The canal is still an important element of world trade today. Every year, around 12,000 ships pass through the canal, carrying over 200 million tons of cargo. Currently, the Panama Canal employs around 9,000 people. Richard Halliburton swam the length of the Panama Canal in 1928. The canal at that time was not complete, but it is estimated that he spent about seven hours in the water.
Children around the world play with models of ships and boats. In fact, they play with these toys all the time! But why do children make such things? And what does it mean when we say someone who plays with models is "a man of his word" or "a true friend"?
When you look at a model ship or boat, you are seeing a scale representation of something that exists in reality. Children love to play with toys that let them experience what it feels like to do something else. Playing with models helps children learn about shapes, sizes, and weights. They also enjoy looking at how objects interact with each other. So, by playing with models, children get to explore reality itself and learn about our world.
Model ships have been around for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians made them out of wood, while Chinese children today often build with plastic toys instead. Through history, ships have been used for transportation, war, and entertainment. Today, ships remain important tools for trade and commerce.
The Panama Canal, which opened in 1914, has spared every ship sailing through it a 7,872-mile voyage across South America. Each ship now travels 51 miles via an elaborate system of gates, locks, and drains. A single journey through the canal takes 52 million gallons of water, and on busy days, up to 40 trips are possible. The average rate of flow over the canal's main channel is 45 feet per second.
The total volume of water that goes into the canal each day is about 20,000,000 gallons. That's enough to cover the canal floor to a depth of more than 2 feet if it were made of solid concrete.
It also works out to be about eight large Olympic-sized swimming pools filled every hour and a half. The water comes from Lake Gatun, one of the largest artificial lakes in the world. It was built for just this purpose: to provide the water needed to operate the canal. Without it, ships would have to unload their cargo at night, when it's low tide, so they could sail on during the high tides. This would not only be inconvenient but might also cause damage to the vessels' hulls.
This nickname came after the opening of the canal because it provided a way for ships to avoid using ports south of Panama where there might not be enough water for them to dock.
Shippers of commercial items, ranging from autos to grain, may save time and money by shipping cargo more swiftly between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans thanks to the canal. After the canal was constructed, the trip was reduced by nearly 8,000 kilometers. That's almost 5,600 miles -- about twice as far as from New York to San Francisco! The canal cuts down on transport time because it avoids the open ocean gap that exists between South America and North America.
The channel is about 24 meters wide and up to 120 meters long, with a depth of up to 20 meters. It can handle large vessels of up to GVs. Smaller ships need to use lock gates to pass through the canal.
There are five sets of locks along the canal route, each one larger than the last. Locks are vertical shafts that lift boats out of the water while allowing them to continue moving forward. At the bottom of each lock is a chamber where the vessel's weight forces water in until the pressure is high enough to force the gate open. This allows the boat to float into the next section of the canal. Once all five sets of locks have been passed, the vessel reaches the end of the canal route and can leave Panamanian waters.
Since its completion in 1914, the canal has revolutionized trade between North and South America.