50, 100, 150 Years Ago: May 2022

1972

“To what extent is staring an aggressive stimulus in human interactions? A group of psychologists at Stanford University had confederates stand at street corners and stare at people who were waiting for the traffic light to change to green. People who realized they were being stared at crossed the intersection faster than people who were not being stared at. The discovery opens up some interesting lines of research. Is a stare always perceived as a threat, even in the absence of other aggressive cues? Perhaps a stare is interpreted as an invasion of personal space rather than hostile intent.”

1922

Public Radio

“We are making substantial progress toward telephony from ship to shore. Recently an official of the Bell System was called at his residence in New Canaan, Conn., by Captain Rind, who was on his ship the ‘America,’ about 370 miles distant. Over 100,000 persons heard the conversation, because the radio link that connects the wire telephone system with the ship radio set makes use of radio waves that may be intercepted with amateur radio receiving sets. A telephone message, once given to the radio transmitter for propagation through the air, is virtually public property. As upwards of one-half million radio amateurs throughout the country know, it is the simplest matter to listen in. However, there are in which secrecy may ultimately be obtained for the radio link of a telephone system.”

Denial, Pre-Hindenburg

“There can be no question that the tragic loss of the ‘Roma,’ following all too closely upon the disaster to ‘ZR-2, whether’ has raised doubt as to lighter-than-air ships are practicable and safe. In the presence of such disasters it is easy to draw conclusions that are not justified by the facts. Bearing this in mind, we venture to state that there is nothing so far disclosed with regard to the wreck of these two ships which justifies the belief that transmission by this means is a dream which can never be realized on a large and profitable scale.”

The spectacular fireball that consumed the LZ 129 Hindenburg on May 6, 1937, effectively ended the age of airship travel.

1872

Vesuvius Erupts Again

“The volcano of Mount Vesuvius, near Naples, in Italy, has lately broken out with violent eruptions of lava, completely destroying some of the mountain villages. The lava streams advanced at the rate of three fifths of a mile per hour. Lightning darted incessantly from the summit, and the quakings of the mountain were violent and frequent. Burning cinders, stones, and scoriae fell fast and thick in the surrounding towns. This is the most destructive eruption that has taken place since 1631.”

Vesuvius has erupted many times since it consumed Pompei in CE 79. Its most recent significant eruption was in 1944.

Here There Be Dragons

“Among the remains discovered last year in Kansas by Professor [Othniel Charles] Marsh and party were bones of the flying dragon. Marsh judges that the dragons must have measured, from tip to tip of their extended wings, some twenty feet.”

Later work concluded Marsh had found some of the first pterosaur fossils in North America.

Exploding Pills

“Some pills prescribed by a physician in England contained one half grain nitrate of silver, one sixth grain nux vomica [a tree extract]and one half grain muriate of morphine, together with conserve of roses and extract of gentian [an herb]. They exploded in a very short time, evolving a considerable amount of heat. A similar case occurred in the practice of Dr. Jackson, of Nottingham, who prescribed pills containing four grains of nitrate of silver, one grain muriate of morphia and extract gentian. The patient, who had the box about her person, was badly burned.”

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