Saturday, July 25, 2009

Measures of time and distance 1

Today celebrated the centenary of Louis Blériot flying across the English Channel. 22 miles in 37 minutes (about the same time as the EuroTunnel rail service takes from Folkestone to Sangatte):

Last month, on the 14th-15th June, it was the 90th anniversary of Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Whitten Brown, in a modified Vickers Vimy IV, making it from St John's, Newfoundland, to Clifton, Galway. 1,890 miles in 16 hours 27 minutes: when Steve Fossett and Mark Rebholz re-created it, in July 2005, it took three-quarters of an hour longer. Alcock put down in a bog, however: Fossett chose the 8th at the Ballyconneelly Golf course.

A few days ago, it was forty years on from the climactic moment of the Apollo XI mission. Landing and returning from the surface of the Moon was a round trip of 953,700 statue miles in 8 days, 3 hours, 18 minutes and 35 seconds.

All within sixty years. All within a lifetime.

Somehow that chimes with Malcolm's shock at reading the obituary of the last American to be born a slave. Yes, there is argument; but the name that Malcolm remembers is Charlie Smith (right), imported from West Africa around 1842, sold at New Orleans to a Texan rancher, lived to witness Apollo XVII, died and obituarised in 1979.

And more to come (see next posting). Sphere: Related Content

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