A Real Layabouts Dream – Luxury High Tech Bed: A Gadget Lover’s Fantasy (1959)


Editor’s Note: Click the gear (settings) on the middle right of player to turn off annotations.

Check out this £2,500 high tech luxury bed from 1959! It is chock full of gadgets and everyday conveniences from the headboard to the foot of the bed, most importantly a space for your cup of tea.

Our Friends Electric: AEG – Perfekt in Form und Funktion


The post below was written by Kat Gibbons and published at Appliance City UK’s, acitylife blog on 26 November 2015. Gibbons does an excellent job tracing the outstanding history and contributions of the German electrics firm, AEG. For them, everything had electric potential. The image of the one million volt utility transformer, created in Berlin in 1931, is awesome in its design – as well as super in its photographic aesthetic.

AEG – Perfekt in Form und Funktion

From lightbulbs to heavy machinery to airplanes and breaking land speed records, AEG has touched every facet of the electrical industry for more than a century.

AEG was founded in Berlin, Germany in 1883 by Emil Rathenau.

Emil Rathenau

Herr Rathenau had acquired the rights to Edison’s lightbulb patent that same year. It was the beginning of AEG’s extensive and illustrious history in electronics engineering and manufacturing.

AEG’s original name was Deutsch Edison – Gesellschaft für angewadte Elektricität. In 1887, the company changed it’s name to Allgemeine Elektricitäts – Gesellschaft (AEG) removing Edison from the name of it’s company. By this time, AEG had far surpassed manufacturing lightbulbs and had moved on to bigger electrical milestones.

1891 saw one such milestone completed when AEG completed a massive electrical hurdle at the International Electrotechnical Exhibition in Frankfurt. Two of their key electrical designers powered 1000 lightbulbs over the span of 109 miles from a hydro electric power plant to the exhibition. This feat was the beginning of an bringing widespread electricity to Germany.

International Electrotechnical Exhibition in Frankfurt, 1891

In 1894, AEG purchased a third property to house one of it’s factories, a cattle market. This cattle market had rail access. In order for their factories to have rail access between them AEG had Siemens & Halske construct an underground railway tunnel. This tunnel is still standing today and is now in use by Germany’s public transportation department.

In 1896 AEG was already excelling at home appliances and home comfort products. It’s catalogue boasted a fantastic eighty products for customers and businesses to choose from. These products included everything from coffee machines to hot plates.

At an exhibition in 1889 AEG announced a line of electric personal care items including curling tongs, cigar lighters and tea kettles. Only two years later the hair dressing world would be forever changed with AEG’s invention of the hair dryer. I mean, where would we be without them today!? Poofy haired. That’s where.

In 1902 like other electrical manufacturers of the time, AEG entered into the automotive industry. With the purchase of Külstein in 1902, AEG announced Neue Automobil Gesellschaft and it’s production of cars.

From 1902 – 1908 AEG (Neue Automobil Gesellschaft) produced four separate models of cars but discontinued their production in 1908.

1902 – 1908 AEG (Neue Automobil Gesellschaft)

In 1903, AEG (competing with Siemens & Halske) broke the world speed record for rail vehicles at 131 miles per hour with this electric locomotive.

1903 AEG electric locomotive record breaker

Later that year, AEG’s radio company and Siemens & Halske merged to create Telefunken.

Peter Behrens

In 1907 the illustrious Peter Behrens joined AEG as their artistic advisor. Originally he was brought in to design their buildings but he went on to design the bulk of their original appliance product lines as well. From his work with AEG Peter Behrens has been knows as the creator of the corporate identity and the Father of German Industrial Design. In the AEG factory he designed he made room for turbines to move above machinery on the warehouse floor creating a fully workable, efficient factory.

AEG Turbine Factoy

In 1908, AEG begins production of it’s line of electric fans, adding to its line of home comfort products.

In 1910, AEG makes leaps and bounds into a completely different direction than home comfort products and electricity into the world of aeroplanes. Hennigsdorf was the site of the AEG aeroplane factory built in 1910. Their original aircrafts were modelled after the Kitty Hawk, North Carolina Wright Brothers biplane design.


From 1912 – 1918 AEG was the major manufacturer or World War I bombers. The most popular and widely used was the AEG G IV.

AEG Bomber

In 1917 AEG would be in the record books again. This time with one of it’s own aircraft, setting the world record for a high altitude flight. But with the end of World War I in 1918, AEG ended it’s production of aircraft.

long distance electrical locomotive

On the 14th of April 1913 AEG delivered the first of it’s long distance electrical locomotives. These locomotives would go beyond the distances of the electrical trams systems of the time.

)ne-Million Vote Utility Transformer

The 1920’s was a time of fantastic growth for AEG. They increased their electrical goods line massively including the production of steam turbines, electric motors, transformers, vacuum tubes, fuses and starters. They really were the electrical manufacturing company that you could go to for absolutely any of your electrical needs.

With the beginnings of Hollywood and silent films in North America, AEG was making it’s own advancements in television broadcasting in the mid 1920s. In 1924 AEG (AEG Telefunken) started it’s production of television / television sets and in 1928 they put their first television set on display at the German Radio Exhibition in Berlin.

1934-35 Telefunken SEIII 180 line TV

1929 saw AEG further branch out into home appliances with the introduction of refrigerators driven by compressors and irons that included temperature controls. Whilst AEG continued to expand it’s home comfort line it still worked on greater electrical masterpieces, including the first high performance locomotive in 1938.

the first high performance locomotive in 1938

Following the merger of Siemens & Halske and AEG to create Telefunken in 1903 the partnership was steadfast until AEG bought Siemens out in 1941 becoming a single enterprise.

1950 saw an explosion of advanced home comfort appliances including the start of AEG’s cooling range. In 1950 AEG also launched the first automatic washing machine and by 1953 their Nuremburg factory was producing them for general demand.

Erste Lavamat 1958

1938 saw the production of the first fully automatic washing machine by AEG the “Lavamat” and they changed their tagline to “AEG – aus Erfahning gut” meaning “AEG – Good from Experience”.

1955 AEG Generator

3 January 1963 saw another telecommunications advancement with AEG Telefunken. AEG showcased their first colour television for the European Broadcasting Union.

This advancement would change people’s leisure time forever, bringing colour to their entertainment. By 1970 AEG / Telefunken was the 12th largest electronics manufacturer and employed over 175,000 people.

On the utility side of AEG they also saw many advancements during the 1960s. In 1967 AEG achieved heating an entire city – Essen with its electrical stone heaters. Shortly after in 1972, AEG created the world’s largest diesel generator for use in Berlin’s Ghent Municiple Utilities. At this point, AEG had been building generators for nearly 100 years.

1955 AEG Generator

AEG’s ovens and hobs have come quite a way since they first introduced the fully electronic oven in 1976. AEG brought the first generation of induction hobs and other fantastic features to the kitchen since then.

AEG Oven

Since the 1970’s parts of AEG have changed hands with different companies. The majority of AEG was purchased by Daimler – Benz in 1985 then in 1994 the AEG Hausgerate GmbH Nuremburg was purchased by Electrolux, this was the home comforts and appliances line of AEG. In 2004, AEG was fully incorporated into Electrolux.

For over 125 AEG has been innovating every facet of electrical systems and appliances. Today and for the future to come they will continue to set the standard for what is the best in high end white goods.

via ACityLife




The Strange Case of Cosmic Rays: ‘Unlocking The Universe’


The following article appeared in the March 1946 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine. It’s pretty fascinating. During that time, ‘cosmic rays’ were seen by a number of scientists as perhaps the most profound key to understanding the energy composed universe. Their enthusiasm regarding its properties and what it could mean for life on Earth shouts out in this article.

Today, modern scientists look at cosmic rays as more of a nuisance than anything else. The effects of raised levels of radiation exposure on high-altitude urban residents, as flight crews and passengers are something of a concern.

Wikipedia describes the problems of cosmic rays on modern electronic equipment:

Cosmic rays have sufficient energy to alter the states of circuit components in electronic integrated circuits, causing transient errors to occur (such as corrupted data in electronic memory devices or incorrect performance of CPUs) often referred to as “soft errors.” This has been a problem in electronics at extremely high-altitude, such as in satellites, but with transistors becoming smaller and smaller, this is becoming an increasing concern in ground-level electronics as well. Studies by IBM in the 1990s suggest that computers typically experience about one cosmic-ray-induced error per 256 megabytes of RAM per month. To alleviate this problem, the Intel Corporation has proposed a cosmic ray detector that could be integrated into future high-density microprocessors, allowing the processor to repeat the last command following a cosmic-ray event.

Without citing a source the Wikipedia article notes an ‘in-flight incident in 2008 where an Airbus A330 airliner of Qantas twice plunged hundreds of feet after an unexplained malfunction in its flight control system’, and suggests that ‘cosmic rays were suspected as a possible cause…’

The effects of cosmic rays are seen as a significant barrier to interplanetary travel for manned spacecraft, as well as the onboard electronics. Cosmic rays have been suggested as having been responsible for major climatic change and mass-extinction in the past. One physicist, Henrik Svensmark, has recently argued that cosmic ray flux can even be an indirect cause of global warming – the arguments sparking controversy regarding his methods. etc..

One can’t help but wonder – with all the positive aspects to cosmic ray research cited below, and all the negative impacts cited in today’s world of technology and environment, could science and the world of modern technology taken a wrong route? Had developers pursued research more in line with ingenious Nikola Tesla’s work in ‘free energy’ technology, rather than his detractors like Thomas Edison, would the current conflicts with cosmic rays already have had resolutions? If orthodox physics gave a more serious bit of attention to today’s ‘Electric Universe’ theorists, would we come closer to understanding and unlocking the mysteries of the universe?

One wonders…

An added bonus: included at the end of the article is the 1957 film short, The Strange Case of the Cosmic Rays – an episode from The Bell System Science Series produced by the AT&T Corporation.

The Strange Case of the Cosmic Rays is an examination of what cosmic rays are and how they work. It was written by Capra with Jonathan Latimer, a crime fiction novelist and screenwriter. As Gilbert describes it, the third and fourth films “repeated the formulas of his earlier work while ever searching for new contrivances for popularization as well as the best language to express his soft religious message” and that the script was essentially a reworking of ideas Capra had developed for a possible documentary about Robert A. Millikan. The film’s screenplay works from the premise that the nature of cosmic rays is a mystery comparable to the great detective stories. A committee of marionettes representing Fyodor Dostoevsky, Charles Dickens, and Edgar Allan Poe is called upon to decide the question. The film was broadcast on October 25, 1957, apparently with a smaller television audience share and with more unfavorable reviews than for the first two specials.


Unlocking The Universe - Popular Mechanics March 1946

Popular Mechanics March 1946 – University of Chicago athletic field is launching site for balloons which will lift cosmic my equipment into the stratosphere.

YOU IMAGINE a ray so powerful that it will penetrate a solid mass of lead as high as a four-story building, or as thick as live sixths of the distance between the pitcher’s box and home plate? The cosmic ray does exactly that — and even more, it gives promise of unlocking several of the major secrets of the universe.

Coming apparently out of the nowhere– possibly from the Milky Way, maybe from interstellar space beyond this universe — Cosmic rays beat down upon us, day and night, like rain. In fact. 20 rays pass through your body -head to foot if you are standing — every second. Whether one climbs to the top of the highest mountain, hides away in the deepest mine, or plows the surface of the sea as a typhoon rages, the incomparably powerful cosmic rays reach him. Radium rays, X-rays — even atomic rays — bow to the gargantuan might of this king of all radiations.

Dr. Marcel Schein

Dr. Marcel Schein (center) inspects apparatus which makes photographic record of cosmic rays in sky

For more than two decades many of the world’s greatest scientists have kept relentlessly on the trail of the cosmic ray. Expeditions have ascended great peaks, invaded deserts, ridden ocean liners for months at a time, ascended into the stratosphere by planes and balloons and sent delicate registering instruments higher into the sky than man has ever flown — all to fathom the mystery of the giant of rays.

In their quest to solve it. scientists have taken cosmic ray “soundings” in the Paris catacombs, in gigantic glacier cracks, in the fjords of Norway and inside the barrels of cannon big enough to hold the equipment and the researchers alike. They have gone down into brine pits to test the ray under crystallized salts of the sea; they have invaded mines where iron, coal or copper are dug and they have dived deep into the sea for underwater registration of the rays.

They improvised watertight diving bells, complete with cosmic ray equipment from storage batteries to photographic apparatus and automatic registering instruments, which they sank from a quarter to a half mile deep, letting them lie there for days at a time. They built specially designed “cloud chambers” for high altitude studies. They improvised special instruments for registering the rays in the crevasses of glaciers.

The present stage is still that of the hunt. Until more is known about the cosmic ray, little can be done to harness it. To date, rays are controlled to the point of being heard over loudspeakers, operating delicate automatic photo equipment and lighting up indicator lamps. But the world’s best minds say that its secrets will be revetted, and then it may be mastered for the use of man. Scientists, with their usual caution, do not speculate on its practical possibilities. But they do admit that they are illimitable.

Most Penetrating Ray In History

Cosmic rays raining dawn upon the earth penetrate everything with energy measured in billions of volts

Those possibilities are as intriguing a subject as ever comes to the mind of man. Unlimited power is the key— not only that, but unlimited power already created and ready for use. We think of atomic energy, but realise mammoth machinery will be necessary to produce it — at present, an atomic energy driven auto would weigh at least 100 tons! But cosmic power may some day be pulled out of the air by a receiver, exactly as we pluck radio waves out of the air with our sets. In that near or distant day, put a cosmic aerial on your house or your auto, and presto! Power flows in like a Niagara.

To those who puzzle over the composition of the universe, its age, and whether the universe is building up, self-sustaining, or running down, the cosmic ray holds fascinating potentialities.  About unlocking the history of the universe, none other than Dr. Arthur H. Compton, one of the world’s greatest physicists, Nobel prize winner for his research on the cosmic ray, and now chancellor of Washington University, St. Louis, had this to say:

“Very possibly cosmic rays are older than the earth itself, for their energies are so high that calculation shows that if a particle {cosmic ray) is once thrust out into space, it can continue, before it is stopped by the matter in interstellar space, for a time equal at least to the estimated age of the earth. Thus, there is reason to hope that future study of these rays may bring us valuable information regarding the ancient history of the universe.”

Dr. Arthur H. Compton

Dr. Arthur H. Compton adjusts cosmic my counter before balloon test. Right, vertical streak is path of cosmic ray photographed in “cloud chamber.” It has struck an electron (center) and knocked it out of orbit

Some physicists estimate the rays as 10 billion times stronger than radium rays; the most penetrating variety enter outer space with the energy of 15 billion volts.

Not only does the cosmic ray possibly contain the key to terrestrial antiquity, but it also may hold the solution to that even more fascinating proposition: What of the future of the universe? One theory projected by scientists is that the cosmic ray is produced in the building up of atoms, thus indicating that the universe Is perpetually renewing itself. Other eminent men hold to the opposite belief; namely, that the cosmic ray is produced in the destruction of atoms and that the universe is running down. Many affirm that cosmic rays are the basic form of energy.

The romance of the cosmic ray at the present stage is not in actual achievement with it, but in the indefatigable and ingenious research for it. Twenty years ago, Dr. Robert A. Millikan, Nobel prize winner, professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology and pioneer in cosmic ray study, declared, after he had conducted research in the Andes mountains, that “we cannot even begin to assert what change in man’s view of the universe this ray will bring about.”

Photographic Equipemtn

The rays, which have been ranging the cosmos for possibly a billion years or more, first caught the attention of man about 1900, when it was found that nonelectrical gases, perfectly insulated, continued to act like electric current conductors. Scientists tightened up all possible leakages of electricity and radiations but found themselves against a blank wall of mystery.

Two scientists. Lord Rutherford and H. L. Cook, at McGill University in Montreal, buried an electroscope in five tons of lead, a metal then accepted as a substance through which no rays or radiations known to man could penetrate. Yet the delicate instrument continued to register a mysterious electrical action. They could discover no earthly connection. But they, and many others, refused to yield to what seemed inscrutable — their restless minds would not be conquered. In different lands, scientific pioneers kept on the elusive trail. They began to suspect dimly that something beyond terrestrial origin was causing the “trouble.” Spasmodically the search continued. In 1910 a notable contribution was made by a Swiss scientist, Dr. Gockel, who reached unparalleled altitudes in a balloon. His studies tended to show the rays came from somewhere out in space, A year later, V. F, Hess, an Austrian scientist who won the Nobel prize for his research, wrote of his investigations:

“During the past two years I have made seven balloon ascensions, I find no decrease in the intensity of the penetrating radiations at higher altitudes. In fact, there is a truly significant increase. Since, at great heights, any contribution of rays from the earth should have decreased, I have concluded that these radiations almost certainly come from beyond the atmosphere itself.”

The cosmic ray hunt was interrupted for virtually a decade by World War I, but the delay seemed to have added impetus once the search was renewed. Scientists the world over, fascinated and challenged by this Mystery Visitor No, 1 to our universe, got on the trail with the vim of crusaders.

As early as 1922 Dr, Millikan made cosmic ray measurements 50,000 feet high in the stratosphere by suspending instruments from a 15-foot cord strung between two balloons. The instruments included electroscope, barometer and thermometer. The experiment was repeated and material results were attained in determining the energy of the cosmic rays falling upon the earth. Dr. Millikan also took soundings deep in a lake, where the resistance to the rays was the equivalent of 25 feet of lead.

Within a decade, research was going on in various parts of the earth, but the most intense center of all was the University of Chicago, where Dr, Compton directed a “world survey of cosmic rays.” Preparation of this stupendous project was as orderly as the preparation of a nation for war. Largo expeditions were outfitted, the best available scientific minds were enlisted and strategy was developed on a global scale, The climax of action was reached between 1931 and 1934 when 12 expeditions from the great Chicago institution scattered to their observation points. In their travels, the crews covered 250,000 miles.

One went to South Africa, another to Peru, a third to Alaska, a fourth to Australia, and so on. They visited the tropic and arctic regions alike. The earth was used as a gigantic magnet and the mountain peaks as laboratories. Cosmic radiations were measured at high altitudes and compared with those on the surface of the earth and deep in mines.

Compton’s experiments were conducted on the principle that lines of magnetic force are passing constantly around the earth between the north and south magnetic poles. These lines of force deflect the needle of a compass and all substances electrically charged, but they do not affect substances that are electrically neutral. Compton’s expeditions found that cosmic rays were much denser in the Arctic Circle than near the equator. At the time this seemed to indicate that cosmic rays are deflected toward the magnetic poles of the earth and are therefore electric ally charged.

Cosmic ray research reached a high spot in spectacularity during the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago in 1933-34. Airplane and balloon flights were sponsored by the Chicago Daily News, the National Broadcasting Company and the Exposition. One of them was made by Professor Auguste Piccard, the famous French pioneer of the stratosphere* who attained a height of 15 1/2 miles.

In 1934 a mammoth instrument, called “a new sentinel for cosmic rays,” was designed by Dr, Compton, and seven of them, labeled “scientific outposts,” were set up at far corners of the earth. One, operated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was carted to the top of Mt. Evans, more than 14,000 feet high. The instrument weighed a ton and a half, and the idea was to conduct cosmic ray tests not only at high altitudes but also under violent weather changes. Studies were made where the temperature often dropped from a balmy fit) above zero to below freezing in five minutes, and where also, with equal brevity, summer sunshine would shift to a blinding blizzard. The meters were designed to operate for a long period, under the most severe conditions, each having an automatic photographic recording device and equipment to compensate for temperature and atmospheric pressure changes. As we said of them at the time:

“They will record the tides in the ceaseless rain of invisible rays which penetrate their thick lead shields and produce a flash of light in the argon-filled chamber. They will show the direction of the rays over a long period of time and any rise or fall in their numbers. They will record changes, if any, of the rays with the time movements of the stars, with fluctuations of the earth’s magnetic field and the frequency of sunspots.”

Other ray meters were distributed from Peru to Greenland.

Thus the hunters followed the trail with relentless zeal. Danger meant nothing to them. An entire Russian group of scientists and helpers plunged to their death in a balloon crash, while a similar American outfit had to take to their parachutes. A noted scientist, Dr. Allen Carpe, and his assistant, who scaled Mt. McKinley and made observations, were killed while making explorations of a huge Alaskan glacier. Cosmic ray observations were made in airplanes soaring 30,000 feet over huge volcanoes in the southern Andes. A specially built electromagnet weighing more than eight tons was brought into use to observe the deflection of rays passing through a magnetic field. Observations were taken regularly at 40 widely separated stations — one of them a copper mine near Mohawk, Michigan, where rays were found to have penetrated 1600 feet of rock.

One of the most ambitious experiments in cosmic ray research was staged shortly before World War II, when a 21-passenger airliner was used in Chicago to take soundings. The plane reached a height of 26.000 feet, flying 450 miles in three hours with the temperature below zero. At that height, Dr, Marcel Schein and Dr. Volney C. Wilson, of the University of Chicago, kept constant watch over the ray meter, which was composed of copper tubes and excluded all but cosmic rays. They observed that the more penetrating cosmic rays beat down 10 times faster at that elevation than at the earth’s surface. It also was found that a recently discovered particle— the mesotron — was created by the action of neutral rays in the lead filter placed above the counters.

Altittude and Density Chart

Altitude and Density Chart

For three years before the war, cosmic ray observations were conducted on a ship running regularly between Vancouver, B, G., and New Zealand. The effort was to discover whether the rays originate in our universe or outside. A year later an other cosmic ray research plane reached an elevation of 29,000 feet with photographic equipment that effectively used the “cloud chamber,” an apparatus which includes a glass-walled chamber in which is produced an artificial cloud. As the cosmic ray shoots through the air, it breaks the molecules into ions. In the artificial cloud, the ions form drops of moisture and these mark the track of the rays. The track is photographed by the aid of bright lights.

Cosmic rays from the direction of a “star cloud,” estimated to be 5000 light-years away, were employed to turn on a cluster of fluorescent lights at the Hayden Planetarium, New York, on June 17, 1941, which in turn, illuminated a ‘Letter to the future” to be opened 5000 years hence.

Much research has been done through the years by means of “free” balloons which are sent aloft with delicate registering apparatus in cosmic ray research. Many of the balloon experiments were conducted by Dr, Compton and Dr. W. P. Jesse of the University of Chicago, Two years ago cosmic ray equipment supported by 29 balloons was sent up from Chicago and came down 40 miles from Columbus, Ohio. The device consisted of a 30 -foot pole with two sets of three cosmic ray counters and batteries designed to register cosmic ray showers. Dr. Schein reported that cosmic ray showers were discovered at heights of more than 50,000 feet.

Six months later, another “free” balloon ascension was made, the equipment coming down in Virginia after a 500-mile record-breaking Right. A little more than a year ago University of Chicago physicists launched 36 balloons bearing a 60-pound cosmic ray photographic apparatus. The “free” balloons have carried automatic cosmic ray apparatus more than 17 miles in the air on different occasions, or upwards of 90,D00 feet! The balloons, inflated with hydrogen, are made of extraordinarily elastic material, so that while they measure only five feet in diameter at the start of the ascent, they inflate to 20 feet in diameter when 16 miles or more in the air. Sometimes when a cluster of the balloons descends people take them for paratroopers. A note offering a reward for return of the equipment to the sender is attached to each unit, and nine times out of 10 the records and material are returned. Free balloon flights have registered up to 100 miles an hour in cross-country flight. They ascend at the rate of 700 to 1000 feet a minute. One of the strangest happenings was when a cluster was sent up from the University of Chicago, traveled several hundred recorded miles, and returned like a boomerang to a point within five miles of the campus!

Another device is a short-wave radio system that sends the impulses to scientists on the ground, dispensing with the need for a him record. Still another unique experiment was conducted late last fall when 49 balloons were released from Stagg Field at the University of Chicago. This experiment was in charge of Dr. Schein of the university, Along with 70 pounds of cosmic ray apparatus were sent 200 flour beetles to determine the effect of cosmic rays on insect life. This experiment was thwarted by the accidental death of the beetles through escaping gases, but the effort will be repeated as the objective is considered of paramount importance.

Other studies show that gamma rays found in cosmic radiation are the shortest known. X-rays are too short to be visible, and gamma rays in radioactive materials are from 10 to 100 times as short as X-rays. However, the shortest known gamma rays of cosmic radiation are 100 million times shorter than the gamma rays of radioactive bodies. Research shows there are various kinds of cosmic rays, particularly the “soft” (electrons and gamma rays) and the “hard” (mesotrons), The former are easy to absorb, but the hard rays of high energy are the ones that penetrate anything. They are millions of times stronger than any other known radiation and shoot like irresistible bullets through every known thing.

Another dramatic discovery is the fact that there are frequent cosmic ray “showers,” the particles falling like heavy rain over an area equal to two or three acres. As many as a million rays are contained in a single shower and 50 or 60 showers fall in a single hour. They are called “Auger showers” in honor of the famous French scientist, Pierre Auger, whose research in the Alps mountains brought the new discovery to light. You can listen in, through an ingenious loudspeaker device, on a cosmic ray shower, and it sounds something like a summer storm. It is a roaring sound, like rain driven by wind, then sudden quiet for a moment, followed by another squall.

Comparative Wavelengths

Comparative Wavelengths

While we are struck constantly by both the continuous downpour of cosmic rays and the occasional heavy blast of a shower, they do not register any known effects on us. People living at high altitudes get a double dose, while men working deep in mines receive only a fraction of the rays, but neither seem in the least affected.

The latest scientific effort is mostly in the field of relating the cosmic rays to atomic radiations. Nearly 15 years ago one scientist predicted that cosmic ray study would throw light on the problem of how the core of the atom is built, and thus open the way for the release of atomic energy for human uses. As far as it can be gathered from guarded statements by scientists, it is likely that the cosmic lay is the key to the release of atomic energy and to the analysis of the atomic ray. In fact, it is reported that the cosmic ray is held to be the means of unlocking the secret of X-ray and radium as well. Further than that, a professor, John Archibald Wheeler of Princeton University, holds that by studying cosmic rays man eventually may discover means of transforming any kind of matter, not uranium alone, into atomic energy.

A new giant, called the betatron, invented by 34-year-old Donald W. Kerst, a University of Illinois professor, is soon to come into the field of cosmic ray research. The instrument uses electric magnetic energy to speed the flight of electrons up to 185,000 miles a second, virtually the same as that of light. It is expected to reproduce cosmic rays for close study, possibly eliminating the need for scientists to fly into the stratosphere or burrow into mines.

How long must the relentless search move on before the cosmic ray finally is brought into captivity and lamed? No one knows. Most scientists say that, if human cussedness in the form of war will lie dormant long enough to let science carry on its hunt uninterruptedly, 10 to 20 years ought to be enough to make us master of the supreme source of unlimited power.

O.B.I.T. – The machine that allows the observation of anyone, anywhere, at any time.

O.B.I.T. in action

O.B.I.T. in action.

The ‘all-seeing eye’ has been a source of fascination to futurists for quite some time. In a previous post on Atomic Flash Deluxe we considered the 1948 DC comic, How Television Will Change Your Future, with its ‘Eye-In-The-Sky’ and how it relates to George Orwell’s 1948 classic, 1984. In a common vein, The Outer Limits episode, O.B.I.T. – originally aired during the first season of the classic sci-fi television series on 4 November 1963 – takes the concept to a much more sinister level. Wikipedia gives a very nice synopsis of the episode:

Opening narration:

In this room, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, security personnel at the Defense Department’s Cypress Hills Research Center keep constant watch on its scientists through O.B.I.T., a mysterious electronic device whose very existence was carefully kept from the public at large. And so it would have remained but for the facts you are about to witness…


While inquiring into the murder of an administrator at a government research facility, a U.S. senator is confronted with paranoia, secrecy, and intimidation. He ultimately learns the cause: An unusual security device that is used to monitor its employees. The Outer Band Individuated Teletracer (known by the acronym O.B.I.T.)[1] is so pervasive and invasive that no one can escape its prying eye, at any time or within 500 miles. It is even deemed addictive by some of its operators. After a missing administrator is found and reveals his knowledge of O.B.I.T., its sinister, unearthly origins and purpose become apparent; the device is, in actuality, an alien invention that was designed to demoralize and desensitize the human race in preparation for invasion. During government hearings, Lomax, one of the projects administrators reveals himself to be an alien, proudly warning onlookers as to the horrific impact O.B.I.T. will have on mankind. As he speaks, a nearby O.B.I.T. machine shows Lomax in his true alien form.


Lomax: People with nothing to hide have nothing to fear from O.B.I.T.
Orville: (scoffs) Are you that perfect, Mr. Lomax?

Senator Orville (taking Grover’s testimony in the hearing room): Weren’t you in favor of O.B.I.T?
Colonel Grover: I was at first. But I was wrong. (now fighting to compose himself) It’s the most hideous creation ever conceived. No one can laugh… or joke. It watches!

Lomax (revealed as an alien): The machines are everywhere! Oh you’ll find them all, you’re a zealous people. And you’ll make a great show of smashing a few of them. But for every one you destroy, hundreds of others will be built. And they will demoralize you, break your spirits, create such rifts and tensions in your society that no one will be able to repair them! Oh, you’re a savage, despairing planet, and when we come here to live, you friendless, demoralized flotsam will fall without even a single shot being fired. Senator, enjoy the few years left you. There is no answer. You’re all of the same dark persuasion! You demand – insist – on knowing every private thought and hunger of everyone: Your families, your neighbors, everyone — but yourselves.

Closing narration:

Agents of the Justice Department are rounding up the machines now. But these machines, these inventions of another planet, have been cunningly conceived to prey on our most mortal weakness. In the last analysis, dear friends, whether O.B.I.T. lives up to its name or not will depend on you.

Certainly a prescient episode so very relevant for the current times: the most incredible invention of the 20th century – the internet – could be used as a source of education and global communication that would better the world, but instead of this its been turned into a source of corporate consumerism, conflict, pernicious gossip, surveillance, and…control.

The prophets of the early-to-mid 20th century were truly remarkable in their visions – it’s unfortunate that we’ve failed to heed their warnings.

The Talking-Eye Television: Not A Prediction – But A Preview! (1948)


The Time – Tomorrow.

Dad – It’s the emergency signal!

Television Will CHANGE Your Future

Television Will CHANGE Your Future, 1948

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.

In 2017, ‘He who owns the Internet, Owns minds.’

Behold The Machine…! Hugo Gernsback’s Radio Police Automaton


Hugo Gernsback’s Radio Police AutomatonScience and Invention magazine, May 1924

Radio Police Automaton

AS is well known, radio can be used today to produce mechanical effects at a distance. This new art is known as radio-telemechanics. Many years ago already it was possible to start and operate vehicles and machinery entirely by radio. The United States Navy a little over a year ago operated the warship “Iowa” entirely by radio. The firing of the boilers, the steering of the ship and all the controls were entirely effected by radio.

The Automaton is kept erect by the stabilizing gyroscopes. The machine does not really walk like a human being, but rather glides along the road over all obstacles by the small caterpiller tractors attached to the feet. This makes it unnecessary for the Automaton to take steps, and the machine will therefore progress by a gliding motion which is quite rapid.

Stabilizing Gyroscopes and Caterpillar Treads

Stabilizing Gyroscopes and Caterpillar Treads

Such a machine would seem to be exceedingly valuable to disperse mobs, or for war purposes and even for industrial purposes. In the upper illustration is shown the police car which controls all the movements of a regiment of such automata.

Radio Control Car and The Thin Automaton Line

Radio Control Car and The Thin Automaton Line

For fighting mobs use is made of tear gas which is stored in a tank under pressure and which alone will quickly disperse a mob if necessary.

Tear Gas Tank and Oulets

Tear Gas Tank and Outlets

The arms are provided with rotating discs which carry lead balls on flexible leads. These act as police clubs in action.

Rotating discs which carry lead balls. on flexible leads.

Rotating discs which carry lead balls on flexible leads.

For night attack the Automaton is provided with eye-lights and the loud speaker is used to shout orders to the mob which orders can be given direct from the radio control car. Inasmuch as this car is always in the rear of the Automata it can watch their movements and direct them as necessitated by circumstances.

Eye Lights, Loud Speaker, and 'Telegraphone'

Eye Lights, Loud Speaker, and ‘Telegraphone’

As a close hand-to-hand lighting machine the Radio- Automata have no equal. Bullets do not affect them and if equipped with a twenty to forty H.P. engine, they will be well nigh irresistible. They probably have no superior for fighting mobs or for war purposes.

The Radio Police Automation - Run for your lives!

The Radio Police Automation – Run for your lives!

‘Future Fantasy’ In 1930 Germany


German Engineering.

Those words have traditionally conjured up thoughts of quality and creativity. During the period of the Third Reich, physicists, scientists, and engineers were encouraged to stretch their imaginations and develop things that had previously been only dreamed of in science fiction.

While most people are familiar with the works carried out at the The Peenemünde Army Research Center – the birthplace of modern rocketry and spaceflight – very few people are aware of other areas of technological research that had been in progress during that time. A very hushed bit of technological history is the part where the United States and the Soviet Union obtained a wealth of information and designs while pillaging after the fall of the Third Reich. Much of that technological information was incomplete as the scientists and engineers attempted to either hide or destroy it in order to keep it from the victors’ hands.

Because the U.S. required German know-how in order to further develop these technologies the government instituted the now well known Operation Paperclip in which more than 1,500 German scientists, engineers, and technicians were brought to the United States from Nazi Germany and other countries for employment in the aftermath of World War II. The celebrated rocket scientist, Wernher von Braun, was one alumni from this class. A number of researchers contend that the big UFO phenomenon in the late 1940s and particularly in the 1950s was the result of projects originating at a remote detachment of Edwards Air Force Base within the Nevada Test and Training Range officially referred to as Restricted Area 4808 North (R-4808N) – popularly known as ‘Area 51’ aka ‘Groom Lake’. It was here that U.S. and Operation Paperclip members worked on the research and development of the German technologies discovered post conflict – including ‘flying disc’ engineering designs. A few of the recognized aircraft developed at Groom Lake are the A-12 OXCART, SR-71 Blackbird, and the F-117A Nighthawk – aircraft so advanced that CIA documents acknowledge that they account for dozens of UFO sightings over the years.

One last point relevant to the following pictorial presentation is that while the incredible research and inventions of the great scientist Nikola Tesla were marginalized and ignored in the U.S. due to moneyed interests, the Germans were very much interested in his advanced and forward thinking works. Tesla was passionate about wireless communications and ‘free energy’ – while theoretical physicists obsessed over Newtonian science, Tesla took an electric field and plasma (aether) energy approach. German tech developers seemed to take this approach to heart. One of the most storied and controversial projects of the Third Reich – one that Adolf Hitler counted on until the end – was ‘the secret weapon’ known as ‘Die Glocke’ (‘The Bell’). Some skeptics say that this bizarre anti-gravity device never existed, but there is increasing evidence that it had indeed been at an advanced stage of development previous to the fall of the Third Reich. From the schematics it appears to be very much a Tesla inspired technology.

Now to the fun part of this post. In 1930, a company known as True Wagner Margarine produced the third of a series of books designed as a display for a collection of stickers made available separately. In this book is a section called Future Fantasy. No artist or author is credited. The illustrations are beautiful, the technology is actually quite brilliant and not so far fetched. The book is called, Echte Wagner Margarine Album Nr. 3″, Serien 12 und 13 (Genuine Wagner Margarine Album Nr. 3″, series 12 and 13). It was published by Elmshorn in Holstein, Germany. With what is now known about the developments in German technology during this period, one could imagine that a lot of the designs and ideas presented might have been considered a bit more seriously than ‘fantasy’.

Echte Wagner Album Nr. 3 - Cover Image

Echte Wagner Margarine Album Nr. 3 – Cover Image

The Artificial Island

The Artificial Island – Since there is no island located on the shortest route to America which could serve the aircraft as a port of refuge, a good idea is to anchor an artificial landing place on the ocean. Of course, located on the island are hotels, spas, restaurants and a movie theater, so that the passengers have their convenience if a storm detains for several days on the island.

The Rocket Plane

The Rocket Plane – The aircraft of the future powered by rockets. The rockets are fitted at the stern of the vessel, which propel the aircraft forward through the recoil of the escaping gases. The aircraft shown here is just going to skim past the Nankoupaß and the ancient Great Wall Of China with 10000 kilograms of mail on the way from Berlin to Tokyo. Since it has an hourly rate of 1,000 km, it takes nearly 8 hours for the Berlin-Tokyo route. A steamer today needs about 50 days!

The Rocket Airships

The Rocket Airships – The rocket planes have assumed huge proportions and consist only of a pair of wings in the shape of a parabola. The lavishly decorated cabins are built into the wings and take 400 passengers. Because there is no hull, the control fins are located at the ends of the wings. The driver’s cab, from which the missiles are made to fire, is located in the middle of the air cruiser deck.

Private Aircraft With Nuclear Propulsion

Private Aircraft With Nuclear Propulsion – Here we have the opportunity to meet a plane nearby. Yes, where is the propeller? That was once! The aircraft rises vertically and settles down vertically. The motor is a small capsule, in which the atom fragmentation takes place. On the right is an aircraft and an aircraft parking garage.

A New Driving Force

A New Driving Force – To move loads forwards, one exploits the tremendous power that is released during the disintegration of atoms. All cars drive with only a tiny motor which is driven by nuclear power. The speed of cars has grown accordingly. In the divided road, take 200 to 300 kilometers through the city, on the major highways the speed of 1000 km speed per hour is not uncommon!

Wireless Home Phone and Television

Wireless Home Phone and Television – Each person now has their own transmitter and receiver and can converse on a certain wave with acquaintances and relatives. But the television technology has become so perfected that one can look the friends in the face at the same time. Transmitter and receiver are no longer bound to the location, but is carried in a box the size of a photo apparatus.

Landing Of A Spaceship On The Moon

Landing Of A Spaceship On The Moon – Is this not wrong? Shouldn’t the rockets ignite at the stern of the vessel and spew their fire back? No, it’s for accuracy! The ship is landing, and therefore it has brought the Retropackage to deploy and quickly reduce the frenzied speed. Now you can easily make the landing on the Moon.

Spaceship Post

Spaceship Post – Because there are rare minerals on the Moon, capital was formed in America with $20 billion by the MoMA-A.G. (Moon minerals yield A.G.), which maintains a busy space ship traffic. At the stopover, the ships renew their rocket fuel on the ports floating freely in space.

The images above are via Retro-Futurismus – to see more click here.

The Spook Machine Enigma – A Box Of Secrets



[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.

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.

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 Enigma K-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.

4-Rotor Ciphering Machine Enigma K-Model set, with an external lamp panel and a separate power supply in an oak case.

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 Key Board and The Rotors.

The Compact Internal Lamp Panel Fits Between The Keyboard and The Rotors.

Expertly Machined Removable Rotors

Expertly Machined Removable Rotors

A Separate Power Supply In An Oak Case

A Separate Power Supply In An Oak Case

A four-rotor German Enigma cypher machine with a second operator display (a 'remote lampboard'), made during World War II. 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 cracking of German cypher codes by Allied intelligence was a major achievement in cryptanalysis and played a key role in the outcome of the North Atlantic U-boat engagements. The search to crack the the Enigma codes also resulted in 'Colossus', the first all-electronic digital computer. This rare machine is thought to have been used in the post-war years for coding diplomatic traffic in Switzerland.  (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)

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.

Portable Phonographs – MOTOROLA Had It All Covered


Portable phonographs – they were all the rage in 1958 and Zenith had everyone covered. Check out the models below – they were featured in the USA MOTOROLA Dealer Sales Catalog. The pages have been wonderfully preserved by Mark Meijster, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

The Moppet - A fun-time partner for the youngsters!

The Moppet – A fun-time partner for the youngsters! The Miracle fabric covering wipes clean in seconds with a damp cloth and is scuff, stain, and scratch resistant.

The Playmate - Styled for the young and the young-at-heart!

The Playmate – Styled for the young and the young-at-heart! This Automatic 4-speed record changer has dual flip-over sapphire styli. Lets you Intermix different size records of the same speed.

The Musicmate - A new and completely captivating combination of radio and phono!

The Musicmate – A new and completely captivating combination of radio and phono! The exhilarating new concept of design is just right for today’s young moderns.

The Calypso - Hi-Fi in fiberglass! The bold new concept of design adds to the glamour of today and tomorrow!

The Calypso – Hi-Fi in fiberglass! The bold new concept of design adds to the glamour of today and tomorrow! High fidelity sound from 3 speakers, hi-fi amplifier and separate bass and treble controls. This portable was designed for people who were really going places.

The illustrations and graphic design on these pages are wonderful examples of the era – as are the colors (and their combinations) of the phonographs themselves.

Something Fascinating That Occurred At The 1934 Chicago World’s Fair

1939 Chicago World's Fair
World's Fair 'A Century of Progress' - Chicago 1934, Illustration: (Sandor), A. Raymond Katz

World’s Fair ‘A Century of Progress’ – Chicago 1934, Illustration: (Sandor), A. Raymond Katz

In this famous poster for the 1934 Chicago World’s Fair, fan dancer and silent film star Sally Rand, one of the event’s star attractions, points the way to the fair. Rand simulated nudity in her act by wearing a body stocking. The street-sign-like device refers to the unique way the lights were turned on at the beginning of the fair: rays from the star Arcturus were collected at various observatories, focused on photoelectric cells, and converted to electricity. A rhythmic, luminous poster that exemplifies the Machine Age at its most kinetic. – International Poster Gallery

Emphasis added.