January 1966

Communication by laser
“The announcement in 1960 that a working model of a laser had been achieved was greeted with enthusiasm by workers in many fields. Since the light produced by a laser is both coherent and monochromatic, it was felt at the time that the laser was the answer to a communication engineer's prayer. Although a practical, working system of long-distance communication by laser has yet to be built, the initial enthusiasm has not waned.”

Japanese discovered the new world?
“As New World civilizations have become better known archaeologically, striking parallels have been observed with the architecture, religious practices and art styles of Asia. It has been suggested that these parallels are evidence of unrecorded ‘discoveries’ of America long before Columbus. Most professional archaeologists have remained unconvinced because the possibility of an independent origin of the parallel traits could not be eliminated. Recent archaeological investigations on the coast of Ecuador, however, lead to only one conclusion: a boatload of inadvertent voyagers from Japan strayed ashore in the New World some 4,500 years before Cortes reached Mexico.—Betty J. Meggers and Clifford Evans”

January 1916

A national highway
“I took my annual vacation this year in the form of a trip by automobile to the Pacific Coast over the Lincoln Highway [built in 1913]. Two years ago, when I made this same trip, I was doing something out of the ordinary, one of perhaps 50 tourists who took the same journey. This spring I do not believe it an exaggeration to state that I was but one out of 5,000 who essayed to reach the Pacific Coast by motor, and did reach it after a series of experiences which would make the writer of the modern popular thriller blush with shame for his lack of imagination. It is the best road, the only road, leading from the Atlantic to the Pacific.”

Some sections of the Lincoln Highway remained unpaved until the 1930s.

Faster motorcars
“The most interesting mechanical development of the year has been the growth in popularity of the multi-cylinder car, as represented by the twin-four and the twin-six, the former mounting an eight-cylinder and the latter a twelve-cylinder engine. The advantages of the multi-cylinder car are so fully dwelt upon elsewhere, that they need no elaboration; it is sufficient to mention the constant and even torque, the absence of vibration, the great flexibility of control and the rapidity of the acceleration [see illustration].”

January 1866

Great comet of 1861
“M. [Emmanuel] Liais, the celebrated astronomer, submitted elaborate calculations proving beyond question that on the 19th of June, 1861, the earth really did pass through one of the comet's tails. The moment of contact was twelve minutes past six a.m., Rio Janeiro time, and, according to the calculation of its dimensions made by M. Liais, the earth must have been wholly immersed in the tail for about four hours! This immersion in the tail of a comet had no perceptible influence upon the weather, a very remarkable fact, adding one more to the many reasons there were already for supposing that cometary matter is some million of times rarer than our atmosphere.”

In 1880 Heinrich Kreutz calculated the orbital period of the comet to be 409 years.

Manias
“Strange passions seize upon mankind at times. Coins have their value, pictures are eagerly bought up, Dutch tulips command monstrous prices, and lately postage stamps have claimed attention. All these freaks of human nature are taken advantage of by shrewd individuals of a speculative turn of mind who desire to turn a penny, honest or otherwise. Some French engravers have thought it worth their while to design a series of novel postage stamps, the like of which were never seen before. These stamps were represented to be the issue of the ‘Sandwich Islands’ post-office, and as such were eagerly bought by confiding purchasers who probably supposed that nothing was too absurd for that region. The Hawaiian stamps, not genuine, are orange, violet, green, and other colors of the rainbow.”