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Old 12-31-2007, 07:19 PM
 
Location: Arlington Virginia
4,538 posts, read 7,979,988 times
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A little obscure information for the group. I hope its' not too OT as it is based in Yankee injenuity. I used to travel to Groton CT frequently for work. And I always thought the nearby places like the Mystic Seaport Museum were nothing but tourist traps. But I actually went to the Groton Mystic area for a vacation once, and thought to visit the Museum, thinking I wouldn't be there long.

WRONG... This is one of the most interesting and fascinating places ever. I spent all day there. There is a display there about the construction of wooden ships. In modern terms, they are a system. There is the keel, the heart of the structure and load bearing. Upon which are set the masts, which bear both great weight and also the sails' driving force upon the ship. And then there are hull frames. I used to think that these were only to provide the ship hull shape, but they are actually designed to distribute the structure loads and strengths throughout the hull. And then there is more, most fascinating to this navy engineer. But I digress...

The museum is laid out as a maritime town with all the services one might have found in a wooden ship fishing/whaling era. There is a sailmaker shop, a cooperage (for whaler's oil) and so on, and much more. I wandered into the instrument shop and found an answer to a very old question that I had since I was a kid.

Don't know why, but when I was a little kid, I wondered why a ball droping down a pole for New Years?! It seemed stupid. But during the two hours I spent in the shop I learned a story... In Boston Harbor there was a gun fired every day at noon so that all the ships there could syncrhonize their time pieces. But as Boston Harbor grew and the time dependant navigation became more precise, the cannon boom became less reliable. Those ships farther away from the cannon could hear the sound almost two seconds later than it had been fired, and this became a problem for modern navigation based on precise timing. Someone came up with the idea to have a large red ball on a pole, on top of the tallest building on the tallest point of land on the harbor. The ball could move up and down the pole and as a visual signal it was dropped every day at noon instead of the cannon boom. The red ball dropping could be seen throughout the harbor, and seen by everyone at the speed of light, must faster than the speed of sound like the cannon. The ball dropping became the standard.

Now I don't know what they did on foggy days, but clearly, they must have worked something out. And I think that perhaps the ball dropping may have been the inspiration for the New Years Eve tradition in Times Square. And also was the answer for this question that bugged me since I was a little kid.

Happy New Years and Happy 2008 Everyone!

http://www.mysticseaport.org/
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Old 12-31-2007, 07:34 PM
 
Location: Maine
5,054 posts, read 10,928,158 times
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Wonderful!! Thank you for sharing that. I've always wondered myself! I've watched it on TV every year for as long as I can remember, and never ever understood where anyone got that bright idea. So, the ball dropping is the first minute of the first day of the new year. How cool!
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Old 12-31-2007, 08:02 PM
 
Location: Maine
7,728 posts, read 10,810,482 times
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Excellant post! Thanks for that!
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Old 12-31-2007, 08:28 PM
 
Location: York Village, Maine
455 posts, read 1,087,606 times
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WOW, thanks for the interesting post. I truly enjoyed reading it. Happy New Year to you and yours as well.
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Old 12-31-2007, 09:44 PM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
29,719 posts, read 47,472,880 times
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I used to spend a lot of time in Groton too. From 1977 until 2005 I kept having to go back to Groton Ct.

In 1980 I dated a fiery and cute red-haired girl who worked during the day-time at the Mystic Marinelife Aquarium as an animal trainer; by night she was a truck stop waitress. Come to think of it, that was just about the last time that I dated a girl, as she soon changed her name to mine.

Both the Mystic Seaport Museum and the Marinelife Aquarium are really nice. The restaurant at the seaport is the 'Seaman's Inn', we have rarely had good service there. The Mystic Villiage is purely a tourist trap.
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Old 12-31-2007, 10:05 PM
 
Location: Eastport, Maine
1,158 posts, read 2,121,891 times
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It just seems right when Dick Clark does the New Years countdown on TV!

Happy New Year!
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Old 12-31-2007, 10:53 PM
 
Location: Florida (SW)
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Great trivia QT, thanks for sharing.
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Old 01-04-2008, 09:23 PM
 
1,961 posts, read 4,163,280 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quiet walker View Post
A little obscure information for the group. I hope its' not too OT as it is based in Yankee injenuity. I used to travel to Groton CT frequently for work. And I always thought the nearby places like the Mystic Seaport Museum were nothing but tourist traps. But I actually went to the Groton Mystic area for a vacation once, and thought to visit the Museum, thinking I wouldn't be there long.

WRONG... This is one of the most interesting and fascinating places ever. I spent all day there. There is a display there about the construction of wooden ships. In modern terms, they are a system. There is the keel, the heart of the structure and load bearing. Upon which are set the masts, which bear both great weight and also the sails' driving force upon the ship. And then there are hull frames. I used to think that these were only to provide the ship hull shape, but they are actually designed to distribute the structure loads and strengths throughout the hull. And then there is more, most fascinating to this navy engineer. But I digress...

The museum is laid out as a maritime town with all the services one might have found in a wooden ship fishing/whaling era. There is a sailmaker shop, a cooperage (for whaler's oil) and so on, and much more. I wandered into the instrument shop and found an answer to a very old question that I had since I was a kid.
Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea™ : Home
I agree quiet walker! The mystic Seaport Museum is quite wonderful! My sister lives in Hamden and my girls and I visited the museum about 6 years ago. I also expected a tourist trap and was quite pleasantly surprised.
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Old 01-04-2008, 09:31 PM
 
Location: Maryland not Murlin
8,185 posts, read 21,737,838 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maine4.us View Post
It just seems right when Dick Clark does the New Years countdown on TV!

Happy New Year!
Wasn't it Carson Daily this year?

Interesting bit of trivia on the ball.
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Old 01-04-2008, 09:35 PM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
29,719 posts, read 47,472,880 times
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Dick Clark was there, he sounded terrible but he was there.
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