AUGUST 1960

STRAIGHT UP—“Active research on vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft is in progress both here and abroad. In this country the program has been a three-way collaboration among the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, a number of aircraft manufacturers and the armed forces. The requirements of commercial passenger traffic are not the only, nor even the major, impetus behind the investigations. The Army, Navy and Air Force are interested in a variety of aircraft that could operate in forward areas without the need for prepared landing strips. Interceptor, reconnaissance and cargo types are all being studied. So far as freight carrying aircraft are concerned, they would obviously have both commercial and military applications.”

AUGUST 1910

FORESTS AND FLOODS—“A lively war of words has raged of late, in both Europe and America, over the question of the influence of forests upon stream-flow. In reading the literature of this intricate problem, one is impressed that a great deal of theorizing has been done upon a slender basis of facts. The recognition of this fact has led the United States Weather Bureau and the United States Forest Service to undertake jointly a series of investigations designed to supply precisely the data needed. A complete study of the effects of forest cover upon stream-flow, erosion, disposition of silt, etc., will be carried out on two watersheds of similar topography near Wagon Wheel Gap, Colorado. It is intended to measure the flow of the two streams for a period of eight or ten years; one of the watersheds will then be cleared, and the measurement continued for a further period of eight or ten years, so that the effects of denudation may be perfectly determined.”

[NOTE: The Wagon Wheel Gap project was the first controlled experiment in the U.S. on the influence of forests on stream-flow. Cutting forests did increase stream-flow, but after seven years, new vegetation largely reduced it again.]

LIGHT COINS—“The French Government has decided not to adopt aluminium coinage. A number of aluminium coins were made as a test, but the lightness of the white metal, which was one of its chief recommendations, has condemned it. A five-centime piece (one cent) made of aluminium weighed only 1.9 grams, as against 5 grams in bronze, and it is thought that a coin so light would slip through the fingers, especially the rough fingers of a workman.”

AUGUST 1960

MINOT'S LEDGE LIGHTHOUSE—“The new lighthouse off Massachusetts is expected to be completely finished and lighted up on the first week of next month. The first blow struck upon the rock where this lighthouse has been erected was on the 12th June 1858. The old iron lighthouse was carried away by the fearful storm of April 1851 [along with the two assistant keepers who had remained at their posts]. During the numerous and severe storms of last winter, the new lighthouse stood exposed to the merciless pelting of the waves of the wild Atlantic, without a stone or joint having been disturbed. Having stood without damage in this naked and exposed condition, nothing can prevail against it when finished.”

[NOTE: The lighthouse still stands and was fully automated in 1947.]

DARWIN MAKES WAVES—“At the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting, the paper which has perhaps called forth the greatest amount of keen and excited discussion was that of Professor Draper, of this city, on the intellectual development of Europe, considered with reference to the views lately propagated by Dr. Darwin.

Dr. Draper showed that the advances of men are due to external and not to interior influences, and that in this respect a nation is like a seed, which can only develop when the conditions are favorable; that all organisms and even man are dependent for their characteristics, continuance and life, on the physical conditions under which they live; that the existing apparent invariability presented by the world is the direct consequence of the physical equilibrium, but that if that should suffer modification, in an instant the fanciful doctrine of the immutability of species would be brought to its proper value.”

DARWIN BACKLASH—“The above paper attracted an immense audience.

Sir Benjamin Brodie stated that he could not subscribe to the hypothesis of Dr. Darwin. Man has a power of self-consciousness as a principle differing from anything found in the material world. This power of man was identical with the divine intelligence; and to suppose that this could originate with matter involved the absurdity of supposing the source of divine power dependent on the arrangement of matter.

The learned and venerable Bishop of Oxford stated that the Darwinian theory, when tried by the principles of inductive science, broke down. The permanence of specific form was a fact confirmed by all observation. The remains of animals, plants and man found in those earliest records of the human race—the Egyptian catacombs—all spoke of their identity with existing forms, and of the irresistible tendency of organized beings to assume an unalterable character.

Dr. Hooker, the celebrated botanist, having been called upon for his views, said that they accorded with those of Mr. Darwin, and that the Bishop of Oxford did not understand them.

Mr. Darwin seems to have set the scientific world by the ears; it is no easy thing to arrive at what he does mean.“

STILL RELIABLE—“I have been taking your paper for ten years; its chief excellence, in my opinion, is its perfect reliability and the total absence of clap-trap and humbug. I do not believe that you can be bribed to say of somebody's fly-trap that it will catch more flies and bigger flies than anybody else's fly-trap.”