Redux: Various

Sometime the universe sends stuff in bunches, linking to current bemusements. For instance, this week I received a follow-up on last week’s question of how to cook eggs. This embroidery artiste ADDS CHIVES. Don’t tell Paul.

Sometimes the universe sends stuff on a longer cycle, linking to persistent preoccupations. For instance, this week I received something on birds . . .

A four-month-old Bar-tailed Godwit known as B6 set a new world record by completing a nonstop 11-day migration of 8,425 miles (13,558 km) from Alaska to Tasmania, Australia. This trip represents the longest documented nonstop flight by any animal!

“They don’t land on the water. They don’t glide,” said Dan Ruthrauff, a U.S. Geological Survey research wildlife biologist who helped tag B6. “This is flapping flight for a week and a half. It’s crazy, and I think is just tangible enough that we can appreciate it and have our minds properly blown.” (emphasis added)

. . .  and on bridges.

Researchers at MIT have proven Leonardo da Vinci correct yet again, this time involving his design for what would have been at the time a revolutionary bridge design. Although clients rejected da Vinci’s work at the time, over 500 years later, the researchers have proven that his bridge would have worked. [Ed’s note: It’s a beautiful design, well worth a look.]

In what I suspect was an unintended twofer, this article also speaks to my work experience. Leonardo didn’t get the contract, but his proposal was sound. I know just how he feels. I also have to appreciate that line he walks: claiming expertise while deferring to the client.

I, your faithful servant, understand that it has been your intention to erect a bridge from Galata (Pera) to Stambul… across the Golden Horn (Haliç), but this has not been done because there were no experts available. I, your subject, have determined how to build the bridge. It will be a masonry bridge as high as a building, and even tall ships will be able to sail under it. (emphasis added)

All glory to the guy with the money. Now, where have I seen that before?

Postscript: Thanks to reader Ralph Gibson for the article on Bar-tailed Godwits.

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6 Responses to Redux: Various

  1. Tom Watson says:

    I had not previously been acquainted with a Godwit, let alone a B6 variety.
    Fella learns something new every day. If he’s willing to pay attention.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – True. There’s a lot of stuff out there. I think I’ve run into one of the godwit species in Myrtle Beach during the winter. It seems that some of them summer in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and the states just below Manitoba – the Dakotas? Maybe. 🙂

  2. The bridge design is aesthetically pleasing. One senses the accuracy and necessity for all of its component parts in the finished model. There must be something about the anatomical design of the Godwit equally accurate, necessary, and aesthetically satisfying.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – 🙂 I’d love to see Leonardo’s bridge actually built somewhere. As for the godwit, the photo of its outstretched wing indicates just what span is needed for 11 days of non-stop flapping. Truly amazing.

  3. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – as the old saying goes, “He who has the gold makes the rules!”

    MIT mentions it and I agree, Leonardo plagiarized his design from the Romans. Having said that, I hope he had a good soil mechanics engineer on retainer to design the foundations at each end. Those foundation designs would have been spectacular for the time, even though hidden down in the mud.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      John – 🙂 Ah, yes, the Golden Rule. Maybe Leonardo’s clients weren’t out-to-lunch after all. There’s a big difference between a good design and an easy-to-produce design. I’m not sure they had access to many soil-mechanics engineers! (I still wish someone would build it.)

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