BY JAMES K. WHITE | JANUARY 30, 2013
Duchess is an 8,000 pound (plus) African elephant residing at the Paignton Zoo (Devon, England). The huge beast was blind in her right eye and was quickly losing all sight in her remaining eye (severe cataracts). In 2012, a team of physicians and veterinarians sedated Duchess and used custom-made operating equipment to successfully complete sight-saving medical procedures on the largest patient in eye surgery history.
John Deere is a name famous world-wide for manufacturing tractors and other farm equipment. John Deere, the man, first made his mark in 1837 when he used a discarded circular saw blade to fashion a steel plow. Previously, plows had required frequent sharpening and the cultivated soils all seemed to stubbornly cling to the tilling implements. Deere’s innovation solved both plow problems. The Deere steel plows efficiently held a sharp edge and the slick polished sides of the plows were much more efficient at shedding dirt. Bystanders could often be aware that a farmer was using a Deere plow by the distinctive “singing” (actually more like a whine) emitted as the steel cut through America’s farmland. One of Deere’s earliest plows (1838) is on display at the Smithsonian.
An MIT student and an Army Ranger (different from a Power Ranger) have combined efforts to construct a 3 inch diameter bouncing ball that contains six recessed lenses. The spheres can be tossed into buildings, etc., allowing the gadgets to send out visual images as well as info regarding temperatures, air-borne toxins, radiation levels and other potential hazards. The devices are intended to aid in situations involving burning buildings, hostages or structures possibly occupied by terrorists. The balls’ coverings are resilient and durable, enabling the devices to be thrown hundreds of feet without sustaining incapacitating damage. The anticipated price is $500 per.
In Poland, there is a radio tower that was completed in 1935. The Gliwice (also “Gleitwitz”) tower is 387 feet tall. The soaring structure is made of wood and has proven to be remarkably stable. The Nazis controlled the tower (and the nearby radio broadcast building) during most of WWII. The tower’s destruction was often contemplated, but never executed. Today the wooden spire is used as a mobile phone tower, a radio tower, a tourist attraction and is listed locally as “Large Visual Art.”
Well, feel free to knowledgably visit a local farmer and sing along with his plows. Have a great week.
James White is a retired mathematics teacher who enjoys sharing fascinating trivia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.