July 1965

House Fly: Disease Vector? “By now flies have been found to harbor well over 100 different species of pathogenic organisms. Yet the evidence is still only circumstantial. The reputation of the domestic flies is in the position of a man charged with homicide because he is found standing beside the victim with a loaded gun in his hand. In most cases it cannot be proved conclusively that the flies in question fired the gun. The infections they are accused of spreading can actually be spread by any of four different agents: food, fingers, feces and flies.”

Enzyme in 3-D “X-ray crystallographers have succeeded for the first time in determin-ing the three-dimensional structure of an enzyme: the protein known as lysozyme. Originally discovered in tears, where it acts as a mild antiseptic, lysozyme has the ability to dissolve the mucopolysaccharides found in the walls of certain bacteria. The determination of its structure has already led to experiments identifying the regions in the lysozyme molecule that appear to be involved in its wall-destroying activity. The work was done at the Royal Institution in London. The X-ray study provides a picture of the lysozyme molecule with a resolution of two angstrom units.”

July 1915

War Work “Women as car conductors have soon become a common feature in Berlin as well as in other German cities, with their strange accouterment—skirt, cap and tunic. Timid at first, they were not long in getting used to the role they are called upon to play in war time. In fact, they are now as bold as their male comrades in distributing the tickets, shouting the names of stoppages and answering the inquiries of passengers. Since, however, nothing in Germany is done in a haphazard way, these women had at first to undergo the same theoretical and practical training to which regular tramway guards are subjected.”

Cotton for Guns “For warring nations, cotton is king. In the past cotton has been important in war merely as raw material for textile mills, the amount of it used to make smokeless powder having been very small. Cotton is the principal ingredient by weight in all smokeless powders, which consist of nitro-cellulose. Strange as it may seem, more cotton is now being consumed in Germany for the manufacture of smokeless powder than for industrial use. The greatest surprise of the war has been the vast expenditure of artillery ammunition. The amount of cotton used for every round fired will average well over four pounds. The expenditure of cotton in Germany is about 1,000,000 pounds per day.”

Railways and Subways “Fifty years ago when the question of having a subway in New York was first agitated, Alfred V. Craven, who was the chief engineer of the Croton Aqueduct, came out flatly against the proposition. The irony of fate may be seen in the appointment of this man's nephew and namesake, Alfred Craven, to the position of the chief engineer of the Public Service Commission, which is now adding over fifty miles of new subways [see illustration] and above-ground tracks to the system that has already proved its success.”

July 1865

Steam Helicopter “A flying machine of novel form is now in the process of construction at Hoboken, N.J., for the United States Government. A fan with blades of 20 feet diameter, revolving at a certain rate of speed, would raise six tons, and have considerable power to spare. It is only a child's toy upon a large scale. We see every day in the streets toy vendors who give a quick twirl with a string to a little fan upon a stick, and lo! it shoots into the air to a height of 20 or 30 feet, and descends slowly, still revolving as it comes down. The government toy—as some persons will probably call it—is a cigar-shaped canoe, built of copper, with iron ribs. The weight of the whole, fully equipped and manned, is about six tons.”