‘Monsters’ examines a history of technological hubris | Science News

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‘Monsters’ examines a history of technological hubris

The Hindenburg disaster offers clues to recognizing risky inventions

By
11:00am, August 9, 2015
Hindenburg

DOWNED SHIP  The Hindenburg caught fire just before landing on a New Jersey airfield, killing 36 people. Science writer Ed Regis explores some of the lessons from the terrible — but preventable — disaster.

Monsters
Ed Regis
Basic Books, $28.99

It took just over 30 seconds for the Hindenburg to go from flying technological marvel to smoldering wreckage on an airfield in Lakehurst, N.J. Horrified onlookers watched as electricity in the atmosphere ignited a plume of hydrogen gas escaping from rear of the airship. The fire tore through the Hindenburg and brought it crashing to the ground, killing 36 people.

As shocking as it was, the 1937 catastrophe was just one incident in a long, disastrous history for airships, writes science writer Ed Regis in Monsters, an engaging history of humankind’s technological hubris. In the decades before the Hindenburg, accidental fires downed 26 airships and killed 250 people.

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