OCTOBER 1956

WASTED RADIATION—“At present, nuclear power offers the most promising alternative to fossil fuels. However, progress in this field so far scarcely touches the heart of the problem. We speak of nuclear 'power,' but what we are really working on is nuclear heat. We are proposing to hook up the nuclear reactor to the steam turbine, an only modestly efficient invention of the 19th century, and to throw away three quarters of the energy of the nuclear reaction. It seems improvident to waste precious nuclear fuel in this fashion. Clearly the next step in power generation must be the elimination of the steam cycle and the direct conversion of radiation to electricity.”

EATING MACHINE—“I call it an artificial living plant. Like a botanical plant, the machine would have the ability to extract its own raw materials from the air, water and soil [see illustration]. It would obtain energy from sunlight—probably by a solar battery or a steam engine. It would use this energy to refine and purify the materials and to manufacture them into parts. Then, like John Von Neumann's self-reproducing machine, it would assemble these parts to make a duplicate of itself. It could then be harvested for a material it extracted or synthesized.—Edward F. Moore”

OCTOBER 1906

DREADNOUGHT SPEED—“The British battleship 'Dreadnought,' which has been undergoing her official trials, steamed for eight hours at an average speed of 21½ knots. We think that our naval constructors should depart from the rather conservative policy which they have followed, and allot a larger share of the displacement of our future battleships to motive power. It is true that the 'Dreadnought' is, of all foreign warships, the least likely to be arrayed against our own; but we must remember that since the mark set by this vessel will be the standard of attainment for all foreign governments, we must look for a speed of 20 knots and over in the typical battleships of the future.”

BEFORE PLATE TECTONICS—“Prof. Fusakichi Omori, the eminent Japanese seismologist who has been studying the Californian earthquake, has come to the conclusion that California will be free from seismic disturbances for half a century, and probably for a much longer time. He says that the slipping of the crust of the earth was caused by the fact that at the point of weakness it was in unstable equilibrium, resulting from the redistribution of matter. It takes ages to bring this about, and the position of countless tons of matter will have to be changed, and vast quantities of earth to be carried by the rivers into the sea, before there will be so great a redistribution of matter as to cause an earthquake.”

OCTOBER 1856

THIRST FOR POWER—“Most of our manufacturing towns and villages are indebted for their rise to water power. They are built on rivers and creeks where there are falls of water for driving machinery. It has now become a serious question with many manufacturers, using water power, that their supply of water is becoming more unstable every year, as the forests are cleared off. Many streams once flowing with power for the miller are now only water-worn channels. But manufactures have not decreased in our country, thanks to the power of steam. With a plentiful supply of fuel (coal), steam forms a constant trusty power for driving machinery, and a steam factory can be erected independent of rare natural localities, like water-falls. Steam factories can be conducted in or near cities and commercial marts.”