EJGE/Magazine Feature

Terzaghi's Cigarette Boxes

Karl Terzaghi used cigarette boxes to do his tests while developing the consolidation theory. This is the background of that term with which (our hope is that) future generations will remain unfamiliar with. However, in order to understand Terzaghi, it may be a good idea to define these terms:

Cigarette boxes were metal at the time. A cigarette box was a container that people kept a supply of their cigarettes in. A cigarette was a few grams of (minced) leaves of the tobacco plant deliberately grown for this purpose. It was sold in boxes of 8 to 10 cm long cylindrical paper wraps. it was lit at one end and the smoke deliberately sucked from the other end, deliberately inhaled to transfer the poisonous chemical substances into lungs for making the brain work less efficiently--this was considered fun!). Almost every gentleman "smoked" in those days. So did Karl. When he needed a metal box of that size, there was nothing more natural than using it--they were no good for nothing else anyway.

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