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See Inside Scientific American Volume 309, Issue 2

100 Years Ago: Tsetse Fly Breeds Ruin

Innovation and discovery as chronicled in past issues of Scientific American



SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, VOL. IX, NO. 5; AUGUST 1, 1863

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August 1963

Supersonic Dreams
“Stimulated by a 20-month-old British-French plan to build a supersonic commercial jet transport, the Administration has asked Congress to authorize up to $750 million for the development of such an aircraft by U.S. manufacturers. It is felt that the cost of development, estimated at $1 billion, would be too great for private industry. This would be the first time the Government has provided a direct subsidy for the development of a commercial airplane. Najeeb E. Halaby, head of the Federal Aviation Agency, envisions a transport in operation before 1971. Halaby believes it will be possible to produce a craft that is faster than the British-French Concorde and to introduce it at about the same time.”

August 1913

From Rivalry to War
“In a recent number of La Nature, there appears a critical estimate of the relative air strength of Germany and France. Inasmuch as these two powers have been keen rivals in attaining what may be called a supremacy of the air, an abstract of our French contemporary' article will doubtless prove of interest to our readers. If the actual status of this aerial fleet is secret, that of plans and projects is doubly so. French inferiority is obvious, and also French efforts to diminish that inferiority.”

See a photo album on the art of war in 1913 at www.ScientificAmerican.com/jul2013/warfare

Tsetse Fly
“The Sesse Islands in Lake Victoria are a specimen of Nature' jewelry. But, exquisite as is their scenery, the Sesses form a charnel house. Death is over them. This is a land of silence. The voice of the child is unheard, the chant of Baganda women, so full of cadence, comes no more over the waters. The bark hut villages that for centuries sheltered the finest types of the African race, in mind and body, are rotting ruins. Why this desolation of all that is human? Because of a sleeping death. What causes the sleep that kills? A fly that breeds the tiniest murderer known to the world.”

August 1863

American Art Abroad
“The London Times says: ‘The reputation of Mr. [Frederic] Church, the most eminent American landscape painter, has been brought to this country by his ‘Niagara,’ and ‘Heart of the Andes.’ His ‘Icebergs off the Coast of Labrador,’ now exhibited at the German Gallery, affords an excellent opportunity to form a conception of what landscape painting in the United States is aiming at and achieving. The picture altogether is a noble example of the application of the landscape painter’ art to the rendering of grand, beautiful, and unfamiliar aspects of nature, only accessible at great cost of fatigue and exposure, and even at peril of life and limb.'”

The Sun
“If the sun were composed of coal, it would last at the present rate only 5,000 years. The sun, in all probability, is not a burning but an incandescent body. Its light is rather that of a glowing molten metal than that of a burning furnace. But it is impossible that the sun should constantly be giving out heat, without either losing heat or being supplied with new fuel. Assuming that the heat of the sun has been kept up by meteoric bodies falling into it, and proof has been given of such fall, it is possible from the mass of the solar system to determine approximately the period during which the sun has shone as a luminary. The limits lie between 100 millions and 400 millions of years.”

Clothing Machine
“The close competition which exists in some branches of trade renders it necessary that no device or expedient which will facilitate business should be left unadopted. This is particularly true of hoop skirt manufacturing, where so much depends upon the amount and quality of work an operator is able to perform. The skirt frame herewith illustrated is a great improvement upon the old ones in general use.”

For a look at agricultural machines from the same period, see www.ScientificAmerican.com/aug2013/agriculture-1863

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

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