207: Airships (Yep… Blimps)


Matt and Sean talk about the best and worst use cases for Lighter Than Air transport (AKA Blimps, AKA Airships), and revisit the mailbag.

Watch the Undecided with Matt Ferrell episode, Airships: The Comeback We’ve Been Waiting For? https://youtu.be/YlFVJuME_wE?list=PLnTSM-ORSgi4dFnLD9622FK77atWtQVv7

YouTube version of the podcast: https://www.youtube.com/stilltbdpodcast

Get in touch: https://undecidedmf.com/podcast-feedback

Support the show: https://pod.fan/still-to-be-determined

Follow us on X: @stilltbdfm @byseanferrell @mattferrell or @undecidedmf

Undecided with Matt Ferrell: https://www.youtube.com/undecidedmf

★ Support this podcast ★

Hey everybody, on today’s episode of Still to be Determined, we’re talking about going up, up and away in our beautiful balloon. Cue the fifth dimension. Hi everybody, as usual, I’m Sean Ferrell, I’m a writer. I write some sci fi, I write some stuff for kids. I’m just generally curious about technology and its impact on our lives.

And luckily for me and my brother is that Matt of Undecided with Matt Ferrell, which does exactly that. Today, Matt and I are going to be talking about his most recent video, which is about the use of airships and companies that are betting big on going big in the sky. But before we get into that, we’re going to visit the mail bag.

And with me, as always is my brother, Matt. Matt, how are you doing today? Doing pretty well. How about yourself? I’m doing okay. I’ve been looking forward to spring and it looks like, Hmm, we’re

so close. We’re this close

to it. Come on, you can do it. Before we get into our new conversation about airships, let’s revisit the mail bag from our previous episode, number 206.

This was our conversation about rose tinted Apple Vision Pro glasses. This is Matt’s kind of deep dive into what is it like to use this tech? There was conversation like this from Cal Random who said rewiring electrical, adding cable and phone lines, moving plumbing, using the tagging location on a wall, then being able to see it through the floor.

Anybody that works in those fields and how much time they would save would recognize the value of this new product. I think one of our things that we came out of this video with was the use cases really do seem to be more professional right now, as opposed to home based, would you agree with that?


It’s, it’s on one side, the stuff is gaming. And the other side, it’s like pure like professional work. That sweet spot in the middle, which is like the average consumer at home. That’s where it’s kind of like, is it there

yet? I don’t know if it is. In response to that previous comment, Yvain jumped in to say, I’m sure I still would manage to cut the water line when cutting into the wall.

That would be me. There was also this comment from Andrew Hoover, who wrote, I could not care less about 3D gaming, but I am very interested in augmented reality, AR uses. I consider this being used in all sorts of areas like medical, engineering, and mechanical jobs, of course. One other place I think it would be interesting would be interior design, where walkthroughs could show the changes to a room overlaid on the real room, so you could see how big or small the changes would be, how big that sofa or table would be in your room you’re in, etc.

Augmented reality is the real future for this stuff. VR has been around for a long time, and if it were really going to take over, it would have by now. I don’t know that I agree that if it was going to take over, it would have. The technology for VR, I’m sure, is going to continue to evolve and improve.

But we are I do agree with Andrew a long way off from virtual reality in the form of let’s say a holodeck like from Star Trek of being able to go into an environment where you feel completely immersed without wearing technology. Well, since

I made the video, there’s been some interesting apps that have shown up on the Apple Vision Pro and then there’s been updates to the Quest 3.

Just in the couple weeks that I, since I made that video that both have made me go, wow, there’s some cool stuff happening. One of them was a, you know, like the Minecraft aesthetic where it’s this like giant block pixel art kind of look. Somebody made an app where you can, you can basically decorate your room with pixel art and they have a catalog that’s made by users.

As well as the developer themselves of like thousands of things, a dog, uh, plants, uh, wall hangings. So you can have like, it looks like a Van Gogh painting, but it’s in pixel art. It’s like, you can basically Minecraft your room. And when you put it in your room, it’s like, Oh, I want this hanging plant. And I put it like hanging off the ceiling of my room and it stays there.

And then I took another one and put on a tabletop and it locked to the tabletop. It detected where the surface of the table was and locked to it. And then you save that play area. And that’s where all that stuff. lives. And then the next time you come into the room, you can load the app up, load that room up, and all that stuff springs back to right where you had put it the first time.

And so you can basically have virtual decorations and a thing in your room to where you are. Now, this is obviously a tchotchke. It’s a toy. But that kind of thing shows you what it could be down the road of like the whole idea of like the professional use of seeing where the piping is and the walls and the electrical wires.

It’s like all that stuff could be permanently in that virtual space that you can always access at any time. It’s really cool. And then Quest 3’s had a, uh, Quest 3 had an update that improved the hand tracking and it’s the hand tracking on that now is very impressive. It’s nowhere near as good as the Apple Vision Pro, but it’s impressive. But they’ve also demoed collaborative AR spaces.

Where, in the Apple Vision Pro, when you’re doing this stuff and I have all these decorations, I’m the only person that can see that. If you were in the room with me with the Apple Vision Pro, you couldn’t see what I’m seeing. We can’t share it. Yet. Quest 3 showed they have that coming. Where they showed people in a room, it looked like an escape room game.

Where, in the actual room, things were showing up in the walls, and like, there was a painting that looked like it was hanging on the wall, looked like chocolate was coming out of it. And they had to pick up a virtual bucket and go collect the chocolate, and then they attach it to a rope, which pulled this lever, which opened this virtual window on the wall, and it was multiple people in the room with different Quest headsets on, all seeing the same thing together.

Mm. It’s mind melting. It’s like, that’s the kind of stuff that, yes, it’s a game, and yes, on the Vision Pro, it was that tchotchke thing. But it’s like, you can see where this can go. You can see, you can see the clear threads of where this is heading and it’s really exciting stuff.

That’s ready player one territory.

Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It’s, that ties into one of the comments I saw from a commenter, Brad, who wrote that he saw a mural artist using this technology to be able to paint on a wall. Using the headset instead of a projector. So there you have a artist using the device to be able to bring the art into the real world, as opposed to just creating a virtual one.

But that kind of seamless back and forth that you’re describing, I mean, people don’t like cube farms, but if you go to work and everybody’s given a headset, and you can change the environment around you so it doesn’t look like a cube farm, you’d prefer to look like you were in a jungle. And so all the cubes around you disappear and it turns into jungle foliage with sound effects in the background.

Okay. Some wild stuff.

It’s crazy times coming, Sean. Crazy times coming.

Yeah. Jump into the comments, people, and let us know your wildest imagined use cases for stuff like this. We’d love to I see what you all have to say now to Matt’s most recent airships, the comeback we’ve been waiting for question mark, an important point of that title.

This is from February 20th, 2024. And here we are once again, I feel like you and I talk about blimps far more often than I anticipated on this channel. We’ve had conversations around blimps before we’re going to talk about blimps some more. And I feel like the. The big conversation around this is really a conversation about resources, Helium in particular.

I wanted to visit a comment from Andrew who wrote, The cost of Helium is amazing. I never realized just how much it takes to float one Goodyear blimp. So my question is, how many different competing uses for Helium are there? And is it possible that you should do a video? About that as a topic or potentially something that revisits, you talked about this before, indirectly, resources in general, like maybe a video about resources that you wouldn’t think would be in short supply, but are, is lithium or cobalt or helium or aluminum, like, Visiting these things that are around us in everyday uses.

I literally could walk up the street and there’s a drugstore near me that always has helium balloons flying out front. Little did I know that they were potentially, like, it’s a limited resource and You know, you see videos of famous people on television sucking helium, so their voices go all squeaky and like, no, don’t use it like that.

That’s too important for medical research. I like, I like some of this stuff really just kind of like, uh, surprises me. So I guess what I’m saying to you is like, have you considered doing that as a topic or is that something that would be interesting for you to revisit? It, it,

it is. My question is, I don’t know if other people are interested in it, like I’m interested in it.

Like I’ve, on my backlog of video ideas, there’s one that’s kind of come up a couple of times and I actually just kind of killed it again recently, which was, are we really facing a lithium shortage? Um, cause like you bring up the helium stuff, helium is a limited resource. We can’t make more of it. It’s going to be gone at some point.

It’s just going to, that’s just, it’s kind of inevitable. Um, so that generally is genuinely is a very limited resource, but then you’ve got people saying that we’re going to run out of lithium far sooner than you think. And it’s like, well, no, not really. There’s actually quite a lot of lithium around. We just haven’t gotten to it yet.

It’s in different locations. And a good example of that is right here in the U S Sean. There’s a, I can’t remember what the lake is. It’s a dried out lake bed. That’s basically, it could turn into like Lithium Valley. They’ve kind of called it Lithium Valley, like Silicon Valley. This could turn into Lithium Valley.

The amount of Lithium in that region of the U. S. is so vast. It would be four times the amount of Lithium that is currently processed today. Like it is a massive resource. We’ve never used it. Part of the problem is getting it is difficult. And so you have all these companies competing on how to get it effectively and they’re finding ways to do that.

And it’s inevitable. They’ll figure out how to do it. And once they do it, suddenly we have this huge lithium reserve right here in the U S same thing is true in other areas of the world. So it’s like there’s short supplies. Because they are genuinely running out and then there’s short supplies because we just haven’t ramped up production or we just haven’t found the proper ways to get to it yet.

There’s many different ways you could kind of peel that onion or skin that cat or pick whatever your metaphor is. But um, yes, it’s been something that’s been on my radar a bunch. I just haven’t figured out a good angle to really talk about it on the channel. Um, if anybody has ideas. Please drop ’em in the comments.

Shoot me an email, let me know. Um, I’m also on Twitter. I mean X . Keep calling it Twitter, I’m on socials. Just hit me up all over the place, wherever I am. Just hit me up if you have ideas of how you might, how I might cover this because it is a topic I’m very interested in.

Yeah. Back now to the comments. I wanted to share a couple of little thoughts that made me laugh.

Like this one from Saccharin who wrote quoting Matt. Are Zeppelins the first step in the stairway to heaven? Okay, before the rest of the video plays, I gotta start by saying that was a great opening. So, somebody enjoyed your not too subtle Led Zeppelin reference. Then there was this from The Hag Seed.

I tip my hat to my researcher and writer who helped me on this video.

He’s the one who came up with that joke and I was just like, you, you win, sir. His name’s John. Thank you, John.

Well, John, I hope you’re listening because you might enjoy this one from The Hag Seed who wrote, I remember when blimps were popular for a little while when I was a kid, it was a good year.

Oh man.

Yeah. That’s. Yeah. That, that, that’s a slow clap. Right.

Yeah. Yeah, well, that’s like the hag seed jumping on you, knocking you down, sitting on your chest and forcing you to listen to it. It’s that good. Well done, hag seed. There was this comment from DownUnderGraham, who I am assuming is a man named Graham who lives in Australia.

If I’m wrong about that, my apologies. He writes I’m about to undertake a 22 hour total flight back home to Australia from Canada. If I had the option to take, say, a 3 to 5 day airship voyage that let me walk around, have a cabin with a bed, eat in a restaurant at a table, and generally have more comfort at a slower speed, but faster than a ship, I’d seriously consider it if it was somewhere in the price range of, say, premium economy business class cruise ship range.

Yeah. So that, I mean, really does sound like the retro future we were promised in the 1920s. The idea of a Zeppelin being like a cruise ship, people walking to the Lido deck and looking out the windows down at the Atlantic as they fly from Europe to the United States. Absolutely sounds like romantic and fantastic, but what was the price point of the first tourist ships?

It was, it’s like 200, 000 or something insane. It’s absolutely bonkers. Yeah. Put it in perspective though, when you’re looking at like how SpaceX and these other companies are shooting. Rockets into space and they’re starting to take civilians into space and they’ll do it for a fee. You’re talking about having to spend millions of dollars to do that.

Fast forward 100 years from now, people like you and I are going to be able to go to space and we’ll be able to afford it. So it’s like, It’s expensive, but if they can actually start to kind of make it work, those prices will come down. How long it would take to get to the point where it’s like a premium economy business class?

Given the current prices, it’s gonna be a while.

That takes us back to the cost of the helium that goes into these, which is Like, competing with other uses and as you’ve already described, potentially a limited resource that will impact all of this. What are the alternatives that they’re looking toward outside of helium?

Is there a realistic non explosive version of this? Or is hydrogen really the only other option? It really

is hydrogen or helium. It’s those two things. So, either a gas that we’re running out of. And it’s very expensive or one that could explode and kill everybody on board. So it’s one or the other. Um, but I will bring up again.

I brought it up in the video. We are much smarter today about how to handle these dangerous gases. Um. Where things like the Hindenburg, there was a lot of stupid things that happened that caused that to happen. Um, today we would probably be way more careful about it than, uh, to make sure that wouldn’t happen again.

But it is a huge concern. So it’s like, it’s one of those, our best option probably is a very explosive gas. Because we wouldn’t run out of it. There’s plenty of it to go around. It would be cheaper than helium, but uh, it goes boom, boom. What would be,

like, can you quickly think of like one thing about the Hindenburg that you’re like, yeah, if they hadn’t done that, it would have been a safer ship.

Oh God,

that would have to be a video on its own, Sean.

All right. Well, I look forward to it.

In fact, in fact, there is a documentary, I saw it, I can’t remember what the name of the documentary was. There was a documentary that went through all of that. There’s also a fictional movie about

it, too. I love the fictional movie.

If any of our listeners or viewers are interested in the fictional movie, it stars George C. Scott. It is from the 1970s and it is about a Spy espionage scenario aboard the Hindenburg on its way to New Jersey. So it is, and it is a gripping film. It is a, it’s a classic. Um, to use the parlance of our mother, who referred to a lot of very bad B movies as classics.

Yeah, here I go doing it myself. On that note, just wanted to jump into this comment from Steven Fairless who wrote, I have a letter by one of my mom’s first cousins, Lane, who was under the Hindenburg when it went down. Whoa. It exploded and they were trained to run upwind. The guy in front of him fell. And began running on all fours.

Lane was astounded that he couldn’t pass the guy running on his hands and feet.

I don’t mean to laugh, but it’s hard not to. That guy must have been booking on all fours, and I do not blame him. I would have been doing the same thing. I would have found the strength and speed that he would have never seen. Wow.

I can’t help but think of like the guy running full speed and seeing the guy ahead of him fall down and running on all fours and then next to him is a guy in a hamster wheel and next to him is a guy running on his hands and like a unicycle juggling like everybody just like hauling ass at the exact same rate.

I can understand why. When a structure as large as a skyscraper is on fire, is on fire and falling down on top of you, I guarantee you, even on all fours, even just lying prone, you’d be astounded at how quickly I would move.

You know, you and I are brothers. I would be

doing the worm faster than anybody’s ever done it.

You and I both thought of unicycle at the exact same moment.

We are brothers. Oh, geez. All right, everybody. On that note, jump into the comments. What did you think about this discussion? What did you think about Matt’s original video? We’d love to hear from you all. We do revisit the comments from time to time on older videos, so We’ll jump in in a future episode and share your thoughts there.

Don’t forget if you’d like to support the show, please consider reviewing us on YouTube, Apple, Spotify, wherever it was you found this, go back there, leave a review. Don’t forget to subscribe and ignore Matthew laughing in the background. Also tell your friends, that’s a great way to spread word. And if you want to support us directly, you can click the join button on YouTube or go to StillTDB.

Fm and click the become a supporter button there. Both of those allow you to support us directly by throwing coins at our heads. We appreciate the welts and then we get down to the business of making the podcast. Thank you so much everybody for taking the time to listen or watch and we’ll talk to you next time.

← Older
Newer →

Leave a Reply