Monday, January 16, 2012

3500 Year Old Tree Destroyed by Fire

A 3,500 year old Palm Cypress Tree in Seminole County, Florida, was destroyed by fire. It is the oldest Pond Bald Cypress tree in the world. The tree, known locally as The Senator, after Senator M.O. Overstreet who donated the land the tree stands on. President Calvin Coolidge dedicated the tree in 1929 with a presidential bronze plaque.


Firefighters indicated that much of the tree was dead and hollowed out, making it susceptible to fire. In this case, the fire, of unknown origin, burned inside the tree and toppled it. Until now, this tall and majestic tree had survived hundreds of hurricanes and brush fires during its long life.

To put the The Senator's age into perspective, when this tree was only a seedling, human civilization was in its infancy.

  • Mycenaean Greece develops as a society.
  • The beginning of the Shang Dynasty in China emerges with evidence of a fully developed Chinese writing system.
  • The beginning of Hittite dominance of the Eastern Mediterranean region is seen.
  • The New Kingdom of Egypt emerged.
Lady Liberty, considered a sister tree to the Senator, survived the fire. Lady Liberty is only 2,000 years old and approximately 89 feet tall.


Photo courtesy of Florida State Archives.


Monday, January 9, 2012

First Commercial Spacecraft to Visit International Space Station

F9 dragon cargo stage sep

The International Space Station is preparing for its first visit from a commercial space craft. SpaceX will be launching the Dragon space capsule from Canaveral Air Force Base on a supply mission. The craft will be carrying food and other supplies for the crew on the ISS. Unlike the unmanned Soyuz capsules that have been tapped to resupply the ISS, the Dragon will be able to return a significant amount of material to Earth for refurbishment or proper disposal.

Dragon is one of several attempts by the private sector to commercialize the space transport business. NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program is partially funding the flight.