Science Never Stops (Apr, 1947)

This is an entertaining and fairly level headed “what the future will bring” piece. It covers the promise and perils of a pretty diverse set of topics: nuclear power, space travel, power transmission, aviation, food production, urban growth, race relations and even (sort-of) outsourcing.

Science Never Stops

The world has made vast strides in the last 75 years; even greater triumphs lie ahead if mankind has the courage to go on with the job.

By Harland Manchester

Illustrations by John Gaydos

MAN, standing upon the eminence of 1947 and gazing into the future, may well be dazzled and also perplexed by the promise of science to redeem his world. New discoveries and improved techniques on a hundred fronts present golden chances for a richer and fairer existence—if man has the sense, the honesty and the guts to seize and exploit them for the good of all.

Science is a blank check, and this is no time to be niggardly in filling it out. There are, of course, the doubters, like the 19th-century patent commissioner who wanted to close his office because nothing remained to be invented. If these timid souls look about them, they will see men and women who were living when there were no telephones, electric lights, automobiles, airplanes, radios, motion pictures, antitoxin serums or antiseptic surgery, to mention a few advances of the last 75 years.

Kerosene Lamp Powers Radio (Jun, 1960)

Kerosene Lamp Powers Radio

REMOTE areas of Siberia and China use thermoelectric generators like the one shown here to convert heat from a kerosene lamp into electricity for radios.

The 20-lb. device is being studied by scientists at the Martin Co., Baltimore, Md., where similar direct conversion principles have been applied to nuclear heat sources. They paid $56 for the Russian-built device.

A series of thermocouples is arranged around the upper portion of the lamp. As each set of elements is heated at one end by the lamp, a small amount of electricity flows through the pair. Metallic fins remove the excess heat.

Room with Bath – On Wheels (Jan, 1951)

This is the ultimate stoner car. Use the hookah up front to get stoned, then when you get the munchies you can just hop in back and grill some hot dogs.

Room with Bath – On Wheels

IF YOU SAW Louis Matter’s car rolling along the streets of San Diego, Calif., you’d probably consider it just another attractive automobile. But if you looked inside the car you’d find everything from a barbecue pit to an Arabian water-cooled pipe. And if Mattar really wanted to show off his wondrous vehicle he might let you take a shower bath just off the right front fender.

Motorized Trailer Pushes Bicycle (Nov, 1937)

I would hire this guy to sharpen my knives in a heartbeat just for the joy of seeing him put-put up the street.

Motorized Trailer Pushes Bicycle

An itinerant knife grinder has devised a “cart-before-the-horse” rig to ease his labors on long-distance bicycle journeys. When he tires of pulling his trailer, with its motor-driven grinding machinery, he hitches the motor to the wheels and the trailer pushes him.

Monkey Tells Time By Rolling Eyes (Nov, 1950)

This is really cool, though I bet it would be pretty hard to actually tell the time with it.

Monkey Tells Time By Rolling Eyes
You have to look a monkey in the eye to tell what time it is on a novelty clock manufactured in Germany. The monkey’s right eye tells the hour and the left eye the minutes. The eyeballs revolve as the minutes elapse and a line painted on each iris serves as a clock hand. At quarter past three, the monkey has a sly expression, looking out of the corners of his eyes. At six o’clock, the monkey becomes completely confused with one eye looking up, the other down.

World’s Strangest Circus PRODUCED BY AMATEURS (Nov, 1934)

This is pretty awesome. In the 30’s the citizens of Gainesville Texas decided to put on an all volunteer community circus. Hundreds of average citizens spent all year training for various very elaborate and skillful acts. It looks like it was amazing. According to this site, the circus had it’s ups and downs and but lasted in one form or another until 1958.

World’s Strangest Circus PRODUCED BY AMATEURS

By A. Morton Smith

LEARNING to turn somersaults from the back of a cantering horse, to hang by one’s teeth high in the air, or to run and dance on a tight wire after the manner of circus performers, is not necessarily limited to those who have spent their lives under the big tops, or those possessed of physical development and endurance particularly fitting them to excel in this field. That the many and varied arts of the circus may be mastered by any normal person who has the will to engage in extensive practice, has been conclusively demonstrated by a unique organization in the little city of Gainesville, Texas.

Night Club in Cave Whips Summer Heat (Sep, 1933)

Night Club in Cave Whips Summer Heat

ST. PAUL, Minnesota, boasts a new night club said to be without equal anywhere in the world for novelty and comfort during torrid summer months. Called the “Mystic Caverns,” the club occupies a labyrinth of caves which form a natural refrigerator with a year round temperature of 48 degrees.

The subterranean chambers where the revelers disport themselves have their opening in the face of a towering sandstone cliff bordering the Mississippi. Once you step inside you are literally in the bowels of the earth, with solid sandstone walls all around you and 150 feet of solid sandrock overhead.

About eight degrees of heat make the atmosphere decidedly comfortable inside the caverns when the mercury is flirting with the hundred mark outdoors. In winter, 20 degrees of furnace heat convert the labyrinthine chambers into a cozy beer hall.


That’s a really nifty way to pump water!

Adapting an Oriental idea for raising water for his own needs and to irrigate his fields, a California farmer has constructed the curious apparatus shown in the accompanying photographs. Power from a windmill, transmitted through gears, revolves a spiral-shaped tube of pipe open at both ends. The outside end dips into a water-filled ditch at each revolution. Water is thus picked up, and runs by gravity around the spiral to the hub as the wheel revolves. An opening in the hub dis-charges the water into a trough four feet above the level in the ditch, giving a sufficient lift for the irrigation purposes desired.

Neon Lamp Traces Sound Wave’s Picture (Sep, 1950)

This is pretty cool. Of course now you can do this much better and in real-time with even the cheapest PC.

Neon Lamp Traces Sound Wave’s Picture
That’s a sound wave you see in the picture above. Here demonstrating how an acoustic lens focuses sound from a horn, the wave was made visible with the device at left—an aluminum rod with a microphone and a neon lamp at the end. A small motor swings the rod in a wide arc, scanning the area. The microphone picks up the sound and turns it into electric current to feed the lamp. Wherever the sound is strongest, the light is brightest, and the wave is traced out. A complete sound photo, such as this from Bell Labs, takes 10 minutes exposure.


This is not as ridiculous as it looks. Go read this awesome article Noah Shachtman wrote for Wired a few months ago about “the glove”. Then tell me where I can get one.


Purdue University physicists say the whole body may be kept cool during the hottest weather by a recently developed miniature refrigerator that straps to the wrist in the manner of a watch. The refrigerator is somewhat larger than a wrist watch and encloses a pellet of dry ice— solid carbon dioxide. As the dry ice evaporates, it forms an invisible gas. Escaping from the case, the gas has the same effect as cold water poured over the wrists. It lowers the temperature of the blood in the arteries and this cooled blood is carried to every part of the body. The metal case is insulated from the wrist by rubber, as the temperature of the dry ice is 109 degrees below zero and its contact with the skin would result in a severe burn. With proper insulation, however, there is no danger of this occurring. And thus the device can be worn in perfect safety.