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100 Years Ago: Tunneling under the Hudson River

Innovation and discovery as chronicled in past issues of Scientific American

MAY 1960
DEVELOPING INFANTS— “We expected that the shocked rats would be affected by their experience, and we looked for signs of emotional disorder when they reached adulthood. To our surprise it was the second control group—the rats we had not handled at all—that behaved in a peculiar manner. The behavior of the shocked rats could not be distinguished from that of the control group which had experienced the same handling but no electric shock. Thus the results of our first experiment caused us to reframe our question. Our investigation at the Columbus Psychiatric Institute and Hospital of Ohio State University has since been concerned not so much with the effects of stressful experience—which after all is the more usual experience of infants—as with the effects of the absence of such experience in infancy. —Seymour Levine”

MAY 1910
AIR RACES— “Louis Paulhan, the most distinguished aviator of them all, has soared nearly a mile into the air, and finally has surpassed even that feat by flying from London to Manchester, covering a distance of 186 miles, with but one stop for fuel, at an average speed of over forty miles an hour. The significance of this really wonderful race between Paulhan, the Frenchman, and Claude Grahame-White, the Englishman, is apparent only when we consider some of the details which have been cabled to this side of the Atlantic. That Paulhan won the $50,000 prize in such superb style is a tribute both to his own skill in manipulation [piloting], and to the excellence of the Farman biplane with which the race was won.”

SAND HOGS— “For the Pennsylvania Railroad Terminal in New York, the tunnels were bored for the most part by means of huge shields which burrowed their way through silt and sand seventy feet below the surface of the Hudson River. Men of all nationalities built the Pennsylvania tunnels, negroes doing a large part of the work. They say there must be something about the compressed air which generates energy and enthusiasm, for the ‘muckers’—commonly known as ‘sand hogs’—vied with one another to make the record progress. Coffee was the mainstay of the tunnel worker, and it was to be had at all times and at all places. The most important of the rules enforced while the Pennsylvania tunnels were being built was one requiring the men to go slowly through the air locks.”

MAY 1860
ENDEMIC TUBERCULOSIS— “Henry B. Millard, M.D., estimates that nearly one-sixth of the deaths among the human race occur from consumption. In New York, from 1848 to 1859, mortality was one in 8.46.  Consumption is not necessarily more prevalent in large than in small cities. Among the trades and professions, the greatest mortality was among tailors and shoemakers, the least, among lawyers.”

ELECTRIC LIGHTHOUSE— “Professor Faraday, F.R.S., described the application of the Electric Light to the South Foreland lighthouse (England) by Professor ­­Holmes: ­‘Two magneto-electric machines are employed at the South Foreland lighthouse, and each is operated by a two-horse-power steam engine. Excepting wear and tear of the apparatus, the whole of the material  consumed to produce the light are coal and water for the boilers of the engines, and carbon points for the lamp in the lantern.’ While it appears beyond a doubt that this light is wonderfully brilliant in comparison with others, yet its expense must be much greater than that obtained by the use of the Fresnel lens with the best oil in common mode.”

CHEMIST AT HOME— “We would yet advise to set a room apart in mansions, with the title of ‘laboratory,’ or the more ancient one of ‘still-room.’ The amount of instruction that can be derived from a private laboratory is far more than at first sight can be conceived, and the entertainment, changeable as a kaleidoscope, is (intellectually considered) immeasurably superior either to crochet or Berlin work [embroidery]. The delicate manipulations of chemical experiments are well, even better, suited to their physical powers than to the sterner sex; and to the ladies, therefore, we commend the charge of becoming the chefs of the modern still-room.—Septimus Piesse’s Art of Perfumery

This article was originally published with the title "Early Experience Aviators Home Chemistry."

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