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See Inside July 2010

100 Years Ago: Elegant Flight

Innovation and discovery as chronicled in past issues of Scientific American

JULY 1960
INFANT MORTALITY— “The death rate of U.S. infants, after a long and precipitous decline, has leveled off in the last few years, according to a study by Iwao M. Moriyama of the National Office of Vital Statistics. In some states it has even risen slightly, after reaching an all-time low of 26 per 1,000 live births in 1956. Most of the reduction in mortality of children under one year of age is attributable to control of infectious diseases, primarily influenza and pneumonia. In 1946, when penicillin became available to the public, the death from infectious diseases dropped about 30 per cent. However, infectious diseases still account for about half of the deaths among infants between one month and one year old. The death rate for younger infants reflects the heavy toll taken by noninfectious conditions such as congenital malformations, birth injuries, postnatal asphyxia and premature births.”

JULY 1910
ELEGANT FLIGHT— “The most important fact established by the Rheims aeronautical meet was the unquestionable superiority of the monoplane. Its success must be particularly gratifying to the French people. They seem to have realized that if its inherent fragility, as compared with the strong bridge-like form of the biplane, could be overcome, there were many advantages in the way of simplicity, reduction of head resistance, and small weight. Furthermore, the monoplane is attractive, both because it approximates so closely in appearance the form and structure of the birds, and because its simple and graceful lines give it a decided artistic advantage—this last being a strong recommendation to a people so aesthetic as the French.”

THREAT FROM ABOVE— “With the rapid strides made in aerial navigation, it is eminently necessary that the army seriously consider methods for counteracting the influence such craft will have in future wars. Two 1909 Cadillac ‘30s’ were purchased by the Northwestern Military Academy in the spring of 1910. These automobiles of stock chassis are made to seat four cadets, and mount a Colt automatic rapid fire gun over the engine. The guns of .30 caliber deliver automatically 480 shots a minute, having a sighted range of 2,000 yards. Results of experiments clearly demonstrate the rapidity of fire would be such that military automobiles must be reckoned with as weapons against airships and aeroplanes.”

JULY 1860
NOTES ON NURSING— “When you see the natural and almost universal craving in English sick for their ‘tea,’ you cannot but feel that nature knows what she is about. But a little tea or coffee restores them quite as much as a great deal; and a great deal of tea, and especially of coffee, impairs the little power of digestion they have. Yet the nurse, because she sees how one or two cups of tea or coffee restores her patients, thinks that three or four will do twice as much. This is not the case at all. The only English patients I have ever known to refuse tea, have been typhus cases; and the first sign of their getting better was their craving again for tea. —Florence Nightingale”

LAGER BIER— “There are thousands of people in New York who seem to have quite forgotten the use of plain water as a beverage. In certain quarters of the city, ‘lager’ is the main staple of life, being for sale in almost every house, and the drink and even the food, of all the men, women and children. Lager is king! Lager is one of our most modern institutions. Ten years ago it was only a vulgar German word of unknown import; then it was looked upon as an insipid Dutch beer; but finally, a majority, perhaps, will vote that it is ‘the people’s nectar.’ Certain witnesses have testified and courts have decided that lager is not intoxicating; but in view of the fact that a pint of lager contains as much alcohol as an ordinary glass of brandy, it might be suspected that those witnesses had indeed been indulging in lager just at the time they needed their sober judgment.”

This article was originally published with the title "Live Births Dangerous Skies King of Beers."

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