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In Seattle

I'm in Seattle this week, doing this gig. Flew out on Friday, jet-lagged on Saturday, then 36 hours of tourist stuff culminating in the regular tour of the Boeing Everett factory. If you ever need to recalibrate your sense of scale you can do worse than stand on a viewing gallery with, on your left, an assembly line pumping out Boeing 777s nose-to-tail like SUVs, and on your right, an assembly line gearing up to pump out 787 Dreamliners. (The first 787 test flight is due in the next couple of months. They hope.) To say the factory floor is huge doesn't really convey the scale of the place — to put it in perspective, tucked away in a corner behind a queue of 250-ton wide body airliners I spotted a five story office block about the size of the Marriot I'm staying in.

21 Comments

1:

Login, eh? Looks like some folks from the office are speaking as well - sadly, the conference organizers don't seem interested in the musings of lowly web developers :)

Let me know if you'd like any bar or restaurant recommendations - I work nearby.

Cheers.

2:

Yeah, the place is so huge, it generates its own weather system inside. Insane.

3:

Charlie, any word on what brewpubs you might be hitting while in town? I truly would like to stand you a pint, given the opportunity.

4:

Ryan: Thursday, 7pm onwards, Pike Place Brewery at 1415 First Avenue. Okay?

5:

Want. Even if the Dreamliner is called that because...it's still a dream. (Hey, you heard about the shortage of bolts?)

6:

I've worked in some large facilities, but there's nothing like an aircraft assembly plant to put into perspective what large really means.

7:

How does the Boeing building compare to the NASA Vehicle Assembly Building where they used to assemble the Apollo
rockets ? I saw the VAB in the late 80's and I thought that was big.

8:

The VAB is used now to assemble Shuttle stacks. It's very tall but it doesn't have the open floor space that something like an aircraft assembly facility requires. Instead there's a lot of "floors" that wrap around an open atrium to provide vertical access to the Shuttle (and the Saturn V/1B stacks previously). I expect the VAB will be repurposed for the Ares or whatever the Shuttle man-rated replacement turns out to be in the end.

9:

I gotta ask, how old is that picture of you LOGIN is using on their home page?

10:

Go to a restaraunt called the 'Tap House' in downtown seattle. They have 168 beers on tap there. Enjoy!

11:

Charlie, please remember to let your adoring fans know when you've got a Portland schedule. I could honestly use a good break from reality right now.

12:

Charlie, just wondering if you'd be willing to sign a copy of TRB down at pub on Thursday. No worries if you'd rather not :)

13:

Ryan: yes, no problem. Clifton: I'll let you know as/when.

14:

Just chiming in to support Clifton; Oregon has a flavor as different from Seattle as Glasgow and Ayre. C'mon down!

15:

Zeppelin sheds are differently spectacular. Aircraft tend to have much less height than width. Zeppelins are close to cylindrical. A 787 is up to 200 feet wide and about 60 feet tall. The Hindenburg was 130 feet in diameter.

A factory does need lifting space over what's being worked on.

The striking thing about Zeppelin sheds is that they are long and high.

16:

Charlie: Will there be a transcript of your keynote adress?

18:

Who is feeding the furry ones whilst you are away?

19:

TRB was good, I'd like to read the next one now, that was a cliffhanger.

20:

Want really scary huge industry? Wind power. It's not for hippies.

21:

During one of my rare professional involvements with airplane R&D (Boeing, Rockwell, Lockheed-Martin Skunkworks) in a a couple of decades mostly involved with spaceships, I was supervising work on the Boeing 757 and 767.

My impression of the Boeing Everett factory was TRANTOR! Which, as Isaac Asimov admitted, was extrapolated from the old Pennsylvania Station in New York City.

Oddly enough, my airplane and spacehip careers connected on "Glass Cockpit" where, among other things, we retrofitted design aspects of 757 and 767 into the Space Shuttle cockpit.

By the way, I've been arguing on the n-Category Cafe blog about Isaac Newton's claim that "time flows equably" -- i.e. if time "t" flows with respect to some more fundamental time "T" that dt/dT = 1. (not true by the way, once you extrapolate Newton's Gravtity to Einstein Gravity, and local time is the square root of the g_tt terms of the tensor with respect to Proper Time). It turns out that Isaac Newton got this notion from his teacher, Isaac Barrow. So I have a Brief History of Time based on the Triumverate of Isaacs: Barrow, Newton, Asimov.

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on May 12, 2009 12:08 AM.

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