Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Photographs from the Records of the National Woman's Party

Women of Protest

An online exhibit to mark the 85th anniversary of women's suffrage in the US.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

America on the Move

Introduction to the Smithsonian's Cycle Collection

An online exhibit, covering the early development of the bicycle to the 1960s.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Arts and Letters Daily

Arts and Letter Daily is a great compilation of articles, essays and reviews.

Some highlights to tempt you:

A couple other interesting websites that compile news information:

  • 10X10 - "Every hour, 10x10 collects the 100 words and pictures that matter most on a global scale, and presents them as a single image, taken to encapsulate that moment in time. Over the course of days, months, and years, 10x10 leaves a trail of these hourly statements which, stitched together side by side, form a continuous patchwork tapestry of human life."
  • Today's Front Pages - Front pages from 45 countries presented alphabetically

Monday, June 06, 2005

Another LII Miscellany!

Thursday, June 02, 2005


My new favorite online magazine, Invention and Technology, this edition featuring a former advisor (issue also contains articles on artificial turf and microwave ovens):

The Academic Grind: MIT once had a laboratory to test coffee

"Preserving food with radiation sounds very space-age, but in fact it was discovered before the first airplane flew. In 1898 Samuel Prescott, a professor of biology at MIT, subjected various foodstuffs to gamma rays and found that spoilage was greatly retarded. In another early triumph, he used bacteriology to extend the shelf life of canned goods. Prescott went on to become MIT’s dean of science, and in that role he continued his career-long goal of applying scientific methods to the improvement of everyday life.

As another article in the October 2004 Technology & Culture [Available through Project Muse and Proquest] explains, sometimes this quest took the form of scientifically determining how to make the perfect cup of coffee. Larry Owens, of the University of Massachusetts, writes that in 1920, with a $40,000 grant from an industry group, Prescott established MIT’s Coffee Research Laboratory to evaluate the product’s safety and find the most effective ways of brewing it. Lab workers fed rabbits enormous quantities of coffee and found their health unimpaired, though it must have made them even jumpier than usual. They also brewed coffee with a variety of techniques and had tasters evaluate the results. For the record, MIT’s researchers found that the drip method works best, preferably in a glass or ceramic pot; the water should be just below boiling; and the coffee should be freshly ground.

Under Prescott’s guidance, MIT continued its leading role in “sanitary science,” usually with a bit more microscope work involved, until his retirement in 1942. By then most of MIT’s biologists had come to consider the field an anachronism, and it was soon shunted off to a separate department.

The episode shows how much science changed between the turn of the century and World War II. In Prescott’s youth it had been entirely reasonable for an MIT professor of biology to spend his time perfecting candy and bananas and searching for “growth-producing rays” that would (as he predicted) “bring forth cows the size of brontosauri.” But by the end of his career the frontiers of biology had advanced far beyond the dinner table. Nowadays, developing the perfect cup of coffee is considered a job for a corporate laboratory, though MIT students do carry on Prescott’s tradition by researching coffee and other stimulants on an independent-study basis."

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Links Miscellany

Friday, May 13, 2005

LII Miscellany