I’m lucky. I was on my knees back in the shelves looking for something and from that odd vantage point I noticed a small booklet I’d never seen before. It’s just fantastic. It’s dated December, 1959 and here’s what it looks like:
First off, right on the cover, I’m curious. What is that on top of (behind?) Abercrombie?
Next, I found this inside:
I knew immediately I’d seen it before and I even knew where. I found it first in Jim Sims’s papers and speculated about it here in a post about the vanished parking lot. Now, very unexpectedly, the mystery is solved: “The behavior of long mortar-filled steel tubes under axial loading, lateral loading, and combined axial and lateral loading are being studied. Particular attention is directed to the behavior of short specimens subjected to axial compression. As an integral part of this investigation a very long compression member has been constructed and is being tested. This consists of two thin steel tubes arranged coaxially with the annulus filled with mortar slurry. The compound column was then strained by a hydraulic ram acting on a bridge strand cable passing through the inner tube. The overall length of the tube is 195 ft.” Got that? (I love “annulus,” by the way. It strikes me as quite an elegant usage. “Little ring” in Latin–the space between the inside tube and the outside tube.)
But best of all, this little book actually helps me with my real work. I’m working on a book about the transformation of Rice in the 1960s and this gives me a beautiful snapshot of the state of our engineering school as it sat on the brink of tremendous change. Its introduction, written by President Houston, is short but revealing about how the Institute’s leadership thought about what they were trying to accomplish:
Bonus: I’ve had enough winter.