January 26, 2004

Ask Jen: Hindenburg Edition

Reader Jeff wants to know, "Was the Hindenburg really that big of a tragedy?"

I suppose it is all relative...97 people were on board and 62 survived. Thirty-five people on the airship and one crewmember on the ground died. I think the fact it was caught on tape helped fuel (no pun intended) the horror.

Before the Hindenburg disaster, travel by airship had been going on for over 25 years, but the Hindenburg explosion ended blimp travel. Soon afterwards, the first passengers crossed the Atlantic via airplane.

Incidentally, the Hindenburg was designed to use helium, but the U.S. refused to sell any to Adolf Hitler's Germany. So hydrogen was used instead, flammable as it is.

Do you have a question for me? You can e-mail it. If I know the answer, I'll answer it. If I don't, I might make something up.

Posted by Jennifer at January 26, 2004 10:01 AM


You can also soak the cups in water with bleach if they are white.

Posted by: Pete at January 26, 2004 11:10 AM

Nitric acid can also work.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at January 26, 2004 04:50 PM

I remember telling my grandmother (I was probably around 11 or 12 at the time) how LUCKY the Hindenburg passengers were. The thing exploded near to the ground while docking, and 2/3 survived. If it had hit an electrical storm somewhere over the Atlantic then all on board would have been lost. The Hindenburg disaster also gave me a great idea for propane-filled party balloons.

Posted by: Tuning Spork at January 26, 2004 08:24 PM


Hydrogen goes whoosh.

Propane goes BANG!

Don't try that at home, Spork. Unless you're renting...

Posted by: Pixy Misa at January 26, 2004 10:39 PM

And long stick goes BOOM.

Quick - name the artist!

Posted by: david at January 27, 2004 07:21 AM

yeah, but Nitric acid tends to etch them a bit

Posted by: Pete at January 27, 2004 07:50 AM

I have heard that the famous radio newscast with the guy describing "the tragedy of it all, the humanity" was actually recorded later, in a studio, from the recollection of the newsman who was there, without the capability to do a live radio broadcast.

Posted by: Larry at January 28, 2004 08:59 PM

Bush withheld hydrogen, people died!

Whoops, wrong century.

Never mind

Posted by: Kevin at January 29, 2004 01:32 AM

whoops, wrong element too!

Helium, that's what I meant!

Posted by: Kevin at January 29, 2004 01:38 AM