One of the fondest memories I have from my "Out West" trip 6 years ago was arriving at the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota. Though I am often more impressed by the creations I witness in nature, the massiveness of this engineering marvel and work of art was pretty amazing to see.
The face of this structure stretches 60 feet, making it the largest art sculpture project on earth. The memorial consists of the faces of four of our nation's presidents, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln (respectively), immortalized in granite.
Jonah LeRoy "Doane" Robinson was credited with conceiving the idea behind Mount Rushmore, which was to carve famous people into the Black Hills of South Dakota to promote tourism. Initially, the plan was to sculpt some western heroes like Louis and Clark into granite pillars known as the Needles. However, Gutzon Borglum, the Danish-American artist and sculptor responsible for Mt. Rushmore , realized that both the setting and the subjects were too thin. He decided to memorialize the four presidents instead, for a more national focus, and to do so on Mount Rushmore, for better quality stone and more exposure to sunlight. After securing federal funding, the project began on October 4, 1927.
The Mt. Rushmore project team included nearly 400 men and women. Each would walk 700 stairs to the top of the mountain every day to punch in for duty at $8.00/day or so. Drillers operated jackhammers, powdermen placed dynamite, and others operated the winch house or acted as spotters in hoisting workers off the mountain. While there were some injuries, surprisingly there were no fatalities throughout the project.
Work on Mt. Rushmore - Via Nationalgeographic.com
The sculpting process involved the use of dynamite (and lots of it) to blow rock apart. About 90% of Mt. Rushmore was carved with dynamite. When only 3 to 6 inches of rock remained to be removed at each surface, workers would drill holes very close together to weaken the granite and eventually pull it off by hand or by hammer. This process was called "honeycombing." In fact, workers would often sell honeycombed pieces of granite to tourists visiting the construction. To finish and smooth the surface, workers used a hand-facing or bumper tool.
The four faces of the monument were completed by 1939. The original plan was to sculpt each president down to the waist (see model on left), but due to lack of federal funding the project was forced to end in October 1941. And although it never reached its full imagined potential, the memorial is still a wonder to behold today, and is a proud symbol of America and some of the important men who helped build and preserve it.
(also known as 1960 Alpha 1, Pioneer P-2, and Thor Able 4) was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, as one of the first attempts to study the solar system. It was a spin stabilized space probe and carried into
space on a Thor-Able three stage rocket. The Pioneer V was approximately the size of a beach ball and was equipped with four solar cells that recharged the
on-board batteries. The Pioneer V entered an
orbit around the Sun between Earth and Venus and provided a wealth of data on interplanetary space such as magnetic
fields, cosmic radiation, electrical fields and micrometeorites. It was
stabilized by slowly spinning about its axis. The spacecraft transmitted
information until 26 Jun 1960 when it was 22.5 million miles (36
million km) from Earth.
We have come a long way since the Pioneer V days of early space exploration. And we have learned much more about sun spots, magnet fields and cosmic radiation. The Pioneer V may look simple compared to the satellites and mars rovers of today, but it served its purpose well. The Pioneer V was the most successful in the Pioneer/Able missions.
Alonzo Philips of
Springfield, Massachusetts patented the friction match consisting of
phosphorus, chalk, and glue. His
creations were called Locofocos. Phillips' work followed that of English
pharmacist John Walker who in 1827 produced yard-long lightable sticks that can
be considered the real precursor of today's match.
Phillips described the
process in Specification of Letters Patent No. 68:
"I take one ounce of glue and
dissolve it by the aid of water and heat in the usual manner; to this glue I
add four ounces of finely-pulverized chalk or Spanish white, stirring it in so
as to form a thick paste. I then put in one ounce of phosphorus, keeping the
materials at such degree of heat as will suffice to melt the phosphorus and
incorporate the whole together. Into this composition the matches are dipped
after being previously dipped in sulfur in the usual manner."
Philips grouped the
matches in slabs and put them between two pieces of paper to avoid accidental
ignition. In 1855 Carl Lundstrom of
Sweden produced the first red phosphorus "safety" matches.
Joseph Lister was inspired to stop the spread of germs in
surgical wards after reading Louis Pasteur's work on the souring of wine. He thought that disease was spread by
microbes carried in the air and was concerned about germs entering skin that
had been cut open. He began to use a
carbolic acid spray on patients as a chemical alternative to heat, reducing the
death rate from 45.7% to 15%.
In his work as professor of surgery at Glasgow University,
Lister considered ward cleanliness to be very important. He followed the earlier work of Dr. Ignaz
Semmelweiss from Hungary who required his doctors to wash their hands in
calcium chloride between patients.
Lister first advocated the spraying of carbolic acid in the air to kill
germs. His assistants utilized a sprayer
to administer the carbolic acid, enveloping the surgery in a yellow mist with a
On August 12, 1865, Lister took cleanliness a step further
by cleaning the actual wounds. His first
treatment was on patients with compound fractures where gangrene was a common
cause of death due to the bone breaking through the skin. He covered the wounds with lint soaked in
carbolic acid and increased survival rates.
James Greenlees, an 11-year-old boy with a compound fracture
of the tibia and fibula, was the first to receive the treatment. His wounds were treated with the carbolic
acid plan and he was discharged on October 2, 1865. Lister extended the use of carbolic acid to
washing his hands and soaking surgical tools in it. The process is known as antiseptis, or
preventing infection. Lister is known as the father of antiseptic surgery.
Did you have an Etch A Sketch as a child? The toy, created by French inventor Andre
Cassagnes, first rolled off the factory line on July 12, 1960. Although the toy's exterior has been
available in different colors, the inner workings remain the same.
Invention and Sale of
the Etch A Sketch
Many references cite Arthur Granjean as the inventor of the
Etch A Sketch. According to Ohio Art's
website, the inventor was Andre Cassagnes.
So who was the actual inventor?
It was Cassagnes, who did not have the money to register his
patent. Eventually, Paul Chaze invested
in the toy. Chaze's accountant Arthur
Granjean filed the patent and his name became associated with it.
Cassagnes developed the toy in the late 1950s and named it
L'Ecran Magique (The Magic Screen). Chaze
convinced Cassagnes to relinquish his rights to the toy outside France for
$10,000. It was first marketed in
England as the DoodleMaster Magic Screen and was eventually bought by the Ohio
Art Company and marketed under the name we know today.
How the Etch A Sketch
Horizontal and vertical knobs are turned
A pulley system moves an internal stylus
The stylus "etches" a sketch onto an aluminum
powder-coated glass window
Styrene beads move powder evenly to erase the
drawing when the toy is shaken
Etch A Sketch Facts
One of the first toys advertised on TV
150 million sold in the U.S.
An image can be made "permanent" by drilling a
hole in the back of the toy and removing the aluminum powder and plastic beads
Mail sent by missile was considered to be the future; a
practical method of delivering mail during the Cold War. In fact, Postmaster General Arthur E.
Summerfield remarked, "Before man reaches the moon, mail will be delivered
within hours from New York to California, to Britain, to India or Australia by
guided missiles." On June 8, 1959, an
unarmed Regulus I cruise missile was fired from the USS Barbero Navy submarine
near Norfolk, Virginia to a naval station in Mayport, Florida.
The United States Postal Service (USPS, at the time known as
the Post Office Department) established a branch post office on the USS
Barbero. The sub left Norfolk with about
3,000 pieces of mail consisting mainly of commemorative postal covers addressed
to President Dwight Eisenhower and other officials.
The mail was to be sent to Jacksonville via a Regulus cruise
missile. The missile's nuclear warhead
was replaced by two official mail containers.
A pair of Aerojet-General 3KS-33,000 solid-propellant boosters launched
the missile and a turbojet engine sustained the long-range cruise flight.
The missile was fired toward the Naval Auxiliary Air Station
in Mayport at around noon. It reached
its destination 22 minutes later. The
mail was then sorted and routed as usual.
It was the only time a missile was used to send USPS
mail. The Department of Defense
considered the exercise a demonstration of missile capabilities during the Cold
War. The expense could not be justified
as a practical method of delivering the mail.
"Anything is possible. You can be told that you have a 90-percent chance or a 50-percent chance or a 1-percent chance, but you have to believe, and you have to fight." -- Lance Armstrong, 21st century cyclist and 6 time Tour de France winner