Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Compulsory Insurance Help to Medical Science

compulsory-insurance-help-to-medical-science

Should we have universal health insurance? The American public in 2016 is divided but leans towards yes, with a Gallup poll in May finding that 56 percent support a federally funded healthcare system for all. Vermont was about to become the first state to implement that policy on a statewide level, but their governor (a Democrat, no less) scrapped Vermont’s plan over its exorbitant costs.

The same issue was being debated back in 1916. In this piece, the anonymous author advocates for universal health insurance:

“Health insurance would give new impetus to the most important work of medical science — the prevention of disease. We all know that it is cheaper to be well than to be sick, and we would gladly pay to prevent disease from attacking us and those dear to us. But when the illness of a man we never heard of costs us an extra penny, we are a little more keen than pure humanity or disinterested science can make us to have that man made well and kept well.”

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would agree. President-Elect Donald Trump’s newly-announced Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, would not.

Compulsory Insurance Help to Medical Science: It Would, the Writer Says, Give New Impetus to That Most Important Work in Medicine, the Prevention of Disease (PDF)

From December 3, 1916

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Written by Jesse

December 1st, 2016 at 2:14 pm

Posted in Debate,Politics,Science

Indian No Longer Called a Vanishing Race

From October 29, 1916

indian-no-longer-called-a-vanishing-race

Indian No Longer Called a Vanishing Race: Educational Campaign Among the Red Men Has Raised Birth Rate and Lowered Death Rate – Reservations Self-Supporting (PDF)

Back in 1916 even a publication as respected as the New York Times had no problem calling the demographic “red men.” Even Disney would do so with the Peter Pan song “What Makes the Red Man Red?” in 1953, and Washington’s NFL team still uses a variant on that name to this day.

According to the 1916 article, the improvements in Native American birth rate and health came about over the previous three years in large part due to the health education campaign of Cato Sells, Commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs from 1913-1921, which today is an agency housed within the U.S. Department of the Interior.

After a period in which the population was shrinking, in 1916 the total number of births in the group was 6,092 compared to 4,570 deaths. The total “Indian population” at the time was 209,221. Those trends must have continued, because today the total American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) alone population is 2.9 million, or about 0.9 percent of the U.S. population, according to the National Congress of American Indians.

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Written by Jesse

October 28th, 2016 at 2:18 pm

Posted in Life,Science

Cause of Seasickness Discovered at Last?

From October 29, 1916

cause-of-seasickness-discovered-at-lastCause of Seasickness Discovered at Last?: Ailment Is a Form of Vertigo and Results from a Disturbance in the Ear, According to Two Physicians Who Have Made Tests (PDF)

Physicians Dr. Lewis Fisher and Dr. Isaac H. Jones published an article “Vertigo and Seasickness, Their Relation to the Ear” in the New York Medical Journal in 1916, claiming that the condition was related to “a disturbance in the ear.” That is why “Persons in whom the mechanism has been destroyed — deaf-mutes, for instance — never suffer from mal de mer.”

Their hypothesis basically still holds up today. WebMD says, “You get motion sickness when one part of your balance-sensing system (your inner ear , eyes, and sensory nerves) senses that your body is moving, but the other parts don’t. For example, if you are in the cabin of a moving ship, your inner ear may sense the motion of waves, but your eyes don’t see any movement.”

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Written by Jesse

October 27th, 2016 at 2:16 pm

Posted in Science

Will the Brunette Race Eliminate the Blond?

From October 22, 1916

will-the-brunette-race

Will the Brunette Race Eliminate the Blond?: Latter Has Lost Ground Steadily Both in This Country and Europe for Centuries, Says Expert (PDF)

Hair color was apparently a large enough worry a century ago that some feared an extinction of blonds. That was the worry at the time of Madison Grant, a Trustee of the American Museum of Natural History and Councilor of the American Geographical Society, in his cringeworthy-title-in-retrospect book “The Passing of the Great Race.” Today, about 2 percent of the world’s population is blond, though that’s about 16 percent in the United States.

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Written by Jesse

October 21st, 2016 at 11:29 am

Posted in Life,Science

War Has Taught Our Chemists Many Secrets

From September 17, 1916

war-has-taught-our-chemists

War Has Taught Our Chemists Many Secrets: Need of Products Which Europe Cannot Now Supply Has Successfully Stimulated Experts to Produce Satisfactory Substitutes (PDF)

War has always been one of the most powerful motivators for scientific advancement. As astrophysicist and science popularizer Neil DeGrasse Tyson noted in his 2013 Rice University commencement address, “No one has ever spent big money just to explore. No one has ever done that. I wish they did, but they don’t. We went to the moon on a war driver. That part got cleansed from our memory.” Of President George H.W. Bush’s 1989 proposal to send humans to Mars, Tyson said, “People were saying, ‘We’ve lost our drive, we’ve lost our will.’ No, it’s the same will we’ve ever had. We just weren’t threatened.”

World War I was no different. This article details some the ways in which that scientific advancement was occurring at the time, a silver lining to the ultimate dark cloud. Later in World War II, that scientific advancement would come most prominently in the form of the Manhattan Project and nuclear weapons.

 

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Written by Jesse

September 16th, 2016 at 5:46 pm

Posted in Science,War

Will ‘Cold Light’ Soon Be a Scientific Fact?

From July 23, 1916

Will 'Cold Light'

Will ‘Cold Light’ Soon Be a Scientific Fact?: M. Dussaud, French Engineer, Has Just Reported Definite Progress in Solving Problem That Will Be Revolutionary (PDF)

The problem in 1916: nobody had yet invented a “moving picture projector on which the film may be stopped without danger of ignition.” If you’ve ever pressed pause on a YouTube video without your computer blowing up, you know that this problem was solved.

Basically, most of the light through man-made sources a century ago was wasted as heat. Less than 10 percent made it through as energy. By contrast, for a firefly about 96.5 percent of their light made it through as energy. In 2011 a team of scientists at Tokyo Metropolitan University invented a 100 percent efficient artificial light source.

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Written by Jesse

July 24th, 2016 at 2:24 pm

Posted in Science,Technology

Red Cross Organizes Medical Preparedness

From July 2, 2016

Red Cross

Red Cross Organizes Medical Preparedness: Colonel Jefferson R. Kean Tells Why It Is Necessary to Train Physicians for Complicated Duty of Caring for the Wounded (PDF)

The Director General of Military Relief for the American Red Cross discusses the necessity of military medical care. The Red Cross did life-saving work then and continues to do so now, a particularly vital service in such times as the aftermath of the Orlando massacre the other week. I’ve donated blood twice before and I’m scheduled to do so again a third time soon. You should too.

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Written by Jesse

July 1st, 2016 at 8:41 pm

Posted in Science,War

American Inventor Uses Egypt’s Sun for Power

From July 2, 1916

American Inventor

American Inventor Uses Egypt’s Sun for Power: Appliance Concentrates the Heat Rays and Produces Steam, Which Can Be Used to Drive Irrigation Pumps in Hot Climates (PDF)

This article details Frank Shuman’s invention that utilized solar energy to heat water and thus produce steam for energy. He used this to create the world’s first solar thermal power station in Maadi, Egypt, where the steam was enough to pump 23,000 liters of water per minute.

Solar power has come a long way. Subsequent developments by later inventors included the solar cell in 1941 and the solar panel in 1955. Today solar makes up only 0.5 percent of all U.S. energy, lagging far behind petroleum at 36.2 percent, natural gas at 29.0 percent, and coal at 16.1 percent. But after decades of near-dormancy the energy source is seeing an explosion in popularity, growing at nearly 60 percent a year as the price per installation plummets and finally becomes affordable to the average American consumer.

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Written by Jesse

June 30th, 2016 at 8:41 pm

Posted in Science,Technology

The Modern Sherlock Holmes Is A Scientific Man

From September 24, 1911

THE MODERN SHERLOCK HOLMES IS A SCIENTIFIC MAN

THE MODERN SHERLOCK HOLMES IS A SCIENTIFIC MAN: Swiss Professor Tells of Professional Criminals and the Means of Detecting Them in a Book That Has the Indorsement of M. Lepine, Head of the Paris Police. (PDF)

That reminds me: the modern Sherlock Holmes is now streaming on Netflix.

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Written by David

September 20th, 2011 at 10:00 am

New Identification System Ousts Rogues’ Gallery

From September 10, 1911

NEW IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM OUSTS ROGUES' GALLERY

NEW IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM OUSTS ROGUES’ GALLERY: Capt. Joseph A. Faurot After Studying the “Portrait Parler” Abroad Will Introduce It in New York’s Detective Department and Promises Great Results. (PDF)

This new system of identifying criminals looks at individual facial features.

“The whole system of the ‘portrait parler’ is a process of elimination,” explained Capt. Faurot. “It is on that basis we are to reorganize the Rogues’ Gallery. We will be able to divide the number of portraits to be searched on a given case by three if we know the type of nose, by two again if we know the height, by three if we know the type of ear, and so on till we have only a small, narrow group to examine.”

I imagine identifying a criminal in the portrait parler is something like playing Guess Who?

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Written by David

September 9th, 2011 at 11:00 am

Electric Machine To Tell Guilt Of Criminals

From September 10, 1911

ELECTRIC MACHINE TO TELL GUILT OF CRIMINALS

ELECTRIC MACHINE TO TELL GUILT OF CRIMINALS: If It Is Perfected So As to Be Infallible It Will Make Expert Testimony Unnecessary and May Eliminate Juries in Trials. (PDF)

The “psychometer” described in this article works in the same way as modern polygraph machines. As the article puts it, “the human body’s resistance to an electrical current increased with the increase of the motions.” Skin conductivity, along with blood pressure, pulse, and respiration, can all be indicators that a person is lying.

But the technology is still far from being “perfected so as to be infallible.” You needn’t look hard to find harsh criticism of lie detectors including tips on how to beat one. In an episode of Penn & Teller’s Showtime program Bullshit, they talked to “people whose lives were ruined by faulty lie detector results.”

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Written by David

September 7th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Martians Build Two Immense Canals In Two Years

From August 27, 1911

MARTIANS BUILD TWO IMMENSE CANALS IN TWO YEARS

MARTIANS BUILD TWO IMMENSE CANALS IN TWO YEARS: Vast Engineering Works Accomplished in an Incredibly Short Time by Our Planetary Neighbors — Wonders of the September Sky. (PDF)

Percival Lowell was a smart astronomer. He was the first person to build his observatory in a remote location away from city lights, at the top of a high mountain. Lowell picked Flagstaff, Arizona as the location for his observatory. I lived in Flagstaff for four years in college and the observatory is one of Flagstaff’s really big claims to fame because Pluto was discovered there in 1930 (14 years after Lowell’s death).

Anyway, Lowell was a smart guy. He also believed there was life on Mars. He was convinced that lines on the planet’s surface were canals, and when he observed some changes in the appearance of these canals, he concluded that somehow the martians had quickly built these enormous canals 20 miles wide and a thousand miles long.

Mary Proctor wrote this article summarizing Lowell’s findings, and also describing some of the planets people might see in the sky in September.

I love that this stuff appeared in the New York Times Magazine.

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Written by David

August 25th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Nature,Science

Activity Of Modern Woman A Racial Problem

From August 13, 1911

ACTIVITY OF MODERN WOMAN A RACIAL PROBLEM

ACTIVITY OF MODERN WOMAN A RACIAL PROBLEM: Dr. Max G. Schlapp, Specialist in Mental Diseases, Believes that Present Conditions Tend Toward Increase in Insanity, Divorce, Race Suicide. (PDF)

Taking the evidence as it comes to him from records of daily experience which are written into the public documents of all countries, [Dr Schlapp] finds unmistakable evidence of deterioration in the human race. This does not mean that men and women to-day are not physically and mentally as well endowed as ever they were, but that there are more abnormal men, women, and children now than at any time since the establishment of the present civilization.

There are more insane, more criminals, more divorced people, and fewer children born to each one thousand of population, and this he traces directly to modern conditions. All civilizations that have gone before have had precisely the same experience that the world is passing through now, and for precisely that reason Dr. Schlapp believes that this civilization will go the way they have gone until the point of exhaustion is reached. Then there will be a resting period, and the human family will begin to advance once more.

The energetic, enterprising woman, he says, is not at all new. The suffragist or suffragette is as old as organized government. When the Grecian Empire was at its highest stages of development its advanced women were clamoring for the right of suffrage, and so it was in Rome before its fall, and Dr. Schlapp, who calls attention to this by way of illustration, has no doubt that the same condition existed in Egypt in some form or other about the time Egypt passed into the darkness.

If I understand the argument correctly, Dr. Schlapp is saying that when a civilization reaches a point where women begin to seek more duties outside the home, it suffers in other ways: fewer children, more divorces, and more insane people. If Dr. Schlapp can show a causal relationship, then it raises more questions: is it better to have a civilization where women are relegated to the home and have no authority but there are more traditional households, or one where women have more freedom, rights, and responsibilities, but there’s a higher number of divorces and fewer kids?

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Written by David

August 9th, 2011 at 10:00 am

A French Scientist Of The Sorbonne Attacks Darwinism

From August 6, 1911

A FRENCH SCIENTIST OF THE SORBONNE ATTACKS DARWINISM

A FRENCH SCIENTIST OF THE SORBONNE ATTACKS DARWINISM: Gaston Bonnier Declares that the Great English natrualist Was Imaginative and Careless In His Observations. (PDF)

To say that Gaston Bonnier “attacks” Darwinism in this article is a bit of a stretch. Today we think of such attacks as coming from a religious point of view, but here it is one scientist taking issue with certain assumptions and observations of another scientist. He doesn’t argue theology. He argues science. Societally, I’d much prefer we get back to that kind of discussion.

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Written by David

August 5th, 2011 at 9:30 am

Posted in Debate,Science

A Stove To Cool The House Instead Of Heating It

From July 30, 1911

A STOVE TO COOL THE HOUSE INSTEAD OF HEATING IT

A STOVE TO COOL THE HOUSE INSTEAD OF HEATING IT: Alexander Graham Bell Invents an “Ice Stove” Which Makes His Rooms Cold in Summer, Just as a Coal Stove Would Make Them Hot in Winter. (PDF)

Not content to just invent the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell went on to invent other useful things, like a primitive air conditioner that blows air over blocks of ice to cool down the room. “The invention is what, for want of a better name, has been termed an ‘ice stove.'”

That’s the gist of the article, which is a pretty good read.

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Written by David

July 26th, 2011 at 9:30 am

Keeping Track Of The Criminal By His Finger Prints

From July 30, 1911

KEEPING TRACK OF THE CRIMINAL BY HIS FINGER PRINTS

KEEPING TRACK OF THE CRIMINAL BY HIS FINGER PRINTS: The Wonderful Art, Long Used in China, Rapidly Being Adopted by the Police of This Country, with the New York Force Leading. (PDF)

I love articles like this one.

Over in Jersey City awaiting his trial is the man who marked each successful burglary by a note defying the police and jeering at their methods. He has not been proved guilty, but the police are certain he is their man. He was caught by the finger prints which never lie.

He was much too clever a burglar to do his work with bare hands. He always wore white lisle gloves, like a village undertaker. But one night in taking out a pane of glass he cut his finger, and had to take off his glove. And there on the glass was left the tell-tale finger print. The detective who was sent out from the New York office saw it with his naked eye.

He dusted a bit of chemist’s gray powder from a tube in his pocket over the glass and photographed the prints to which the powder stuck, bringing out every ridge and whorl. Back in the New York Bureau of Identification the photograph was carefully measured and classified according to these whorls and arches. And in the files, among the 60,000 finger prints was found its duplicate. The man’s photograph was in the Bertillon department next door, and he was quietly arrested.

The criminal who leaves his finger marks behind him is doomed, provided anywhere in the world he has been “finger-printed,” or if he is ever caught in another offense, no matter how trivial. In ten minutes the expert of any police department receiving his finger prints and a request for information can look him up and forward description, photograph and record. There is no possibility of mistake, for nowhere in the 60,000 records in the New York Department is there a single duplicate. The thousands in the other American cities which have adopted the system show none. Not one has been found in the fifteen years that the English detective department at Scotland Yard has used this means of tracking criminals. And for 2,000 years Chinas has been affixing a thumb print to a passport as a means of identification. No two have ever been found alike.

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Written by David

July 25th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Have You Ever Seen A Blue Rose? A Horticultural Problem

From July 30, 1911

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A BLUE ROSE? A HORTICULTURAL PROBLEM

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A BLUE ROSE? A HORTICULTURAL PROBLEM: Many Varieties of the Queen of Flowers Created in a Century, but Blue Roses Still Elusive. (PDF)

This article gives a nice background on the history of roses as a coveted flower, and then gets into the matter of a blue rose.

A blue rose is held to be about the hardest thing in the flower-growing world to attain…

It can’t be done by any chemical process, of course. Any one rose can easily be made blue, but there is no known way of treating the soil in which a bush grows so as to change the color of all its flowers, and even if there were such a way the progeny of the roses would revert to the ancestral type. The blue rose is to be obtained — if it ever is attained — by combining roses of different colors and using the most promising as parents for a newer and bluer race.

There has been a pale lavenderish-blue rose produced by a German grower, but it is not by any means a true blue.

Well, that problem vexed growers for another 100 years until a Japanese company proclaimed that after twenty years of research and three billion yen, they genetically engineered a blue rose. Well, I guess it’s sort of blue. To me it looks like a pale lavenderish-blue, not by any means a true blue.

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Written by David

July 25th, 2011 at 9:00 am

Posted in Nature,Science

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

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 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