The Versatile Lead Pencil (Apr, 1958)

The Versatile Lead Pencil

Technically speaking, it is neither lead nor a pencil. But it is, by a margin of 9 to 1, still the most popular writing tool

by Frank L. Remington

Condensed from Think

Doubtless the lead pencil qualifies as one of the most used, yet least appreciated, pieces of merchandise in the world. It is the simplest, most convenient and least expensive of all writing instruments.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the lead pencil is that technically it is not lead at all—nor is it a pencil. The “lead” is actually graphite (from the Greek graphein—”to write”), a pure carbon. The word “pencil” is from the Latin penicil-lum, meaning “a little tail,” for the first pencils were fine brushes of hair or bristles.



COMPUTERS AND VIDEO appear to offer an endless variety of combinations, as this month’s cover by Robert Tinney depicts. With an increase in higher-power communication satellites that require smaller, less-expensive user antennas and electronics, and with the melding of television receivers and microprocessors, we might look ahead to the day when worldwide person-to-person visual as well as aural communication is based on personal computers and not on a direct descendant of Mr. Bell’s original invention.

Photographs STAR Moving 4800 MILES A SECOND (May, 1930)

This article is interesting for a number of reasons. One of the most interesting is that M.L Humasen was a high-school dropout who got a job as a janitor at Mt. Wilson Observatory where the was later made a member of the astronomical staff . He went on to take many of the observation that Edwin Hubble used to formulate Hubble’s Law. It’s odd that in the interview Humasen says he doesn’t believe the universe is “blowing up” which is precisely what Hubble’s Law says, though a bit less dramatically.

I’m a little confused about calling the object a star. N.G.C 4800 is actually a galaxy. Hubble was the one who proved, in the early 1920’s that these distant objects were outside the Milky Way and were in fact galaxies. Since they also refer to it as a nebula (which was sort of a catch-all term for blurry stellar objects at the time) I’m going to guess that it was just the reporter who decided it was a star.

I don’t know enough about solar spectra to be sure, but it seems like you wouldn’t be able to make a direct comparison of the spectra from a whole galaxy to that of one star. Incidentally N.G.C 4800 is actually 97.14 million light years away not the 50 million the article states.

Photographs STAR Moving 4800 MILES A SECOND

Sitting with his eye glued to a telescopic camera for 45 hours, M. L. Humason, Mt. Wilson astronomer, has succeeded in setting a record for long distance photographs. The nebula on which he trained his camera is 50,000,000 light years away from the earth.

FOR 45 hours in total darkness, Milton L. Humason, member of the astronomical staff at the Mt. Wilson observatory at Pasadena, California, trained the world’s largest telescope toward a far distant point in the heavens and obtained a photograph of a nebula 50,000,000 light years away from the earth—a total of 300 quintillion miles.

Day or Night Deposit by Chute (Aug, 1929)

Day or Night Deposit by Chute

RECEIVING bank deposits and carrying them through a steel chute to the vaults, a day and night depository service has been inaugurated by a bank in Oakland, California. Built into the masonry, the chute is wired with burglar alarms and is safe from possible theft. Women may safely deposit jewelry in the evening.

Pioneer Inventor Is Conducting a Radio Movie Station (Feb, 1930)

M0re information on the good Dr and his inventions may be found here.

Pioneer Inventor Is Conducting a Radio Movie Station

DR. C. FRANCIS JENKINS, noted Washington scientist and pioneer in the field of radio vision, is now conducting a new high powered transmitting station near Washington, for the broadcasting of motion pictures by radio. Opening of his station was preceded by broadcasts from his laboratory for several months. The station was originally assigned to operate on a frequency of 2850 kilocycles with a power of 1.5 kilowatts. Dr. Jenkins has developed an instrument which changes the lights and shadows of the motion picture film into electrical impulses which operate the radio transmitter. The broadcasting equipment which is decidedly intricate includes a photo electric cell and a series of lenses for focussing.



By Roger Fuller

PLAY-DOH is that mildly-scented modeling stuff your kid works into demented shapes, then shouts “Daddy! Look!” It comes in colors and your little Leonardo can blend the putty-like dough to his heart’s content. The guy who makes the stuff has kids, too, and they can play with platinum yo-yos now, if Daddy wants them to. Play-Doh was originally a wallpaper cleaner young Joe McVicker inherited, with built-in headaches.

MlDEAS Come True (May, 1954)

Well this one certainly did come true.

MlDEAS Come True

When these ideas were only on the drawing board. Ml predicted great futures for them. We were right.

BACK in January 1952 Mechanix Illustrated ran a story called Why Don’t We Have Battlevision? In it we suggested that the generals of the future might be able to see the progress of battles on television screens from the relative safety of their headquarters. The series of photographs on this page show the U.S. Army using this very system to observe cadets during battle maneuvers at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. Mobile Signal Corps camera units at the front relay the complete television coverage of the sham battle back to commanding officers four miles away.

“Logs” from Sawdust (Jun, 1935)

“Logs” from Sawdust

FOR many centuries the idea of saving waste materials for fuel has been put in practice, throughout the world. While large power plants, with automatic stokers, burn dust most efficiently, and sometimes powder coal on purpose, this is not true in homes. In Europe “briquettes” made of powdered coal with a binder, for stoves have been well known for years. Now an American inventor produces round “bricks” from waste wood products, put under a pressure of some 185,000 pounds to the square inch; forming hard, smooth sticks for the fireplace.

World’s First Red-Headed Cat (Mar, 1930)

World’s First Red-Headed Cat

A CAT said to be the only one of its kind in existence was exhibited recently at the cat show at Croydon, England, by H. C. Brooke. Instead of one of the familiar cat colors of black, white, grey or ginger, this remarkable feline is dark red from head to tail, like a human head of deep auburn hair. Red patches or bands have been observed on other cats but this is the only individual, Mr. Brooke asserts, in which the coat of hair is entirely red.

Our Earth as a Satellite Sees It (Aug, 1960)

Our Earth as a Satellite Sees It


Head, Meteorology Branch Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA

The scientist who directed the development and launching of Tiros I, AMS/l’s historic weather satellite, tells of its exciting discoveries and its successors’ promising future THE WORLD has had its picture taken. For the first time in the millions of centuries that our planet has been whirling around the sun, we can see our home as it looks from a tiny companion in space. A man-made satellite, circling some 450 miles overhead, has photographed us not once but thousands of times.