November 1966

Industrial China

“As a result of the Chinese criticisms of Russian leaders, the U.S.S.R. suddenly withdrew its technical advisers and workers from China in August, 1960. The factories under construction and those already in operation were left without skilled personnel. Faced with the necessity of training her own people to complete the construction projects and run the factories, the Chinese government issued a new slogan: ‘Self-development.’ From 1960 on China depended largely on her own resources for training engineers, technicians and researchers. She became timid and notably suspicious in her dealings with other countries, Communist or non-Communist, friendly or unfriendly. Her feeling was that those with whom she could trade were out to ‘pick her clean.’ For this feeling there was some justification, as some of the equipment China had bought from Communist countries turned out to be obsolescent.”

November 1916

Salt Supply

“This city of nearly a million inhabitants is Tzuliutsing in China, the location of the most productive and numerous salt wells of the province of Sichuan and of China. Coming upon this city along the road from the nearest treaty port, Chungking, we at first think that we are approaching an oil well district, for on every side we see tall derricks and hear the squeaking of the pulleys and the driving of the buffalo. The methods in use here are so evidently the prototypes of and in principle the same as those in use in the well drilling and oil fields of America and Europe that one has a great deal of admiration for the ingenuity of the Chinese, who have been using these methods for over a thousand years.”

For a slide show of archive images on the history of salt production, see

Steel, Alloys, Research and War

“The business of producing alloy metals, though a virgin field, has sprung into especial prominence because of the necessity of husbanding the supply of iron. The greatest economy in prospect is the use of the rare mineral alloys which produce such a radical increase in strength, coupled with reduction in weight of material consumed. The use of tungsten and vanadium is an old story; the producers of molybdenum now claim for it a future far out-reaching that of either of its competitors. It is stated that the great guns with which Germany did such destruction when her artillery preparation took the world by surprise in 1914 were molybdenum guns; that, containing three to four per cent of this substance, their life was twenty times that of the ordinary gun.”

Daylight Saving Experiment

“Although it is too soon to pronounce definite judgment as to the success of the experimental use of ‘summer time’ in many European countries last summer, the reports thus far at hand are quite uniformly favorable. The United States consul general reports that the Viennese people consumed $142,000 worth less gas under the new time schedule. In England the plan is said to have given general satisfaction, even the farmers, who at first opposed it, having become reconciled.”

Electric Cream

“An electrically-operated cream whipper is the latest recruit to the ever-growing army of electrical devices. It consists of a one-gallon hopper, which is equipped with a rotating beater or dasher. The latter member is gear-driven by a one-eighth horse-power motor that may be connected by means of a ten-foot cord to the nearest lamp socket.”

November 1866

Petroleum vs. Sperm Oil

“The Engineering says that on the Boston and Worcester, and the Boston and Maine railroads, experiments have been made with petroleum and sperm whale oil to determine which is the best as a lubricator. The results were as follows: They put a railway carriage on each line in perfect order, and used only sperm oil on one truck and only petroleum on the other of each carriage. After running the carriage 19,000 miles, all the axles and brasses were found in good order, with equal wear all round, and 20 per cent less oil had been used from the petroleum cask. They now use petroleum exclusively. This oil, of the best quality, fully equal to pure sperm oil at the least, can now be bought for 50 cents per gallon. Sperm is worth $2.85.”