Evolution of the Olympic Torch

Evolution of the Olympic Torch - Ancient Greece to Beijing
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The 2008 Beijing Olympic torch can reportedly withstand winds of up to 40 miles an hour (65 kilometers an hour), partly due to the flat top of its Chinese-scroll-based design, according to engineer Richard Kelso.

The exterior of the torch is made of aluminum-magnesium alloy and is decorated with 56 swirling clouds, one for each of China's ethnic groups. Such symbolism is becoming increasingly ironic as pro-Tibet protesters interrupt the torch relay.

Political turmoil, nationalism, commercialismunlike the Olympic torchhave been parts of the Olympic Games since ancient times, scientist David Romano said. In fact, all that happened in antiquity.  They had their problems too.

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—Photographs by Adam Pretty/Getty Images
 
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