Archive for July, 2011

“How I Broke The Liberty Bell” — By The Boy Who Broke It

From July 16, 1911

HOW I BROKE THE LIBERTY BELL -- BY THE BOY WHO BROKE IT

“HOW I BROKE THE LIBERTY BELL” — BY THE BOY WHO BROKE IT: He Is a Pretty Old Boy Now, Being 86 Years of Age — Says All the Histories Are Wrong, and Tells How He and Other Schoolboys Cracked the Famous Bell. (PDF)

You may think you know how the liberty bell cracked, having learned one of the generally accepted stories in school. Perhaps you heard that it cracked while tolling the funeral of Chief Justice John Marshall, or when it rang in honor of Henry Clay’s visit to Philadelphia. But you haven’t heard the real story.

Now, more than three-quarters of a century after the old bell was silenced, comes a man who declares that none of the more or less accepted versions of how it came to be cracked is correct: that his version alone is the true explanation of the incident. For more than fifty years, he declares, he as been reading in newspapers and elsewhere all the various conflicting stories of the accident, but, inasmuch as his has been an extremely busy life, he has never bothered his head overmuch about them until quite recently.

The short version: A bunch of kids were walking near the old State House when the janitor called out to them to come over and have some fun ringing the bell. They did, and it broke.

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Written by David

July 12th, 2011 at 9:51 am

Posted in Life

How To Overcome Gravity By Hertzian Air Waves

From July 16, 1911

HOW TO OVERCOME GRAVITY BY HERTZIAN AIR WAVES

HOW TO OVERCOME GRAVITY BY HERTZIAN AIR WAVES: New York Engineer and Inventor Thinks He Has Discovered a Secret of Science on Which He Began Work at West Point Nearly 40 Years Ago. (PDF)

Levitation. It holds such promise. But this machine doesn’t make things levitate. It just makes them weigh less. The article describes some possible uses of such an anti-gravity machine:

If a 12-ton girder was to be raised to the top of a skyscraper with a derrick of 10 tons capacity, the mechanism would obliterate the two tons of weight.

The element of gravitation in any object being overcome to the extent of one-sixth or a greater degree, it would be possible to make the human body so “light” that it could be propelled with a very small fraction of present effort.

Steamships could ride more lightly on the sea in the same way. The speed of railroad trains could be increased by the contrivance reducing the friction of the wheels on the tracks.

An aeroplane caught high in air with a broken engine could be made to float there indefinitely by turning a button and starting the “concentrating dynamo.”

Farrow never filed a patent for his device, and no construction plans have been found. The book The Spirit of Invention: The Story of the Thinkers, Creators, and Dreamers says:

Observers watched as the indicated weight of the book dropped by three ounces, or one-fifth. “This is revolutionary — even sensation,” marveled one of the editors invited to see the invention in action. It almost certainly wasn’t antigravity, though, not in the sense Farrow intended… Modern speculation has accepted that it was based around electromagnets.

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Written by David

July 11th, 2011 at 9:30 am

Posted in Science,Technology

New York 100 Years Ago, When The City Hall Was Built

From July 9, 1911

NEW YORK 100 YEARS AGO, WHEN THE CITY HALL WAS BUILT

NEW YORK 100 YEARS AGO, WHEN THE CITY HALL WAS BUILT: They Had a Safe and Sane Fourth and a Hot Wave — Also They Had the New Theatre, and After All Life Wasn’t So Very Different in the Little Town of a Century Ago. (PDF)

Here’s a look back 100 years at a look back 100 years.

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Written by David

July 8th, 2011 at 10:45 am

Posted in Development

The American Student Acquiring A Uniform Face

From July 9, 1911

THE AMERICAN STUDENT ACQUIRING A UNIFORM FACE

THE AMERICAN STUDENT ACQUIRING A UNIFORM FACE: Mayor Gaynor’s Statement to That Effect Starts a Discussion — A Distinct American College Type Being Developed, Unlike the European University Man (PDF)

The two faces in the middle of the page are composites of 25 boys and 25 girls, to create the “typical” student face. In modern times, this has been done digitally to interesting effects. I wonder if this is the earliest known example of such a composite.

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Written by David

July 7th, 2011 at 11:30 am

How Conversation Across A Continent Came About

From July 9, 1911

HOW CONVERSATION ACROSS A CONTINENT CAME ABOUT

HOW CONVERSATION ACROSS A CONTINENT CAME ABOUT: The Men Who Made It Possible for New York to Talk to Denver — Graham Bell Has Lived to See His Invention Grow Beyond All the Bounds Believed to be Set for It When He Made It. (PDF)

The development of the long distance telephone, which began thirty years ago, is due in a most striking way to a group of brilliant scientists and inventors, each of whom contributed one or more factors essential to the success of the whole. But for the discoveries and scientific devices of these men the original invention of Prof. Alexander Graham Bell would not be the wonderfully practical means of communication that it is, and talking over continental distances would be out of the question. With but a very few exceptions, these men, who by their improvements on the Bell instrument have made the long distance telephone a reality, are alive to-day and actively engaged either in the further development of the telephone or in other scientific pursuits.

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Written by David

July 7th, 2011 at 10:03 am

The Hold-Up Game As New York’s Tip-Hunting Cormorants Play It

From July 9, 1911

THE HOLD-UP GAME AS NEW YORK'S TIP-HUNTING CORMORANTS PLAY IT

THE HOLD-UP GAME AS NEW YORK’S TIP-HUNTING CORMORANTS PLAY IT: How People in This City Are Forced to Spend Money for Needless and Worthless Services (PDF)

The squeegee man who washes your windshield and demands a tip is engaging in an old tradition.

“Have a light, Sir?”

It is a small boy, smutty-faced and keen-eyed, who says it as he steps up with a flaming match in hand — a light for your cigar or cigarette when you come through the theatre entrance.

No, the youngster is not interested personally in your comfort. In fact, he doesn’t care a rap whether you get the light or not — except that it comes from him. He expects a “tip” for his effort. It is simply one of the first steps in the “hold-up” game that runs riot in Manhattan.

[…]

One small urchin — he wasn’t over a dozen years old — told a Times reporter that he “pulled down” about $10 a week at the apparently simple match-lighting stunt.

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Written by David

July 6th, 2011 at 11:30 am

Posted in Business,Life

The Scandal Of Organized And Expensive Charity

From July 9, 1911

THE SCANDAL OF ORGANIZED AND EXPENSIVE CHARITY

THE SCANDAL OF ORGANIZED AND EXPENSIVE CHARITY: High Salaries, Swollen Payrolls, Huge Expenses — Extravagance Steadily mounting — “It Costs Them $2 to Give Away $1,” Say the Poor. (PDF)

Today, organizations like GuideStar can help you determine if a charity you’re considering donating to is one that uses their money efficiently.

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Written by David

July 6th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Life,Politics

The Psychology Of The Typewriter Error

From July 9, 1911

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE TYPEWRITER ERROR

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE TYPEWRITER ERROR (PDF)

An interesting look at typos from a time when typewriters were still relatively new.

The typist who composes as he operates has a threefold responsibility, for as the cells of ideation respond to the command of the will while thoughts are conceived, shaped, and transmitted, the fingers must be quick to transcribe and the vision sharp as well for punctuation and mechanical detail.

The three controls must be nicely balanced, for a laxness in muscle control results int he omission of letters, sometimes even of whole words, and spacing is obliterated, one word being run into another. A laxness of visual control results in a period being placed in the middle of a sentence in place of a comma or semicolon, or of the use of a small letter instead of a capital. The period being the emphatic stop is the one most often substituted for those of finer gradation.

I had three typos (that I noticed) when transcribing that excerpt. They were all letter transpositions.

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Written by David

July 5th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Life,Technology

How A Great Invention By Edison Was Lost

From July 9, 1911

HOW A GREAT INVENTION BY EDISON WAS LOST

HOW A GREAT INVENTION BY EDISON WAS LOST: Separated Fiber by a Liquid Compound, But an Assistant Threw the Secret Away (PDF)

And the moral of the story is: backup backup backup.

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Written by David

July 4th, 2011 at 10:06 am

Posted in Science

New National Hymn To Be Sung Here On The Fourth

From July 2, 1911

NEW NATIONAL HYMN TO BE SUNG HERE ON THE FOURTH

NEW NATIONAL HYMN TO BE SUNG HERE ON THE FOURTH: Arthur Farwell, Director of Music in the Parks and Recreation Piers, Has Written and Composed “A Hymn to Liberty.” Chorus of United German Singing Societies Will Sing It at City Hall and People’s Choral Union at the CCNY. (PDF)

For the Fourth of July, Arthur Farwell wrote a new national hymn. He had such high aspirations for it. Instead of being all America-centric, it would celebrate all nations:

“It is a world-hymn rather than a patriotic hymn in the old-fashioned sense.

“I have strictly avoided all the paraphernalia of phraseology of the old sort of narrow and egotistic patriotic hymn, and doubt very much if there will ever be another successful hymn of that kind written.

“The cry to-day is world federation, and the ‘Hymn to Liberty’ is addressed to the nations of the world, especially in its first and third stanzas, in behalf of the idea of liberty for the race, as springing to birth in a new sense with the creating fo the American nation.”

I can’t find a recording of it anywhere. Are any of you musically-minded readers willing to record it?

Update 1: Reader SamECircle made a midi version you can listen to here. Awesome.

Update 2: Reader Daniel Dockery has made his own arrangement which you can hear on his website.

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Written by David

July 1st, 2011 at 11:45 am

Posted in Art,Music