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Four Events That Changed The World

Richard Hamblyn

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Lisbon earthquake a rel problem. Why had thousands of God's most God-fearing citizens, most of them women and children, been killed while at their prayers? If God controlled events such as earthquakes, why had he punished the innocent so severely, when hundreds of criminals had been able to escape from their prisons unharmed? And why had almost all the churches been destroyed while a row of brothels along the Rua Suja escaped unharmed?

Maquis of Pombal became de facto ruler in charge of rebuilding the city. He sent out a questionnaire to get first-hand info about the tremors and their effects. This is a landmark in seismology - the first attempt to get an objective account of the earthquake.

Found that the larger, seemingly solid, stone churches had been the first to fall, while the flimsier, wood framed buildings of the Rua Suja survived. And, it became clear that the varying fates of buildings depended on the type of ground built on. The lower lying alluvial sand visibly liquefied, amplified the effects of the seismic waves, while those built on the slopes of the limestone hills surrounding the city, fared much better.

So before any rebuilding on the flat central area, 20,000 timber piles were shipped from Germany and sunk into the ground to act as footings. the new streets were widened to forty feet and sixty feet, so that even in a total collapse there wd be clear space in middle to let people escape. The new houses cd be no more than four storeys high, and were built around a stong wooden cage. Even the churches had to be built to the same limits.

Social habits changed too - an English visitor noticed that as soon as Lisbonites felt a tremor, they immediatel extinguished all flames.

1783 first balloon flights Paris. Benjamin Franklin was a spectator, and came out with his classic quote in response to a man asking "What use is it?" with "What use is a new born baby?"

Krakatau a sequence of eruptions, with multiple vents blowing ash and pumice into the sky. The final eruption was that cataclysm, as the center of the volcano collapsed, the sea rushed in to meet the red hot lava. Six cubic miles of rock were blasted into the atmosphere with an unimaginable roar. The sound of the blast was heard in Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Australia. And, at its furtherest extent, the island of Rodriguez, halfway across the Indian Ocean, 3000 miles away. The loudest noise ever recorded on Earth.

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