Nightime Visions


Animal Kingdom in Orlando is more than just animals. It’s rides. It’s shows (think, Lion King), it’s stores, it’s the world of Pandora (think Avatar). The day we went it was really cold (at least for Florida!) and we weren’t really ready for it. But we’d heard that a show that took place after dark in a large outdoor amphitheater around a lake was worth seeing, so we went for it. And they were right – it was worth it!

I shot today’s photo with my cell phone and it gives you a bit of an idea of the spectacle. There were a couple boats that would move around the lake but there were small “floats” that moved around, too. They would light up in different colors, they were equipped with pumps that could shoot water up into the air. And there were also other larger pumps that shot massive streams of water, creating a wall of mist that images where images could be projected.

Today’s photo was shot toward the beginning of the show when the boat that was anchored right by the amphitheater was just starting to head out into the lake. If you ever get there, you should check it out. Not all nighttime visions are so lovely.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1950, U.S. President Harry S. Truman publicly announced his decision to support the development of the hydrogen bomb, a weapon theorized to be hundreds of times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan during World War II.

Five months earlier, the United States had lost its nuclear supremacy when the Soviet Union successfully detonated an atomic bomb at their test site in Kazakhstan. Then, several weeks after that, British and U.S. intelligence came to the staggering conclusion that German-born Klaus Fuchs, a top-ranking scientist in the U.S. nuclear program, was a spy for the Soviet Union. These two events, and the fact that the Soviets now knew everything that the Americans did about how to build a hydrogen bomb, led Truman to approve massive funding for the superpower race to complete the world’s first “superbomb,” as he described it in his public announcement on January 31.

On November 1, 1952, the United States successfully detonated “Mike,” the world’s first hydrogen bomb, on the Elugelab Atoll in the Pacific Marshall Islands. The 10.4-megaton thermonuclear device, built upon the Teller-Ulam principles of staged radiation implosion, instantly vaporized an entire island and left behind a crater more than a mile wide. The incredible explosive force of Mike was also apparent from the sheer magnitude of its mushroom cloud–within 90 seconds the mushroom cloud climbed to 57,000 feet and entered the stratosphere. One minute later, it reached 108,000 feet, eventually stabilizing at a ceiling of 120,000 feet. Half an hour after the test, the mushroom stretched 60 miles across, with the base of the head joining the stem at 45,000 feet.

Three years later, on November 22, 1955, the Soviet Union detonated its first hydrogen bomb on the same principle of radiation implosion. Both superpowers were now in possession of the “hell bomb,” as it was known by many Americans, and the world lived under the threat of thermonuclear war for the first time in history.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Mummies were in high demand as medicine during the European Middle Ages. For example, Europeans would boil a mummy and use the oils to treat bruising, stomach aches, and a myriad of other ailments.


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