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Ben Franklin's bifocals November 18, 2004

Duck and Cover

School children today are taught to drop and roll in order to cope with fire should it catch their clothing. In the late '40s and early '50s we learned another drill in school. We were told that in the event of a nuclear bomb explosion, the first warning would be a flash of light brighter than a thousand suns. [Light traveling at 186,000 miles per second reaches the eyes long before the arrival of the shock wave and the sound wave, which travel at less than a thousand miles per hour. We already knew to count the seconds between the flash of lightening and the sound of the thunder to estimate the distance of a lightening strike from us.]

We would practice in class using those precious few seconds to try to survive an atomic bomb attack. One was taught to scramble under the desk, turn away from the windows, crouch with eyes pressed into the crook of the elbow to protect them, and hunch a shoulder to cover one ear while covering the other ear with the hand.

The naughty boys would always add that since you were already in position to do so, you could bend over a little further and kiss your ass goodbye, but of course William would never say anything like that.

Atomic Bomb exploding

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