Frank’s thoughts from October 2011

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Frank and the Orbital Siphon

In sorting through Frank’s papers I came across the October 2006 edition of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society. On page 368 was a paper titled ‘THE ORBITAL SIPHON: A NEW SPACE ELEVATOR CONCEPT’ which was authored by Frank – then still known as Chris – Davis and Colin McInnes of Strathclyde University. They had presented the paper as ‘Novel payload Dynamics on Space Elevator Systems at the 56th International Astronautical Congress at Fukuoka, Japan in October 2005.

Frank, in his younger days, had read Arthur C Clarke and the potential of some the ideas stayed with him. His development of the siphon theory – moving minerals from an asteroid back to earth – seems to have moved up a gear when he was able to produce computer simulations in the nineties which were later picked up online by Colin McInnes. Together they fleshed out the concept before introducing it at the Fukuoka conference in 2005.

It took – and still takes – a particular quality of imagination to accept the thinking involved, let alone the practical implications. But Frank regularly walked untravelled roads. So he booked a JAL flight and a room at the Hakata Green Hotel and spent a week figuring out their language and their food. He didn’t say if they figured him out…

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Frank: July 2012

Friday, July 27 was a good day….

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Frank from June 2019

The Pink Floyd comment raises a smile. Some years earlier Frank had been drinking in a pub in Bristol and had been lost in conversation with a guy at the bar. As time wore on, he remembered he was going to a Pink Floyd gig that evening so he made his apologies and started to leave. The other guy stood up with him saying he was going as well and they could go together. Outside was parked a high-end motor – Ferrari, Lamborghini or something like that – and Frank found he had been talking with Dave Gilmour.

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Cigarette packets

During the clearing of Frank’s flat I came across a number of cigarette packets that he had designed and made himself. One still with its Marlboro contents. The photograph tells part of the tale.  He had been outraged by tobacco control’s graphic health warnings and wanted to produce a gentler, more reflective product. The artwork is his own.

Later, sifting through his papers for April 2012 I found eight pages relating to the design and construction of the cigarette packet. It gives some insight into his thinking.

At the end he reflects:  Marlboro packets smile at you, in a guilty sort of way.

Frank’s cigarette packet design
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Frank, April 2014

April 11, 2014 finds Frank reflecting on his Idle Theory: I’ve been angry today that the 40-year struggle to get the Idle Theory into the world is over. Who knows whether I succeeded or not?

The next day: I was arguing last night that Idle Theory is something I’ve already done, and there’s no point in re-doing it. It would be like some band re-issuing the same piece of music. Idle Theory is a way of thinking about life. Some people find it attractive.

He became more despondent as the day wore on: Everything is disintegrating. A & H don’t really want to buy me any tobacco when they go on holiday to Portugal…. I have to respond to that as both of us enjoyed tracking down tobacco for Frank when we were abroad. We eventually found what was wanted in downtown Lisbon. And he was wrong – things didn’t fall apart.

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Frank from November 2017

I’m responding to a request from RdM who asked if I could look through the diary around his November 14, 2017 flat earth versus spherical blog. I came across entries on November 11 – he wrote more than 5 pages that day – I ‘ve scanned three. Half way down the first he writes…Brigette and me arguing with Grainé whether or not the earth was flat. What a wonderful conversation!

How it develops, I don’t know but at least the subject is touched on.

Frank’s writing isn’t the easiest to come to terms with and I might try OCR to see if I can get a more polished result. But his own writing does provide colour if not light.

The day was a good one for him. His last entry – which I include – begins: It’s been a remarkable day…


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Frank from February 2020

This instalment of Frank’s diary/journal covers parts of February 24th and 25th 2020.

He starts the page with comments on Rush Limbaugh and moves on to the smoking ban, his health, the Earth’s albedo and Glaciation, mentioning barrel-vaulted cathedrals in the process.

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From Frank’s archive – 6th October 2012

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Frank Davis – a lost voice

Frank Davis – Christopher Francis Davis – died on October 8, 2021. He was 73 and is much missed by his family and friends. His blog of 10 years is being preserved here as a tribute to his writings, the ideas he explored and his commitment to his values.

In the months since his passing a fuller picture of his thinking and the pathways he travelled has come to light. There is a mass of paper, computer data and much else that will need to be reviewed and taken further – or not.

A website containing a fuller spectrum of his output is under consideration – as a record of the flow from an original mind.

For the moment, however, there will be regular monthly posts to this blog – in the form of scans taken from his notebooks and other papers. They may not have particular relevance to immediate concerns but it will mean his voice will continue to be heard.

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