This was new to me. When he was sent to America, in 1943, to be part of the Manhattan (Atom Bomb) Project, Rudolf Peierls, the nuclear physicist, who was a British naturalised German emigre, first worked in a skyscraper in downtown New York, near Wall Street. The building had a most unusual safety feature in its lifts or elevators. Each lift fitted so snugly into the shaft that, in an emergency, a falling lift would act like a piston, compressing the air below it, which would act like a cushion. Nice in theory, but still scary.

From: Rudolf Peierls, Bird of Passage, Princeton University Press, 1985.

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