August 1966

In Vitro “If rabbit and pig eggs can be fertilized after maturation in culture, presumably human eggs grown in culture could also be fertilized, although obviously it would not be permissible to implant them in a human recipient. So far we have either failed or have at best achieved a very limited success in fertilizing human eggs in vitro. We intend to continue these experiments; the ability to observe cleaving human eggs could be of great medical and scientific value. For example, sterility caused by faulty passage of embryos along the fallopian tube could probably be alleviated by removing oocytes from the ovary, growing and fertilizing them in vitro and then transferring them back into the mother.—R. G. Edwards”

Robert G. Edwards won a Nobel Prize in 2010 for this work.

August 1916

Powering Progress “For the great electrification plans of the Puget Sound lines of the St. Paul Railway, a great system of power houses will supply the current necessary for the operation of these lines. The illustration shows one of the great turbine water wheels that will be used for generating the electricity at one of the principal stations of the Montana Power Company. The transmission lines of the company form a network that covers the greater part of Montana and a portion of Idaho, supplying electric power not only for 440 miles of railway, but also furnishing power for many mining enterprises. For this work the power company has twelve power stations, which will have an ultimate capacity of 243,890 kilowatts.”

For archive images showing the supply and use of electricity in 1916, visit www.ScientificAmerican.com/aug2016/electricity

Innovations in Warfare “The most radical development of the war has been the substitution of trench warfare—in which the rival armies are held fast and practically immobile in positions which have no flanks—for the free movement of armies in the open field. In the new trench warfare the most radical developments have been, first, the elimination of long-range rifle fire, and, secondly, the substitution of the modernized ancient hand grenade for the rifle. It is found that in the storming of positions the infantry are less hampered in their movements and do more effective work with the hand grenade than with the rifle.”

August 1866

Pricey Telegraph “We had occasion to send a telegraphic message to our correspondent in London, through the Atlantic Cable, consisting of exactly twenty words, which, according to the published schedule, should have gone forward for £20 sterling, but the director at this end charged £24, or $120 in gold, so as to cover the date of transmission. We wish the Submarine Telegraph Company success, but it seems to us impossible that the public can submit to such exorbitant, and as it appears to us, unreasonable charges.”

Urban Meat “A new abattoir is now in the course of construction at the foot of East 106th Street, New York. It is intended to supersede the slaughter houses at present existing, which cause a great deal of sickness and mortality in hot weather among those who live in proximity to them. The building, constructed of wood, is built facing the river, upon piles driven into the ground below high-water mark, and has a platform on the river side with gutters and gratings to carry off all refuse to below low water mark. There are 20 hoisting apparatuses, thus enabling them to slaughter as many as 1,500 bullocks in one day. The blood will be used for fertilizing purposes, the fat melted and sold, and all other matter drained off.”

Vice and Profit “The East Indian Budget, just laid before the British Parliament by Lord Cranborne, presents some curious facts relating to the opium trade as a source of revenue. The gross revenue of the Government for the years 1864–5 amounted to £47,041,000, showing a small surplus beyond expenditures, owing to the unexpected receipts from the customs tax on opium. These amounts are paid wholly by the Chinese, by whom the drug is consumed. It is now believed that the demand of the Chinese for opium can be depended upon as safely as English chancellors of the exchequer can rely upon the demand for gin and beer.”