Chronological Comparisons

The length of time from the end of the American Civil War to the release of “Gone With the Wind” (the movie) was very nearly the same as the length of time from the movie to the present. (74 years vs 72 years)

The length of time from Richard Trevithick’s prototype steam locomotive to the Wright Brothers’ first flight was less than the time from that first flight to the present. (99 years vs 108 years)

The length of time from the Wright Brothers’ first flight to the first commercial jetliner (DH 106 Comet) was less than the time from the Comet to the present (48 years vs 60 years)

The length of time from the coronation of Elizabeth I to the American Declaration of Independence was less than the time from the Declaration to to the present (217 years vs 235 years)

The length of time from Robert Goddard’s first liquid-fueled rocket to the first manned landing on the moon was almost exactly the same as the time from the lunar landing to the present (43 years vs 42 years)

10 thoughts on “Chronological Comparisons”

  1. I think about this sort of thing all the time.

    I have lived a little more than 1/5 of the history of the USA, my Dad has lived more than 1/3 of it.

    A depressing one. Goddard’s first liquid fuel rocket flight to the moon landing: 43 years. First moon landing to today: 42 years. More progress here, please.

  2. i thought this was going to be an article on how stagnant things have become, with some areas of human knowledge actually regressing over the last X years.

    passenger jet speed: no change

    space travel: regressed

    sculpture: regressed

    classical music: regressed

    you get the picture.

  3. Indeed, passenger jets aren’t any faster…OTOH, there have been very significant efficiency improvements–about 2:1 in fuel consumption per passenger seat-mile, even if we take the 707 as the baseline rather than the fuel-hungry Comet. There have also been significant improvements in safety, driven by things like the terrain warning systems as well as by more reliable systems, better pilot training and procedures, etc.

  4. Passenger jet speed has regressed — the Concorde is no longer in service. Spaceflight, on the other hand, has begun to progress again. The Falcon 9 is dropping cost to orbit substantially, and other developments now funded and in process may drop it drastically. True commercial space service is about to begin.

  5. My mother lived in three centuries. She was born in 1898 and died in 2001. My children, when they were teenagers, each used to go back to Chicago and spend a week with her. She would check into a downtown hotel so they could walk around and shop. I suspect they learned more history from her than in school. She remembered the sinking of the Titanic. I took her to the movie when it came out. Aside from snorting at the sex scene in the car, she enjoyed it. She wrote letters to doughboys in World War I. She was 40 when I was born but lied about her age. My birth certificate (yes, the long form) gives her age as 29. My father never knew she was older. No one knew how old she was when she finally retired from the job she had had in downtown Chicago since the 1930s. She quit when I was born and went back to work when I was in the 8th grade because she did not like to ask my father for money. The president of the company, Anchor Storage on North Water Street, told her that no one knew how old she was but everyone who had been there when she first came to work was dead. I hope the kids enjoyed her half as much as I did.

    Her father, my grandfather, was born in 1849 and I have a Daguerreotype of him at the age of five. William Osler was born the same year. Her father died of pneumonia in 1899 when she was an infant. So my grandfather was born 60 years after the Constitution went into effect and 61 after ratification. Three generations.

  6. a very interesting story. sooooo, there must have been some first hand stories about lincoln and the civil war then, yes?

  7. My grandfather was born in 1896 and died in 1981. I am often bemused by the sheer enormity of what he lived through, both as a participant and witness.

    From the Wright Brothers to WW1, from the Roaring 20’s to the Depression, then WW2 and the Cold War, the space race, the moon landings, I cannot imagine what he must have thought about it all.

    He met my grandmother on the train to Chicago, never flew in a plane, rode a horse as a young man, and had a dozen jobs over the years, including some bootlegging during Prohibition.

    I can only hope to live long enough to see even a fraction of the momentous events he lived through, although I would gladly pass on any more wars, large or small.

  8. I also think about things like this all the time.

    From Waterloo to First Marne was 99 years, the First Marne to today, 97 years.

    From inventing the telegraph to the telephone was only about 32 years; Apple has been around longer than that.

    My adolescent father knew an elderly former slave in the 1930s.

  9. My maternal grandmother was born in 1912 in rural southeast Alabama. The home where she was born had no electricity or running water. When she was 12, her family “moved to town;” where they had a single electric light in three rooms (controlled by a string hanging from the light socket). She lived in that house (with subsequent upgrades, but no air conditioning) until 1967—two years later Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins made their historic trip. She died in 1998 and often told me that we lived in a world where “anything was possible.” Indeed, from her perspective, that must have seemed so.

    Great post!

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