Ask Mr Brain...all will be explained

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 April, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 April, 1999, 12:00am

When was radio first used to assist a ship in distress? In 1895, Guglielmo Marconi gave a demonstration of the wireless telegraph and radio was born. On January 26, 1899, manufacture of the first radio sets began at the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company in Chelmsford, England.

The early developments in radio technology were primarily for ship- to-shore communication. On March 17, 1899, a merchant ship ran aground on the treacherous Goodwin Sands off the south coast of England.

A lightship close by made the first radio distress call, summoning a lifeboat to assist the unfortunate ship.

More famously, on April 15, 1912, the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank. This tragedy was the first time radio was used to call a fleet of ships to a sea rescue.

Probably the first person to regret the invention of radio telegraphy was Dr Hawley Crippen, an American living in London.

In 1910 Dr Crippen poisoned his wife and tried to escape to Canada on the ship SS Montrose with his mistress disguised as a boy.

Dr Crippen thought he would be safe from the long arm of the law once he was sailing for Canada, but he had forgotten about that new- fangled invention - radio.

Alert Captain Henry Kendall became suspicious of the relationship between the two passengers and radioed London.

The poisoner thus became the first person to be arrested by radio. Dr Crippen was executed on November 24, 1910, in London, no doubt cursing Marconi and his invention.

Does the yeti exist? People in many parts of the world have reported sighting a large, hairy apelike creature which walks on its hind legs.

In the Himalayas the creature is known as the yeti, while in North America a similarly elusive animal is known as bigfoot or sasquatch. In the former Soviet Union there have been about 1,000 sightings of a 'snezhni chelovyek', or 'snow person' while in China, since 1924 there have been at least 114 report ed sightings of a creature described as 'half-man, half-ape'.

Although one of these creatures has yet to be captured, dead or alive, some anthropologists take the stories seriously. They believe the creature could be the 'missing link' in the chain of evolution between ape and man. The creatures could have been driven to hide in the more remote parts of the world as modern humans established themselves.

Sceptics say the sightings are more likely to be bears or large, known, apes. Apart from footprints and a few hairs, the best evidence so far is the 1967 30-second film shot by American anthropologist Roger Patterson in California of what he claims is a yeti, or bigfoot.

Scientists are still divided on whether the film of a large apelike creature running away, upright, is genuine or a hoax.