April 1968

Origin of the Continents

“As recently as five years ago the hypothesis that the continents had drifted apart was regarded with considerable skepticism, particularly among American investigators. Since then, as a result of a variety of new findings, the hypothesis has gained so much support that its critics may now be said to be on the defensive. The slow acceptance of what is actually a very old idea provides a good example of the intensive scrutiny to which scientific theories are subjected, particularly in the earth sciences, where the evidence is often conflicting and where experimental demonstrations are usually not possible. Geologists have a new game of chess to play, using a spherical board and strange new rules.”

Oxygen in Steelmaking

“The making of steel, one of man's oldest arts, has been advanced by many important refinements since Sir Henry Bessemer inaugurated its modern technology more than a century ago, but it is certain that none of those improvements has had a more dramatic impact on the industry than one that is now being introduced in steel mills the world over. It involves the use of gaseous oxygen in the treating of iron to convert it into steel. The injection of oxygen speeds up every steelmaking process, reduces the cost of steelmaking and improves the quality of the steel. A new process based on the use of oxygen, introduced on a broad scale within the past 16 years, is replacing the open-hearth method.”

April 1918

Plowing by Electric Light

“The only way in which food production in England can be saved from total confusion is by the keenest sort of central administration. So Great Britain has organized a plowing army. Tractors and drivers have been mobilized for the most intensive sort of a drive against the vacant land of the United Kingdom. The machines themselves are in most cases Government property, a large part of them being of a well-known small American make. They are sent in groups to a given district and are used on a schedule of 24 hours per day, in three shifts. This, of course, means night plowing by artificial light, as shown in our illustration. The majority of the drivers and mechanics are women. A thousand drivers have had to be recruited recently.”

Fake Lakes

“At intervals during the past four years, Prof. H. C. Cowles, of the University of Chicago, and Mr. E. W. Shaw, of the U.S. Geological Survey, have made an investigation of certain apparently mythical ‘lakes’ which have been shown on maps of northeastern Arkansas for the past 75 years. Both geological and ecological evidence prove that no such lakes could have existed within the past century, at least. How they came to be charted on the early land survey maps is a mystery. Later cartographers have simply copied the old maps without verification.”

April 1868

Earth's Origin

“Speculations concerning the origin of the world have of late years become the favorite theme of theorists. But there is one fact to which we will call attention. The labors of the alchymist laid the foundations of modern chemistry; the search for the square of the circle promoted mathematical science; and to the failure in securing perpetual motion we owe the spread of clearer notions of mechanical principles. But what, we ask, is the benefit that shall accrue to mankind from the vain attempt to lift the veil from the mysteries of the first creation? It would only be a barren acquisition to our theoretical knowledge, from which not a single useful result could be expected.”

A Sweet Change

“Sweets of all kinds used to be denounced by tender mothers as ‘trash and messes.’ Now there is no attempt to taboo that which delighteth the juvenile palate most. In moderation, there is nothing more wholesome than sugar; and it is withal nourishing and warming, in consequence of the large amount of carbon contained in it. All the higher class of sweets came from France and Italy, where for ages they have been famous for these delicacies. But the introduction of steam into their fabrication has given to England the lead in manufactured sugar articles, which are now made on the largest scale, and are vastly cheapened since the days when we used to spend our halfpence in toffy.”