Thursday, 25 June 2020

History Illustrations: Alina’s Wedding


My medieval history books are illustrated with beautiful line drawings by a very talented artist, Carrie Francis. I thought it would be good to do a series to show them to you and tell the part of the story they illustrate.

William de Braose, the Lord of Gower, was given the wardship of John de Mowbray. John's father, the 1st Baron de Mowbray of Lincolnshire, died before his son reached his majority (age 21). So William was entrusted with bringing him up and teaching him to be a knight and a lord.

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Research: Collecting Asteroids


According to A Brief History of the Future in 2343 work began on collecting asteroids for water ice:
Ideas had been proposed as far back as the 20th century about using lasers to melt portions of asteroids and focusing the gas to drive them through space. Therefore experimental laser tugs were sent to the Asteroid Belt to bring water ice back to the Moon. The only modification that was made to the three-hundred-year-old design was that a funnel was used to direct the outgoing gases. This meant that the lump could be directed more accurately to its destination without causing too much mass loss.
To my surprise, when I researched this topic I found very little on the internet about collecting asteroids made of water ice. I found an article on Popular Mechanic about why it matters that there's so much water in the asteroid belt, but not actually about harvesting asteroids. It seems a lot of the water isn't in frozen form, but embedded in minerals within the rock.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Swansea Castle Illustration


My medieval history books are illustrated with beautiful line drawings by a very talented artist, Carrie Francis. I thought it would be good to do a series to show them to you and tell the part of the story they illustrate.


Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Birthing Centres and Virtual Children


Birthing Centres
The idea of an artificial womb is not a new one, but a functional one has not yet been achieved. There are more important questions than the technical ones, however, and they are about ethics. The question is not 'can we?' But 'should we?'

The question already exists over gene editing. Today it's possible to edit genes, with the hope that genetic diseases could be cured or even prevented. But it also raises the possibility of designer babies. There are many opinions about that.

Monday, 20 April 2020

Medieval Castle Ruins Digitally Reconstructed


Sometimes when you visit a ruined castle they have on display an artist’s impression of how the castle looked when it was complete. Sometimes there is even a model, like this one of Dinefwr Castle:

These days it’s amazing what they can do on a computer. I found this article showing seven digital restorations of European medieval castles. I hope you enjoy it.


Ann Marie Thomas is the author of four medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, and book two Alien Secrets, are out now. Follow her at http://eepurl.com/bbOsyz

Thursday, 9 April 2020

Research: Lunar Accelerator


The next prompt from Charles Joynson’s A Brief History of the Future for my research into the future was the lunar accelerator. Here is the passage:
Long trip times getting from Earth to Mars caused many researchers to investigate ways to increase shuttle speeds… However in 2267 the concept of the lunar accelerator was proposed. This used the same concept as the Skylifts but would be built on the Moon. 
The lunar accelerator was created by using 3D printing technology to make a magnetic levitation track across the surface of the Moon. Firstly a cementation surface was printed followed by a film of conductive metal, and finally solar panels were printed to one side of the track. 
Building a perfectly flat track meant levelling the lunar surface by removing boulders and hills, and filling craters and holes. The track followed the solar plane and only one direction of launch was allowed in case of collisions. 
The 50-kilometre track was finished in 2289 and the first shuttle launched after arrival from Earth in 2290. However shuttles could only be launched towards Mars when the Moon was in the right position and then only when Mars was close enough to Earth to make the journey as short as possible, which up until the accelerator was operational had been just once in every twenty-six months. 
In practice the accelerator’s launch window was once a month during each six months of closest approach when the accelerator was mono-directional and later twice a month after 2314 when it was converted to allow bi-directional launches.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Chester Castle and Auckland Castle


Here are two items of news I picked up in recent weeks:

Chester Castle’s Agricola tower has been undergoing restoration and, when this crisis allows the tourists out again, you will be able to go right to the top of the tower and enjoy the fabulous view. In the mean time, here is a short article with a video of the view.

Archaeologists in Durham County, northern England have discovered the remains of a monumental medieval chapel destroyed during the English Civil War. It was feared Bishop Bek’s 14th century chapel would never be located, but archaeologists discovered the religious site was hidden on the grounds of Auckland Castle all along.


Ann Marie Thomas is the author of four medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, and book two Alien Secrets, are out now. Follow her at http://eepurl.com/bbOsyz