February 1966

Neutrinos detected
“Two miles underground in a gold mine near Johannesburg, South Africa, an experiment is under way to study high-energy neutrinos produced by cosmic-ray collisions in the earth's atmosphere. On October 27, 1964—13 months after the selection of the South African site—our equipment registered the first deep-underground observation of a sister, or cosmic-ray, muon. Then on February 23, 1965, the detectors recorded a muon that had traveled in a horizontal direction—the first ‘natural’ high-energy neutrino had been observed! Since last February we have observed in our equipment some 80 sister muons and 10 daughter muons. These statistics are beginning to yield the first experimental estimate of the interaction probability for high-energy neutrinos.—Frederick Reines and J.P.F. Sellschop”

Reines shared the 1995 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on neutrino detection.

Jet lag
“A series of tests carried out by the Federal Aviation Agency has substantiated the common complaint of air travelers that swift transition through several time zones disturbs their bodily and even their mental functions. Sheldon Freud, an Air Force psychologist who has worked on the testing, said that the reaction of the passengers made it important to test the crews. ‘These men are responsible for the lives of millions of passengers every year,’ he said. Freud also raised a question about supersonic flights, which will be at least twice as fast as today's jet flights: ‘Will we have to rest twice as long afterward? Is it worth while getting over there in such a hurry?’”

February 1916

Naval arms race
“The ‘California,’ ‘Mississippi’ and ‘Idaho’ are to be armed with a new type of 14-inch gun, which will show a considerable increase of power over the 45-calibre gun. The new piece is six feet longer in the bore than the 45-calibre 14-inch gun. Rear-Admiral [Joseph] Strauss, Chief of Ordnance, states that these new guns are capable of penetrating the heaviest side armor at oblique impact at the greatest effective battle range. It is gratifying to learn that the new type of 16-inch, 45-calibre gun, built at the Washington Gun Factory, has fulfilled the highest expectations [see illustration above].”

Blessed communication
“According to a report from the Rome correspondent of a prominent news service, Vatican circles announce that the Pope [Benedict XV] is preparing to bless wireless telegraphy officially, thus restoring the ancient custom of the Church to bless inventions which confer great benefits on humanity.”

February 1866

City sewers
“The Thames bridges sink into comparative insignificance when compared with the great metropolitan drainage works executed during the last few years. There are 82 miles of main sewers in London. The total pumping force employed is 2,380 nominal horsepower; and if the engines were at full work night and day, 44,000 tons of coal per annum would be used. The sewage to be intercepted by the works on the north side of the river at present amounts to 10,000,000 cubic feet, and on the south side to 4,000,000 cubic feet per day; but provision is made for an anticipated increase in those quantities. In excavating for the works, a large number of animal remains, ancient coins, and other curious objects were found, most of which have been deposited in the British Museum.”

Metric system superiority
“The last monthly report of the Agricultural Department has an exceedingly able article on the French system of weights and measures. We have no doubt if every Member of Congress would devote the very little effort that is required to master the system, it would be immediately adopted by an almost unanimous vote. A child will master the whole system in very little more time than is required to commit to memory the table of avoirdupois weights. Let Congress pass an act declaring that, after the first of January, 1867, the French system of weights and measures [metric] shall be the legal system of the country. Before the expiration of a year, there will be a general expression of wonder that we endured the enormous labor and inconvenience of our old complicated and incongruous system so long as we did.”