Archive for October, 2010

Voyage to the Center of the Earth: Georges Méliès and the Chilean Miners’ Rescue

October 17, 2010

When it looked pretty certain that all the miners would be rescued, I began to notice details—irresistibly, the clunky, even comical details. Like the rescue rig. Twenty-first century technology had been necessary to contact the trapped and nearly starving men, to calculate and prepare the “rescue diet” that brought them back to health and sustained them for 52 more days, to drill the rescue shaft and, finally, to enable all of us to watch the entire rescue operation both above and below ground. Yet, from the outside, the rescue itself seemed to be carried out with, basically, 19th-century technology: a metal cage, a winch and a lot of steel cable. Although probably the steel cable would be 20th-century. But the basic principles, I think, go back to Archimedes and his lever:

The rig looks like an illustration out of an old physics book: Read on