There’s a handful of instructions you get regarding the physical care and keeping of a new computer. Those instructions usually involve keeping it dry, cool, and free from sudden shock. Free from sudden shock, that is, unless you were an owner of the short-lived Apple III computer in the early 1980s.
The Apple III was intended to be an enhanced successor to the Apple II series computers but, from the start, was hampered with issues. The model suffered from overheating issues thanks to the closed design and lack of fan-based cooling. In fact, heat issues proved extremely problematic for the Apple III, to the point that excessive heat actually caused the integrated chips to expand and unseat themselves (along with warping or melting some of the disks inserted into the computers). The solution offered by Apple’s technical reps and support engineers on the matter was that customers should lift the computer approximately two inches off their desk and drop it. The sudden drop would reseat the chips and business could continue as usual.
While the trick did work, it was a tad unorthodox and only contributed to the public’s disdain for the Apple III. By the end of 1981, Apple was selling only 500 units a month and by April of 1984, they had discontinued the Apple III (four months after introducing the III Plus and replacing 14,000 of the original 65-75,000 Apple III computers sold).
Throughout urban areas in Northern Ireland, you’ll find long meandering walls made of brick, iron, and/or steel that are upwards of 25 feet in height. These barriers, known as “peace lines”, mark the borders between Irish nationalist and unionist neighborhoods.
The walls were first erected in 1969 following the Northern Ireland Riots and a period of unrest known as “The Troubles.” The barriers were originally intended to serve as a temporary solution to help ease tensions between the nationalists (those who identified as Catholic and Irish) and unionists (those who identified as Protestant and British). Despite the initial idea that they would be dismantled after six months, they proved so effective that not only did the initial walls stay erected, but more peace walls were built until the original handful of walls multiplied to 48 in the present day.
Although nearly half a century has passed since they were first erected and despite the political calls to remove them and integrate the neighborhoods, tensions remain high enough in Northern Ireland that more than half the residents of the most peace wall dense city, Belfast, favor keeping the walls up to promote peace between the city’s neighborhoods.
Image courtesy of Asarlai.
In 1985, an oceanographic exploration crew led by Robert Ballard made history when they discovered the wreck of the RMS Titanic. The news reported the world over was that Ballard had finally achieved his dream of uncovering the wreckage and it was left at that: a feel good story about the determination of an individual and a triumph of technology.
The portion of the story left untold was that Ballard was on an undercover mission to locate two missing U.S. nuclear submarines, the USS Scorpion and the USS Thresher under the guise of locating the Titanic. The submarine mission went better than planned and Ballard was able to use his left over time and resources to locate the Titanic in the same trip. Achieving success in both your secret mission undertaking and your cover mission is certainly a feat to be proud of.
Image courtesy of the U.S. Navy.
The length of a day seems like a fixed value, being determined by the length of time the planet rotates. Surely no natural disaster could change the Earth to the point that it changes its rotation?
While such a change is beyond the power of lesser natural disasters like still-formidable hurricanes, there is one natural disaster with the power to change the length of a day: high-magnitude earthquakes. A recent example of one such event was the massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake that struck northeastern Japan in the spring of 2011.
The amount of mass moved by the Japanese earthquake was so vast that it actually accelerated the rotation of the Earth. As a result of the mass shift and the acceleration that followed, the length of an Earth day was shortened by 1.8 microseconds.
What does that kind of shift look like when taken out of the context of time and put into the context of physical space? The 2011 earthquake was so powerful that it moved Japan’s main island by about 8 feet and shifted the figure axis of the Earth by around 6.5 inches (17 centimeters).
Image courtesy of the USGC.