|May 1965 Popular Mechanics
[Table of Contents]
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early
mechanics and electronics. See articles from
published continuously since 1902. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.
Prior to the availability
of Internet news websites, magazines were one of the primary sources for
learning of recent happenings in science, engineering, mechanics, medicine, and
other technical subjects. Newspapers carried stories put out by sources like the
Associated Press (AP) and United Press International (UPI), but unless something
world-changing happened, the reports were usually buried deep inside the pages
where almost nobody saw it. Publications like Popular Science,
Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, Science and Mechanics,
etc., were one of the best sources for a wide range of subjects. Most of them
dedicated a few pages each month to sections like this "Science Worldwide"
collection of newsworthy items in a 1965 issue of Popular Mechanics. At
that time, the island of Bermuda had finally been accurately located thanks to
being able to observe the positions of
Echo I and Echo II satellites in orbit against a background of fixed stars
(we'll they're not really fixed, but traverse the sky in apparent position via
"proper motion"). No doubt GPS positioning has more precisely located Bermuda
since then. Note the "The meteorological climate" item.
Milk guaranteed not to sour for six months or more is being
marketed by a large British dairy company. The "secret ingredient" is very high
Milk is passed over steam-heated plates, quickly bringing it up to 270 degrees
F., more than 100 degrees higher than temperatures used in ordinary pasteurization
processes. It's then put into sterile, plastic-coated cartons.
In flavor, the milk is reported to be "virtually indistinguishable" from the
usual pasteurized product. Because of marketing regulations, the milk has yet to
be sold in Britain. But the company has been exporting it and selling it to steamship
Satellites have finally enabled science to pinpoint the exact
location of Bermuda - over 400 years after its discovery. By sighting the Echo I
and II satellites against their star background, the Coast and Geodetic Survey has
placed Bermuda 220 feet north and 105 feet west of the location determined by the
Air Force in 1959.
A lunar "sea" has been found on earth. It's a 37-by-17 mile
area near Sudbury, Ont., that was created in the same manner as a mare on the moon
- by the impact of a large meteor, which melted rock and caused lava to flow.
The collision took place about 1.7 billion years ago, it's estimated, and it
produced energy equal to the explosion of seven million megatons of TNT. By comparison,
the largest hydrogen bombs are rated at less than 100 megatons.
The smooth, bowl-like depression is the site of a $500-million-a-year Canadian
nickel mining operation.
Don't underestimate the inner strength of the poet and dreamer.
That's one conclusion that can be drawn from the results of a recent New York University
study of the effects of isolation on human beings. Subjects spent from four to 72
hours in a soundless room, with vision cut off and movement restricted.
"The Jack Armstrong, athletic, square-jawed type" tended to go to pieces when
cut off from his normal environment, report the psychologists who directed the study.
The "poet" type, the more imaginative and introspective person, showed much more
Ten words will enable an astronaut outside of his spaceship
to control his personal rocket pack; the pack will contain gas under pressure and
nozzles to spurt it in different directions. Because the astronaut will be using
tools (coupling space stations, making repairs), his hands won't be free to push
buttons or work levers. So U.S. space engineers have developed a device that converts
the sound of a spoken word into an electronic signal. It's thought that 10 such
signals would be needed to steer a rocket pack.
Oranges can now be stored for as long as eight months. After
being harvested, the oranges are put in a cold, low-oxygen atmosphere that prevents
respiration of the fruit and so retards spoilage. So says the developer of the new
system, one of our large appliance manufacturers.
Shrink the earth by about 45 percent in volume and South America
would fit snugly against Africa, like two pieces of a picture puzzle. North America,
Greenland and Europe would match up, too.
This fact has long given rise to scientific speculations. A recent one, by British
physicist K. M. Creer, ties in with a theory of an expanding earth. If, says the
scientist, the earth was once about 55 percent its present size and wholly covered
by land, and if it then ballooned to its present size, the broken pieces of land
mass would have shaped up just about the way they are now. Source of the tremendous
energy needed to have caused this, however, is a mystery.
Laundered oil is big business. The industry came into being
after the National Bureau of Standards determined that crankcase oil doesn't wear
out; it only gets dirty. Today, member firms of the Association of Petroleum Rerefiners
turn out some 400 million quarts of reprocessed oil a year. Some sports-car buffs
prefer it, regarding it as a purer oil than the original product. In reprocessing,
the oil is cleaned chemically and put through special filters.
Bidrin, a chemical that's injected into elm trees to poison
the bark-eating elm beetle, has been approved by the Department of Agriculture for
use by professionals; it's too toxic to be sold to the public. Killing the beetle
is effective because the insect carries, from tree to tree, the fungus that causes
the disease. But if you read the April, 1964, issue of PM, none of this is news
to you. Fighting Dutch elm disease with Bidrin was described in an article called
We Can Save Our Elms (page 122).
The meteorological climate in Washington has been a changeable
affair during the last 100,000 years. Right under the White House (where the political
climate changes often enough) are the remains of a swamp where Labrador-type trees
grew some 70,000 years ago.
Grains of pollen identify the trees and radioactive carbon dating tells when
they grew, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was cold along the Potomac
then, although the glaciers didn't get quite that far south. A few thousand years
earlier, there were warm-country cypress swamps. And a few thousand years after
the long cold snap, it was again much warmer than now.
A shrimp's world is mostly blue. That fact was recently established
by a scientist at the Scripps Institution in California. A lobster, on the other
hand, sees green. The researcher pinpointed these colors by isolating light-sensitive
pigments in the eyes of the sea creatures.
Is there life on Mars? That question has long intrigued scientists,
among them Judie Herr, a science fair winner and freshman at Florida State. She
has spent six years probing it.
Judie took a common moss and painstakingly made it adapt to a "Martian" climate.
She introduced minute changes in the nitrogen and moisture content in the flask
containing the plant until it was living in an atmosphere similar to that thought
to exist on Mars.
This summer Judie and other scientists interested in Mars may be able to check
the results of their experiments against brand-new findings sent back to us by Mariner
IV. This ambitious space investigation is described in Unmasking Mars: What Our
Flyby Will Show. You'll find it on page 78 of this issue.
High-school students tend to think they're smarter than they
actually are, according to a study recently completed by the Russell Sage Foundation.
Girls tend to rate themselves less bright than boys, though they may be equal or
better, and "in their negotiations with the opposite sex are careful to play down
any intellectual challenge."
A big food producer - Thomas J. Lipton, Inc. - has confirmed
that it is experimenting with the use of radiation to soften vegetables for its
dehydrated soups. Main advantage would be cutting the cooking time from 10 minutes
to one. For more information on irradiated foods, read Wonderful World of Irradiated
Miracles (page 85 March '65 PM).
The ability to produce an exact copy of the atmosphere of the
sun has come close to realization at the University of California.
Physicists there have invented an easily controlled method of heating up a quart
volume of gas to the temperature of the sun's atmosphere. By adding a whiff of this
and a whiff of that to the super-heated gas, they hope to make the light it gives
off match precisely that of the sun.
If the artificial light is a perfect match, under spectroscopic analysis, then
they will figure their gas mix is the same as the sun's.
Special trousers that attach to the seat of a car offer good
protection to a child. That's the claim of the Dutch safety expert who designed
them. He says the pants permit the child to sit or stand, but prevent his being
thrown forward in a head-on collision.
The secret of good mixing - whether you're working with paint,
milkshakes or cake batter - is to tip the bowl or container. That way, says a professor
of chemical engineering at Purdue University, you get vertical currents in addition
to the usual circular stirring motion. The mixing will be done faster and with less
To blend coffee, cream and sugar faster, according to the Purdue scientist, you
should move the spoon back and forth across the cup instead of round and round.
John F. Pearson
Posted February 6, 2024