Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #61

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #61

Chapter Four

THE TREE OF LIFE

Family Trees-001

A family is like a tree. The roots anchor the tree, capturing water and mineral from the ground. The trunk gives this fibrous structure its height and is a conduit for up and down movement of nutrient. The branches project in all directions, sprouting leaves for the gathering of sunlight.

Without any one of these components, the tree will perish. Each succeeding generation of a family must be fruitful and multiply. The Endlichoffer tree, for example has branches in both America and Germany. The European limbs are many, old and established. The American bough, however, is barren, with leaves wilting from lack of buds, all caused by circumstances physical. There may be a day when the surname Endlichoffer will exist only on a death certificate, leaving gravestones as a legacy.

The Ferrell family tree is quite the opposite, with both Scottish and American members sprouting like proverbial weeds. When God created man in his own image, blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply’, the Ferrells have taken him at his word, replenishing the earth abundantly.

In fact, they even have leaf bearing branches that they would rather not advertise, sprouts of this and that that are not consistent with the overall lineage theme, as it was started in the British Isles.

A new branch on the Ferrell family tree, as unofficial as it may be, comes about with the birth of Maggie Lou, daughter of Laura Bell, seed provided by John Ferrell.

It is the Ides of March 1897, William Shakespeare’s ominous day for Julius Caesar and a bittersweet 15th day on the shores of San Luis Lake. The Endlichoffer’s butler, who has attended the doctor and his wife for decades and is retiring as soon as Laura regains her feet, had buggied to Hillside Estate to alert John Ferrell of some calamity across the lake.

An early evening ruse intended to mask the truth.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Tree of Life-001

Episode #61


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #48

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #48

… At Hillside Estate, Martha has a payroll of three, for duties in her house, grounds thereabout and a flower garden that puts other botanical creations to shame…

The elimination of slavery has proven to be a difficult task, one that mere laws of emancipation could not do and whose foothold is so strong that only the flood of generations will launder it from the stained fabric of the few.

The holder of the final and most rewarding segment of Escape from Fort Sumter South is prepared to do her part.

Martha Ferrell does little laundry these days. In pre-Civil War days, house slaves would clean the clothes of their masters, toiling in an unappreciated reward less cycle of work, work and more of the same. There are no labor laws protecting the length of work days or the minimum age of the person doing the work.

At Hillside Estate, Martha has a payroll of three, for duties in her house, grounds thereabout and a flower garden that puts other botanical creations to shame. John Ferrell needs four men to tend the stable, barns and fields. Their spread of 500 acres is one/tenth the size of Fort Sumter South, requiring less staff, but producing barely enough revenue to make Hillside a viable estate. However, unlike Sumter’s two hundred, the seven Negroes under the Ferrell watch are paid; a monthly sum that allows for autonomy, to live in houses of their own doing, in the enclave of the free.

A horse of a different color is an entire newly freed family like there will be soon. And though the Campbell sojourn is to be temporary, no act of kindness can ever be more sincere. The former slaves will be properly clothed and rested in preparation for a future in the considerable empire that is Herbert Love. On San Luis Lake they holiday, in Quincy they will thrive.


Alpha Omega M.D.

San Luis Lake-001

Episode #48


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #38

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #38

Chapter Three

CHANGES

…Jacob Haley must take a dismaying trip into his ancestor’s past; regressing from educated free man to undercover freedman…

Undercover-001

  In subtropical climes, there are seasons of change, though these exchanges fade in and out, making it hard to distinguish one from the other. The autumnal equinox supplants the warm slothfulness of summer; the latter reluctant in coming, the former resistant in leaving.  DawnToDusk

The harvesting of crops decides the issue of transition. It is a call to action, plant maturation and ripening that warns the grower, ‘Use me or lose me’. Land activity increases three-fold, with so many different related things going on. Only the infirm of body are spared from the dawn to dusk work load.

At Fort Sumter South, infirmity is no excuse, much as it was for the Hebrews building the monuments to the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Some die as reward for their efforts, then and now.

The rigor of reaping takes its toll on the overseer as well. In time and energy spent, supervisors sleep as deep as the workers. That is exactly what Jacob Haley and his unlikely group of liberators are counting on.

Rescue-001Anti-slavery-001The Gadsden County Anti-slavery Society has used the forty-some days since Willy Campbell decided to take the leap of faith, to consent to be liberated, to its best advantage. Freedom is scary for a cigar maker who has no idea of what to expect from his liberty. The freedom fighters fear anything but success.

seasons

seasons of change

All the pieces are in place, all except Jacob Haley, who must take a dismaying trip into his ancestor’s past; regressing from educated free man to undercover freedman, without the support of Congressional amendment. His clothing, duties and speech will not, in any way match the life he has lived up to now, save the blended color of his skin. He is about to penetrate a world (undercover) that would paralyze most people of any race, creed, or disfranchised lot.

Courage is a term that comes to mind, the very same that caused him to stay in the South, rather than migrate northward. Segregation exists in both worlds, but he will effect greater change here at its cruel source.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #38


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Cold-War Warning Signs – Doomed to Repeat?

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Reasons for

the Start

of the Cold War

On the April 30, 1945 Adolf Hitler committed suicide in the ruins of Berlin. Six days later Germany surrendered, bringing about the final defeat of the Reich he had claimed would last for a thousand years.

The world had been changed forever. Germany had been utterly defeated; France had lost her great power status, and Britain, almost bankrupted by World War Two, barely clung to hers. The United States of America and the Soviet Union had emerged as the world’s dominant powers.

These two new superpowers were still nominally allies, having struggled together to overcome the terrible might of Nazi Germany. However, even as early as 1945, the seeds of future conflict had been sown.

In this list we’ll look at 10 reasons why the Cold War began in 1945.

10. The Death of Franklin Roosevelt

On April 12, 1945 President Franklin D. Roosevelt complained of a headache; just moments later he collapsed unconscious. He died later that same day.

When the news reached the heart of the imploding Third Reich, Hitler celebrated amidst the ruins of Berlin. The German dictator was desperate enough to clutch at any straws that presented themselves, and he convinced himself that the death of America’s president would mark a turning point in the war in Europe.

Despite Hitler’s initial optimism Roosevelt was replaced by Harry S. Truman, and World War Two continued its inevitable course towards Germany’s total defeat. However, Roosevelt’s death did significantly alter the dynamics of the post-war world.

Roosevelt is remembered as one of America’s great presidents, but he had something of a blind spot when it came to Joseph Stalin. He hadn’t recognized quite how wily and ruthless Stalin could be, and wrongly believed himself to be quite capable of charming the Soviet Union’s brutal dictator.

Harry Truman, Roosevelt’s successor, was altogether more suspicious of the Soviet Union in general and Stalin in particular. While Stalin initially believed Truman to be a nonentity who could be easily manipulated, this proved not to be the case.

9. Operation Unthinkable

Joseph Stalin spent much of World War Two haunted by the fear that Britain and America might betray him, make a separate peace with the Nazis, and leave the Soviet Union to fight on alone. In his worst nightmares his allies went even further and teamed up with Nazi Germany to destroy him.

While Stalin is remembered as one of history’s most murderously paranoid individuals, his concerns were not entirely without foundation. Winston Churchill in particular nursed a deep hatred of the Soviet Union that stretched right back to its creation.

In 1945, just days after the end of the war in Europe, Churchill asked his military planners to investigate the possibility of launching an almost immediate assault on Stalin’s Red Army. Churchill christened it Operation Unthinkable, for obvious reasons.

Quite how serious Churchill was about this extraordinary venture isn’t known for sure. In any event Operation Unthinkable was dead in the water with the report concluding there was no chance of success. The British couldn’t compete with the might of the Red Army. Even if the Americans could be persuaded to team up with the British, and they very much insisted they wouldn’t, the Soviets had more tanks and more men. The likely outcome was a long and bloody struggle.

Operation Unthinkable was shelved. However, Stalin soon learned all about it through his extensive network of spies. The news that at least one of his former allies was making plans to attack fueled his paranoia and contributed to the beginning of the Cold War.

8. Disagreements over the Fate of the Nazis

In November 1943 Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin met face-to-face for the first time. There was still a huge amount of fighting and bloodshed to come; but the end of World War Two was finally in sight, and an Allied victory was all but inevitable.

The Tehran Conference was an opportunity for the “Big Three” leaders of the main Allied powers to discuss not just the war itself, but also how to handle the peace. One of the major questions to be addressed was what to do with any captured Nazis.

Stalin offered a solution that some 100,000 German Army officers should simply be shot.

While Roosevelt assumed Stalin was joking, Churchill took him more seriously and stormed out of the room in a fury. The British Prime Minister had himself suggested that senior Nazis should be hanged without recourse to legal aid, but as a former British Army officer he could not sanction the idea of slaughtering soldiers.

The three men eventually agreed that their enemies’ guilt should be established at trial, but they had very different ideas of what this should entail.

When Stalin held a trial he very much intended for the outcome, and even the script, to be determined well in advance. The British and Americans were determined that the trials be seen to be free and fair. As a result several Nazis walked free or escaped with their lives, including Albert Speer, who was Nazi Armament Minister and one of Hitler’s closest confidants. This was certainly not the outcome Stalin had been hoping for.

7. The Defeat of Japan

Japan had been at war with the United States of America and Great Britain since 1941, and with China since 1937. However, the Japanese Empire and the Soviet Union, despite sharing a land border, had not declared war on each other.

This had been a convenient arrangement for both powers. The Soviet Union had been locked in a life-or-death struggle with Nazi Germany in the west, and the Japanese more than had their hands full at land and sea in the east.

With the defeat of Nazi Germany Stalin turned his gaze east. Stalin had promised he would join the war against Japan once the war in Europe was over, and he was more than happy to grab some territory from the crumbling Japanese Empire.

On August 9, 1945 the Americans dropped a nuclear bomb on the city of Nagasaki. Earlier that day the Soviet Red Army had launched a huge surprise offensive against the Japanese in Manchuria. Some historians believe it was the Soviet assault, rather than the immense destructive power of America’s new atomic bombs, that persuaded the Japanese to announce their surrender just six days later.

While the Red Army’s war against the Japanese was brief, Stalin insisted that it warranted the Soviet Union a zone of occupation in the Japanese Home Islands. On August 16, 1945 Stalin wrote to Truman asking to be given part of the island of Hokkaido, adding that he hoped his modest wishes would not meet with any objection.

Roosevelt might, perhaps, have been amenable to the suggestion. Truman was far more suspicious of the Soviets and refused the request.

6. The Division of Korea

The Japanese announcement of their intention to surrender did not bring an immediate cease to hostilities. Stalin drove his armies on, determined to seize territory in the east while the going was good.

By August 1945 the Red Army was a devastatingly effective fighting machine, hardened by the titanic struggle against the forces of Nazi Germany. The forces of Imperial Japan, meanwhile, were much diminished. The best of the Japanese ground forces, and almost every serviceable aircraft, had been withdrawn from mainland Asia to the defense of the Japanese Home Islands.

The Red Army smashed aside the Japanese defenses making huge gains in Manchuria and pressing into Korea, which had been occupied by Japan since 1910.

There was no realistic possibility of the Americans mounting an invasion of Korea before the entire Korean Peninsula fell into Soviet hands. However, Stalin, prepared to trade influence in the Far East to strengthen his negotiating hand in Europe, agreed to divide Korea in two.

The Soviet Union would command the northern part of the country, which contained most of the heavy industry and mineral wealth, while the Americans took control of the largely agricultural south.

Both superpowers would install brutal puppet governments to serve their own interests. Korea was not split apart on any cultural, religious, ethnic, or historical basis, and the decision to divide the nation in two was destined to lead to future conflict. This came to pass when North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, leading to the hottest conflict of the entire Cold War.

5. Clash of Ideologies

Adolf Hitler spent a good chunk of World War Two waiting for the alliance between the capitalist Western powers and the communist Soviet Union to fall apart. The long-awaited collapse in relations never materialized during his lifetime, but Hitler had not been entirely unreasonable in expecting it.

The alliance between the big three powers was one of the most unlikely in history. It was only made possible by the uniquely aggressive form of fascism that emerged in Germany, and it could not long survive the collapse of the Third Reich.

Communist ideology dictated that the collapse of capitalism was both desirable and inevitable. While communism is now a largely discredited theory, for much of the 20th century it posed a mortal threat to powerful individuals who reaped the main rewards of capitalism.

Stalin might have been paranoid, but it wasn’t without good reason. Shortly after the communist revolution Churchill had advocated “Strangling Bolshevism in its cradle.” The western powers had attempted to do just this, leading to a brutal civil war in Russia that lasted from 1917 to 1923.

Neither side can be absolved of blame for the Cold War. While it was perhaps not immediately apparent following the defeat of Germany in 1945, the incompatible nature of the two competing ideologies of communism and capitalism made future conflict inevitable.

4. Berlin Divided

On May 2, 1945 the German defenders of Berlin surrendered to the Red Army. The battle had cost the lives of around 80,000 Soviet and 100,000 German soldiers.

Dwight Eisenhower, commander of the Allied forces in the west, is sometimes criticized for failing to drive his armies on and beat the Soviets to Germany’s capital city. It was a race that he might just have won, but it would have made no difference to the post-war map of Europe.

The division of Germany had already been decided through politics. Berlin itself lay well within what would be Soviet territory. However, the city would be divided up into four, with the Soviet Union, the United States of America, Great Britain, and France all given a zone of control.

This tiny enclave of Western democracy deep within Soviet controlled Eastern Germany soon came to infuriate Stalin. In 1948 he attempted to heal the open sore as he ordered the city to be blockaded, denying the Western Allies any links to the city by road, rail, or water. The Allies responded by flying in the supplies they needed. Stalin balked at giving the order to shoot down American aircraft, knowing that to do so would very likely result in war.

3. The End of American Isolationism

The United States of America had been traumatized by her involvement in World War One, where more than 100,000 Americans lost their lives. Determined to avoid being dragged into any more foreign wars America pursued a policy of isolationism. The nation maintained only a small army and avoided intervening in the affairs of other countries.

It didn’t work. America was dragged into another World War, this one even more terrible than the first. By 1945 isolationism was well and truly dead. The US had emerged as a global superpower with a vast military arsenal at its disposal.

Rather than retreating from the world, America would attempt to shape and control it. This was done even at the expense of democratic ideals, with the United States of America installing and supporting numerous dictatorships.

This more aggressive approach to international relations would inevitably lead to conflict with the Soviet Union, which was itself emboldened by its newfound superpower status and determined to export communism around the world.

2. The Fate of Eastern Europe

The British went to war with Nazi Germany in 1939 with the express goal of defending the right of Polish self-determination in the wake of Germany’s invasion. This was complicated by the failure of the British to declare war on the Soviet Union when the Red Army invaded eastern Poland having done a deal with Hitler.

The United States of America claimed to be fighting a war for freedom. This position too was complicated by the necessity of fighting alongside Stalin’s Soviet Union, a totalitarian dictatorship with few if any redeeming features.

When the war in the west drew to a close in May 1945, the Soviet Red Army had already occupied Poland and much of Eastern Europe. Short of attempting something quite as extraordinarily reckless as Operation Unthinkable, there was very little the Western Allies could do about this.

The British and Americans demanded that Stalin must hold free and fair elections in the territories he had occupied. Stalin readily agreed but went ahead and fixed the results of the elections regardless.

The Soviet domination of so much of Europe, a continent which had dominated world power far more than it does today, was a source of considerable discomfort and fear for America and the Western powers.

1. Nuclear Weapons

The atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945 exploded with as much force as 15,000 tons of TNT. As many as sixty thousand people were killed instantly, many of them simply vaporized, as temperatures briefly exceeded those on the surface of the sun.

Both Roosevelt and Churchill hoped that America’s new atomic capabilities would intimidate Stalin. However, when the Soviet dictator was informed of the weapon’s immense destructive power at the Yalta Conference in February 1945, he had shown barely any interest at all. It’s now known that the news had not come as a surprise. Stalin’s spies had kept him well informed of America’s top-secret new weapon, and his scientists were already racing to deliver Stalin a bomb of his own. This mission was accomplished by 1949, far sooner than the Americans believed possible.

The dawn of the atomic age in 1945 vastly raised the stakes for both the Soviet Union and the United States of America. It was now possible for a single bomber, carrying a single bomb, to incinerate an entire city. The two superpowers would later develop intercontinental ballistic missiles and a stockpile of nuclear warheads capable of wiping out most life on the planet. Both sides were aware that if the Cold War turned hot, it might mean the end of civilization. This went a long way towards focusing minds on finding diplomatic solutions to disagreements that might otherwise have led to war.

As terrible as nuclear weapons are, and despite the threat they continue to pose to the future of humanity, they probably prevented all-out war between the United States of America and the Soviet Union.


Cold-War Warning Signs –

Doomed to Repeat?

April Fools’ Day Facts

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April Fools’ Day

Color Me

(Sometimes called April Fool’s Day or All Fools’ Day) is celebrated every year on the first day of April as a day when people play practical jokes and hoaxes on each other. The jokes and their victims are known as “April fools”. Hoax stories may be reported by the press and other media on this day and explained on subsequent days. Popular since the 19th century, the day is not a national holiday in any country, but it is well known in India, Canada, Europe, Australia, Brazil and the United States.

The earliest recorded association between 1 April and foolishness can be found in Geoffrey Chaucer‘s The Canterbury Tales (1392). Some writers suggest that the restoration of 1 January as New Year’s Day in the 16th century was responsible for the creation of the holiday, but this theory does not explain earlier references.

Origins

The custom of setting aside a day for the playing of harmless pranks upon one’s neighbor is recognized everywhere. Some precursors of April Fools’ Day include the Roman festival of Hilaria, the Holi festival of India, and the Medieval Feast of Fools.

In Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1392), the “Nun’s Priest’s Tale” is set Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two. Modern scholars believe that there is a copying error in the extant manuscripts and that Chaucer actually wrote,Syn March was gon. Thus the passage originally meant 32 days after March, i.e. 2 May, the anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia, which took place in 1381. Readers apparently misunderstood this line to mean “32 March”, i.e. 1 April. In Chaucer’s tale, the vain cock Chauntecleer is tricked by a fox.

In 1508, French poet Eloy d’Amerval referred to a poisson d’avril (April fool, literally “April fish”), a possible reference to the holiday. In 1539, Flemish poet Eduard de Dene wrote of a nobleman who sent his servants on foolish errands on 1 April. In 1686, John Aubrey referred to the holiday as “Fooles holy day“, the first British reference. On 1 April 1698, several people were tricked into going to the Tower of London to “see the Lions washed”.

In the Middle Ages, New Year’s Day was celebrated on 25 March in most European towns. In some areas of France, New Year’s was a week-long holiday ending on 1 April. Some writers suggest that April Fools’ originated because those who celebrated on 1 January made fun of those who celebrated on other dates. The use of 1 January as New Year’s Day was common in France by the mid-16th century, and this date was adopted officially in 1564 by the Edict of Roussillon.

Reception

The practice of April Fool pranks and hoaxes is controversial. The mixed opinions of critics are epitomized in the reception to the 1957 BBC “Spaghetti-tree hoax“, in reference to which, newspapers were split over whether it was “a great joke or a terrible hoax on the public”.

The positive view is that April Fools’ can be good for one’s health because it encourages “jokes, hoaxes…pranks, [and] belly laughs”, and brings all the benefits of laughter including stress relief and reducing strain on the heart. There are many “best of” April Fools’ Day lists that are compiled in order to showcase the best examples of how the holiday is celebrated. Various April Fools’ campaigns have been praised for their innovation, creativity, writing, and general effort – especially those from the major corporations such as Google and Apple.

The negative view describes April Fools’ hoaxes as “creepy and manipulative”, “rude” and “a little bit nasty”, as well as based on schadenfreude and deceit. When genuine news is published on April Fools’ Day, it is occasionally misinterpreted as a joke—for example, when Google, known to play elaborate April Fools’ Day hoaxes, announced the launch of Gmail with 1-gigabyte inboxes in 2004, an era when competing webmail services offered 4 MB or less, many dismissed it as a joke outright. On the other hand, sometimes stories intended as jokes are taken seriously. Either way, there can be adverse effects, such as confusion,misinformation, waste of resources (especially when the hoax concerns people in danger), and even legal or commercial consequences.


April Fools’ Day Facts

Holidays-001

WIF Holidays

Engineering HOF – WIF Into History

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History’s Greatest

Engineering Achievements

The history of civilization is replete with examples of humanity improving the world in which it lives. Through ingenuity, imagination, and hard work, humanity has spanned rivers, built roads, erected cities, and created the infrastructure to connect them. Some projects took centuries to complete; others were finished with alacrity, driven by immediate needs. Many were treated with derision by contemporaries who considered the vision of their proponents’ to be delusional. Some — the Panama Canal being one example of many — were completed only after a spectacular and expensive failure during earlier attempts. Still others were spurred by the competition between nations and empires

Spectacular feats of engineering preceded the term engineer. The master builders and visionaries evolved over the centuries from mathematicians (spontaneously, it would seem) across the globe. The Great Wall in China, the pyramids of the Maya and Aztec cultures, the cities of the ancient world all were accomplished by engineering, though the builders and designers were unaware that they were engineers. Over the centuries, engineering accomplishments were directed at the worship of gods and heroes, the improvement of societal life, and to simply celebrate the spirit of humanity. Here are 10 of the greatest engineering achievements in history.

10. The Roman Water Distribution System

Three centuries before the beginning of the Common Era the Roman Republic, later the Empire, distributed water throughout its dominions using a system of canals, pipes, reservoirs, standing tanks, and aqueducts. Entirely through the use of gravity the Romans distributed fresh water to cities and towns, as well as to mines and farms. Some of the aqueducts still stand, architectural marvels built by laborers under the supervision of surveyors and master builders. By the end of the third century the city of Rome was serviced by eleven separate water conduits distributing water throughout the city, and in the case of the wealthier citizens directly into their homes. Poorer residents resorted to public wells and baths.

The empire was serviced with water systems as well, operated by both local governments and the state. Natural springs were the preferred sources of water. Easements were established by law on either side of the conduit’s pathway. The waterways were liberally supplied with inspection points – which would today be called manholes – and the water was routinely inspected for purity. Lead pipes were used in some sections, though the use of ceramic piping was preferred, and sections of the aqueducts which were of concrete were lined with brick, to prevent erosion and to help filter the water. The system was so well designed and built that there are sections still in use for the distribution of fresh water nearly 20 centuries after they were built.

9. The Cathedral of Hagia Sophia

Built as a Christian church and later converted to an Islamic mosque, the Cathedral of Hagia Sophia is today a museum, and an iconic image of Turkey. Originally constructed in the sixth century it has survived rioting, looting by conquerors, earthquakes, fires, and the ravages of time. Built chiefly of masonry, it is easily recognized by its corner minarets and its massive dome. Built and rebuilt many times over the years, it remains a symbol of Byzantine architecture, and for over 1,000 years Hagia Sophia was the largest cathedral in the world. Its design was revolutionary in its day.

The huge dome is set upon a square base, supported by four triangle shaped pendentives in the square’s corners. The pendentives carry the weight of the dome and direct it downwards, rather than outwards as the shape of the dome would otherwise dictate. Though the dome collapsed on more than one occasion, and was modified during rebuilding to include ribs which help distribute its weight to the supporting walls, each rebuilding strengthened it and improved the overall structure of the building. Hagia Sophia is a museum of both the Christian and Islamic faiths, as well as the Byzantine Empire and the Crusades. It remains one of the largest masonry buildings in the world in the 21st century.

8. The Leshan Buddha

Carved from a single stone and completed in the early ninth century, the Great Buddha of Leshan stands over 230 feet tall, with a breadth across the shoulders of 92 feet. It is the tallest statue of Buddha to be found in the world, carved from the sandstone of a cliff overlooking the junction of the Min and Dadu Rivers in Sichuan. Ordinarily sandstone would be easily eroded by the rainwater which has fallen on the statue over the centuries. That it hasn’t is a tribute to the ingenious engineering which controls the flow of water through and behind the statue, which has served to protect it since its completion circa 803 CE.

The Leshan Buddha includes over 1,000 coiled hair buns, of stone, which are placed on the statue’s head. They were designed to collect rainwater, and to route it to a system of drains and drainpipes which allow the water to flow through the statue’s head and arms, draining out the back, behind the stone clothes and away from the statue, protecting it from the effects of erosion. The system was installed as part of the original carving. Originally protected by a wooden shelter which was destroyed by the Mongols, the statue has stood exposed to the elements for seven centuries, with its drainage system protecting it from erosion. Today the greatest threat to the statue is the heavily polluted air of the region, a factor its designers could not have anticipated.

7. The Erie Canal

Between the Hudson River and Lake Erie land elevation increases by about 600 feet. Canal locks of the day (1800) could raise or lower boats about 12 feet, which meant that at least 50 locks would be required to build a canal which linked the Hudson with the Great Lakes. President Thomas Jefferson called the project “…little short of madness.” New York’s governor, Dewitt Clinton, disagreed and supported the project, which led to its detractors calling the canal “Dewitt’s Ditch” and other, less mild pejoratives. Clinton pursued the project fervently, overseeing the creation of a 360 mile long waterway across upstate New York, which linked the upper Midwest to New York City. The cities of Buffalo, New York, and Cleveland, Ohio, thrived once the canal was completed, in 1825.

The engineering demands of the canal included the removal of earth using animal power, water power (using aqueducts to redirect water flow), and gunpowder to blast through limestone. None of the canal’s planners and builders were professional engineers, instead they were mathematics instructors, judges, and amateur surveyors who learned as they went. Labor was provided by increased immigration, mostly from Ireland and the German provinces. When it was completed in 1825 the canal was considered an engineering masterpiece, one of the longest canals in the world. The Erie Canal’s heyday was relatively short, due to the development of the railroads, but it led to the growth of the port of New York, and spurred the building of competing canals in other Eastern states.

6. The Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge was originally envisioned by John Roebling, who had built suspension bridges of shorter spans across the Ohio River and at other locations. The project in Brooklyn and Manhattan led to an accident which cost Roebling his life, and the engineering challenges passed to his son, Washington Roebling. Washington was stricken with the bends early in the construction, and was forced to supervise the project from his Manhattan apartment. The engineering challenges were difficult; wooden caissons were sunk to the bottom of the East River, with men inside them to excavate the river bottom until the caissons reached bedrock. In the case of the east tower supporting the bridge, they never did. The tower rests on sand to this day.

It took 14 years to complete the project, from 1869 -1883. Often described as a suspension bridge, the structure is in reality a hybrid suspension/cable stayed bridge, with the load of the span transferred by wire cables to the towers, and thence to the bedrock on the Brooklyn side, and the sand over the bedrock on the Manhattan side. In the 21st century it carries six lanes of traffic as well as bicycles and pedestrians, though it no longer accommodates rail traffic, nor commercial vehicles. It was considered the engineering masterpiece of the world at the time of its completion, spanning nearly six thousand feet, and linking the formerly separate cities of Brooklyn and New York.

5. The Eiffel Tower

Gustave Eiffel built the iconic symbol of Paris – indeed of all of France – to serve as the gateway to the 1889 World’s Fair. Contrary to popular belief, Eiffel did not design the tower, instead purchasing the patent rights to the design from engineers within his employ. He then signed a contract for the construction of the tower acting as himself, rather than as his company, and later set up another company to handle the management of the tower and the income derived from it. The design of the tower was controversial from the outset, with artists and engineers complaining of its lack of aesthetic value. It was said that French writer Guy de Maupassant ate at the restaurant in the tower after its completion because it was the only place in Paris from which the tower could not be seen.

The ironwork was delivered to the site with holes for connecting bolts pre-drilled, and as they were installed the tower was brought into proper alignment through the use of hydraulic jacks installed near the four feet of the structure. Creeper cranes climbed the legs of the tower to erect each succeeding level. The tower was declared complete in March 1889, at the time the tallest man-made structure in the world. It reached the height of 1,063 feet and remains the tallest structure in Paris. The tower was to have been dismantled in 1909, under the terms of the original contract, but its usefulness as a radio transmitter gained it a longer lease on life. By the end of the twentieth century the idea of dismantling the tower was unthinkable.

4. The Panama Canal

The 51-mile long cut across the Isthmus of Panama was a dream for many decades prior to the French beginning its construction in 1881. During the building of America’s Transcontinental Railroad, equipment for use in the Sierras was shipped from the east coast of the United States to Panama, transferred across the Isthmus, and then shipped to California. Engineers for years studied the building of a canal before the French attempted to complete one, but the engineering difficulties combined with the climate and politics to thwart their efforts after more than two decades. The United States stepped in where the French failed, and completed the canal in 1914, after another ten years of work.

The canal is actually two canals, connected on either end with an artificial lake, Lake Gatun, located 85 feet above sea level. Locks on the two canals raise or lower ships to or from the level of the lake, allowing them to traverse from Atlantic to Pacific, or vice versa. The canal allows ships to transfer from one ocean to the other in just under twelve hours. It was the engineering decision to abandon the sea level canal design favored by the French and instead create Lake Gatun through the building of Gatun Dam (then the largest dam in the world) and install locks to raise and lower ships which allowed the Americans to succeed in completing the dam, which changed shipping lanes and inter-ocean traffic forever.

3. The Channel Tunnel

For centuries the British Isles remained unconnected to the European continent, a situation which many Britons favored as critical to their national security. Numerous proposals for a tunnel beneath the channel were put forth, but opposition within England and France prevented any serious efforts. Attempts to build tunnels for automobile traffic were started and stopped in the mid-to-late 20th century. Finally, in the late 1980s, after the usual political and professional maneuvering among governments, businesses, and financiers, work on the tunnels for high speed rail trains got underway, already bearing the nickname by which it is best known today, the Chunnel.

The tunnel was built from both sides, using massive tunnel boring machines – TBMS – to approach each other. The machines bore through what is mostly chalk, though the varying geology of the French shore created some difficulties. Both the French and English used the removed spoil for land reclamation projects. The tunnels were lined with both cast iron and reinforced concrete. When completed, the tunnel provided electrical power to the trains running through it via overhead lines. The tunnel opened in 1994, and today allows for a trip from London to Paris in just over two hours. The tunnel also allows for freight traffic delivering goods manufactured throughout Europe to be imported to Britain, and British goods to find markets on the continent.

2. Burj Khalifa

The world’s tallest structure as of 2019, Burj Khalifa is a mixed use skyscraper in Dubai, which was completed in 2009. The building was designed by the same Chicago firm which designed the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) in that city, and uses the same engineering principle of bundled tubes at its core to support the building’s weight. The tubular design allowed for substantially less steel to be used in construction, with most of the building being reinforced concrete. Its spire alone, which is mostly decorative, would qualify it as the 11th tallest structure in Europe were it erected on the continent.

The building has an outdoor swimming pool located on the 76th floor, with another on the 43rd floor. A 300 room hotel is located within the building, as well as corporate offices and private apartments. For those of a hardy constitution, 2,909 steps connect the ground floor with the 160th. The observation deck is located on the 124th floor. The surrounding park, known as Burj Khalifa Park, is landscaped with desert plants which are kept hydrated using water collected by the building’s cooling system, which itself relies on the cooler air of the upper portion of the building to decrease the temperatures of the lower portion of the structure.

1. The Apollo Space Program

It remains one of the signature engineering achievements in the history of the human race. No other program has delivered human beings to an environment other than their home planet and returned them safely to earth. Americans not only walked on the surface of the moon, they drove on it, using a battery driven vehicle designed for the purpose, capable of carrying two astronauts and greatly increasing the area which the lunar explorers could cover. It was carried to the moon within the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) and used for the final three moon missions in the early 1970s. In 2003, the National Academy of Engineers called the program the “…greatest engineering team effort in American history.”

The Apollo program led to significant advances in the development of integrated circuitry, contributed to the growing cause of environmentalism, and over 20% of the world’s population watched on television when astronaut Neil Armstrong left the first human footprints on the lunar surface. NASA claimed spin-offs from the space program in the areas of freeze-dried foods, emergency reflective blankets, hand-held portable vacuum cleaners, and more than 2,000 other areas. LASIK surgery is a direct descendant of the technology developed to dock with vehicles in space, first performed as part of the Gemini program, in which astronauts learned the techniques required of Apollo.


Engineering HOF –

WIF Into History

Flying Off the Radar – WIF Aviation Mysteries

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Strange

Aviation Mysteries

There have been many unexplained disappearances of aircrafts over the years. There’s no denying that the Bermuda Triangle is a hot spot for planes disappearing, but there are countless other locations around the world where airliners have seemingly vanished into thin air. Other times, aircraft suddenly crash with very little warning. And of those crashes, the wreckage discovered often leaves experts with more questions than answers. From the disappearance of Flight 19 over the Bermuda Triangle, to MH370 vanishing, to a hijacker that jumped out of a plane only to disappear without a trace, today we detail 10 of the most fascinating aviation mysteries of all-time.

10. Helios Airways Flight 522

In August 2005, Helios Airways Flight 522 was on its way from Cyprus to Greece when air traffic controllers lost contact with the aircraft. After losing contact with the plane, two Greek fighter jets went out searching for it and when it was located, they noticed the two pilots slumped over the controls. The fighter pilots then noticed a steward, who was holding an oxygen bottle, breaking into the locked cockpit and attempted to take control of the plane. Unfortunately, he was too late and the plane ran out of fuel, crashing into the hills near Grammatiko, killing all 121 people onboard.

After an investigation took place, it was announced that the cabin lost pressure which left the crew unconscious, although they had previously tried to pressurize the cabin but failed. While we know what happened to the aircraft, a big question still remains: is it in fact safer to lock the cockpit doors? After the terrible tragedies of September 11, 2001, locked cockpits were the normal procedure, but it makes it much more difficult for the flight and cabin crews to communicate. And had the crew of Helios Airways Flight 522 been able to enter the cockpit sooner, the crash may have potentially been avoided.

9. Flying Tiger Line Flight 739

In March 1962, during the Vietnam War, the U.S. Army Flying Tiger Flight 739 was carrying 96 soldiers and 11 crewmen from Guam to the Philippines when it vanished over the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. Crew members of a Standard Oil tanker reported seeing an explosion in the sky about an hour after the aircraft made its final communication, although no distress signals were made by the pilots.

Numerous aircraft and ships searched over 200,000 square miles for eight days looking for the missing plane, but no wreckage was ever found, sparking several rumors as to what really happened. One of those theories is that the U.S. government accidentally shot down the aircraft and tried to cover it up by saying the crash most likely happened due to engine and communication failure.

8. B-47 Stratojet

In March 1956, a Boeing B-47 Stratojet was flying from MacDill Air Force Base in Florida to Ben Guerir Air Base in Morocco when it disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea. After completing its first refueling stop without any problems, it was time to refuel again, so the aircraft began to descend but didn’t make any contact with the tanker.

While an extensive search was conducted, no wreckage was ever found and the crew members were declared dead. The unarmed aircraft had two capsules of nuclear weapons material in carrying cases onboard, so the theory of a nuclear detonation wasn’t a possibility. And interestingly enough, the nuclear weapons were never found, either.

7. TWA Flight 800

In July 1996, Trans World Airlines Flight 800 was flying from New York City to Paris on an overnight trip when it suddenly exploded and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean about 8 miles off the coast of Long Island, near East Moriches, New York, killing all 230 people onboard. The plane exploded just 12 minutes after takeoff, while it was at an altitude of around 13,700 feet. While the U.S. government said that a combination of fuel and air had ignited in the fuel tank, many others believe that it was hit by a missile.

The center part of the aircraft fell first, followed by the forward fuselage, the wings, and the remaining part of the fuselage. After working for over 10 months in water around 120 feet deep, divers were able to recover the remains of all 230 victims, as well as about 95% of the aircraft. Investigators said that the explosion was due to an electrical short circuit that affected the fuel gauge wiring in the tank. There was, however, explosive residue found inside of the cabin but they explained that by an explosive detection exercise that had taken place on the aircraft.

Since 258 people who were interviewed by the FBI claimed to have seen a streak of light that approached the aircraft just before it crashed, many have speculated that it was instead shot down either by terrorists or by a mistake made by the U.S. military, leaving people with more questions than answers as to what really happened to TWA Flight 800.

6. EgyptAir Flight 990

In October 1999, EgyptAir Flight 990 flew from Los Angeles to New York City, where it made a stop before continuing on to Cairo, Egypt. Less than 25 minutes after taking off from John F. Kennedy International Airport, the aircraft crashed into the Atlantic Ocean around 60 miles south of Nantucket, Massachusetts, killing all 217 people on board. While the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board claimed that it was the actions of the co-pilot that caused the plane to crash, Egyptian authorities said it was because of mechanical failure.

The plane began to descend very fast (approaching the speed of sound) at a 40 degree steep angle before regaining altitude, then changing directions. It then lost its left engine before descending again and crashing into the ocean. Since a large group of passengers on the plane were military officers from Egypt, some have speculated that the flight had been targeted by the country’s enemies.

According to the cockpit voice recorder, the pilot went to the washroom, leaving the co-pilot alone. At that point, the autopilot was disconnected and the plane began its descent. When the pilot returned to the cockpit, he was heard asking the co-pilot what had happened, with the co-pilot answering “I rely on God.” Was it the co-pilot who caused the crash or was it mechanical failure? We may never know the answer.

5. Pan Am Flight 7

The Clipper Romance of the Skies – also known as Pan Am Flight 7 – was the most luxurious and biggest aircraft of its time. It was in the process of conducting a flight around the world with 36 passengers and eight crew members, departing from San Francisco with its first stop scheduled for Hawaii. That was, however, until it crashed in November 1957.

At 16:04 Pacific Standard Time on November 8, the pilot last reported his position, and that was the last time anyone aboard the plane was heard from. One week later, several of the victims’ bodies were recovered from the ocean. The most interesting fact is that their watches showed a time of 17:25 PST. So, what happened in the 81 minutes between the last communication from the aircraft and when it crashed?

While many theories have circulated on what actually happened, some people believe that a couple of bad men boarded the plane – one of which owed a pretty big debt and the other who was called a “psycho” by people in his hometown – and they may have brought the plane down. Another theory is that the propeller shattered mid-flight because the engines were so powerful. Some of the bodies recovered were wearing life vests, and a large amount of carbon monoxide was detected in several of the bodies. What exactly happened on that flight still remains a mystery.

4. Flight 19

In December 1945, six planes vanished in the Bermuda Triangle and have never been recovered. Five Avenger torpedo bombers (known as “Flight 19”) took off from their base located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for an exercise run. The pilots encountered problems with their compasses and lost communication with the ground crew, although the ground station was still able to hear the pilots talking to one another. The pilots appeared to have been confused as to their location and they all decided to crash-land their planes in the water once their fuel dropped below 10 gallons.

A huge search and rescue mission took place for five days that covered 700,000 square kilometers but no wreckage was ever found. In fact, another plane that had 13 people on board also disappeared and was never found. Apparently, an ocean-liner that was in the area reported seeing a huge fireball in the sky. But to this day, none of the six planes or the passengers have ever been recovered, which adds to the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle.

3. Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart set many flying records during her life, including becoming the first woman to fly solo over 14,000 feet in 1922, and then in 1932 when she was the first woman to fly alone across the Atlantic. But tragedy stuck in July 1937 when she disappeared while flying around the world. Her twin-engine Lockheed Electra vanished close to the International Date Line in the central area of the Pacific Ocean. The only clues that were left behind by Earhart were a few unclear and garbled up radio transmissions.

There have been several theories as to what happened to her, such as the possibility she abandoned the airplane and died in the water. Other, stranger theories have surfaced, such as the idea she may have been stranded on an uninhabited island for several years all alone, or that she may have been captured and killed by the Japanese government. Some have even suggested that she just wanted to disappear from the public eye so she faked her death and lived in New Jersey under a different name.

Although the wreckage of her plane has never been found and she was declared lost at sea, what really happened to Amelia Earhart still remains one of the greatest mysteries of the 20th century.

2. D.B. Cooper

One of the greatest unsolved mysteries of all-time doesn’t involve the disappearance or crash of an aircraft, but rather a man who hijacked a plane and seemingly vanished into thin air after jumping out with a large sum of money.

In November 1971, a commercial plane was traveling from Portland, Oregon, to Seattle, Washington, in a seemingly normal flight. A male passenger who was around his mid-40s and about 6-feet tall, and who said his name was Dan Cooper (or D.B. Cooper), handed a flight attendant a note that said he had a bomb in his briefcase. He then showed her the inside of his briefcase, which contained several wires, red sticks, and a battery. At that point, he asked for four parachutes and $200,000 in cash.

When he received the items in Seattle, he let all of the passengers leave the plane, except for a few crew members. Somewhere between Seattle and Reno, Nevada, Cooper lowered the rear steps and jumped out of the plane (with the money), never to be seen again. While countless searches were conducted to try and find him, it was as if he just completely disappeared. To this day, no one knows who D.B. Cooper actually was, or what became of him.

1. MH370

On March 8, 2014, the world was left shocked when Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 seemed to disappear off the face of the Earth during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Extensive search efforts were conducted from the Indian Ocean west of Australia to Central Asia to try and located the 227 passengers and 12 crew members, but no bodies were ever recovered.

With no warning or explanation, the aircraft’s transponder was switched off shortly after communicating with air traffic controllers. The aircraft had then turned toward the west for no apparent reason, as it was completely off track from its initial destination. Since nobody knew for sure where their aircraft may have potentially gone down, several pings from a black box were heard around 1,200 miles northwest of Perth, Australia, but searchers were unable to determine the exact location of the box and it’s never been discovered.

Numerous theories have surfaced on what may have happened to MH370, such as mechanical failure, to hijacking, to even pilot suicide. Since July 2015, several pieces of debris have been recovered, but only a very few were confirmed to have come from MH370. Debris has been recovered from the French island of Réunion, as well as the shores of Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa, Madagascar, and Mauritius.

In July 2018, the Malaysian government issued a report claiming that mechanical malfunction was very unlikely, as the change in the flight path occurred from manual inputs. So, who caused the plane to disappear? Why did they do it? And most importantly, where is it?


Flying Off the Radar –

WIF Aviation Mysteries