Ahead of its time
LEONARDO DA VINCI —Edison of Yesterday! (Sep, 1939)

LEONARDO DA VINCI —Edison of Yesterday!

TODAY, just four and a half centuries after he lived, Leonardo da Vinci is receiving belated acclamation as one of the greatest inventive minds the world has ever known!

Famous as a painter, sculptor, architect, scientist, engineer and anatomist, it has not been until the last decade that his genius as an inventor has been truly appreciated. To understand just why this side of history’s most versatile man has been so neglected, we must go back to the latter part of the 15th century, about ten years before Columbus discovered America, for it was then that Leonardo da Vinci was at the height of his all-embracing career.

Velocity of Light is Not Uniform (Nov, 1934)

The idea of a variable speed of light has been around for a while and is still an active area of research. However, I’ve always heard about it in regards to time frames measured in billions of years. I’m thinking that if the speed of light changed appreciably between 1911 and 1931 we might have noticed.

Velocity of Light is Not Uniform

MANY experiments to determine the speed of light have been made from time to time, but the results are not uniform. Yet scientists have said that this is the one uniform thing in the universe. Dr. M. E. J. G. de Bray has concluded that the variations are real, and that the speed of light does vary over a long period; having been at a minimum in 1911, and a maximum in 1931. This may reassure those who were alarmed by Soddy’s suggestion that light might cease to travel at all.

How I Got My Wife to Use a Seat Belt (Jun, 1960)

The title of this article should be: “How Mr. Pavlov got his wife to buckle up: a lesson for the auto-industry.”

How I Got My Wife to Use a Seat Belt

FOR 10 years I have used safety belts in my car. But each time we went for a ride I have had to tell my wife to fasten her belt. She is a most stubborn person and uses all kinds of excuses for not doing so.

I have finally won. These drawings show how. The system tells her to put the belt on. It works like magic every time. It saves arguments. The little reminder consists of a light, the words “Safety Belt,” a buzzer, and two cunningly wired snap switches.

When my wife gets into the front seat beside me, her weight trips a normally open snap switch under the seat. Two things happen: First a doorbell buzzer begins sounding behind the dash, attracting my wife’s attention toward it. Second, in the opening where a clock usually is mounted, the words “Safety Belt” are illuminated by a lamp behind the dash.

The second snap switch, normally closed, is mounted under one strap of the belt so that it is opened by the pressure of pulling the belt across the waist. This breaks the circuit, stopping the buzzer and turning off the lamp. As long as my wife sits in the seat, she’d better have the belt on correctly or the buzzer will let her know. [Editor's note: An optional cut-out switch is shown in the drawing for those who might like one.]

Now, when we start out, she races me to fasten the belt before I can use the ignition key and turn on the circuit. Seems she doesn’t like to hear the buzz. The only way to stop the buzz is to get out of the seat or turn off the ignition— or put on the belt. If she wants to go for a ride that leaves her little choice.

— Wes Jayne, Woodhaven, N.Y.

Dictating Machines to Use Magnetic Tape (Oct, 1934)

Dictating Machines to Use Magnetic Tape

With the development of the steel tape method of sound recording, present day dictaphones may soon become obsolete. In demonstrations at the Century of Progress sound was stored in the magnetic ribbon for only a few seconds, but engineers believe it possible to construct a simplified dictating machine set along similar lines.

With the use of large rolls of the steel tape, there would be no need to change records as frequently as in the present apparatus. Court proceedings could be stored indefinitely.

Proto – G.P.S (Sep, 1956)

Skyful of Moons: To aid navigation by ships and planes, a Chrysler Corporation missile engineer, L. Lawrence Jr., has worked out a plan to launch three satellites – Astro 1, 2, 3 – to circle the earth at 600-mile altitude in 105 minutes, in polar orbits crossing the equator at spaced intervals around the world. The satellites would constantly emit radio signals, enabling a navigator to get his bearings from the nearest one, with the help of an almanac giving each satellite’s position at any time. To power a satellite’s radio, an atomic battery would convert heat from radiactive strontium into electricity, by means of a thermopile.

Dial Switches Message Tubes (Dec, 1951)

This is a hardware packet switched network, kinda like IP circa 1951.

Dial Switches Message Tubes
By Dialing a number, workers in a Connecticut factory can send written messages and even metal samples to various parts of the plant in about a minute’s time. They are using the familiar old pneumatic tube, the hissing clanging gadget used to make change in many department stores.

This pneumatic tube is different. Wehere older systems required separate tubes to each station, this one has an automatic dial exchange, just like a modern telephone central office, making a few tubes do the work of many. Each carrier has numbers that can be set to guide it automatically to any one of the nine stations that make up the first American installation at the Housatonic plant of the Bridgeport Brass Co. Eventually there will be 20 stations.

Self-navigating robot gets its own charge (Jan, 1965)

Self-navigating robot gets its own charge

A machine that recharges its batteries by finding and plugging into the nearest wall outlet is under test at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

Like a hatbox full of bees, it buzzes up and down a hall, probing ahead to avoid open doors, stairs, and other obstacles.

Equipped with sonar, the robot may find use in moon or undersea explorations.

Splitting the Atom (Oct, 1939)

This is pretty amazing. It’s a Scientific American Article from 1939 describing the splitting of the atom. It was written just after Einstien had written his famous letter to F.D.R and before the initiation of the Manhattan Project, yet it is obvious that scientists were well aware of the potential uses of atomic fission:

It may or may not be significant that, since early spring, no accounts of research on nuclear fission have been heard from Germany — not even from discoverer Hahn. It is not unlikely that the German government, spotting a potentially powerful weapon of war, has imposed military secrecy on all recent German investigations. A large concentration of isotope 235, subjected to neutron bombardment, might conceivably blow up all London or Paris.

Two Elements For One

The Most Important Scientific Discovery of the Present Year is also the Biggest Explosion in Atomic History … Splitting the Uranium Atom

THE Fifth Washington Conference on Theoretical Physics was sitting in solemn conclave when the news broke. Professor Nils Bohr of Princeton and Professor Enrico Fermi of Columbia rose to open the meeting with an account of some research going on in a Berlin laboratory.
Professors Bohr and Fermi are Nobel Prize winners both, and their names are as well known to scientists as Toscaninni’s is to music lovers. The Conference therefore expected something extra special. They weren’t disappointed.

It was January 26, 1939. A few wees before, at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin, Dr. Otto Hahn, a distinguished German physicist, had obtained an utterly unexpected result from some more or less routine experiments. Following the original example of Professor Fermi, Dr. Hahn and his co-worker, F. Strassmann, had for many months been bombarding uranium with neutrons and studying the debris left by this atomic warfare.

It would not have surprised them at all to find radium as one of the products. In fact, they had done so before, or thought they had. Radium and uranium are near neighbors in the table of elements, and it is nothing new for scientists to transform one element into another close to it in weight and electric charge.

But it was news, and big news, to discover barium among the debris — barium, which is only a little more than half as heavy as uranium. It meant that the neutron bullets had succeeded not merely in knocking a few chips off the old block, but in blowing the whole atom asunder with a terrific explosion.

Giant Videophone (Jul, 1964)

Low-cost viewer lets you see who’s calling

This phone-viewing system gives you a picture of any caller similarly equipped. It can be used on ordinary telephone lines. Push a button and within five seconds the picture appears. Developed by Toshiba Co., Japan, price is estimated at $250 although it’s not yet ready for sale.