On the Radar: NASA’s Infamous “Gimbal Rig”

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This image shows NASA’s Gimbal Rig in motion. NASA used this device to test Mercury astronauts’ ability to recover from disorientation that resulted from up to 30 RPM in simultaneous roll, pitch, and yaw. The astronauts had to reset their mock instruments after–and sometimes during–the exercise to prove they could control the craft in tumble conditions greater than they would ever actually experience during flight. According to John Glenn, the Mercury astronauts hated the Gimbal Rig with a passion. Today, astronaut candidates have to go through a centrifuge–but nothing quite like this.

 

Sources: Image from NASA, NASA article on the Gimbal Rig

Watch a video of the Rig–you may not think it looks disorienting, but remember it’s moving across three planes of motion!

On the Radar: The Massive Soviet Lun-Class “Ekranoplan”

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This “Ekranoplan” looks like part-plane, part-ship. In reality, it’s what one would call a “ground effect vehicle,” which uses the ground effect concept to “fly” seriously low over ground or, more commonly, water. Though Russia retired this particular vehicle, the country has plans to develop similar military crafts very soon, armed with cruise missiles.

Watch a video of the Lun Ekranoplan soaring over the seas here.

Image source here.

What Did the 1919 Paris Peace Conference Have to Do with the Vietnam War?

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Hồ Chí Minh at the French Communist Party’s first congress in 1920. Found on the University of Exeter’s Imperial & Global Forum blog. U.S. Library of Congress records this same photo as that of Hồ Chí Minh at the Peace Conference.

All roads lead to Paris, or so it seemed to what remained of the young male generation following the Great War. And certainly for colonists desiring nations of their own, the only place worth a shot was Paris in 1919, especially when U.S. President Woodrow Wilson introduced the idea of “self-determination” in his famous “Fourteen Points.” Having traveled the world for the past eight years, one particular disillusioned colonist found himself in Paris at the end of Empires. Continue reading

On the Radar: The First Animation Showing a Horse “Hovers” During Its Run

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As recently as the late-1800s, people had no idea how horses ran. To the general public’s astonishment, Eadweard Muybridge revealed that at a point during a single “revolution,” all of a horse’s four legs hover over the ground. This was demonstrated through stop-motion photography, which has been animated here. Muybridge made an animated projection of the idea afterwards, possibly influencing Edison’s invention of the precursor to the motion picture camera.

Source: Wikipedia – Eadweard Muybridge, Wikipedia – Sallie Gardner at a Gallop, UT Austin’s Harry Ransom Center Permanent Collection

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The Little French Village that Cared

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Le Chambon-sur-Lignon. Source: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

The picturesque town of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon may look like an idyllic French village, tucked among the hills of the Loire and filled with quiet people wholly committed to the contentment found in daily routine. But this town is “Righteous Among the Nations,” and its population can count many heroes in its ranks. Together, its people saved thousands in a country divided by war. What seemed daring and different to many came but naturally to this French ville with a heart for resistance and faith. Continue reading

On the Radar: Barbecue Back in the Day, North Carolina

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Modern methods for making pulled pork did not always exist, of course. Back before large pig roasters and custom-made grills, North Carolinians made do with pots, trenches, some sticks, and some sort of utensil to baste on that glorious BBQ sauce.

 

Source: State Archives of North Carolina Flickr

Be sure to check out the entire album on NC barbecue on the State Archives Flickr.

The “Silent Duel” Between Stalin and Doctor Zhivago

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Boris Pasternak, author of Doctor Zhivago. Source: Wikipedia.

The author of the famed novel-turned-film has a colorful and complex history with his home country. For all of his frequent brushes with the NKVD (Russian police, precursor to the KGB, and in charge of the USSR’s infamous labor camps), he was never once sent to the Gulag or even put on trial. His mistress once wrote: “I believe that between Stalin and Pasternak there was an incredible, silent duel.”* But in the beginning of his writing career, Pasternak wrote poems lauding the 1905 Revolution and party leaders. So how did he become a Soviet enemy, and why was he never “punished” by the government that disowned him? Continue reading

On the Radar: The “Acoustic Mirrors” of Denge–a Pre-Radar Warning System

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Located along British coastlines, parabolic concrete structures such as these once served as interwar, pre-radar warning systems. They focused and concentrated sounds from the Channel, with the goal of detecting the approach of enemy planes. Image: Wikipedia.

Read more here: Acoustic Mirror – Wikipedia, and the succeeding radar system: Chain Home – Wikipedia