A few weeks ago, Rabia and I were emailing each other with topic ideas for our Tuesday Ten. As you have probably noticed, we like to look at obscure "holidays" and make our topics correlate. We were trying to come up with something related to tax day for April 15, but then Rabia saw that it was National Rubber Eraser Day and suggested that we list ten mistakes and what we learned from them. I instantly loved the idea and we plugged it into our topic calendar.
Well, for me, that was a mistake (Ha!). I started thinking about this post days ago, but I was coming up blank. Now, I am certainly not perfect and I make many, many mistakes. Most of them, though, are small. I yell at my kids, I publish posts with typos - things like that. Fortunately, I can't think of any big missteps I've made (except this one)- and certainly not ten of them. Because of this and the fact that I enjoy historical factoids, I decided to go in a slightly different direction.
If you are participating and have spent time listing your mistakes, or if you are reading and this has got you thinking about some major blunders from your past, have no fear! My list of some of the biggest mistakes in history will surely make you feel a little better about your own minor ineptitudes. After all, I'm guessing none of your mistakes caused anything to blow up or cost anyone billions of dollars.
- In 1912, Captain Edward Smith crashed the supposedly unsinkable Titanic into an iceberg. A mistake compounded by the fact that there were not enough lifeboats for all the passengers aboard the ship. Over 1500 passengers died in the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean. This "mistake" cost innocent lives and $7.5 million dollars then, which would translate to approximately $168 million dollars today.
- In 1999, NASA and Lockheed Martin engineers were working on a Mars orbiter. The engineers from LM used the traditional English system of measurement while all the others on the team used the metric system. This incongruence prevented the navigation coordinates from being transferred properly. Therefore, the orbiter was lost in space forever and NASA was out about $125 million dollars.
- Fall 2003. A hunter who was lost lit a signal flare near the San Diego County Estates in California. The flare started a fire that eventually became the largest fire in the state's history. Almost 300,000 acres were destroyed as well as over 2300 homes. Fourteen people died and there were over a billion dollars in insured losses.
- In 1989, one of the worst oil spills in history occurred when Captain John Hazelwood crashed the Exxon-Valdez into the Prince William Sound, spilling some 760,000 barrels of oil. Clean up costs were upwards of $4 billion and the Captain was accused of being drunk at the time of the crash. He was convicted of negligent discharge of oil.
- In 1986, scientists were running a test when four nuclear reactors went out of control leading to a fire and explosion. The explosion released deadly radiation into the air. This disaster at Chernobyl killed 30 people and cost $358 billion dollars in cleanup and lost farmland.
- In 1919, the Red Sox sold a player to the Yankees for $125,000. That player was a young Babe Ruth who would lead the Yankees to four World Series titles in the next fifteen years. The Red Sox?? It was another 86 years before they won a World Series title! Oops!!
- It took 177 years to build the famous tower in Pisa, Italy. However, it took less than a year after its completion for it to begin leaning due to being built on unstable soil and having a shallow 3 meter foundation.
- Back in 1876, Captain George Custer grossly underestimated the number of Native Americans his troops would encounter in the Battle of Little Big Horn. They were met with an army of thousands and Custer's entire company of soldiers perished in the battle.
- A group of four young men auditioned for Decca records in 1961. The record company decided the young musicians were "unsellable" and decided not to sign them. The group?? The Beatles. They eventually signed with EMI and the rest is history.
- Alexander Graham Bell offered Western Union a patent on his new "telephone" invention in 1876. Western Union turned him down stating that the invention had "too many shortcomings" and was "of no value to us."
~In 1928, Alexander Fleming mistakenly left a petri dish open. This led to his accidental discovery of penicillin - arguably one of the most significant "inventions" in human history. It eventually won him a Nobel Prize as well.
~In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue. However, he was trying to reach China and India. His mistake was thinking he could reach them easily by sailing west across the Atlantic. Lucky for us, he was wrong and discovered North America instead!