Apparently in the early 1900s, there was a plan to run a thin metal cable across the English Channel and operate a monorail carriage across it. It used gyroscopes to keep it in place.
It was invented by a chap called Louis Brennan from Kent. It actually ran on a single rail and he demonstrated one suspended in the air with his daughter seated in it. Quite extraordinary. There’s a blog entry about it here.
The reason I know is because this morning before work, I went on a tour of a new display at the Smith Centre called ‘What if the gyros fail?’, a question that plagued scientists at the time and the sort of thing that still plagues us with issues such as GM. David Rooney (the guy who wrote the piece in the link above) took the tour and was terrific.
The Smith centre is a place for possible investors to be shown some of the amazing things the Science Museum has. Among the objects in the new Gyros display is the single gyro cart that Brennan’s daughter sat in for the test, the world’s first motorcycle (sort of) and a very impressive collection of first editions. Some of these documents are incredible and, along with some truly old texts, there’s the flight plan for the 1969 first moon landing, autographed by Armstrong and Aldrin.
Ending the tour is Tracey the sheep. Not at all related to Dolly, she was the second cloned sheep in the world. Apparently the Science Museum was pipped at the post for Dolly so they waited around for Tracey to pop her clogs and rushed straight to Edinburgh to carry her off in true Victorian body snatcher style.
All in all, it was a splendid tour and well worth getting up half an hour earlier than usual.