A Daily History of Holes, Dots, Lines, Science, History, Math, the Unintentional Absurd & Nothing |1.6 million words, 7500 images, 4 million hits| Press & appearances in The Times, Le Figaro, MENSA, The Economist, The Guardian, Discovery News, Slate, Le Monde, Sci American Blogs, Le Point, and many other places... 4,200+ total posts
One thing is for certain with this dream of an amphibious car (Popular Mechanics, July 1942)--it certainly has a lot of curtains. I looked around a bit for the patent on this vehicle in the obvious places/keywords for patents 1935-1942 but couldn't find it. I did however bump into some other interesting amphibious craft, two of which I've reproduced below for their spherical natures and lack of curtains.
This article comes from a volume of Popular Mechanics that I have been enjoying for a few days now. "Your Victory Car", written by Brooks Stevens for the December 1942 issue, discusses a vision for the future, a nod to "normalcy" at a supremely difficult time in the world history of the 20th century. Car design went off in another direction, of course--a lot of what we see in these pages looks like offshoots of the Fuller Dymaxion car from a decade or so earlier--though some of the ideas present here (more streamlining, lighter design, smaller engines) wound up in cars in the future...it is just that the cars didn't quite look like these cars.
Here's an interesting cross section by the great and invaluable George Horace Davis, appearing in the November 1942 issue of Popular Mechanics, page 41. I've noted elsewhere that Davis reminds me of Thomas Nast, in a way--his output was enormous and workmanship wonderful, seemingly publishing drawings like this every few weeks, if not more frequently, reminiscent of the fantastic production of Nast. I can only imagine that Davis was seeing most of the detail in his memory rather than referring endlessly back-and-forth to references--I don't know that this is so, but it does make good sense. (For other work by Davis, just enter his name in the google box for his blog appearances.)
The following photos are from a pamphlet entitled The Miracle Workers, a product of the Cheney Silk Company, extolling more the virtues of the considerable workforce and their living conditions more so than the product. My guess is that the pamphlet (with no publishing info) was printed around 1910, evidently when the company was coming towards its zenith after having been in business for 40+ years. I thought it would be worthwhile to share industrial/production images from uncommon sources like this one--especially since the "wrapper" holding the text wouldn't necessarily invite a reader inside. In any event, here are the few photos dealing with the interior of the factory, though there are others (like the one showing a worker's lunch room) that show the school, and church , and other such social buildings that were constructed for the workers by the company. It seems that the company had an unusual trajectory--getting a boost during the Civil War by producing the famous Spencer Rifle, then concentrating on the silk business, and then after suffering through the Depression and the failure of the silk market selling itself off to a company in teh 1950's that switched gears from silk to velvet
I don't mean to trivialize the contents of this pamphlet by focusing solely on its cover design, but I guess that is what I am doing, not having any real interest in the content. That said, the work is by Bob Edwards (1905-1990) who led a long and very interesting life as a union person, labor organizer, Socialist, MP, and a fighter against the Fascists in the Spanish Civil War. (He was also the author of another interesting pamphlet that appears elsewhere on this blog on the British chemical industry in 1944 and its "Nazi associates" http://longstreet.typepad.com/thesciencebookstore/2014/09/superior-cover-design-chem-industry-nazism-and-race-suicide-1944.html). In this present pamphlet Edwards looks at the history of the CIO "and the sit-down strikes" while concentrating on its role in the U.S. during WWII. This is pretty dicey stuff (as John Lewis would discover when his vehement pro-Union and non-interventionist/Isolationist policy proposals was defeated by his membership) and rubbed up the wrong way against U.S. defense and war policies. But Edwards was looking for something different, writing in this pamphlet well deep into (the U.K.'s) WWII about the need to change capitalist industry in the U.S. and a "REVOLUTIONARY OCCUPATION OF INDUSTRY" (caps in the original) to be achieved through "Workers Power and Socialism", all of which would probably not play all that well int eh U.S. at this point. (It is unclear exactly when in 1941 this pamphlet was published, but I assume it is probably after the Nazis ended their cordial entente with the Soviet Union.)
Anyway, there is an interesting history of sit-downs in the pamphlet--I still like it more for its cover, though.
An indulgence: I've posted a few things on this site of old and/or found tech that reminds me of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D). Here is one that popped up in the pages of Popular Mechanics for May 1932--an airship designed by Guido Tallei that was effectively a flying saucer, a dirigible-disk. There was another design from him from 1931 that was similar to this except that it looked a LOT like a sleek underwater-swimming penguin.
There's a certain attraction to relieving an aircraft of the weight and drag of landing gear--except for the actual "landing" part of the aircraft, which becomes more, well, difficult, without wheels. Except of course when you have an apparatus like that below, something to basically catch the aircraft. For the sake of fuel economy the idea of getting rid of wheels and other landing gear made the cover of this Popular Mechanics issue for March 1932. The apparatus was supposed to be able to (safely) stop an airplane in the space of 40', which no doubt would have interested the U.S. Navy if such a thing worked with damaging the airplane or the pilot. I really don't see how the thing could have possibly worked, even with the helpful image in the text of the thing being a "reverse catapult". Still, publishing such stuff may have given someone an idea for something else--some bit or insight in this apparatus may have come in handy for someone else working on something entirely different, as is sometimes the case with Outsider ideas.
Before the internet the idea to the idea of the internet existed to some extent in the head of a great unsung hero of the U.S. WWII figure, Vannevar Bush, a person who may well have invented the notion of hypertext. Vannevar (pronounced “van ee var”) was a flinty no-nonsense New Englander who was an organizational and mechanical genius who as a professor at MIT developed a remarkable analog computer that greatly advance computation capacities for solving differential equations. This was in the 1930’s, and even after creating an improved electromechanical version of the machine still chose the wrong way to go in the soon-to-materialize digital computer revolution. During WWII Bush was one of the most important Americans in the war effort, overseeing the entire scientific effort of the U.S.—an enormous effort dispatched beautifully (and successfully). His importance in this regard is difficult to overstate. He also published a short paper on the hypertext idea in an article in The Atlantic in 1945.
The article, “As We May Think”, outlined his idea for a device he called the MEMEX (“memory” and “index”), which compressed and organized all that its user could remember and whatever information would be obtained in the future via electromechanical apparatuses, and available with associative tracking between the microtext frames. So all manner of book and papers and reports and newspapers and images would be microphotographed and stored in a beautifully-indexed mechanical retrieval system where it would live with the information of others. There was also the possibility of real-time textual additions to whatever it was that was retrieved, the genetic precursor of hypertext. Bush’s thinking has been deeply recognized (and also by the creators of the internet) as the intellectual grandparent of the modern internet.
And so I had a mostly-comical response to the image that I found (left) in the pages of the March 1932 issue of Popular Mechanics--it was actually on the back of the page that I was looking for (on passenger rocket travel across the Atlantic). With Bush in mind, this image of a man reading a miniaturized book using the system of Rear Admiral Bradley A. Fiske (1854-1942), and the photo shows the reader with the equivalent of a 100,000-word novel. The article only mentions this one book, and doesn't venture out into imagining anyone carrying a library with them, nor does it mention searches of organizing systems, but it does bring to bear the possible power of having access to a vast amount of info held on a strip of paper about the size of a newspaper column. And for 1932, that was a strong idea.
This interesting schematic was drawn by one of my favorite technical artists, G.H. Davis, who generally worked for the Illustrated London News, though he appears in this article in the March 1932 issue of Popular Mechanics. Davis was exceptional and prolific and produced (I guess) hundreds of drawings like this one, below. "From Europe to New York by Rocket?" is mostly about delivering trans-Atlantic mail in twenty-five minutes rather than people, though that is mentioned somewhat, along with a scant reference to the possibility of interplanetary travel. Mostly the article is based on Davis' trip to the Raketen Flugplatz--the Rocket Airfield--a 300 acre former munitions/weapons site pockmarked with highly-useful bunkers in the Reinickendorf suburb in northeast Berlin, which is today very nearby the Berlin airport. This was the world's first such aerodrome, and it was staffed by the amateur rocket club of Germany which composed of such names as Nebel (who named the Raketen Flugplatz), Ritter, von Braun, Riedel, Heinish, and Oberth, among many others. The place was opened in 1931 and saw the development of the liquid fueled rocket in Germany. The place was short-lived though its influence was long-felt, the facility closed down over an unpaid water bill in 1933--it was at that time, anyway, where the Wehrmacht assumed control of rocket development in Germany and amateur exploits/testing was forbidden. Six years later the Nazis went to war, and shortly after that appeared the V-weapons that so terrorized Europe and Great Britain, killing tens of thousands and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless, not to mention the thousands of slave workers who were killed in the process of production.
But for 1932, when this article appeared and when Davis happily toured this facility, liquid-fueled rockets (introduced by Robert Goddard in 1929) seemed to hold the key to the future of rocket/space travel.
Here's Davis' cutaway of a proposed rocket--it is not named nor is its purpose described, though it is not a rocket built for mail delivery, which was the discussion on this page of the article--this is clearly far too massive (seemingly 100+ feet tall) for that, and also has sleeping quarters for the (standing) crew in the nose.
There are a few photographs of the team at the team at the Raketen Flugplatz, though no one is actually named--there is this photo which I've seen before and recognize, and I'd like to point out that aside from depicting Kurt Heinish (1910-1991) and Klaus Riedel (1909-1944) it also shows Heinish handling what I think is liquid nitrogen with basically no protective gear at all, save for some gloves.
This lovely pamphlet has a design that seems to me deeper into the modern future than it was--it seems a product more of the 1930's and perhaps into the 1930's than the 1909 item that it is. The pamphlet was on a proposed gyro-monorail, a project funded by publisher August Sherl (1849-1921), who had the idea for constructing separate high speed (200 kph) rapid transit lines while maintaining existing rail for shipping. But as sleek and as stable as it may/might be, the gyro-monorail is one idea that never really got past prototypes and development, as was the case with Sherl's project, which did actually get to a full-size prototype which was demonstrated in Berlin, but the idea did not flourish, and the project was cancelled.
JF Ptak Science Books [Reposting Post 2601 with an update]
There appeared in the wonderful pages of Nature (for 24 January 1878) a short but interesting technical communication from the probably/improbably-named Wordsworth Donisthorpe (1847-1914) about an invention that is deeply related to the early stages of motion pictures--in fact it was the first paper that coupled sound with the moving image. It appears eleven years before the first successful demonstration of a motion picture in 1889.
(The article is immediately preceded by another on the change of habits in toads.)
What Mr. Donisthorpe is talking about in the pages of the Scientific American is really the back-door entry to an even bigger topic: the first announcement of Thomas Edison's phonograph as it appeared on the back of the first page in the last issue for the year, 29 December 1877. "A Wonderful Invention--Speech Capable of Indefinite Repetition from Automatic records" was the aarticle by Edward Johnson on the introduction of Thomas Edison's phonograph.It is one and a half columns long, but contains a very compact 1500 words.
Edison's name was not a popular item in the average American home before his invention of the phonograph. It was actually some months later, after the initial announcement in 1877, that Edison became justifiably famous. It is difficult today to place the amazement and astonishment that greeted the invention--there was nothing like it, before, ever--except for writing, of course, and then the recording telegraph. It was a sensational piece of power, being able to record and save sound--and then play it back again. It was the first time in human history that the auditory sense world could be audibly preserved.
The first announcement in Scientific American appeared slightly earlier still, in the November 17 issue for 1877.
This is a wood engraving of the impressions left on the recording cylinder--it must be the first image of a saved sound.
There is also a two-page report on Edison's visit to the offices of Nature and his very successful demonstration of his new phonograph machine (the patent for which is applied for December 27, 1877). The editors record their favorable impressions of the machine and describe it in some detail--there is even a small woodcut illustration of the device. In all the article occupies pages 190-191 of the weekly issue. (Edison, Thomas. "The Talking Phonograph", London: Nature, January 3, 1878.)
So it comes to pass that the idea of saving and manipulating sound and then applying that to moving images come to rest within a few dozen pages of one another in Nature--it must have been an exhilarating experience at the time.
A hat tip to Cadre History http://histv2.free.fr/cadrehistory.htm a site with a LOT of material of high interest (in general) and with good references (in particular).
This was about as high as one could be in a ground-based structure in Manhattan--at the top of one of the granite towers of the Brooklyn Bridge, 277' (plus whatever wooden structure has been built on the top of the bridge, plus the height of a person). The image is found in Scientific American for August 16, 1877, and shows a bit of the bridge which was still six years away from completion, with workers looking out and down at the rest of the city. It is an unusual perspective, looking south, and seemingly far higher than what must be Trinity Church (the present version completed in 1846)--Trinity's sp[ire was actually seven feet taller than the finished bridge (at 284'), though from this angle it is dwarfed by the new structure. There wouldn't be a building higher than 400' until the very early 20th century. In any event, I thought to share this view for its unexpected nature.
I've seen a number of novel life boat/vehicles in my travels through patent office records but never really made note of them, which is too bad. They can be pretty interesting in an oddly shared way with 19th century coffin designs and other mortuary patents--specifically the ones having to do with the dead should they find themselves fortunately/unfortunately resuscitated in their sleeping chamber underground. As a matter of fact some of the coffins were equipped with a small belled spire with a wire that went down into the coffin and wrapped around the hands of the dearly departed. So, in the event of premature burial, the undead dead would simply need to move their hands and sound a bell or raise a flag. In any event, that is what came to mind when I saw this image in the Scientific American for August, 1877:
This floating sphere was ballasted so that it would remain upright even in a heavy sea, and looks as though it could carry 10 or 15 people. It came complete with mast and flag, and a wrap-around walkway, and as you can see it is being used in the image by a man having a smoke.
This mammoth German aircraft appeared in the pages of the Illustrated London News on 31 March 1928,a sneak-peak into the future. It may have been a shock to British aviation sensibilities--it was supposed to dwarf the largest such plane that the Brits had (the Calcutta) : 158' to 93' wingspan; 44 tons to 9 fully loaded wright; engine power, 6000hp to 1500hp, with twelve very impressive 500 hp fore-and-aft engines.
The plane made an appearance in real-life in the air in July 1929 as the Dornier Do X, the largest and heaviest flying boat in history, with pretty much the stats that appeared on it a year earlier. (Stuff happens) and the Dornier is broken up for scrap by 1937.
Specs (via Wiki): "Crew, 10-14; capacity, 66-100 passengers; length, 40 m (131 ft 4 in); wingspan, 48 m (157 ft 5 in); height, 10.25 m (33 ft 7 in); wing area, 450 m2 (4,844 ft2); empty weight, 28,250 kg (62,280 lb); max takeoff weight, 56,000 kg (123,460 lb); powerplant, 12 × Curtiss Conqueror water-cooled V12, 455 kW (610 hp) each; maximum speed, 211 km/h (131 mph; cruise speed, 175 km/h (109 mph); range, 1,700 km (1,056 mi); service ceiling, 3200 m (10498 ft); wing loading, 94 kg/m2 (19.3 lb/sq ft) (at 46 tons weight)."