JULY 1958

SECRECY— “A House of Representatives report concluded that ‘the Federal Government has mired the American scientist in a swamp of secrecy’ and that the classification of scientific information played a part in ‘the nation’s loss of the first lap in the race into space.’ A central problem was the persistent tendency to overclassify documents. Witnesses ascribed this partly to ‘the neurosis of the times’ and partly to the fact that ‘there is no penalty for stamping something secret which shouldn’t be kept secret.’ The report notes that more than a million persons now have the authority to classify information.”

PRESTRESSED CONCRETE— “Concrete is made stronger by compression; steel, by tension. These opposing properties are combined to make a building material which is stronger than reinforced concrete and cheaper than steel alone. The combination is called prestressed concrete. Developed within the last few years, it is already recognized as one of the great advances in construction of the 20th century. Thousands of buildings and bridges have been built of it, and the manufacture of prestressed concrete in the U.S. is approaching a billion-dollar industry. It seems not too much to say that in construction we are passing from the age of steel to the age of prestressed concrete.”

JULY 1908

CURTISS FLIES— “Aero Club of America members and others interested in aviation made the trip to Hammondsport, N.Y., to witness the flight of the Aerial Experiment Association’s third aeroplane, the ‘June Bug,’ on the Fourth of July, for the Scientific American trophy. The distance to be covered was a kilometer in a straight line, this being the required distance for the first contest. As Mr. Curtiss was the first aviator to come forward with a practical aeroplane and request a trial, according to the rules, if he performed the flight set, he would be the first winner. The second attempt was made at 7 p.m. In this flight the machine rose quickly, and sped rapidly on at a height of some 20 feet. As it neared the finish post, it dropped to about 15 feet, and then continued onward, making a wide sweep to the left, and alighting without damage in a rather rough field. The distance traversed was easily a mile. We congratulate him at his success in winning our trophy for the first time.”

The entire article from 1908 is available here

JULY 1858

TELEGRAPH CLAIMS— “It is well known that the English claim the invention of the magnetic telegraph for their countryman, Prof. Wheatstone. The Transatlantic telegraph enterprise has caused the subject of priority of invention to be much talked of in Europe. The Paris Moniteur says: ‘No doubt the discovery of the principles upon which the electric telegraph system is founded does not belong to M. Morse, but he was the first to transfer that discovery from the region of speculative science into that of practical application.’”

TOAD TRAP— “An Illinois correspondent gives an account of a new insect trap that will no doubt be very successful. He says—‘Procure a large toad, such as St. Patrick banished from Ireland (good luck to him), which are easily tamed, then make a small box with a hole near the bottom, so that the toad can put his head out. Drop some molasses on his back and put him in the box; his tongue is three inches long, and he can catch any insect that comes within his reach. This trap is not handsome but useful.’ The inventor thinks it especially applicable for catching fleas, but if we should chance to have a flea for a bedfellow, we should certainly prefer his company to that of a toad alongside in a box.”

Note: This story was originally published with the title, "50, 100, and 150 Years Ago".