ADVERTISEMENT
See Inside March 2009

100 Years Ago: Rescue Tugs Bring Safety to the Ocean

Innovation and discovery as chronicled in past issues of Scientific American

MARCH 1959
DARWIN'S MISSING EVIDENCE
"Less than a century ago moths of certain species were characterized by their light coloration, which matched such backgrounds as light tree trunks and lichen-covered rocks, on which the moths passed the daylight hours sitting motionless. Today in many areas the same species are predominantly dark! Ever since the Industrial Revolution commenced in the latter half of the 18th century, large areas of the earth's surface have been contaminated by an insidious and largely unrecognized fallout of smoke particles. When the environment of a moth such as Biston betularia changes so that the moth cannot hide by day, the moth is ruthlessly eliminated by predators unless it mutates to a form that is better suited to its new environment. H.B.D. Kettlewell"

VAN ALLEN BELTS
"Our planet is ringed by a region to be exact, two regions of high-energy radiation extending many thousands of miles into space. The discovery is of course troubling to astronauts; somehow the human body will have to be shielded from this radiation, even on a rapid transit through the region. But geophysicists, astrophysicists, solar astronomers and cosmic-ray physicists are enthralled by the fresh implications of these findings. The configuration of the region and the radiation it contains bespeak a major physical phenomenon involving cosmic rays and solar corpuscles in the vicinity of Earth. This enormous reservoir of charged particles plays a still-unexplained role as middleman in the interaction of Earth and sun which is reflected in magnetic storms, in the airglow and in the beautiful displays of the aurora. James A. Van Allen"

MARCH 1909
RESCUE TUG
"The discovery of the mineral wealth of Alaska led immediately to a large development of the coastwise trade along the northwestern seaboard of the United States, and particularly in Puget Sound. After the 'Valencia' disaster, President Roosevelt appointed a commission to investigate the circumstance of the wreck and recommend some means whereby passengers might be saved under difficult conditions. The new life-saving vessel, the 'Snohomish,' is 152 feet in length over all. The most interesting and novel equipment is the special marine cableway a breeches buoy apparatus, illustrated in use."

MARCH 1859
GORILLA
"In Africa there is a tribe of huge monkeys known by the name of Gorillas. Their existence has been known to white men for some years, but none have ever been taken alive. They live in the lonely retired seclusions of the forests, and the males are capable of coping in fight with the lion. The skull of one is in the Boston Museum, sent thither by the Rev. Mr. Wilson, a missionary. Last year, the body of one was sent from Sierra Leone to Prof. Owen, packed in a cask of rum. The males have a horrible appearance; they attain to a stature of five feet, with wrists four times the size of a man's. Their strength is prodigious; one can wrench the head off of a man with his hands as easily as a person can husk an ear of corn."

ANTI BAD LUCK SOCIETY
"The only way to prove the position that superstition is nonsense is by a bold defiance. Some brave Frenchmen are trying to do this. A society has been formed at Bordeaux to put down the superstition of evil omens. As everybody knows, it is 'bad luck' to begin anything on a Friday, or to sit down at a table with thirteen, or to spill salt between yourself and a friend. The new society proposes to have regular dinners on Friday, to have thirteen guests, and spill salt around before commencing."

This article was originally published with the title "Observing Evolution Seagoing Safety AntiBad Luck."

Rights & Permissions
Share this Article:

Comments

You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.
Scientific American MIND iPad

Give a Gift & Get a Gift - Free!

Give a 1 year subscription as low as $14.99

Subscribe Now >>

X

Email this Article

X