Dear folks! Recently, Richard Garriot allowed Geezer and I access to his private collection of medieval bows! And, he has given his very kind permission for us to share the photos we took... After spending half an hour being stunned because I could HOLD a 420 year old bow, I took some close up photos of two of the bows. I realized later, I took NO photos of the 'whole' bow.. partly as my camera is a little point and shoot, does close up very well, but, not so much from farther away.. Plus, I was singularly interested in the details, as one never gets this close!
However, Silly Person DID get some whole bow shots, and they are featured on Geezers website, New World Arbalest... (www.crossbows.net) I have not yet had time to add descriptions, but, I think the great majority of you will know what you are looking at, heh! So, if you have questions, leave me a comment on the Flickr site, or, ask here..
Enjoy! I am so happy that Richard was so generous with his bows, and with his permissions to allow us to share this all with you. I am hoping to go back and moon over them some more, so, if there is something vital that I missed, do let me know... and when/if I can get back, i will take care of that.
Geezer here with a few quick comments on the Garriot collection crossbows. We took lots of pics of two of his bows... there wasn't time for more and the others were mounted on a high wall, well out of reach. Lightly took mostly very close-up detail shots, while Silly Person took larger shots that show the bows entire. The darker bow is probably German, dated 1592. It's about 28 inches long and two inches wide at the lock. The lighter-colored, ornately decorated bow carries a maker's mark on the bottom of IGH, which appears to be the signature of Johan G. Harnisch, either father or son, who were bowyers to the Saxon court in the 18th century. I have seen at least one other bow, almost identical to this one in form, with different decoration, that was made by IGH around 1750. Just to confuse the issue, it also bears the name Bernhard Bechstein on the top, and the initials JSS in fancy script on the cheekpiece. I suspect JSS was the owner, and Bechstein the bone-carver, but that's only a guess. The IGH bow is about 25 inches long and a shade under 3 inches wide at the lock... a very beefy bow indeed. I'll check back through my notes and see what other measurements I have handy for these two pieces. If you wanna see the pics, they're in the 'gallery' on my web-page: www.crossbows.net Geezer.
Geezer postscript: Okay guys, I just composed a list of measurements for Garriott's German 1592 crossbow. They've been forwarded to my webpage administrator, and should be posted there in the next day or so. We'll leave them up a while, so there's no big hurry. Check it out: www.crossbows.net Go to the gallery. Geezer
An amateur astronaut? I have never heard of such a thing. Major Tom was paid, wasn't he? Thanks, I'll look him up, and the dimension too. Thanks Geezer for you and Lightly and Silly Person for doing that work.
Yeah, Amateur Astronaut: The guy paid $30 million to hitch a ride to the orbiting space station with the Russians. That was a substantial chunk of his fortunate, but it fact, it realized the lifelong dream of an astronaut's kid, so I think it was worth it. Besides, Richard is a bright fella. He'll just make another fortune. If he'll just spend a few thousand more on crossbows for me to fondle and measure, I'll be quite satisfied! Geezer
I recall that now. It was on Mir, wasn't it? Poor Mir, gone but not forgotten. A shame he didn't take a crossbow into space and see how it performed on a space walk
Which reminds me...
NASA did a little thing that involved crossbows in some tests directed at taking mineral samples from comets.
By Mark Brown, Wired UK
What’s the best way to take a sample from a violently speeding comet? One that’s doing cartwheels through the cosmos, spewing out chunks of rock and speeding through the solar system at 150,000 miles an hour?
Landing on its surface sounds like risky business, so engineers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center are working on a harpoon gun that can spear the heart of the comet, collect a sample of subsurface dirt in its tip and reel it back into the hovering craft. To that end, the Goddard lab now houses a monstrous six-foot-long crossbow, with a bow made from a pair of truck carriage springs, and a string made from a half-inch-thick steel cable. This industrial-strength ballista can generate a level of force up to 1,000 pounds.
The engineers only point the bow towards the floor, for safety reasons. “It could potentially launch test harpoon tips about a mile if it was angled upwards,” said NASA’s Bill Steigerwald in a press release.
The engineers are also building a special arrow, with a collection chamber secreted away inside a hollow tip. “It has to remain reliably open as the tip penetrates the comet’s surface, but then it has to close tightly and detach from the tip so the sample can be pulled back into the spacecraft,” explains Donald Wegel, lead engineer on the project.
During tests, the harpoon can penetrate a 250 liter drum of dirt. These are materials you’d likely find on a comet. Things like sand, salt, pebbles or a mixture of the lot. “We’re not sure what we’ll encounter on the comet — the surface could be soft and fluffy, mostly made up of dust, or it could be ice mixed with pebbles, or even solid rock,” says Wegel.
Comets — frozen balls of ice and dust, which are cosmic leftovers from our solar system’s birth — are an interesting prospect for research. Nasa’s Stardust mission previously found amino acids in various carbon-rich meteorites and samples of the comet Wild 2. These molecules are needed to build proteins, and are a key ingredient to making life.
That research gave credence to the theory that some of the building blocks of life on Earth were seeded from space, on comets. “One of the most inspiring reasons to go through the trouble and expense of collecting a comet sample is to get a look at the ‘primordial ooze’ — biomolecules in comets that may have assisted the origin of life,” Wegel said in the release.
NASA has already got a mission to return a sample from an asteroid. it’s called Osiris-Rex (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security — Regolith Explorer), it recently won funding and will blast off in 2016. But it will only collect surface material.
The surface of a comet can be altered by the harsh environment of space. So this proposed harpoon system would plug the depths of a comet’s stomach and pull out its secret ingredients — without ever needing to land on the rock or drill down into its crust.
The engineers will continue their proof-of-concept work in the lab, and then apply for funding to develop an actual instrument.
Video: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
Image: NASA/Rob Andreoli
A real interesting thought...crossbows are contained weapons that don't need a propellant...all the power is in the limbs, but how would they function in zero gravity / vacuum.
~ "I don't have any special talents. I'm only passionately curious."
Nahh, Garriott wasn't on Mir. He went to the current station.. just a few years back. He has always loved space-exploration, so for him, it was a wise investment of a whole piss-pot of money. You couldn't get me into a tin-can that tight, but for him, it was absolutely right. And he Still has enough money to buy cool crossbows that I can fondle! Geezer
The International Space Station, yes. If I had that kind of bread, I'd not hesitate to go into space.
Ivo, cool stuff. Regarding how a crossbow performs in zero gravity, maybe Geezer could get his friend to rent one of those aircraft with the big empty cabins they used to give astronauts a bit of a taste of weightlessness. They dive it at high speed and folks float around for a few minutes. Just equip the airplane with a heavy backstop and targets, dive, and do some shooting with pre-spanned crossbows.