Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Mud

Rock beats scissors, and scissors beats paper. And somehow, though I have never really undertood this, paper beats rock. According to a tour guide at the Hoover Dam, what beats rock, or rather concrete, is really mud.

A couple weeks ago I braved the depravity of Las Vegas and brought my wife and four kids to sin city for several days vacation.

We avoided the strip at night, though did have to brave it a couple times around dinner time. Fortunately nothing to wacky happened other than the traveling billboard trucks with a scantily clad female on an ad with a message along the lines of “Lonely? Call me tonight!”

We went there for a couple reasons…the hot weather and cool refreshing pools at the MGM Grand (a cold snap hit Vegas while we were there), and the surrounding attractions (Hoover Dam, Red Rock Canyon, Lake Meade, etc).

On one of our day trips we stopped by a chocolate factory for a tour and samples, then headed to Hoover Dam. It is certainly an experience I will never forget- the massive concrete structure seemed almost beyond human ability to construct…and the massive turbines that the Colorado river flows through to power millions of homes and businesses were so large that when they were built the government had to first build forges and factories there at the building site because no form of transportation existed at the time to move these from any distance.

We took the full tour and traveled down hundreds of feet below the surface packed into a surprisingly large elevator with a rather animated and goofy tour guide. But I repeat myself.

On the tour a few questions were asked of the guide as we moved from the feeder tunnels, through the depths to the power station and then back up to the observation area. I had one question that our family had wondered about earlier on the tour- how long would this dam last? Or rather, how long did the designers think it would stand? We guessed amongst ourselves with my guess being the farthest out- I thought about 200 years. That seemed reasonable.

I asked the guide the question when we stopped to wait for the elevator up to the surface.
“This dam was built to last 2,000 years. But it wont really last that long…the sediment will build up against the dam and make it useless a few years before that.”

2 millennia. What has man made that was expected to last 2 millennia? Surely the pyramids, and perhaps a Roman or Greek building or two…but not too many things I think were built with this time frame in mind.


Anonymous said...

Rock breaks scissors, scissors cut paper, paper covers rock.