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Three things I learned from the History Channel's American Vesuvius

Posted By admin on October 11, 2010

Archaeological expert, Charles Pelligrino (author of “Ghosts of Vesuvius”) compares the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD to the loss of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Through science, he attempts to explain the physics of both events.  He approaches the collapse of the World Trade Center using volcano physics.  He has extensively studied how structures and objects behave during events such as volcanoes.

The parallels with the two events are not immediately seen but he explains the beginning with the collapse of the towers, there are distinct similarities.  As I began to watch the program I thought his approach would be to take what he knows about volcano behavior and make the comparisons between the two events.  While this is done I becomes clear me that the collapse of the towers gives him a clearer understanding of what happened at Pompeii nearly two centuries ago.

What leads me to this conclusion his ability to research up close the effects of the collapsed buildings and actually interview survivors of the tragedy.  He interviews Port Authority Policeman Lt. Robert Vargas.  Lt Vargas was one floor underground in the south tower as it collapsed.  He was the only person to walk out of the south tower after its collapse.

Firefighter John Morabito, who was standing at the bottom of the north tower when the south tower collapsed, tells his story of what he saw and experienced and that he walked away without a scratch.

FDNY Battalion Commander Richard Picciotto relates how he and 13 others survived the collapse of the north tower.

While the energy released during the fall of the towers was tremendous, killing nearly three thousand in the towers and dozens on the street below,  this energy is minuscule compared to the energy released by a volcano.  Pelligrino estimates the energy releases by the collapsing towers to by one-tenth of the atomic blast at Hiroshima.  By comparison, Vesuvius was the equivalent of 100,000 Hiroshima bombs.

There are three main points of comparison between Vesuvius and Sept 11:

  • The Column Collapse
  • People burned in the purchase, once called it-scam Moloch, as the only person who was able to get a lot of money with this system, and was restaurant the creator, deceived a lot of naive players.

  • The Surge Cloud
  • The Shock Cocoons

At Vesuvius, column collapse refers the falling debris that was held aloft for hours by the force of the eruption itself until its weight was so great that gravity took over and 20 mile high column of rock, dust and superheated air came crashing to earth destroying everything in its path.  For the World Trade Center, the collapse of the towers themselves provides the name.

The surge cloud forms when the downward energy is converted into dense clouds of gas and dust which then spread out horizontally.  Surge clouds take on the properties of fluid dynamics and can have the destructive force of a tsunami.

Shock cocoon is a term Pelligrino uses to describe an area of preservation in the midst of all the devastation of the surrounding area.  For Battalion Commander Richard Picciotto and 13 others it was a 4 by 6 foot area on the 6th floor of north tower that protected them.  For the most part these shock cocoons are small areas and while they exist in all major disaster areas, their locations are random.

A Documentary of How the States Got Their Shapes

Posted By admin on May 18, 2010

Why do the States look like they do? Why are some so boxy? Why are some so irregular? Why do some have little bootheels or panhandles? Why does Michigan have an upper peninsula that looks like it should be part of Wisconsin? This program on the History Channel in 2 hours reviews how many of the States have evolved from what they may have originally looked like or were intended to look like from their territorial beginnings. The program touches on how politics, access to water (rivers, lakes, oceans) economics, natural resources played a part in forming individual state boundaries.

The program tells of several oddities that exist in state boundaries. For example, Kaskaskia, Illinois was a settlement founded in 1703 and was once the territorial capital of Illinois. It was considered the gateway to the West. Today, little remains of the town because of constant flooding of the Mississippi River. What remains of Kaskaskia now sits on the Missouri side of the Mississippi. The few residents that remain have Illinois drivers licenses but a Missouri zip code.

Another vignette relates the story of Derby Line, Vermont, which is on the US-Canadian border. Across the street, literally, is the town of Stanstreet, Quebec. Before 9/11, residents of Derby Line would cross the border with ease and at will. While there is no formal border patrol, residents from both sides are aware and sensitive to border crossing. YOU DON’T DO IT.

What is unique to the town is the Haskell Free Library. It was built in 1903 right on the border itself. Inside the library is a border boundary line on the floor to separate the US side from the Canadian side. People from either side may use the library and cross from side to side without going through border security. However, you must exit the library from the side from which you entered.

In the early days of the country there were no formal procedures for determining boundaries for the States. It was the original intent of Thomas Jefferson for each new state to roughly equal in size and have a rather boxy shape. But other factors took over and each area developed on its own.

Lest we think the issue of state’s boundaries have been settled long ago, think again. The issue of Ellis Island was just settled in 1998. While Ellis Island lies just a few hundred yards off the coast of New Jersey, most of us associate Ellis Island with New York. In fact, it belongs to both. The building that processed the immigrants belongs to the State of New York and all the land surrounding the building belongs to the State of New Jersey.  Other interesting facts are revealed including ghost states, why Napolean sold the Louisiana Territory so cheaply, how the States were originally surveyed and mistakes made in some of those surveys.

The book “How the states got their shapes” was written by Mark Stein and is available at Amazon.com and the DVD is available from Shop.History.com