How Your Daily Life Will Be Changed After the War (Feb, 1943)
How Your Daily Life Will Be Changed After the War
LET’S dress you from skin to topcoat, to dramatize the coming clothing revolution. You break out your socks, underwear and shirt from factory-fresh packages. When you undress tonight you’ll toss them aside like disposable tissues. The laundry man is practically out of business, for it’s cheaper to have a standing order of new garments delivered every week or two than to have the old ones washed and ironed.
As you slip into your underwear and shirt you marvel at their form-fitting comfort. They ought to be comfortable, for they are moulded to the contours of the body and there is not a single seam, ridge, button or buttonhole. No wonder your Shirts are throwaway-cheap: there’s no hand labor of cutting to patterns, assembling, sewing, buttonholing. Rolls of fabric are fed into one end of a machine like a newspaper press, to emerge on a delivery belt at the other end at the rate of several hundred an hour.
Your shoes are muddy, but a damp rag removes every bit of dirt and leaves a perfect polish. The material isn’t leather but a flexible, semi-porous plastic. You open the closet door and wonder which of the half-dozen suits hanging there you will wear today. These suits aren’t as cheap as your shirts; so you don’t throw them away, but you can have four or five of them for what you used to pay for one worsted suit. The seams are fused, or “soldered” together, eliminating costly sewing. You choose a “wool” suit that isn’t wool and notice an egg spot on the vest. Never mind dry cleaningâ€”soap and water will remove dirt and grease spots, for the fabric is waterproofed by an invisible plastic that leaves it soft and cushiony. Not even a violent rainstorm can remove the crease from your trousers.
It is cold outdoorsâ€”snowing, in factâ€”so as you slip into your topcoat you place a gadget that looks like a fountain pen in an inconspicuous pocket. It is a tiny battery that connects with flexible wires woven into the coat, heating it electrically. Even if you don’t care to turn on the juice your lightweight topcoat is still extremely warm, for it is insulated like the wall of a house filled with rock wool. Strings of cellophane, swollen with tiny beads no larger than a pinhead, are woven under the lining. Each bead is inflated with a bubble of air that prevents your body heat from escaping. Fantastic? Every one of these advances is on the way! Hundreds of Flying Fortress pilots are wearing electrically heated flying suits right now. The du Pont Company has perfected a process for stamping one-piece seamless gloves out of nylon. The air bubbles in cellophane are being manufactured by the same company for use in military jackets and life rafts. The Germans are producing clothing with fused seams. Several new plastics can be incorporated into textiles for waterproofing, and at least one of themâ€” Goodrich’s Korosealâ€”can be woven into women’s sheer hose to make stockings which will never run. And the revolution in clothes is only the beginning.
Strange-looking flakes and powders turn out to be meat, milk, eggs and vegetables from which the water has been ruthlessly removed.
Seedless tomatoes and watermelons have been produced by treating the plants with hormone solutions, and brand-new foods as yet unknown to man are heralded by the X-ray bombardment of seeds. You can eat a Christmas tree or the dining-room table by converting the wood into sugars.
Hay fever pollens in the homes are being snatched out of the air by electrical annihilators. Mineral atoms made radio-active by treatment in giant atom-smashers are acting like tracer bullets to reveal stubborn secrets of how the body works. Patients are swallowing these radio-active atoms in the experimental treatment of certain diseasesâ€”in effect, they are “drinking” X-ray machines which work from within their bodies.
“Let’s take a look at the great food revolution that is already beginning to give our eating habits such a shaking-up as they have never dreamed of.
Just to show what can be done, we’ll help you prepare breakfast without, once opening your cold storage refrigerator. You like to start the day with orange juice? There are 2-1/2 cases of oranges concentrated in that gallon jar on the shelf. Pour a little into a glass and dilute with waterâ€”all the vitamins are there and the stuff keeps for weeks without refrigeration.
Toast is made from a loaf of bread that has no crust. It is baked from inside out by electric currents. Bacon strips come from a package that has been on an open shelf for two months. There’s no trace of rancidity. Laminated plastic wrappings keep the flavor in and prevent spoilage. If you prefer ham and eggs, you can dip them out of a can, plop into a frying pan and you have an appetizing omelet. Or you can take a spoonful of yellow powder out of a can marked “Eggs,” mix with water and milk and serve as scrambled eggs. A container about the size of an ordinary can of peaches contains the equivalent of three dozen eggs.
Perhaps you like cereal for breakfast. Lift down a compressed cake the size of a candy bar, add hot or cold water as you choose, and your cereal is ready. Never mind the cream and sugarâ€”they’re included in the cake. Cream comes from a bottle on that same unrefrigerated shelf. It doesn’t go sour, being a stabilized product that holds up indefinitely. Butter comes off the warm shelf too. It isn’t melted and it’s not rancid, for it’s “Army Spread” that remains solid at 120 degrees. Jam and preserves for your toast are poured out of a package in the shape of dark bone-dry pellets. Add water and they’re ready to spread.
You’ll want a breakfast drink too. Drop a lozenge reminiscent of a cough drop into a cup of hot water and you have tea. Coffee may not be coffee at all, but roasted wheat, rye, barley or other cereal. But it tastes exactly like coffee because a chemical known as furfuryl mercaptan has been added. Chemists have discovered that this is what gives coffee its characteristic flavor and aroma. If you want a stimulating jolt, it’s no trick to incorporate caffeine in the beverage.
Many of these foods are already here, but the Army gets most of them right now. The Army Quartermasters Department at Chicago has developed scores of new food forms for military use. There is chili con carne in a roll like sausage. There are boneless frozen meats that require only one-third the storage space required by ordinary meatâ€”a feature which will certainly appeal to the housewife after the war. There is a dark, flaky product which, twenty minutes after you add water and turn on the heat, can be served as hamburger, meat loaf or stew. Half a pound of it equals six pounds of lean steak. Hams can be preserved indefinitely regardless of temperature by spraying them with an impervious coating.
As for dehydrated foods of other varieties, you’ll soon be using them if you aren’t already. Your own grocer undoubtedly has the new dehydrated soup mixes on his shelves right now. Add water and heat and you’ll have a fresh soup that came to you in a transparent envelope. Dehydrated carrots, white potatoes, cabbage, peppers, spinach, string beans, sweet potatoes and beets will soon be available. Let them soak in water for an hour and they’re garden fresh.
Baked beans require long hours of preparationâ€”but not if you use precooked ones in dehydrated form. Add water, heat, and serve. Milk dehydrates into a flour-like powder and so does cheese.
Naturally these foods will not replace the fresh forms to which you are accustomed. You will use them for their special advantages which have been accented by military necessity. These advantages are compactness, speed of preparation, low cost, and freedom from spoilage. Compactness is a tremendous virtue that is helping to cook Hitler’s goose. One ship carrying dried milk, further compressed into cakes, has the carrying capacity of twenty ships loaded with liquid milk.
In your own kitchen this means that a modest shelf will hold food that would fill a dozen family-size refrigerators in its original form, or, in a basement space no larger than is occupied by your furnace, you have food-storage capacity equal to that of a five-ton truck.
As long as moisture is kept away from dehydrated foods they will not spoil. You can prepare a complete meal in a matter of minutes. Mass processing brings down costs: a quart of milk without butter-fat, reconstituted by adding water, costs less than 5 cents. Heavy tin cans will be sparingly used, for dried foods are preserved in moisture-proof packages or plastic containers that are light and easy to stack. The household refrigerator can be much smaller or used for other purposes, for most of these new products keep perfectly without refrigeration. They will, moreover, be crammed with nutritional value, thanks to such watchdogs as electronic tubes that “taste” the vitamin content of foods in an instant.
A little further over the horizon are even more startling developments. The Germans are making sugar out of sawdust, twigs, and other forms of wood waste through a process devised by the chemist, Bergius, who invented the method of making gasoline from coal. Frozen foods will be stored in a quick-freeze kitchen unit (See Mechanix Illustrated, December, 1942) so that peaches picked in August can be served fresh in January. A novel quick-freezing method that has been suggested makes use of the surplus of transport planes anticipated after the war.
In a California spinach or pea field a plane sits down and is loaded with packages filled fresh from the field. The plane wings up into the stratosphere where temperatures are 45 to 60 degrees below zero. When the plane glides down in New York the load of spinach, peas or other product has been quick-frozen without any refrigeration equipment other than the subzero temperatures provided by nature. Natural processes of creation are being violently disrupted by treatments that promise to produce new plants whose characteristics we cannot even imagine. It is done by bombarding seeds with X-rays. The genes, infinitesimal units of heredity contained in the seeds, are explosively altered. Strange plant forms result from these changes or “mutations,” as the geneticists call them. New varieties of flowers have been thus produced and no one knows what extraordinary new food plants may emerge from such experiments. Luther Burbank merely combined existing units of heredity to benefit mankind with dozens of new food forms. The X-ray method alters those existing units into something vastly different.
More immediately useful because they have already produced new fruits, such as a tomato with fewer seeds and more meat, are the hormones and growth-promoting substances that have excited scientists in a score of laboratories. There are many such substances; one of the most potent is colchicine, a powder derived from roots of the autumn crocus which transforms ordinary plants into giants. Home gardeners can easily conduct their own experiments by having a druggist or supply house dissolve 1/2 gram of colchicine in a pint of water at a cost of about 50 cents. All that is necessary is to soak seeds in the solution before planting. Care must be taken not to get the chemical on the skin or in the eyes, but tomatoes the size of cantaloupes are worth the trouble.
Watermelons, squash, eggplant and peppers without seeds are envisioned by experts of the U. S. Department of Agriculture. Growth regulators can be applied to plants in the form of vapor, spray, paste, emulsion, or water solution sprinkled on the soil. Scientists of the Boyce Thompson Institute of Yonkers, New York, have extracted one powerful regulator from the organic acids of milk. It took man uncounted generations, unrecorded centuries of history stretching far back into the mists of time, to develop wheat, as we know it, from wild grasses. Now we have the means of giving nature a “shot in the arm,” unlocking forces close to the secret of life itself and stimulating evolutionary processes to the speed of a fast-motion movie.
Next to food and shelter, clothing is the most elemental need of man, yet until very recently we were still in the caveman era of tailoring. Primitive man took tiger or sheepskins and sewed them together with rawhide to keep him warm. We have improved the caveman’s technique, but basically we have remained dependent upon the same natural materials used for ages: leather, wool, silk, cotton.
These “natural” fibers now are fighting for their lives, and for many of them it is a losing battle. The silkworm has been all but sentenced to extinction, along with its Japanese masters. Never again will the Nipponese silk trade resume its former importance, for du Pont and Celanese have produced synthetic silks all but indistinguishable from the natural product.
Nylon is a fiber which does not exist in nature, except as atoms in coal, air and water or substitute materials. Beautiful textiles are being manufactured from such unlikely sources as sour milk, tree bark, beans and glass.
Rayon, in a sense, is a natural rather than a manufactured fiber since its basic raw material, is cellulose, obtained from such plant products as cotton. As everyone knows, it makes beautiful hose for women, as well as garments of greater intimacy, but new processing methods promise even wider usage. This spring, for instance, you will be able to buy a man’s suit that looks exactly like fine quality worsted but which is actually a new spun rayon manufactured by the Celanese Corporation.
Hundreds of stores are selling women’s coats made out of “wool” that never saw a sheep. The fiber, warm as fur and soft as silk, carries the trade name Aralac. It is made from casein, the protein of milk, by the National Dairy Products Company of Taftville, Connecticut.
These proteins are worth looking into. You are personally full of them. Your hair, skin, nails, soft tissues and many vital secretions are largely protein. Wool is a protein too, produced by the sheep. All proteins are made up of smaller building blocks known as amino acids, of which 23 are known, but the kinds and proportions of amino acids vary with each protein. If you get your amino acids from the protein of milk, casein, and assemble them as they exist in wool, then you have produced
wool from milk and that, in essence, is what the makers of Aralac have doneâ€”at half the cost of wool.
Soy beans, egg white, meats and fish and many plants contain proteins of varying composition and quantity. Any of these, theoretically, can yield the building blocks to make wool or similar fibers. Henry Ford has been making upholstery fabrics from soy beans and has a suit made of the same material.
Your wife’s fur coat may some day originate not in seals, muskrats, skunks and rabbits, but in a hopper containing purified amino acids mixed in just the right proportions to simulate those furs. When that day comes, mink and ermine and silver fox will be cheaper than rabbit and trappers will be technologically unemployed.
Probably you will never wear glass underwear, if only because it tends to be inelastic, but curtains, draperies, aprons and the like are another matter. Soft and flexible new glass fibers can be twisted into yarn and woven into beautiful fabrics that are mothproof and fireproof. They can be cleaned by sprinkling with a hose. Grease, stains and fingerprints can be washed off easily with soap and water, a great advantage -for furniture upholstery and slip covers, especially, as glass textiles are nearly wearproof and colors penetrating through the fibers never fade.
To insure your zestful enjoyment of new foods and fashions, medicine is keeping pace with new weapons against illness.
Consider the atom-smasher or cyclotron, originally a complex instrument of physicists but now â€”like the X-ray of an earlier dayâ€”developing into a health tool of inestimable possibilities. Mineral atoms bombarded in the cyclotron become temporarily radio-active (that is. give off the same rays as radium). They can thus be followed through the body like tracer bullets, revealing how the body builds and repairs itself and utilizes vital minerals from foods.
It’s like swallowing an X-ray machine to take these radio-active atoms into the body. Different radio-active atoms have varying lives, so you can swallow one week’s or two weeks’ radiation as you choose. Different elements flock to specific body organs. For instance, your thyroid gland has a voracious appetite for iodine. This gland sits astride your windpipe, controls your energy output and is the seat of goiter when things go wrong. In experiments with dogs, radio-activated iodine has dissected thyroid glands completely. Thus it is possible to drink a surgical operation in a tasteless glass of water containing such atomsâ€”painless and bloodless liquid knives.
Radium and X-rays are used in treating cancer because their radiation is more destructive to malignant than to healthy tissue. But they are difficult to apply to some deep-seated tumors and there is hope that atom-smashed minerals can be made to carry radiation internally right to the site of trouble. Your bones and teeth are rich in calcium and phosphorus. This has led to striking experimental treatment of leukemia, a disease sometimes called cancer of the blood because the white corpuscles multiply malignantly.
The blood-making factories of the body are located in the long bones, for which phosphorus has an affinity. Why not, scientists reasoned, feed radio-active phosphorus to leukemia victims? In theory, it should lodge in the bones and bombard the viciously multiplying white cells with destructive radiation. In actual cases the theory has proved sound. Cures have not yet been effected but symptoms have been controlled and life prolonged, lifting the curtain on a brand new method of treating disease.
Fantastic possibilities are concealed in the electron microscope, which magnifies 150,000 times instead of the 2,500 diameters possible with the best light microscopes. Relatively gigantic portraits have already revealed that some germs are surrounded by a curious filmy capsule whose existence had never been suspected. Methods of penetrating this capsule and destroying germs may well lead to entirely new germicides, such as gramicidin and pencillin, obtained from the soil, which are hundreds of times more potent than ordinary germ-killers. The General Electric Company has just designed a refinement of the electron microscope which makes the bulky machine portable and within reach of the average physician. Disease diagnosis in the future may well include not only X-ray pictures but electron portraits as well.
X-rays themselves have recently been stepped up in power so that they can penetrate an inch of steel in a millionth of a second. One such instrument of the Western Electric Laboratories will make it possible for physicians to view bones and organs in motion. A General Electric tube called the “induction electron accelerator” produces X-rays equal in intensity to 1,000 grams of radiumâ€”more refined radium than exists in the whole world! And neutron beams provide a new form of radiation even more penetrating than X-rays.
Tuberculosis may finally be wiped from the face of the earth by the new technique of photographing fluoroscope screens. Such screens give lifesize shadows of the lungs, and the cost of making photographs of these shadows is now so low that the procedure can become standard in routine physical examinations. Especially in school children and younger folk, tuberculosis lesions can be detected and cured long before they produce outward symptoms.
Light itself has important germ-killing properties when it comes from the short or ultra-violet end of the spectrum. The Westinghouse Sterilamp, a long narrow tube, produces such rays and destroys many disease-causing germs in the air. It reduces operating room infections remarkably prevents cross-infection of children in nurseries, and works just as well in the home. It is hoped that it will soon be effective against viruses, which means that with a few lamps in the home you can annihilate the organisms of colds, influenza, and infantile paralysis that visitors may bring into the house.
Ultra-violet rays can also be piped into the body passages. They travel through the twists and bends of a fused quartz rod like water through a main. Infections resistant to other treatment respond to ultra-violet radiation of the blood Doctors take a little blood out of your body, irradiate it for 10 seconds, and re-inject it to attack germs like Montgomery after. Rommel.
Hay fever is caused by pollens, which are special kinds of dust particles. The Precipitron is an electrical device which removes such particles from the air, capturing them on a metal plate from which they can be discarded like dirt from a vacuum cleaner. Lung troubles are minimized by the air-cleaning Precipitron for many kinds of germs are hitch-hikers on dust particles.
You feel peppy or listless according to the ionization of air in the room. This is controllable by electric devices and you may be able to banish fatigue by turning on a switch. The chemical composition of the air you breathe will be con-rolled to desired degrees of refreshing stimulation. Air-conditioning units also help to filter out undesirable noises, and soundproofing will be further effected by building room walls to slant slightly upward, tossing noises against absorbent insulation. This is more important than it sounds for one of the most potent though least suspected causes of chronic fatigue, it has been discovered, is noise.
That old terror, the dentist’s drill, may lose its sting when we learn to apply the newly established fact that minute amounts of fluorine tend to prevent tooth decay. The mineral could well be added to central water supplies in correct amounts. A mouth wash and a chewing gum, now being prepared for the market, claim to minimize tooth decay by inhibiting the action of certain types of bacteria known to favor dental caries.
Dishes can be made permanently sterile by mixing ionized copper or silver in plastic mediums that harden when applied to plates and tumblers. The minerals are gradually released from the surface in infinitesimal amounts, just sufficient to kill bacteria in from one to five minutes. Many diseases are transmitted by carelessly washed utensils.
Sulfa drugs, powerful as they are in treating many infections once considered hopeless, are now seen to be merely the beginning of a new art of chemotherapy as chemists experiment with different atomic combinations. Metal fragments imbedded deep in the body can easily be spotted by the surgeon who has a Berman locator, a wand-like device which, moving over the body’s surface, gives an electric signal when it detects a buried piece of metal. It was first used at Pearl Harbor on the day of infamy.
Instead of drinking bitter medicine, you will be able to rub it on the skin and absorb it painlessly. Substances known as “penetrasols” have been discovered which penetrate the skin and carry such medicaments as sulfa drugs with them.
Then there are the amino acids which, as we have already seen, make such things as wool suits and fur coats They are even more important to your personal economy. Scientists are beginning to suspect that they are more important than vitamins, which have been greatly overemphasized at the expense of other vital food elements.
Lack of just one amino acid, tryptophane, causes animals to grow bald and makes them incapable of progeny. It is only a matter of months since purified amino acids have become largely available for experiment. Unquestionably they play a vital role in many obscure ailments and you are going to hear more about themâ€”especially if they become available in tablets and win a name that appeals to the imagination like “vitamins.”
After all, from the chemist’s point of view, you ere merely a chemical machine. What you are, what you wear, what you eat, is merely a matter of the proper atoms in the proper combination. In the brave days to come your atoms will be well cared for and life will be the better for it.