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arrow1.gif (893 bytes) Time Line - 1968: The Mercury Newspaper...

Here is a classic example of how the press has treated Mr. Bosch and the Captive Column over the years. The following newspaper article appeared in The Mercury of San Jose, California, which covered the Ninth Grade School Bridge Project.

The article was published on Friday morning, June 7, 1968 on page 29. We can't publish the whole article here due to copyright laws, even though it was only 108 words long. It was impossible to quote all of the mistakes (6 of them) due to its short length, so we decided to quote just the beginning and the end of the article and fill in the blanks with a commentary:

"TOO HEAVY -- Two Palo Alto  junior high school students, Paul Trainer and Mark Chin, tested their scheme for the 'worlds strongest bridge' ... they considered the test a 'partial success.' " --  The Mercury of San Jose, California

This article was so hostile that instead of showing the photos of the schoolboys holding the beams overhead and then parking an Eldorado on it, they chose to print a single photo of a Mack truck crushing the beams (the beams were designed to hold an Eldorado, not a Mack truck, so the balsa wood core failed -- intermittent use of pine in the core probably would have held the truck since it got almost 1/2 of the way across before failure). By using negative phrases like "TOO HEAVY", "tested their scheme", and "partial success", The Mercury gave the impression that the project was a joke. The article also contained these errors:

  • The article incorrectly stated the beams weighed 80 pounds. They actually weighed 65 pounds.
  • They misspelled three out of the four names printed in the article.
  • The incorrectly stated that the invention was the idea of two people. Lawrence R. Bosch always has been, and always will be, the sole inventor of the Captive Column.
  • They used the phrase "weight-to-strength", which means just the opposite of "strength-to-weight". By using the phrase "extremely high weight-to-strength", The Mercury implied that Captive Columns are much heavier than other construction techniques. This error is a subtle one, unless you are an engineer reading the article.

The only name spelled correctly was that of Paul Trainer, whose father was a local engineer. In addition, the authors name was conspicuously absent from the article.

Needless to say, it was very disheartening for Mr. Bosch to witness The Mercury newspaper convert this amazing success (by two schoolboys) into a dismal failure.

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