50 Years Ago: Antarctic Fauna


September 1962

Antarctic Fauna “As for the vast regions of water that underlie the great ice shelves of the Antarctic continent, such as those of the Ross and Weddell seas, it has long been held that these are quite deficient in life. This supposition has been upset recently by the finding of large fishes—mostly Nototheniids—together with bottom invertebrates frozen in situ and exposed well above sea level on the wind-scoured surface of the Ross Ice Shelf near the U.S. base at McMurdo Sound. These remains, on top of ice more than 100 feet thick, had apparently been trapped by freezing at the bottom of the shelf when ice touched the sea floor. Preliminary carbon-14 dating indicates that it may have required about 1,100 years for these specimens to work their way up through the ice.”

Scrapped Telescope “Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara has canceled construction of the Navy's 600-foot radio telescope because of rising costs and a decline in its potential military value. The 30,000-ton structure at Sugar Grove, W.Va., would have been by far the world's largest fully steerable radio telescope. More than $41.7 million had already been spent on it. According to a report in the New York Times, its primary purpose was to pick up radio messages transmitted elsewhere in the world by detecting their reflections from the moon. Although the Navy did not confirm this, it explained that such missions can now be carried out by satellites and new electronic instruments.”

September 1912

Cement Colossus “Many articles of literary merit have been written on Mr. Lorado Taft's concrete statue to the American Indian [see photograph]. The writer, as builder, has been requested to set forth in simple technical terms the methods used in the building of this—so far as the writer is aware—the first heroic cement statue, which was dedicated near Oregon, Illinois, on July 1st, 1911, and which has been open to the public view and criticism ever since the huge plaster mold was taken off in the early spring. —John G. Prasuhn”

The monumental statue stands 48 feet tall. For a slide show on the intersection of science and the arts in 1912, see

Problem of Life “There are other fundamental problems, which have exercised the minds of thinkers of all ages, and which still remain to baffle the most advanced workers in the fields of modern science. Of such is the problem of the nature and origin of life. Prof. E. A. Schaefer in his inaugural address before the British Association at Dundee, Scotland, is careful to avoid entanglement in hopeless ‘philosophical’ quibble. He attempts no definition of life, but says, ‘recent advances in knowledge have suggested the probability that the dividing line between animate and inanimate matter is less sharp than it has been regarded, so that the difficulty of finding an inclusive definition is correspondingly increased.’”

Battlefield Medicine “The annual maneuvers of the sanitary department of the military government of Paris were unusually interesting this year. The exercises included the establishment of a rescue service by automobile, in addition to curious experiments in training dogs to search for wounded men. The most remarkable specimen of the new equipment is an automobile operating room, in which surgical operations can be performed at the battle-front in conditions as favorable as those afforded by a hospital. Severe abdominal wounds, which are very common in modern warfare, cannot be operated upon properly by the ordinary field service, and in many cases the removal of the patient is equivalent to a sentence of death.”

This article was originally published with the title "50, 100 & 150 Years Ago."

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