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Atomic Economics -- Hammondsport Flight Test -- Exactitude and Fashion

Articles from past issues of Scientific American

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MARCH 1958
ENERGY, ASH, MONEY— “If atomic power is to be developed on an important scale, methods will have to be found for safely disposing of the vast quantities of radioactive ‘ashes’ that will be produced by nuclear reactors. Last month a committee of the National Academy of Sciences reported on waste disposal, pointing out that the costs of storing radioactive fission products temporarily to ‘cool’ them, of extracting long-lived isotopes and of shipping waste to distant points for ultimate disposal will have a major influence on the economics of nuclear power.”

KRYPTON AND MARRIAGE—  “The precious bar of platinum and iridium at Sèvres, France, against which all the world’s distance scales are theoretically checked, may soon be melted down for wedding rings. An international advisory committee for the definition of the meter has now recommended the adoption of an atomic standard of length—an orange spectral line of krypton 86. The meter is to be defined as 1,650,763.73 times this wavelength. The krypton line is the sharpest of those currently available for length measurement.”

MARCH 1908
RED WING— “The Aerial Experiment Association, which was formed last summer by Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, has been actively engaged during the past three months in constructing and testing an aeroplane. Mr. F. W. Baldwin operated the aeroplane [the “Red Wing”] in its initial test. The motor employed was an 8-cylinder Curtiss engine of 40 horse-power. The idea of mounting the aeroplane upon runners and testing it upon the ice seems to be an excellent one. Owing to the warm weather and the melting of the ice on Lake Keuka, near Hammondsport, N.Y., where the test was held, it was feared that it would be impossible to try the machine. Fortunately, however, a cold snap gave the experimenters a chance to make the trial; and on the 12th of March, upon its first test, the aeroplane flew a distance of 318 feet 11 inches.”

• The entire article from 1908 is available here.

RENEWAL— “In the old days of ’49 the ships which called at Yerba Buena—as San Francisco was then called—found them­selves stranded, for the crews would desert en masse for the gold diggings. Among these ships was the ‘Niantic,’ built in a Maine shipyard. After being deserted, the ship was pulled ashore at Clay and Sansome streets and converted into a lodging house. The shallow water at her stern was gradually filled up with sand. The Niantic Block of apartments was erected over her timbers, but perished in the conflagration of April, 1906. Recently, in digging the foundations for a new Niantic Building, the keel and ribs of the old ship were found, stuck fast in the mud and sand.”

FOURTH DIMENSION— “Mathematics is the most exact and the most thoroughly grounded of the sciences. And yet, in the very field explored by this rigorous and tedious method, have arisen fantastic and fairy-like structures of the imagination, which transcend all our experience. They have arrived at the conception of the fourth and higher dimensions. It would be impossible to confine a person having the secret of this dimension by the six surfaces of a prison cell. His slightest movement in the direction of a fourth dimension would put him at once out of three-dimensional space. It would be well for him to take care just what he did when in four-dimensional space, as upon coming back into space of three dimensions he might be much changed.”

MARCH 1858
MAN IS THE MEASURED— “When it is recollected that the human figure is the very acme of symmetry and grace, it is somewhat astonishing to see so many awkward and ungraceful-looking persons walking our streets, and we are forced into the conclusion that their tailor did not do them justice when he cut their clothes. A slovenly disregard is just as culpable; and as we must wear coats and the like, it is correct and proper that we should have them fit. Here we show an instrument patented by Simeon Corley, of Lexington, S.C., for the purpose of taking accurate measurements of the body, and of afterwards drafting the garment on cloth.”

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