Cause and Effect

Disaster at Le Mans – Mismatched Technology


This weekend will see the 82nd running of the 24 Heures du Mans, or the 24 Hours of Le Mans for you non-French speakers. One of the major races of any fan’s schedule, it has long been a technological proving ground. It was originally conceived of to test the endurance of man and machine, and continues in that spirit today. However, in 1955 technological advancement and the pursuit of speed led to a mismatch in technologies that is a direct cause to one of the greatest motorsports tragedies in history.

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expensive mistakes

How To Drain A Lake

This is Lake Peigneur. It looks serene and like any of the other lakes that dot the landscape of southern Louisiana. It was, however, the scene of a spectacular engineering snafu on November 20, 1980. That’s the day that, according to the best guess, a Texaco drilling rig miscalculated where they should be drilling and pierced the roof of the Diamond Chrystal Salt Company salt mine, causing a huge vortex and draining the lake into the salt mine. The Delcambre Canal, which normally flows from Lake Peigneur to Vermillion Bay began flowing backwards, filling Lake Peigneur with salt water and temporarily creating a 150 ft. waterfall, the largest in Louisiana.

Don’t take my word for it. Hit the jump for a video from Discovery Channel’s “Engineering Disasters” about this bizarre event. And remember to check and recheck your work. A small error can have major repercussions.

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