I just happened to be cruising around Google Earth this evening when I came across a very oddly shaped island just off of Long Beach, California. It was rectangular in shape and I thought – what’s up with that?
After a quick Google search and subsequent landing on Wikipedia I discovered that it’s Freeman Island, and according to Wikipedia one of four so-called “astronaut islands” built in Long Beach Harbor during the late 1960s as oil-drilling platforms.
Freeman Island was named after Theodore Freeman, an astronaut who grew up in Haverford, Pennsylvania. He was killed in a T-38 trainer when a goose crashed through the canopy. The goose apparently didn’t kill him, what did was a hasty ejection when the cockpit shards got sucked into the engine causing it to flameout. There wasn’t enough time for his parachute to deploy properly before he struck the ground.
The other three islands, located nearby, are named Grissom, White, and Chaffee after the astronauts that perished in the Apollo 1 fire in 1967. Freeman Island is the only rectangular one, the others are roughly oval.
Answer: when it’s manmade.