ADVERTISEMENT
  About the SA Blog Network

Posts Tagged "History"

Anecdotes from the Archive

Lawrence in Arabia: from Archaeologist to Spy, 1914

Hittite soldiers from the 9th century B.C., on a freize excavated at Carchemish (Karkemish) a site that is now on the border between Turkey and Syria. Among the archaeologists working at the site in 1914 was T. E. Lawrence, known later in life as “Lawrence of Arabia.”

Reported in Scientific American, This Week in World War I: December 12, 1914 Here’s a short, cryptic note from our December 12, 1914, issue, about scientific work being carried out in the Middle East: “Survey of Southern Palestine.—A considerable amount of surveying and exploration has recently been done along the southern frontier of Palestine under [...]

Keep reading »
Anecdotes from the Archive

Battleships and Diplomacy, 1914

SMS Goeben, a German battle-cruiser transferred in 1914 to the navy of the Ottoman Empire under diplomatically dubious circumstances and renamed the Yavûz Sultân Selîm. The ship here flies the Ottoman flag.

Reported in Scientific American, This Week in World War I: December 5, 1914 Two ships from the German navy had an outsize part in the history of the First World War: the Goeben and Breslau. Our coverage in the December 5, 1914, issue gives a description of them—size and guns and whatnot—and hints at their [...]

Keep reading »
Anecdotes from the Archive

Battleship Disaster Coverup, 1914

HMS Audacious as she looked in her prime, commissioned in August 1913: a powerful modern battleship of 23,000 tons, armed with a main battery of ten 13.5-inch guns.

Reported in Scientific American, This Week in World War I: November 28, 1914 On this date 100 years ago Scientific American reported on the sinking of HMS Audacious, one of the British Royal Navy’s most modern “dreadnoughts”—the largest and most powerful battleships in existance in 1914. Only one man died, but the loss of the [...]

Keep reading »
Anecdotes from the Archive

Care of the Wounded, 1914

Dogs for medical use: “Major Richardson of the British army and two of the famous hounds that he has trained for Red Cross work on the battlefield.” Image: Scientific American, November 21, 1914

Reported in Scientific American, This Week in World War I: November 21, 1914 From the Scientific American Supplement issue of November 21, 1914, we note, “The first object of an army in war is to disperse or destroy the enemy, but a correlative duty is the care of its own men when wounded or otherwise [...]

Keep reading »
Anecdotes from the Archive

The Ferocity of Artillery, 1914

French fort at Maubeuge: rotating turret hit with a large-caliber German shell. The armored cupola, containing two guns, was apparently split and the top blown off. The two soldiers standing on the shattered cupola are German.  Image: Scientific American, November 14, 1914

Reported in Scientific American, This Week in World War I: November 14, 1914 The tactical use of artillery had been evolving in the years before the Great War: In South Africa in the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902 the British developed the concept of the “creeping barrage,” where a curtain of shellfire proceeded just in front [...]

Keep reading »
Anecdotes from the Archive

The Surprisingly Lethal Submarine, 1914

The cruiser HMS Hogue is struck by a torpedo, detonating the stores of ammunition aboard. Perhaps the image is overly dramatic, but it is a testament to the changed perception of the power of the submarine. Image: Scientific American, November 7, 1914

Reported in Scientific American this week in World War I, November 7, 1914 Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, the man who built up the Imperial Navy of Germany, had dismissed submarines as a waste of money back in 1901. By the time the Great War broke out the British had at least three times as many [...]

Keep reading »
Anecdotes from the Archive

Military Strategy, 1914: Avoid a Knockout Blow

Crystal Palace: This large exhibition space was taken over by the British Government to house recruits for a rapidly expanding Royal Navy in 1914. The men slept in traditional British naval hammocks. Image: Scientific American, October 31, 1914

Reported in Scientific American, This Week in World War I: October 31, 1914 The articles by “The Military Correspondent of the Scientific American” were probably written by an American army officer. He shows a remarkably good grasp of the wider strategies being pursued at the time by the Allies and the Central Powers. His articles [...]

Keep reading »
Anecdotes from the Archive

Letters from the Firing Line, 1914

“Bivouac on the allied line.” French infantry sleeping in a comfortable haystack on some field in France; their rifles, packs and other accouterments carefully stacked at the ready in the hay.

Reported in Scientific American This Week in World War I: October 24, 1914 This article, “Letters from the Firing Line,” is bylined “By an Officer in the French Army—Special War Correspondent of the Scientific American.” The short biography describes an “artist as well as an officer.” The drawings here (see illustrations) may have been the [...]

Keep reading »
Anecdotes from the Archive

Censorship and Armored Cars, Circa 1914

1914-10-17-armoredcar

This Week in World War I: October 17, 1914 The cover wrap of the issue has a painting of an armored car, charging into—surely not running away from!—some battle, gun blazing. There’s a boisterous quality to the image: it looks like some fictional illustration from the “Boy’s Own Guide…” to derring-do in the Great War. [...]

Keep reading »
Anecdotes from the Archive

Aerial Spy, 100 Years before Drones

pigeon with a camera

Reported in Scientific American This Week in World War I: October 10, 1914 Drones are at the forefront of warfare in the 21st century. These unarmed and unpiloted aircraft, big and small, circle far above the battlefield, collecting images and reporting back to headquarters, electronically. In 1914, early on in the new Great War, one [...]

Keep reading »
Anthropology in Practice

Why did Pirates Fly the Jolly Roger?

Photo by eddiemcfish. Click on image for license and information.

The “pirate brand” has long been tied to the skull and crossbones—the Jolly Roger—as a symbol of terror on the high seas. A 2011 article in The New York Times hails the ominous design as a magnificent exercise in collective hybrid branding, noting that economics drove pirates to adopt a version of this particular symbol [...]

Keep reading »
Anthropology in Practice

How Did Patterns Help Reveal an Older Origin of Mummies?

Coffin and Mummy of Nesmin (Around 250 BC). Photo by Daniel Decristo. Click on image for license and information.

I want to talk about patterns. We take them for granted but they shape our lives. That morning coffee you need to start your day has more meaning than you think. We build our sense of self on repetition, and we draw upon continuity to shape our society. Patterns can provide valuable clues about our [...]

Keep reading »
Anthropology in Practice

Labor Day: It’s About Time

CC, Tom Blackwell. Click on image for license and information.

The first Monday in September is a federal holiday in the United States. It marks Labor Day—a tribute to contributions made by American workers to the growth and development of the country (or at least those in a position to contribute without being exploited). The history of labor day is the history of labor—and laborer [...]

Keep reading »
Anthropology in Practice

What troubles us about unfaithful politicians?

Creative Commons, Maegan Tintari

History is littered with private indiscretions made public—some have just been more public than others: It is believed the Leonardo da Vinci was a passionate instructor to his students; one in particular remained in da Vinci’s favor for 26 years. Cleopatra made no secret of the nature of her political alliances, which included a close [...]

Keep reading »
Anthropology in Practice

The Global Connection at the Heart of Baseball

521491_10200111395084220_2125646351_n

Baseball season is officially underway! And what better way to celebrate than by looking at the ball that drives the game? A few years ago, I talked S into helping me take apart a baseball. I wanted to understand the properties that Johan Santana can hold in his hand and with the flick of his [...]

Keep reading »
Anthropology in Practice

You Are What You Eat: Unraveling the Truth in Food Records

A Roman Feast, Roberto Bompiani late 1800s. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 72.PA.4.

The last time I browsed the cookbook section of a bookstore, the options were dizzying. The present day culinary record of our habits and inclinations is diverse. It reflects the need to both speed up and slow down, have quick meals and lingering dinner parties, and preserve the tried and true and dabble with the [...]

Keep reading »
Anthropology in Practice

Cleveland Rocks

Cleveland rocks. Or so the saying goes. I’ve been traveling for work this week, and have spent the last two and a half days in Cleveland, Ohio. It was my first visit, and it offered me a chance to do the things I love most: talk to people, see places through the eyes of others, [...]

Keep reading »
Anthropology in Practice

A Right to Be Clean: Sanitation and the Rise of New York City’s Water Towers

These iconic structures are as much a part of New York City's skyline as any famed landmark. But they play a larger role in New York City's history.

During the morning rush hour in New York City, tourists stand out as being the ones looking up. It’s possible that they see more clearly what most New Yorkers take for granted: water towers. Those archaic looking wooden structures that grace the rooftops of almost every New York City building play an integral, though often [...]

Keep reading »
Anthropology in Practice

Spin Cycle: The Social Realm of the Laundromat

Sunday afternoons should never be spent in a laundromat if you can avoid it. One of the outcomes of our recent move is that I went from having my own washer and dryer to having a washer that floods the basement and a landlord who isn’t inclined to fixing it. That means I’ve had to [...]

Keep reading »
Anthropology in Practice

The Story of Grand Central Station and the Taming of the Crowd

Grand Central Terminal waiting room, c. 1904. | Public domain.

“Left or right?” he asked me as we watched the commuter train approach. A group of people nearby moved into position to line up with the door, all likely thinking the same thing: How do I get a seat? “Left,” I said. “These people are going to go right.” He looked at me for a [...]

Keep reading »
Cross-Check

Thanksgiving guilt trip: How warlike were Native Americans before Europeans showed up?

The approach of Thanksgiving, that quintessential American holiday, has me brooding over recent scientific portrayals of Native Americans as bellicose brutes. When I was in grade school, my classmates and I wore paper Indian headdresses and Pilgrim hats and reenacted the "first Thanksgiving," in which supposedly friendly Native Americans joined Pilgrims for a fall feast [...]

Keep reading »
Food Matters

Variolation, Aviation, and Genetic Modification: Progress in the Face of Fear and Danger

The Wright Brothers' Plane (click for source)

In 1721, a small pox epidemic was ripping through the colonial city of Boston. Cotton Mather, a Reverend and Royal minister, convinced the physician Zebadiah Boylston to perform an arcane medical procedure on two slaves and Mather’s own son. The procedure, called “variolation,” involved piercing the skin of the patient with needle that was contaminated [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Internet Shopping, as Conceived in 1961: Plenty of Rocket Deliveries Thursday Morning [Video]

I know, you’re disappointed that we don’t have the flying cars and moving sidewalks as promised in those old film reels from the 1950s and 60s that you may have seen in school. But this clip, from the AT&T Archives and History Center, does do a great job predicting how we shop in the digital [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Yes, Government Researchers Really Did Invent the Internet

“It’s an urban legend that the government launched the Internet,” writes Gordon Crovitz in an opinion piece in today’s Wall Street Journal. Most histories cite the Pentagon-backed ARPANet as the Internet’s immediate predecessor, but that view undersells the importance of research conducted at Xerox PARC labs in the 1970s, claims Crovitz. In fact, Crovitz implies that, [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Google Pays Homage to Zipper Engineer Gideon Sundback

Google zipper page as of April 24, 2012

Today, an image of a zipper runs down Google’s home page in celebration of the 132nd birthday of Gideon Sundback, who helped make the device an indispensable item for today’s man on the go. (Read that as you will.)  Sundback did not invent the slide fastener, as it is generically called (“zipper” is actually a [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Aliens and Nazis and Electric History, Oh My!

Red sprites can be 50 kilometers tall but were proved to exist only in 1994. Credit: D. Sentman, G. Wescott, Geophysical Institute, U. Alaska Fairbanks, NASA

I received an odd e-mail recently asking whether an article from December 18, 1886, was likely to have been fact-checked, the implication being whether or not it was “true”: Here’s the 1886 article: The following brief account of a recent strange meteorological occurrence may be of interest to your readers as an addition to the [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

The line between science and journalism is getting blurry….again

Human #1: "Hello, nice weather today, isn’t it?" Human #2: "Ummm…actually not. It’s a gray, cold, windy, rainy kind of day!" Many a joke depends on confusion about the meaning of language, as in the example above. But understanding the sources of such confusion is important in realms other than stand-up comedy, including in the [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Old oyster shells reveal dry, salty details of Jamestown settlers’ hardships

oyster shells jamestown settlers starvation drought

What can a handful of old oyster shells reveal about the trials some of the New World’s early European settlers? A lot, it turns out. As a prevalent resource in the Chesapeake Bay, eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) ended up being a crucial food source for the first full-time European settlers in North America, who arrived [...]

Keep reading »
Streams of Consciousness

Trouble at the Heart of Psychiatry’s Revised Rule Book

By Edward Shorter* Part 3 in a series One might liken the latest draft of psychiatry’s new diagnostic manual, the DSM-5, to a bowl of spaghetti. Hanging over the side are the marginal diagnoses of psychiatry, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism, important for certain subpopulations but not central to the discipline. At [...]

Keep reading »
Symbiartic

A September Afternoon on the Grand River, 1825

Damstra_Davisville_mini

One of the most powerful contributions of scientific illustration is to give us an informed visual where it is typically impossible to find one. While creating images for for a nature walk along the Grand River Walter Bean Trail near Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, illustrator Emily Damstra incorporated archaeological evidence as well as records about the [...]

Keep reading »
Symbiartic

Atmosphere and Action: Interview with illustrator Tyler Jacobson

Yuri-Gagarin-Tyler-Jacobson

When I opened the November 2011 issue of Scientific American and leafed through it, I was immediately drawn to one of the highlights of the issue: illustrations for the cover story about The First Americans. They were done by illustrator Tyler Jacobson, with art direction by Michael Mrak and Jen Christiansen. Here in the interview below, [...]

Keep reading »
Symbiartic

SciArt Plugs 1: Lectures, Exhibits, News and More

The intersection of science and art is bustling with activity. With this weekly-ish post, we’ll try to keep you abreast of the most happenin’ happenings around the country. Don’t miss out! SCIART LECTURES/EVENTS Beacon, NY’s Annual Open Studio Event (Beacon, NY) September 24-25, 2011; 12-6pm | Take a tour of scientific illustrator Chris Sanders‘ and [...]

Keep reading »
Symbiartic

Spongelab: gaming the art of science education

Spongelab_NerveSystem-ava

“What famous painting does this remind you of?” I was sitting in the offices of Spongelab Interactive about a month ago speaking with  Jeremy Friedberg, molecular genetics and biotechnology professor, now science education game-guru, and we were discussing the interactive opening image of History of Biology, an expansive mystery game. The image in question, above, contains [...]

Keep reading »
Symbiartic

The Dudley Bug

Coat of Arms of the Dudley County Borough Council, Dudley, U.K. {link url="http://www.civicheraldry.co.uk/worcs_ob.html"}Image source here.{/link}"

One of the things that fascinates me most about the current state of science-based art, are the roots we can retroactively look to in pre-scientific eras. Most artistic movements claim ancestry from previous movements, such as the Surrealists arising out of the Symbolists, who in part arose out of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, who claimed the [...]

Keep reading »

More from Scientific American

Scientific American Holiday Sale

Give a Gift &
Get a Gift - Free!

Give a 1 year subscription as low as $14.99

Subscribe Now! >

X

Email this Article

X