A collection of unusual facts


London Monument

The Monument built in 1667 to commemorate the Great Fire of London the previous year is 61 metres high (202 ft). This is also the exact distance from the Monument to where the fire started in Pudding Lane. The column contains a internal winding stone staircase of 311 steps leading to a viewing platform.









 


The Dome of St Paul’s Cathedral

The supporting stone pillars beneath the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral do not support the dome at all and are mainly decorative. During the construction of St Paul’s Cathedral, city and church authorities concerned that Sir Christopher Wren’s original plan for the dome without pillars were not sound and that the weight of the dome would cause it to collapse without additional support. Despite Wren’s assurances, the authorities insisted on the dome being supported by additional stone pillars. During construction, the dome was shielded from view by scaffolding and Wren ordered that the stone pillars be shortened by several inches so they did not make contact with the underside of the dome. It is only possible to see this gap from eye level and not from the street below. Continue reading

Does the mind really exist?

Does the mind really exist, if so where is it? We all know that we have a mind, you are using it right now reading this article which when you reach the end, will make you come to one of several possible conclusions. You will either agree or disagree with points raised in this article or come somewhere in-between with a “perhaps he has a point” decision.

Let me make it clear from the outset, I certainly do not know where the mind is but then as far as I know, no else does either. All I surmise is based on personal experience and common sense. I do not subscribe to the mystical trains of thought as personally I do not believe there is anything that is really mystical in this universe, only things that we do not yet have sufficient knowledge to explain.

The mind is certainly not a physical thing as any autopsy will clearly show, so where is it located? If you close your eyes for a few moments and concentrate, even try to feel or sense where your immediate thoughts are coming from, the chances are that you will sense it is somewhere in your head. Trying to “feel” just where in your head these thoughts are originating from may prove difficult. Continue reading

Universe or Multiverse?

The Universe is so called due to mankind’s somewhat arrogant assumption that  there cannot be more than one universe and that the universe fills the heavens as far as the eye can see. I suppose that was not too unreasonable an assumption in times when mankind’s knowledge was more limited. Mankind however is rather like a worm in a hole whose knowledge about it’s surroundings is limited by what it can see through the top of the hole. As the worm gradually emerges from it’s hole, it can see more detailed surroundings that it never knew existed before. Mankind is in a not dissimilar position and as our knowledge of the universe expands, so do our thoughts on possibilities we had never considered before. Continue reading

Why do US railroads lead to Imperial Rome?

As we go about out everyday business, features we often see frequently do not warrant a moments thought, let alone a second glance. One such taken for granted and unnoticed feature is the railroad or railway. We all see it, we know it is there, it was there yesterday and we know it will be there tomorrow. There seems nothing remarkable about a length of rail track, but have you ever paused for thought to wonder why these two parallel strips of steel are set a exact distance apart throughout the country?

The width of American railroad track is exactly 4 feet 8½ inches. This is the same for the UK and some other countries throughout the world. Much of the US rail system was built by ex-patriot Brits and at that moment in time UK rail technology was well advanced.

When George Stephenson built the first commercial railway engine “The Rocket” in 1829, one of the features he had to consider was the width of the track for both the engine and wagons to run on. At that time many horse coaches and carts were built on standard size jigs. The jigs had a wheel width of 4 feet 8½ inches based on the width of existing ruts in the road. Any coach or cart with an alternative wheel width would experience great difficulty traversing the roads. Early rail coaches were in fact a series of stage coaches or wagons strung end to end on a common frame.

The roads in England where built by the Romans and it was their chariots and carts that first caused the formation of the ruts. The Romans did not introduce the chariot to Britain, the ancient Brits, the Celts, already had them. There were two main Roman invasions of Britain, the first invasion failed when Roman legions were faced with war chariots driven by the Celts. Each chariot carried either an archer or spear thrower and drove at great speed through the Roman ranks. The chariots terrorised the Roman troops who had never before seen such modern machines of war. The Celts proved too strong for the Romans and the invasion failed. The Romans however were not slow on the uptake and by the time of their second invasion, they too had developed chariot technology but with the cutting edge of Roman military discipline and tactics.

The width of Roman chariot wheels was determined by the practicability of the width of two horses harnessed side by side to pull the chariots.

Perhaps there is some truth in the old saying, “All (rail) roads lead to Rome.

A uniformed Roman soldier

Does Time Exist – The eternal question?

Have you ever really thought about time, not in terms of whether you have enough of it but if time really exists? When most of us think about time, what is really going through ours minds is a man-made concept for measuring a period that has elapsed between one event and another. The start and end of a race, the beginning and end of a journey, how long since the universe was created down to how long it took the kettle to boil. All of these are a few of the many millions of ways that we measure the man-made concept of elapsed time every day. Continue reading

A Spooky 9/11 moment

With the anniversary of 9/11 fast approaching I thought I should relate one of the few spooky moments I have experienced in my life.

About 15 years before that fateful day, I met some visiting officers of the New York Fire Department at County Hall in London. During the meeting one of the officers ask for my home address which I duly gave him. About a month later, a postal package arrived at my home from the NYFD which contained a number of Public Relations items, These included shoulder flash badges, stickers etc all with the NYFD logo on them. One of the items was a car key ring with a leather tag which had a fob of the NYFD attached to it. Continue reading

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