Taxonomy term

benchmarks

Benchmarks: March 18, 1925: Tri-state twister kills 695 people

On March 18, 1925, the U.S. Weather Bureau’s forecast for the Midwest was not pleasant, but not unusual for early spring: rain and strong, shifting winds. By the end of the day, that simple forecast would prove devastatingly understated. A tornado, or a family of tornadoes, created a path of destruction that stretched from Missouri to Indiana, killing nearly 700 people, destroying 15,000 homes, and forever changing tornado awareness in the country.
 
02 Mar 2011

Deadly tornadoes

Even with improved warning technology, tornadoes remain a deadly threat. Below is a list of some of the deadliest storms throughout the 20th century.
 
02 Mar 2011

Benchmarks: Henri Becquerel discovers radioactivity on February 26, 1896

February 26, 1896, was an overcast day in Paris — and that presented a problem for French physicist Antoine Henri Becquerel. Becquerel was hoping to demonstrate a link between minerals that glow when exposed to strong light and a new type of electromagnetic radiation called X-rays. The weather thwarted this experiment — but that failure inadvertently produced an entirely new discovery: natural radioactivity.

28 Feb 2011

Benchmarks: January 23, 1960: Humans reach the deepest point on Earth

More than 9,000 meters underwater, a window buckles, sending a spider web of cracks across the glass. The entire submersible shakes, but no water rushes into the Trieste. Out of vocal contact with the main ship on the surface above them, Swiss oceanographer and engineer Jacques Piccard and U.S. Navy Lt. Don Walsh decide to continue their descent despite the new danger. After all, at more than nine kilometers below the sea surface, the explorers were too close to their goal to turn around. They were only 2,000 meters away from the deepest spot on Earth: Challenger Deep. On Jan. 23, 1960, they reached that fabled point 10,916 meters below the surface of the Pacific Ocean.
 
03 Jan 2011

Benchmarks: December 31, 1853: Dinner in a dinosaur

The weather in London on Saturday, Dec. 31, 1853, could not have pleased Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins. After a relatively warm Friday, the temperature had plummeted, snow had begun to fall, and for the first time in more than a decade, masses of ice floated down the Thames River. The snow made the streets so slippery that injured pedestrians filled the hospitals.
 
03 Dec 2010

The first dinner in a beast

Surprisingly, there is precedence for eating dinner in the body of a massive beast. In February 1802, Rembrandt Peale, an early American painter best known for his portraits of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, invited 12 friends and family to dine under the rib cage of a mammoth, which had recently been erected in his father’s museum in Philadelphia.
 
03 Dec 2010

Benchmarks: November 27, 1873: Red River logjam removed for good

Throughout the 1800s, America’s eastern and southeastern coastal rivers acted as highways for shipping. Generally winding with shallow slopes, the rivers could be plied easily by barges and steamboats, but one particular water body — the main channel of the Red River that runs from Arkansas through Louisiana — thwarted the plans of shippers for much of the 19th century. A massive entanglement of logs, stumps and branches, known as the Great Raft, blocked the Red from Fulton, Ark, to about Shreveport, La. But on Nov. 27, 1873, after more than 40 years of trying, the raft was destroyed and boats could travel unimpeded down the main channel of the Red River.
 
05 Nov 2010

Benchmarks: October 13, 1947: A disaster with Project Cirrus

Two days after clipping Cuba and Florida, a hurricane was drifting out into the Atlantic. All predictions had it remaining at sea without further landfall, making it the perfect test subject for the newly minted Project Cirrus, a U.S. government- backed project bent on discovering a way to disable deadly hurricanes. The researchers planned to seed the hurricane’s clouds with dry ice, hoping that the ice would interact with the clouds and disrupt the cyclone’s internal structure, thus weakening it. So on Oct. 13, 1947, a plane flew over the storm and dumped 80 kilograms of dry ice into the storm’s swirling clouds.
 
04 Oct 2010

From science to science fiction

Project Cirrus may have flopped in the meteorology world, but its research left an indelible impression on the literary world.
 
04 Oct 2010

Benchmarks: September 21, 1930: Alfred Wegener begins a fateful polar expedition

In September 1930, 15 polar explorers set out from their base camp at Kamarujuk on the west coast of Greenland. The team was carrying much-needed supplies 400 kilometers inland to two meteorologists waiting at a satellite camp at Eismitte at the center of the Greenland icecap. The team, consisting of German meteorologists Alfred Wegener and Fritz Loewe as well as 13 Greenlanders, traveled slowly, their dogsleds hindered by storms and frigid temperatures. All but Wegener, Loewe and one Greenlander, Rasmus Villumsen, were forced to turn back by the blizzards. At last, the three explorers managed to reach the icecap camp at the end of October.
 
03 Sep 2010

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