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Friday, July 20, 2018

Friday links

It's the anniversary of the 20th of July plot, the unsuccessful bomb attempt to kill Hitler in 1944.

The Bayeux Tapestry with knobs on: what do the tapestry’s 93 penises tell us?

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon

The Scientific Quest For the Perfect S'more.

Ye Oldest Public Library in the English Speaking World.

ICYMI, Monday's links are here, and include the physics of how lawn mower blades cut grass (at 50K frames per second), spiders flying by using electricity, and the anniversary of the beginning of the atomic age (the 1945 Trinity nuclear test).

It's the anniversary of the 20th of July plot, the unsuccessful bomb attempt to kill Hitler in 1944

Unhappy German nation, how do you like the Messianic role allotted to you, not by God, nor by destiny, but by a handful of perverted and bloody-minded men? 

A few days before the attempt: Stauffenberg standing 
to attention, left, as Hitler visits the Wolf's Lair. To 
the right is Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel, later 
executed as a war criminal
In Germany, they came first for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Catholic. Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak up. 

Pastor Martin Niem√∂ller (attributed, in the Congressional Record of 14 June 1968) 

The greatest obstacle to being heroic is the doubt whether one may not be going to prove one's self a fool; the truest heroism is to resist that doubt; and the profoundest wisdom, to know when it ought to be resisted, and when it be obeyed. 

Nathaniel Hawthorne (The Blithedale Romance, Ch. 2) 
Es lebe unser heiliges Deutschland!
(Long live our sacred Germany!)
~ Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg (wiki) (last words before a firing squad, 21 July 1944) 

Stauffenberg's bomb failed to kill Hitler after a general moved 
the briefcase containing the device; as a result the Nazi leader 
was shielded by a heavy oak table
Today is the anniversary of the denouement of the nearly-forgotten "20th of July" plot (wiki) in 1944, when a courageous, but incredibly quixotic, group of old-fashioned German patriots under the leadership of Army officer Count Claus von Stauffenberg (wiki) (1907-1944)* sought to achieve a compromise end to World War II in Europe by assassinating Adolf Hitler in his headquarters at Rastenburg, East Prussia, preparatory to opening peace negotiations with the western allies (i.e., excluding Russia). The conspiracy involved a number of high-ranking officers, including Generals Ludwig Beck and Friedrich Obert, but collapsed when a bomb placed by Stauffenberg himself failed to kill Hitler, and plans to seize Berlin fell through.  

Within a day Stauffenberg and the other ringleaders had been executed, but thousands of known opponents of the regime were killed also, and Field Marshals Erwin Rommel, Erwin von Witzleben, and G√ľnther von Kluge were implicated and forced to commit suicide**. Ironically, within a year, the Third Reich had collapsed and Hitler was dead. English writer G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) once wrote,
"Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die."
* N.B. Stauffenberg, a devout Roman Catholic, was born to a Bavarian noble family, entered a traditional cavalry regiment in 1926, and became an officer in the German Army in 1930. Despite growing misgivings about Nazi policies, he fought loyally in Poland, France, Russia, and Tunisia until he was seriously wounded in the latter, losing an eye, his right hand, and two fingers on his left hand. Subsequently, he served in several staff positions. Throughout his career, Stauffenberg seems to have been drawn to various anti-Nazi movements, and his war experiences, especially in Russia, intensified his feelings of unease with the regime. The 2008 motion picture Valkyrie presents a somewhat fictionalized version of the 20 July plot. 

** Stauffenberg got off easy. Eight of those executed were hanged with piano wire from meat-hooks and their executions filmed and shown to senior members of the Nazi Party and the armed forces.

British Pathe has a newsreel which includes footage of the aftermath of the bomb:

And an additional newsreel, apparently from shortly after the end of the war:

Related posts:

The Herd Reich? Brit farmer turned Nazi super cows into sausage because they were too aggressive.

January 27, 1945 - the Soviet Army liberated Auschwitz

Further reading:

The definitive source: Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich.

Parts of the text above are adapted from Ed's Quotation of the Day, only available via email - leave your email address in the comments if you'd like to be added to his list. Ed is the author of Hunters and Killers: Volume 1: Anti-Submarine Warfare from 1776 to 1943 and Hunters and Killers: Volume 2: Anti-Submarine Warfare from 1943.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Monday links

The Physics of How Lawn Mower Blades Cut Grass (at 50K frames per second).

On July 16, 1945 the atomic age began with the Trinity nuclear test. Related: 1954 film: How a Clean, Tidy Home Can Help You Survive the Atomic Bomb

Kazakhstan tax dollars at work: this 40 foot tall squirrel statue is part of an art project commissioned by city authorities.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include why Friday the 13th is considered unlucky, the history of trial by combat, Bastille Day, Mozart's less family-friendly works, and how local authorities are surveilling U. S. citizens.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Physics of How Lawn Mower Blades Cut Grass (at 50K frames per second)

Interesting Engineering on Smarter Every Day's super slow motion video (below) of a lawnmower: ordinary lawnmower sucks air up into the mower body causing the grass to stand vertically, which allows the blade to slice evenly at the bottom of the grass.
To demonstrate this in another way, a vacuum hair clipper does the same thing. It sucks hair into it before it is cut so that a really precise cut can be made. The lifting of the grass is actually caused by the tab on the back of the mower blade which causes air lift and raises the grass up.
By filming a lawn mower in action with a super fast camera, that in turn gives wonderful slow motion, you can see the blades of grass being lifted up just before being cut.