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Anecdotes from the Archive
  • Big Guns and Obsolescence, 1915

    Big Guns and Obsolescence, 1915

    By Dan Schlenoff | August 21, 2015 |

    In 1881, in a political climate far different for the U.S. than the one today, a Scientific American article noted the “well known facts that, though our relations with the rest of the world are friendly, war is ever liable to arise, and a sudden war would find out coasts utterly defenseless and our navy inadequate for any service likely to be put upon it.” (December 24, 1881). […]

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  • Miniature Locomotive for War Work, 1915

    Miniature Locomotive for War Work, 1915

    By Dan Schlenoff | August 14, 2015 |

    Whole economies during the First World War were geared to mass manufacturing supplies for armies engaged in the desperate struggle. A complex infrastructure developed to move materiel from factory to front line: guns, ammunition, water, rum, boxes of biscuits, tents, barbed wire, timber, medical supplies, more ammunition, and so on. […]

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  • A Year of War, 1915

    A Year of War, 1915

    By Dan Schlenoff | August 7, 2015 |

    Reported in Scientific American, this Week in World War I: August 7, 1915 The Great War had been raging for a year. This week’s edition of Scientific American had several articles assessing that unfortunate anniversary. There is an interesting difference between the accuracy of reporting in some articles and the haze of obscurity drawn by the military censors over still-volatile events. […]

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  • Facing Poison Gas, 1915

    Facing Poison Gas, 1915

    By Dan Schlenoff | July 31, 2015 |

    Reported in Scientific American , This Week in World War I: July 31, 1915  The world’s first full-scale attack by poison gas took place on April 22, 1915, near the town of Ypres in Belgium. It was a stunning success for the Germans who deployed it, and a catastrophe for the French territorial troops who were unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of this new form of chemical warfare. […]

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  • Desperately Seeking Anti-Submarine Weapons, 1915

    Desperately Seeking Anti-Submarine Weapons, 1915

    By Dan Schlenoff | July 24, 2015 |

    Reported in Scientific American, This Week in World War I: July 24, 1915 The British Royal Navy commanded the sea during World War I; had it not, Britain and France would not have been able to feed and arm themselves with imported food, raw materials and weapons. […]

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  • The Armored Tortoise Fails, 1915

    The Armored Tortoise Fails, 1915

    By Dan Schlenoff | July 17, 2015 |

    Reported in Scientific American , This Week in World War I: July 17, 1915 By July 1915 World War I had been raging for almost a year. Nearly two million soldiers had died and another four million had been wounded. The vast scale of the casualties was shocking but continued with no end in sight. […]

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  • Battleship Optimism Ignores Reality, 1915

    Battleship Optimism Ignores Reality, 1915

    By Dan Schlenoff | July 10, 2015 |

    Reported in Scientific American, This Week in World War I: July 10, 1915 An article in the July 10, 1915 issue of Scientific American carried an article about plans for a new French battleship, the Tourville (and by extension the sister ships in the class: Duquesne, Lyon and Lille ). […]

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  • Women and the War, 1915

    Women and the War, 1915

    By Dan Schlenoff | July 3, 2015 |

    Reported in Scientific American , This Week in World War I: July 3, 1915 By July 1915 the war had been going on for almost a year. German mobilization had proved to be highly effective at ensuring a steady supply of young, healthy men for duties in the army. […]

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  • Fighting Zeppelins with Airplanes, 1915

    Fighting Zeppelins with Airplanes, 1915

    By Dan Schlenoff | June 26, 2015 |

    Reported in Scientific American, This Week in World War I: June 26, 1915 After the First World War broke out, airships quickly became a scourge. German Zeppelins bombed Liège and Antwerp in Belgium and perhaps hastened the fall of those two cities even though there were few casualties (as we understand such things in our more dismal era). […]

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  • Italy Is Bribed into War, 1915

    Italy Is Bribed into War, 1915

    By Dan Schlenoff | June 19, 2015 |

    Reported in Scientific American , This Week in World War I: June 19, 1915 Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary on May 23, 1915. The great hope of the Allies was that an army of more than a million men would be thrown against the Austro-Hungarian troops guarding their southern flank at the northeast corner of Italy. […]

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