mardi 27 mars 2012

I visited Dungeness on Sunday, a large exspanse of shingle on the South East coast of England. It is a bleak landscape with two nuclear power stations, a lighthouse and a small village of fisherman's shacks and modern experimental dwellings. There is also these large concrete structures called 'sound mirrors'.

The sound mirrors, known colloquially as 'listening ears' are located on the banks of a now disused gravel pit. The mirrors were built in the late 1920s and early 1930s as an experimental early warning system for incoming aircraft. They could effectively be used to detect slow moving enemy aircraft before they came into sight and worked by concentrating sound waves towards a central point, where a microphone would have been located. However, their use was limited as aircraft became faster. Operators also found it difficult to distinguish between aircraft and seagoing vessels. In any case, they quickly became obsolete due to the invention of radar in 1932. The experiment was abandoned, and the mirrors left to decay. These desolate concrete monuments now sit redundant within the beak landscape of Dungeness, functioning only as a tourist attraction.

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