Unusual

Throwback Thursday: Eclipse of Thales 585 BC

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Ancient Origins Total Eclipse Image One
Image Credit: Ancient Origins

Two thousand, six hundred and five years ago, today (roughly speaking)

The eclipse of Thales was a solar eclipse that was, according to The Histories of Herodotus, accurately predicted by the Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus. If Herodotus‘s account is accurate, this eclipse is the earliest recorded (per Isaac Asimov) as being known in advance of its occurrence. How, exactly, Thales predicted the eclipse remains uncertain […].

According to Herodotus, the appearance of the eclipse was interpreted as an omen and, interrupted a battle in a long-standing war between the Medes and the Lydians. The fighting immediately stopped and they agreed to a truce. Because astronomers can calculate the dates of historical eclipses, Isaac Asimov described this battle as the earliest historical event whose date is known with precision to the day and described the prediction as the birth of science.

Ancient Origins Annular Eclipse Image Two
Photo Credit: Ancient Origins

The Mechanics of a Monumentally Difficult Prediction

The reason this astronomical event is thought of as being so important is that predicting a solar eclipse, compared with a lunar eclipse, is exceptionally difficult. The astronomer must not only calculate when it will occur but, where on Earth’s surface it will be visible […]. [In] a lunar eclipse, the moon passes through the Earth’s sun shadow and the phenomena is visible on the whole side of the Earth that is in night-time […]. [They] often last longer than an hour. In solar eclipses, however, the moon’s shadow falls across the Earth in a comparatively narrow path, with a maximum duration, at any given location, of about 7 1/2 minutes.

Moon Blink Eclipse Track Image Three
Eclipse Track
Image Credit: Moon Blink

[What] makes Thales’ prediction [an] historical mystery is that historians know early Greeks, at large, didn’t have this essential lunar data and there are no other records of Greek astronomers in this period accurately predicting any other eclipses. Thus, it is thought by historians that the only place Thales’ advanced astronomical knowledge could have come from was Egypt. [It’s] known [that] Thales studied Egyptian techniques for measuring sections of land with rope […].

Returning [to] the war (mentioned above), after 15 years of fighting, on May 28, 585 BC, the armies of King Aylattes of Lydia were in battle with the forces of King Cyaxares of Medes (or, possibly, Astyages, his son), near the River Halys in what is, today, central Turkey. Chroniclers noted the heavens darkening and soldiers on both sides laying down their weapons in awe of the spectacle […]. [The] event ended both the battle and the war.

[A] Wired article says this famous astronomical event has been debated by hundreds of scholars for nearly two millennia and that some authorities believe Thales’ eclipse may have occurred 25 years earlier in 610 BC. But, the reason most agree with the 585 BC date is the record of the famous battle in Asia Minor ending when the day was suddenly turned to night.

Additional Reading & Sources:
The Battle of the Solar Eclipse (Ancient Origins)
Total Solar Eclipse of May 28, 0585 BC (Moon Blink)
Happy Birthday to Science (Web Archive)
Battle of the Eclipse (Wikipedia)
Eclipse of Thales (Wikipedia)
Predicted Solar Eclipse Stops Battle (Wired)

Story Sunday: Janus Kitten Biscuits & Gravy

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Janus Kitten Image One
Photo Credit: fox29.com

“[It can] meow out of one mouth and eat out of the other.”

Meet Biscuits & Gravy: The Two-Faced Oregon Kitten

When Kyla King got up Wednesday morning to check on her pregnant cat, she knew there was a good chance she’d find a litter of newborn kittens. She walked outside to the special crate she had put the expectant mother into overnight and noticed four tiny kittens. But, then she noticed two more hiding behind their mom. So, Kyla picked one up and set it down with the rest of the litter. She picked up the last kitten and found herself face-to-face with two tiny noses, four eyes tightly shut and two mewing mouths.

Kyla said she sent a picture to her husband, BJ King, with a text that read:
“We have 6-1/3 kitty cats now!”

Kyla reached out to their vet to learn more about the kitten’s condition, how to care for it and its odds of survival. She learned there wasn’t much to be done medically for the tiny creature. All she could do was make it comfortable and help it eat. “It doesn’t really know how to nurse properly because it has two mouths so, I’ve been trying to feed it,” Kyla said. “And, I mean, I’m gonna do the best I can but, these animals don’t usually live too long.”

Janus Kitten Image Two
Photo Credit: dailyhive.com

Cats with two faces are known as Janus cats, after the Roman god Janus, often depicted with two faces in mythology. They suffer from a rare congenital defect called diprosopus, or cranial duplication. Most Janus cats don’t live longer than a day but, one defied the odds. His name was Frank and Louie and he passed away in 2014 at the age of 15. The Guinness Book of World Records named him the world’s longest surviving Janus cat.

Cambrie Caldwell
KOIN TV CBS
Portland, OR
May 21, 2020

Sadly, Biscuits passed away last night. ~Vic

Flashback Friday: Joplin Tornado 2011

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Joplin Tornado Image One
Photo Credit: theatlantic.com

Nine years ago, today, an EF5, multi-vortex tornado slammed into Joplin, Missouri. It formed at 5:34 pm CDT and dissipated at 6:12pm CDT. I remember this one, vividly. I had just moved back to North Carolina from Texas and was, literally, still unpacking. I was shocked at the devastation. ~Vic

[This] was part of a larger, late May tornado outbreak and reached a maximum width of nearly one mile […] during its path through the southern part of the city. This particular tornado was unusual in that it intensified in strength and grew larger in size at a very fast rate. The tornado tracked eastward across the city and, then, continued eastward across Interstate 44 into rural portions of Jasper County and Newton County. It was the third tornado to strike Joplin since May 1971.

Joplin Tornado Image Two
Photo Credit: theatlantic.com

[The] tornado killed 158 people (with an additional eight indirect deaths), injured some 1,150 others and caused damages amounting to a total of $2.8 billion. It was the deadliest tornado to strike the United States since the 1947 Glazier–Higgins–Woodward tornadoes, and the seventh-deadliest overall. Along with the Tri-State Tornado and the 1896 St. Louis–East St. Louis tornado, it ranks as one of Missouri’s and America’s deadliest tornadoes […]. It was the first F5/EF5 tornado in Missouri since May 20, 1957 [and] was only the second F5/EF5 tornado in Missouri history dating back to 1950.

It also ranks as the costliest single tornado in U.S. history.

Additional Reading & Sources:
May Tornadoes Struck Joplin Twice in the 1970s (Joplin Globe)
Joplin Tornado (National Weather Service)
F5 & EF5 Tornadoes of the US (NOAA)
Tornado Damaged Joplin From Above (The Atlantic)
Joplin Tornado (Tornado Facts Site)
2011 Joplin Tornado (Wikipedia)

Mike Bettes Has A Hard Time

Weird S*** Wednesday: The Silent People

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The Silent People Image One
Photo Credit: Timo Newton-Syms & Amusing Planet

In looking thru odd stories, this caught my attention. From Oddity Central:

A Creepy Art Installation Freaking People Out on Google Maps

By Spooky on May 15th, 2020
An eerie art installation located in a barren field in the Finnish countryside recently went viral after someone accidentally stumbled upon it while searching on Google Maps. With quarantine and isolation measures still in place in many countries around the world, people are spending a lot of time online looking for cool places to visit once they can travel again. Many are using free tools, like Google Maps, and end [up] going deeper down the rabbit hole than they originally anticipated. That’s probably how some people recently discovered The Silent People, […] creepy-looking [figures] that left them scratching their heads about why anyone would fill a field with hundreds of scarecrows and dress them as real people.

Seen from afar, The Silent People [site] looks like a perfectly still army of people all facing the same way. It’s only when you take a closer look that you realize it’s made up of wooden frames covered in human clothes and heads made of [peat], which does a surprisingly good job of emulating human hair. Even knowing that it’s an art installation, you still feel uneasy looking at the almost one thousand still [bodies] but, knowing absolutely nothing about it and [suddenly] finding it on Google Maps can really freak a person out.

The Silent People Image Two
Photo Credit: Antti T. Nissinen & Amusing Planet

From Amusing Planet:

Hiljainen Kansa: The Silent People of Suomussalmi, Finland

By Kaushik Patowary on March 28, 2015
Motorists driving along Highway 5, about 30 km north of the small town of Suomussalmi, in north-eastern Finland, are greeted by a peculiar sight. A crowd of almost a thousand figures stand silently on a field near the road. In the morning with light behind them, this motionless army appears morose, even menacing. But, when a light breeze picks up their colorful dresses and blows them around their still bodies, they appear to have sprung into life.

This army of scarecrow-like figures called “The Silent People” or “Hiljainen Kansa” in Finnish, were the creation of local artist Reijo Kela. They were first displayed in 1988 in a field in Lassila, a neighbourhood of Helsinki. Later in 1994, these were on display in the Market Place of Helsinki’s Senate Square, then on the banks of the river Jalonuoma, Ämmänsaari and finally moved to this location in 1994 itself.

Additional Reading:
The Silent People (Atlas Obscura)

Scoop Saturday: Iowa Man Receives 33 Year Old Postcard

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Elizabeth Kay Postal Box Unsplash Image One
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Kay on Unsplash

An Iowa man, who received a postcard from his sister, said he was surprised to note the card had been mailed in 1987. Paul Willis, a hog farmer in Thornton, said a postcard appeared in his mailbox, recently, from his sister, Annie Lovell […]. [H]e soon noticed the card bore a picture of Lovell on a Grand Canyon hike in 1987 and a San Francisco postmark from December of that same year.

Willis said the postcard bore a second postmark from April 29 of this year in Des Moines so, he called the post office to see if they had any explanation for the postcard’s tardiness. [An] employee said the postcard may have been discovered while furniture and machines were being moved for cleaning. “She said, ‘Well, the post offices are all going through deep cleaning because of COVID-19…'” Willis [recounted to] the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat.

An Illinois woman experienced a similar incident in July 2019, when a postcard showed up at her home that had been mailed 26 years earlier. Kim Draper said the card was addressed to the previous residents of her Springfield home and, [it] recounted the residents’ father’s travels in Hong Kong.

Ben Hooper
United Press International
May 7, 2020
No Video Clip

Short Piece on Kim Draper

Story Sunday: The Asteroid & The Mask

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Researcher Wearing Face Mask Image One
Researcher Anne Virkki comparing her mask.
Photo Credit: Arecibo Observatory & USA Today

I haven’t done a Story Sunday since 2014.

It’s funny how every news article out there these days just has to make a tie in with the virus. And, that image doesn’t look like a mask to me. It looks like something else. Just sayin’… ~Vic

An asteroid is hurtling close to the Earth, and with it, a startling reminder of the coronavirus pandemic. The space rock, known as 1998 OR2, will be nearly 4 million miles away from Earth on Wednesday at 5:59am EDT, classifying it as a “potentially hazardous” asteroid, despite the impossibility of it posing a threat to Earth anytime soon.

A newly captured image by [the] Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico brings its own surprise. As the asteroid approaches our planet, it looks as if it’s wearing its own mask and may very well be conducting its own social distancing practices. “The small-scale topographic features, such as hills and ridges on one end of asteroid 1998 OR2, are fascinating, scientifically,” Anne Virkki, head of planetary radar at Arecibo Observatory, said in a statement. “But, since we are all thinking about COVID-19, these features make it look like 1998 OR2 remembered to wear a mask.”

Asteroid 1998 OR2 Image Two
Image Credit: Arecibo Observatory & USA Today

It’s classified as a potentially hazardous asteroid because it is more than 500 feet in diameter and closer than 4,650,000 miles to Earth. “Although this asteroid is not projected to impact Earth, it is important to understand the characteristics of these types of objects to improve impact-risk mitigation technologies,” she said.

The asteroid, which is about one mile in diameter, has been traveling at nearly 20,000 mph since its discovery in 1998. Though it may not come anywhere near Earth in the coming weeks, Flaviane Venditti, a researcher at the observatory, said in a statement that, in 2079, it “will pass Earth about 3.5 times closer than it will this year.”

Joshua Bote
USA Today
April 24, 2020
Updated April 26, 2020

 

Additional Articles:
S-Band Spotlight (National Astronomy & Ionosphere Center)
Rocky Horror (The Sun)
Asteroid Visiting Earth’s Neighborhood Brings Its Own Face Mask (University of Central Florida)

Scoop Saturday: Navy Master Chief Ocean Protest

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Navy Master Chief Protest Image One
Photo Credit: Mike Conner
businessinsider.com

Yep. New heading. ~Vic

A man wearing the US Navy uniform went to the oceanfront in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, on Thursday, in an apparent protest against the town’s restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic. The man, who was identified by a witness as a retired US Navy [Master Chief], was seen photographed standing in front of a sign that read “LAND OF THE FREE.” Mike Conner, a longtime resident of Emerald Isle, and a surfer, told Insider the retired sailor stood in the waters for about 10 minutes before he was approached by law enforcement officers. Conner said the man was asked to remove himself from the area but, refused the request. “The sailor eventually left the water on his own accord, without incident”, Conner added.

Hours after the incident, the town announced it would lift the ban on access on Saturday. Surfers, and other residents, previously expressed their disapproval by staging protests throughout the area and were “fired up by the closures”, Conner said. “We’re very happy that Emerald Isle allowed access, not just to us swimmers but, to everybody that uses it as a medium for their exercise,” Connor said. “We don’t want our rights stomped all over.”

The man in the uniform and the Emerald Isle Police Department did not respond to a request for comment.

David Choi
Business Insider
April 17, 2020

Additional Articles:
North Carolina Beach Reopens After Navy Serviceman’s Ocean Protest (National File Website)
Navy Master Chief Stands His Ground (BizPac Review)

Retired Chief Rife

Throwback Thursday: Sverdlovsk Anthrax Leak 1979

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Sverdlovsk Image One
Photo Credit: topwar.ru & weaponews.com

Forty-one years ago, today, spores of anthrax were accidentally released from a Soviet military research facility near the city of Sverdlovsk, Russia (now Yekaterinburg/Ekaterinburg).

On April 2, 1979, there was an unusual anthrax outbreak, which affected 94 people and killed at least 64 of them, in the Soviet city of Sverdlovsk, roughly 850 miles east of Moscow. The first victim died after four days. [T]he last one died six weeks later. The Soviet government claimed the deaths were caused by intestinal anthrax from tainted meat, a story some influential American scientists found believable. However, officials in the Carter Administration suspected the outbreak was caused by an accidental release of anthrax spores from a suspected Soviet biological weapons facility located in the city (Military Compound 19). The US believed that the Soviet Union was violating the Biological Weapons Convention signed in 1972 and made their suspicions public. But, the Soviets denied any activities relating to biological weapons and, at numerous international conferences, tried to prove their contaminated meat story. It wasn’t until thirteen years later, in 1992, that President Boris Yeltsin admitted, without going into details, that the anthrax outbreak was the result of military activity at the facility. [Russia] allowed a team of Western scientists to go to Sverdlovsk to investigate the outbreak. The team visited Sverdlovsk in June 1992 and August 1993 […].

Military Facility Image Two
Photo Credit: topwar.ru & weaponews.com

Although the KGB had confiscated hospital and other records after the incident, the Western scientists were able to track where all the victims had been at the time of the anthrax release. Their results showed that on the day of the incident, all the victims were clustered along a straight line downwind from the military facility. Livestock in the same area also died of anthrax. After completing their investigation, the team concluded the outbreak was caused by a release of an aerosol of anthrax pathogen at the military facility. But, they were unable to determine what caused the release or what specific activities were conducted at the facility.

“Clogged filter, I removed it. Replace the filter”. [A] reminder on a piece of paper left [by a] factory worker […] to his mate when he went home on Friday evening…

Colonel Nicholas Cheryshev, shift supervisor at the plant, […] was in a hurry to go home and, for some unknown reason, was not aware of the lack of filter. In the end, the workers on the night shift, finding entries in the log window, quietly launched [the] equipment. [For] more than three hours, the plant was [throwing], into the air [of] the night sky of […] Sverdlovsk, portions [of] dried culture of anthrax. When the lack of bio-security was discovered, production was urgently stopped, […] the filter [replaced] and [they], quietly, continued working.

It was an accident at a clandestine biological weapons lab that allowed deadly anthrax spores to contaminate Sverdlovsk’s air, as evidence unearthed later would show. Over the years, as DNA sequencing technology has improved, scientists have been piecing together more and more information about the anthrax strain.

This facility has not been closed. It just went underground…literally. ~Vic

Sources & Additional Reading
Sverdlovsk Anthrax Leak (Adam Smith Institute)
1979 Anthrax Leak (PBS: Frontline)
How DNA Evidence Confirmed A Soviet Cover-Up (The Atlantic)
The Tragedy of Sverdlosk-19 (Weapon News)
Biohazard Book (Wikipedia)
Sverdlovsk Anthrax Leak (Wikipedia)

Flashback Friday: Uranus & Pluto

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It’s Friday the 13th! Eek! Everybody…RUN! Hide! Yeah, well, enough of the hysteria. We have plenty of that going on with the corona beer virus. Sugar, rice, pasta, Clorox & Lysol hand wipes, bleach, hand sanitizer and toilet paper doesn’t stand a chance. Now, we have to deal with the dreaded number 13. E-gads! The humanity!

March 13 has been a rather busy day in history. Curiously, Uranus and Pluto are involved.

Uranus Image One
Uranus and its rings.
Image Credit: mirror.co.uk

Uranus is the seventh planet from the sun. The name of Uranus references the ancient Greek deity of the sky Uranus, the father of Cronus (Saturn) and grandfather of Zeus (Jupiter) […]. It has the third-largest planetary radius and fourth-largest planetary mass in [our] solar system and, […] is the only planet whose name is derived directly from a figure of Greek mythology. Uranus is similar in composition to Neptune and, both have bulk chemical compositions which differ from that of the larger gas giants Jupiter and Saturn. Uranus’ atmosphere is similar to Jupiter’s and Saturn’s in its primary composition of hydrogen and helium but, it contains more “ices” such as water, ammonia and methane […]. It has the coldest planetary atmosphere in the solar system […]. Like the other giant planets, Uranus has a ring system, a magnetosphere and numerous moons. The Uranian system has a unique configuration because its axis of rotation is tilted sideways, nearly into the plane of its solar orbit. Its north and south poles, therefore, lie where most other planets have their equators. Voyager 2 remains the only spacecraft to visit the planet.

Like the classical planets, Uranus is visible to the naked eye but, it was never recognised as a planet by ancient observers because of its dimness and slow orbit. [Two hundred, thirty-nine years ago, today], Sir William Herschel first observed Uranus on March 13, 1781 (from the garden of his house at 19 New King Street in Bath, Somerset, England, now the Herschel Museum of Astronomy), leading to its discovery as a planet, expanding the known boundaries of the solar system for the first time in history and making Uranus the first planet classified as such with the aid of a telescope.

Pluto Image Two
Dwarf Planet Pluto
Photo Credit: forbes.com

Pluto is an icy dwarf planet in the Kuiper belt, a ring of bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune. It was the first Kuiper belt object to be discovered and is the largest known dwarf planet. Pluto was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930 as the ninth planet from the Sun. After 1992, its status as a planet was questioned following the discovery of several objects of similar size in the Kuiper belt. In 2005, Eris, a dwarf planet in the scattered disc which is 27% more massive than Pluto, was discovered. This led the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to define the term “planet”, formally, in 2006, during their 26th General Assembly. That definition excluded Pluto and reclassified it as a dwarf planet.

It is the ninth-largest and tenth-most-massive known object directly orbiting the Sun. It is the largest known trans-Neptunian object by volume but, is less massive than Eris. Like other Kuiper belt objects, Pluto is primarily made of ice and rock and, is relatively small…about one-sixth the mass of the Moon and one-third its volume. It has a moderately eccentric and inclined orbit […]. This means that Pluto periodically comes closer to the Sun than Neptune but, a stable orbital resonance with Neptune prevents them from colliding.

[Observations] of Neptune in the late 19th century led astronomers to speculate that Uranus’s orbit was being disturbed by another planet besides Neptune. In 1906, Percival Lowell, a wealthy Bostonian who had founded [the] Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, in 1894, started an extensive project in search of a possible ninth planet, which he termed “Planet X“. Lowell and his observatory conducted his search until his death in 1916 but, to no avail. Unknown to Lowell, his surveys had captured two faint images of Pluto on March 19 and April 7, 1915 but, they were not recognized for what they were.

Percival’s widow, Constance Lowell, entered into a ten-year legal battle with the Lowell Observatory over her husband’s legacy and the search for Planet X did not resume until 1929. [23-year-old] Clyde Tombaugh, who had just arrived at the observatory, discovered a possible moving object on photographic plates on February 18, 1930. After the observatory obtained further confirmatory photographs, news of the discovery was telegraphed to the Harvard College Observatory ninety years ago, today, on March 13, 1930. Pluto has yet to complete a full orbit of the Sun since its discovery, as one Plutonian year is 247.68 years long.

The discovery made headlines around the globe. Lowell Observatory, which had the right to name the new object, received more than 1,000 suggestions from all over the world, ranging from Atlas to Zymal. Constance Lowell proposed Zeus, then Percival and finally Constance. These suggestions were disregarded. The name Pluto, after the god of the underworld, was proposed by Venetia Burney (1918–2009), an eleven-year-old schoolgirl in Oxford, England, who was interested in classical mythology.

Additional Reading:
Voyager 2 in the Uranium System (Zenodo site)
Uranus (NASA site)
Uranus (MIRA site)
Bath Preservation Trust
Eleven Awesome Facts About Pluto (geek.com)

Shutterbug Saturday: Rogue Artistes 5.0

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It’s been nearly a year since I made my first post on our local artwork. Here are parts two, three and four. I’ve gathered up some more, below. All photos are my personal collection. © ~Vic

Slayer Image One
Somebody is a Slayer fan.
06-23-2019
Pipe Support Image Two
Drainage pipe support.
What the critter is, I don’t know.
07-25-2019
Strange Manhole Image Three
Houie?
Howie?
Wowie?
10-04-2019
Uh Oh Image Four
I don’t even remember where I found this one.
10-10-2019
Footy Prints Image Five
This one was curious.
Captured well after Halloween.
It appears to be prints of a one-legged man?
There’s a foot print and a dot.
What do you think?
11-26-2019
Toast Image Six
Toast?
With a “V”?
This one was hard to get.
02-22-2020

POTD: Old Hydrant

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This comes under the heading of “things you don’t see everyday.” I was out on a walk around our old cotton mill complex and stumbled across it. I have no idea how old this thing is but, it appears to have been manufactured in Tennessee. ~Vic

Tennessee Hydrant Image
01-25-2020

FOTD: Prickly Beast

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These things are pretty to look at but, you don’t want to step on one of them, barefooted. I’m always reminded of the Return of the Jedi sand monster Sarlacc. ~Vic

Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge

Prickly Beast Image
02-06-2019

POTD: All Seeing Eye

Posted on Updated on

This was propped up against a building in downtown, about two blocks from my house. I was out for an afternoon walk and it was an unusual sight. It’s no longer there and I have no idea who it belonged to, who put it there or…where it went. I found it creepy but, took a picture of it, anyway. ~Vic

All Seeing Eye Image
Concrete Artwork
07-10-2017

Wayback Wednesday: Tybee Island Bomb Accident 1958

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Tybee Bomb Image One
Image Credit: cafepress.com
Silkscreen Image For T-shirts

America lost a bomb. I’m not kidding. Sixty-two years ago, today, the United States Air Force dropped a nuclear bomb in the water off the coast of Tybee Island, very close to Savannah, Georgia. A North American Aviation F-86 Sabrejet fighter plane and a Boeing B-47 Stratojet strategic bomber collided during practicing exercises and, in fear of a detonation in the event of a crash, the crew jettisoned the bomb. They still haven’t found it and it is assumed to be somewhere at the bottom of Wassaw Sound.

Midair Collision:

The B-47 bomber was on a simulated combat mission from Homestead Air Force Base in Florida. It was carrying a single 7,600-pound bomb. At about 2:00am EST, an F-86 fighter collided with the B-47. The F-86 crashed after the pilot ejected from the plane. The damaged B-47 remained airborne, plummeting 18,000 feet from 38,000 feet when [the pilot] regained flight control. The crew requested permission to [drop] the bomb in order to reduce weight and prevent the bomb from exploding during an emergency landing. Permission was granted and the bomb was jettisoned at 7,200 feet […]. The crew did not see an explosion when the bomb struck the sea. They managed to land the B-47 safely at […] Hunter Air Force Base. The pilot, a Colonel Howard Richardson, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross after this incident.

Tybee Bomb Image Two
Image Credit: npr.org

The Bomb:

Some sources describe the bomb as a functional nuclear weapon but, others describe it as disabled. If it had a plutonium nuclear core installed, it was a fully functional weapon. If it had a dummy core installed, it was incapable of producing a nuclear explosion but, could still produce a conventional explosion. […] The Air Force maintains that its nuclear capsule, used to initiate the nuclear reaction, was removed before its flight aboard B-47. […] the bomb contained a simulated 150-pound cap made of lead. However, according to 1966 Congressional testimony by Assistant Secretary of Defense W.J. Howard, the Tybee Island bomb was a “complete weapon, a bomb with a nuclear capsule” and one of two weapons lost that contained a plutonium trigger. Nevertheless, a study of the Strategic Air Command documents indicates that Alert Force test flights in February 1958 with the older Mark 15 payloads were not authorized to fly with nuclear capsules on board.

The collision, and its aftermath, also drives the plot of the novel Three Chords & The Truth by Craig McDonald, published in November 2016.

Missing For 50 Years (BBC News)
This Day In Aviation (This site claims the bomber was from MacDill Air Force Base)
Lost H-Bomb: RIP (Savannah Now Archive)
The Case of the Missing H-Bomb (Counterpunch Archive)
The Colonel and the Bomb (The Atlantic)

(It was a…) Static Blog

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I am battling something that I am not totally sure I will survive. I don’t mean to come across as dramatic but, I need to let readers of this blog know why I won’t be posting. I may return…I may not. I don’t honestly know.

This is, now, effectively, a static blog. I encourage you to read all of my Chris Thomas posts. I have sporadically posted years ago, so, I do have some older posts going back to 2013, I think. Peruse if you wish.

Thank you to all of my readers. You are so appreciated.

~Vic

[Addendum: I’m not taking this post down as I put it up for a reason. That being said, I am alive and well…and doing the best I can. ~Vic]

Wayback Wednesday: Mary Celeste 1872

Posted on Updated on

Mary Celeste Image One
Image Credit: wikipedia.org & wikimedia.org
1861 Painting – Unknown Artist
Names: Amazon (1861-1868) Canadian
Mary Celeste (1869-1885) American

[Note: The finding of the abandoned Mary Celeste is sometimes listed as December 5, 1872. This is due to time differences between “Civil Time” (land time) and “Sea Time”.]

A merchant brigantine, the Mary Celeste was built at Spencer’s Island, Nova Scotia and launched under British registration as Amazon in 1861. She was transferred to American ownership and registration in 1868 when she acquired her new name. Thereafter, she sailed, uneventfully, until her 1872 voyage.

[She was] discovered adrift and deserted in the Atlantic Ocean off the Azores Islands on December 4, 1872. The Canadian brigantine Dei Gratia found her in a disheveled but seaworthy condition under partial sail and with her lifeboat missing. The last entry in her log was dated ten days earlier.

She left New York City for Genoa on November 7 and [the] Dei Gratia departed for Gibraltar on November 15, following the same general route eight days [later]. [She] was still amply provisioned when found. Her cargo of denatured alcohol was intact and, the captain’s and crew’s personal belongings were undisturbed. None of those who had been on board were ever heard from again.

Ghost Ship Image Two
Image Credit: gutenberg.org

At the salvage hearings in Gibraltar following her recovery, the court’s officers considered various possibilities of foul play, including mutiny by Mary Celeste’s crew, piracy by the Dei Gratia crew or others and conspiracy to carry out insurance or salvage fraud. No convincing evidence supported these theories but, unresolved suspicions led to a relatively low salvage award.

The inconclusive nature of the hearings fostered continued speculation as to the nature of the mystery and, the story has repeatedly been complicated by false detail and fantasy. Hypotheses that have been advanced include the effects on the crew of alcohol fumes rising from the cargo, submarine earthquakes (seaquakes), waterspouts, attack by a giant squid and paranormal intervention. The story of her 1872 abandonment has been recounted and dramatized many times in documentaries, novels, plays and films and, the name of the ship has become a byword for unexplained desertion.

In 1885, her captain deliberately wrecked her off the coast of Haiti as part of an attempted insurance fraud.

[Source]

[Were] it not for Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle, struggling to establish himself as a writer prior to creating Sherlock Holmes, perhaps the world would not have ever known or cared [about the ship]. Conan Doyle’s short story about the ‘Marie Celeste‘ (he changed the name from Mary) turned a minor puzzle into one of the most famous legends of the sea. Nevertheless, we should recognise it was fiction, for which his editor paid 30 Pounds, […] a respectable sum in 1884.

[Source]

Speculations of Cause
Myths
Pop Culture & Legacy
The Mary Celeste Site (Fact, not Fiction)
Smithsonian Article (November 2007)

Smithsonian Documentary Clip

 

Interesting Documentary

Flashback Friday: Schrödinger’s Cat 1935

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Schrodingers Cat Image
Image Credit: chillingcompetition.com

Eight-four years ago, today, Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger published his first of three essays on a Thought Experiment regarding a hypothetical cat:

[A] cat, a flask of poison and a radioactive source are placed in a sealed box. If an internal monitor (e.g. Geiger counter) detects radioactivity (i.e. a single atom decaying), the flask is shattered, releasing the poison, which kills the cat. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics implies that, after a while, the cat is simultaneously alive and dead. Yet, when one looks in the box, one sees the cat either alive or dead, not both alive and dead. This poses the question of when, exactly, quantum superposition ends and reality collapses into one possibility or the other.

[Schrödinger] intended the example [above] to illustrate the absurdity of the existing view of quantum mechanics:

One can even set up quite ridiculous cases. A cat is penned up in a steel chamber, along with the following device (which must be secured against direct interference by the cat): in a Geiger counter, there is a tiny bit of radioactive substance, so small, that perhaps in the course of the hour one of the atoms decays, but also, with equal probability, perhaps none. [If] it happens, the counter tube discharges and, through a relay, releases a hammer that shatters a small flask of hydrocyanic acid. If one has left this entire system to itself for an hour, one would say that the cat still lives if, meanwhile, no atom has decayed. The first atomic decay would have poisoned it. The psi-function of the entire system would express this by having in it the living and dead cat (pardon the expression) mixed or smeared out in equal parts.

It is typical of these cases that an indeterminacy originally restricted to the atomic domain becomes transformed into macroscopic indeterminacy, which can then be resolved by direct observation. That prevents us from so naively accepting as valid a “blurred model” for representing reality. In itself, it would not embody anything unclear or contradictory. There is a difference between a shaky or out-of-focus photograph and a snapshot of clouds and fog banks.

Schrödinger’s famous thought experiment poses the question, “when does a quantum system stop existing as a superposition of states and become one or the other?”

Schrodinger's Cat Image Two
Image Credit: andrewlawrenceking.com

The EPR Paradox was a thought experiment proposed by physicists Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen (EPR) that they interpreted as indicating that the explanation of physical reality provided by quantum mechanics was incomplete (PDF).

Biography
Interpretations of the Experiment
Schrödinger’s Foray into Quantum Mechanics
Legacy
Honors & Awards
All About Science Article
References from Einstein: His Life and Universe

Shutterbug Saturday: Sky Gazing 2.0

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Beauty when you look up. All photos are my personal collection © ~Vic

Sky Gazing 1.0

Cloud Image One
A “W” with a smile.
06-22-2018
Cloud Image Two
A big feather or…a Gremlin?
06-27-2019
Cloud Image Three
Reminds me of cooked fish.
10-17-2019
Cloud Image Four
Ribbons of color.
The phone couldn’t capture the deep pinks.
11-12-2019

Shutterbug Sunday: The Woo

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Shutterbug Saturday was a bust. I spent most of the day battling a computer (not the laptop, again). I still continue to curse Microsoft. I did manage a bit of a respite. Last night was our monthly Seabee gathering. It was a wonderful turnout and we had a great meal. If you are ever in the area of Roxboro and/or Person County, you should visit Homestead Steakhouse.

Anyway, ever seen a Woo? Curious critters, they are. All pictures are my personal collection. © ~Vic

The Woo Image One
It sits in our kitchen.
10-20-2017
The Woo Image Two
Got a snake tail.
The Woo Image Three
Their origin.

POTD: Firebird In The Sky

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This one isn’t mine. This is a shot my buddy Ray captured at IBM. ~Vic

Firebird Image
08-06-2019

Foto Friday: Halloween Local 3.0

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I was planning to do a Flick Friday for 1954. No such luck. In fact, sticking with Friday and sticking with 1954, there are no releases until well into December. *sigh* So, you gets pix! All photos are my personal collection. ~Vic

Part I/Part II/Old Halloween Stuff

Halloween Image One
Minimalist decorations for a home originally built in 1860.
Taken: 10-27-2018
Halloween Image Two
Rest in pieces. Love the black rose.
Taken: 10-28-2018
Halloween Image Three
Opposite side. Twins?
Halloween Image Four
I think this is supposed to be a ghost/skeleton mix. Not totally sure…
Halloween Image Five
Just hanging out on the porch with the dog…and a gargoyle.
Halloween Image Six
Hanging around.
Lovely home built in 1936.
Halloween Image Seven
That is one big spider.
Can you see the barbie doll and the two baby spiders?
Halloween Image Eight
Let me out!
Taken: 10-30-2018
Halloween Image Nine
Skeletons can garden, too.
Halloween Image Ten
Resting under the tree.

Throwback Thursday: Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse 1940

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Tacoma Narrows Bridge Image One
Image Credit: www.tacomanarrowsbridge.org

The caption above reads:

On July 1, 1940, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge was opened to traffic. This picture, taken from the air during dedication ceremonies, plainly shows three unusual characteristics of design: (1) Extremely narrow deck – 39′; (2) extreme length of suspension span – 2800′; (3) the solid stiffening girders used in the place of orthodox truss girders. Use of the solid girders is commonly blamed for the collapse.

Seventy-nine years ago, today, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsed at approximately 11:00am PST due to a wind-induced aeroelastic flutter.

[A] suspension bridge in [Washington State] that spanned the Tacoma Narrows strait of Puget Sound, between Tacoma and the Kitsap Peninsula, [it] opened to traffic on July 1, 1940. The bridge’s collapse has been described as “spectacular” and in subsequent decades “has attracted the attention of engineers, physicists and mathematicians”. Throughout its short existence, it was the world’s third-longest suspension bridge by main span, behind the Golden Gate Bridge and the George Washington Bridge.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge Image Two
Image Credit: tacomanarrowsbridge.org
Notice the view of the car in the center of the twist.

Construction began in September 1938. From the time the deck was built, it began to move vertically in windy conditions, so, construction workers nicknamed the bridge Galloping Gertie. The motion continued after the bridge opened to the public, despite several damping measures. The bridge’s main span finally collapsed in 40-mile-per-hour (64 km/h) winds on the morning of November 7, 1940. Efforts to replace the bridge were delayed by the United States’ entry into World War II […]. The portion of the bridge that fell into the water now serves as an artificial reef.

The bridge’s collapse had a lasting effect on science and engineering. In many physics textbooks, the event is presented as an example of elementary forced resonance. [The] bridge collapsed because normal speed winds produced aeroelastic flutter that matched the bridge’s natural frequency. The collapse boosted research into bridge aerodynamics-aeroelastics, which has influenced the designs of all later long-span bridges.

[Source]

Tacoma Narrows Bridge Image Three
Photo Credit: tacomanarrowsbridge.org

I saw the Narrows bridge die today and only by the grace of God, escaped dying with it…

I drove on the bridge and started across. Just as I drove past the towers, the bridge began to sway violently from side to side. Before I realized it, the tilt became so violent that I lost control of the car…I jammed on the brakes and got out, only to be thrown onto my face against the curb. Around me I could hear concrete cracking. The car, itself, began to slide from side to side on the roadway. I decided the bridge was breaking up and my only hope was to get back to shore. On hands and knees most of the time, I crawled 500 yards or more to the towers. My breath was coming in gasps…my knees were raw and bleeding, my hands bruised and swollen from gripping the concrete curb. Toward the last, I risked rising to my feet and running a few yards at a time. Safely back at the toll plaza, I saw the bridge in its final collapse and saw my car plunge into the Narrows.

[Leonard Coatsworth, Tacoma News Tribune Editor]

[See also Tubby The Dog]

Some Bridge Facts:
♦ [The] entire 1940 bridge did not collapse into the water, though most of the center span did fall. The side spans were badly damaged and the 2 big towers got bent beyond repair […]. It would be 10 years before the bridge was replaced.
♦ [Due] to the undulating motions up and down […], you could be driving across it and, the car ahead of you might dip out of view. Sometimes the roadway would rise above the height of a car […].
♦ The 1940 bridge remains at the bottom of the water have provided a place for sealife [sic] that was not there, before and much of the life includes the giant Pacific octopus as well as lingcod, wolf eels and black seabass [sic].
♦ (Referencing the image at the very top…) Did a ship go under the bridge for opening day in 1940? Yes, it is true…the ship Atlanta was a Coast Guard Cutter. Ironically, not only was it the first ship to go under the bridge on opening day July 1, 1940, it was also the last ship to travel under the bridge before it collapsed […]. When the concrete started to crumble and fall off, the ship was underneath and pieces fell on her deck. Luckily, no pieces were big enough to cause any damage to the ship and the ship’s Commander was one of the first to report the collapse.

Link to the Armistice Day Blizzard
Harbor History Museum