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Did they comment on the monster's size?

Perlmutter nodded.Yes, the feat didn't happen again until fifty years later, in August of 1914, when the U-21 sank the HMS Pathfinder in the North Sea. The Hunley sat on the bottom buried in silt for a hundred and thirty-six years before she was discovered, raised and placed in a conservation laboratory tank to preserve her for public display. When she was inspected at first hand and the silt and remains of her crew removed from inside, she was found to be far more modern in concept than was supposed. She was quite streamlined, and she had a rudimentary snorkel system with bellows to pump air, ballast tanks with pumps, diving planes and flush rivets to reduce water drag. That last thing, by the way, was a concept that nobody thought had been used before Howard Hughes flushed the rivets on an aircraft he designed in the mid-nineteen-thirties. The Hunley even experimented with electromagnetic engines, but that technology was not ready, so eight men sat inside the submarine and turned a crank that spun the propeller for propulsion. After that, submarine science lagged until John Holland and Simon Lake began experimenting with and building submarines that were accepted by several countries, including us and the Germans. Those early efforts would have looked crude beside Captain Nemo's Nautilus.

Strange? asked Pitt.

Probably somewhere in between, Pitt said thoughtfully.Somewhere slightly more than two hundred feet in length with a twenty-five-foot beam. Not exactly an underwater craft to be taken lightly in 1894.

Who's to say? said Perlmutter, with an indifferent shrug.Perhaps Jules Verne heard of such a vessel and created Captain Nemo and his Nautilus around it.

Perlmutter nodded.Yes, the feat didn't happen again until fifty years later, in August of 1914, when the U-21 sank the HMS Pathfinder in the North Sea. The Hunley sat on the bottom buried in silt for a hundred and thirty-six years before she was discovered, raised and placed in a conservation laboratory tank to preserve her for public display. When she was inspected at first hand and the silt and remains of her crew removed from inside, she was found to be far more modern in concept than was supposed. She was quite streamlined, and she had a rudimentary snorkel system with bellows to pump air, ballast tanks with pumps, diving planes and flush rivets to reduce water drag. That last thing, by the way, was a concept that nobody thought had been used before Howard Hughes flushed the rivets on an aircraft he designed in the mid-nineteen-thirties. The Hunley even experimented with electromagnetic engines, but that technology was not ready, so eight men sat inside the submarine and turned a crank that spun the propeller for propulsion. After that, submarine science lagged until John Holland and Simon Lake began experimenting with and building submarines that were accepted by several countries, including us and the Germans. Those early efforts would have looked crude beside Captain Nemo's Nautilus.

What about Verne? Pitt inquired.There must be a museum, a home or relatives that collected all his papers, research records and letters.

The Hunley was built by private individuals who funded the project, lectured Perlmutter.Actually, she was the third boat built by Horace Hunley and his engineers. Each more advanced than the previous.

Strange? asked Pitt.

Who's to say? said Perlmutter, with an indifferent shrug.Perhaps Jules Verne heard of such a vessel and created Captain Nemo and his Nautilus around it.

Perlmutter nodded.Yes, the feat didn't happen again until fifty years later, in August of 1914, when the U-21 sank the HMS Pathfinder in the North Sea. The Hunley sat on the bottom buried in silt for a hundred and thirty-six years before she was discovered, raised and placed in a conservation laboratory tank to preserve her for public display. When she was inspected at first hand and the silt and remains of her crew removed from inside, she was found to be far more modern in concept than was supposed. She was quite streamlined, and she had a rudimentary snorkel system with bellows to pump air, ballast tanks with pumps, diving planes and flush rivets to reduce water drag. That last thing, by the way, was a concept that nobody thought had been used before Howard Hughes flushed the rivets on an aircraft he designed in the mid-nineteen-thirties. The Hunley even experimented with electromagnetic engines, but that technology was not ready, so eight men sat inside the submarine and turned a crank that spun the propeller for propulsion. After that, submarine science lagged until John Holland and Simon Lake began experimenting with and building submarines that were accepted by several countries, including us and the Germans. Those early efforts would have looked crude beside Captain Nemo's Nautilus.

When did that occur?

I can't say, said Perlmutter slowly.I only know what I find in recorded sea history. Which isn't to say there are not more reports, untapped by researchers, in archives scattered around the world.

It seems a stretch to think that the mysterious monster wasn't designed and constructed by an industrial nation, said Pitt, still skeptical.

Perlmutter ran out of steam and was about to reach for the port bottle again when a look of revelation swept over his face.I just thought of something, he said, raising his great bulk out of his chair with ease. He disappeared down the hall for several minutes before reappearing with a book in one hand.A copy of the board of inquiry minutes concerning the sinking of the U.S. Navy frigate Kearsarge.

Twenty-eight years earlier.

The ship that sank the famous Confederate raider Alabama?

The ship that sank the famous Confederate raider Alabama?

It seems a stretch to think that the mysterious monster wasn't designed and constructed by an industrial nation, said Pitt, still skeptical.

Perlmutter contemplated his bottle of port, which was now two-thirds empty.Over that time, many ships disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Most of them were British warships.

It's odd that such a vessel, if it truly existed, could cruise the world for almost thirty years without its being seen more often, or one of its crew deserting ashore and telling the story. And if it sailed around ramming and sinking ships, how come there were not more survivors to report the incidents?

The ship that sank the famous Confederate raider Alabama?

Yes, according to her commander, Captain Leigh Hunt, he was attacked by a man-made underwater vessel that resembled a whale. The vessel was chased, then sank into the water before surfacing again and ramming the Kearsarge, putting a large hole in her hull. She barely made it to Roncador Reef before she grounded. The crew then made camp on the reef until they were rescued.

Strange? asked Pitt.

Come to think of it, the Kearsarge was not the only vessel reported sunk by an undersea monster.

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