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History
SECRET WEAPONS (Apr, 1944)

This article is supposedly about German secret weapons, but really is a propaganda piece expounding on the superiority of American arms and engineering. My favorite quote is: “So far the Germans haven’t come through with anything approaching the new British-American jet-driven plane, which is already in production.”

As far as I know the Germans already had Me-262‘s in the field at this point. The the only American jet to be deployed in the war was the P-80 and by the end of hostilities in Europe, a grand total of 4 had made it to Europe.

SECRET WEAPONS

by Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson

“Our new weapons,” says Admiral W. H. P. Blandy, “can be and are kept secret, except that the enemy receives hill knowledge of their effects.” Here, in a sober analysis. Mi’s military analyst debunks the Herrenvolk’s “secret weapon” scare.

OUT of the rumor factories of Stockholm, Bern, and Berlin come periodic threats of miracle-working Nazi “secret weapons” that will blast the Allies sky high and clinch the war overnight. Are they sheer bluff?

As this is being written, a hullabaloo is still raging in the press over the much-touted German “rocket bomb.” Dr. Goebbels himself, fanning the propaganda flames, has claimed that a whole British convoy was wiped out in the English Channel in a matter of minutes by murderous long-range rocket shells. He would have us believe that the entire North French coast is a solid mass of rocket batteries capable of lobbing 12-ton bombs over London, each one powerful enough to devastate 20 square miles.

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Ronald Reagan – Movielandlubber (Feb, 1952)

I have never seen any biography of Ronald Reagan that includes the fact that was an inductee of the Mechanix Illustrated Hobby Hall of Fame. What a travesty. How can I ever trust them again?

Ronald Reagan – Movielandlubber
ON board the S.S. America on her maiden voyage, actor Ronald Reagan asked to see the blueprints. One look and Reagan, a whittler from way back, was trapped. He wanted to build a model.

“I had all the material,” he says, “but no experience. I had to find out that you don’t put each piece into place as you finish it, that you don’t paint the parts after you have them in place.

“I always carried a piece of the boat around with me and any time I had a spare moment, I’d drag out my knife.”
Finally it was completed—a fine scale model of the S.S. America. And since then, Reagan has made a model of the S.S. Challenge, a C-2 freighter. He plans to continue building model ships because, as he says himself: “a ship is a thing of beauty—-whether it’s on the high seas or on your living room table.”

Caption: Movie star Ronald Reagan, featured in Paramount’s Hong Kong, left surveys his model of the S. S. America, below. It took him a little over a year of spare-time work to complete the difficult job.

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Science Secrets Revealed at New York Worlds Fail (Jul, 1939)

SCIENCE SECRETS REVEALED
At NEW YORK WORLDS FAIR

Cosmic rays, electronic energy and light power axe but a few of the invisible influences harnessed by science, whose magic show dramatizes its researches and discoveries for the Fair’s sixty-million visitors. Here’s a partial review to whet your appetite for this fascinating scientific show.

by Stanley Gerstin

SCIENTISTS at the New York World’s Fair are putting on a show that makes Aladdin and his magic lamp look like a piker!

They are in control of invisible forces whose secrets they use to baffle, amaze and entertain! So don’t take it on the lam if you hear your voice come in the door and go out the window. And don’t see your eye doctor if you suddenly observe an electric fan reverse its motion and cut capers when mesmerized by a flickering light. For this is part of the show—and the show will have only just begun. Shortly, a gigantic Frankenstein of aluminum, obeying the barked commands of its human director, will take over as a master of ceremonies in this fantastic temple of science.

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AT THE FRONT IN ETHIOPIA (Jan, 1936)

Really interesting piece about reporters covering the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1936. It’s interesting to contrast with the current reports coming out of Iraq. I wonder if they still suffer from mutton fatigue.


AT THE FRONT IN ETHIOPIA

by Arthur T. Robb
Managing Editor of “Editor & Publisher”

THERE’S a war on in East Africa. Since early summer, when it became certain that II Duce intended to capture for Italy the last vestige of Africa not already under European rule, scores of young and old men in journalism, American and European, have turned their faces to the Red Sea, hoped or planned that their next assignment would be in Ethiopia. To youth it offered opportunity for fame and adventure denied them by the routine of police court or city hall. To the veterans of a score of big and little wars like Karl Von Wiegand and Floyd Gibbons, the din and dust of battle preparations were as the bell for the old fire horse. They had to be on their way.

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Giant Cleaner Sucks Out Bus (Sep, 1953)

I wish I could clean my house this way…

Giant Cleaner Sucks Out Bus
A Chicago company cleans out 110 buses every 24 hours with a king-size vacuum cleaner that attaches to the front door’ and inhales all the debris in each vehicle. Two 28-inch vacuum fans “create air pressure behind a huge bellows that does the job. A man helps remove stubborn particles with an air hose.

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ROMANCE Of The TIN CAN (Feb, 1937)

Interesting article on the history and development of the lowly tin can. Also, if you have not yet been introduced to the techie crack that is the National Association of Manufacturers Blog, by all means, check it out. Every Saturday they post a video tour of a different factory or manufacturing process. One of my dreams has always been to make a Factory Tour tv show (without John Ratzenberger and all the promotional sound bites). Anyway, they have an excellent video showing the entire manufacturing process for tin cans here and it is very, very cool.


ROMANCE Of The TIN CAN

CUT all the tin plate used annually to make the tin cans of America into a strip one foot wide and you can wind that strip around the earth fourteen times.

Or, to visualize it another way, take the five billion odd square feet of tin plate into which we put our fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, beer, paint, oil. candy, cheese and tobacco each year and it would be a simple matter to can the moon. You’d have the biggest cheese can ever made, and still have a lot of tin plate left over.

The vastness of tin can production has brought this familiar article into the lives of nearly every American family, for it is in this country that the greatest volume of tin cans is produced. A good year will find between eight and nine billion cans for the food racks of this country and this is the business that accounts for the major percentage of cans.

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Dawn of the Electronic Age (Jan, 1952)

Odd article written by Lee deForest the inventor of the Audion, a vacuum tube amplifier that ushered in the radio and electronics age. He discusses the origins and growth of electronics and what the future may bring, including dissing the transistor and living room walls that keep one warm by microwaves. He also has some firm opinions regarding the uses to which his invention has been put:

The microphone-amplifier-loudspeaker combination is having an enormous effect on our civilization. Not all of it is good! Consider to what heights of impudence and tyranny, and to what depths of moral depravity, has radio broadcasting and the loudspeaker attained in that recent monstrosity, Transit Radio, Inc. Almost incredible is the loathsome fact that already in 21 cities bus riders must listen to never-ending, blatant advertising and unwelcome jitterbug and bop music, “viciously repugnant to the spiritual and intellectual assumptions of American life,” as Prof. Charles Black of Columbia University wrote. This outrage is unquestionably the all-time low to which radio broadcasting can sink.

Dawn of the Electronic Age
By Lee deForest (“Father of Radio”)

WHEN VOCAL SOUND first became articulate the ancestor of man leaped suddenly from the dumb shackles of the brute. The first crude sign writing, whereby thoughts might be recorded, helped to bring scattered men and tribes into social units and establish contact with future generations through the permanency of the written word. For ages, ecclesiastics maintained a monopoly of reading and writing. Then came movable type and the printing press of Gutenberg. Reading and writing became common heritage. The postal service followed, fostering a moderate exchange of thought between people. Ancient Greeks developed a crude method of heliograph for military signaling. Then flags by day and fires by night conveyed information over wide distances. Later, the system of signaling by semaphore devised by Claude Choppe during the French Revolution blazed the path leading to the electric telegraph of Morse. Scarcely more than a century ago came the first telegraph, an instantaneous means for communicating over great land distances, followed by the submarine cable for spanning the oceans. Bell, experimenting with a new form of telegraphy, came upon the telephone, and as a result business and social life were; immeasurably increased in tempo. Late in the 19th century, wireless telegraphy entered the communications field, first as a means of spinning threads between ships and shores, and robbing the sea of its sinister silence; later as a practical means of transoceanic communication. Inspired by the classical formulas of Maxwell in England, Hertz in Germany in the 1880s discovered electromagnetic waves, proving them akin to light waves but of vastly longer wavelengths and lower frequencies.

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Our Air Force – A Farce! (May, 1939)

Interesting article from just before WWII pointing out that the U.S. air force sucks ass, has slow planes, is disorganized and hobbled by politics.

Our Air Force – A Farce!

“We are five years behind England and Germany in planes, engines and equipment and a full 10 years behind in the development of our air force as a third arm of defense”

by Major Al Williams

AMERICA is not an airpower! We have, instead, two flying services— one with the Army and the other with the Navy—and they are not adequate for the defense of the nation.

As airpower goes, I estimate that we’re about five years behind Europe’s leaders in planes, engines, and equipment, and a full 10 years would be needed for the maturity of a brand new service. This goes in spite of a European demand for American fighting ships, in spite of “downhill” speeds of from 575 to 700 m.p.h. claimed for blunt-nosed radial engined planes, and in spite of a college-student civilian training program which portends to be a solution to the pilot problem.

Our air-cooled engines are good, and hold their own with foreign radials. Our ships came in handy in the scramble for planes after the Munich incident; they are fill-ins for building programs that weren’t geared to air war. But they are powered by engines which can’t approach the English Rolls-Royce streamlined power plants, for instance, and none of the planes is in the same speed bracket with standard fighting ships of the airpower nations.

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A Clock for Eternity (Aug, 1951)

Article about an incredible clock designed and built by a Danish Locksmith that was supposed to be accurate for several millenia. In addition the clock was to provide a dozen different kinds of astronomical data such as the the phases of the moon, precession and the orbits of the planets (Pluto is absent, I don’t think it had been discovered when the design was started).

In 1991 it was noted that many of its measurements were wrong. An examination found that grime and corrosion had were the culprits and from 1995-97 the clock was dismantled and restored.

More information on the restoration here.

A very similar, but much more ambitious and technically complex project is currently being undertaken by the Long Now Foundation. Led by Danny Hillis (founder of Thinking Machines and general all round genius) they are attempting to build a clock that will run for 10,000 years. Check out the project page for more information.

A Clock for Eternity

Jens Olsen, a little Danish craftsman — you’d have taken him for Santa Claus -— died before he finished the incredible task he set for himself. His countrymen have completed his life’s work for him—

By Kai Norredam

LATE THIS YEAR a new clock will start ticking away in the old Town Hall at Copenhagen, Denmark. It is not an ordinary clock, for this is a timepiece built for eternity, a mechanism that will keep an accurate record of the time throughout the solar system, a clock we expect to tick away for three or four thousand years.

The maze of gears and shafts in our clock is so accurate that the pointer showing the eclipses of the sun and moon makes one revolution in precisely 6798.36152 days!

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The BBC did American Inventor 50 years ago. (Jul, 1955)

This show looks like it was really cool. It’s basically American Inventor without the overt competition.

BBC Puts Inventors On TV
INVENTIONS ARE the stars of one of the most popular television shows in Britain.

The Television Inventors’ Club of the British Broadcasting Corporation has been on the air for seven years. During this time more than 7000 inventions have been submitted to the club, of which 580 have been shown on the air. A quarter of these have caught the eyes of manufacturers and many are already in production.

The inventions range from a simple shirt stud which allows for the shrinkage of the collar, to a compressible ship’s fender which eases a 24,000-ton vessel against a dock.

A number of British inventors have hit the jackpot through the program. One of them actually did it with a better mousetrap, and the world has already beaten a path to his door to the tune of over a million sales. Years of patient observation taught the inventor that a mouse twists its head when approaching the bait and nibbles from below. His trap therefore springs when the bait is lifted—not pushed down. A tidy profit was also made by the inventor of a stair elevator for invalids. A moving step, carried on rails, is drawn up the staircase by a cable and winch. More than 500 inquiries poured into the BBC when this device was shown on TV.

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