ADVERTISEMENT
  About the SA Blog Network

Posts Tagged "History"

Anecdotes from the Archive

Heavy Guns Blast Trenches, 1915

Two Austrians with a 305-millimeter shell for a siege howitzer (the propellant was loaded separately). Image: Scientific American, April 17, 1915

Reported in Scientific American, This Week in World War I: April 17, 1915 World War I was an artillery war. In the opening days, the German army used a new variety of siege gun to blast holes in the Belgian and French forts that had been designed and built—decades earlier—to bar passage. These new guns [...]

Keep reading »
Anecdotes from the Archive

Rescuing the Drowning Submarine, 1915

German submarine rescue ship and mobile dry dock “Vulkan,” built in 1912. Image: Scientific American, April 10, 1915

Reported in Scientific American, This Week in World War I: April 10, 1915 The United States submarine F-4 was launched in January 1912, and foundered in March 1915 near Honolulu in 300 feet of water, with the loss of all 21 crew. This disaster was a stern reminder, if any was needed, that this relatively [...]

Keep reading »
Anecdotes from the Archive

Proud Battleships, Subtle Mines: Dardanelles, 1915

British battleship "Irresistible," launched 1898, sunk in the Dardanelles, 1915.  Image: Scientific American, April 3, 1915

Reported in Scientific American, This Week in World War I: April 3, 1915 “The day when Constantinople will be covered by the guns of the enemy is not very far distant.” That’s the ebulliant sentence from the article in Scientific American two weeks before this one, just after the initial British and French attack near [...]

Keep reading »
Anecdotes from the Archive

The Zeppelin Earns a Fearsome Reputation, 1915

German civilian Zeppelin “Viktoria Luise.” After war broke out it became the military “LZ-11.” Image: Scientific American Supplement, March 27, 1915

Reported in Scientific American, This Week in World War I: March 27, 1915 Airships with rigid frames were developed by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin of Germany starting in the late 19th century. He had envisaged them being used in a viable business for mail delivery, fee-paying travellers and sight-seers—and also for military use. After the [...]

Keep reading »
Anecdotes from the Archive

Naval Attack on the Dardanelles: Prelude to a Disaster, 1915

French battleship “Bouvet.” The ship attacked Turkish forts in the Dardanelles and was sunk by a mine on March 18, with a disastrous loss of life. Image: Scientific American, March 20, 1915

Reported in Scientific American, This Week in World War I: March 20, 1915 The report published in this issue from a century ago delivers a robustly optimistic outlook on the Allied attack on Turkish territory at the entrance to the waterway between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean: “If the great Mahan were living to-day [...]

Keep reading »
Anecdotes from the Archive

Magnets of Mercy Treat War Injuries, 1915

Demonstrating how a powerful electromagnet could extract steel shell splinters from wounded men. Image: Scientific American, March 6, 1915

Reported in Scientific American, This Week in World War I: March 13, 1915 In a war that was defined by the mass production of war supplies, the great manufacturing center of Pittsburgh, Pa., was already an important source of matériel for all the armies involved: “Pittsburgh’s great industrial plants are furnishing practically all the barbed [...]

Keep reading »
Anecdotes from the Archive

The Big Guns, 1915

A 42-centimeter German shell that failed to explode, displayed as a trophy by the French. Image: Scientific American, July 17, 1915

Reported in Scientific American, This Week in World War I: March 6, 1915 World War I was an artillery war. Even as new technology—tanks, airplanes, submarines and poison gas—changed the nature of fighting, it was the power of mass manufacturing that had the most profound effect on the conduct of war. The size and number [...]

Keep reading »
Anecdotes from the Archive

American Fear, 1915

U.S. Marines at the occupation of Veracruz, Mexico, 1914. Image: Scientific American, February 27, 1915

Reported in Scientific American, This Week in World War I: February 27, 1915 The size, speed and ferocity of the Great War was unprecedented. By the time this issue was published on February 27, 1915—only seven months after the war began—the vast and well-armed military forces of Europe had lost in dead and wounded 10 [...]

Keep reading »
Anecdotes from the Archive

Airborne Scouts, 1915

Aircraft scouts: Before two-way radio was developed, it was suggested that an Edison recording machine might be useful for airplane observers. Image: Scientific American, February 20, 1915

Reported in Scientific American, This Week in World War I: February 20, 1915 The usefulness of scouting from the air had been demonstrated in the early days of the Great War. But gathering information from an airplane is one thing; it is another thing to give that information to people on the ground who could [...]

Keep reading »
Anecdotes from the Archive

Air Defenses Against Zeppelins, 1915

zeppelin

Reported in Scientific American, This Week in World War I: February 13, 1915 German Zeppelins (airships with rigid frames) bombed Liège, Belgium, on August 6, 1914, only a few days after the Great War broke out. Over the next few weeks, Zeppelins carried out raids throughout Europe on military and civilian targets. The actual damage [...]

Keep reading »
Anthropology in Practice

Then and Now: April Fools’ Day—How did we get here?

Photo by Will Montague. CC, click on image for license and information.

Where is here exactly? Here is a tired, eye-roll inducing pseudo-holiday that we endure with a grimace every year. Hopefully you have room for one more article about April Fools’ Day. Maybe you spent the day avoiding the Internet as much as possible—clicking around as carefully as you could and refraining from commenting where possible [...]

Keep reading »
Anthropology in Practice

It’s True: We’re Probably All a Little Irish—Especially in the Caribbean

A bed of clover | Photo by Adam Selwood. CC. Click on image for license and information.

In the United States, it’s St. Patrick’s Day. This Irish national holiday celebrates Saint Patrick who is—potentially—the most recognizable of Irish saints, known for championing Irish Christianity (and using a shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity). The observance of St. Patrick’s Day has also been viewed as a one day break from the abstinence of [...]

Keep reading »
Anthropology in Practice

How many TV sets do you have—and why does it matter?

Photo by SteveStein1982. CC. Click on image for license and information

In the early nineties, researchers predicted that at the current rate of growth, there would be two televisions per US household by 1995. It’s probably safe to say that we have likely exceeded that prediction. While our smart phones, tablets, and laptops may have a prominent place in our lives, they haven’t quite replaced our [...]

Keep reading »
Anthropology in Practice

Our public affair with food porn

Image by Phil Thomas, CC. Click on image for license and information.

Do you ever feel like your social feed is overrun by pictures of food? A report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project from October 2013 found that more than half of all Internet users have posted original photos or videos to a website. Thanks to the portability of cell phone cameras and the [...]

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 »
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 »
Guest Blog

Darwin: the Movie

Clockwise from top left: Young Charles Darwin (George Richmond, 1840); Daniel Radcliffe (Joella Marano/Flickr); Henry Cavill (David Shankbone/Wikimedia); Andrew Garfield (Paulae/Wikimedia)

It’s true, Mr. and Ms. Hollywood Producer, Nash, Hawking, Turing were great and all, and their stories brought big bucks and a few Oscars rolling your way, but come on! When it comes to Hollywood science biopics, what about The Man? I mean his discoveries changed how we see our place in nature, who we [...]

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 »
Symbiartic

Before Manned Spaceflight There Was “Chimpanned” Spaceflight

15-003FEATURE

On January 31, 1961, a brave 3-year-old chimpanzee was strapped into a capsule inside the Mercury Redstone rocket and launched 160 miles above the earth. For 16 minutes, he orbited at a speed of 5857 mph before crashing down into the Atlantic Ocean, a little dehydrated, but otherwise unharmed. This furry astronaut, dubbed HAM (for [...]

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

Email this Article

X