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Sam Johnson

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As someone who is interested in Financial history and airplanes I wanted to research the history of aviation in England and history of economic bubbles. Then for my capstone in History I will use what I have learned to research the bombings of London during WWII. 3) your major takeaways from the experience.

Milestone 1

Crossing the English Channel
Objective: Research the people competing to crossing the English Channel by plane first. Use the research to create a documentary to tell their story.

This milestone focuses on Louis Bleriot and Hubert Latham two pioneering pilots in the field of aviation. I started this project only know Louis Bleriot's name I assumed that he was the only one to attempt something as dangerous as crossing the English Channel in a vehicle that had only been around shortly at the time. However, in my research I found that multiple people were building airplanes in order to compete for the Daily Mail prize and incentive to inventors and pilots to attempt the channel. The two main competitors were Louis Bleriot and Hubert Latham because they were the only ones who actually attempted the challenge. I also assumed that any of the competitors would be smart pioneering inventors pushing the limits of their technology. However, Hubert Latham was a rich playboy with a background in boat racing who happened to be considerably gifted at flying airplanes. In the end I learned that the hard work Louis Bleriot put in designing and building his many planes set him up for success and he was awake for good weather and was able to cross why Latham was still sleeping.

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Milestone 2

History of the Battle of Britain
Objective: Research the bombing raids of England during World War II and Britain's response to it to create a powerpoint telling the history of the Battle of Britain.

After researching the Battle of Britain, the biggest thing I learned was Hitler's goal in bombing Britain. Hitler desired to conquer Britain and end resistance to his rule in Europe. In order to send he soldiers across the channel he decided that the Germans needed to obtain air superiority over Britain which started the bombing raids targeting Royal Air Force bases. Eventually, Germany shifted to bombing cities like London in what became know as the Blitz. I learned that the key to Britain's victory over Germany was a result of their radar system that detected incoming bombers and then sent the info down to the closest airfield to sample fighers to intercept the Germans.
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Milestone 3

Capstone: History of Economic Bubbles
Objective: Research the history of economic bubbles both past and modern. Then write and essay explaining each bubble and finally compare them.

In the project I learned that bubbles have happened many times through out the course of human history and that as much as we might try they will continue to occur. In order to narrow the project down I focused on the Tulip bubble, the South Sea bubble, the Dot-Com bubble, and lastly the Housing bubble. The tulip bubble was the first bubble recorded in history and involved tulips with crazy patterns rising in price to the point where they became financial investments. As people kept buying them the price went up and up. Eventually without more people to buy the tulips the price crashed back down. The South sea bubble was created by the lack of investment opportunities available to British people in the 18th century. This lead to ridiculous businesses being created in order to generate hype around the stock. Eventually all of the companies stock crashed once people ran out of more investors. The Dot-Com bubble was created by the craze around any company that could use or take advantage of the internet. This again lead to crazy companies being created and their stock driven up until it crashes back to earth. Finally the housing bubble was created by the increased amount of buyers as a result of the changing in lending practices. Eventually the loans prevented many people from being able to buy more houses driving the price of the housing market back down.
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Activity Journal


Today was the group trip tour through Westminster Abbey. This was an amazing experience for me as I have seen many of the Roman style cathedrals and churches when traveled to Italy and I loved seeing the difference between the Gothic Westminster Abbey and the other churches I have seen. One of the main differences I noticed was that many people including Isaac Newton were buried under stones in the floor something I did not see in the Roman style cathedrals in Italy. Overall the highlight of Westminster Abbey was the grave of the Unknown Soldier. I visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery and thought it was a very powerful memorial and seeing the memorial here in England was just as powerful and made me really proud of the way both of our countries do their best to honor veterans. The second part of the day was visiting the Tower of London which I have always wanted to do ever since my mom went two years ago and described what was there. Although the main attraction in the Crown Jewels, I enjoyed walking around the fort the most, as it was amazing to see how well kept it was for being incredibly old. The armor display in the white tower was also amazing that I kept walking through it even though my legs were exhausted by that point. The last part of the Tower of London that I visited was the Crown Jewels. I was blown away not by any one in particular just the amount that was showed there was incredible.


Today was the day that my group visited the National Gallery. I was unsure about how much I would enjoy the museum, as I have not taken an art related class in 6 years. However, much to my surprise I found it fascinating and loved looking at all the paintings even if my appreciation was just that they look nice. One of my favorite paintings was of Venice and I was fascinated by the reflections of the buildings in the water. Since I was still a bit tired at one point I took a break on the bench and decided to look at one painting for a while. As I did this my I remembered the James Bond scene where he looks at a painting on a bench while waiting for Q to show up because I am a huge fan of those movies. So after a couple quick Google searches I found that the scene I remembered was filmed in room 34. I eventually got a picture of me in the same spot, which was the highlight of the day. After this I decided to focus on the almost impossible task of obtaining the rare and coveted British Library card. After filling out many forms and finding two books that I wanted to use for research I went to the library was able to obtain the reader card.


On this day I went to the British museum which was another place in London that I wanted to visit as the British brought anything cool they found in their Empire and put it in that museum. As someone who loves history especially Egyptian history I was super excited to see the Rosetta stone along with the 20 mummies they have on display. I made sure to visit every single room and exhibit there as they had some of the most amazing collection of artifacts there. I also saw a couple study rooms that you could make appointments for and look at stuff in the museum, which could be a great resource for my second milestone. The exhibit I loved the most was the Greek tomb that was brought and assembled in the museum as it showed an almost complete structure from the time. After I finished up at the British Museum I took an exhilarating trip to zone 4 in order to visit the RAF Museum out there take pictures of planes. They did not have many planes that I was looking for but the museum was overall an enjoyable time and I got to look closely at many famous and interesting planes.


Today was the day I got to visit St. Paul’s Cathedral. I have previously been to Italy with my family and got to visit and explore many of the Italian Catholic Cathedrals. Visiting them was one of the highlights of the trip, which made me incredibly excited to visit St. Paul’s. I thought that the video and audio guides were amazing and the best use of these devices in a museum or historical sight. Using them I was able to sit in a chair and listen to the amazing history and architecture of the build all while being able to peacefully admire the cathedral. I thought the artwork in the dome was amazing. I also loved climbing up the only view-whispering gallery that was open at that time. The birds eye view from inside the Cathedral was amazing as I could see how the layout was planned.


Today I went to the Natural History museum. I wish I had gone to the Natural history museum first as it did not compare to any of the amazing places I visited this week. Furthermore the Natural History museum was not as impressive as the Natural History museum in New York City that I have gone too. I was excited for the dinosaur section and was happy to see some interesting fossils. However, the exhibit was swarmed with what appeared to be a million children, which did not help. The only other notable part of the museum was the giant sloth display because I did not know that sloths were ever that big.


The Vitoria and Albert Museums was one of the most impressive museums I have ever been to. Walking into it I saw some of the equipment use by Pink Floyd when they recorded Dark Side of the Moon. Continuing in to the museum I was amazed at the sheer number and variety of items on display. From and almost infinite collection of porcelain plates and tea cups to weird types of chairs to sit on, I was astounded every time I entered a room. I also learned that engineers are like moths as when we encountered a hanging pattern of blinking LEDs we were drawn to it for several minutes trying to figure out the order of the blinking. Overall this museum almost has to many impressive items on display as I was constantly moving from display case to display case and rarely lingered on one object for long.


As someone who is not really into art I found my self pleasantly surprised with the National Gallery, as even without any knowledge on the subject of painting I was able to appreciate the amazing works of art. However, with Tate Modern I found my self-confused in almost every room. The room with fake potatoes failed to impress me in any way. The highlights of the museum were the amazing view from its tower and an optical illusion room that had a cool button I could press. Although I did not enjoy the museum outside of a couple rooms, the experience was enjoyable, as I had never visited a modern art museum before.


The Museum of London was a great surprise as I enjoyed the museum much more than I expected to. This museum covers the history of London from its creation to the present. As someone who is interested in Roman history I found the section on London under Roman control fascinating. The museum had intricate models of their best guess at what London looked like along with actually stone slabs with carvings on them from the time. After the Roman section, the rest of the museum was nice and one exhibit had hats to try on. The last exhibit was on modern London and contained the Olympic torch used in the 2012 summer Olympics in London. I had no idea that the torch was here was so happy to have seen it.


Tate Britain was a nice museum. I found it much better than the Tate Britain but not has impressive as the National Gallery. I thought the neon light display in the entry hallway was very unique. The highpoint of the museum was actually recognizing an artist’s work on my own. At WPI I took a course on the History of the British Empire and in it we looked at some paintings by J.W.M Turner. I thought his paintings were very nice and enjoyed the bright light in many of his works. From my limited knowledge of him I was able to spot a painting and recognize that it was by Turner because of its signature bright light.


Hampton Court palace was one of the best places to visit so far. It was nice traveling a bit outside of the city and seeing some of the suburbs from the train. We started off walking through the inside of the palace where behind the eating hall there were medieval board games we got to play proving that it could be entertaining to live back then. Although it was fun to be playing the games, the most interesting was the kitchen. They had multiple probably fake chickens being cooked over a fire and someone hammering pins for sewing in the opposite corner. However, the best part of the Hampton Court Palace was the garden. The garden was a huge area in the back with perfectly trimmed trees, crystal clear fountains, and swans swimming in a pond. It was perfect day outside and only made walking in the gardens even better.


The Docklands Museum unfortunately was the worst museum so far which isn’t a bad thing because of the other amazing museums I have visited on this trip. The museum started off with a very cool life size replica of what the dock area would have looked like and then explained the early history of the docks, which I did not enjoy to much. However, I did enjoy the section and movie about it being bombed during World War II. That section also had a portable metal bomb shelter that I could climb in which was cool. Lastly the museum talked about the dock area’s current purpose as a major global financial hub.


Finally I got to go to the Imperial War museum. I had heard that I would enjoy it from other people through out the week and was excited to go. On the way there I saw a great view of MI6 headquarters from across the river. When I got there I was immediately excited from the hanging jet and Spitfire next to a giant v2 rocket. Each exhibit was dedicated to a war starting with World War I and going all the way to the present. However, as interesting as all these exhibits were the highlight of the museum was the Holocaust section. I have been to the incredibly powerful and informative Holocaust Museum in DC and was eager to learn the British perspective on it. The exhibit had many video interviews with Holocaust survivors that continued to bring new perspective on the horrible events that took place. After slowly making my way through the exhibit I ending up sitting outside reflecting on what I had learned.


The Horniman Museum was an ok museum way to far away for its worth. Other than the distance the actual museum was very interesting. The museum has an huge collection of taxidermied animals which is both impressing and creepy at the same time. Besides having exotic animals the museum also had different stages of animal embryos showing the changes between stages. The next section of the museum was a room filled with every instrument imaginable. Although this was a short exhibit it was cool to learn how little I know about the various types of instruments out side of string instruments. After looking in the window for the paid robotics exhibit I decided that it was inferior to the WPI Robotics program and instead walked through the gardens.


The London Science Museum is one of the best museums ever. The space section alone is big enough to rival any science museum other than the Kennedy Space Center itself. It has rockets and landers hanging from the ceiling with pages of interesting information. Also tucked in a corner is a display case about former WPI graduate Robert Goddard, which was amazing to see someone who came from WPI in a museum across the ocean. Past the space section was an assortment of cars, plans and cool equipment including a BMW the size of a chair and a vertical take off and landing jet. Also the astronaut ice cream from the gift shop is very

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