September 1965

Cities on the Rise “Urbanized societies, in which a majority of the people live crowded together in towns and cities, represent a new and fundamental step in man's social evolution. Although cities themselves first appeared some 5,500 years ago, they were small and surrounded by an overwhelming majority of rural people; moreover, they relapsed easily to village or small-town status. The urbanized societies of today, in contrast, not only have urban agglomerations of a size never before attained but also have a high proportion of their population concentrated in such agglomerations. Neither the recency nor the speed of this evolutionary develop-ment is widely appreciated. Before 1850 no society could be described as predominantly urbanized, and by 1900 only one—Great Britain—could be so regarded. Today, only 65 years later, all industrial nations are highly urbanized.”

September 1915

War and Wildlife “The war is having a great influence on the birds throughout Europe, especially on the birds of passage. These birds were observed in places where they were never seen before and were missed in the localities where battles were raging. In Luxembourg, where otherwise millions of birds congregate in the leafy forests, there are now scarcely any to be seen or heard. A nature lover there writes that ‘whole oat fields have sprung up along the roads and in the market squares of the little towns and villages where the horses have been fed as the cavalry passed through.’ This would never have been possible in other years, for then the birds would soon have pecked up every grain that fell to the ground.”

Against the Sea “Twice during the thirteen years since it was built has the great concrete wall along the waterfront of Galveston withstood the furious onslaughts of a raging sea lashed by a hurricane, and in each case the seawall has stood perfectly. In the latest storm the damage done to the city was chiefly in the business section, north of Broadway, where the plan of grade raising has never been carried out. The writer at the request of the County Commissioners Court of the County of Galveston inspected the work immediately after the two great storms of 1909 and 1915, and in neither case did he find the seawall damaged in the slightest degree, though heavy timbers and logs were driven over it and badly damaged the boulevard.—Brigadier-General Henry M. Robert”

The author also wrote Robert's Rules of Order, originally published in 1876.

September 1865

Nitroglycerin for Blasting

“Glycerine, as we all know, is the sweet principle of oil, and is extensively used for purposes of the toilet, but it has now received an application of rather an unexpected nature. In 1847 Ascanio Sobrero discovered that glycerine, when treated with nitric acid, was converted into a highly explosive substance, which he called nitro-glycerine. It is oily, heavier than water, soluble in alcohol and ether, and acts so powerfully on the nervous system that a single drop placed on the tip of the tongue will cause a violent headache that will last for several hours. This liquid seems to have been almost forgotten by chemists, and it is only now that Mr. Nable [sic—Alfred Nobel], a Swedish engineer, has succeeded in applying it to a very important branch of his art, viz., blasting.”

Brilliant(-ish) Invention “Messrs Editors—I venture to submit for publication a plan, to me apparently simple and feasible, but that I have never put to the test of experiment. It is to do what man has already done upon the earth—make use of the powers of the inferior animals given to him to be his servants to effect his purposes. There are many birds noted for strength of wing and endurance in flight. The brown eagle and the American swan particularly suggest themselves. I propose to obtain a number of such birds and attach them by jackets fitted around their bodies and cords to a frame work, which shall sustain a basket large enough to hold a man.”