Exhibit celebrates San Diego aviation pioneer.

Did you know the world’s first ever controlled glider flight took place in Otay Mesa? This important late 19th century breakthrough, which preceded the invention of motorized airplanes, was the achievement of John J. Montgomery.

There’s an exhibit at the San Diego Air and Space Museum that explores the life of Montgomery and his important contributions to aviation history. Photographs, ephemera, rare documents and a video tell his story. I noticed the display today when I visited the museum in Balboa Park.

I immediately took interest because I have visited the impressive monument to Montgomery’s first controlled heavier-than-air flight. It stands upon a hilltop south of Chula Vista in West Otay Mesa. A couple years ago I blogged about the Montgomery Memorial and posted information and photographs here.

One thing I was surprised to learn while watching the exhibit’s video is that a movie was made in 1946 about John J. Montgomery’s history-making flight. It’s titled Gallant Journey and stars Glenn Ford!

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I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Drop hammer in Chula Vista park recalls history.

Those who visit Bay Boulevard Park in Chula Vista can’t miss it: a 12-foot tall steel contraption with the word ROHR written boldly upon it.

This relic from the past is a drop hammer. These innovative, gravity-powered metal presses were utilized by Rohr Aircraft Corporation in Chula Vista to mass produce aluminum airplane parts.

Frederick H. Rohr, who owned a sheet metal shop in San Diego in the 1920s, helped to create the fuel tanks for Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis. He later invented the drop hammer. In 1940 he founded Rohr Aircraft Corporation with the help of Reuben H. Fleet (who in 1961 would found the San Diego Air and Space Museum).

Rohr Aircraft Corporation would begin in Fred Rohr’s backyard, before operations moved into the San Diego wholesale district near the Western Metals Company, then finally in 1941 to its building in Chula Vista. Rohr’s drop hammers would be instrumental in producing the many aircraft that helped the Allies win World War II.

Today the public can see a bit of Chula Vista’s history when they regard the drop hammer in one corner of Bay Boulevard Park. Appropriately, it now stands footsteps from the location of the old Rohr factory buildings.

For the history of Rohr in Chula Vista, check out this website. For a collection of Rohr employee memories, click here. To see a loudly clanging drop hammer in action, click here!

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

The brilliant Stellarium: 100 light-years across!

Do you know the friendly gentleman who plays the didgeridoo in Balboa Park? That’s Mitchell Walker.

He loves astronomy. He’s super creative. He never stops dreaming. That’s how he managed to shrink a volume of space 100 light-years across and fit it inside a plexiglass cube!

Mitchell’s one-of-a-kind, incredible Stellarium shows all of the stars within 50 light-years of the sun, placed in their correct spatial positions. That makes 166 stars in our stellar neighborhood. (Mitchell is now playfully calling his unique cube SITH–Stars in the ‘Hood!)

The colors of his tiny illuminated stars are based on spectral classification: the Morgan-Keenan system. Press a button and you hear a recording made by Mitchell describing his Stellarium.

I first blogged about The Great Stellarium Project over three years ago. You can see a smiling Mitchell and learn more about his brilliant creation here.

Since then modifications have been made to the Stellarium, including a visible ultraviolet light.

Today I heard that more improvements are coming!

During Stars in the Park this evening, Mitchell showed me his detailed plan to have each star light up individually with a touch of a button. That way the position of a particular star can be seen in relation to others and to our sun.

Mitchell starts with a dream. Then he makes it come true.

What are your dreams?

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I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Star Trek’s tricorder inspires new medical technology!

An extraordinary panel was held this afternoon at the Comic-Con Museum in San Diego.

The Science and Science Fiction of Star Trek’s Tricorder brought together four panelists who are helping to lead our way into the future. It will be a future of almost unlimited possibility, replete with groundbreaking technologies what were barely imagined when the original television series was created.

Dr. Erik Viirre, who acted as moderator, is Professor of Neurosciences at UC San Diego; Dr. Paul E. Jacobs is Chairman and CEO of XCOM Labs, and former executive chairman of Qualcomm; Dr. Yvonne Cagle is a physician, professor, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, and former NASA astronaut; Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry, the CEO of Roddenberry Entertainment and head of the Roddenberry Foundation, is the son of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and Majel Barrett. He is also an executive producer on Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, Star Trek: Lower Decks, Star Trek: Prodigy and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.

The first thing the audience learned is that all four panelists are fans of Star Trek! (Did you know that the former head of Qualcomm, many moons ago, was founding member of Star Fleet Club La Jolla?)

The next thing we learned was that Star Trek has inspired generations of scientists, engineers, inventors and visionaries. Many technological advances we know today were first conceived by Gene Roddenberry and the experts he turned to for advice when writing the show. He wanted Star Trek to be believable and largely based on science.

We were reminded how Star Trek’s communicator became the actual flip phone, and how today’s smartphones have essentially become Star Trek’s tricorder. Think about it!

The various multi-function tricorders carried by Spock, McCoy, and other Star Trek characters could provide a user with all sorts of useful information. A tricorder could be used to ascertain location and weather, or analyze the physical environment or obtain cultural information. A tricorder could be used as a universal translator. It could even be used to assess one’s medical condition.

In many ways, your smartphone does all of those things today!

We then learned our own future contains even greater possibilities.

The panelists explained how a smartphone, or handheld mobile device, used by an ordinary person, could become a practical health tool. For example, such a medical “tricorder” could analyze the sound of irregular breathing or a cough and determine a likely medical condition or disease. And such a device, by detecting signals or other data from the user’s body, could provide a warning that a stroke or heart attack is imminent.

Projects like that are underway today!

Five years ago, The Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE was a $10 million global competition to incentivize the development of innovative technologies capable of accurately diagnosing a set of 13 medical conditions independent of a healthcare professional or facility, ability to continuously measure 5 vital signs, and have a positive consumer experience. Read more about it here.

The co-winning Canadian team, CloudDX, propelled by their Tricorder XPRIZE participation, has gone on to commercialize remote, connected patient monitoring hardware and software that anyone can easily use at home!

And that’s just the beginning.

On the International Space Station today, 250 miles above Earth, astronauts wear a Smart Shirt that senses body temperature, heart rate, blood oxygen, EKG, and even the activity of heart valves!

Can you imagine a virtual reality doctor’s visit in your future? (Oh, wait. Star Trek envisioned this already. USS Voyager’s Emergency Medical Holographic Doctor.) Advances in artificial intelligence and tele-medicine have just barely begun.

(And yes, virtual reality was envisioned many decades ago. It was the basis for many tangled plots on Star Trek: The Next Generation. The holodeck!)

Those who sat listening to this extraordinary Comic-Con Museum panel learned all of this, and more. We saw that, in the hands of thoughtful people who desire positive, healthy outcomes, our technological future can be very bright, indeed.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Impressionist masterpieces exhibited in San Diego!

Tired of living much of your life virtually for the last couple of years? Would you like an awe-inspiring, exhilarating first-hand experience of fine art?

At the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park, numerous Impressionist masterpieces now await your eyes!

Monet to Matisse: Impressionist Masterpieces from the Bemberg Foundation showcases pieces from one of the finest art collections in Europe. And it’s right here in San Diego for much of the summer.

All I know is that I visited the museum yesterday and found myself drifting into dreamlike worlds through frames hung on gallery walls. Scenes composed with mere glimpses of light, color and form somehow became real–more than real.

It isn’t often eyes are privileged to absorb artwork this historically important, and excellent.

Artists I noticed include Monet, Pissarro, Cezanne, Matisse, Gauguin, Degas and Picasso. If you’ve never had the opportunity to view original artwork by some of the world’s greatest artists, now is your chance!

Just a few different examples…

Boats on the Beach at Etretat, Claude Monet, 1883. Oil on canvas.
The Jockey, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1899. Gouache and lithograph.
Almond Trees in Flower, Paul Signac, 1902-1904. Oil on canvas.
Portrait of Angel Fernandez del Soto, Pablo Picasso, 1903. Pastel.
View of Antibes, Henri Matisse, 1925. Oil on canvas.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

A Perfect Day (and other stories) in Oceanside!

What does a Perfect Day look like in Oceanside? To find out, you should visit the Oceanside Museum of Art!

In one museum gallery, the exhibited art of James E. Watts not only includes the above Perfect Day Blocks, but numerous other visual stories!

Here’s how the story of one Perfect Day begins…

…and how that Perfect Day ends.

Here’s the story of Frankenstein and his monster creation…

…and the story of Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, and two small horses…

…and the story of a female Prometheus…

…and the story of Quasimodo, Esmeralda and a goat.

Do these stories appear familiar? Perhaps you’ve already seen them “written” in James Watts’ little-known downtown San Diego studio: here and here and here.

If that’s the case, you might also recognize a few of these storytelling pieces in the Oceanside Museum of Art’s gift shop…

Art enthusiasts, take note! James Watts is a creative genius and an absolute, 100% original. He’s also a cool guy!

You need to visit the Oceanside Museum of Art to jump into his rich stories firsthand. Do so by July 17, 2022, when JAMES E. WATTS: STORYTELLER turns its last page.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Giant ants interact with curious kids!

Three enormous ants interacted with excited children today in San Diego.

The strange human-size ants were first spotted carrying large bread crumbs about the green lawn of Liberty Station’s North Promenade.

The onlooking kids quickly understood the silent, methodical ants had a plan. They were carrying the crumbs and dropping them on the grass to form lines!

Lots of kids promptly assisted them!

Ants was the name of this very unique, super fun interactive outdoor performance, a part of La Jolla Playhouse’s 2022 Without Walls Festival at Liberty Station.

The three giant ants came from Polyglot Theatre in Australia!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Exhibit of 19th century patent models at UCSD.

Anyone interested in inventions, technology and history would love an exhibit now on display at UC San Diego. The fourth floor of the Design and Innovation Building is where you’ll find Patent Models: A Celebration of American Invention.

The exhibit features 19th century patent models from the collection of the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, Delaware.

Some of the artifacts might appear primitive and quaint to those who live in the 21st century, but they’re a reminder that unlimited human imagination and generations of visionaries, experimenters and builders have produced the complex technology that we take for granted today.

I walked around the exhibit last Saturday, peering into various glass display cases and reading signs that detail the history and progress of American invention.

I learned that by the late 1860’s, during the golden age of American invention, more than 13,000 patents were issued every year. But as applications continued to increase in number, the resulting deluge of patent models became difficult to cope with. After a change in regulations by the Commissioner of Patents in 1880, models eventually became a rare part of the patent application process.

Inventors highlighted in the exhibit include women, immigrants and people of color, and there are descriptions of struggles through the years for equal recognition and opportunity. Many of the inventors were “everyday” people inspired by a really good idea.

Patent Models: A Celebration of American Invention is open through November 6, 2022. Reservations are required. You can reserve a tour by visiting this page.

I took a few photos…

The spirit of ingenuity characterizes America…
Patent Model – Life-preserving state room for navigable vessels. Patent #20,426.
Patent Model – Improvement in electro-magnetic induction-coils. Patent #138,316.
Women invented in industries ranging from agriculture to shipping…
Patent models by 19th century women inventors.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Excalibur rises sharply in downtown San Diego!

A black sculpture rises skyward at the entrance to the Edward J. Schwartz Federal Building in downtown San Diego. Composed of triangular steel forms, the sculpture and its sharp edges pierce the space around it. The monumental public artwork is titled Excalibur.

Excalibur was created in 1976 by Beverly Stoll Pepper, whose pieces have been exhibited and collected by major museums around the world. Beverly Pepper passed away two years ago, but her unique artistic vision continues to enrich our lives.

I walked around Excalibur recently and took these photographs. It was interesting how joined triangles, observed from different angles, produce very different images. It’s like how the larger world, composed of basic elemental structures, achieves its complexity.

The sharp, jutting steel seems to have emerged from underground. And doesn’t the sculpture look almost like folded origami?

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Discovering art on random San Diego walks!

One of the best things about taking long, random walks around San Diego is the unexpected discoveries of art.

No matter which neighborhood you move through, more surprising art awaits–if you have lifted eyes.

Many Cool San Diego Sights posts contain these discoveries of art. Before aiming my camera, I like to pause and enter the small worlds that have been created, and wonder at the unique genius of each artist’s vision.

Move through the city with curious eyes and you might be rewarded by observing a particular creative effort in progress.

During a walk early this year I noticed a partially completed mural outside Yohed Coffee on University Avenue in City Heights…

During a walk several weeks later, I noticed the white halo-like space had additions of gold…

Sometimes I’ll find art that has suddenly popped into the world. Sort of like how you and I pop into this world, rather mysteriously.

Here’s a mural I saw recently on Mission Boulevard in Pacific Beach. The artwork appears to be by @saltandpaint. The restaurant it’s painted on has closed, but “Te amo Pacific Beach” lives on and is shared in many hearts…

Here’s an old photo on my computer. I believe this was taken in Pacific Beach, too, but I’m not certain…

More art in PB–tattoo art!

I stumbled upon this strangely spiritual and very beautiful mural in Lemon Grove near the corner of Broadway and Lemon Grove Avenue. It’s by Danny Darkoski.

Walking along in La Jolla I happened to notice an artist at work…

Artist Todd McNeley was placing his own amazing, unique vision on canvas…

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!