Τετάρτη, 4 Ιουνίου 2014

Newsletter for Wednesday 4 June


Feature for Today
On 4 Jun 1906, pathologist Howard T. Ricketts discovered that Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is caused by an unusual microbe spread by ticks. Its symptoms are similar to typhus except the rash starts at extremities and moves to the trunk. The disease causes high morbidity with about 70% of cases requiring hospitalization, without which, the untreated mortality rate is about 7% of cases.

He published a paper, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever which summarized his investigations into the nature and means and transmission of the disease. It is well worth finding out about his careful work by reading this report, given in his own words.

Book of the Day
On 4 Jun 1962, Charles William Beebe died, an American biologist whose lust for exploration took him to remarkable depths in the ocean, through the mountains and jungles of the Far East, and on studies of the complex ecology of the tropics. Today's Science Store pick is: The The Remarkable Life of William Beebe: Explorer and Naturalist, by Carol Grant Gould, who makes Beebe's biography read like a riveting adventure. Not surprising since his insatiable curiosity for natural world took him on such trips from the Galapagos Islands, to the jungles of British Guiana, from the comfort of the Bronx Zoo to the breath-taking danger of the previously unfathomed depths of the ocean in a four-foot diameter bathysphere of his own invention. This vibrant biography of a great naturalist gives him the recognition he deserves for his trailblazing work in environmental science.
Available for Kindle $19.24, New from $35.63 or  Used from $0.01 (as of time of writing).

Quotations for Today
"But as a nation we have not yet come to have a proper respect for the forest and to regard it as an indispensable part of our resources—one which is easily destroyed but difficult to replace; one which confers great benefits while it endures, but whose disappearance is accompanied by a train of evil consequences not readily foreseen and positively irreparable."(1906)
- Eliot Blackwelder, American zoologist and entomologist (born 4 Jun 1880) Quotes Icon
"We are at the dawn of a new era, the era of 'molecular biology' as I like to call it, and there is an urgency about the need for more intensive application of physics and chemistry, and specially of structure analysis, that is still not sufficiently appreciated. " (1968)
- William Thomas Astbury, English physical biochemist (died 4 Jun 1961) Quotes Icon
"The beauty and genius of a work of art may be reconceived, though its first material expression be destroyed; a vanished harmony may yet again inspire the composer, but when the last individual of a race of living things breathes no more, another heaven and another earth must pass before such a one can be again."
- C. William Beebe, American biologist, explorer and writer (died 4 Jun 1962) 

Before you look at today's web page, see if you can answer some of these questions about the events that happened on this day. Some of the names are very familiar. Others will likely stump you. Tickle your curiosity with these questions, then check your answers on today's web page.
On 4 Jun 1910, the inventor of the hovercraft was born. He began by testing the concept using kitchen scales, tin cans and a vacuum cleaner. The next year he built a working balsa wood model with a model-aircraft engine. The first full-scale prototype, SR-N1, weighed 7 tons and was capable of 60 knots. It crossed the English Channel in 1959 (with the inventor aboard). Hovercraft entered regular cross-channel service in 1968. He died 1 Jun 1999 .
Can you name this man?
Beno Gutenberg was born 4 Jun 1889, an American seismologist noted for his analyses of earthquake waves and the information they furnish about the physical properties of the Earth's interior. When he worked with Charles Richter, they developed a method of determining the intensity of earthquakes. Calculating the energy released by present-day shallow earthquakes, they showed that three-quarters of that energy occurs in a particular geographical region.
Where on the earth is this region?
William Beebe (1877-1962) was an American biologist, explorer, and writer on natural history. As director of tropical research for the New York Zoological Society from 1919, he led scientific expeditions to many parts of the world. He was the coinventor of the bathysphere, a spherical diving-vessel for use in underwater observations. In 1934, with Otis Barton, he descended in his bathysphere to a then record depth. 
To the nearest thousand feet, how deep was this record dive?

On 4 June of a certain year, the first total solar eclipse reliably recorded was noted by the Chinese.
To the nearest century, when was this earliest record made?
On 4 Jun 1984, the cloning of DNA sequences from an extinct animal was reported. Using samples from an over 140-yr-old hide  in a German museum, three Berkeley scientists managed to extract enough DNA from the animal's flesh to determine some of its sequences of "base pairs," the molecular rungs that link the two spiral halves of a DNA molecule. Technical problems make the study of ancient DNA difficult, since these molecules are often greatly fragmented. The scientists could show the animal's DNA was more closely related to the zebra than the horse. The animal was a brown, horselike beast with zebra stripes on the front of its body, which inhabited South Africa until it was exterminated by hunters in the early 19th century). 
Can you name this extinct animal?

In 1963, a U.S. patent for a "Toy Truck" (No. 3,091,888) was issued. The toy separated into a chassis, driver's cab, truck body, wheels and four axles so it could be reassembled in either a closed van body or dump truck form. When the wheel axles were put into place, they also held the also cab and body to the chassis. The truck body can be turned upside down and end for end in order to mount as either a van body, or a dump truck body with a swinging back end. As a dump truck, the body pivots on the wheel axles to tip its load, and the back wall swings open on its own pivots at the top of the wall.
What was remarkable about the inventor?


When you have your answers ready to all the questions above, you'll find all the information to check them, and more, on the June 4 web page of Today in Science History. Or, try this link first for just the brief answers.

Fast answers for the previous newsletter for June 3: lead; vanadium; Panama Canal; Newton's Principia; the decade including the year 1896; Thomas Watson.

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