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Halley's Diving Bell and the Bends *

Edmond Halley is best known for predicting Halley's Comet, but Halley has many talents. He has designed a diving bell that can be submerged 60 feet and supplied with air for up to an hour. Metal diving bells and wooden-framed submarines have been something of a novelty up until now, but once Halley's design is turned into reality, extended excursions underwater will be possible. The diving bell will become useful for salvage operations and the higher pressures placed on the body are being used as a medical treatment for some diseases. [1] [2]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
OK... some pumps powered by steam engines existed in the late 1600s but they were rare and they pumped water... not air under pressure. Halley was not pumping air down to the diving bell. He was using weighted barrels filled with air. The diving bell was a heavy metal object that was open at the bottom. The barrels of air were released under the bell, thus supplying the additional air for breathing. Higher pressures of air can have a real beneficial effect on the body, because it allows bodily tissues to absorb more oxygen. However, if the pressure is released too quickly, the gasses that have been absorbed into the tissues, suddenly bubble up within the tissues and create an extremely painful condition known as "the bends". That term won't come into use until the 1800s when laborers will bend over in pain after digging out the foundations for the Brooklyn Bridge. A chamber of air under the water allowed workers to dig, but when they left the chamber to normal air pressure they would experience pain and some even died. Edmond Halley himself suffered from such tissue damage during his experiments with the diving bell. [3] [4] [5]

Leisler's New York Rebellion

For some reason, Jacob Leisler is going to hang even though he supported the New King William the 3rd and Queen Mary the 2nd of England. During the fight between Prince William the 3rd (a Protestant) and King James the 2nd (a Catholic) most of the Colonists supported William as the new King. In order to secure New York and the region in the name of King William, several colonists arrested the local officials and took the fort overlooking New York Harbor. These colonists designated Jacob Leisler as their leader so he quickly consolidated his position and waited for a new governor of New York to arrive from England. This all seems fine except that while they were waiting, the people of Albany objected to Jacob as the one to lead the colony. And then, the new Lt. Governor arrived from England... without the Governor and without official papers. (Those are with the Governor on the OTHER ship). Jacob refuses to turn over leadership to a man without official papers. The guys in Albany would like to roast Jacob over a low fire. The Lt. Governor appoints a number of advisors, mostly from the Albany group and when the official governor finally arrives, things do not look good for Jacob. Even so, Jacob might skirt by except that the Governor has been drinking, and with everyone encouraging the Governor to hang Jacob, he signs the order, and Jacob swings. [6]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
This whole mess was called Leisler's Rebellion and it was one of a string of rebellions. The only relation between these rebellions seemed to be that they were usually led by mid-range officials or farmers who were sick and tired of being lorded over by the aristocracy and the big-wigs. There was really nothing wrong with what Jacob did. His initial followers got off scotfree, but he had defied the first official representative of the King to have arrived and when the Governor got there, it seemed like he was too busy to be bothered. My sense is that these Kingsmen were acting like they were the King. They seemed to be offended that anyone would even think of defying them, regardless of the reason. We will see this scenario played out over and over again. Each time it happens it will produce resentment in more and more of the colonists until it results in the American Revolution. [7]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1691, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. N. T. Bobrovnikoff (November 1942). "Edmond Halley, 1656-1742". The Scientific Monthly (American Association for the Advancement of Science) 55 (5): 438-446. http://www.jstor.org/stable/17896. Retrieved December 03, 2015. 
  2. Gloria Leifer (August 2001). "Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy". The American Journal of Nursing (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins) 101 (8): 26-35. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3522610. Retrieved December 10, 2015. 
  3. Brooklyn Bridge - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 10 December 2015. “Compressed air was pumped into the caissons, and workers entered the space to dig the sediment, until the caissons sank to the bedrock. The whole weight of the bridge still sits upon a 15-foot thickness of southern yellow pine wood under the sediment.[16] Many workers became sick with the bends in this work.[17] This condition was unknown at the time, and was first called 'caisson disease' by the project physician Andrew Smith.”
  4. Barotrauma - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 10 December 2015. “Barotrauma is physical damage to body tissues caused by a difference in pressure between a gas space inside, or in contact with the body, and the surrounding fluid.”
  5. Edmonds, Lowry and Pennefather (1975). History of Diving (PDF).
  6. Leisler's Rebellion - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 10 December 2015. “Leisler's Rebellion was an uprising in late 17th century colonial New York, in which German American merchant and militia captain Jacob Leisler seized control of the colony's south and ruled it from 1689 to 1691. The uprising took place in the aftermath of Britain's Glorious Revolution and the 1689 Boston revolt in the Dominion of New England, which had included New York. The rebellion reflected colonial resentment against the policies of the deposed King James II.”
  7. THOMAS E. BURKE JR. (October 1989). "Leisler's Rebellion at Schenectady, New York, 1689–1710". New York History (New York State Historical Association) 70 (4): 405-430. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23178501. Retrieved December 8, 2015. 

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