As the title of this column points out, there are in today’s world, and have been over the history of humankind, many examples of both high – and low – technology. Last week we talked about an article written by archaeologist Carole Raddato, who talked about something high-tech for its time in a Roman structure located near Hadrian’s Wall in Britain.
Want some fun? Go here and see all the photographs that Carole has taken of some remarkable ancient installations.
And if you would like to see what Carole looks like, and learn more about her enthusiasm for ancient buildings, go here. It may surprise you, by the way to find that not all archaeologists are gray-haired old men. Carole is by no means hard to look at!
Hadrian’s wall was built in A.D. 122. It was at first “just” an 80-mile-long, 8-foot-high, turf and timber wall built from the River Tyne to the coast to keep the Scots from coming into Roman Britain. However, medieval British historians record that it was soon raised to a 12-foot-high stone wall with 10-foot-deep trenches added to it.
Those Scots must have some tough cusses!
Anyway, what we focused on last week at the farthest reach of the Roman Empire was a high-tech 60-seat latrine, which even came with wet sponges on sticks, used to get rear ends scrubbed clean.
At the end of last week’s column I promised that I would tell you what happened at Thule Airbase, Greenland, when a fussy little second lieutenant arrived there to command the Fleet Service section and was shocked that his people did not empty the “stuff” out of the storage tanks on incoming aircraft because it was frozen solid.
So what did he do?
He got a heating unit designed to warm engines, and placed it beneath the gazoop chute of an aircraft to warm up its belly, certain he could straighten out the problem.
However, the plot thickened. The eight-inch-round metal chutes down which all that “stuff” pours out of an aircraft is fitted with two “doors,” an inner one and an outer one. Normally, the outer door is opened, the chute is attached to a “honey cart,” and then the inner door is opened to allow gravity to empty the tank down the chute.
However, when the inner door was opened this time nothing happened.
And so-o-o-o ...
Not to be defeated, our canny second lieutenant moved in, detached the chute from the cart, opened both inner and outer doors, and peered up the chute.
Well, since the inner chute was filled with an 8-foot-long, 12-inch diameter slug of “stuff” with a well melted circumference, said slug took advantage of gravity to slam itself into the chest of the second lieutenant, knocking him to the ground. And, while rolling over his chest and face, it deposited thereupon a thick semi-liquid brown film of – yep! – stuff.
Our member of the two-bars-of-gold fraternity stood up, executed a “to the rear, march!” without saying a word, went inside Fleet Service, and was never again seen away from his desk during the entire remainder of his 18-month tour of duty.
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