By: John S. Houser
Date: July–August 1922
Source: Houser, John S. "The Airplane in Catalpa Sphinx Control." Monthly Bulletin [of the] Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station, July–August 1922, 132–133.
About the Author: John Samuel Houser (1881–1947) was born on a farm near Oxford, Kansas, and received an M.S. in entomology from Cornell University in 1911. He joined the staff of the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station in Wooster as assistant entomologist in 1903. In 1926, he became head of the department, a position he held until his death in 1947. He was a charter member of the Entomological Society of America, and in 1931 served as president of the American Association of Economic Entomologists.
In the eighteenth century, many prominent landowners wanted to infuse farming with science. Thomas Jefferson conducted his own experiments and urged others to do the same. George Washington asked Congress to create a national college to train farmers in the latest science.
During the nineteenth century, chemists began to clarify the details of plant nutrition, and in 1840 the German chemist Justus Liebig identified nitrogen as essential to plant growth. His efforts to popularize...
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My Life and Work
By: Henry Ford
Source: Ford, Henry, and Samuel Crowther. My Life and Work. Garden City, N.Y.: Garden City Publishing, 1922, 33–35.
About the Author: Henry Ford (1863–1947) was born on a farm near Dearborn, Michigan. During his late teens he began tinkering with the internal-combustion engine and in 1899 formed the Detroit Automobile Company, which later became the Cadillac Motor Car Company. In 1903 he founded the Ford Motor Company, which he eventually transformed into a multinational conglomerate in thirty-three countries.
The development of the steam engine in England in the eighteenth century led to the locomotive in the early nineteenth century and the automobile later in the century. Although the steam engine powered the first cars, it was too large and did not generate sufficient power. These shortcomings led inventors to experiment with the electric motor and the gasoline engine. Its power and compactness led the gasoline engine to dominate auto design during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. French and German inventors built gasoline engines as early as the 1860s, and in 1872 Gottlieb Daimler, a German engineer, began manufacturing stationary gasoline engines. In 1885...
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"The Present Status of Eugenical Sterilization in the United States"
By: Harry H. Laughlin
Source: Laughlin, Harry H. "The Present Status of Eugenical Sterilization in the United States." In Scientific Papers of the Second International Congress of Eugenics. Vol. II: Eugenics in Race and State. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1923, 286–291.
About the Author: Harry H. Laughlin (1880–1943) was born in Oskaloosa, Iowa, and received a Ph.D. in biology from Princeton University. He directed the Eugenics Record Office of the Carnegie Institute in Washington, D.C., between 1910 and 1940, using his authority to advance the claim that states had a duty to sterilize "socially inadequate" people. He lobbied Congress to ban immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, people Laughlin believed to be inferior to northern Europeans. He died in 1943 in Kirksville, Missouri.
In The Origin of Species (1859), Charles Darwin argued that natural selection changes species over time. His cousin Francis Galton believed the pace and direction of that change in human beings could be controlled by ensuring that the "best" people reproduced. He coined the word "eugenics" for the science of selective human breeding. During the nineteenth century, eugenics held wide humanitarian...
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"The Electron and the Light-Quant from the Experimental Point of View"
By: Robert A. Millikan
Date: May 23, 1924
Source: Millikan, Robert A. "The Electron and the Light-Quant from the Experimental Point of View." Nobel Lecture, May 23, 1924. Available online at http://www.nobel.se/physics/laureates/1923/millikan-lecture... ; website home page: http://www.nobel.se (accessed January 28, 2003).
About the Author: Robert Andrews Millikan (1868–1953) was born in in Morrison, Illinois, and received a Ph.D. in physics from Columbia University in 1895. That year he studied at two German universities, returning to the United States the next year to conduct research at the University of Chicago's Ryerson Laboratory. There he performed the oil-drop experiment that eventually would win him the 1923 Nobel Prize in physics. In 1921 he joined the faculty of the California Institute of Technology, where he remained until retirement in 1945. He died in 1953.
Around 400 B.C.E., the Greek philosopher Democritus proposed that indivisible particles, atoms, compose all matter. Another Greek philosopher, Epicurus, accepted this idea in the fourth century B.C.E., as did the Roman poet Lucretius in...
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"Mencken Likens Trial to a Religious Orgy, with Defendant a Beelzebub"
By: H.L. Mencken
Date: July 11, 1925
Source: Mencken, H.L. "Mencken Likens Trial to a Religious Orgy, with Defendant a Beelzebub." Baltimore Evening Sun, July 11, 1925. Available online at ; website homepage: http://www.etsu.edu/cas/history/hist.htm (accessed May 7, 2003).
About the Author: Henry Louis Mencken (1888–1956) was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and joined the Baltimore Herald as a reporter in 1899. Seven years later he moved to the Baltimore Sun, where he wrote until 1948. Throughout his career Mencken was a polarizing figure. Supporters admired his wit and literary taste. Critics disliked his pro-German bias, his contempt for the poor, and his hatred of Franklin D. Roosevelt. He died in in Baltimore in 1956.
As early as 1838, Charles Darwin hit upon the idea of natural selection as the mechanism for evolution, the change in species over time. Yet he did not publish this idea for more than twenty years for fear of controversy. A literal reading of Genesis maintained that God had created all species, including humans, in six days and in unalterable form. The theory of evolution by natural selection contradicts this...
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Chromosomes and Genes
Evolution and Genetics
By: Thomas Hunt Morgan
Source: Morgan, Thomas Hunt. Evolution and Genetics. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2d revised ed., 1925, 117–118. (First published as A Critique of the Theory of Evolution. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1916. Based on the Louis Clark Vanuxem Foundation lectures, delivered at Princeton University, February 24, March 1, 8, 15, 1916.)
About the Author: Thomas Hunt Morgan (1866–1945) was born in Kentucky and received a Ph.D. in embryology from Johns Hopkins University in 1891. In 1904 he became professor of experimental zoology at Columbia University, where his experiments with fruit flies became a cornerstone of genetics and won him the 1933 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. In 1928 he became professor of biology at the California Institute of Technology, where he remained until his death in 1945.
"The Gene as the Basis of Life"
By: Hermann J. Muller
Source: Muller, Hermann J. "The Gene as the Basis of Life." Proceedings of the International Congress of...
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By: William Mitchell
Source: Mitchell, William. Winged Defense: The Development and Possibilities of Modern Air Power—Economic and Military. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1925, ix–x, 3.
About the Author: William "Billy" Mitchell (1879–1936) served in the U.S. infantry during the Spanish-American War (1898) and in 1909 graduated from the U.S. Army Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. During World War I, he served as aviation officer of the American Expeditionary Force, and was promoted to brigadier general. After the war, he was appointed assistant chief of the air service. In 1925 the Army court-martialed him for insubordination because he blamed the Navy's loss of a dirigible on "criminal negligence." Mitchell resigned the next year and died ten years later.
World War I (1914–1918) shaped Billy Mitchell's understanding of the airplane's military potential. When the war began in 1914, the airplane was a technology little more than a decade old, and military observers would have been justified in predicting a minor role for it. Although European armies had used the airplane in small wars in Libya and the Balkans, senior generals had developed their strategies for a possible world...
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Journal Entry, May 5, 1926
By: Robert H. Goddard
Date: May 5, 1926
Source: Goddard, Robert H. Journal entry, May 5, 1926. In The Papers of Robert H. Goddard, Volume II: 1925–1937. Esther C. Goddard and Edward G. Pendray, eds. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1970, 588–589.
About the Author: Robert Hutchins Goddard (1882–1945) was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, and received a Ph.D. in physics from Clark University in 1911. He returned to Clark University as assistant professor of physics, and in 1919 he was promoted to full professor. He began experimenting with liquid-fuel rockets in the 1910s and during World War I developed a prototype of the bazooka. He launched the first liquid-fuel rocket in 1926. In recognition of his achievements, the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland was named in his honor in 1961.
The origins of rocketry lay in China. In 1232, Chinese soldiers repelled a Mongol attack by firing at them what some scholars believe were the first rockets. By then the Chinese may have invented gunpowder, which would likely have propelled these rockets. Europeans learned of the rocket from the Mongols, who used it in the Battle of Legnica in Poland in 1241, and Arabs used rockets in Spain in 1249.
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"X-Rays as a Branch of Optics"
By: Arthur Holly Compton
Date: December 12, 1927
Source: Compton, Arthur H. "X-Rays as a Branch of Optics." Lecture presented at Nobel Prize for Physics awards ceremony, December 12, 1927. Reproduced in "Arthur H. Compton—Nobel Lecture." Available online at http://www.nobel.se/physics/laureates/1927/compton-lecture.... ; website home page: http://www.nobel.se (accessed May 5, 2003).
About the Author: Arthur Holly Compton (1892–1962) was born in Wooster, Ohio, and received his Ph.D. in 1916 from Princeton University. He taught at the University of Minnesota before joining the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War I (1914–1918). After the war, he taught at Washington University in St. Louis until 1923, when he became professor of physics at the University of Chicago. In 1927, he shared the Nobel Prize in physics for his discovery of the Compton effect. During World War II (1939–1945), he helped develop the atomic bomb. In 1945, he returned to Washington University, where he remained until 1961. He died the next year.
The classical physics that Isaac Newton founded in the seventeenth century, and that...
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By: Charles A. Lindbergh
Source: Lindbergh, Charles A. We. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1927, 224–226.
About the Author: Charles Augustus Lindbergh (1902–1974) was born in in Detroit, Michigan. He enrolled in an Army flying school in Texas in 1924, becoming an airmail pilot in 1926. That year he received funding to compete for the $25,000 prize for the first nonstop flight between New York City and Paris. His flight the next year brought him world celebrity. Afterwards, Lindbergh flew across the United States, lecturing and making personal appearance to promote air travel. Thereafter he served as consultant to Ford Motor Company, United Aircraft Corporation, Pan American World Airway, and the U.S. Department of Defense. He died in 1974 in Hawaii.
Flight has intrigued humans since antiquity, but only in the nineteenth century did British experimenter George Cayley derive...
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Coming of Age in Samoa
By: Margaret Mead
Source: Mead, Margaret. Coming of Age in Samoa: A Psychological Study of Primitive Youth for Western Civilization. New York: Blue Ribbon Books, 1928. Reprint, American Museum of Natural History Special Members Edition. New York: American Museum of Natural History, in agreement with William Morrow and Co., 1973, 2–5.
About the Author: Margaret Mead (1901–1978) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and earned a Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University in 1929. From 1926 until her death in 1978, she was a curator in the Department of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. She wrote twenty-three books, coauthored more than twenty others, and wrote articles for Redbook magazine. She championed women's rights and opposed the nuclear arms race. At her death she was the world's most famous anthropologist.
The early twentieth century, and the 1920s in particular, witnessed a debate between scientists over the role of heredity and the environment in shaping human intelligence, personality, and behavior. Scientists label this debate "nature versus nurture," with "nature" being heredity and "nurture" being the environment....
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"The Exploration of Space"
By: Edwin P. Hubble
Date: May 1929
Source: Hubble, Edwin P. "The Exploration of Space." Harper's Magazine, May 1929, 732–733.
About the Author: Edwin Powell Hubble (1889–1953) was born in Kentucky. He majored in mathematics and astronomy at the University of Chicago and won a Rhodes Scholarship in 1910 to study law at Oxford University. He opened a law office in Kentucky in 1913, but the law bored Hubble, so he returned to the University of Chicago for a Ph.D. in astrophysics in 1917. Two years later he became an astronomer at Mount Wilson Observatory in California, where he spent most of his career. Hubble provided the first evidence that the universe is expanding, laying the foundation for the Big Bang theory. NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990, was named in his honor.
Edwin Hubble's field of study, cosmology, may be the oldest science. The ancient Sumerians, Babylonians, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Chaldeans, Maya, and Aztecs all mapped the heavens. The Greek Aristarchus understood that the earth revolves around the sun, an idea Nicholas Copernicus revived in the sixteenth century.
Yet Copernicus, like the ancients, had no inkling of the universe's vastness. In...
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By: Eugene O'Neill
Source: O'Neill, Eugene. Dynamo. New York: H. Liveright, 1929. Reprinted in O'Neill: Complete Plays 1920–1931. New York: Viking Press, 1988, 873–874.
About the Author: Eugene Gladstone O'Neill (1888–1953) was born in New York City. His father's success as an actor did not at first lead O'Neill to the theater. After a year at Princeton University, he drank and drifted. In 1912 he contracted tuberculosis and vowed that if he recovered he would become a playwright. He wrote more than thirty plays before a degenerative disease undermined his health in the 1940s. Four of his plays were awarded the Pulitzer Prize, and critical acclaim culminated in the Nobel Prize for literature in 1936. He was the first and (as of 2002) remains the only American playwright to have won a Nobel Prize.
Salient developments in science and technology influenced American literature during the 1920s. One...
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