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The Olympic Torch: So Complex a Caveman Couldn’t Do It

Posted February 10, 2010 12:01 AM by T1tan01
Pathfinder Tags: flame olympics Torch Vancouver

The opening ceremony of the Olympic Games signifies the end of a long journey for the Olympic Flame. By this time, the torch has traveled thousands of miles and endured some of nature's harshest conditions. Despite all this, the Olympic Flame burns as brightly as when it was first lit many miles ago.

The Olympic Torch represents a brief but beautiful moment as nations of the world unite to celebrate human achievement and possibility through sport. The torch also represents the unwavering human spirit in the face of adversity, as characterized by the torch's expedition.

Did you think that a primitive torch would suffice for a flame that symbolizes so much?

History of the Olympic Torch

The Greeks held their first Olympic Games in 776 B.C. at Olympia. Those first Olympics marked a period of peace between constantly-clashing Greek city-states. Runners dubbed "Heralds of Peace" would travel throughout the regions declaring a "Sacred Truce" between all Greek lands so that spectators could travel freely and unharmed to watch the games.

Although there wasn't an Olympic Torch then, constantly-burning flames were a regular fixture in ancient Greece. In Olympia, there was an altar dedicated to the goddess Hera, who was said to rule over the seasons and the weather. At the start of their games, the Greeks would ignite a cauldron on Hera's altar that would burn throughout the duration of the Olympics.

In 1936, Germany's Carl Diem sought to fuse the modern Olympics with the traditions of the ancient Greeks. His solution was a torch relay. For the Berlin Games of '36, a flame was lit in Olympia (where it had been lit centuries before) and carried to Germany for the start of the contest.

Designing the Olympic Torch

Today, the design of the Olympic Torch is a rigorous and lengthy process. Teams from all over the world submit their designs to the Olympic Committee. The winning team then produces a torch that is both aesthetically-pleasing and functional.

Once built, the torch must undergo rigorous testing to make sure that it can stay lit for the duration of the journey and withstand extreme weather conditions. If the torch's test is successful, some 10,000 to 15,000 torches are constructed to accommodate the thousands of people who will carry the flame throughout the Olympic Relay. If you're lucky enough to be one of the torch bearers, you have the option to buy a torch at the end of your leg!

Olympic Torch Construction

Behind the beautiful contours of an Olympic Torch is a fuel system that keeps the flame lit throughout the Olympic Relay. According to Stephanie Watson, author of How Olympic Torches Work, "The liquid fuel is stored in an aluminum canister located about halfway up the torch. It flows up to the top of a torch through a pipe. Before leaving the pipe, the liquid fuel is forced through a tiny hole. Once it moves through the hole, there is a pressure drop, causing the liquid to turn into a gas for burning."

"The torch," Watson continues, "moves the liquid fuel at a consistent rate to the burner, so the flame always burns with the same intensity." In both 1996 and 2000, engineers used a "double flame" burner system that enabled the torch "to stay lit even in erratic winds". As Watson notes, this "external flame burns slowly and at a lower temperature than the internal flame."

The Olympic Torch's external flame is "big and bright orange" so that observers can see it clearly; however, it remains "unstable in winds". The interior flame is hotter and produces a "small but very stable" blue flame that is protected from the wind. In this way, Stephanie Watson explains, the interior flame "acts like a pilot light, able to relight the external flame should it go out.

So be on the lookout for this years Olympic Torch (pictured above) heading for Vancouver this February. According to the Greeks, the flame for the Olympics burns throughout the Games as a sign of purity, reason, and peace. May these three ideas echo throughout the world for the duration of the games.

Resource:

How Olympic Torches Work by Stephanie Watson

http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/olympic-torch.htm/printable

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#1

Re: The Olympic Torch: So Complex a Caveman Couldn’t Do It

02/10/2010 3:51 AM

On the contrary, cavemen weren't stupid and had ways of creating fire when needed and carrying it around if necessary.
I object to the assumption that we are necessarilly more intelligent, cavemen could doubtless utilise complex technologies which are beyond most modern day men.
Can you cure hide or make thread, needles, a bow, an arrow which will fly true, a flint tool...?
Their technology was also rugged and repairable or re-makeable...If your PC, mobile phone or car breaks down can you repair or re build it from stuff lying about in your environment?

Oh and Yes I think a primitive torch would be a refreshing change and show that we don't need to consume so much of the worlds resources for such a simple task.
Del <click, argumenative mode dissabled>

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#2
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Re: The Olympic Torch: So Complex a Caveman Couldn't Do It

02/10/2010 12:20 PM

At no point was there a reference to the "stupidity" of our ancestors. Their accomplishments led the way for our innovations. There would not be an Olympic Torch had the caveman not developed a creative solution to light the dark world that surrounded them. Regardless, this is an article about the history and technological intricacies of the Olympic Torch, not about an insignificant title as your response indicates. More responses on the CONTENT is much appreciated.

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#3
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Re: The Olympic Torch: So Complex a Caveman Couldn't Do It

02/10/2010 1:12 PM

Hmmm, I've obviously missunderstood the purpose of titles all these years.
I didn't mean to be objectionable, but your response doesn't stand up.


this is an article about "the history and technological intricacies of the Olympic Torch.."
Yeah, now that would have been a great title... fewer words too

At no point was there a reference to the "stupidity" of our ancestors.
What?
It's clearly implied in the title that they couldn't do anything complex, or is my understanding of the English language wanting?
Anyhow, I shall tippy toe quietly away, I had no wish to offend.
Del

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#4
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Re: The Olympic Torch: So Complex a Caveman Couldn't Do It

02/10/2010 6:26 PM

I'm with you Del on this one. The title of this thread is very demeaning to our ancestors. I expect that ancient modern man (I dislike the term "caveman") was on average more intelligent than today's specimens. They had to be, or they died before breeding. People today equate the ability to regurgitate knowledge that others have found as intelligence. I would expect that, barring disease, most ancient humans could cope with modern society, but most modern humans would quickly die sent to the past.

Oh, and I would like to correct the original author's title, too. This torch is so complex that no single man or woman could ever have built it.

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#7
In reply to #3

Re: The Olympic Torch: So Complex a Caveman Couldn't Do It

02/11/2010 4:38 AM

Del, I also concur.

The title doesn't really give a clear indication of the thrust of the article to follow (yeah, I know it's about the Olympic Torch but where do cavemen fit in?) and is unnecessarily dismissive of "cavemen's" abilities, for the reason you and Redfred have stated.

I'd like to explore who we mean by "cavemen":

Fred Flintstone? Neanderthals? Homo Erectus?

There has been a swath of recent research, some of which was posted on CR4, that dispels the myth that Neanderthals were stupid (which is as true as the one about Philistines, as it happens!). I think there was also an article about an earlier human species that wasn't as dumb as we'd like to think they were*

Having said that, it's probably true that cavemen couldn't operate torches...they were too busy hunting aurochs and painting about their triumphs; leaving the cavewomen to work out the intricacies of making, using and maintaining fire

I had to reply - I was bowled over by your correct use of the word "fewer"...it's getting so rare these days

*there's a song in there somewhere

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#11
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Re: The Olympic Torch: So Complex a Caveman Couldn't Do It

02/11/2010 11:17 AM

I think the author wasn't demeaning our ancestors as much as putting a spin on Geico's "so easy a caveman could do it" theme. I think it is kind of clever and T1tan01 meant no harm to our ancestors.

Very interesting read. You mention that some have the opportunity to buy one of these things (if you were one of the torch-bearers). How much does one cost? I thought you might know off the top of your head.

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#16
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Re: The Olympic Torch: So Complex a Caveman Couldn't Do It

02/12/2010 3:49 AM

Ah! So that will be an American insurance firm advertising on an American TV station.

That would explain why the British contingent didn't get the cultural reference - I googled your comment to find out.

"Ah Yesh, Yesh, Yesh"*

And I think you'll find Del & I had our tongue ever so slightly in our cheeks about the cavemen insults...but not about the irrelevance of cavemen to the Olympic Torch. A joke relating to Ancient Greeks would have been more relevant.

Interesting article though, I agree.

*British insurance ad reference

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#5
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Re: The Olympic Torch: So Complex a Caveman Couldn’t Do It

02/10/2010 10:36 PM

I would love to see the reaction if a modern man suddenly faced a dinosaur. Salutee cavemen!!!!

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#6
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Re: The Olympic Torch: So Complex a Caveman Couldn’t Do It

02/11/2010 12:32 AM

I would love to see the reaction if a caveman ever met a dinosaur. I wonder if they would realize that they were seeing an animal that hadn't existed for millions of years by the time our ancestors arrived. Probably not, we can't seem to grasp that concept even now.

Doug

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#8
In reply to #5

Re: The Olympic Torch: So Complex a Caveman Couldn’t Do It

02/11/2010 7:46 AM

There weren't any dinosaurs alive when cavemen were roaming around. Stop watching so much junk TV, grab a book or something... you don't want to become an Appalachian American...

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#12
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Re: The Olympic Torch: So Complex a Caveman Could’t Do It

02/11/2010 11:54 AM

I am an Appalachian American, born and raised. I read plenty, watch very little TV and can post to CR4 without insulting someone. Most of the east coast of this country has been built on the backs of the people working in these mountains, and it would be fair to say that in areas such as this, the people would fare well if placed back in time, myself included. Not sure where you are from or where you get your information but maybe you should quit watching so much junk TV and read a book or something...

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#13
In reply to #5

Re: The Olympic Torch: So Complex a Caveman Couldn’t Do It

02/11/2010 2:21 PM

Cavemen and Dinosaurs could never have met.....

See:-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cavemen

In fiction, especially as pure entertainment or satire, cavemen are sometimes depicted as living contemporaneously with dinosaurs, a situation contradicted by archaeological and paleontological evidence which shows that non-avian dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago, at which time true primates had not yet appeared.

DUUUHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

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#9

Re: The Olympic Torch: So Complex a Caveman Could’t Do It

02/11/2010 8:01 AM

Good article on the relevance of the Olympic torch Moose.

The great foresightedness of the Greeks to global humanity by way of participation,mutual goodwill and the spirit of fighting adversities- Yes that is the way, humanity had struggled and progressed through all the ages.

*In my opinion the torch relay by regional and inter country conveyance means something very significant and bear a greatness of meaning.

It symbolises Global brotherhood, co operation and collective initiatives to carry on with our struggles, international team spirit without borders and a sense of total humanity. Had if this in depth meaning haunts on a perpetual basis, we could have even avoided the Two major world wars.

*Olympiads in other sectors like art, culture, science , engineering, global problems can also be added attractions.

*The perseverance to excel, compete also motivates the attitude of optimism to improve and prove better next. Other than mere sports it should reflect in all other human activitiesalso.

*The most worthy aspect of Olympics is the neutrality of conduction process and openness of chance to all-Pure merit based evaluation.

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#10

Re: The Olympic Torch: So Complex a Caveman Couldn’t Do It

02/11/2010 11:14 AM

My previous boss living in Tsawwassen was selected to carry the torch on Feb 8th. He submitted an article about his many years coaching Rugby in Delta, B.C. I wish I could have been there.

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#14

Re: The Olympic Torch: So Complex a Caveman Couldn't Do It

02/11/2010 2:35 PM

As the Nazis instigated the (relatively) modern version of the Olympic Torch, I personally find it far less than attractive.

It should be got rid of and forgotten completely as far as I am concerned.....

The modern Nazis revere the Torch and Hitler still....UGH!!!!

Any Jewish people reading this, please take note!!!

I have also corrected the title properly.....even though I am sure they could make torches if needed!!

But as anyone knows who has made simple cavemen type torches, they burn out relatively quickly, unless you have a good source of Hydocarbons.......so I would hazard a guess that a caveman would only use them when needed for short periods of illumination......but he probably managed to keep a fire going through the day and night as re-igniting one might take some time.....so he could also light his torches if a 65 million year old Dinosaur decided to pay a visit (unannounced) in the middle of the night!!!

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#15
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Re: The Olympic Torch: So Complex a Caveman Couldn't Do It

02/11/2010 8:19 PM

?

Caveman=approx 10,000 to 25,000 bce or so,

Dinosaur, as you explained, is at least 65 my bce,

i think there may be a problem in your timeline.

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#17
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Re: The Olympic Torch: So Complex a Caveman Couldn't Do It

02/12/2010 3:53 AM

AG was being sarcastic and referencing back to earlier posts. It was a mildly (sorry Andy!) amusing throwaway line.

'Snot funny now I've had to explain it...

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#18
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Re: The Olympic Torch: So Complex a Caveman Couldn't Do It

02/12/2010 5:36 AM

Actually, I was reading from the top down and had not got to any other answers to cavemen and Dinosaurs......I always read from the top down and answer as I go along.....I do believe most of us do it that way.....

You have to be able to take the rough with the smooth!!

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#19

Re: The Olympic Torch: So Complex a Caveman Couldn’t Do It

02/12/2010 8:33 AM

From my perspective, this blog entry (including its "caveman" title) is a success. It's not often that a blog entry garners nearly 400 views and almost 20 comments. Yes, we could have changed the title to something innocuous like "The Olympic Flame Burns Brightly" - but such a sentiment probably wouldn't generate such interest.

Nice job, T1tan01.

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#20

Re: The Olympic Torch: So Complex a Caveman Couldn’t Do It

02/16/2010 11:35 AM

Apparently I am outnumbered with regards to my title. It was simply an attempt to be humerous and was not meant to be demeaning to our ancestors. I apologize to all who were offended by the title. Thanks to all for the views and comments, it resulted in a successful article.

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#21

Re: The Olympic Torch: So Complex a Caveman Couldn’t Do It

02/16/2010 12:38 PM

Note to self and other bloggers: Make sure that if a title is a play off of something you have seen or heard, verify that it is global and not country specific. A mistake I have learned from. Look for more Olympic related blogs to come!

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#22
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Re: The Olympic Torch: So Complex a Caveman Couldn’t Do It

02/16/2010 12:57 PM

For what it's worth, the title did it for me. Hey, it was clearly tongue in cheek and got the audiance. I've seen a few bloggers being butcherd recently, and it ain't fair. The blogs are an avenue for us all to learn more. Read the blog and do some further research if interested. Attacking the blogee is a bit out of order, they're just giving us the intro - a wee bit of humour in a title is no bad thing. Great write-up, T1tan01, don't let the bas negatives put ya down.

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#23

Re: The Olympic Torch: So Complex a Caveman Couldn’t Do It

09/22/2010 2:10 PM

Just came across this statement on Wisegeek and thought I'd add it here on CR4.

"During the world Olympics, the flame used for the Olympic torch is lit using a large parabolic mirror. This parabolic mirror collects ambient sunlight and focuses it to an intensity sufficient to ignite the torch material."

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Andy Germany (3); Anonymous Poster (3); BiomedWV (1); Del the cat (2); drobertson (1); English Rose (3); Jaxy (1); Kris (1); RCE (1); redfred (1); s.udhayamarthandan (1); Steve Melito (2); T1tan01 (3)

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