Posts tagged ‘911’

The New World Trade Center Remembers What We Lost

By Chad Upton | Editor

It has been ten years since the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001. Although the attacks happened in the United States, they were an attack on freedom everywhere. It is not an anniversary we want to remember, it’s an anniversary we never want to forget. That is the spirit on which the redevelopment of the World Trade Center is built.

When complete, the World Trade Center (WTC) will include a train station, performing arts center, retail space, five new office towers, a memorial site and museum. The tallest and most tributary building is Tower 1, nicknamed “The Freedom Tower.” That’s not a superficial name, the new tower embodies freedom and pays homage to the structures that came before it, a common device in architectural design.

The top floor of the new Tower 1 will reach 1,362 feet (415 meters), the same height as the former WTC South Tower. A glass enclosed observation deck will float just above that at 1,368 feet (417 meters), the same height as the original WTC North Tower. An illuminated antenna will reach further, bringing the total height to 1,776 feet (541 meters). The height is a significant symbol of freedom; 1776 being the year the US declared independence from Great Britain.

The antenna’s design draws inspiration from the torch on the nearby Statue of Liberty, a symbol of freedom itself. The blinking aircraft warning light at the top will blink in a slightly irregular pattern, repeating one long flash followed by one short flash. This is Morse code for the letter “N” for “New York.”

Aesthetics frequently differ among structures, but Tower 1 is unique on the inside too. Slated to open in late 2013, this 105 story building will feature a fortified structural base. Basically, the lowest 19 floors don’t contain any inhabitable space. Instead, they form a reinforced concrete pedestal intended to protect the building from ground based terrorist attacks similar to the truck bomb attack in 1993.

The rest of the building employs a redundant steel moment frame with an additional 3 feet (91 cm) thick reinforced concrete shear wall around the inner spine of the building. The core contains elevators, stairwells, electrical risers and sprinkler systems. These structural features and redundancies make it the strongest skyscraper ever built.

There are some additional safety considerations too. The building is situated 65 feet (20 m) away from the street, nearly triple the distance the twin towers were from the street. Additionally, the windows nearest the road will be made of a special blast-resistant plastic. The ventilation system contains biological and chemical filters and there are extra-wide emergency stairs exclusively for firefighter use.

There are seventy elevators, including some super high-speed elevators that travel at 33 feet per second (10 m/s). Some elevators are exclusively for emergency and non-ambulatory use. For safety, elevators will have their own backup power supplies and stairways will be pressurized to keep smoke from entering them.

Looking at the site plan, you may notice that WTC 6 is missing. WTC 1 is on the former site of WTC 6, so there will not be a new WTC 6. Although this plan calls for a WTC 5, the future of that tower is in question. The plans for WTC 5 were scrapped in 2008 when the major tenant pulled out in favor of another location in midtown manhattan. Tower 5 may get built, but there are no concrete plans at this time.

At the center of the site, a beautiful memorial has been created in the space that was once occupied by the twin towers. The memorial will be dedicated on September 11th, 2011 and be open to families who lost someone in the terrorist attacks. It will open to the public the following day.

Architects also designed the site so that every September 11th, between 8:46 am  and 10:28 am (the time the first plane hit to the time the second tower collapsed), the alignment of the Earth and Sun will create a bright wedge shaped highlight that focuses light toward the memorial plaza.

The two footprints of the original towers will be represented by square shaped waterfalls, some of the largest man-made falls in the world. The names of nearly 3,000 victims of the 1993 and 2001 terrorist attacks will be memorialized in a bronze bezel that will surround the two square waterfalls. Over 400 trees have been brought in from around New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC, to honor those who died in the WTC, on Flight 93 and in the attack on the Pentagon. Among these trees, there is one that was actually on-site when the towers collapsed.

Known as the “Survivor tree,” this callery pear tree was burned by the fires and covered by the rubble when the towers collapsed. The tree was uncovered weeks later and taken to a nearby nursery. It was not expected to survive, but after tender care and pruning, it has grown 30 feet tall and returned to the World Trade Center site. While the waterfalls, and the names around them, represent what we lost, the survivor tree represents the courage, growth and perseverance that remains.

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Images: Silverstein Properties (fair use), wikimedia commons (gnu)

Sources: Lower Manhattan Development Corporation,, NYPost, 911 memorial, dna info, wikipedia (1 world trade, World Trade Center Site), popsci

September 9, 2011 at 2:00 am 9 comments

Only One Plane Was Allowed to Fly After Flights Grounded on Sept 11th 2001

By Chad Upton | Editor

After the planes hit the twin towers on 9/11/2001, all commercial air traffic was grounded. But, a cross country flight was the only thing that could save one man’s life.

A couple hours after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, Lawrence Van Sertima, a snake handler of 40 years, was about to get his first snake bite. He was handling a Taipan snake, one of the most deadly in the world, when it became uncooperative and bit his thumb. He instantly knew he was in trouble.

Since air traffic was grounded, he could not be taken to the hospital by helicopter. It took 40 minutes to get to Miami’s Baptist Hospital by ambulance.

The venom from this particular snake attacks the blood, muscles, kidneys and heart. It’s one of the worst possible scenarios. Within hours he was in critical condition and soon bled from his eyes and mouth.

Miami-Dade’s Fire Rescue has a snake bite unit called “Venom 1.” They had 5 vials of a polyvalent antivenin, designed to treat multiple types of snake bites. It helped, and was barely keeping Van Sertima alive. He needed the monovalent antivenin, made from the venom of the Taipan snake, as soon as possible. Unfortunately, there were only two places that it existed: New York and San Diego.

The chances of getting clearance for a plane to take off from New York were unlikely, so they tried San Diego. The FAA in Washington granted permission for the flight, although it had to be  escorted by two fighter jets. Within 45 minutes of landing, the antivenin was being administered.

Van Sertima recovered and learned about the terrorist attacks a few days later.

Bonus: Anti-venom and antivenin are the same thing.

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Image: thefixer (cc)


September 8, 2011 at 2:00 am 28 comments

Inactive Cell Phones Can Still Call 911

Over half of 911 calls originate from cell phones. This number will only increase as traditional phone service declines and cell phone adoption rates continue to rise.

In the US and Canada, wireless phone operators are required by law to connect all calls to 911 services, whether the customer account is active, past due or even canceled.

Even if you don’t need a wireless phone for your social life, it may be a good idea to keep an old phone in your glove box in case of an emergency. There is even an organization called where you can donate an old phone or request a free phone for this exact purpose.

If you have a disabled phone without a service contract and want to use it for 911 service, you may want to test it. DO NOT just dial 911 to test it, they will likely send help, even if you say it was just a test. The proper way to test 911 service is to call the non-emergency number for your local public safety answering point (PSAP) office and schedule a 911 test. That way, they will be expecting your call and know for sure that it is a test. In the US, there is a list of non-emergency contact numbers for PSAPs listed here.

When you call 911, you should be aware that your location will also be transmitted to the operator.

Some cell phones have built in GPS receivers, allowing them to receive radio signals from space and accurately determine a very precise location on earth. But, GPS is rarely available when indoors and obviously many calls originate indoors. Calls to 911 may not use GPS location data, because the phone does not support it or because a GPS signal cannot be found (typical when indoors).

When GPS is not available, the wireless provider can get a fairly accurate location of the phone by analyzing it’s signal and the location of the towers that are receiving it. Current regulations require that a phone carrier can pinpoint a cell phone within 300-600 meters, depending on the technology the phone is using. By 2012, phone carriers should be able to pinpoint you location within 50-300 meters.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

Secrets on: Facebook | Twitter | Kindle

Sources: 911 Wireless Service, FCC

May 25, 2010 at 5:00 am 7 comments

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