June 1964

Supersonic Transport
“In the years since the flight of the X-I, aeronautical engineers have almost continuously examined the practicability of commercial aircraft that would fly faster than the speed of sound. Such examinations have become more pertinent in recent years with the successful employment by airlines of high-speed subsonic jet transports. These studies reflect the traditional evolution of air transportation toward higher cruising speeds. Anyone who has considered this long-term trend has wondered if it would be finally halted at velocities approaching the speed of sound. There now appears to be no valid technical or economic reason why the trend should not continue well into the range of supersonic speeds [see photograph].”

Within five years the Russian Tupolev Tu-144 and the Concorde had made their first flights.

June 1914

Editors' note: The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne, 100 years ago on June 28, 1914, was not covered in these pages. Scientific American began reporting on the “Great War,” or World War I, after the European political crisis of July escalated into a military conflagration in August. Look for coverage of the war in upcoming issues.

Tango Foot
“Housemaid's knee, miner's elbow and similar ailments have now a formidable rival in ‘tango foot.’ In the Medical Record, Dr. Gustav F. Boehme, Jr., states that he has recently been consulted by a number of dancers who complained of ‘pain in the front of the foot.’ In every instance, he found the same symptom, and on investigation, discovered the cause—the modern dance. Says the doctor: ‘The latter-day dances, especially the tango and the maxixe, and to some extent the complicated figures of the hesitation waltz, call for great flexibility of the ankle, throughout the various intricate steps.’”

Skype Preview?
“A very ingenious apparatus has just been introduced from Germany, which is designed to transmit writing, drawing, and the like over a telephone or telegraph line to an instrument which makes a perfect reproduction of the original. Telautographs have long been in use, but this apparatus differs from others in that the writing at the receiving end is done by a pencil of light which travels over a sensitized sheet of paper. The message is thus photographically reproduced, automatically, in the machine, in a few seconds.”

“For many years the laboratory of Prof. Kammerlingh Onnes at Leyden has been the center from which some of the most important advances in low temperature research have been announced. Of late, attention has been centered on the remarkable influence of temperature on the electrical resistance of metals. This resistance is found to become practically zero before the absolute zero of temperature is reached. The question arises, What happens to an electric current once started in a conductor of zero resistance? Does the current continue to flow indefinitely?”

For an exploration of electrical science in 1914, see ScientificAmerican.com/jun2014/electricity

June 1864

Deep-Sea Research
“In making the soundings for the Atlantic telegraph between Newfoundland and Ireland, a small tube with a valve was fitted to the end of the line, so as to bring up a little of the sediment from the bottom of the sea, and when this was dried it was found to be a dust so fine that on rubbing it between the fingers it would disappear in the cracks of the skin. Under a microscope each particle was seen to be a shell—the home of a sentient being. When these shells are highly magnified, little holes are discovered in them through which delicate filaments protruded that were the animal's organs of locomotion. As these filaments branch out like the roots of a tree, the animal is called a rhizopod, from two Greek words which signify ‘root-footed.’”