Gizmorama: Life in the Tech Age

By WES STEWART, United Press International   |   Oct. 8, 2001 at 4:45 AM


Everyone knows the name Charles Lindbergh -- the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic. But he was NOT the first to make the trans-Atlantic flight, as some believe. Two British aviators, Capt. John Alcock and Lt. Arthur Brown, crossed the Atlantic Ocean June 14-15, 1919, in a converted twin-engine Vickers Vimy bomber.


The military tank got its name from their secret code name "Water Tank." The code name held firm ground against efforts to call the vehicles "combat cars" or assault carriages."


So you think it's a truck that carries the mail. You picture some postal worker with hideous shorts, a bloated mailbag and a pith helmet trudging up your sidewalk. Would you believe that cows carried the mail in some 19th-century German towns? Even more bizarre: Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona tried camels! There was a Belgian city that tried cats. They delivered kittens far better than mail.


Douglas C. Englehart invented the "mouse" in 1968. The demonstration of the mouse represented more than 15 years of research into a way to make communicating with a computer more simple and intuitive.


In Arthur C. Clark's novel "2010," there was an admonishment to leave Europa alone. Europa is a Jovian (Jupiter's) moon with lots of ice on it. Scientists think that may, in fact, be a salt-water ocean underneath the Europa ice. More that just a little dribble, Europa's ocean would be larger than all of Earth's water put together. Research and a lot of noodling is being done concerning the possibility of life on Europa. There's a better chance with an ocean.

Sophisticated acoustic techniques that U.S. Navy ships use to determine water depth might be used by seismologists to probe the interior structure of the planet just as they have done with Earth. Professor Nick Makris and his MIT team propose that we start thinking now about deploying an array of vibration-sensitive acoustic sensors on Europa's surface.

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