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See Inside August 2008

150 Years Ago: The First Transatlantic Telegraph

Articles from past issues of Scientific American

AUGUST 1958
BERYLLIUM— “The story of berylliosis is one of the most fascinating, contradictory, infuriating and controversial episodes in medical history. Some medical people argue even now that beryllium is incapable of causing disease. When one examines the clinical, biochemical and toxicological evidence, however, one cannot escape the fact that beryllium has caused at least 500 cases of poisoning in the U.S. alone during the past two decades. The story of beryllium highlights the whole problem of occupational disease in the present era. Advances in technology now develop so rapidly that the rare material of yesterday becomes the widely used material of today.”

BUY THIS MAGAZINE— “‘Subliminal’ stimulation has become a public issue since a commercial research firm announced that it can be used to sell popcorn and Coca-Cola to movie theater audiences. Last month three psychologists of the University of Michigan presented their views on the technology and ethics of subliminal advertising in The American Psychologist. The authors dismiss the theater test as vague and uncontrolled. They also point out that their code of ethics forbids using psychological techniques for ‘devious purposes’ and observe that through ‘a kind of guilt by association’ psychologists may come into disrepute because of the public revulsion against subliminal advertising.”

AUGUST 1908
DAYLIGHT SAVINGS— “It is not often that a measure of such a startling character as the Daylight Saving Bill is introduced into the English House of Commons. The fact that the momentous changes advocated are proposed by William Willett, a member of the Royal Astronomical Society, suggests that the measure may not be so chimerical as might be supposed. It is proposed during part of the spring and autumn, and the whole of the summer, to advance the clocks throughout the country, with a view to including within the working hours a longer stretch of daylight. Among the commercial advantages are that large users of gas and other artificial light would realize a saving of $15,000,000. To the average individual, however, the most attractive feature of the proposed change is that it would afford a longer stretch of daylight for recreation.”

WRIGHT FLYER— “In view of the fine performances of Wilbur Wright with his aeroplane in France, and also of the flights about to be made by Orville Wright near Washington, [D.C.,] at Fort Myer, we are glad to be able to present to our readers, in this issue, the first actual detail photographs of this world-renowned aeroplane which the Wright brothers have heretofore kept closely veiled from public view.”

The entire article from 1908 is available here

AUGUST 1858
ATLANTIC TELEGRAPH— “On the evening of the 16th of August, the people of the United States were startled by the intelligence that Queen Victoria’s message had been received. Crowds assembled around the bulletin boards, and the news spread like wildfire. Considerable disappointment was felt, however, in the first instance, caused by a portion only of the Queen’s message being sent, but on the following day the succeeding paragraphs were received. The royal message began, ‘To the President of the United States, Washington: The Queen desires to congratulate the President upon the successful completion of this great international work.’ President James Buchanan included in his reply: ‘May the Atlantic Telegraph, under the blessing of Heaven, prove to be a bond of perpetual peace and friendship between the kindred nations, and an instrument designed by Divine Providence to diffuse religion, civilization, liberty and law throughout the world.’”

[NOTE: The cable had severe technical problems and completely failed two months later.]

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