Aviation history at Waldo Dean Waterman Park.

A small public park, recently created in Bankers Hill, is named for San Diego aviation pioneer Waldo Dean Waterman.
A small public park, recently created in Bankers Hill, is named for San Diego aviation pioneer Waldo Dean Waterman.

Last month a small public park opened in Bankers Hill at the edge of narrow Maple Canyon. The park is named after Waldo Dean Waterman, an inventor and early aviation pioneer who was the first in San Diego to fly a heavier-than-air machine. He made that flight into Maple Canyon in 1909, at the age of fifteen!

Waterman experimented with unique aeronautical designs for most of his life. He invented the first tail-less monoplane in the United States, called the Whatsit, which was the very first aircraft in history to use now standard tricycle landing gear. He then designed the Arrowbile, which was the first successful flying car!

Waldo Dean Waterman Park is a beautiful and inspiring addition to our city. For generations to come, the park will remain a living monument to a visionary man who made several important contributions to aviation history!

A resident of Bankers Hill walks his dog through the beautiful park. Local aviation history was made here in 1909.
A resident of Bankers Hill walks his dog through the beautiful park. Local aviation history was made here in 1909.
Beautiful blooms at Waldo Dean Waterman Park in Bankers Hill.
Beautiful blooms at Waldo Dean Waterman Park in Bankers Hill.
Sign summarizes the life and accomplishments of Early Bird aviation pioneer Waldo Dean Waterman, a resident of San Diego. He flew a glider at the age of 15 from this site into Maple Canyon below.
Sign summarizes the life and accomplishments of Early Bird aviation pioneer Waldo Dean Waterman, a resident of San Diego. He flew a glider at the age of 15 from this site into Maple Canyon below. (Click image to enlarge.)
Plaque dated July 1, 1959 commemorates Waldo D. Waterman for his many contributions to the science of flight.
Plaque dated July 1, 1959 commemorates Waldo D. Waterman for his many contributions to the science of flight.

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Cool robots invade Maker Faire San Diego!

Flames rise from the fingertips of Robot Resurrection at 2017 Maker Faire San Diego in Balboa Park.
Flames rise from the fingertips of Robot Resurrection at 2017 Maker Faire San Diego in Balboa Park.

Balboa Park has been invaded! Cool robots of every size and description are roving throughout the park during 2017 Maker Faire San Diego!

Maker Faire San Diego seems to grow bigger every year. During this amazing event, eye-popping inventions and marvels of technology take over the heart of Balboa Park and many of its museums.

This morning I walked around feasting my mind on all sorts of creative stuff. Students, inventors, hobbyists and local clubs were proudly showing off their unique ideas and feats of engineering. Examples of 3D printing and robotics were everywhere.

Maker Faire San Diego continues in Balboa Park through Sunday. If you can, check it out for yourself!

Here are a few of the cool robots you might see!

2017 Maker Faire San Diego features lots of very cool robots, including 28 foot tall Robot Resurrection.
2017 Maker Faire San Diego features lots of very cool robots, including 28 foot tall Robot Resurrection.
A human operator emerges from the chest of the gigantic flame-throwing robot!
A human operator emerges from the chest of the gigantic flame-throwing robot! If this thing could walk it would be a formidable battle robot!
Human and robot fingers meet.
Human and robot fingers meet.
Robot Resurrection has a couple of tiny pals. Here's one.
Robot Resurrection has a couple of tiny pals. Here’s one.
Here's the other!
Here’s the other!
The very cool Electric Giraffe has returned again to Maker Faire San Diego.
The very cool Electric Giraffe has returned to the annual Maker Faire San Diego.
The Electric Giraffe can move about while using an array of sensors in its head. When the neck is raised, this crowd-pleasing robot is 17 feet tall.
The Electric Giraffe can move about while using an array of sensors in its head. When the neck is raised, this crowd-pleasing robot is 17 feet tall!
This cute cow robot is named Milky White. It can move its eyeballs, eyelids, ears, tail and jaws!
This cute cow robot is named Milky White. It can move its eyeballs, eyelids, ears, tail and jaws!
People at San Diego's annual Maker Faire in Balboa Park check out a very creative robot designed by a friendly young man.
People at San Diego’s annual Maker Faire in Balboa Park check out a very creative robot designed by a friendly young man.
Many schools from around San Diego are demonstrating their robot and other engineering projects during Maker Faire.
Many schools from around San Diego demonstrate robots and other engineering projects during Maker Faire.
The Robotics Society of Southern California has a sophisticated humanoid robot that moves realistically.
The Robotics Society of Southern California has a sophisticated humanoid robot that moves realistically.
The Glendale Robotics Academy had their Party Rover on display in the Japanese Friendship Garden.
The Glendale Robotics Academy had their Party Rover on display in the Japanese Friendship Garden.
Kids check out another robot in the garden.
Kids check out another robot in the garden.
A performance artist becomes a fun robot. People walking down El Prado posed for photos!
A performance artist becomes a fun robot. People walking down El Prado posed for photos!
This robot named Darth Zamboni was created by the Top Hat Technicians of High Tech High North County. It launches balls!
This robot named Darth Zamboni was created by the Top Hat Technicians of High Tech High North County. It launches balls!
Small autonomous cars on a track inside the San Diego History Center. They were being controlled remotely in order to gather navigational data.
Small autonomous cars on a track inside the San Diego History Center. They were being controlled remotely in order to gather navigational data.
Autonomous car technology being developed today utilizes deep computer learning.
Autonomous car technology being developed today utilizes deep computer learning.
A student participating in the First Robotics Competition demonstrates a small vehicle that they built. Many robots can be seen up close in the San Diego History Center.
A student participating in the First Robotics Competition demonstrates a small vehicle that their team built. Many robots can be seen up close in the San Diego History Center.
This competitive robot corrals balls and then launches them.
This competitive robot corrals balls and then launches them.
Cool robots of every size and description are on display throughout Balboa Park during 2017 Maker Faire San Diego!
Cool robots of every size and description are on display throughout Balboa Park during 2017 Maker Faire San Diego!

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!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

A short story about a Theory of Everything.

Perhaps the greatest, most difficult quest of our intelligent species is for a simple Theory of Everything. Everything–the entire cosmos–explained: easily, elegantly.

I just finished writing a short story concerning this. I’ve titled it The Perfect Snowflake. You can follow the link if you’d like to read it.

My writing blog Short Stories by Richard is the home to many small works of provocative fiction.

You’re invited to enter that universe.

How to create 3D printed intertidal organisms!

Sign inside Visitor Center at Cabrillo National Monument describes the fascinating 3D Cabrillo project.
Sign inside Visitor Center at Cabrillo National Monument describes the fascinating 3D Cabrillo project.

The Visitor Center at Cabrillo National Monument has a cool exhibit of 3D printed intertidal organisms. An explanation is provided of how the tide pool animal models were created, and shows how the general public and interested educators can easily access essential resources via a dedicated website!

Student curriculum, simple instructions and the 3D Cabrillo biomodel .STL files library (and a link to raw Autodesk files) are all found here.

For 3D Cabrillo and the particular models seen in this exhibit, free imaging software and an iPad were used to capture images of intertidal organisms preserved by La Jolla’s world-renowned Scripps Institute of Oceanography. After models were edited on a computer using design software, they were sent to a 3D printer at the San Diego Central Library’s Innovation Lab.

This program was adapted from the Scan Our Seas project created by Dr. Andrew D. Thaler.

Do you know of any school students who’d like to learn more about marine biology, the environment and technology? This is definitely a very cool (and fun) project!

Many colorfully painted 3D printed models of intertidal organisms are on display inside the Visitor Center.
Many colorfully painted 3D printed models of intertidal organisms are on display inside the Visitor Center.
3D printed Starburst Sea Anemone.
3D printed Starburst Sea Anemone.
3D printed Dorid Nudibranch.
3D printed Dorid Nudibranch.
A video explains the 3D printing process, including editing the tidepool animals.
A video shows the 3D printing process, including editing the tidepool animals.
3D printed Wavy Turban Snail.
3D printed Wavy Turban Snail.
3D printed Ochre Sea Star.
3D printed Ochre Sea Star.
Students are encouraged to create nature journals. Writing is fun, too!
Students are encouraged to create nature journals. Writing is fun, too!
3D printed Scallop.
3D printed Scallop.
3D printed Garibaldi.
3D printed Garibaldi.

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!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of interesting photos for you to share and enjoy!

A plant in Balboa Park now extinct in the wild.

Balboa Park's knowledgeable Ranger Kim Duclo points out an extremely rare specimen of Deppea splendens in the Botanical Building.
Balboa Park’s knowledgeable Ranger Kim Duclo points out an extremely rare specimen of Deppea splendens in the Botanical Building.

I learned something really amazing last Sunday in Balboa Park. I had joined one of Ranger Kim Duclo’s park tours as it was in progress, and I followed the group into the Botanical Building.

Near the center of the Botanical Building, Ranger Kim stopped beside a beautiful green tree and told us it was one of the rarest plants in the entire world!

Deppea splendens was originally discovered in 1973 by botanist Dennis Breedlove. He found it growing in a single spot in Mexico’s southern mountains. Fortunately Dennis gathered some seeds. Because when he returned in 1986, the plants had all been destroyed. The area had been developed into farmland.

Ranger Kim told us that specimens of Deppea splendens now grow in relatively few places–mostly in special havens like Balboa Park. He also said that one day the plant might be reintroduced into the wild, much as the California condor was saved locally from extinction and successfully returned to its natural habitat.

May that day come!

A look at the thriving Deppea splendens inside Balboa Park's lush Botanical Building.
Photo of a thriving Deppea splendens inside Balboa Park’s lush Botanical Building.
The distinctive flowers of Deppea splendens, a plant that is now extinct in the wild. This public domain photograph is from Wikimedia Commons.
The distinctive flowers of Deppea splendens, a plant that is now extinct in the wild. I found this public domain photograph at Wikimedia Commons.
These beautiful green leaves might be reintroduced into the wild one day!
These rare, beautiful leaves might be seen once again in the wild!

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!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fascinating photos for you to share and enjoy!

Green Flash public art in Mission Beach!

Beside the Mission Beach boardwalk, across the street from the "Hamel's Castle" surf shop, one can find the Green Flash.
Beside the Mission Beach boardwalk, across the street from the “Hamel’s Castle” surf shop, one can see the Green Flash.

I love fun, super creative public art!

Thanks to the imagination of Malcolm Jones, the San Diego artist who also created Imperial Beach’s Surfhenge, people can glimpse the Green Flash right next to the boardwalk that runs along Mission Beach!

This cool artwork is inspired by that rare sunset phenomenon called the green flash. An educational plaque also provides a scientific explanation of why the color green might briefly appear. I like to learn new things, too!

People head down the fun, always busy Mission Beach boardwalk, not far from public art titled Green Flash.
People head down the always busy Mission Beach boardwalk, not far from public art titled Green Flash.
The Green Flash seems to rise just above the far horizon of the blue Pacific Ocean.
The Green Flash seems to rise just above the far horizon of the beautiful blue Pacific Ocean.
A plaque describes the unusual public artwork. Green Flash by Malcolm Jones, 2002. Solid cast acrylic and concrete.
A plaque says who created this unusual public artwork. Green Flash by Malcolm Jones, 2002. Solid cast acrylic and concrete.
A beachgoer walks under the Green Flash in Mission Beach. I see Belmont Park's Giant Dipper roller coaster in the background.
A beachgoer walks under the Green Flash in Mission Beach. I see Belmont Park’s Giant Dipper roller coaster in the background.
The sunset phenomenon called the green flash is often cited but seldom seen. A diagram shows how near-horizontal sunlight is refracted through the atmosphere.
The sunset phenomenon called the green flash is often cited but seldom seen. A diagram shows how near-horizontal sunlight is refracted through the atmosphere.
I think I've glimpsed the Green Flash!
I think I’ve finally glimpsed the elusive Green Flash!

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Natural beauty at the West Coast Shell Show!

Colorful snail shells on display at the West Coast Shell Show.
Colorful snail shells on display at the West Coast Shell Show.

On Sunday I peered into Balboa Park’s Casa del Prado and discovered a surprising exhibition open free to the public. It was the San Diego Shell Club’s amazing West Coast Shell Show!

There were so many beautiful shells covering table after table it blew my mind. Every shell, I noted, was unique and interesting, and many that I saw seemed like exquisite works of art. Nature’s abundant beauty was spread throughout the room. It seemed I had blundered into a vast treasure of spilled jewels.

When I walk along a beach, I like to search the sand for bright or colorful objects washed up by the tide. But I honestly know next to nothing about shells from molluscs on land or in the sea. So I learned a few fascinating facts during my short conversations with a friendly hobbyist and a dealer.

Among other things, I learned some shells are highly prized for their rarity and apparent perfection, and that a few can fetch many thousands of dollars. I also learned there are relatively few serious shell collectors worldwide. But those who have a passion for shells have a hobby that promises new discoveries at every turn and inexhaustible wonder.

The West Coast Shell Show was presented in Balboa Park by the San Diego Shell Club.
The West Coast Shell Show was presented in Balboa Park by the San Diego Shell Club.
Beautiful shells of all types could be enjoyed--and purchased--inside the Casa del Prado over the weekend.
Beautiful shells of all types could be enjoyed–and purchased–inside the Casa del Prado over the weekend.
A variety of different colored abalone shells were on display at the show.
A variety of different colored abalone shells were on display at the show.
A wide variety of beautiful cowry shells, a type of sea snail.
A wide variety of beautiful cowries. They almost look like polished agates to me. The cowry is a type of sea snail.
The story of shells appears to have many chapters and subplots.
The Story of Shells appears to have many chapters and pages.
The many shells seemed to me like exotic jewels, no two exactly alike.
The shells seemed like exotic jewelry or small works of art, no two exactly alike.
One display case showed a large variety of fantastic chitons. These almost look like polished wood!
One display case showed a large collection of fantastic chitons. To me these almost look like varnished wood!
Dr. Wesley M. Farmer had a table full of scientific books, plus lots of unique art he'd created concerning nudibranchs, a type of sea slug. They shed their shells after their larval stage.
Dr. Wesley M. Farmer had a table full of scientific books, plus lots of unique art he’d created concerning nudibranchs, a type of sea slug. They shed their shells after their larval stage.
All sorts of fascinating mollusc art created by Wes Farmer, including specimens made with colored oven bake clay.
All sorts of fascinating mollusc art created by Wes Farmer, including specimens made with colored oven bake clay.
The public could enjoy many amazing sights at the West Coast Shell Show!
The public could enjoy many fantastic displays at the West Coast Shell Show!

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!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to share and enjoy!