Monday, January 21, 2013

Unlocking the Secrets of the "Nautilus"!

Today is January 21. On this day in 1954 (a very good year indeed) First Lady Mamie Eisenhower christened the first atomic powered submarine, the "Nautilus".   You will recall that Captain Nemo had a sub by that name.  Mamie got the Navy's atomic age started with a bang. Or bangs as the case may be, in Groton, CT. 

One of our church members in Pittsburgh worked for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the time and one of his jobs was to complete an "artists conception" of the "Nautilus" for publication. He and a fellow artist worked through the night to complete the illustration which went on to appear in encyclopedias (whatever became of encyclopedias!?) and books. One worked on the illustration from right to left  the other from left to right, switching places at intervals, so that the final illustration would appear to have been created seamlessly, by one artist. Clever!  

I suppose the story may now be told that when they got to the engine room, the government provided no drawings of what made the sub go. So they had to make it up. Which they did. You can find their drawing on line, pretty quickly, today  

Some years later, so Pat told me, he learned that their illustration had driven several Soviet scientists completely bonkers, because they had been assigned the task of copying the engine in the "Nautilus" for the USSR's attempt to build an atomic submarine.  Most of their efforts were based on trying to unlock the secrets of the made up equipment in the cutaway view by my Presbyterian artist friend!  It was an attempt that bore them zero success. 

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