Bits of Stone
There was a US flying saucer in the 1950s, but no one saw this one high in the sky!
The just-out February issue of Popular Mechanics magazine includes an in-depth story about the United States’ effort to build a successful flying saucer. The detailed story resulted from the September 2012 opening of secret information which became public.
The key report, “Project 1794 Final Development Summary Report 2 April-30 May 1956,” has been stored at the National Declassification Center, in College Park, Md. Because the staff is facing a backlog of nearly 2 million pages of material, dating back to World War II, it was 11 years after the report was declassified that it was opened. The saucer program was terminated in 1960.
A Canadian, John “Jack” Frost, was involved in the research. Canada was not willing to finance the project so the idea was brought to Washington and the U.S. adopted it.
In brief, the proposed flying saucer featured a central turbine (a turborotor), powered by six turbojets, which sucked air through the body of the aircraft.
Exhausted from vents along the circumference of the aluminum saucer, vanes and shutters directed the exhaust toward the ground to hover.
This lifts the plane with possibly 30,000 pounds of uplift, raising the saucer to 20 feet. In theory, once airborne, the pilot could reroute the exhaust to one side of the saucer to move it laterally.
Some of the most sophisticated aircraft flying today adopted many of the same technologies.
While there has long been rumors and some knowledge of this effort to develop a vertical rising, high-speed craft, the 117-page report was the first detailed inside report of the project.
This development came during the Cold War when the U.S. suspected that the Soviet Union was working in that direction and it might be needed to shoot down Russian bombers.
The lengthy article is interesting reading even for those just casually interested in aviation.
Harvard President Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust to speak at Smithsonian Art Museum
Many readers will recall that in The Daily Times Volume IV of “Snapshots of Blount County History” we established the connection between the new Harvard University president and a pioneer settler and leader, Barclay McGhee of Maryville.
Named Harvard president in the autumn of 2007, Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust is the first woman president in the school’s 376-year history.
Her great-great-great-great-grandfather was Barclay McGhee who moved to Blount County from Sevier in 1790 and built a mansion of its day just east of the present location of McCammon-Ammons-Click Funeral Home.
The house was torn down 180 years later in 1970 when downtown Maryville developed Now Town. Now Town lasted only 29 years (1971-2000).
Barclay McGhee was a great-great-grandfather of Lt. j.g. Charles McGhee Tyson for whom the Greater Knoxville Airport in Blount County is named. Gen.
Lawrence D. Tyson, Charles McGhee Tyson’s father, was Tennessee’s only general serving in World War I. He was husband of Bettie McGhee, a great-great-granddaughter of Barclay McGhee. See the book for other interesting details.
Back to the subject, Dr. Faust is an eminent Civil War historian, author of several books on the Civil War, will discuss some of the forms in which the American Civil War was perceived by and represented to the American people and the ways in which the nation dealt with the unprecedented carnage the war wrought.
She will speak at 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 28, in the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Kogod Courtyard, McEvoy Auditorium, lower level in Washington, D.C.
Tickets are required but they are free, beginning at 6:30 p.m. for anyone who plans to attend.
• Science News recently reported creeping fault movement 13 years after the earthquake near Izmit, Turkey. The 1999 magnitude 7.4 quake killed more than 17,000 people.
In the years since, scientists have found, the two sides of the fault have started to creep past each other again at rates up to about 27 millimeters (1.06 inches) annually. This is one of the few places in the world this has been measured.
Most likely the movement is building up stress near Istanbul.
When one part of the fault ruptures in a quake, it releases stress in that area but transfers some of it to neighboring areas. Close to Istanbul, the fault has not broken in a major quake since 1766. Seismologists consider it ripe for an earthquake of magnitude 7.0 or greater.
• A new study has found willpower alone is not the deciding factor in children’s willingness to wait a little longer for a bigger treat. Trust affects the kids’ patience, Science news reports. History of the study revealed that a reported preference for immediate rewards were higher for boys without a father in the home and for girls without a mother.
• The probability of dying at 72 today is similar to the death odds our ancestors faced at age 30.
Research by Oskar Burger of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany, suggests it has little to do with genes, starvation diets or anti-aging miracle drugs but more with eliminating environmental dangers.
• The January issue of Country Extra magazine includes a cover and several excellent inside photographs of the northern lights or aurora borealis. The Cree called the display “The Dance of the Spirits.”
The article explains this phenomenon is a product of solar activity in which the sun sends out a stream of charged particles, electrons and atomic nuceli, called the solar wind. These particles excite the electrons in oxygen and nitrogen atoms high in the earth’s atmosphere, and as the electrons return to their normal state, photons of light are emitted. The more solar activity the more intense the northern lights will be.
One doesn’t need an explanation to appreciate the natural occurrence, especially visible in Alasks and Canada.
The issue also includes a number of beautiful snow scenes.
Dean Stone is editor of The Daily Times.