of 1912, telegraph operators used both the CQD and SOS distress signals. The initial confusion this caused may have been the deciding factor in the final phasing out of the CQD sign.

The Titanic, and in particular, the part that wireless transmissions played in saving lives, led to greater public recognition of Marconi and his invention.

SOS through the ages

SOS soon became the universal cry for help. People use it for more than simple wireless signals. Many stranded people have signaled for help with an SOS distress signal written in the sand, the snow, or with rocks. This has led to their rescue.

SOS is a palindrome and an ambigram. Meaning it is a word that reads the same both forward and backward and the right way up or upside down – a great help for spotters from the air looking down. This may have helped with the adoption of the SOS distress signal.

Developments in the use of distress messaging continued throughout the twentieth century. First, there were variations in the original SOS to specify the type of accident or emergency. Later, MAYDAY was added as a voice code signal.

During the Second World War, additional suffixes were added to the SOS distress call to communicate the type of attacking vessel. So, if under attack by a submarine the code SOS would have a following signal SSS, or an operator might use SOS RRR for a surface attack.


An early flaw with the distress signal was the reliance on the presence of radio operators at the telegraph machine when an SOS message was sent. If a distress signal was sent and the radio personnel were at lunch or asleep, no one would hear it.

Later versions of the telegraph machine included an automatic alarm that would sound to signal the receipt of an SOS message. Thus ensuring that someone would hear the SOS when the staff were not at their stations.

The alternative SOS

Interestingly, another well-known SOS doesn’t actually refer to the distress signal at all. The SOS in the name of the charity SOS Villages refers to the original name of the organization. Before it was known as SOS villages, the charity was a social club called Societas Socialis designed to raise funds for children in Austria. And so in this case, the SOS is actually an acronym.

Today, an SOS village is present in almost every country around the world.

The modern SOS

With the advent of modern communications equipment, the SOS signal has been in decline. These days, a single press of a button will broadcast a vessel’s emergency instantaneously to satellites orbiting overhead and emergency services will immediately know the vessel’s exact position.

Emergency beacons—EPIRBs and PLBs

An Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) is a small electronic device that, when activated in an emergency, can help search and rescue authorities pinpoint your position.

Once activated, EPIRBs continuously send out a signal for at least 48 hours. Search and rescue authorities respond to all EPIRB activations—you must only activate the EPIRB in an emergency and you must tell them immediately if you no longer need help.

All boats operating beyond smooth and partially smooth waters or more than 2nm from land in open waters must carry a 406MHz digital EPIRB.

But it’s unlikely the good old SOS will die out completely as long as someone uses it as a visual distress signal in pebbles on the beach of a deserted island.

The Guns Of The Old Wild West

Own a Gunfighter’s Favorite

Thanks to replicas, you can have a spitting-image, working copy of some of the Old West’s most colorful shootists’ famous guns.

Talk about expensive! Original guns used by the famous and infamous personalities of the Old West have become coveted collectibles. If not already in museum collections, such arms can cost five, six and sometimes seven figures, making them impossible for anyone of average means to afford. 

In the Rock Island Auction Company’s May 2021 auction, two notable 5½-inch barreled, 1873 Colt Peacemakers garnered hefty prices. A Colt Single Action (SA) used by the Dalton gang in the Coffeyville, Kansas, dual bank robbery sold for $138,000. And the last Colt SA personally ordered by frontier gunfighter W.B. “Bat” Masterson, hammered down at a whopping $488,750.

Recently, Bonhams of Los Angeles auctioned off the 7½-inch-barreled, Colt .44-40 SA, that Sheriff Pat Garrett used to kill Billy the Kid for an astounding $6,030,312. A Springfield Sporting Rifle, buried with James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok, went for $425,312, Robert Olinger’s shotgun went for $978,312, John Wesley Hardin’s Smith & Wesson sold for $625,312 and another Bat Masterson Colt sold for $375,312. (For more details on this auction, see “Collecting the West,” page 14). Obviously, purchasing an actual gun owned by a notable Western figure is out of the question for most of us.

It’s believed that James Butler Hickok, known as the “Prince of Pistoleers,” and shown here with his percussion Navies, carried cartridge conversion Navy Colts in his final days. In Uberti USA’s Outlaws and Lawmen series, this “Wild Bill” replica, a 7½-inch, .38 Special, octagon-barreled l851 Navy clone is offered. This handsome six‑shooter sports a blue and color case-hardened finish and simulated ivory stocks, similar to what Hickok would have packed. Photo of “Wild Bill” .38 courtesy Uberti USA/Hickok Photo from True West Archives

Thanks to the replica firearms industry, Italian-import clones of the actual “hardware” packed by Old West luminaries can be had at affordable prices, leading to in some cases, complete collections of replicas of their specific guns. These new/old guns look and operate like the originals, but fire modern factory smokeless ammunition, so they can be taken to the range or field and enjoyed like any other modern gun.

The following replica firearms are detailed copies of famous shooting irons used by the gunmen of the Wild West. For the sake of brevity, we’ll focus strictly on metallic cartridge firearms.

A number of firearms companies offer historic reproduction firearms. Outfits like Taylor’s & Company and Dixie Gun Works offer an extensive line of frontier-era revolvers, rifles and shotguns. C. Sharps Arms Co. custom builds 1874, 1875 and 1877 Sharps, 1885 High Wall, and Remington Hepburn rifles. Winchester offers new versions of its legendary 1866, 1873, 1886, 1892, 1894 and 1895 lever-action rifles, along with its 1885 single-shot High Wall rifle. And Marlin continues to turn out its long-popular Model 1894 and 1895 lever guns. Ruger, of course, produces its much-liked Vaquero single-action, peacemaker-styled revolver, with its traditional looks and modern internal workings. For this article we’re focused on replicas of the actual guns toted by historical figures.

Among the guns carried by lawman/army scout/gambler William Barclay “Bat” Masterson was a 5½-inch, ivory-stocked, nickeled and engraved .45 Colt Peacemaker. Cimarron Firearms offers a laser-engraved, Old Model copy of Bat’s original revolver. It features the circular “bullseye” ejector head, a squared-off front blade sight and the name “W.B. Bat Masterson,” laser-engraved on the back strap, like on the famed gunman’s original. Despite being fitted with the pre-1896 black powder frame, Cimarron’s Bat Masterson repro handles modern factory smokeless ammo. Masterson photo from True West Archives, replica revolver courtesy Cimarron Firearms


Cimarron Firearms has a few 1873 Colt
lookalikes designed to resemble the guns of legendary gunmen. They boast of laser engraving that is not as detailed as hand engraving, but neither is the price tag. Cimarron’s “Bat Masterson” revolver is patterned after one of the famed lawman/army scout/gambler’s Colts. This 5½-inch-barreled, nickeled six-shooter is an Old Model, pre-1896 black powder frame (handles .45 Colt factory smokeless ammo) like Bat’s 1880s Peacemakers, and sports a 5½-inch barrel, a squared-off front sight blade, circular “bullseye” ejector head, simulated ivory stocks, and like the original, wears “W.B. Bat Masterson” engraved on the back strap. Cimarron’s copy of cowboy president Teddy Roosevelt’s 1880s nickeled, 7½-inch-barreled Colt with the “TR” monogram on faux ivory stocks is also offered with laser engraving, and is a real beauty.

EMF’s tribute to General George S. Patton, is a replica of the famed six gun Patton used in the 1916 Punitive Expedition in Old Mexico, and then packed at his side during his legendary World War II exploits. It is a laser-engraved, stainless steel, 4¾-inch-barreled clone, and is available in .45 Colt or .357 Magnum. Courtesy EMF

Both Cimarron and EMF Co. offer handsome replicas of Gen. George S. Patton’s famed Peacemaker. While General Patton is usually associated with World War II, this fighting general made quite a name for himself during the 1916 Punitive Expedition in Mexico. As a young lieutenant out on a foraging patrol, Patton surprised three Mexican revolutionaries from Pancho Villa’s Brigada Del Norte and in a gun battle, shot each of the banditos and emerged an unscathed victor. Patton was credited with wounding all three, and killing two of them, with his 1873 Colt revolver. He went on to become one of the Second World War’s most successful generals and packed this famous Peacemaker throughout the war. Cimarron’s version is nickel-plated in the post-1896 pre-war style (cylinder base pin retaining screws on each side of the frame) and is laser engraved in the Cuno Helfricht style of Colt engraving, as was the general’s sidearm. It’s produced in .45 Colt, with the 4¾-inch barrel, has hand-fitted poly ivory grips with the “GSP” initials and a lanyard ring on the grip frame. 

EMF’s “Deluxe General Patton” copy is part of its Great Western II series of 1873 single-action revolvers. Its tribute to Patton is a handsome stainless steel pre-war model, correct 4¾-inch barrel and is offered in either the .45 Colt chambering, or in .357 Magnum. It sports factory laser engraving in the style of Patton’s original Colt, and wears simulated plain ivory grips. 

Single Action revolver fans will appreciate Uberti USA’s “Dalton,” a blue and color case-hardened, laser‑engraved peacemaker-styled SA, fitted with simulated ivory stocks. It’s a close copy of one of the .45 Colts actually used by the Dalton gang during their ill-fated Coffeyville, Kansas, dual bank robbery. It’s available as a .45 Colt, .38 Special, or .357 Magnum. Photo courtesy Uberti USA

Uberti USA has created the Outlaws and Lawmen Series, made to emulate those revolvers of the good and bad men of the West. It includes such six-shooters as “Frank,” a 7½-inch barreled, nickeled 1875 Remington model (one of Frank James’s favorite sidearms). It’s offered in .45 Colt, .38 Special or .357 Magnum. The “Teddy” model is a 5½-inch tubed ’73 Cattleman SA, featuring engraving similar to a Colt our cowboy president, Theodore Roosevelt, owned in his later years. It, too, comes in .45 Colt, .38 Special or .357 Magnum. The “Prince of Pistoleers,” James Butler Hickok was believed to have carried cartridge conversion Colts in his final days, and Uberti’s series includes the “Wild Bill,” a 7½-inch .38 special, octagon-barreled 1851 Navy replica that sports faux ivory stocks, like other guns Hickok was known to have. 

This writer’s favorite of the Uberti lineup is the “Dalton,” a blue and color case-hardened, laser-engraved peacemaker-styled SA, fitted with faux ivory stocks. It copies one of the .45 Colts used by the Dalton gang during their ill-fated Coffeyville, Kansas, dual bank robbery. It’s available as a .45 Colt, .38 Special or .357 Magnum. Other smoke wagons in the Outlaws and Lawmen Series include revolvers simulating weapons packed by gambler/gunfighter Doc Holiday and outlaws Billy the Kid, Jesse James and John Wesley Hardin. 


Some of the most coveted treasures from our Western past are shoulder arms. Cimarron offers a selection of rifles that are copies of the long arms that played major roles in conquering the Wild West. A trio of 32-inch, octagon-barreled “Billy Dixon Sharps” replicate the model 1874 Sharps Sporting Rifle like Dixon used during the June 1874 battle at Adobe Walls in Texas, when he dropped an Indian warrior from 1,538 yards (7/8 mile). These repros include two Pedersoli-made rifles (.45-90 and .45-70), and a more economically priced Armi Sport version (.45-70). Each model duplicates the look of the Hartford model ’74 Sharps, with the metal nose cap, and a blue and color case-hardened finish. 

Above: One example of Cimarron Firearms’ famous frontier replicas is this “McNelly,” 22-inch-barreled Sharps carbine. Ranger Captain Leander McNelly’s men were issued Sharps carbines like this, reworked from caplock to metallic cartridge .50-70 Govt. caliber. Cimarron’s repro comes in the commercially available, factory standard .45-70 Govt. round. (Below) This circa mid-1870s hombre, believed to be a Texas Ranger, could be one of McNelly’s Rangers who helped clean up the outlaw-infested Nueces Strip in southern Texas. He’s toting his cartridge conversion Sharps carbine, along with a holstered Colt revolver. Carbine photo courtesy Cimarron Firearms, period image from True West Archives

If your taste runs to military-style arms, the Armi Sport “McNelly” Texas Ranger .45-70, 22-inch round-
barreled Sharps carbine, like the M-1859 percussion Sharps issued to Leander McNelly’s Rangers in 1875, when he was ordered to rid Texas’s notorious Nueces Strip of the outlaw gangs operating there. Like the original 36 carbines purchased for the Rangers, Cimarron’s replica bears a “T↔S” stamping, but rather than being cham-bered for the now non-commercially manufactured .50-70 McNelly’s Sharps were chambered for, Cimarron’s clones are built to take the .45-70 cartridge, which is readily available in factory smokeless loads.

Even though buffalo hunter Matthew Quigley was not a “gen-u-wine” Old West frontiersman, actor Tom Selleck’s portrayal of the sharpshooter brought him life beyond the screen. His “costar,” the 1874 Sharps rifle, produced by the Shiloh Rifle Manufacturing Company was expressly crafted for the 1990 classic Quigley Down Under film, and together, the pair has become modern-day Wild West icons. Shiloh continues to custom build “Quigley” Sharps replicas, down to the last detail of the movie gun, including the customer’s initials (any initials except “M Q”) in gold, inlaid on the receiver. If you want a buffalo gun that shoots 1,200 yards, or in Quigley’s words, one that shoots “a mite further,” contact Shiloh.

Bob Dalton, who worked both sides of the law in the Indian Territory (Oklahoma) packed an engraved and pearl-stocked .45 Colt—one of ten ordered by the Dalton gang for their failed Coffeyville bank robbery. An original, well-documented Dalton Gang Colt, so embellished, sold at the Rock Island Auction Company’s May 2021 auction for a whopping $138,000. Ironically, Bob Dalton undoubtedly never made near that much money in all his honest and nefarious pursuits combined. True West Archives

Speaking of movies, the 1980 Western, Tom Horn starring Steve McQueen gave rise to an interest in the big 1876 Winchester lever-action rifle. Cimarron has brought out a re-creation of the blued-frame ’76 packed by McQueen, including a replica of the unique tang sight, similar to that seen on the silver screen rifle. This .45-60 caliber lever gun (as featured in the flick) also has a side plate with a facsimile of Horn’s actual signature engraved on it. 

One of Cimarron’s many unique and historical introductions to the replica world is its 22-inch-barreled, full-stocked round-barreled 1876 Winchester “NWMP Carbine.” This is a spitting image of those 1,261 Winchester ’76s issued to Canada’s North West Mounted Police who saw service from 1878 until 1914. Chambered for the powerful .45-75 cartridge, these lever-actions were used to put down the 1885 North West Rebellion, protect Canada’s borders during the Yukon Gold Rush of 1898 and later during the Alaska Boundary Dispute at the dawn of the 20th century. Cimarron’s detail-perfect copy features a full blue finish, tubular magazine, full stock with barrel band and blued metal fore-end, with the addition of the proper “NWMP” stamping in the stock. This model is chambered for the original .45-75 (350-grain bullet) cartridge. Cimarron also offers the 1876 Carbine in the “Crossfire” version, as featured in the popular 2001, Tom Selleck TNT movie Crossfire Trail. This civilian model, available in .45-75, or .45-60 (movie version) sports a blue barrel, magazine, barrel band and metal fore-end, but has a color case-hardened receiver, lever, trigger, hammer and butt plate. 

Although Henry Repeating Arms is perhaps best known for producing modern designs of lever-action rifles inspired by the repeaters of the Old West, the company also offers a selection of authentic, all American-made Model 1860 Henry rifles. Henry’s full-length historic replica rifle has a 24½-inch, blued octagon barrel, and comes in a choice of brass (.44-40 or .45 Colt) or iron (color case-hardened) receiver (.44-40 only) and butt plate. A 20½-inch, .44-40 octagon tubed, carbine model is also offered with brass receiver and butt plate, and two limited production of 1,000 each, brass or silver, engraved 1860-design Henry, .44-40 full-length rifles are offered. Each of the engraved models is hand-engraved and embellished, as were those presented to dignitaries and/or purchased as presentation pieces during the 1862-1866 period of the original Henry’s production. Henry also offers a special 200th Anniversary (limited to 200 copies) engraved, original style Henry rifle, commemorating the birth of this historic gun’s inventor, Benjamin Tyler Henry.

Above: In total, three 12-pound, 14.1-ounce, 34-inch octagon-barreled rifles, duplicating the movie rifle shown here, were custom built by Shiloh Rifle Manufacturing Company, for the 1990 film Quigley Down Under. This buffalo gun has gained such fame that Shiloh continues to produce “Quigley Models,” complete with the customer’s initials in gold, on the receiver. Below: This studio still photo reveals the scene when Tom Selleck, as Matthew Quigley, prepares to make his legendary long-range “bucket” shot, that introduced his Shiloh Sharps .45-110 rifle in the film. Rifle Photo courtesy Tom Selleck, “Quigley Down Under” still courtesy MGM

Shooters wanting a more modern-style “Old West” lever-action rifle should remember that Henry Repeating Arms carries a broad selection of dozens of rimfire and centerfire lever guns ranging from .22 rimfire to .44 Magnum, and even .45-70 chamberings. The newest additions to its lineup include the “Side Gate Lever Actions” in a variety of models and finishes. These side gate rifles allow for loading through the removable tubular magazine or via a more traditional lever gun side plate loading gate. 

Above: In this turn-of-the-20th-century photograph, North West Mounted Police officers display their British-inspired red tunics, dark blue trousers, boots, campaign hats and their 1876 Winchester carbines. Cimarron offers a spitting image copy of these famed firearms, complete with full blued finish, 22-inch round barrels, chambered for their original .45-75 cartridge (smokeless ammo available from Cimarron and other sources), and with “NWMP” stamped into the stock (below). NWMP photo from True West Archives, replica carbine photo courtesy Cimarron Firearms

Of course, since you can enjoy shooting these historic replicas, you’ll need fodder. Besides standard factory loadings, there are outfits that turn out Old West ammunition, and/or the reduced-velocity cowboy loads, ranging from small-bore revolver chamberings, up to the big rifle rounds. Check out the cowboy action offerings from Aguila, Black Hills Ammunition, Buffalo Arms, Fiocchi, HSM, Magtech, Tennessee Cartridge Co. and Winchester. Some of these firms even offer black powder ammo. Garrett Cartridges, which specializes in super hard cast “Hammerhead” hunting loads, also offers a nifty .45-70, 420-grain Springfield load, moving out at 1,350 feet per second, especially made for trapdoors and replicas.

Although best known for modern renditions of classic lever-action rifles, Henry Repeating Arms also offers a selection of all-American-made original-style, Model 1860 Henry repeaters. Henry is also producing limited runs of 1,000 each beautifully hand-engraved, in period embellishment (as photos reveal), brass or silver-framed Henry .44-40 lever action rifles. Henry is also offering 200 special 200th Anniversary hand-engraved original style Henry rifles (not shown), commemorating the birth of this historic gun’s inventor, Benjamin Tyler Henry. Photos courtesy Henry Repeating Arms

Remember, these replicas of the actual guns of the famed gunmen and organizations of the frontier are more than just wall hangers, they’re fun working guns that you can enjoy for plinking, competition or taking game with. Grab a re-created piece of history and relive the Wild West!

What Really Happened to The Franklin Expedition?

Face to face with a Franklin expedition crew member, 140 years later

Captain Sir John Franklin was both a highly regarded and popular naval officer to his contemporaries.

A veteran of the Battle of Trafalgar, a young officer in the first ship to circumnavigate Australia, the discoverer and surveyor of the south-western end of the hoped-for North-West Passage, and Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen’s Land where he was widely praised for his humane treatment of both the settlers and convicts.

He was known as ‘The man who ate his boots’ after surviving his crossings of northern Canada, and his ship HMS Rainbow was known as ‘Franklin’s Paradise’ when he refused to inflict flogging as a punishment.

Until the tragedy of Captain Scott, Franklin was always the exemplar of polar exploration despite his expedition’s tragic end.

Daguerreotype photograph of Franklin taken in 1845, prior to the expedition’s departure. He is wearing the 1843–1846 pattern Royal Navy undress tailcoat with cocked hat.

The expedition

When the Admiralty decided to mount a sea-borne expedition to discover the North-West Passage in 1845, the 59-year-old Franklin requested that his name be considered to lead the enterprise.

At first, the Admiralty were reluctant to comply due to his age, but his fellow officers with polar experience, including such illustrious names as John and James Ross, William Parry, Frederick Beechey, and George Back, supported Franklin and he was eventually selected.

The expedition was to take part with HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, two especially adapted and strongly built former bomb vessels in which much polar experience had already been obtained.

Fitted with former railway locomotives as additional sources of power, they also had the ship’s screws and rudders designed so that they could be lifted clear of the water if they were threatened by ice. Several of the officers had polar experience, and the ship’s companies were all volunteers.

The expedition sailed on 19 May 1845, calling at Stromness on Orkney, and at islands in West Greenland’s Disko Bay. After exchanging signals with two whaling vessels in Baffin Bay, Franklin, his men, and his ships disappeared after heading towards Lancaster Sound.

Urged on by Jane, Lady Franklin, in 1848 the Admiralty and the American Navy sent out search expeditions. The search ships entered Lancaster Sound and probed westwards along the Parry Channel and the graves of three of Franklin’s men were found on Beechey Island off the northern shore of the Channel.

The Arctic Council planning a search for Sir John Franklin by Stephen Pearce, 1851. Left to right are: George Back, William Edward Parry, Edward Bird, James Clark Ross, Francis Beaufort (seated), John Barrow Jnr, Edward Sabine, William Alexander Baillie Hamilton, John Richardson and Frederick William Beechey.

Uncovering evidence

Eventually, in 1859, a search expedition under the command of Captain Francis McClintock found the evidence for which they had all been searching.

A ship’s boat along with skeletons and other remains were discovered on the south-western coast of King William Island, an island at the southern end of Peel Sound.

Of even greater importance, McClintock’s deputy, Lieutenant William Hobson, found a message in a cairn on the north-western shore of the island."Victory Point" note

William Hobson and his men finding the cairn with the “Victory Point” note, Back Bay, King William Island, May 1859.

The note explained that Franklin’s ships had been deserted after two winters locked in the ice ‘5 leagues NNW’ of the landing site. Franklin had died in June, 1847, and the survivors landed on King William Island in the hope of making their way overland to the south. None were to survive the journey.

In the meantime, a Hudson’s Bay Company employee, John Rae, return to England with artefacts from Franklin’s expedition he had obtained from the local Inuit.

He also brought with him tales of cannibalism he claimed to have heard from the same Inuit, claims that were utterly rejected by all those who had known Franklin and his men. None of the Inuit had visited the site of the Franklin tragedy and none would escort Rae to the site.

Despite being just a few days march away – and ignoring rumours that his own men had heard that there were survivors of the expedition still alive – Rae raced across the Atlantic claiming that he did not know of any reward for finding evidence of the Franklin expedition and, furthermore, claiming that he had discovered the North-West Passage.

A revival of interest

The story of the Franklin expedition gradually faded into history only to be brought back into the glare of harsh publicity when a 1984-86 Canadian expedition led by academics disinterred the bodies on Beechey Island.

To a blaze of media attention, and the publication of a best-selling book, it was claimed that an examination of the dead (and by extension, all the seamen on the expedition) had revealed that they had died of lead poisoning.

Observations that such an idea was manifestly nonsense were totally ignored and dismissed out of hand. It was this reaction that led me to mount four expeditions to King William Island in order to make my own search, and to come to my own conclusions.

During 1992-93 other academic-led Canadian expeditions visited Erebus Bay, the site where McClintock had discovered the ship’s boat. A large number of human bones were found in a cairn where they had been deposited by an 1878 American expedition.

Much to the delight of the expedition leaders, the bones not only ‘confirmed’ the lead-poisoning claim, but ‘cut marks’ on some of the bones equally confirmed the Inuit tales spread by Rae.

Once again, any opposition to the expedition’s conclusions were swept aside or ignored. In a bid to set the cannibalism concept in concrete, in 2015, academics decided that some of the bones had been ‘pot polished’ as the devourers of their messmates boiled the bones in order to obtain the marrow contained therein.

In 2006, the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, decided that scientists employed by the government should not be able to communicate directly with the media or with to the public.

In addition, all government documentation and other data should be either destroyed or held securely against publication. Scientific research was cut dramatically and scientists were dismissed in their hundreds. Research facilities and government libraries were closed down.

Then, also in 2006, a Bahamas-flagged ocean liner sailed through the North-West Passage and, the following year, the Russians made a claim to the North Pole and other Arctic areas based on

‘a broad range of scientific data collected over many years of Arctic exploration’,

although actually based on little more than a soil sample taken from the seafloor beneath the Pole and the dropping of a titanium Russian flag in the same place.

The quest for HMS Erebus and HMS Terror

By 2013, the Prime Minister began to take a political interest in the sovereignty of the Arctic. That year, a government-sponsored underwater expedition was mounted to examine the wreck of HMS Investigator, a Franklin search ship that had been abandoned by Commander Robert McClure when he led his surviving men on foot and sledge through the Passage.

The ship was easily found (it had been spotted from the air many years earlier). This led to a number of expeditions, both government sponsored and privately funded, in search of Franklin’s lost ships.

Again, no government employee was allowed to contact the media – all such contact had to be made through authorised government sources, closely supervised by a small coterie of senior Government officials.

The only exception to this ruling was the Chairman and former President of the Canadian Royal Geographical Society, the same individual who wrote the book about the early 1980s expeditions to Beechey Island (although he had never been on the expedition), and a close friend of the Prime Minister.

When the find was publicly announced (by the Prime Minister) there was worldwide recognition of a great achievement. Medals were invented and awarded – even to those who never came anywhere near the discoveries.Stephen Harper

Harper appearing at a gala at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto to celebrate the discovery of HMS Erebus, one of two ships wrecked during John Franklin’s lost expedition (Credit: Alex Guibord / CC).

The Canadian Arctic was secure in the hands of its proper owners – the Canadian people. Sovereignty was established, and an election was in the offing.

Then a rather strange thing happened. Academics and, at least one ‘celebrity’ decided that the success had to be underlined – not to further emphasise the Canadian achievements (which no-one was challenging) but by launching a sustained attack upon Franklin, the Royal Navy, and the English.

An internationally renowned Canadian novelist – not known for her polar expertise – described Franklin as ‘a dope’.

An American professor described the Franklin expedition as

‘a failed British expedition whose architects sought to demonstrate the superiority of British science over Inuit knowledge.’

A professor who took part in the Erebus Bay expedition declared that ‘the question of lead poisoning is settled.’ Another author trumpeted that Franklin’s widow mounted ‘a smear campaign’ against Rae ‘supported by racist writing from the likes of Charles Dickens’.

Refuting the cannibalism story

There were many more attacks on Franklin and his men, all of which ignored the multitude of questions that need answers.

For example, from 1984 to 2018, despite the evidence against lead poisoning, the matter was spread far and wide and was considered unanswerable – yet, in 2018 a genuine study using the simple method of comparison concluded that their finding

‘…did not support the hypothesis that the Franklin sailors were exposed to an unusually high level of Pb for the time period’.

On the question of cannibalism, the academics were adamant that the ‘cut marks’ on the bones at Erebus Bay were unchallengeable proof that the British seamen ate each other. Their reason for this nonsense was that the Inuit were ‘a stone age people’ who did not have access to metal.

In fact, the local tribe had already achieved a reputation for aggressively driving away other tribes using weapons made from a mountain of metal that Captain John Ross had left on their doorstep. Evidence that pointed to female and young male bones amongst those found at Erebus Bay was, at first, wholly misinterpreted, and then disregarded.

As for the ‘pot polishing’ claim, it was quietly forgotten that bones left on the rough, gritty surface of the Arctic are subjected over many years to the strong winds that not only throw more grit at them, but are also rolled or are scraped along the ground.

During his investigations into the idea that the Inuit attacked the seamen, I was approached by a well educated Inuit woman who bluntly told him that ‘My people killed your people.’ Nevertheless, a statue has been erected to John Rae on Orkney.John Rae, by Stephen Pearce (died 1904).

John Rae, painting by Stephen Pearce.

The locating of the ships was a magnificent achievement, but there were some questions, nevertheless, to be answered. How, for example, could a heavy ship’s fitting detach itself from a sunken ship, roll along the sea bottom, up a beach slope, and throw itself into the shingle to be found by accident?

How could a diver by the stern of a sunken ship indicate in detail the unique arrangements of the ship’s propeller and rudder when photographs of the vessel clearly show that the stern had been completely destroyed?

Why is the size and design of the ship’s bell completely against the ‘custom of the Service?’ And why has the ship’s wheel shrunk from the large, double, version seen in the photograph before the expedition sailed, to the small version found that would have been more suitable for a sailing yacht?

How did the masts of one of the ships remain clear of the water long enough for a 21st-century Inuit to spot them, yet not be noticed by professional seamen like McClintock and others who walked along the same shore – then to have disappeared when the man returned just a few days later?

All these questions and many more, based on my thirty-six years’ service in the Royal Navy and four expeditions to walk across the ice and land of the scene of the tragedy, are explored in No Earthly Pole.

So How Fast is Blackbird ?

That time a Blackbird pilot revealed SR-71’s True Top Speed


The story of the SR-71 Blackbird that outran Gaddafi's SAMs during a BDA flight of Libya in support of Operation Eldorado Canyon

The SR-71 Blackbird is still the fastest plane that has ever flown and served an important role in history as a spy plane. Its first test flight was on December 22, 1964 and was never once hit by a missile during its 25 years of service.Though these awesome planes haven’t left the ground since before the turn of the century, they’re still worth all the recognition of being the fastest plane on Earth.

The SR-71, the most advanced member of the Blackbird family that included the A-12 and YF-12, was designed by a team of Lockheed personnel led by Clarence “Kelly” Johnson, then vice president of Lockheed’s Advanced Development Company Projects, commonly known as the “Skunk Works” and now a part of Lockheed Martin Corp.

The Blackbirds were designed to cruise at “Mach 3+,” just over three times the speed of sound or more than 2,200 miles per hour and at altitudes up to 85,000 feet.

Now when talking about SR-71 probably the most frequently asked Blackbird question is-how high and how fast does it really fly?

Former SR-71 pilot Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) Gil Bertelson recalls in Richard H. Graham book SR-71 Blackbird Stories, Tales and Legends:

‘When I first joined the SR-71 program there was one permanent operating location for SR-71s at Kadena AB. The unit at Kadena was known as detachment 1 (or Det 1) of the 9th SRW. Habus were deployed to Det 1 for six weeks at a time and each crew made the trip four to six times a year. About twice a year, there was a requirement to temporarily activate an additional Det at RAF Mildenhall in England. Although we’d had two SR-71s permanently stationed at RAF Mildenhall since 1981, it wasn’t until 5 April 1984 that Prime Minister Thatcher formally announced SR-71s would be permanently based at Mildenhall. This unit was known as Det 4 of the 9th SRW. Dets 2 and 3 of the 9th SRW were U-2 operating locations, at Osan AB, Korea, and RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, respectively.

‘There was a significantly different flying environment between the two detachments. The weather was almost at opposite ends of the spectrum. The missions were not quite as “routine” as many of the Okinawa missions.

‘Because of the more demanding missions at Mildenhall, each new SR-71crew had to fly its first operational sorties at Kadena. Every SR crew lobbied long and hard to get on the schedule for Mildenhall. And London was not far away!

‘Frank Stampf, my RSO crewmate on the SR-71, and I were fortunate to get on the schedule for Mildenhall after only two trips to Okinawa. For both of us, it was like going home. Just before entering the SR-71 program, Frank had been stationed at RAF Alconbury for about four years as an RF-4 crew dog. And I had been stationed at RAF Lakenheath for a couple of years. As the “crow flies,” Alconbury is only 30 miles from Mildenhall and Lakenheath is only 3 miles from Mildenhall. We were both anxious to visit the old flying buddies we had known and worked with in careers before we became Habus.


‘On one occasion, I arranged to meet several of my F-111 friends at Lakenheath Officers’ Club for dinner. We met in the bar and had a few drinks (as a real, live, dyed-in-the-wool teetotaler, I assume I was drinking grapefruit juice or 7-Up). We shared numerous laughs while trying to outdo each other with tales of unequalled courage and great feats of airmanship. I’m sure our hands were getting a good workout—pilots gesticulate a lot!

‘At some point in the evening, the Aardvark (F-111 nickname) guys began to press me, in a good-natured way, for classified information about the SR-71. Probably the most frequently asked Blackbird question is-how high and how fast does it really fly? That question was being actively pursued that night at Lakenheath.

‘I need to back up about a year and a half to set the stage as to why they seemed intent on pushing that particular question. In most Air Force buildings, at least the flying squadron buildings I used to frequent, there were numerous locations where the base fire marshal had posted information regarding fire classifications and appropriate reactions upon discovering different types of fires. These posters were displayed in the restrooms, in the halls, near the duty desks, in the crew briefing rooms, and next to all of the fire extinguisher. I can’t remember all the specifics other than there was one fire classification identified as a category or type 3.

‘At some point in my application for assignment to the SR-71, I was requested to go to Beale for my “tryout” for the Blackbird program. The whole process from departing Lakenheath until returning back to Lakenheath took about two weeks. During the visit to Beale, I heard and read a number of times that the unclassified speed of the SR-71 was listed as Mach 3-plus. A “3+” patch is displayed on flight suits worn by SR-71 squadron crewmembers.

That time a Blackbird pilot revealed SR-71’s Top Speed

‘When I arrived back to Lakenheath, I was really pumped up and excited about the prospects of being selected to fly the SR-71. I didn’t want to forget the experiences I had at Beale or to lose sight of my goal. To help me remember and to keep my attention focused on what I wanted to do, I began adding a black grease pencil + sign to all of the 3s on the fire code posters. There were many added + signs around the base that the very diligent safety officer in 493rd Tactical Fighter Squadron actually called the base fire marshal to get information about this “new classification.” When he was told there was no such thing as a code 3+, he finally figured it out and started looking for me. I was given a “cease and desist” order and one by one, he began erasing my “unauthorized” + signs.

‘Now back to the “O” Club a year and a half later. My dinner partners remembered the fuss over the posters and figured now was an appropriate time and place to get the real scoop as to how high and how fast the Blackbird really did fly. They were curious as to what kind of speed that little + sign actually equated to.

‘I played along for a while, dragging out the inevitable answer of Mach 3-plus, which, when all was said and done, was all I really could tell them anyway. I finally got them leaning in toward me as we sat around the dinner table. I did a pretty good acting job as I began nervously looking around the room be sure no one else was eavesdropping on what they thought would be a classified conversation.

With the guys leaning in to hang on every word I was about to speak, I said something like, “You’ve got to promise not to tell a soul what I am going to tell you now. If you do, I’ll deny it till the day I die. I’m sure you know I shouldn’t be talking about this at all. You know how high the pile will be that they’ll stick me in if you tell anyone else.” As they gathered closer to make sure they didn’t miss anything, I said, “I can’t specific numbers, but I can give you a point of reference you can use to figure it out. You know the part in ‘High Flight’—where it talks about putting out your hand to touch the face of God?” Well,” I added, “when we’re at speed and altitude in the SR, we have to slow down and descend in order to do that.”



“You know the part in ‘High Flight’—where it talks about putting out your hand to touch the face of God? Well, when we’re at speed and altitude in the SR, we have to slow down and descend in order to do that,” Gil Bertelson, former SR-71 Blackbird pilot.

That time a Blackbird pilot revealed SR-71’s Top Speed

15 Fascinating Facts About The SR-71 Blackbird —

1. The SR-71 Blackbird aircraft was built by Lockheed Martin and took its first flight in 1964. It was retired by NASA in 1999. 2. It is the fastest planes that ever took flight. The official fastest record it holds is 2,193.13 mph on July 1976. The photo above was taken right after it reached that record. 3. It earned its nickname “Blackbird” because of how stealth it was. It was also extremely quiet inside the cockpit, according to pilot Richard Graham. “You could hear a pin drop. The view is spectacular, being able to see the curvature of the Earth and the black space above filled with stars,” he said. 4. The Blackbird was able to map terrain like a side-scanning sonar, aim a radar up to 45 degrees to the side, and interrupt enemy communication and radar signals. 5. It was built to fly up to Mach 3.4 speeds (approx. 2,500 mph on land). 6. Over 4,000 missiles were fired at the Blackbird in the 25 years it was flown, but none ever hit it. The Blackbird was just too fast and its evasive tactic was just to speed up until the missile couldn’t keep up with it. 7. Its navigation system called “R2-D2” had a sensor so powerful that it could detect up to 61 stars in broad daylight while the plane was still on the ground. 8. The plane required a large amount of titanium to be built so the CIA created fake companies around the world to buy metal from the USSR, which was the biggest supplier, as well as the United States’ enemy at that time. 9. The plane was covered in over 60 pounds of black paint because the black helped cool down the plane by up to 86 degrees. Traveling at over Mach 3, the plane could hit as high as 1,000 degrees without the black paint dissipating the heat. 10. The SR-71 constantly leaked fuel while not in flight due to the contraction of its titanium skin. The tank was designed to expand as it heated up due to air friction. The SR-71 had enough fuel to take off and then get refueled up in the air by a tanker. 11. Its tires were specially designed for the SR-71. Their material was made of aluminum powder which was impregnated to reject heat. This additive gave its unique appearance of silver coloration. 12. There were only 32 Blackbirds ever built. 13. Even though it leaked fuel, the fuel had such a high flash point that it would not ignite even if it was hit with fire. 14. To work on the plane as a crew member, you needed to be between the ages of 25 and 40, be married and be “emotionally stable.” 15. The camera on the Blackbird was so advanced that when it took a photo of a car on the ground that was 80,000 feet below it and the plane traveled at over 2,000 mph, the license plate would be visible in the photo.

How Deep Is Deep? We Dive Into the World’s Oceans, Lakes, and Drill Holes

Explore the full-size version of this chart by clicking here.
A Deep Dive Into the World's Oceans, Lakes, and Drill Holes

Today’s chart is best viewed full-screen. Explore the high resolution version by clicking here.

Sailors have been circumnavigating the high seas for centuries now, but what could be found beneath the sunlit surface of the ocean remained a mystery until far more recently. In fact, it wasn’t until 1875, during the Challenger expedition, that humanity got it’s first definative idea of how deep the ocean actually was.

The ocean has an average depth of approximately 3.7 kilometres (or 2.3 miles). A calculation from satellite measurements in 2010 put the average depth at 3,682 metres (12,080 feet). However, only about 10% of Earth’s seafloor has been mapped to high resolution, so this figure is only an estimate.

Ocean depth is divided into zones: littoral, bathyal, abyssal and hadal. The deepest part of the ocean, the hadal zone, is anywhere deeper than six kilometres.

Today’s graphic, another fantastic piece by xkcd, is a unique and entertaining look at everything from Lake Superior’s ice encrusted shoreline down to blackest, inhospitable trench (which today bears the name of the expedition that first discovered it).

The graphic is packed with detail, so we’ll only highlight a few points of interest.

Deep Thoughts with Lake Baikal

Deep in Siberia, abutting a mountainous stretch of the Mongolian border, is the one of the most remarkable bodies of water on Earth: Lake Baikal. There are a number of qualities that make Lake Baikal stand out.

Depth: Baikal, located in a massive continental rift, is the deepest lake in the world at 1,642m (5,387ft). That extreme depth holds a lot of fresh water. In fact, an estimated 22% of all the world’s fresh water can be found in the lake.

Age: Baikal (which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is estimated to be over 25 million years old, making it the most ancient lake on the planet.

Clarity: Interestingly, the water in the lake is exceptionally clear. In winter, visibility can extend over 30m (98ft) below the surface.

Biodiversity: The unique ecosystem of Lake Baikal provides a home for thousands of plant and animal species. In fact, upwards of 80% of those species are endemic, meaning they are unique to that region.

Who is Alvin?

Since 1964, a hard-working research submersible named Alvin has been helping us better understand the deep ocean. Alvin explored the wreckage of RMS Titanic in 1986, and helped confirm the existence of black smokers (one of the weirdest ecosystems in the world). Though most of the components of the vessel have been replaced and upgraded over the years, it’s still in use today.

Polymetallic Nodules

The ancient Greek word, ábyssos, roughly means “unfathomable, bottomless gulf”. While there is a bottom (the abyssopelagic zone comprises around 75% of the ocean floor), the enormous scale of this ecosystem is certainly unfathomable.

Objectively, the abyssal plain is not the prettiest part of the ocean. It’s nearly featureless, and lacks the panache of, say, a coral reef, but there are still some very compelling reasons we’re eager to explore it. Resource companies are chiefly interested in polymetallic nodules, which are essentially rich manganese formations scattered about on the sea bottom.

Manganese is already essential in steel production, but demand is also getting a substantial lift from the fast-growing electric vehicle market. The first company to find an economical way to harvest nodules from the ocean floor could reap a significant windfall.

Drill Baby, Drill

Demand for resources can force humans into some very inhospitable places, and in the case of Deepwater Horizon, we chased oil to a depth even surpassing the famed Marianas Trench.

Drilling that far below the surface is a complicated endeavor, and when the drill platform was put into service in 2001, it was hailed as an engineering marvel. To this day, Deepwater Horizon holds the record for the deepest offshore hole ever made.

After the rig’s infamous explosion and subsequent spill in 2010, that record may stand the test of time.

Linguistic Family Tree Shows How all Languages are Related.

Spoken Languages

There are thousands of spoken languages in the world and most can be traced back in history to show how they are related to each other.

For example:





two duo dúo dva
three tres treîs tráyas

By finding patterns like these, different languages can be grouped together as members of a language family.

There are three main language families:

  • Indo-European (Includes English)
  • Sino-Tibetan (Includes Chinese)
  • Afro-Asiatic (Includes Arabic)

Indo-European is the largest language family, followed by Sino-Tibetan, and lastly Afro-Asiatic. The Language Tree below shows languages that come from the same origin. (sorry about the quality. I’ve relabelled some popular languages) The numbers on the tree below are in millions of native speakers.

Linguists often use the tree metaphor to show the historical relationships between languages and how they relate to one another. In a language history course, these trees would most of the time look very simple and informative, but they lack imagination. Minna Sundberg, creator of the webcomic Stand Still. Stay Silent, thinks that there is no reason why linguistics should be so visually uninspiring and unimaginative. So, she remapped the languages into one beautiful and magnificent tree that is quite a sight to feast your eyes on.

This tree beautifully captures the connections between groups of languages, and it shows that all languages descend from a common ancestral proto-language. The size of the leaves on top of each branch approximates how many people speak each language, with English being one of the largest groups, alongside Spanish and Hindi.

Interesting observations

  • Sino-Tibetan branch includes Mandarin and Thai
  • Indo-European branch includes: English, Russian and Hindi
  • Austronesian branch includes: Malay, Indonesian and Tagalog
  • Japanese and Korean have their own branches
  • Tamil is on another branch called Dravidian

NB: “It has been suggested that Thai could be part of the neighbouring family called Austronesian, rather than the Sino-Tibetan family. Perhaps the similarities that Thai shares with Chinese are due to borrowing, not descent from a common ancestor.” – Peter Thomas

Just like a family tree, we can think of branches as different families, and leaves as languages. By tracing these branches back we arrive at larger branches, such as Indo-European, and by tracing the Indo-European branch back, we arrive at even larger branches. Eventually, It is believed that you will arrive at the main trunk of this tree into which all of the languages came from.

The European region splits into Slavic, Romance, and Germanic branches. Celtic languages, as well as Latin, are shown as delicate twig-like branches.

As beautiful and illustrative as the infographic seems, it still overlooks other very significant languages. One language that does not feature in this tree is Arabic and other Asian and African languages of which the number of native speakers could easily amount to a billion speakers. But then again, that tree would be too big to fit on a web page. Just imagine how humongous a tree would look if it included all the 7000+ beautiful languages that we have in the world today.


The original mother tongue may never be found. It becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between inheritance from a common ancestor and borrowing from another group. There are no written records, so we can never know if word similarities happened by sheer chance or by accident.

However, what is known about the main language groups is still fascinating, such as:

  • The amazing fact that in the 18th century it was discovered that Sanskrit (the ancient language of India), resembles and has relationships with Greek and Latin.
  • Malay, Indonesian, Javanese,  and Tagalog are all related.
  • Hokkien is a direct descendant of old Chinese, and is the oldest of the Sino-Tibetan languages alive today.


ASTEROID experts have produced a terrifying simulation Comparing the Size of Asteroids in our Solar System to New York City .

The Absolutely Frightening apocalyptic consequences of a colossal space rock colliding with Earth.

Comparison of asteroid sizes

Asteroids are rocky worlds revolving around the sun that are too small to be called planets. They are also known as planetoids or minor planets. There are millions of asteroids, ranging in size from hundreds of miles to several feet across. In total, the mass of all the asteroids is less than that of Earth’s moon.

Despite their size, asteroids can be dangerous. Many have hit Earth in the past, and more will crash into our planet in the future. That’s one reason scientists study asteroids and are eager to learn more about their numbers, orbits and physical characteristics. If an asteroid is headed our way, we want to know that.

The video begins by comparing a human to one of the minor planets before revealing their enormity as the following asteroids quickly dwarf New York City in its entirety. It comes out with asteroid 2008 TC3, which is around 4.1 meters in diameter.

Things take a dramatic turn when asteroid 99942 Apophis steps onto the scene with an average diameter of 370 meters. Then it goes all the way up to 1 Ceres (which is 939km in diameter) and takes up a large chunk of the US.

Stephen Hawking in his last book, Brief Answers to the Big Questions, wrote that asteroids are the biggest threat to Earth. If any of these hit the Earth it would be devastating.


Asteroids are leftovers from the formation of our solar system about 4.6 billion years ago. Early on, the birth of Jupiter prevented any planetary bodies from forming in the gap between Mars and Jupiter, causing the small objects that were there to collide with each other and fragment into the asteroids seen today.

Understanding of how the solar system evolved is constantly expanding. Two fairly recent theories, the Nice model and the Grand Tack, suggest that the gas giants moved around before settling into their modern orbits. This movement could have sent asteroids from the main belt raining down on the terrestrial planets, emptying and refilling the original belt.

Physical characteristics

Asteroids can reach as large as Ceres, which is 940 kilometers (about 583 miles) across. On the other end of the scale, the smallest asteroid ever studied is the 6-foot-wide (2 meters) space rock 2015 TC25, which was observed when it made a close flyby of Earth in October 2015. The chances of it hitting Earth in the foreseeable future are small, Vishnu Reddy of the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory said in a statement.

“You can think of [an asteroid] as a meteorite floating in space that hasn’t hit the atmosphere and made it to the ground — yet,” Reddy added.

Nearly all asteroids are irregularly shaped, although a few of the largest are nearly spherical, such as Ceres. They are often pitted or cratered — for instance, Vesta has a giant crater some 285 miles (460 km) in diameter. The surfaces of most asteroids are thought to be covered in dust.

As asteroids revolve around the sun in elliptical orbits, they rotate, sometimes tumbling quite erratically. More than 150 asteroids are also known to have a small companion moon, with some having two moons. Binary or double asteroids also exist, in which two asteroids of roughly equal size orbit each other, and triple asteroid systems are known as well. Many asteroids seemingly have been captured by a planet’s gravity and become moons — likely candidates include Mars’ moons, Phobos and Deimos, and most of the outer moons of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

The average temperature of the surface of a typical asteroid is minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 73 degrees Celsius). Asteroids have stayed mostly unchanged for billions of years — as such, research into them could reveal a great deal about the early solar system.

Asteroids come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some are solid bodies, while others are smaller piles of rubble bound together by gravity. One, which orbits the sun between Neptune and Uranus, comes with its own set of rings. Another has not one but six tails.


Asteroids lie within three regions of the solar system. Most asteroids lie in a vast ring between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. This main asteroid belt holds more than 200 asteroids larger than 60 miles (100 km) in diameter. Scientists estimate the asteroid belt also contains between 1.1 million and 1.9 million asteroids larger than 1 km (3,281 feet) in diameter and millions of smaller ones.

Not everything in the main belt is an asteroid — Ceres, once thought of only as an asteroid, is now also considered a dwarf planet. In the past decade, scientists have also identified a class of objects known as “main belt asteroids,” small rocky objects with tails. While some of the tails form when objects crash into an asteroid, or by disintegrating asteroids, others may be comets in disguise.

Many asteroids lie outside the main belt. Trojan asteroids orbit a larger planet in two special places, known as Lagrange points, where the gravitational pull of the sun and the planet are balanced. Jupiter Trojans are the most numerous, boasting nearly as high a population as the main asteroid belt. Neptune, Mars and Earth also have Trojan asteroids.

Near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) circle closer to Earth than the sun. Amor asteroids have close orbits that approach but no not cross Earth’s path, according to NASA. Apollo asteroids have Earth-crossing orbits but spend most of their time outside the planet’s path. Aten asteroids also cross Earth’s orbit but spend most of their time inside Earth’s orbit. Atira asteroids are near-Earth asteroids whose orbits are contained within Earth’s orbit. According to the European Space Agency, roughly 10,000 of the known asteroids are NEAs.

In addition to classifications of asteroids based on their orbits, most asteroids fall into three classes based on composition:

The C-type or carbonaceous asteroids are grayish in color and are the most common, including more than 75 percent of known asteroids. They probably consist of clay and stony silicate rocks, and inhabit the main belt’s outer regions.

The S-type or silicaceous asteroids are greenish to reddish in color, account for about 17 percent of known asteroids, and dominate the inner asteroid belt. They appear to be made of silicate materials and nickel-iron.

The M-type or metallic asteroids are reddish in color, make up most of the rest of the asteroids, and dwell in the middle region of the main belt. They seem to be made up of nickle-iron.

There are many other rare types based on composition as well — for instance, V-type asteroids typified by Vesta have a basaltic, volcanic crust.

Earth impacts

Ever since Earth formed about 4.5 billion years ago, asteroids and comets have routinely slammed into the planet. The most dangerous asteroids are extremely rare, according to NASA.

An asteroid capable of global disaster would have to be more than a quarter-mile wide. Researchers have estimated that such an impact would raise enough dust into the atmosphere to effectively create a “nuclear winter,” severely disrupting agriculture around the world. Asteroids that large strike Earth only once every 1,000 centuries on average, NASA officials say.

Smaller asteroids that are believed to strike Earth every 1,000 to 10,000 years could destroy a city or cause devastating tsunamis. According to NASA, space rocks smaller than 82 feet (25 m) will most likely burn up as they enter Earth’s atmosphere, which means that even if 2015 TC25 hit Earth, it probably wouldn’t make it to the ground.

On Feb. 15, 2013, an asteroid slammed into the atmosphere over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, creating a shock wave that injured 1,200 people. The space rock is thought to have measured about 65 feet (20 m) wide when it entered Earth’s atmosphere.

When an asteroid, or a part of it, crashes into Earth, it’s called a meteorite. Here are typical compositions:

Iron meteorites

  • Iron: 91 percent
  • Nickel: 8.5 percent
  • Cobalt: 0.6 percent

Stony meteorites

  • Oxygen: 6 percent
  • Iron: 26 percent
  • Silicon: 18 percent
  • Magnesium: 14 percent
  • Aluminum: 1.5 percent
  • Nickel: 1.4 percent
  • Calcium: 1.3 percent

Asteroid defense

Dozens of asteroids have been classified as “potentially hazardous” by the scientists who track them. Some of these, whose orbits come close enough to Earth, could potentially be perturbed in the distant future and sent on a collision course with our planet. Scientists point out that if an asteroid is found to be on a collision course with Earth 30 or 40 years down the road, there is time to react. Though the technology would have to be developed, possibilities include exploding the object or diverting it.

For every known asteroid, however, there are many that have not been spotted, and shorter reaction times could prove more threatening.

When asteroids do close flybys of Earth, one of the most effective ways to observe them is by using radar, such as the system at NASA’s Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California. In September 2017, the near-Earth asteroid 3122 Florence cruised by Earth at 4.4 million miles (7 million km), or 18 times the distance to the moon. The flyby confirmed its size (2.8 miles or 4.5 km) and rotation period (2.4 hours). Radar also revealed new information such as its shape, the presence of at least one big crater, and two moons.

In a NASA broadcast from earlier in 2017, Marina Brozovic, a physicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said radar can reveal details such as its size, its shape, and whether the asteroid is actually two objects (a binary system, where a smaller object orbits a larger object.) “Radar is a little bit like a Swiss army knife,” she said. “It reveals so much about asteroids all at once.”

In the unlikely event that the asteroid is deemed a threat, NASA has a Planetary Defense Coordination Office that has scenarios for defusing the situation. In the same broadcast, PDCO planetary defense officer Lindley Johnson said the agency has two technologies at the least that could be used: a kinetic impactor (meaning, a spacecraft that slams into the asteroid to move its orbit) or a gravity tractor (meaning, a spacecraft that remains near an asteroid for a long period of time, using its own gravity to gradually alter the asteroid’s path.) PDCO would also consult with the White House and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and likely other space agencies, to determine what to do. However, there is no known asteroid (or comet) threat to Earth and NASA carefully tracks all known objects through a network of partner telescopes.

Water delivery?

Ironically, the collisions that could mean death for humans may be the reason we are alive today. When Earth formed, it was dry and barren. Asteroid and comet collisions may have delivered the water-ice and other carbon-based molecules to the planet that allowed life to evolve. At the same time, the frequent collisions kept life from surviving until the solar system calmed down. Later collisions shaped which species evolved and which were wiped out.

According to NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies CNEOS), “It seems possible that the origin of life on the Earth’s surface could have been first prevented by an enormous flux of impacting comets and asteroids, then a much less intense rain of comets may have deposited the very materials that allowed life to form some 3.5 – 3.8 billion years ago.”

Discovery & naming

In 1801, while making a star map, Italian priest and astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi accidentally discovered the first and largest asteroid, Ceres, orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. Although Ceres is classified today as a dwarf planet, it accounts for a quarter of all the mass of all the known asteroids in or near the main asteroid belt.

Over the first half of the 19th century, several asteroids were discovered and classified as planets. William Herschel coined the phrase “asteroid” in 1802, but other scientists referred to the newfound objects as minor planets. By 1851, there were 15 new asteroids, and the naming process shifted to include numbers, with Ceres being designated as (1) Ceres. Today, Ceres shares dual designation as both an asteroid and a dwarf planet, while the rest remain asteroids.

Since the International Astronomical Union is less strict on how asteroids are named when compared to other bodies, there are asteroids named after Mr. Spock of “Star Trek” and rock musician Frank Zappa, as well as more solemn tributes, such as the seven asteroids named for the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia killed in 2003. Naming asteroids after pets is no longer allowed.

Asteroids are also given numbers — for example, 99942 Apophis.


The first spacecraft to take close-up images of asteroids was NASA’s Galileo in 1991, which also discovered the first moon to orbit an asteroid in 1994.

In 2001, after NASA’s NEAR spacecraft intensely studied the near-earth asteroid Eros for more than a year from orbit, mission controllers decided to try and land the spacecraft. Although it wasn’t designed for landing, NEAR successfully touched down, setting the record as the first to successfully land on an asteroid.

In 2006, Japan’s Hayabusa became the first spacecraft to land on and take off from an asteroid. It returned to Earth in June 2010, and the samples it recovered are currently under study.

NASA’s Dawn mission, launched in 2007, began exploring Vesta in 2011. After a year, it left the asteroid for a trip to Ceres, arriving in 2015. Dawn was the first spacecraft to visit Vesta and Ceres. As of 2017, the spacecraft still orbits the extraordinary asteroid.

In September 2016, NASA launched the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx), which will explore the asteroid Bennu before grabbing a sample to return to Earth.

“Sample return is really at the forefront of scientific exploration,” OSIRIS-REx principal investigator Dante Lauretta said at a press conference.

In January 2017, NASA selected two projects, Lucy and Psyche, via its Discovery Program. Planned to launch in October 2021, Lucy will visit an object in the asteroid belt before going on to study six Trojan asteroids. Psyche will travel to 16 Psyche, an enormous metallic asteroid that may be the core of an ancient Mars-size planet, stripped of its crust through violent collisions.

In 2012, a company called Planetary Resources, Inc. announced plans to eventually send a mission to a space rock to extract water and mine the asteroid for precious metals. Since then, NASA has begun to work on plans for its own asteroid-capture mission.

According to CNEOS, “It has been estimated that the mineral wealth resident in the belt of asteroids between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter would be equivalent to about 100 billion dollars for every person on Earth today.”