The Sound Mirrors of WWII

Posted on June 20, 2017 by Dr. Lynda

People are so ingenious.

Have you ever noticed how inventions that are particularly clever and clumsy, usually pop up just before a major breakthrough?

Such is the story of something very remarkable that was used in WWII, just before RADAR was invented.

Image: The Sound Mirrors of WWII
Source: Pixabay

“Sound Mirrors” where enormous structures made of concrete that used some very basic physics and the science of sound, to help detect approaching bombers.

The wonder of today’s Ever Widening Circles (EWC) video share is that it reminds us to look for innovation, right around the corner, whenever something becomes popular that is novel and useful, but still very cumbersome.

If that’s the case, you can bet someone is out there, streamlining the whole thing!

Take cell phones for example. Just 25 years ago, they were the size of a shoe box, weighed about the same as a brick, and in those days we still thought they were an endpoint.

It was only the beginning.

Computers were the same way. They were once the size of a pickup truck. Who knew we would all eventually carry something smaller than a deck of cards which would be our phone and our computer!

So today we point to a fascinating, forgotten step, that was once considered a breakthrough in tracking aircraft, just before RADAR technology burst onto the scene.

Here’s a short video from The Science Channel’s YouTube channel that takes a look at a very cumbersome wonder.

Yes, humans can be amazingly resourceful when our backs are to the wall!

This was not the answer we needed, but it was an answer!

And without fail, some clever minds used a lot of the same principles of reflection to come up with a system so effective – RADAR – that it is still used today, 80 years later, as the primary tracking system in aviation.

Why haven’t we moved on from RADAR to say, something like GPS tracking in aviation?

If you’re like me, just wildly curious, you may love a quick look at a great article by BBC News called How do you track an airplane? It gives you a very interesting look at the state of tracking airplanes in a modern world, which turns out to be rather primitive, and very cumbersome.

Must be that the next big leap is right around the corner!

If you like thinking about how technology is moving us all forward, make sure you jump over to our Innovation Category where you can see the full list of incredible thought leaders, inventions, and insights we have featured here on Ever Widening Circles!

Stay open, curious and optimistic.

~ Dr. Lynda

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