5 October 1920: Science and technology shorts on the age of petroleum, life on Venus, others

Here is the science and technology news from the Racine Journal-News 90 years ago. Some of the science here is still valid, other parts are woefully out of date. Note the muffin recipe in the image on the right as well.


There are records of the use of tin by the ancients, but is rare that any implements of this metal are found by archaeologists. This is said to be due to the circumstance that a sort of decay does attack it, producing a change in its crystalline structure, the nature of which does not seem to be clearly understood. This ends in reducing the tin to a fine gray powder. The process proceeds much more rapidly at certain times than it does at others, and seems to be transmitted from one piece of tin to another.

Ruffled grouse, born in captivity, seem to crave human companionship.


If all electric energy in the United States were suddenly withdrawn, the loss to industry would run into the billions. Practically all of the 275,791 manufacturing plants of the nation, representing $22,790,980,000 in invested capital, use electric power in one way or another.

The Christening of a ship with a bottle of champagne is said to be a survival of the old blood sacrifice.

Venus, slightly smaller than earth and nearer to the sun, is enveloped by a cloud canopy such as that which covered our own world during the coal-forming period. If that planet is inhabited there must be a great demand for umbrellas.

A man’s head, particularly if he is a thinking man, according to one authority, continues to increase in size until he is forty or fifty years of age.

A report from Japan states that a trackless electric car company has recently been organized at Osaka, for purpose of providing trackless car service in various parts of the country. This is the first project of the kind in Japan.

Taking the 18 provinces of China as a whole, there are about 460 square miles of territory and 107,000 population per mile of railway. These figures with 40 square miles and 8,000 population for India, and 12 square miles with 3,800 population for the United States. Owing to the extent of waterways in China these average figures always will be higher there than in other countries.

The possible oil production of Mexico is estimated at nearly 2,000,000 barrels a day, though less than 9 per cent of this amount is exported at the present time, and but a fraction of Mexico’s oil territory has been prospected. In the brief sixteen years of its development it has climbed to the place of second producer of the world, and its wells are without a peer — indeed so far ahead of the other as hardly to admit of comparison.

There are more than three hundred separate products made from petroleum. High explosives are distilled from it, medicines, dyes, and even artificial flavorings — and yet we have but begun to understand this modern wonder-worker.

Statistics collected by the Bureau of Crop Estimates of the United States Department of Agriculture show that farm plow lands throughout the country increased in value per acre by nearly one-half in the last four years. Four years ago plow lands in the United States had the average value of $58.33; in 1917, the average was $62.17; in 1918, $68.38; in 1919, $74.31 and in the last week in March of the present year it was $90.01.

To harness up the chained water power of America would result in a saving of coal of upwards of 126,000,000 tons per year.

A reinforced concrete building 16 stories high is to be built in the leather district of New York city, just below Brooklyn Bridge. This is a record height for such a structure on Manhattan Island, where concrete has been used sparingly and only for lofts and factories.

The estimated production of bituminous coal in 1919 is 458,063,000 short tons. The amount of coal used by electric public utility plants during 1919 was 7.6 per cent, of the total produced.

While the cats are doing thir best to kill off rats and mice, five hundred experienced hunters are campaigning against the larger predatory animals. It has been estimated that over half a billion dollar’s worth of property in this country is destroyed each year by these animals.

The Swedish government’s order for more than 310 miles of long distance telephone cable is the first step in hooking up the extremities of the country via the telephone. This particular line contains a great number of circuits and will extend from Stockholm to Goteborg.

The age of petroleum is here. From an [sic] humble beginning in 1859 it has now reached a point where it is consumed in ever increasing quantities until the problem of its production has become one of the most absorbing of international questions — to that country.

Experiments, which have been said to have a satisfactory result, have been carried out in the laboratory of the Siemens works in Berlin, with a view to converting lignite tar oils into fatty acids by the action of ozone. Similar experiments carried out on a large scale by a process introduced by the city of Wiesbaden have led to equally satisfactory results.

Inscriptions in Egyptian tombs often contain directions by which the soul is to find its way to another world.


Gambling with dice and cards has prevailed from the earliest times. We do not read of gambling houses in the classic literature of Greece, but there can be no doubt that the vice was very widely practiced in private houses. In Rome, under the emperors, gambling prevailed very extensively. Augustus and most of the succeeding sovereign were passionately fond of the dice, and the Emperor Claidius wrote a book on the subject. A Roman would transport to a gambling resort his whole fortune — coins, papers, and chattels — and, after losing all, would even seize the cloks of his slaves to stake on a change of luck.

The modern kingdom of Saxony has no connection with the ancient tribe who settled in England. Its inhabitants are not Saxons.

Published in: on October 5, 2010 at 7:33 am  Leave a Comment  

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