Science History



Amy Harmon's excellent, recent article in the New York Times describes how the Florida orange juice industry may soon be wiped-out because of a new bacterial disease spread by an introduced insect.  It looks like there could be a technology-fix for the problem using genetic engineering.  The question is whether the growers will get to apply that solution.
The contrarian in me forces me to argue against sides I would ordinarily agree with when the argument is made from a flawed premise; California's Proposition 37 got a thumbs down from me because there's no reason a terrifically unhealthy Whole Foods organic cupcake should have zero ingredient labeling requirements while a cupcake mix you buy in a store should have a warning label - the Whole Foods organic cupcake is far less healthy in every way.
Electric Batteries - by A. Volta

In this article I present my translation of Alessandro (Alexander) Volta's original French paper, which I published as -
Batteries électriques - By A. Volta
Batteries électriques - by Alexander Volta

In 1800 the Royal Society published Alexander Volta's description of how he built his batteries.

It is not widely known that Volta invented both the 'wet' and the 'dry' battery.  Most writers mention Volta's pile - a 'dry' battery, but omit to mention his 'crown of cups', or 'wet' battery.

News (?), Top-Secret (?), Latest revelation (?)
Strange, the EU was aware of the NSA (spying) global gathering of electronic data since 2001.  Sorry folks, this is not news.  I wrote about this several years ago in this forum under the title: Quantum Physics; Humor, Sensationalizing, Hard Science, Espionage

Part of this post is quoted below.

"Espionage-

In A. D. 1300 in Poland, more precisely in the region of Kashubia, was coined the term "nachzehrer" to define the female vampire, or "chewing the shroud" or "devourer of the night." 

The Nachzehrer would be a special kind of vampire who lives in a constant state of numbness in his grave, without understanding what is happening around and just like a child, chewing spasmodically his dress.

Most people, including many scientists and electrical engineers, have never heard of Wilhelm Josef Sinsteden.  He invented the lead-acid battery and published his findings in 1854.  In 1860 an improved construction by Gaston Raimond Planté was the first commercially viable version.  It is probably the wide marketing and adoption of the Planté cell which has led to so many books and articles - even a majority of scientific papers - stating that Planté invented the first of these batteries, usually giving 1859 as the date. 

Legendary Confederate fighter Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson died 150 years ago but the actual cause of his death has been a subject of debate. And it was again at the 20th annual Historical Clinicopathological Conference in Maryland.

Jackson got the nickname "Stonewall" from Confederate General Barnard E. Bee, when he moved an artillery battery up to support Bee's troops as they retreated at the First Battle of Bull Run (called First Manassas by Confederate troops)(1). Bee said of the mostly unheralded Colonel, "There is Jackson standing like a stone wall. Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer. Rally behind the Virginians."
Richard Holmes - Falling Upwards

Falling Upwards.  What a wonderful title for a history of ballooning.

As someone with more than a slight interest in the history of science and technology*, I intend to buy a copy of this new book.

Falling Upwards is a wonderful history of the early years of ballooning, crammed with adventures and musings. Beginning in the 1780s with the generation that thought travel would be revolutionised by the balloon, it finishes at the end of the 19th century, when ballooning appealed only to those wanting something “refreshingly unreliable: a means to mysterious adventure rather than a mode of mundane travel”.