In this 1948 DC comic, a benevolent Eye-In-The-Sky presented a stark contrast to George Orwell’s Big Brother of 1984. Orwell completed his classic in 1948 – it was a warning to the future based on his observations of British propaganda and the government use of communication technologies during that time.
Hey kids! Pull up your bobby socks and get ready to duck and cover ’cause we’re visiting the American Museum of Atomic Energy! I’m sure you’ve heard about that little project during WWII called the Manhattan Project, right? You know, atomic bombs and such. The souvenir beanie above is telling the truth when it says, “Oak Ridge, Tennessee is the home of the atomic bomb. This “secret city” sprouted up during the war years and in its factories the atomic bomb was built. After the war, the town shifted to civilian control.
In 1949, Oak Ridge also became the home of the American Museum of Atomic Energy! This was the place to learn about the benefits of the all powerful atom. More importantly, it was the place where you could get a radioactive dime to take home as a souvenir!
In the brochure pictured above, it looks like those teenagers are having fun feeding the machine dimes. Boy, that sure beats getting a wooden nickel for a souvenir!
Unfortunately, the dime didn’t glow like my exaggerated example, but that’s how I like to imagine it when it came out of the machine. In reality, the radiation faded away quickly and the dime was supposedly safe to stick in your pocket. (Click here for more info on irradiated dimes and here for another photo.)
The museum was much more than radioactive dimes according to these excerpts from the brochure.
The Dagwood Splits the Atom exhibit looks like fun! Science is always better when explained by comic characters. Apparently this exhibit made the rounds to various fairs and museums. Click here and here to view the official comic.
Here you get to see a schematic model of plants that helped build the atomic bomb.
The first gas diffusion separation is on display. (You know, I really don’t know what any of this means, but it sure does sound interesting!
The Theatre of the Atom. I think this is where an audience member would get their hair zapped. Click here to see this gal get a new atomic hairdo!
The American Museum of Atomic Energy moved to a new location in 1975 and in 1978 the name was changed to American Museum of Science and Energy. Even though they don’t have a dime irradiator machine the place still looks like a fun family outing.
I leave with you this very cool photo of a vintage bowling shirt from Oak Ridge. I snapped this pic at the Bowling Hall of Fame back when it was located in St. Louis, Missouri.
Before digital everything a number of families, and creative sorts, purchased the old 16-or-8mm camera to film those ‘special moments’ of a day in the life. The imaginative kids quickly figured out the magic of the frame and would often take their little action figures and toys and experiment with their own kind of film-making. The above 16mm Kodachrome stop-motion test print for Camel cigarettes is pretty raw – but every person who remembers the joys of 16-or-8mm film will quickly recall that pleasantly strange world that would come alive with the passing of each frame.
If you’re curious to read more about this particular print click here to get the scoop at Cartoon Research.
This is a fine example of the Arnold ‘Primal’ streamlined coupe made in the ‘US-Zone Germany’ – probably late 1940s – early 1950s. It’s 9 1/2″ in length, has two neat composition passengers, and is powered by a unique crank mechanism. The rear seat even has a stylish plaid pattern.
Milestone Auctions has it up for grabs on liveauctioneers, Lot 478. Bidding is open and the auction goes live 7:00 AM PT – Dec 12.
The Arnold ‘Primal’ Streamlined Coupe Rear View – it’s missing a tail light but like they say, ‘that gives it character.’ The ‘Primal’ emblem can be seen on the back and sides. It also has rubber white-wall tires.
The Wind-Up Mechanism – It’s wound with the crank then the button on the side is pushed. The ‘Primal’ design…way cool.
A View From The Front – Such a nice looking couple. And check the seat cover design. Of course it has a front (and rear) license plate for a nice touch. And the chrome…
The ‘Primal’ made by Arnold of West Germany – A neat little mid-century cold-war artifact.
Frank Tinsley (1899-1965) was a concept artist during a time when the imagination was the only limit. During the late 1940s and through much of the 1950s, Tinsley found a home at Mechanix Illustrated magazine. He wrote and illustrated numerous articles that mused about the future of technology, transportation, strategic military weapons and equipment, and space exploration. Tinsley was a man with a lot of ideas.
When America Bosch Arma Corporation decided to run an advertising campaign to promote their inertial and military guidance systems and space technology, they turned to Frank Tinsley to illustrate their concepts. Below are some his works for the Steps In The Race To Outer Space campaign, with descriptions from the adverts.
This 30-foot high Unicycle is designed for preliminary exploration of the moon, once a base camp has been established. It’s entirely constructed of inflated, rubberized fabric, with the exception of strengthening members, hatches and a few other items of equipment. Gyros stabilize and steer the vehicle: electric motors furnish the driving power. – Illustration: Frank Tinsley, 1958.
This imaginative but technically accurate illustration shows a permanent satellite (center) being constructed in orbit around the Earth. It generates its own heat and electricity from solar rays. Basic vegetation (such as algae) for oxygen as well as protein-rich foods are grown in hydroponic tubes in upper level ‘greenhouses.’ – Illustration: Frank Tinsley, November 1958.
This nuclear-fueled reconnaissance craft is preparing to land on Mars’ outermost satellite, Deimos – 12,000 miles away from the ‘red planet’ (center) and 35 million miles away from Earth. – Illustration: Frank Tinsley, January 1959.
Spreading its wings to absorb the eternal flow of solar energy is the Cosmic Butterfly, a space vehicle of a type first conceived by Dr. Ernst Stuhlinger of Redstone Arsenal. – Illustration Frank Tinsley, March 1959.
The space-assembled super satellites of the future will periodically encounter disaster – collision, mechanical failure, military attack, or the long chance of being hit by a meteorite. When this happens, ‘lifeboats’ like the one shown here will bring the crews safely back to Earth. – Illustration: Frank Tinsley, March 1960.
By 1970 our solar system will be filled with expended satellites – whirling aimlessly in space with dead batteries and electronic equipment, their missions long since completed. As space traffic increases, these derelicts will have to be captured and put out of orbit to keep flight paths clear. For this task, special towboats will be designed and crews trained. – Illustration: Frank Tinsley, May 1960.
[Enigma is] the legendary World War II ciphering machine developed by Berlin engineer Dr. Arthur Scherbius and first manufactured there commercially by the Chiffriermaschinen Aktiengesellschaft [Cipher Machines Corporation] Berlin in 1923. So complex was the Enigma, it was considered capable of producing over 22 billion code combinations without a single repetition. According to an early prospectus, ‘if someone worked continuously day and night and tried a different cipher-key every minute, it would take 42,000 years to exhaust all combination possibilities.‘
Enigma in action on the Russian front.
In operation, each keystroke illuminated a different character and caused one or more rotors to shift fractionally, so that a different combination was created every time. Decryption required codebooks and a list of daily key settings.
How Enigma was finally figured out – and its messages decoded by the Allies – is a storied affair. It began in 1938 with Polish Cipher Bureau cryptologist Marian Rejewski developing his bomba kryptologiczna (Polish for cryptologic bomb). Due to the ‘deteriorating political situation,’ Rejewski and the Poles shared the Enigma-breaking techniques and equipment with the French and British in July 1939. Alan Turing then produced the initial design of the bombe at the UK Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park. Turing’s original design, while brilliant in theory, presented a major impracticality in the physical realm. This was solved in 1940 when Gordon Welchman devised an important design refinement, the ‘diagonal board’, that rendered the device substantially more efficient in the attack on ciphers generated by the German Enigma machine. The engineering design and construction was the work of Harold Keen of the British Tabulating Machine Company. If you are interested in the details of The Turing Bombe you’ll find a wealth of info here.
The Bombe Front and Back. Designed by Alan Turing. Bombe took the form of emulating several hundred Enigma rotors, as well as functioning as a logical electrical circuit to automate the deductions needed to rule out flawed possible attempts. (Photo by Peter Oram)
That’s a lot of computing power and a lot of machine. It emphasizes the incredible cryptologic power of Enigma itself. Wikipedia’s entry on this fascinating machine is quite thorough, click here to learn more about its design and operation, as well as a host of other interesting info. A point well made at Wikipedia is this:
Though Enigma had some cryptographic weaknesses, in practice it was German procedural flaws, operator mistakes, failure to systematically introduce changes in encipherment procedures, and Allied capture of key tables and hardware that, during the war, enabled Allied cryptologists to succeed.
There is beauty in simplicity. Below are some pics of an EnigmaK-Model machine, manufactured by Chiffriermaschinen-Ges. Heimsoeth und Rinke, Berlin, c. 1939. Looking at it one would not expect it to be such a robust mystery machine.
4-Rotor Ciphering Machine Enigma K-Model set, with an external lamp panel and a separate power supply in an oak case.
Enigma K-Model set, with uplifted covers showing the minimal rotor, key, and external lamp panel design.
The Compact Internal Lamp Panel Fits Between The Keyboard and The Rotors.
Expertly Machined Removable Rotors
A Separate Power Supply In An Oak Case
This type of machine, devised by the German Navy in 1939, was used to encode wartime messages requiring a particularly high degree of security. The capture of German U-boat U-110 on May 9, 1941 in the North Atlantic by the Royal Navy played a key role in the outcome of the North Atlantic U-boat engagements. The Royal Navy had recovered an Enigma machine, its cipher keys, and code books. The recovered materials were taken to Bletchley Park in England, where cryptographers, including computer pioneer Alan Turing, succeeded in breaking the naval code. The codes allowed the U-boat traffic to be read for several weeks, until the keys ran out. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
As can be imagined, history and tech buffs would probably love to get their hands on one of these extraordinary and significant machines. On May 30, 2015, at 10:00 AM CET, someone has an opportunity to do so. Auction Team Breker, in Köln, (Godorf), Germany, have two Enigma machines that will be up for auction on that day. An Enigma M4 Cypher Machine, c. 1942, and an Enigma K-Model, c. 1939. Both are in pristine museum-quality condition. The starting bid for the M4 is €26,000. The starting bid for the K-Model (shown above) is €10,000. Although it is a live auction, bids are being taken now at the Invaluable on-line auction site.
For the rest of us who don’t have thousands to spend on rarities such as this, there are a number of Enigma computer simulations to play with. A few of them are listed below.
Housewife Marjorie McWeeney, 1947 – Photographer: Nina Leen
This photo by Nina Leen [“Housewife Marjorie McWeeney amid symbolic display of her week’s housework” in “Woman’s Dilemma,” Life, June 16, 1947, p. 105] depicts part of the housewife-y stuff of attention in the course of her 100-long-week. The remarkable part of the photo is that all of this was displayed in a window display at Bloomingdales.
Part of Ms. McWeeney’s average work week included “35 beds to be made, 750 items of glass & china, 400 pieces of silverware to wash, 174 lbs. of food to prepare, some of 250 pieces of laundry.on a line, & a ringer washing machine”–that plus paying attention to her children during the 70+ hours a week in which they are awake. – JF Ptak Science Books Post 1047
From the LIFE magazine issue:
Actually Marjorie’s chores are much lighter than they would have been a few generations ago. She cleans with machinery propelled by electricity, she uses food prepared in canneries, she buys clothes factory-made to fit every member of the family. But her jobs, though relieved of old-time drudgery, have none of the creative satisfactions of home baking, home preserving, home dressmaking. And, because her family unit is small with no aunts or cousins in the household, all the time she saves from housework must go into supervision of her children. Unless she makes special arrangements with a baby-sitter, she has no relief from child care.
Many women in Marjorie’s position feel that this is a life of drudgery, that it is not good for Marjorie, a graduate of a junior college, to stay with small children long, continuous hours. Marjorie herself has no desire to work outside. Because as an individual she likes the job that she does, she has no problem right now. Like most busy young housewives, however, she gives little thought to the future–to satisfactory ways of spending the important years after her children have grown up and left home.
So, what image do we, in the 21st century, present as a ‘symbolic display’ of today’s woman? The most recurrent image is woman as goddess – and not just any goddess, but the multi-armed Hindu victor of good over evil – Goddess Durga, also known as Chamundeshwari or Mahishasura Mardini:
Compare Durga with this image:
And this one:
Of course, the many arms of the modern woman represent ‘multi-tasking’ in the conscious mind. But what about the subconscious effect? In Hinduism the many arms of the deities represent their immense power and their magical ability to do several acts at the same time – it is the artist’s attempt to express the deity’s superhuman power. Are today’s women an evolutionary step towards a different kind of society in the future?
The ‘woman’s dilemma’ in Marjorie’s time was to be a stay-at-home-housekeeper or join the outside workforce. The woman’s dilemma of today doesn’t appear to be that simple to define. One observation can be made though – while the roles of women in the world of today are often taken for granted and under-appreciated, a subtle but certain empowerment is taking place. An empowerment many women in Marjorie’s generation only dreamed of – it’s a hard and challenging road, but could this be one that leads to a more promising future?
LSD25 Manufactured by Sandoz Laboratories – Basel, Switzerland
Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life. ~~Steve Jobs
In 1956 this unnamed American housewife took LSD at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Los Angeles. This woman’s husband was an employee at the hospital and referred her to this study, which was reportedly done for a television program on mental health issues.
When Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman first synthesized LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) at the Sandoz laboratories in Basel, Switzerland on November 16, 1938, he felt that the compound wasn’t useful for the project at hand. He set it aside in the slush-pile. Five years later, April 16, 1943, Hoffman felt compelled to take another look at his abandoned discovery. John Beresford writes:
Hofmann is not sure – the chemist in the old Sandoz lab had what he called a “Vorgefühl.” The usual English word for this is “presentiment,” but the German word suggests something stronger than the laid-back “presentiment.” Something was telling Hofmann to retrace his steps and perform a new synthesis of the discarded molecule, LSD-25. It had to be that molecule and not one of the others consigned to the “useless” pile…
Hofmann does not remember what he was doing when the “presentiment” came over him. He won’t say if it came in a dream, or if he was in a state of unusual lucidity. One is free to speculate that the “instruction” to re-synthesize LSD came from a spiritual power which intervenes in the affairs of man to restore order when the danger of disorder has become too great. The reckless act of science in Chicago in December, 1942 (the first successful nuclear chain reaction – ed.) was remedied in Basel four months later, with Albert Hofmann chosen as the instrument to perform the cure.
Before LSD, After LSD – Albert Hofmann, the Swiss chemist (1906-2008)
Whatever the case, while re-synthesizing the LSD, Hofmann accidentally absorbed a small amount of the drug through his fingertips and discovered its powerful effects.
…affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After about two hours this condition faded away.
Three days later (April 19) Hofmann decided to intentionally take an experimental dose in order to delve deeper into the true effects of LSD. He (wrongly) determined that ingesting 0.25 milligrams (250 micrograms) would be a threshold dose – in actuality a threshold dose is 20 micrograms. Needless to say, Hoffman went a pretty massive trip. Within an hour he began to experience sudden and intense changes to his perception. He asked his lab assistant to accompany him home and, as it was wartime and cars were not an option, the two set out for their destination on bicycles.
At first Hofmann experienced extreme hallucinations and feelings of anxiety and paranoia. But then:
…little by little I could begin to enjoy the unprecedented colors and plays of shapes that persisted behind my closed eyes. Kaleidoscopic, fantastic images surged in on me, alternating, variegated, opening and then closing themselves in circles and spirals, exploding in colored fountains, rearranging and hybridizing themselves in constant flux …
April 19 wold become what is known as Bicycle Day in psychedelic communities and celebrated as the day of discovery for LSD.
LSD blotter paper depicting Albert Hoffman on Bicycle Day
After sharing this information with colleagues, as well as the experience, LSD-25 became the focus for all kinds of mind-centered experiments. Was it useful as a tool in psychiatry? Could the CIA use it as a pharmaceutical in Mind Control (MK-ULTRA)? Could LSD be used to treat alcoholism and/or autism?
In 1955 a former OSS operative and then Federal Bureau of Narcotics agent named George Hunter White teamed up with the CIA to run what was known as Operation Midnight Climax – a brothel was set up on Chestnut street in the San Francisco Bay area and unsuspecting Johns behavior was observed after they were secretly dosed. Several significant operational techniques were developed in this theater, including extensive research into sexual blackmail, surveillance technology, and the possible use of mind-altering drugs in field operations. This operation was carried out for a decade, 1955-1965. Many suspect that this is how LSD became introduced to civilians on the street and became a catalyst for the psychedelic anti-war culture of the 1960s.
A whole lot more could be written about the 1960s LSD experience such as the colorful characters, the gurus, the communities, etc., but that’s beyond the scope of this post. Covered here was a short trip down memory lane to the beginnings of a drug that appeared at the dawn of the nuclear age – a time when splitting an atom could blow the world away, and sipping down a molecule could blow the mind away. LSD became illegal in California on October 6, 1966. Other U.S. states and the rest of the world followed with the ban. Like the atom bomb, LSD has faded from social consciousness, but also like the atom bomb, LSD still lurks in the background. Time will tell if another moment will come when they explode back to the front of public awareness.
Some of the really neat things about early-to-mid 20th century radio and television programs came in the forms of promotional items related to the shows and their characters. The Little Orphan Annie secret decoder ring immortalized in the 1983 film classic, The Christmas Story, quickly comes to mind. At times sponsors went all in with merchandise and contests as illustrated with the famous Ralston Rocket Clubhouse in this earlier post. For collectors today, these promotional items are precious gems to be searched out and acquired.
Hake’s Americana and Collectables is perhaps the best source for finding a lot of these treasures. Currently Hake’s has a very rare item available in a post auction sale. It’s a 1940 Lone Ranger prototype secret compartment ring designed by Orin Armstrong of the Robbins Co. which specialized in premium rings. Originally intended as a premium offering from sponsors of the program, an inconvenient design flaw kept it from mass production. The one currently listed at Hake’s is only the fourth ever seen by the auction house.
This prototype ring has a base with star and chevron design identical to the Lone Ranger National Defenders look-around ring. The same design was used as early as 1939 by Orphan Annie as the Mystic-Eye Detective Ring. (Photo and description via Hake’s)
Mounted on the top of this prototype ring base is a 3/8” tall crisp real photo (without dot pattern) of Silver. (Photo and description via Hake’s)
Mounted on the underside of the removable secret compartment is a matching glossy real photo of The Lone Ranger in mask and hat with tiny text on his bandana consisting of a copyright symbol and ‘1939 The Lone Ranger, Inc.’ (Photo and description via Hake’s)
The listing says that the miniature glossy photos of The Lone Ranger and Silver inside the top ‘are an added attraction to the secret compartment feature.’ For today’s collectors they just might be the deal maker. Seasoned collectors might not be too surprised by the price of this scarce find, but it could come as a shock to others. It’ll cost $1,725.00 to add this to your treasured belongings. Hake’s previous sales have been between $2300 and $3200.00, so this price is actually a deal. You can find the entire listing here.