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Science Worldwide
May 1965 Popular Mechanics

May 1965 Popular Mechanics
May 1965 Popular Mechanics - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early mechanics and electronics. See articles from Popular Mechanics, 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.

Science Worldwide

Science Worldwide, May 1965 Popular Mechanics - RF CafeMilk guaranteed not to sour for six months or more is being marketed by a large British dairy company. The "secret ingredient" is very high heat.

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 lines.

***

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 stability.

***

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 effort.

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

Science Editor

 

 

Posted February 6, 2024

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