Friday, November 27, 2020

Speaking of Engineering...."Do not put foreign objects in your mouth"

Following hot on the heels of  "Industrial Development In Roman France and Roman Syria (could Rome have had an industrial revolution?)"

From Delancey Place:

Do not put foreign objects in your mouth

Today's selection -- from The Body by Bill Bryson

It bears repeating -- do not put foreign objects in your mouth:

"In the spring of 1843, the great British engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel took a rare break from his labors -- at the time he was building the SS Great Britain, the largest and most challenging ship ever to come off a drawing board to that time -- to amuse his children with a magic trick. Things didn't go quite to plan, however. Midway through the entertainment Brunel accidentally swallowed a gold half-sovereign coin that he had secreted under his tongue. We may reasonably imag­ine Brunel's look of surprise followed by consternation and perhaps slight panic as he felt the coin slide down his throat and lodge at the base of his trachea. It caused him no great pain, but it was uncomfort­able and unnerving because he knew that if it shifted even slightly it could choke him.

"Over the next few days, Brunel, his friends, colleagues, family, and doctors attempted every obvious remedy, from slapping him hard on the back to holding him aloft by the ankles (he was a small man and easily lofted) and shaking him vigorously, but nothing worked....


Brunel was quite the go-getter; Need a bridge? Sure, suspension or the world's longest brick span? Need a prefabricated hospital to answer Florence Nighengale's call during the Crimean War? Coming right up. A railroad? Here's a thousand miles of a new wider gauge so you can take curves at higher speeds. State of the art ship building?

“And the extraordinary thing is that a modern propeller, designed by a computer, in the 21st century, is only 5% more efficient than this propeller [on the Great Britain], which was designed by a Victorian bloke, in a tall hat … guy was a genius!” – Jeremy Clarkson

"The Second Greatest Briton" at Picture Britain: One Girl's Journey

And from the "News I Hope You Never Need To Use" file: