October 1965

Protein from Oil “In a pilot plant at Lavera in France, substantial amounts of high-grade protein are being produced by microorganisms growing on a diet consisting mainly of petroleum hydrocarbons. This unusual concept, tested by a research team of the Société Française des Petroles BP, has proved so successful that there is good reason to believe petroleum will become an important food resource for the earth's growing population. Why turn to petroleum to solve the food problem? After all, the store of petroleum in the earth is limited. We have calculated that with an outlay of some 40 million tons of petroleum (a small fraction of the 1.25 billion tons of crude oil produced in 1962) 20 million tons of pure protein could be produced per year. For comparison, consider sea fishing. At present it brings in some 40 million tons of fish a year, representing about six million tons of pure protein.”

October 1915

Arctic Explorer “Vilhjalmur Stefánsson has come out of the ice floes of the north with a tale of new found land, and hardly waiting to send word to the world that thought him dead, he has again set face to the north, where nameless mountains and an unguessed shore line await him. This statement means more than the words alone would indicate; it means that victory has been wrung from defeat and overwhelming misfortune, and that when the last story is written, the names of the lost will be joined to a successful undertaking. It is safe to say that no Arctic expedition has triumphed over as great an initial handicap as that sustained by Stefánsson's party in the tragic destruction of the ‘Karluk,’ with the subsequent loss of eleven lives.”

Cretaceous Park

“The American Museum of Natural History in New York City now exhibits a skeleton of the largest flesh-eating animal that has ever lived. This is Tyrannosaurus, the tyrant lizard, a dinosaur that lived during the close of the Cretaceous period. An idea of its immense size can be formed from measurements of the skeleton, 47 feet in length and 18 1/2 feet in height. This skeleton is part of a group of three posed to represent a scene of daily occurrence in the dim distant past [see illustration]. It is early morning along the shore of a lake three million years ago. A herbivorous dinosaur, Trachodon, venturing from the water for a breakfast of succulent vegetation has been caught and partly devoured by a giant flesh-eating Tyrannosaurus. As this monster crouches over the carcass, busily dismembering it, another Tyrannosaurus is attracted to the scene.”

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October 1865

Rinderpest Plague “The disease which has been prevailing among horned cattle in Europe was, at last accounts, unchecked, and so great were its ravages that in some quarters of Germany not an animal is to be seen. The disease spreads rapidly when an infected animal appears in any district, and is liable to be spread by persons carrying the infection in their clothes. It has not yet appeared in this country, and it is to be hoped will not. As it is by no means impossible that this malady may be introduced into this country by accident, carelessness, or design, the Agricultural Report (official) suggests that the greatest care be exercised with regard to imported cattle, and that a quarantine for such beasts be established.”

Steel: Backbone of Modernity

“Mr. Henry Bessemer reports, ‘there are at present erected and in course of erection in England no less than sixty Bessemer converting vessels, each capable of producing from three to ten tuns at a single charge. When in regular operation these vessels are capable of producing fully 6,000 tuns of steel weekly, equal to fifteen times the entire production of cast steel in Great Britain before the introduction of the Bessemer process. The average selling price of this steel is at least £20 per tun below the average price at which cast steel was sold.’”