By: David B. Peakall
Date: April 1970
Source: Peakall, David B. "Pesticides and the Reproduction of Birds." Scientific American, April 1970, 72–78.
About the Author: David B. Peakall (1931–2001) was born in Purley, England, and received a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of London in 1956. In 1960, he immigrated to the U.S., where he taught pharmacology at Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, New York. Two years later, he became assistant professor of pharmacology at the State University of New York. In 1968, he became senior research associate at Cornell University's Laboratory of Ornithology.
In 1939, a Swiss chemical company, J.R. Geigy, developed dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), a new type of insecticide. Older insecticides, many of them arsenic compounds, killed insects only if the bugs ate the toxin. By contrast, DDT killed on contact—that is, insects did not need to eat DDT to die from it; they merely needed to step on a spot sprayed with it.
In 1942, Geigy gave samples of DDT to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Working with agricultural and mechanical colleges and agricultural experiment stations, the USDA publicized DDT as a miracle...
(The entire section is 1760 words.)
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"The Green Revolution, Peace, and Humanity"
By: Norman E. Borlaug
Date: December 11, 1970
Source: Borlaug, Norman E. "The Green Revolution, Peace, and Humanity." Nobel lecture, December 11, 1970. Published in Les Prix Nobel. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International, 1970. Reproduced in the Nobel e-Museum. Available online at http://www.nobel.se/peace/laureates/1970/borlaug-lecture.ht... ; website homepage: http://www.nobel.se (accessed September 27, 2002).
About the Author: Norman Ernest Borlaug (1914–) was born in Cresco, Iowa, and received a Ph.D. in plant pathology from the University of Minnesota in 1942. In 1944, he became a geneticist and plant pathologist at the Cooperative Wheat Research and Production Program in Mexico. There, he bred disease-resistant, high-yielding grains, including dwarf wheat capable of being cultivated worldwide.
Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, two of America's leading eighteenth-century scientists and statesmen, believed that science could radically improve Americans' lives. Its greatest value, they felt, would be in teaching farmers how to produce larger harvests, thereby bringing Americans cheap,...
(The entire section is 1977 words.)
"Punctuated Equilibria: An Alternative to Phyletic Gradualism"
By: Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould
Source: Eldredge, Niles, and Stephen Jay Gould. "Punctuated Equilibria: An Alternative to Phyletic Gradualism." Chapter 5 in Models in Paleobiology. Thomas J.M. Schopf, ed. San Francisco: Freeman, Cooper & Company, 1972, 83–84, 96–97.
About the Author: Niles Eldredge (1943–) was born in Brooklyn, New York, and received a Ph.D. in geology from Columbia University in 1969. From 1969 to 1974, he was assistant curator of invertebrates at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. He was promoted to associate curator in 1974 and curator in 1979. He has taught as an adjunct at City University of New York and Columbia University.
Stephen Jay Gould (1941–2002) was born in New York City and received a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1967. That year he joined the faculty at Harvard University, rising to become a professor of biology, geology and history of science. His books and articles found an audience among both scholars and the wider public.
British naturalist Charles Darwin announced his theory of evolution by natural selection in On the Origin of Species (1859). He asserted that some offspring in each...
(The entire section is 2186 words.)
By: Carl Sagan, Francis Crick, and L.M. Murkhin
Source: Sagan, Carl, Francis Crick, and L.M. Murkhin. "Extraterrestrial Life." In Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence (CETI). Carl Sagan, ed. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1973, 54–57.
About the Author: Carl Edward Sagan (1934–1996) was born in Brooklyn, New York, and received a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Chicago in 1960. He taught at the University of California-Berkeley and Harvard University. In 1968 he joined the staff of Cornell University. Sagan is best known for his efforts to make science understandable for the general public. He authored over a dozen books, including the Pulitzer Prize winning The Dragons of Eden (1978). Sagan was also a television personality, appearing frequently on The Tonight Show and hosting a popular TV special Cosmos.
Scientists long have debated whether life exists elsewhere in the universe. In 1903, Alfred Russell Wallace, British naturalist and co-discoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection, asserted that the complexity of even the simplest bacterium, and the fine-tuning of earth's chemical and physical conditions, make the origin of life so improbable...
(The entire section is 2190 words.)
By: Henry M. Morris
Source: Morris, Henry M., ed. Scientific Creationism. San Diego, Calif.: CLP Publishers, 1974, 8–10.
About the Author: Henry M. Morris (1918–) was born in Houston, Texas, and received a Ph.D. in hydraulic engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1950. Between 1957 and 1970, he chaired the department of civil engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. He founded, in 1961, the Institute for Creation Research, an organization that denies evolution in favor of a literal reading of Genesis, and he served as its director.
Evolution has long dismayed religious leaders, for evolution claims that all life, including human life, traces its origin to bacterium nearly four billion years ago. Where in this long trek from bacterium to human did humans receive an immortal soul? Was it necessary to suppose God created life and played a role in its evolution? And, if so, what was this role? If humans had evolved from primitive life, how had God created them "in his image," as the Bible asserts?
Evolution's implications disturbed religious leaders, who attacked French naturalist Jean Baptiste Lamarck for proposing evolution in 1809 and the...
(The entire section is 2100 words.)
Sociobiology: The New Synthesis
By: Edward O. Wilson
Source: Wilson, Edward O. Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press/Harvard University Press, 1975, 254–255.
About the Author: Edward Osborn Wilson (1929–) was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and received a Ph.D. in entomology from Harvard University in 1955. An authority on ants, he has published articles and books on their behavior. He became professor at Harvard in 1956 and published Sociobiology in 1975, arguing that genes predispose humans to behave within a narrow range of options. In 1990, he shared Sweden's prestigious Crafoord Prize with Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich.
In the early 20th century, American psychologists John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner founded behaviorism. They sought to measure and record behavior as a scientist gathers data from an experiment. They observed that animals, including humans, modified their behavior in response to their environment. One's surroundings shaped behavior and, ultimately, the person. Children could rise to their potential in an environment of parental love, stimulating books and toys, and proper nutrition or descend into criminality in an environment of abuse and neglect....
(The entire section is 1692 words.)
By: Robert L. Trivers and Hope Hare
Date: January 23, 1976
Source: Trivers, Robert L., and Hope Hare. "Haplodiploidy and the Evolution of the Social Insects." Science 191, no. 4224, January 23, 1976, 250, 261.
About the Authors: Robert L. Trivers (1943–) was born in Washington, D.C., and received a Ph.D. in anthropology from Harvard University in 1965. He is professor of anthropology and biological sciences at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. His research focuses on social evolution and natural selection.
Hope Hare (1951–) was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and received an M.S. in genetics from Yale University in 1974. Since then, she has been a research assistant at Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology.
In 1866, Gregor Mendel announced that particles (genes) code for traits in pea plants and, by implication, all life. These particles pass unaltered from generation to generation. In humans, genes code for skin color, eye color, hair color and texture, the shape and length of the nose, the thickness of lips, and much else. Between 1909 and 1927, Columbia University embryologist Thomas Hunt Morgan and his team of researchers demonstrated that genes...
(The entire section is 1835 words.)
"Ethiopia Yields First 'Family' of Early Man"
By: Donald C. Johanson
Date: December 1976
Source: Johanson, Donald C. "Ethiopia Yields First 'Family' of Early Man." National Geographic 150, December 1976, 791–793.
About the Author: Donald C. Johanson (1943–) was born in Chicago, Illinois, and received a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Chicago in 1974. That year, he became curator at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in Ohio. Johanson rose to world fame by his discovery of Lucy, a 40 percent complete skeleton of an Australopithecine female. In 1981, he founded the Institute of Human Origins at Berkeley, California.
British naturalist Charles Darwin announced in On the Origin of Species (1859) that all life, including humans, evolved from primitive ancestors. Three years earlier, a teacher in Germany, Carl Fuhlrott, identified a partial skeleton from the Neander Valley (hence the name "Neanderthal Man") as the remains of a robustly-built early man. Additional Neanderthal discoveries followed, and in 1897 Dutch physician Eugene Dubois found the partial cranium and femur of a more primitive early man, Homo erectus (upright man) in Indonesia.
Especially important was British anatomist Raymond...
(The entire section is 1631 words.)
Energy: The Solar Prospect
By: Denis Hayes
Date: March 1977
Source: Hayes, Denis. Energy: The Solar Prospect. Worldwatch Paper 11. [Washington]: Worldwatch Institute, 1977, 21–23.
About the Author: Denis Allen Hayes (1944–) was born in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, and graduated from Stanford University Law School in 1985. In 1969, he founded Environmental Action Inc. in Washington, D.C. He was a visiting scholar at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., in 1971 and 1972. In 1974 and 1975, he was director of the Illinois State Energy Office in Springfield. He was a senior researcher at Worldwatch Institute in Washington, D.C., from 1975 to 1979.
Since the nineteenth century, Americans have depended on fossil fuels for energy. Petroleum refined into gasoline made possible the widespread use of the automobile in the early twentieth century, and the burning of coal and natural gas generated electricity.
Alternatives existed, but they supplied only a fraction of domestic needs. In 1882, a Wisconsin utility built the first hydroelectric plant in the United States. In a hydroelectric plant, falling water rushes through a turbine, spinning it to generate electricity. Another alternative is nuclear power. In...
(The entire section is 1738 words.)
"Microelectronics and the Personal Computer"
By: Alan C. Kay
Date: September 1977
Source: Kay, Alan C. "Microelectronics and the Personal Computer." Scientific American, September 1977, 231, 242–244.
About the Author: Alan C. Kay (1941–) was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, and received a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Utah in 1969. In 1970, he became professor at Stanford University's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Two years later, he joined the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in California. In 1984, he became research fellow at Apple Computer.
The first computers were large and massive, in part because their circuitry contained vacuum tubes, large partly or wholly evacuated cylinders through which an electric charge passed. Computers of...
(The entire section is 2135 words.)
"The Surface of Mars"
By: Raymond E. Arvidson, Alan B. Binder, and Kenneth L. Jones
Date: March 1978
Source: Arvidson, Raymond E., Alan B. Binder, and Kenneth L. Jones. "The Surface of Mars." Scientific American, March 1978, 76, 81–83.
About the Authors: Raymond Ernest Arvidson (1948–) was born in Brooklyn, New York, and received a Ph.D. in geology from Brown University in 1974. Between 1974 and 1984, he taught at Brown University. In 1984, he became professor of earth and planetary science at Washington University in St. Louis, being promoted to department chair in 1991.
Alan B. Binder (1939–) was born in San Diego, California, and received a Ph.D. in geology from the University of Arizona. He is a research scientist at the University of Kiel in Germany, where he specializes in examining lunar rock. Kenneth Lester Jones (1905–) was born in Keweenaw Bay, Michigan, and received a Ph.D. in botany from the University of Michigan in 1933. Between 1929 and 1937, he was an instructor at the University of Michigan, being promoted to assistant professor in 1937 and to department chair in 1950. Since 1977, he has been emeritus professor of biological sciences at the University of Michigan.
(The entire section is 2570 words.)
Science Policy Implications of DNA Recombinant Molecule Research
By: U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology. Subcommittee on Science, Research and Technology
Date: March 1978
Source: U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology. Subcommittee on Science, Research and Technology. Science Policy Implications of DNA Recombinant Molecule Research. 95th Cong., 2d sess., 1978. Committee Print 10. 15–17.
About the Organization: Congress created the Committee on Science and Technology for the U.S. House of Representatives, in 1958, as the Select Committee on Astronautics and Space Exploration. In 1974, Congress changed the name to the Committee on Science and Technology, giving it jurisdiction over scientific research and development, energy, and environmental, atmospheric, and civil aviation research and development.
In 1866, Austrian monk Gregor Mendel announced that particles (genes) code for traits in pea plants and, by implication, all life. These are passed unaltered from generation to generation. Scientists paid scant attention to his work until 1900, when three scientists rediscovered his paper on pea hybridization. Early in the twentieth century, they understood that genes code for traits through a chemical pathway, implying that genes must be molecules....
(The entire section is 2051 words.)
Laying Waste: The Poisoning of America by Toxic Chemicals
By: Michael H. Brown
Source: Brown, Michael H. Laying Waste: The Poisoning of America by Toxic Chemicals. New York: Pantheon Books, 1979, 4–7.
About the Author: Michael Harold Brown was born in Niagara Falls, New York, in 1952 and received a B.A. from Fordham University in 1974. Between 1977 and 1979, he wrote for the Niagara Gazette, leaving in 1979 to become an independent writer. He received four Pulitzer Prize nominations in journalism for his reporting of the effect of toxic waste at Love Canal in Niagara Falls. In 1979, the Environmental Protection Agency honored him for his coverage of Love Canal.
Love Canal is perhaps a misnomer, for it never was a canal but rather an unfinished portion of the Erie Canal. The city of Niagara Falls, New York, unable to use Love Canal for transit, instead made it a cesspool, dumping refuse in it as early as 1920. The fact that the city owned Love Canal, that it had designated the site a landfill, and that environmental laws were lax combined to allow the city to dump what it wished into the canal. Amid the Great Depression, the city gained revenues in 1933 by leasing to the U.S. Army the right to dump waste into Love Canal. Among other toxins,...
(The entire section is 2656 words.)
Investigation into the March 28, 1979, Three Mile Island Accident
By: Office of Inspection and Enforcement, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Source: Office of Inspection and Enforcement, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Investigation into the March 28, 1979, Three Mile Island Accident. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1979.
About the Organization: In 1974, Congress created the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to oversee the safety of U.S. nuclear power plants. It licenses the construction of new plants and oversees the use, processing and disposal of nuclear waste. Commissioners serve by presidential appointment.
In 1831, British physicist Michael Faraday discovered that he could generate an electric current by spinning a coil of copper wire between the north and south poles of a magnet. Utilities could generate electricity on a large scale by spinning a turbine, the equivalent of spinning a coil of copper wire between a magnet's poles.
Until 1955, U.S. utilities generated electricity in two ways. First, they burned the fossil fuels coal and natural gas to boil water. The steam from the boiling water would rush through a turbine, spinning it to generate electricity. Second, they built hydroelectric plants—the first in Wisconsin in 1882—in...
(The entire section is 1672 words.)