December 1962

Silent Spring
“Book Review, by LaMont C. Cole: Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson. Houghton Mifflin Company ($5). As an ecologist I am glad this provocative book has been written. That is not to say I consider it a fair and impartial appraisal of all the evidence. On the contrary, it is a highly partisan selection of examples and interpretations that support the author's thesis. The fact remains that the extreme opposite has been impressed on the public by skilled professional molders of public opinion. It is surely time for laymen to take an objective interest in what man is doing to alter his environment, and Silent Spring provides many dreadful examples of how the environment has been damaged by the indiscriminate application of chemicals.”

December 1912

Pavlov's Hungry Dogs
“The brilliant Russian physiologist, Pawlow [Pavlov], has for some years been conducting an exhaustive investigation by scientific laboratory methods of the reflex action of animals. The Deutsche Revue says: ‘Pawlow now no longer speaks of psycho-reflexes, but of conditioned and unconditioned reflexes. The latter are those which invariably occur when the appropriate stimulus finds a sensory path, as when food is put in the mouth, and a flow of saliva follows. “Artificial conditioned stimuli” have the same effect. If a given musical note be repeatedly sounded at the same time that a given article of food is offered to a dog, after a certain lapse of time the mere sounding of the note will produce a corresponding flow of saliva. But the saliva will fail to flow if there be even a minimal variation in the tone.’”

Grand Central Terminal, New York
“Among the great terminal stations of the world, we know of none that surpasses this in the conformity of its architecture to the purposes of the building. The general effect is one of great dignity and beauty. As forming the commercial gateway for a great system of railways to the heart of the country's greatest city, the Forty-Second Street facade, crowned by its imposing statuary, must be pronounced a notable architectural success.”

For a slide show on the 1912 coverage of the new Grand Central Terminal, see www.ScientificAmerican.com/dec2012/railroad

Paris Air Show
“This year the number of flying machines has sprung up to 77. The Astra machine [see illustration] is equipped for water-flying, and steel has been employed largely in its construction. The old system of Wright wing flexing and strut attachment is retained. There are seats for three. Fitted with a 12-cylinder Renault engine of 100 horsepower, it looks a machine for serious work.”

December 1862

Otis Safer Elevators
“A very neatly arranged and practical elevating apparatus is made by Messrs. Otis Brothers, of Yonkers, N.Y. It is intended especially for stores and warehouses. Just above the head to which the rope is fastened, there may be seen a ratchet secured to the timbers which guide the platform; this is a very important feature, as it secures the safety of goods and the lives of persons who may be near in case any accident should happen to the hoisting machinery or rope.”

In 2012 the Otis Elevator Company has 2.4 million lifting devices operating worldwide.

End of Slavery?
“The President [Abraham Lincoln] urges at great length, what he terms ‘compensated emancipation’ of slavery. He proposes to inaugurate the great jubilee with the year 1900, by payment of the owners of slaves as a mutual concession on both sides, and as a matter of justice to those who are owners of this species of property. It being quite evident that the war between slavery and freedom will continue to be waged with increased vigor, the President hopes to modify its intensity, by fixing upon a certain period, when the institution shall forever cease. He thinks this policy will shorten the war, and secure justice to all concerned; while, at the same, the country will be saved from the effects of violent and sudden changes in its domestic arrangements. This view of the case strikes us as humane, and if the more radical portion of the two sections would but accept it, as a ground of settlement, peace would again bless us; but so intensely bitter have these contending elements become, that we fear no such compromise would be acceptable or satisfactory.”