Moments in History

Stone Age Thinking

I still start off my day on the Far Side.
From The Far Side to The Flintstones to The New Yorker, the popular imagination puts the invention of the wheel back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. (Uphill both ways, in the snow, same 3rd grade teacher as your parents, etc.) The Paleolithic Era, the actual stone age, starts rougly 63 million years after the last of the Cretaceous dinosaurs. It spans 2.6 million years from when early hominids began to use stone tools to the end of the last ice age. But stone tools are not good for precise stone work, and did not advance much beyond hammers, axes or spears, and needles during this period. Stone wheels are out. The earliest wheels were almost definitely wood.
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Moments in History, Technostalgia

The Sensible Calendar You Can’t Have

Did you know that calendar reform was seriously considered at the beginning of the 20th century? Proposals similar to the one above were were actually getting traction in the interest of efficiency during the Industrial Revolution. There were many combinations of proposed changes endorsed by various groups and individuals, but the one above […]

Moments in History, Uncategorized

May 28, 1906 – San Francisco in Ruins

San Francisco in Ruins (Clicken to enbiggenate)

 

This amazingly detailed, panoramic high resolution photograph shows just how completely devastated 4 days and 4 nights of fires left San Francisco after the Great 1906 Earthquake.

6 weeks later smoke still hangs in the air as people begin the long, mammoth task of cleaning up.

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Moments in History

Big Bad Blackbirds

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The alternate title for this post should probably be Bill Weaver: The Biggest Badass You Might Not Know. What most of you likely do know is that the SR-71 was a) awesome, and b) developed after/with the single-seat A-12. Mr. Weaver’s tale harkens back to the early days of testing and wringing out the kinks of the SR-71. I don’t want to retell the entire tale, just wet your whistle and send you over to read for yourself, but let me assure you, the whole story is definitely worth reading!

The flight in question, which Weaver calls his “most memorable”, occurred on Jan. 25, 1966, and along with him was Jim Zwayer, who was a Lockheed flight test reconnaissance and navigation systems specialist. Those recon and nav systems were one test focus, and the other bits of beta testing were “procedures designed to reduce trim drag and improve high-Mach cruise performance. The latter involved flying with the center-of-gravity (CG) located further aft than normal, which reduced the Blackbird’s longitudinal stability.” Reducing stability usually doesn’t sound like a good idea, but it can offer performance enhancements in certain flight regimes, much like having a racecar drive “loose” can make a car a faster on a given track.

After in-flight refuelling for the second leg of their flight, and accelerating to Mach 3.18, they initiated a 35 degree banked right turn. It was at this point they experienced a benign sounding “inlet unstart”. That unstart was actually a bit of a big deal. In Weaver’s words, “the right engine inlet’s automatic control system malfunctioned, requiring a switch to manual control. The SR-71′s inlet configuration was automatically adjusted during supersonic flight to decelerate air flow in the duct, slowing it to subsonic speed before reaching the engine’s face. This was accomplished by the inlet’s center-body spike translating aft, and by modulating the inlet’s forward bypass doors. Normally, these actions were scheduled automatically as a function of Mach number, positioning the normal shock wave (where air flow becomes subsonic) inside the inlet to ensure optimum engine performance.

Without proper scheduling, disturbances inside the inlet could result in the shock wave being expelled forward–a phenomenon known as an “inlet unstart.” That causes an instantaneous loss of engine thrust, explosive banging noises and violent yawing of the aircraft–like being in a train wreck. Unstarts were not uncommon at that time in the SR-71′s development, but a properly functioning system would recapture the shock wave and restore normal operation.”

What if the aircraft was in a relatively hard right turn and the right engine unstart did not clear? Here is your teaser: “AS FULL AWARENESS took hold, I realized I was not dead, but had somehow separated from the airplane.” Got you curious to read the rest? Hit the jump and follow the link, plus bonus SR-71 links!!

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Moments in History

Things Are About To Get Weird

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For those of you following along on Facebook, you may have noticed our fearless leader’s caveat that posts may not be as frequent due to real life commitments. We all have those and, until recently, most of us have been able to find time to post a celebration of technology fairly regularly. However, life changes and sometimes it changes due to a new life.

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Moments in History

A 1920s Selfie

Selfie Side

Selfies are all the rage these days. From duck-lipped sorority girls in the bathroom to world leaders, everybody is in on it. However, the selfie isn’t exactly new. Hit the jump to see the results of this selfie.

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Moments in History

How One Man Saved The World

ww3

1983 was a different time. The world was a bit simpler. Two major superpowers — the US and Soviet Union — were sitting on nuclear arsenals that could obliterate the planet. One misstep, and the US would launch ICBMs at the Soviet Union and vice versa. On September 26, we came awful close to such a misstep.

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Moments in History

Times Beach, MO: A Modern Ghost Town Tale

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In 1925, the St. Louis Star-Times sold lots along the Meramec River about 17 miles southwest of St. Louis along Route 66 for $67.50 each. The purchase of a 20 ft. by 100 ft. lot would also entitle the purchaser to a six-month subscription to the newspaper. Soon, the St. Louis elite was purchasing the property and creating a small resort town. However, after the Great Depression hit then the gas rationing during and after WW2, the wealthy weren’t as wealthy and stopped coming. About 2,000 people perservered and kept the town going. Until 1985.

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Moments in History

Delayed Action

That man in the lede photo is His Imperial Majesty Emperor Norton I, Emperor of the United States. Born Joshua Abraham Norton in England, he grew up in South Africa before moving to San Francisco in 1849 after receiving $40,000 from his father’s estate. He became a businessman and, apparently, did alright until […]

Moments in History

Hindenberg Colorized

This famous photo of the Hindenberg disaster was originally taken in black and white (hit the break for the original). However, thanks to Dana Keller and the Colorized History sub-reddit, we can now see it in color. The black and white image is impressive, but it fails to capture the magnitude of destruction. […]

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