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See Inside June 2010

100 Years Ago: Flying from New York to Philadelphia

Innovation and discovery as chronicled in past issues of Scientific American

JUNE 1960
STUNT MAN— “‘Putting a man in space is a stunt: the man can do no more than an instrument, in fact can do less.’ So said Vannevar Bush, chairman of the Board of Governors of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in a statement to the House Committee on Science and Astronautics. ‘There are far more serious things to do than to indulge in stunts. As yet the American people do not understand the distinctions, and we in this country are prone to rush, for a time, at any new thing. I do not discard completely the value of demonstrating to the world our skills. Nor do I undervalue the effect on morale of the spectacular. But the present hullabaloo on the propaganda aspects of the program leaves me entirely cool.’”

JUNE 1910
CURATIVE— “Nearly all mineral waters have been found to contain radioactive emanation. The tracing of efficacy to radioactivity naturally suggested the artificial control of radioactivity so as to impart curative effects to inactive spring water or to increase the efficiency of natural springs. The idea of adding variable amounts of emanation has been carried into practice on a large scale by the Administration of the Municipal Salines of Kreuz­nach, Germany, where drinking and bathing water, artificially treated by the very radioactive substances contained in the springs, is manufactured and sold. Though the radium-water cure is yet of too recent date to allow definite conclusions to be drawn, it doubtless constitutes a valuable addition to the present methods of modern medicine.”

LEGAL FLYING— “In dissolving the injunction granted in favor of the Wright brothers against Curtiss, by Judge Hazel, and the similar injunction granted by Judge Hand against Paulhan, the Circuit Court of Appeals has simply followed a long-established precedent in patent law. Curtiss at least was a successful aviator before the Wright brothers decided to cast aside all secrecy and to show the world what manner of machine was that of whose performances they had darkly hinted. Blériot, too, had been pluckily experimenting for some time before the Wrights flew in public. It is astonishing that the lower court should have failed to find in these facts a sufficient conflict of evidence to deny the granting of an injunction. With the reversal of the decision of the lower court by the Circuit Court of Appeals, the development of aviation in this country is now unhampered.”

THRILLING RACE— “Aviator Charles K. Hamilton made a daring and thrilling flight from New York to Philadelphia. The flight was planned by the New York Times and the Philadelphia Public Ledger, and aviator Hamilton, carrying a letter from Mayor Gaynor of New York to Governor Stuart of Pennsylvania, executed that flight on schedule time. During a considerable part of the trip he raced a special train which at times found difficulty in keeping up with him."

JUNE 1860
WHIFFY THAMES— “Last year, during three months of very dry weather, old Father Thames—that once classic stream—became a huge sewer, sending forth foetid odors over all the British metropolis. A report recently presented on the subject contains the statement that about $88,000 worth of deodorizing material was thrown into the Thames during the months of June, July and August, chiefly chloride of lime, of which 478 tons were used, and chalk lime, of which 4,280 tons were used. These were chiefly thrown into the sewers, and while the temperature of the river remained high—from 69 to 74 degrees, the river remained proof against all efforts of deodorization. Great preparations have been made this year to provide a sufficient supply of the perchloride of iron in order to modi­fy the pungent powers of Father Thames’ snuff-box.”

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