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Fuller's Spiral Cylindrical Slide Rule

National Museum of American History
This rule consists of an outer wooden cylinder that slides up and down and rotates. Two brass rings lined with felt are inside this cylinder. The cylinder is covered with paper marked with a single spiral logarithmic scale graduated into 7250 parts and having a length, according to the maker, of 500 inches (nearly 42 feet). Inside the outer cylinder is a longer wooden cylinder, covered with paper marked with decimal, conversion, and sine tables. A solid mahogany handle is at one end. A third cylinder of brass is inside the instrument. A brass index is screwed to the top of the handle. A second, longer brass index is screwed to the mahogany base and marked with a scale of equal parts used in finding logarithms. The tables on the middle cylinder include: decimal equivalents of feet and inches in feet; decimal equivalents of quarter weights and pounds in hundredweights; decimal equivalents of ounces and pounds in fractions of a pound; decimal equivalents of pounds, shillings, and pence in fractions of a pound; decimal equivalents of pence in shillings; days of the year as a fraction of the year; decimal equivalents of subunits of an acre; properties of various metals and woods; decimal equivalents of minutes of a degree in degrees; the Birmingham wire gauge; various conversion factors (mostly for weights and measures); and natural sines. The outer, sliding cylinder is marked near the top: FULLERS SPIRAL SLIDE RULE. Near the bottom is marked: ENTD. STATS. HALL; STANLEY, Maker, LONDON. The bottom is stamped: 1099. The top of the long brass index is engraved: 1099 (/) 98. According to Wayne Feely, these numbers indicate the instrument has serial number 1099 and was made in 1898. The rule is in a rectangular mahogany case marked in script on the top: Calculator. A blue sticker attached to the inside lid of the case reads: DRAWING MATERIAL (/) FRED. A. SCHMIDT. WASHINGTON D.C. (/) 516 (/) 9TH ST. (/) BRANCH (/) 1722 (/) PA. AVE. (/) TRADE MARK (beneath a drawing of intertwined dividers, right-angled ruler, and French curve). The inside of the lid is also stamped: MADE IN GREAT BRITAIN. A yellow rectangular label is printed: To H.M. Government Science & Art Depnt. Council of India, Admiralty, &c. (/) MADE BY (/) W. F. STANLEY, (/) Optical, Philosophical & Mathematical (/) INSTRUMENT MANUFACTURER, (/) ENGINE DIVIDER, &c. (/) MATHEMATICAL DEPARTMENT, GREAT TURNSTILE, HOLBORN, W.C. George Fuller, professor of civil engineering at Queen's University in Belfast, Ireland, patented this instrument in 1878. The Stanley firm made about 14,000 Fuller's spiral slide rules over nearly one hundred years. According to Boyd's Directory of the District of Columbia, Fred A. Schmidt, vendor of draftsmen's supplies, moved from 504 9th Street N.W. to 516 9th Street, with a branch at 1722 Pennsylvania Avenue, between 1895 and 1900. According to the donor, this example came from the family of her first husband, Fred Robert Troll (1920–1971), a sanitary engineer who attended Columbia University. The original purchaser may have been his father, Frank Troll, or his uncle, who was an artist who traveled frequently. See also MA.311958, MA.316575, and MA.313751. References: William Ford Stanley, Mathematical Drawing and Measuring Instruments, 6th ed. (London: E. & F. N. Spon, 1888), 248–249; W. F. Stanley, Surveying and Leveling Instruments, 3rd ed. (London, 1901), 542–543; Wayne E. Feely, "The Fuller Spiral Scale Slide Rule," Chronicle of the Early American Industries Association 50, no. 3 (1997): 93–98.

Geometric Model of A. Harry Wheeler, Immersion of a Moebius Band (One-Sided Polyhedron)

National Museum of American History
Taking a long, thin rectangle and attaching the short sides with a half-twist produces a surface called a Moebius band. It has neither inside nor outside (that is to say, it is non-orientable), and has only one boundary component—tracing starting from one point on the edge takes one around both long edges of the rectangle. For most closed polyhedra, the Euler characteristic of the polyhedron, which equals the number of vertices, minus the number of edges, plus the number of faces the number, is 2. For a Moebius band, it is 0.

This model is an immersion of a Moebius band into three-dimensional space. That is, the surface passes through itself along certain lines. The model is dissected into three triangles and three four-sided figures (quadrilaterals). The triangles (colored black) have angles of 36, 72, and 72 degrees. The pass-through lines of the immersion meet the triangles only at their vertices. The quadrilaterals (colored yellow) are in the shape of isosceles trapezoids, and the diagonals of the trapezoids are the pass-through lines of the immersion. These diagonals divide a trapezoid into four regions. The region that abuts the longer parallel side of the trapezoid is visible from the front side of the model, and the regions that abut the non-parallel sides are hidden. One third of each of the regions abutting the shorter parallel sides of the trapezoids is visible. The boundary edge of the model is an equilateral triangle consisting of the longest sides of the three trapezoids.

Figure 1 is a rendering of the model with vertices (six), edges (twelve), and faces (six) labeled. Contrary to appearances, the edge labeled e4 separates T1 from Q3, the edge labeled e10 separates T1 from Q1, and the edge labeled e5 separates T1 from Q2, and similarly for the other two triangles. Each triangle shares one edge with each quadrilateral, and each quadrilateral has one edge along the boundary of the model and one edge in common with each triangle.

Figure 2 shows a rectangle that can be made into a Moebius band by identifying the vertical edges with a half-twist. The rectangle is dissected into three triangles and three quadrilaterals with the same pattern as this model. There is little distortion of T1 and Q1. T2 is only slightly distorted. However T2, Q2, and Q3 are required to go out one end and come back in the other.

Compare 1979.0102.416 (which has a full discussion of the surface), 1979.0102.197, 1979.0102.198, 1979.0102.199, 1979.0102.200, and MA.304723.718.

Moulthrop Movable Chair Desk, Manufactured by The Langslow Fowler Company

National Museum of American History
Designed in 1905 by Samuel Parker Moulthrop, and manufactured by The Langslow Fowler Company, the Moulthrop Movable Chair Desk was an example of innovative school seating. Samuel P. Moulthrop (1848-1932) was a progressive educator who studied various learning environments as a teacher, principal, and superintendent in Rochester, New York. Fascinated with the work of Maria Montessori, he introduced educational innovations like kindergarten classes, the use of manipulatives to the lower grades, and mechanical drawing and choral clubs to older children. He worked with immigrant communities to promote English and Americanization through evening classes, facilitated after-school youth clubs promoting ‘knife work,’ wood carving, and nature walks to deter delinquency in young males. He later became involved with scouting and the Playground League and arranged sewing and cooking classes for girls.

He was passionate about the need for exercise and encouraged calisthenics and swimming as benefits for mental and physical health. As a result, he recognized the need for an easily movable chair desk combination that could be used in a variety of seating arrangements to accommodate classroom activities such as pageants, plays, and marching to promote patriotism. By the turn of the century, he submitted patents for other educational materials: a ventilated school wardrobe and an educational apparatus that was similar to an easel with a scroll.

During this period, he began to design the chair desk. It featured a scooped seat with a curved back support, a cut out handle on the back, a good sized drawer under the seat for school supplies and an attached moveable desk top that could be angled to take advantage of the light and positioned for better posture and penmanship. To produce the desk, Moulthrop worked with Langslow Fowler, a local Rochester furniture company founded by carpenters Purdy Fowler, Henry A. Langslow, and Stratton C. Langslow. With an immigrant workforce, the company specialized in the manufacturing of chairs, particularly rockers, until Moulthrop came along with his design. Langslow Fowler began producing these chair desks using the Moulthrop name in 1905 during a period when the school furnishing industry had begun to flourish.

Samuel Moulthrop does not appear to have applied for a patent for the desk. However, in 1912, Langslow Fowler applied for one which was granted in 1917. Langslow Fowler promoted the desk at numerous fairs and expositions and produced several extensive catalogs featuring the chair desk. The 1909 catalog touted the soundless ease of moving these desks within the classroom due to glides on the back legs and rubber tips on the front. By 1913, the chair desk was becoming the preferred new desk form, particularly in urban schools because it was sturdy, self-contained, adjustable and easy to move about in the classroom, even though older combination desk models were also in large supply.

The chair desk won national and international design awards for being the preferred desk for preventing vision problems and obviating defective discipline. Langslow Fowler developed modifications such as adding a side book rack. They also worked on providing greater adjustability on the desk top so by the time they applied for the patent, they were promoting a couple of models of the “original Moulthrop style moveable chair desk.” They also provided an optional larger surface for drawing. In the 1920s, the American Seating Company contracted with Langslow Fowler to sell the Moulthrop chair desk. Within 10 years, the desks were manufactured and sold under the American seating name. In 1950, American seating applied for their own patent of a modified chair desk, one that had an open shelf below the seat instead of a more costly drawer.

Cierva C.8W (C.8L Mk. IV)

National Air and Space Museum
Cierva C.8W

In 1928, Harold Pitcairn imported Juan de la Cierva's latest Autogiro, the C.8W (also known as the C.8 Mk.IV) to the United States as an experimental testbed for his own line of rotary-wing aircraft. This aircraft, as the first of its type in the United States, generated considerable interest in commercial and governmental circles. It validated Pitcairn's interest in the new category of aircraft and inspired other American pioneers to enter the field. The C.8W deserves recognition as the progenitor of the American gyroplane and as the first successful rotary-wing aircraft to fly in the United States.

The word "Autogiro" is a proprietary name coined by Juan de la Cierva. His designs were the first aircraft to fall in the gyroplane category. Nonetheless, nearly all gyroplanes built from the 1920s through to the end of World War Two became commonly known as "autogiros" (or the more generic "autogyros"), regardless of the manufacturer. A gyroplane is an aircraft that derives most, if not all, of its lift from the unpowered autorotation of a horizontally mounted rotor or rotors. Unlike a helicopter, an engine does not drive the rotor blades while the aircraft is in flight. Instead, the resultant of the lift and drag forces acts to pull the blade forward in rotation while also creating lift - the same effect that turns the sails on windmills. This state of autorotation is only possible with a sustained airflow through the rotor disc, with the air moving from below and in front of the rotor to above and behind it. The gyroplane requires some propulsive force to maintain sufficient speed to sustain autorotation and hold altitude. In the Cierva and Pitcairn Autogiros, an engine driving a tractor propeller supplied the necessary force. If the pilot reduced throttle while flying, the rotors would begin to slow and the autogiro would descend. The increased airflow of the descent allowed the rotors to continue in autorotation and maintain the blades in an unstalled condition - even without the forward pull of the propeller. Although the pilot still had to keep some forward motion for a landing flare-out, and to maintain airflow over the control surfaces, it allowed for unpowered and near vertical descents ending in a very short landing rollout. This was an excellent safety feature in case of engine failure. Nonetheless, until the advent of direct control gyroplanes, the diminished control effectiveness in slow speed flight required a highly experienced Autogiro pilot to perform minimal landing rollouts. Without a powered rotor, gyroplanes are incapable of hovering, though later designs did include rotor spin-up mechanisms that allowed near-vertical "jump" takeoffs.

Most of the early gyroplanes were similar in layout to single-engine low-winged monoplanes, with the exception of the rotor mounted on a pylon in front of the cockpit that provided the primary source of lift during slow-speed flight. They employed standard airplane-type control surfaces (elevator, aileron, and rudder) and the rotor blades all maintained a fixed pitch. The stubby monoplane wing did not serve primarily for the generation of lift. Rather, it was a convenient means of mounting the ailerons and providing stability. It also had the unintended benefit of making the aircraft appear more conventional to skeptical airplane operators who were doubtful about flying without fixed wings.

Cierva constructed his first Autogiro, the coaxial rotor C.1, in 1920. As the rotors on the C.1 autorotated at different speeds, rendering the aircraft incapable of controlled flight, he decided to switch to a single rotor design. However, the abortive first flight of the new aircraft revealed a problem that he had not considered. As the Autogiro began to gain speed during its takeoff roll, the rotor blade that was turning towards the front of the aircraft received the benefit of additional airspeed because of the forward motion of the Autogiro. However, the blade retreating towards the rear of the autogiro suffered a loss in its airspeed relative to the oncoming air for the same reason. The net effect was a difference in airspeeds of the two blades that naturally caused asymmetry of lift between the two sides of the rotor disc (as lift is a function of airspeed). In turn, this resulted in the Autogiro rolling into the retreating blade side. A subsequent Cierva Autogiro also suffered the same problem and failed to take off successfully.

In 1922, Cierva conceived an inspired solution to his problem. By incorporating a hinge that allowed each blade to "flap" independently at its root, he developed a rotor that equalized lift amongst all of the blades, regardless of whether the Autogiro was flying fast or slow. When the advancing blade generated additional lift because of its higher velocity, the flapping hinge allowed it to rise, which effectively reduced the angle of attack of the blade, thus reducing its lift. On the other side of the rotor, the flapping hinge allow the retreating blade to descend with its reduced lift, which effectively increased its angle of attack, thus generating more lift. This breakthrough was not only an essential component for the Autogiro - it was also necessary for the development of the practical helicopter.

Cierva's first successful Autogiro (and the first successful rotary-wing aircraft of any kind), the C.4, took flight on January 17, 1923 at Getafe airfield in Madrid, Spain. Over the next three years, Cierva made progressive improvements that resulted in the standard monoplane configuration for gyroplanes that remained in use until the mid-1930s. The greatest improvements came in the design of the rotor blades and the hinges, both of which would later prove essential for helicopters.

Cierva constructed his first C.8 model, the C.8V, in close association with A.V. Roe & Co. Ltd. (commonly known as Avro). The airframe was based on the fuselage of the Avro 552A, a variant of the venerable Avro 504 biplane. The most innovative component of the C.8V was its new four-bladed cable-braced rotor that incorporated drag hinges to reduce the stresses on the blades. The "V" in the model designation indicated the type of engine used in the variant - in this case, a Wolseley Viper. Cierva constructed six different C.8 configurations, all of which were experimental testbeds built to test improvements in autogiro technology before a production model, the C.19, was to appear in 1929. Given the limited knowledge of rotary wing aerodynamics of the time and the necessity of relying on trial-and-error methods, it is not surprising that Cierva constructed two dozen experimental autogiros before he completed a model worthy of production.

The most powerful of the six C.8s constructed was the two-seat C.8W fitted with a 220 horsepower Wright Whirlwind J-5. Cierva had equipped the aircraft with an American engine at the request of its buyer, Harold Pitcairn. As a teenager, Pitcairn had developed a fascination with the possibilities of rotary-wing aircraft and had avidly followed news of Cierva's progress. In 1924, he had established himself in the aircraft manufacturing industry by building rugged biplanes, one of which, the PA-5 Mailwing (see NASM Collection), was to gain a legendary reputation amongst pilots who flew the nascent airmail routes. Nonetheless, Pitcairn pursued his dream to enter the then highly dubious field of rotary-wing aviation. In 1925 and 1926 he traveled to England for discussions with Cierva about either license-building Autogiros or using them as the basis of his own helicopter designs. While there with his engineer, Agnew Larsen, Pitcairn viewed film footage of the aircraft in operation. They observed that, while the Autogiro was capable of landing in short distances within a confined space, it also required considerable amounts of high-speed taxiing to build up sufficient rotor rpm to take off. Clearly, the ability to land short was of little value without the capability to take off from the same terrain. Nonetheless, Pitcairn remained interested, and in the summer of 1928 he returned to England and flew in the C.8, which greatly impressed him. A rope sling pulled by a ground crew spun up the rotor of the C.8 to near takeoff rpm, which meant that less taxiing was required before a takeoff of only (100 ft). Pitcairn decided to purchase one of the experimental Cierva C.8s as a testbed for his own company's rotary wing program.

European engines turned counter-clockwise when viewed from the rear, while the American Wright Whirlwind J-5 turned clockwise, which caused Pitcairn some apprehension over its affects on rotor rpm. After Cierva confirmed that this would not be an issue, Pitcairn agreed to purchase a new C.8 with the Wright engine. On December 11, 1928, the C.8W arrived in the United States onboard the S.S. Aquitania. Pitcairn planned to have the Autogiro make its flight on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Wright brother's first powered flight, on December 17, at his Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania airfield. However, he was conservative when dealing with the experimental testing of the newly reassembled aircraft and was extremely anxious that all should go well on the first flight. Thus, not until December 18, would the C.8W perform the first flight of a gyroplane in the United States, with Cierva test pilot, Arthur "Dizzy" Rawson at the controls. Pitcairn himself flew the aircraft the following day. Whatever doubts Pitcairn had concerning the potential of rotary-wing aircraft evaporated as he completely reorganized his company to support autogiro production. His first step was to acquire the American patent rights to Cierva's innovations and to manage and license them under the direction of the Pitcairn-Cierva Autogiro Company of America. This enterprise, later renamed the Autogiro Company of America, would remain separate from the production side of Pitcairn Aircraft, which would become the Pitcairn Autogiro Company, Inc. in 1933.

Testing of the C.8W proceeded well, but it was immediately apparent to Pitcairn and his staff that the aircraft required substantial improvements in performance before it could hope to become a commercial success. One problem was that rotor flapping was unchecked, so that at speeds greater than 161 kph (100 mph) it was possible for the rotor to strike the fuselage - with catastrophic results. By the end of 1929, a three-degree reduction in the angle of incidence of the autogiro's fixed wing reduced this hazard significantly by altering the attitude of the aircraft in flight. Shortly after Pitcairn began testing the C.8W, Cierva contacted him and suggested that he add upturned wingtips with a 45-degree dihedral to improve its stability. This addition, tried initially on Cierva's C.12, increased the wingspan by an additional 0.73 meters (2 ft 4 in). The modification worked extremely well, and was a staple on almost all winged autogiros until the advent of wingless, direct-control versions.

Pitcairn focused on developing his own, more powerful, design, with an improved mechanism for bringing the rotor up to speed so that the aircraft would possess true short takeoff and landing capabilities. His engineering team experimented with new tail designs for the C.8W, developed by Cierva for the C.19, which deflected propwash upward into the aft section of the rotor disc. This helped to bring the rotors into a state of autorotation in preparation for a minimal takeoff run.

At the end of the 1920s, the JN-4 Jennys of the barnstorming era had given way to larger and faster aircraft that required airfields more substantial than a simple cow pasture. The minimal takeoff and landing rolls of Pitcairn's proposed Autogiros promised that the well-to-do could operate from their lawns, while conventional aircraft were becoming increasingly tied to the fixed infrastructure of the local airfields. Unfortunately, Pitcairn's timing was technically fortuitous but commercially disastrous as his new autogiro venture coincided with the advent of the Great Depression. Despite the best efforts of numerous entrepreneurs, general aviation was to remain the purview of the wealthy throughout this period and the company struggled to survive. Most of the company's Autogiro sales were to demonstration pilots who made their living performing at airshows and using the aircraft as a highly visible flying billboard, either on its own or towing banners.

Nonetheless, Pitcairn did succeed in improving on the C.8W and placing a number of variants into limited production with slightly fewer than 100 airframes constructed over a ten-year period. The C.8W did much to publicize the Autogiro during the development of Pitcairn's initial design, the PCA-1 (see NASM Collection). By the spring of 1929, Pitcairn was under considerable pressure from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA - the forerunner of NASA) to make the C.8W available for viewing. No one in the United States other than Pitcairn and his staff were well versed in the engineering challenges posed by the autogiro, and the aviation industry was beginning to grow anxious for the opportunity to examine the novel craft. Pitcairn undertook the first rotary-wing cross-country flight in the United States on May 13, 1929 when he flew the C.8W more than 805-kilometers (500-miles) from Bryn Athyn to Langley, Virginia, for the annual NACA conference. He flew via Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington and Richmond, attracting considerable crowds at each of his stops. After impressing notables at the conference, including Orville Wright, he flew to Norfolk to demonstrate the Autogiro to Navy officials, who were naturally intrigued about an aircraft with the potential to operate easily from naval vessels. Shortly after making the return flight, Pitcairn flew the C.8W to Washington for a demonstration before Congress and members of President Hoover's administration. Also in the audience was the Spanish ambassador, who had come to see one of his nation's greatest aeronautical contributions in action. Two years later, Pitcairn's first production model, the PCA-2, would land on the South Lawn of the White House.

The development of the PCA-1 proceeded steadily, but slowly, as the challenge of scaling-up the C.8W was much more significant than a mere increase in the dimensions. One innovation was the use of a steel spar instead of the wooden one employed on the C.8W. Pitcairn's continuing frustration over the rotor spin-up problem led to his incorporation of an important autogiro development - a clutch that allowed the engine to bring the rotor rpm up before flight. This was not possible in flight because there would have been no means of counteracting torque - something that the friction of the tires accomplished while the aircraft remained on the ground. However, this important development did set the stage for the jump-takeoff autogiros that appeared in the late 1930s.

In 1930, the National Aeronautic Association awarded Pitcairn the prestigious Collier Trophy because of his pioneering flights in the C.8W and the successful Americanization of the Autogiro in the form of the PCA-1. After the C.8W finished its useful life as a testbed upon completion of the PCA-1 series of experimental Autogiros, it lay dormant for a brief time. Pitcairn then decided to donate it to the Smithsonian Institution's repository of historic aircraft at the urging of Paul Garber, who attended to the Smithsonian's aeronautics collection. The last flight of the C.8W occurred on July 22, 1931, when Pitcairn test pilot Jim Ray landed the aircraft on the National Mall in front of the Smithsonian "Castle" after a 209-kilometer (130-mile) flight from Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. Dr. Charles Abbott, the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, personally accepted it into the national collection. The aircraft currently awaits restoration and display. Harold Pitcairn stated at the presentation that "the time is fast approaching when the air will hold a vast number of similar but more perfected machines, all engaged in the everyday social and commercial activities of our people." The gyroplane was unquestionably a safe and economical means of solving the short takeoff and landing problem that had troubled aeronautical engineers for decades. However, the type's limited payload and low airspeeds usually made it a poor substitute for conventional airplanes in the eyes of most operators. Unfortunately, the Autogiro failed to become a widespread commercial success. The advent of the commercial helicopter in the 1940s, with its unique ability to hover, quickly displaced the gyroplane as the predominant rotary-wing aircraft.

In terms of Autogiro design, the C.8W was largely unremarkable. However, the publicity generated by the aircraft, as well as the technical knowledge gained by Pitcairn during its use, guarantees its status as a true pioneer of rotary-wing flight. Its legacy lives on, as the practical helicopter was only possible through the introduction of rotor hinges and effective blade designs that Pitcairn and Cierva had perfected on their Autogiros.

Rotor Diameter:11.97 m (38 ft 8 in)

Wingspan:8.64 m (28 ft 4 in)

Length:8.64 m (28 ft 4 in)

Height:3.84 m (13 ft 1 in)

Weight:Empty, 787 kg (1,735 lb)

Gross, 1,134 kg (2,500 lb)

Engine:Wright Whirlwind J-5 Radial, 220 hp

Crew:1 pilot, 1 passenger

References and Further Reading:

Brooks, Peter W. Cierva Autogiros: The Development of Rotary-Wing Flight.

Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1988.

Smith, Frank Kingston. Legacy of Wings: The Harold F. Pitcairn Story. Lafayette Hill, \

Pa: T.D. Associates, 1981.

Townson, George. Autogiro: The Story of "the Windmill Plane." Destin, Fl: Aviation

Heritage, Inc., 1985.

Cierva C.8W curatorial file, Aeronautics Division, National Air and Space Museum

R. Connor

Cierva C.8W

In 1928, Harold Pitcairn imported Juan de la Cierva's latest Autogiro, the C.8W (also known as the C.8 Mk.IV) to the United States as an experimental testbed for his own line of rotary-wing aircraft. This aircraft, as the first of its type in the United States, generated considerable interest in commercial and governmental circles. It validated Pitcairn's interest in the new category of aircraft and inspired other American pioneers to enter the field. The C.8W deserves recognition as the progenitor of the American gyroplane and as the first successful rotary-wing aircraft to fly in the United States.

The word "Autogiro" is a proprietary name coined by Juan de la Cierva. His designs were the first aircraft to fall in the gyroplane category. Nonetheless, nearly all gyroplanes built from the 1920s through to the end of World War Two became commonly known as "autogiros" (or the more generic "autogyros"), regardless of the manufacturer. A gyroplane is an aircraft that derives most, if not all, of its lift from the unpowered autorotation of a horizontally mounted rotor or rotors. Unlike a helicopter, an engine does not drive the rotor blades while the aircraft is in flight. Instead, the resultant of the lift and drag forces acts to pull the blade forward in rotation while also creating lift - the same effect that turns the sails on windmills. This state of autorotation is only possible with a sustained airflow through the rotor disc, with the air moving from below and in front of the rotor to above and behind it. The gyroplane requires some propulsive force to maintain sufficient speed to sustain autorotation and hold altitude. In the Cierva and Pitcairn Autogiros, an engine driving a tractor propeller supplied the necessary force. If the pilot reduced throttle while flying, the rotors would begin to slow and the autogiro would descend. The increased airflow of the descent allowed the rotors to continue in autorotation and maintain the blades in an unstalled condition - even without the forward pull of the propeller. Although the pilot still had to keep some forward motion for a landing flare-out, and to maintain airflow over the control surfaces, it allowed for unpowered and near vertical descents ending in a very short landing rollout. This was an excellent safety feature in case of engine failure. Nonetheless, until the advent of direct control gyroplanes, the diminished control effectiveness in slow speed flight required a highly experienced Autogiro pilot to perform minimal landing rollouts. Without a powered rotor, gyroplanes are incapable of hovering, though later designs did include rotor spin-up mechanisms that allowed near-vertical "jump" takeoffs.

Most of the early gyroplanes were similar in layout to single-engine low-winged monoplanes, with the exception of the rotor mounted on a pylon in front of the cockpit that provided the primary source of lift during slow-speed flight. They employed standard airplane-type control surfaces (elevator, aileron, and rudder) and the rotor blades all maintained a fixed pitch. The stubby monoplane wing did not serve primarily for the generation of lift. Rather, it was a convenient means of mounting the ailerons and providing stability. It also had the unintended benefit of making the aircraft appear more conventional to skeptical airplane operators who were doubtful about flying without fixed wings.

Cierva constructed his first Autogiro, the coaxial rotor C.1, in 1920. As the rotors on the C.1 autorotated at different speeds, rendering the aircraft incapable of controlled flight, he decided to switch to a single rotor design. However, the abortive first flight of the new aircraft revealed a problem that he had not considered. As the Autogiro began to gain speed during its takeoff roll, the rotor blade that was turning towards the front of the aircraft received the benefit of additional airspeed because of the forward motion of the Autogiro. However, the blade retreating towards the rear of the autogiro suffered a loss in its airspeed relative to the oncoming air for the same reason. The net effect was a difference in airspeeds of the two blades that naturally caused asymmetry of lift between the two sides of the rotor disc (as lift is a function of airspeed). In turn, this resulted in the Autogiro rolling into the retreating blade side. A subsequent Cierva Autogiro also suffered the same problem and failed to take off successfully.

In 1922, Cierva conceived an inspired solution to his problem. By incorporating a hinge that allowed each blade to "flap" independently at its root, he developed a rotor that equalized lift amongst all of the blades, regardless of whether the Autogiro was flying fast or slow. When the advancing blade generated additional lift because of its higher velocity, the flapping hinge allowed it to rise, which effectively reduced the angle of attack of the blade, thus reducing its lift. On the other side of the rotor, the flapping hinge allow the retreating blade to descend with its reduced lift, which effectively increased its angle of attack, thus generating more lift. This breakthrough was not only an essential component for the Autogiro - it was also necessary for the development of the practical helicopter.

Cierva's first successful Autogiro (and the first successful rotary-wing aircraft of any kind), the C.4, took flight on January 17, 1923 at Getafe airfield in Madrid, Spain. Over the next three years, Cierva made progressive improvements that resulted in the standard monoplane configuration for gyroplanes that remained in use until the mid-1930s. The greatest improvements came in the design of the rotor blades and the hinges, both of which would later prove essential for helicopters.

Cierva constructed his first C.8 model, the C.8V, in close association with A.V. Roe & Co. Ltd. (commonly known as Avro). The airframe was based on the fuselage of the Avro 552A, a variant of the venerable Avro 504 biplane. The most innovative component of the C.8V was its new four-bladed cable-braced rotor that incorporated drag hinges to reduce the stresses on the blades. The "V" in the model designation indicated the type of engine used in the variant - in this case, a Wolseley Viper. Cierva constructed six different C.8 configurations, all of which were experimental testbeds built to test improvements in autogiro technology before a production model, the C.19, was to appear in 1929. Given the limited knowledge of rotary wing aerodynamics of the time and the necessity of relying on trial-and-error methods, it is not surprising that Cierva constructed two dozen experimental autogiros before he completed a model worthy of production.

The most powerful of the six C.8s constructed was the two-seat C.8W fitted with a 220 horsepower Wright Whirlwind J-5. Cierva had equipped the aircraft with an American engine at the request of its buyer, Harold Pitcairn. As a teenager, Pitcairn had developed a fascination with the possibilities of rotary-wing aircraft and had avidly followed news of Cierva's progress. In 1924, he had established himself in the aircraft manufacturing industry by building rugged biplanes, one of which, the PA-5 Mailwing (see NASM Collection), was to gain a legendary reputation amongst pilots who flew the nascent airmail routes. Nonetheless, Pitcairn pursued his dream to enter the then highly dubious field of rotary-wing aviation. In 1925 and 1926 he traveled to England for discussions with Cierva about either license-building Autogiros or using them as the basis of his own helicopter designs. While there with his engineer, Agnew Larsen, Pitcairn viewed film footage of the aircraft in operation. They observed that, while the Autogiro was capable of landing in short distances within a confined space, it also required considerable amounts of high-speed taxiing to build up sufficient rotor rpm to take off. Clearly, the ability to land short was of little value without the capability to take off from the same terrain. Nonetheless, Pitcairn remained interested, and in the summer of 1928 he returned to England and flew in the C.8, which greatly impressed him. A rope sling pulled by a ground crew spun up the rotor of the C.8 to near takeoff rpm, which meant that less taxiing was required before a takeoff of only (100 ft). Pitcairn decided to purchase one of the experimental Cierva C.8s as a testbed for his own company's rotary wing program.

European engines turned counter-clockwise when viewed from the rear, while the American Wright Whirlwind J-5 turned clockwise, which caused Pitcairn some apprehension over its affects on rotor rpm. After Cierva confirmed that this would not be an issue, Pitcairn agreed to purchase a new C.8 with the Wright engine. On December 11, 1928, the C.8W arrived in the United States onboard the S.S. Aquitania. Pitcairn planned to have the Autogiro make its flight on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Wright brother's first powered flight, on December 17, at his Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania airfield. However, he was conservative when dealing with the experimental testing of the newly reassembled aircraft and was extremely anxious that all should go well on the first flight. Thus, not until December 18, would the C.8W perform the first flight of a gyroplane in the United States, with Cierva test pilot, Arthur "Dizzy" Rawson at the controls. Pitcairn himself flew the aircraft the following day. Whatever doubts Pitcairn had concerning the potential of rotary-wing aircraft evaporated as he completely reorganized his company to support autogiro production. His first step was to acquire the American patent rights to Cierva's innovations and to manage and license them under the direction of the Pitcairn-Cierva Autogiro Company of America. This enterprise, later renamed the Autogiro Company of America, would remain separate from the production side of Pitcairn Aircraft, which would become the Pitcairn Autogiro Company, Inc. in 1933.

Testing of the C.8W proceeded well, but it was immediately apparent to Pitcairn and his staff that the aircraft required substantial improvements in performance before it could hope to become a commercial success. One problem was that rotor flapping was unchecked, so that at speeds greater than 161 kph (100 mph) it was possible for the rotor to strike the fuselage - with catastrophic results. By the end of 1929, a three-degree reduction in the angle of incidence of the autogiro's fixed wing reduced this hazard significantly by altering the attitude of the aircraft in flight. Shortly after Pitcairn began testing the C.8W, Cierva contacted him and suggested that he add upturned wingtips with a 45-degree dihedral to improve its stability. This addition, tried initially on Cierva's C.12, increased the wingspan by an additional 0.73 meters (2 ft 4 in). The modification worked extremely well, and was a staple on almost all winged autogiros until the advent of wingless, direct-control versions.

Pitcairn focused on developing his own, more powerful, design, with an improved mechanism for bringing the rotor up to speed so that the aircraft would possess true short takeoff and landing capabilities. His engineering team experimented with new tail designs for the C.8W, developed by Cierva for the C.19, which deflected propwash upward into the aft section of the rotor disc. This helped to bring the rotors into a state of autorotation in preparation for a minimal takeoff run.

At the end of the 1920s, the JN-4 Jennys of the barnstorming era had given way to larger and faster aircraft that required airfields more substantial than a simple cow pasture. The minimal takeoff and landing rolls of Pitcairn's proposed Autogiros promised that the well-to-do could operate from their lawns, while conventional aircraft were becoming increasingly tied to the fixed infrastructure of the local airfields. Unfortunately, Pitcairn's timing was technically fortuitous but commercially disastrous as his new autogiro venture coincided with the advent of the Great Depression. Despite the best efforts of numerous entrepreneurs, general aviation was to remain the purview of the wealthy throughout this period and the company struggled to survive. Most of the company's Autogiro sales were to demonstration pilots who made their living performing at airshows and using the aircraft as a highly visible flying billboard, either on its own or towing banners.

Nonetheless, Pitcairn did succeed in improving on the C.8W and placing a number of variants into limited production with slightly fewer than 100 airframes constructed over a ten-year period. The C.8W did much to publicize the Autogiro during the development of Pitcairn's initial design, the PCA-1 (see NASM Collection). By the spring of 1929, Pitcairn was under considerable pressure from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA - the forerunner of NASA) to make the C.8W available for viewing. No one in the United States other than Pitcairn and his staff were well versed in the engineering challenges posed by the autogiro, and the aviation industry was beginning to grow anxious for the opportunity to examine the novel craft. Pitcairn undertook the first rotary-wing cross-country flight in the United States on May 13, 1929 when he flew the C.8W more than 805-kilometers (500-miles) from Bryn Athyn to Langley, Virginia, for the annual NACA conference. He flew via Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington and Richmond, attracting considerable crowds at each of his stops. After impressing notables at the conference, including Orville Wright, he flew to Norfolk to demonstrate the Autogiro to Navy officials, who were naturally intrigued about an aircraft with the potential to operate easily from naval vessels. Shortly after making the return flight, Pitcairn flew the C.8W to Washington for a demonstration before Congress and members of President Hoover's administration. Also in the audience was the Spanish ambassador, who had come to see one of his nation's greatest aeronautical contributions in action. Two years later, Pitcairn's first production model, the PCA-2, would land on the South Lawn of the White House.

The development of the PCA-1 proceeded steadily, but slowly, as the challenge of scaling-up the C.8W was much more significant than a mere increase in the dimensions. One innovation was the use of a steel spar instead of the wooden one employed on the C.8W. Pitcairn's continuing frustration over the rotor spin-up problem led to his incorporation of an important autogiro development - a clutch that allowed the engine to bring the rotor rpm up before flight. This was not possible in flight because there would have been no means of counteracting torque - something that the friction of the tires accomplished while the aircraft remained on the ground. However, this important development did set the stage for the jump-takeoff autogiros that appeared in the late 1930s.

In 1930, the National Aeronautic Association awarded Pitcairn the prestigious Collier Trophy because of his pioneering flights in the C.8W and the successful Americanization of the Autogiro in the form of the PCA-1. After the C.8W finished its useful life as a testbed upon completion of the PCA-1 series of experimental Autogiros, it lay dormant for a brief time. Pitcairn then decided to donate it to the Smithsonian Institution's repository of historic aircraft at the urging of Paul Garber, who attended to the Smithsonian's aeronautics collection. The last flight of the C.8W occurred on July 22, 1931, when Pitcairn test pilot Jim Ray landed the aircraft on the National Mall in front of the Smithsonian "Castle" after a 209-kilometer (130-mile) flight from Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. Dr. Charles Abbott, the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, personally accepted it into the national collection. The aircraft currently awaits restoration and display. Harold Pitcairn stated at the presentation that "the time is fast approaching when the air will hold a vast number of similar but more perfected machines, all engaged in the everyday social and commercial activities of our people." The gyroplane was unquestionably a safe and economical means of solving the short takeoff and landing problem that had troubled aeronautical engineers for decades. However, the type's limited payload and low airspeeds usually made it a poor substitute for conventional airplanes in the eyes of most operators. Unfortunately, the Autogiro failed to become a widespread commercial success. The advent of the commercial helicopter in the 1940s, with its unique ability to hover, quickly displaced the gyroplane as the predominant rotary-wing aircraft.

In terms of Autogiro design, the C.8W was largely unremarkable. However, the publicity generated by the aircraft, as well as the technical knowledge gained by Pitcairn during its use, guarantees its status as a true pioneer of rotary-wing flight. Its legacy lives on, as the practical helicopter was only possible through the introduction of rotor hinges and effective blade designs that Pitcairn and Cierva had perfected on their Autogiros.

Rotor Diameter:11.97 m (38 ft 8 in)

Wingspan:8.64 m (28 ft 4 in)

Length:8.64 m (28 ft 4 in)

Height:3.84 m (13 ft 1 in)

Weight:Empty, 787 kg (1,735 lb)

Gross, 1,134 kg (2,500 lb)

Engine:Wright Whirlwind J-5 Radial, 220 hp

Crew:1 pilot, 1 passenger

References and Further Reading:

Brooks, Peter W. Cierva Autogiros: The Development of Rotary-Wing Flight.

Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1988.

Smith, Frank Kingston. Legacy of Wings: The Harold F. Pitcairn Story. Lafayette Hill, \

Pa: T.D. Associates, 1981.

Townson, George. Autogiro: The Story of "the Windmill Plane." Destin, Fl: Aviation

Heritage, Inc., 1985.

Cierva C.8W curatorial file, Aeronautics Division, National Air and Space Museum

R. Connor

How Japanese Artists Responded to the Transformation of Their Nation

Smithsonian Magazine

Not long after Japan formally decided to start trading with the West in the 1850s, photography also came to the island nation. Both signaled a new era of modernity.

The quest to understand and depict the soul of Japan as it evolved from Imperialist, agrarian and isolationist, to more populist, global and urban is the theme of two exhibitions now on view at the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries in Washington, D.C. The two shows, “Japan Modern: Photography from the Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck Collection” and “Japan Modern: Prints in the Age of Photography,” share much, says Frank Feltens, curator of the print show.

Neither are in chronological order, but both group images in common themes—with city and country dominating. The photography show is highly documentary; many are in black and white. The prints, made with carved wood blocks, are bold, visual and colorful. But, says Feltens, “between the two shows, you start finding more and more commonalities”—an interest in surfaces, angles, fragments.

The artists are “looking at the world outside, but reimagining it through one time, the lens and then through the wood blocks,” Feltens says.

As it did in the Western world, photography cast a large shadow. Wood block prints had been around for at least a millennium, primarily as a means of communicating something about the culture—telling stories. By the late 19th century, printmaking was dead—a casualty of the easier, cheaper photography.

The first known photograph taken in Japan dates to 1848, says Feltens. Daguerrotypes were popular in Japan—as they were in Europe and America—but photography really took off in the 1920s, with the rise of more portable equipment like Kodak’s vest pocket camera, says Carol Huh, curator of the photography show. The vest pocket, which is about the size of a modern camera, with a lens that pulls out, accordion style, was made between 1912 and 1926, and became extremely popular in Japan, giving rise to camera clubs and the Besu-Tan School photographic style.

The photo show was made possible by the partial gift in May 2018 of a trove of some 400 photographs collected by Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck, Japan aficionados and screenwriters, best known for American Graffiti and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The collection had largely been displayed on the walls of their Brentwood, California, home. Huh selected for the show 80 prints from two dozen artists, focusing on those that influenced the trajectory of Japanese photography.

Image by Freer|Sackler, Purchase and partial gift from Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck. Simmon: A Private Landscape (#1), by Hosoe Eikoh, 1971 (original image)

Image by Freer|Sackler, Purchase and partial gift from Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck. Seikan Ferryboat, from the series Karasu (Ravens) by Fukase Masahis, 1976 (original image)

Image by Freer|Sackler, Purchase and partial gift from Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck. Yokosuka, Kanagawa, by Tomatsu Shomei, 1959 (original image)

Image by Freer|Sackler, Purchase and partial gift from Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck. Koen Dori, Shibuya, from the series Karasu (Ravens), by Fukase Masahisa, 1982 (original image)

Image by Freer|Sackler, Purchase and partial gift from Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck. Peaks of Takachiho Volcano, Kagoshima and MiyazakiPrefectures, by Hamaya Hiroshi, 1964 (original image)

Image by Freer|Sackler, Purchase and partial gift from Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck. Kamaitachi #8, by Hosoe Eikoh, 1965 (original image)

Image by Freer|Sackler, Purchase and partial gift from Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck. Man in a Traditional Minobashi Raincoat, NiigataPrefecture, by Hamaya Hiroshi, 1956 (original image)

Image by Freer|Sackler, Purchase and partial gift from Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck. My Wife on the Dunes, by Ueda Shoji, ca. 1950 (original image)

Image by Freer|Sackler, Purchase and partial gift from Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck. Boku To Neko (The Cat and Me), by Ueda Shoji, ca. 1950 (original image)

Image by Freer|Sackler, Purchase and partial gift from Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck. Evening View, by Moriyama Daido, 1977 (original image)

The initial gallery—with prints from the 1920s and 1930s—shows how Japanese photographers were so keenly influenced by European contemporaries, especially the soft-focus pictorialists. “We’re hitting a kind of peak of affirming photography as a medium of expression—an art medium, and also a transition towards a more modernist aesthetic,” says Huh. Early photos documented the city and country—a canal; wheat waving in the breeze. The transition is seen in Ishikawa Noboru’s 1930s-era light-and-shadow study, Barn Roof, which hones in on a fragment of a cupola with a misty background.

An Afternoon on the Mountain, a 1931 gelatin silver print by Shiotani Teiko, could be an abstract painting. A lone, tiny skier looks to be fighting his way up the sharply angled gray slope that slashes across the bottom quarter of the photograph, dividing it from the equally gray sky. Teiko largely shot in Tottori Prefecture on Japan’s western coast, creating from its huge dunes and mountains. “The landscape becomes an opportunity for these studies of form,” says Huh.

Teiko also shot whimsical prints of unnaturally bent objects—a precursor to the surrealism that became so evident in his student Ueda Shoji’s work. Shoji’s 1950 My Wife on the Dunes features his kimono-clad spouse, cut off at the knees, staring from the right foreground; to her right, stand three men in business suits, facing in different directions with huge shadows looming behind each. Surreal-like, it also depicts a Japan co-existing with its ancient heritage and its modern imagery.

Many of the photos examine that interplay, especially as Japan looked inward and faced the reality of the devastation of World War II and how the country would rebuild and remake itself.

Japan is the only nation to ever have experienced the wrath of an atomic bomb. The show touches on Nagasaki, where the Americans dropped a bomb on the town of 200,000 at 11:02 a.m. on August 9, 1945. Japan barred photography in the aftermath of both Nagasaki and Hiroshima, but some 16 years later—in 1961—the Japan Council Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs commissioned Tomatsu Shomei to document the city’s recovery. “It was not unusual at the time for many Japanese not to have seen actually what happened there,” says Huh. That included Shomei. He delved into Nagasaki’s fabric, photographing current life, bomb survivors and objects at what is now the Atomic Bomb Museum.

One of those, shot on a simple background: a wristwatch stopped at 11:02. A bottle that was distorted by the blast takes on a disturbingly human form. “It looks like a carcass,” says Huh. Shomei’s book 11:02 Nagasaki is a personal reckoning and a key document of that horrific event.

He was also obsessed with—and photographed his take on—the Americans’ post-war occupation of Japan, which officially ended in 1952. The effects, however, were lasting. Many of the images show photographers’ curiosity and dismay with these foreigners who had inserted themselves into their nation. The show includes some prints from Yamamura Gasho’s 1959-62 series on Washington Heights, an American military residential area in Tokyo. In one, a group of mischievous-looking black and white children press up against a chain link fence. Gasho is literally “outside the fence looking in at this strange transplant in the middle of Tokyo,” says Huh.

The show ends with the 2009 Diorama Map of Tokyo, a modernist collage by Nishino Sohei, a 36-year-old artist. He walked Tokyo, snapping street views, echoing a similar project from the late 19th century that created the first measured maps of Japan. Sohei cut out tiny prints from contact sheets, laid them down next to each other and then photographed them again for the final print. “The act of putting them together is remembering that journey,” says Huh.

Pre-photography, that type of Tokyo mapping would have been done on a less grand scale through wood block printing. But printers struggled to prove their relevance in the face of photography’s rising popularity. As early as the 1870s, they began shifting how they worked. Shinbashi Railway Station, a bright, multicolored print done in 1873, was an example of the new style, showing off brick buildings and a train idling outside Yokohama station.

The proportions between the figures and buildings were accurate, and it has a photographic sense of perspective, says Feltens. But the gaudy colors were “emphatically unphotographic”—an attempt to compete with the medium that was then limited to black and white.

The effort, however, failed miserably—and printmaking fizzled out. In the 1920s, two new movements attempted to bring prints back to life. In the “new print” school, a publisher thought he could lure Westerners—who were snapping up idealized photographic views that presented a Japan that was perfectly modern and ancient simultaneously—with wood block prints that offered similar sentimental portraits.

Shin-Ohashi, from 1926, attempts this. It’s a night scene with the flicker of a gaslight reflected off the steel trestle of a railroad bridge; meanwhile, a man in a traditional straw hat pulls a rickshaw, while a kimono-clad woman holding a large parasol stands behind him. It was a naked bid to both outdo photography (pictures could not be taken at night) and to satisfy foreigners. “These kinds of prints were not sold to Japanese, even today,” says Feltens. They were also created as pieces of art to be collected—a new direction for prints.

In the 1930s, the “creative” movement began to take off. Japanese print makers had absorbed from Western art the idea that the creator’s genius was to be visible. Thus, printmakers began adding signatures—often in English—and edition numbers to their works. These were no longer the production of an army of carvers who handed their work off to a printing operation.

The printers were still using wood blocks, but in an increasingly sophisticated way. Color was a significant feature. And the perspective was still very photographic.

Ito Shinsui’s 1938 Mt. Fuji from Hakone Observatory is a masterpiece of photographic perspective and feel. The only tell are the range of blues, whites and browns.

Many of the 38 prints in the show are stunning in the depth of their artistry—a point that Feltens was hoping to make. “We wanted to show the breadth of color and shades, and this explosion of creativity happening,” especially from the 1930s onwards, he says. “These people, in terms of creativity, knew no limits,” says Feltens.

Like the photography show, the prints demonstrate that the artists had “an analytical gaze upon Japan,” Feltens says. But unlike the photographers, the print makers did not engage in direct or indirect political commentary or observations about World War II.

But there is a connection to that war, says Feltens. Many print collectors—including Ken Hitch, who loaned the Freer|Sackler a good number of the prints in the show—lived in Japan during the American occupation.

Both printmakers and photographers struggled to be accepted as fine arts in Japan, says Feltens. Ironically, prints, which were almost extinguished by photography, were the first to be recognized as a true art form, he says.

“Japan Modern: Photography from the Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck Collection,” curated by Carol Huh, and “Japan Modern: Prints in the Age of Photography,” curated by Frank Feltens, are both on view at the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries in Washington, D.C. through January 24, 2019.

Pitcairn-Cierva PCA-1A

National Air and Space Museum
1929; pca-1a (x95n); 3 seat open cockpit; single fixed wing with regulator wing plan form; upturned rounded tips; wooden ribs with dual leading and trailing edge; spars. single 4 blade rotor dual construction.

Pitcairn-Cierva Autogiro Company of America PCA-1A

In the late 1920's, Harold Pitcairn had established a sterling reputation as a builder of rugged biplanes used by airmail services. He had also founded what would eventually become Eastern Airlines. Yet by 1930, Pitcairn had begun dismantling these enterprises to support the highly speculative venture of developing and producing an American version of Juan de la Cierva's experimental Autogiros. Although, the Autogiro would prove to be a minor player in twentieth century aviation, Pitcairn nonetheless was able to succeed, at least temporarily, in his enterprise and, by 1940, had sold scores of the groundbreaking aircraft. The PCA-1 was Pitcairn's first Autogiro project and successfully demonstrated that he and his engineering staff not only understood Cierva's innovation, but also that they were capable of improving upon it.

The word "Autogiro" is actually a proprietary name coined by Juan de la Cierva. His designs were the first aircraft to fall in the gyroplane category. Nonetheless, nearly all gyroplanes built from the 1920s through the end of World War Two became commonly known as "autogiros" (or the more generic "autogyros"), regardless of the manufacturer. A gyroplane is an aircraft that derives most, if not all, of its lift from the unpowered autorotation of a horizontally mounted rotor or rotors. Unlike a helicopter, an engine does not drive the rotor blades while the aircraft is in flight. Instead, the resultant of the lift and drag forces acts to pull the blade forward in rotation while also creating lift - the same effect that turns the sails on windmills. This state of autorotation is only possible with a sustained airflow through the rotor disc, with the air moving from below and in front of the rotor to above and behind it. The gyroplane requires some propulsive force to maintain sufficient speed to sustain autorotation and hold altitude. In the Cierva and Pitcairn Autogiros, an engine driving a tractor propeller supplied the necessary force. If the pilot reduced throttle while flying, the rotors would begin to slow and the autogiro would descend. The increased airflow of the descent allowed the rotors to continue in autorotation and maintain the blades in an unstalled condition - even without the forward pull of the propeller. Although the pilot still had to keep some forward motion for a landing flare-out, and to maintain airflow over the control surfaces, it allowed for unpowered and near vertical descents ending in a very short landing rollout. This was an excellent safety feature in case of engine failure. Nonetheless, until the advent of direct control gyroplanes, the diminished control effectiveness in slow speed flight required a highly experienced Autogiro pilot to perform minimal rollout landings.

Most of the early gyroplanes were nearly identical to single-engine low-wing monoplanes, with the exception of the rotor mounted on a pylon in front of the cockpit that provided the primary source of lift during slow-speed flight. They employed standard airplane-type control surfaces (elevator, aileron, and rudder) and fixed pitch rotor blades. The stubby monoplane wing did not serve primarily for the generation of lift. Rather, it was a convenient means of mounting the ailerons and providing stability. It also had the unintended benefit of making the aircraft appear more conventional to skeptical airplane operators who were doubtful about flying without fixed wings.

Cierva constructed his first Autogiro, the coaxial rotor C.1, in 1920. As the rotors on the C.1 autorotated at different speeds, rendering the aircraft incapable of controlled flight, he decided to switch to a single rotor design. However, the abortive first flight of the new aircraft revealed a problem that he had not considered. As the Autogiro began to gain speed during its takeoff roll, the rotor blade that was turning towards the front of the aircraft received the benefit of additional airspeed because of the forward motion of the Autogiro. However, the blade retreating towards the rear of the autogiro suffered a loss in its airspeed relative to the oncoming air for the same reason. The net effect was a difference in airspeeds of the two blades that naturally caused dissymmetry of lift between the two sides of the rotor disc (as lift is a function of airspeed). In turn, this resulted in the Autogiro to rolling into the retreating blade side. A subsequent Cierva Autogiro also suffered the same problem and failed to take off successfully.

In 1922, Cierva conceived an inspired solution to his problem. By incorporating a hinge that allowed each blade to "flap" independently at its root, he developed a rotor that equalized lift amongst all of the blades, regardless of whether the Autogiro was flying fast or slow. When the advancing blade generated additional lift because of its higher velocity, the flapping hinge allowed it to rise, which effectively reduced the angle of attack of the blade, thus reducing its lift. On the other side of the rotor, the flapping hinge allow the retreating blade to descend with its reduced lift, which effectively increased its angle of attack, thus generating more lift. This breakthrough was not only an essential component for the Autogiro - it was also necessary for the development of the practical helicopter.

By the late 1920s, Cierva was close to achieving production of the Autogiro. Harold Pitcairn had been fascinated with the possibilities of rotary-wing flight since his youth and had avidly followed Cierva's progress. He had already established himself as a successful manufacturer of rugged airmail aircraft, such as the PA-5 Mailwing (see NASM collection), and as owner of an airmail service that would eventually become Eastern Airlines. Still unable to shake the desire to experiment with helicopters, which had little success up to that time, Pitcairn made two trips abroad to evaluate the licensing the Cierva technology as the basis for his own line of helicopters. By 1928, Pitcairn had decided to risk everything, phase out his fixed-wing production and airmail operations, and produce license-built versions of Cierva Autogiros. He returned to Cierva's facility in England and bought a C.8 equipped with a Wright Whirlwind J-5, designated C.8W (see NASM collection), and had it shipped to his Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania airfield. On December 18, 1928, one day after the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Wright brothers' first powered flight, the C.8W became the first successful rotary-wing aircraft to fly in America.

Pitcairn's first step in building his own Autogiros was to acquire the American patent rights to Cierva's innovations and to manage and license them under the direction of the Pitcairn-Cierva Autogiro Company of America. This enterprise, later renamed the Autogiro Company of America, would remain separate from the production side of Pitcairn Aircraft, which would become the Pitcairn Autogiro Company, Inc. in 1933. Cierva, when he had sold the patent rights to Pitcairn, had yet to place any aircraft into production, and was naturally elated at the potential American market for his products.

Pitcairn began flying the C.8W around the Northeast and successfully generated a wave of enthusiasm for the aircraft. Meanwhile, his senior engineer, Agnew Larsen, was hard at work evaluating improvements for Pitcairn's own line of Autogiros, designated the PCA-1 (Pitcairn-Cierva Autogiro). In July 1929, Larsen was ready to begin construction on the first three prototypes.

Originally, Pitcairn and Larsen had intended to use the rugged Pitcairn PA-5 Mailwing (see NASM collection) for the tandem open cockpit fuselage and then mate it with Cierva's latest rotor design. However, the biplane fuselage structure clearly carried weight in places that were not necessary for the monoplane, and Larsen designed a new fuselage that was similar in form to the PA-5's, but differed substantially in the structural details. The front cockpit contained room enough to seat two adult passengers side-by-side, while the pilot occupied the rear cockpit.

One area that required special attention was the landing gear that needed to take the punishment of hard landings and the heavy side loads imposed by near-vertical, minimal rollout landings. Larsen thus settled on a wide-track conventional configuration with high-travel struts. This arrangement would also help to eliminate the ground resonance problems encountered by some of the late Autogiros.

The PCA-1 was a larger, more rugged aircraft than the earlier Cierva designs with a more powerful engine, though its gross weight was similar. The welded square steel tube fuselage that Pitcairn perfected on his Mailwings undoubtedly accounts for much of this accomplishment. The design of the rotorhead resulted in further weight savings, though the RB-55 rotor blades came directly from Cierva and were the same ones used on the C.19, his first production model and consisted of two layers of mahogany. The rotorhead attached to the fuselage with a four-strut pylon, centered over the front cockpit windscreen.

Many Autogiro and helicopter designs utilized fully-articulated rotorheads that incorporated a lead-lag or drag hinge that allowed the blades to pivot slightly fore and aft during rotation to relieve stresses. The PCA-1 and concurrent Cierva designs employed rudimentary drag hinge designs that, in combination with clunky, dynamically unbalanced rotor blades, led to excessive structural loadings in the rotor. The variations in centrifugal forces had to be borne by the blades themselves, which would have resulted in frequent structural failures had an external bracing system not been adopted. Rubber shock-cord bracing wires connected each of the blades and attached to a point almost halfway out along their length. Additional bracing wires, running from a mast on top of the rotorhead, acted as stops to keep the blades from drooping too low and striking the fuselage. As blade and drag hinge design improved in the latter part of the 1930s, along with Pitcairn's discovery of hydraulic dampers, Autogiro manufacturers dispensed with external bracing.

Pitcairn had hoped to enter the PCA-1 in the National Air Tour and the Guggenheim Safe Aircraft Competition, both showcases of the latest advances in light aircraft design, but the Autogiro was not ready for its first flight until October 1929 - too late for entry. Amazingly, Cierva himself performed the first flight of the PCA-1. However, he was only able to fly the aircraft for less than a week before he suffered a substantial crash. A second setback followed, when a devastating fire in the Pitcairn factory destroyed the airframe. Fortunately, the second of the PCA-1 airframes, designated PCA-1A, was nearly ready for flight and indeed took to the air with Cierva at the controls less than a month after the first PCA-1. Cierva had brought a C.19 prototype with him to the United States and used it to drum up enthusiasm for Pitcairn's forthcoming products. The C.19 was similar to the PCA-1 in design, but smaller and considerably lighter.

The PCA-1A was cosmetically similar to its forerunner, but contained some notable structural differences. It was considerably lighter, as duralumin tubing replaced the heavier steel construction and fabric covered the wings instead of plywood. The landing gear underwent further refinement and employed larger "balloon" tires to further ease the jolt received when performing minimum ground-roll landings.

The PCA-1 and PCA-1A incorporated an unusual "box" tail design that deflected propwash into the aft section of the rotor disc to bring the rotor rpm up without the need for excessive high-speed taxiing by bringing the blades into autorotation before takeoff. After Pitcairn realized that the solution to the rotor spin-up problem was a power-takeoff controlled by a clutch, he modified the PCA-1A to incorporate a much lighter tail structure with a single vertical stabilizer to replace the original design.

The PCA-1A could carry a respectable payload of 318 kg (700 lb). Its maximum speed was a relatively slow 169 kph (105 mph), but it could maintain altitude at an airspeed of only 32 kph (20 mph). The third of the Pitcairn prototypes, the PCA-1B, was ready for flight a month after the PCA-1A. It was even more advanced than the PCA-1A and illustrated the rapid pace of innovation at Pitcairn's facility, which, in addition to its own talent, benefited considerably from the close oversight of Cierva who observed the experimentation with enthusiasm. The PCA-1B incorporated the revised tail design from the outset. The close association between Cierva and his licensee paid significant dividends for both parties, as their collaboration increased the pace of Autogiro development in both countries. Cierva's C.19 incorporated many of the innovations pioneered on the PCA-1 and entered production concurrently with Pitcairn's initial models.

The PCA-1A and its surviving sibling, rapidly fulfilled their mission and confirmed that the Pitcairn modifications to the Cierva design were sound. Pitcairn began to gear up for production of the PCA-2 - the first Autogiro sold commercially in the Western Hemisphere. In 1930, the National Aeronautic Association awarded Pitcairn the prestigious Collier Trophy because of his pioneering flights in the C.8W and the successful Americanization of the Autogiro in the form of the PCA-1.

The PCA-2 would prove to be a popular aircraft in spite of the fact that the Great Depression was just reaching its stride. While conventional barnstorming had lost its popularity, air races and airshows remained significant draws for a population desperate for distraction and the uniqueness of the Autogiro guaranteed that it would draw crowds wherever it appeared. While the $15,000 price tag was an enormous sum in those troubled times, Pitcairn still sold twenty-one PCA-2s in a two-year period. Many of the operators were pilots who financed their purchase by selling advertising space to corporate sponsors looking for new ways to advertise their products.

Unfortunately, the appeal of the Autogiro as a novelty act did not extend far into the commercial or general aviation fields. While Pitcairn marketed the Autogiro as the ideal personal vehicle for the wealthy, very few went for this purpose. Outside of advertising and exhibitions, some Autogiros performed limited crop-dusting and airmail duties. However, the short takeoff and landing abilities of the type did not compensate for its slower speeds, more limited payloads, and higher acquisition and operating costs relative to conventional aircraft. Despite new innovations, civil sales of the Autogiro had fallen off steeply by the beginning of World War Two. During the war, the introduction of helicopters with true vertical takeoff and landing capabilities and the ability to hover rendered the Autogiro redundant and obsolete. However, the increasing complexity and cost of true helicopters caused a resurgence in gyroplane research in the latter part of the twentieth century.

Pitcairn would die an embittered man, as the patent rights he had owned were usurped by a number of helicopter manufacturers, who, with the exception of Sikorsky, did not pay him any royalties. The helicopter companies had gotten away with this during World War Two because the U.S. Army Air Force had convinced Congress that unless they suspended patent issues relating to helicopter technology, the wartime development of the helicopter would be severely handicapped. After the war, Pitcairn tried to recover his royalties, but the government refused to get involved. Pitcairn filed suit, but the proceedings would came to a conclusion in his favor almost three decades later and several years after his death.

For a brief period, the PCA-1A and PCA-1B continued to serve with Pitcairn as trainers for purchasers of PCA-2s. Pitcairn then donated the PCA-1A to the Franklin institute. In 1955, the Smithsonian Institution acquired the aircraft. In 1997, the National Air and Space Museum loaned the aircraft to Harold Pitcairn's son, Stephen, who fully restored the aircraft to its initial configuration, including the box deflector-tail. In 2000, the aircraft went on temporary display at the American Helicopter Museum in West Chester, Pennsylvania, not far from its original testing ground.

Rotor Diameter:13.11 m (43 ft)

Wingspan:10.05 m (33 ft)

Length:6.60 m (21 ft 8 in)

Height:3.89 m (12 ft 9 in)

Weight:Empty, 998 kg (2,200 lb)

Gross, 1,317 kg (2,900 lb)

Engine, Initial Configuration:Wright R-760-E Whirlwind J-6-7, 225 hp

Engine, Final Configuration:Wright R-975-EG Whirlwind J-6-9, 300 hp

Crew:1 pilot, 2 passengers

References and Further Reading:

Brooks, Peter W. Cierva Autogiros: The Development of Rotary-Wing Flight.

Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1988.

Smith, Frank Kingston. Legacy of Wings: The Harold F. Pitcairn Story. Lafayette Hill,

Pa: T.D. Associates, 1981.

Townson, George. Autogiro: The Story of "the Windmill Plane." Destin, Fl: Aviation

Heritage, Inc., 1985.

Cierva C.8W curatorial file, Aeronautics Division, National Air and Space Museum

R. Connor

How Eva Rosich Blends the Lines of Modern Medicine & Natural Remedy

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

Llegiu aquest article en català

As our world moves forward, many traditions are left behind and forgotten. Originally trained as a nurse, Eva Rosich lives in a rural part of Catalonia, working to revive the best of those traditions and intertwine them with modern medicine.

Her relationship with nature is long and loving. Many of Rosich’s techniques and even the process through which she treats her patients are reminiscent of the practices of trementinaires, “turpentine makers” who once traveled across Catalonia by foot selling their natural remedies. Like them, Rosich seeks to share her knowledge with her community and beyond.

At the 2018 Folklife Festival, Rosich will lead demonstrations and workshops with the public on making exfoliating soaps, aromatherapy pillows, and more, using lavender donated by Lovemore Lavender Farm in Owings, Maryland. Before her trip to the United States, we asked her a few questions about her story and processes.

How did your love of nature transition into your practice of making natural remedies?

I was always in nature. Up here, in the valley, nature is in our face. Growing up, I admired little wildflowers and all the herbs. They were part of my landscape. They were in my hikes, walks, and adventures.

I loved—and still love—collecting and harvesting what nature has to offer. It just makes a lot of sense to me. It takes a bit of time to understand it, but if it doesn’t make sense, it isn’t because it doesn’t, but rather because we haven’t taken the time to make sense of it. In addition, the idea of not participating in the waste circle has always appealed to me. If I can reuse, recycle, take advantage of something that is already there, then why buy it?

Eva Rosich
Photo by Pablo Molinero

How did you learn to make soaps and natural remedies?

I am basically self-taught. I tried and failed. Then, failed and failed, until eventually I tried and succeeded. Although, I wasn’t really starting from zero. Around here, everybody knows the basics of soap making. All it takes is water, lye, essential oils. Around here, people reused the dirty oils to make soap. While I recycle and reuse as a principle, I do not do that with dirty oils; I don’t want the free radicals to get in touch with the skin, so I use coconut oil or another kind instead. I try to find the best water I can find—I love the water from the spring on my property.

How do you carry out the traditions of the trementinaire?

In my mother’s family line, there was a very famous and renowned medicine man in the valley. His name was Adobador of Mas Bernat. Whether or not this has anything to do with my choices, whether there is a connection between his abilities and mine, healing has always been an interest of mine, as well as herbs. The more I know, the more I want to know, so it has become a self-feeding circle. In many ways, for me it was like awakening, something that just makes sense. Whether that means that the Adobador’s gene resurfaced in me, who knows, but what I do know is that I feel as connected to that line of healing as to the one I was trained in as a nurse.      

I also like to observe. I like to pay attention to how others do things, how animals in nature do things, what processes take place. Have you ever noticed that St. John’s wort grows in places where the natural course of things has been altered, such as on the margins of newly constructed roads, or near where the dirt has been flattened for the construction of a new house? That’s because it has anti-depressant qualities. St. John’s wort grows in these places to heal the sore—nature’s sore.

Eva Rosich
Photo by Pablo Molinero

How does your focus on natural remedies relate to your career as a nurse?

When I became a nurse, I realized that while pills and drugs are sometimes very necessary, they are not always so. Because I’m a rural nurse in Camprodon, I tend to people who come and tell me how this ache or that one would have been taken care of by the medicine man before socialized medicine became the affordable option for all. I’m truly interested in all the stories that these men and women tell me.

Over the years, I’ve collected their recipes. I have tiny pieces of papers all in a folder waiting for me to have some time and turn it into something that might be readable—one day, maybe. Most of this knowledge is disappearing. Some of these recipes or traditions seem somewhat strange. For example, there was a medicine man who could heal a sore throat by massaging the wrist. It sounds awesome, but I’d have to know more about it for it to really make sense. Other stories or recipes, when I examine from my medical background, they quickly make a lot of the sense.

Not so long ago, I had a patient from Rocabruna who had an ugly sore taking its time to heal. She told me how she would have taken care of it herself, but she hadn’t managed yet to get her perfume done. That puzzled me, of course. A perfume for a sore sounded strange. But I always keep an open mind. I’ve learned to never dismiss or laugh at, but rather observe and inquire systematically. I asked more about the perfume. She explained how she turns the dry flower of the elder into a syrup. She smokes the syrup, adds oil, and smokes it again. Once it is ready, she applies the perfume concoction over the sore.

I talked about this recipe with the doctor I work with over lunch. The elder flower has antiseptic properties. It turns out that Francisca’s “perfume” makes a lot of sense, regardless of what she calls it. Who knows, maybe her perfume even beats resistant bacteria.

Because of my professional training as a nurse and lab technician, I understand the technology of the lab. I use the new technology to concoct former recipes adapted to our times. Herbs have power to heal—that’s just been known for centuries. So, I just bring new and old together and have them interact.

As natural products become more popular, how can we tell which ones are better for us?

The rule of thumb is: the less ingredients it has, the better. That’s easy enough. 

Click on the image above to see four DIY remedy recipes from Eva Rosich

Rachel Barton is a media intern at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. She is a rising senior at Rowan University, double majoring in English and Writing Arts. She is a sucker for skincare but is always looking for ways to help heal the environment.

This interview was translated by research associate Txell Martin i Prado and excerpted for length and clarity.

Eva Rosich
Foto de Pablo Molinero

Com l’Eva Rosich barreja les línies de medicina moderna i els remeis naturals

A mesura que el nostre món avança, moltes tradicions queden enrere i s’obliden. Originalment formada com a infermera, l’Eva Rosich viu a Sant Antoni de Puigpardines, treballant per reviure el millor d’aquestes tradicions i entrellaçant-les amb la medicina moderna.

La seva relació amb la natura és llarga i amorosa. Moltes de les tècniques de Rosich, i fins i tot del procés a través del qual tracta els seus pacients, recorden les pràctiques de trementinaires, “fabricants de trementina”, que una vegada van viatjar per Catalunya venent els seus remeis naturals. Com elles, Rosich busca compartir els seus coneixements amb la gent de la comunitat i de fora.

Al Festival de Folklife 2018, Rosich dirigirà demostracions i tallers amb el públic sobre l'elaboració de sabons exfoliants, coixins d'aromateràpia i molt més, amb lavanda donada per Lovemore Lavender Farm a Owings, Maryland. Abans del viatge als Estats Units, li hem fet algunes preguntes sobre la seva història i els processos que ha viscut.

Quina relació té el teu amor per la natura amb la teva pràctica de fer remeis naturals?

Sempre era a la natura. Aquí, a la Vall, la natura és pertot arreu. Ja mentre creixia admirava les petites flors silvestres i totes les herbes. Formaven part del meu paisatge. Estaven presents en les meves excursions, passejades i aventures.

M’encantava, i encara m’agrada, col·leccionar i collir allò que la natura ofereix. Per a mi, té molt de sentit. Es necessita una mica de temps per entendre la natura, però si una persona no hi troba sentit, no és perquè no en tingui, sinó perquè no hi hem dedicat prou temps a voler-la entendre. A més, sempre m’ha agradat la idea de no participar en el cercle de residus. Si puc reutilitzar, reciclar, aprofitar alguna cosa que ja hi ha, llavors per què l’hem de comprar?

Eva Rosich
Foto de Pablo Molinero

Com vas aprendre a fer sabons i remeis naturals?

Bàsicament sóc autodidacta. Ho he intentat i he fallat moltes vegades. Després de fallar i tornar a fallar, un dia, ho vaig aconseguir. Tot i que, en realitat, no començava de zero. Per aquí, tothom coneix els fonaments bàsics de l'elaboració del sabó. L'únic que cal és aigua, cendres, olis essencials. La gent d’aquí reutilitzava els olis bruts per fer sabó. Tot i que reciclo i reutilitzo com al principi, no faig sabons amb olis bruts. No vull que els radicals lliures entrin en contacte amb la pell, per la qual cosa utilitzo oli de coco o d’algun altre tipus. Intento trobar la millor aigua que puc trobar; m’encanta l’aigua de la font de la meva propietat.

Quin és el teu lligam amb la tradició de les trementinaires?

En la línia familiar de la meva mare, hi havia un curandero, un home amb coneixements de medicina molt famós i reconegut a la Vall. El seu nom era ‘l’Adobador de mas Bernat’. Tant si té alguna cosa a veure amb les meves eleccions, com si hi ha una connexió entre les seves habilitats i les meves, la curació sempre ha estat un interès meu, així com les herbes. Com més sé, més vull saber, de manera que s’ha convertit en un cercle d’autoalimentació. En molts aspectes, per a mi va ser com despertar, una cosa que només té sentit. Potser això vol dir que el gen de l'Adobador  va reaparèixer en mi, qui ho sap, però el que sé és que em sento tan connectada a aquesta línia de curació com a la que em van formar com a infermera.

També m’agrada observar. M’agrada estar atenta sobre com els altres fan les coses, com actuen els animals en la natura, quins processos hi tenen lloc. Us heu adonat alguna vegada que l’herba de Sant Joan creix en llocs on s’ha modificat el curs natural de les coses, com per exemple als marges de carreteres de nova construcció o a prop d’on s’ha aplanat la brutícia per a la construcció d’una casa nova? Això és deu al fet que té qualitats antidepressives. L'herba de Sant Joan creix en aquests llocs per curar el mal, la naturalesa.

Eva Rosich
Foto de Pablo Molinero

Com es relaciona la teva recerca de remeis naturals i la teva trajectòria d'infermera?

Quan em vaig convertir en infermera, em vaig adonar que les pastilles i les drogues de vegades són molt necessàries però que no sempre ho són. Com que sóc una infermera rural a Camprodon, cuido persones que venen a dir-me com aquest dolor o aquell altre s’hauria curat abans que la medicina socialitzada es convertís en l’opció assequible per a tothom. Estic realment interessada en totes les històries que m’expliquen aquests pacients.

Amb els anys, he recollit les seves receptes. Tinc uns papers minúsculs en una carpeta a l'espera de tenir temps de convertir-los en alguna cosa que pugui ser llegible, potser algun dia. La major part d’aquests coneixements estan desapareixent. Algunes d’aquestes receptes o tradicions semblen una mica estranyes. Per exemple, hi havia un curandero que podia curar un mal de gola fent un massatge al canell. En principi sembla fantàstic, però abans de treure’n el valor, jo crec que cal investigar-ho i veure quin és el sentit que pugui tenir. En canvi, hi ha altres històries o receptes que, quan n’examino els antecedents mèdics, cobren un sentit molt ràpid.

No fa gaire, vaig tenir una pacient de Rocabruna que tenia una ferida lletja que no s’acabava de guarir. Em va explicar que si hagués aconseguit fer-ne el perfum, se l'hauria curada ella mateixa. Això em va desconcertar, per descomptat. Un perfum per curar una ferida lletja em sonava estrany. Però sempre mantinc la ment oberta. Amb el temps, he après a no riure mai de ningú, sinó a observar i preguntar sistemàticament. Així que vaig preguntar més sobre el perfum. Aleshores em va explicar com convertia la flor de saüc en un xarop. Després, passava el xarop per un procés de fumat, un parell de vegades, afegint-hi oli. Una vegada aquest xarop fumat estava a punt, n’aplicava el perfum a la llaga.

Un dia, durant el dinar, vaig parlar d’aquesta recepta amb el metge amb qui treballo. La flor de saüc té propietats antisèptiques. Resulta que el "perfum" de la Francisca té molt de sentit, independentment de com l'anomeni. Qui ho sap, potser el seu perfum fins i tot és capaç de destruir bacteris resistents.

Per la meva formació professional com a infermera i tècnica de laboratori, entenc la tecnologia del laboratori. Utilitzo la nova tecnologia per crear receptes antigues adaptades als nostres temps. Les herbes tenen el poder per curar—això ja fa segles que ho sabem. Per tant, només adjunto algunes tècniques noves als coneixements antics i els faig interactuar.

A mesura que els productes naturals es fan més populars, com podem saber els consumidors quins són els millors per a nosaltres?

La regla general és: com menys ingredients tingui, millor. És bastant fàcil

Rachel Barton és una estudiant de pràctiques de mitjans de comunicació del Smithsonian Centre for Folklife and Heritage Heritage. Està cursant el seu darrer curs en el grau d’anglès i escriptura a la Universitat de Rowan. Li encanten els productes per a la pell, però sempre busca productes que no facin malbé el medi ambient.

 Aquesta entrevista ha estat feta i traduïda a l’anglès per la investigadora associada Meritxell Martin i Pardo. Ha estat tallada i escurçada perquè sigui el màxim de clara.

A Look at the Creative Process and What Makes an Artist Tick

Smithsonian Magazine

The upturned snout, snotty, sarcastic expression and defiant stance of sculptor Anne Arnold’s Wall Pig, speak volumes about the artist’s ability to imbue her work with the character of the animals that were her beloved subjects. Arnolds, a sculptor and educator, died in 2014.

The emotion that radiates from the sculpture is reminiscent of how Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web must have felt, when his spider friend described him as “Some Pig” in an effort to save him from slaughter. It also shows the depth of an artist’s connection with her source material—from which her final works were created.

“She really got the character of this pig!” says Mary Savig, curator of manuscripts for the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art. Savig put together the exhibition, “Finding: Source Material in the Archives of American Art,” which examines the way that different artists use source material as inspiration for their creations. The show includes Arnold’s 1971 sculpture, Wall Pig, along with a photograph of the artist drawing a picture of the clearly contrary porker, from photos she had taken of the creature.

“She was an artist who lived in Maine on this farm, so she did have a lot of animals surrounding her,” Savig says. “She would photograph them, and she also received commissions from other people who wanted sculptures of animals. . . She worked in 3D in metal and wood, so she would take many different angles of the pig, so when she went to draw it and then make the sculpture she would have every angle. . . . That was really helpful to her as an aide in her process.”

Arnold also did a lot of cat sculptures, and some goats as well. She bought the farmhouse where she lived with her husband, abstract painter Ernest Briggs, in 1961 in Montville, Maine, and summered there for decades.  

Image by Bob Brooks, Archives of American Art/SI. Anne Arnold sketching a pig, 1971 (original image)

Image by Bob Brooks, Archives of American Art/SI. Source photographs of pigs, 1971 (original image)

Image by Bob Brooks, Archives of American Art/SI. Source photographs of pigs, 1971 (original image)

“As a child, I was fortunate to be able to spend long summers in the wood, and on the sea—to have had time to watch plants grow and birds build nests, and to have known and loved many animals,” Arnold said in a 1981 interview with Gazette magazine. “I learned much from those animals and grew to respect the specialized abilities of each and to understand the meaning of the web of life long before I had heard the word ecology. The animals also taught me that there is a form of communication that doesn’t involve the use of language. This sense has stayed with me as an adult, and I hope inhabits the sculpture as well.”

Savig says the goal of this exhibition was to show the different ways artists use source material. Some, she says, collect it and use it as ways to evoke ideas. They might look at a landscape as source material, and then create something totally different like an abstract painting.

“With these exhibitions, we’re trying to show that a lot of thought went into it,” Savig says, “not just physically making the work, but planning for a piece. Even coming up with the idea and finding the source of inspiration for a piece is a big part of the artistic process, and often we can trace that back to some sort of source through our archival material.”

The Archives of American Art is a research center that collects the papers of American artists—including gallery records, artists’ papers, love letters and diaries. It mounts three or four exhibitions a year. Some of the material is whimsical, such as the gargantuan amount of source material collected by Chicago collage and semi-abstract artist Ray Yoshida (1930-2009). One of the best known contributors to a tradition known as Chicago Imagism or the Chicago school, Yoshida’s work featured everything from bits of comics to pictures from popular magazines.

Image by Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Scrapbook of various clippings, n.d. Ray Yoshida papers, 1903-2010, bulk 1950-2005 (original image)

Image by Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.. Comic “specimens,” n.d. Ray Yoshida papers, 1903-2010, bulk 1950-2005 (original image)

“He was really attracted to the specific shape of things,” Savig says. “He would clip these little things out from comic books and comic strips to trade magazines like a plumbing book. He would cut out pictures of plumbing, and the pipes, and then he would paste it into these books, or he would just save it in these Sucrets boxes.”

Huge images of Yoshida’s source material, including bits from the comic strips Cathy, and Mutts, adorn the walls of the tiny room where the exhibition is mounted, with glass covered tables strewn with the material that inspired the featured artists including Yoshida. They include images of slices of pizza, tires, pictures of steaks and entire books of comics, some showing people kissing, others of hands punching someone out.

“Here’s an entire envelope of words, he did figures, some of eyes and mouths,” Savig notes. “He was just a really voracious collector, and we have a lot of this material and it’s really interesting because you can see the beginning of his art work, and the beginning of his process.”

Album 50 State Summit, Texas, Guadalupe Peak by Paul Ramírez Jonas, 2002 (Courtesy of Paul Ramírez Jonas)

Paul Ramírez Jonas, born in California in 1965, also contributed source material for this exhibition, from his on-going project Album: 50 State Summits. In 2002, he began a quest to scale the highest peak of every state in the nation. His source material includes a photograph of Astronaut Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon in 1969, and another of mountaineer Edmund Hillary, the first person to climb Mount Everest along with a Sherpa guide. There’s also the semaphore flag alphabet.

Ramírez Jonas says he began the project by thinking about discovery that is geographic. He had read the diaries of Lewis and Clark, and studied the Columbus expedition, and noted that explorers often believe they will be the first to get somewhere, then realize there are already people there. So Ramírez Jonas had an idea of climbing the highest mountains, and giving them names because he would be that proverbial first person.

Image by Paul Ramírez Jonas papers, Archives of American Art, SI. Inkjet print of astronaut Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon in 1969, ca. 2002, photograph by NASA (original image)

Image by Paul Ramírez Jonas papers, Archives of American Art, SI. Sketches and notes of summit signals to be performed by Paul Ramírez Jonas, ca. 2002 (original image)

Image by Paul Ramírez Jonas papers, Archives of American Art, SI. Semaphore flag alphabet guide, ca. 2002 (original image)

Image by Paul Ramírez Jonas papers, Archives of American Art, SI. Annotated map of Mount Katahdin, Maine, ca. 2002 (original image)

“If you buy a kit to assemble a kite and fly it, we know exactly what will happen, but it doesn’t preclude us from having an incredible surge of feeling and emotion. It doesn’t matter that everyone else has done it,” Ramírez Jonas explains. “So I started to think about discovery that’s geographic. The entire planet has been explored … and yet we continue to do it and it continues to mean something to us.”

In addition to visiting the 50 sites, Ramírez Jonas says he decided to add three more destinations to his project: the furthest you can get from the center of the Earth, the furthest you can get from home, and a mission to climb something on the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest.

“There’s a volcano near the equator in Ecuador called Chimborazo. If you measure from the center of the Earth to the top of that it is higher than Everest,” Ramírez Jonas says. And for the 50th anniversary of the ascent of Everest, he says he climbed a salt mountain off of New York City’s West Side Highway.

Ramírez Jonas says the source material he gave to the Smithsonian, for him, were research materials that enabled him to work on his still unfinished project, map his directions, and think through his focus. Originally, he says he planned to erase the names of the places he visited, as kind of a reverse conquest, but he says the idea wasn’t communicating visually. So now, after much thought, when he reaches the summit, he flies flags, bearing only the word "Open," and makes a self-portrait of the moment.

“You know when you’re driving on a country road; the sign says ‘open’  ... so I changed that a little bit. (The flag) says ‘open,’ open for business, or ‘this is open space,’” Ramírez Jonas explains. He says he has a specific message he hopes people get from his work. “Hopefully people will think about what it means to discover or have an adventure, what it means to be heroic, what is it to discover something. … I’m always giving my back to the camera. I want it to be that you think you could be me. … That would make me happy.”

Savig says even modern artists use source material, in very similar ways to those featured in the exhibition.

“There’s an artist, Dina Kelberman, who organizes in the same way Yoshida does, but she does it through the internet, so it looks the way Google images look . . . but she does it by type, like landscapes,” Savig says. “There are a lot of people who are still categorizing in a way that makes sense to them, and is common among artists who are trying to work thematically.  . . . I’ve been talking to people who still go through magazines and still try to find things that are physical in the world around them, but also things like social media and Instagram! Those are really fantastic sources for a lot of artists.”

“Finding: Source Material in the Archives of American Art,” is on view through August 21 in the Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery, located on the first floor of the Smithsonian's Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture, home to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. 

Image by Archives of American Art, SI. Sketch by Dotty Attie after the painting Infanta Margaret Teresa in a pink dress, circa 1970. Dotty Attie papers, circa 1950s-2014 (original image)

Image by Archives of American Art, SI. Newspaper clipping concerning snow, 1912–33. Oscar Bluemner papers, 1886-1939, 1960 (original image)

Image by Archives of American Art, SI. Color studies of snow by Oscar Bluemner, ca. 1931. Oscar Bluemner papers, 1886-1939, 1960 (original image)

Image by Archives of American Art, SI. Clipping of a ballet dancer, n.d. Joseph Cornell papers, 1804-1986 (original image)

Image by Archives of American Art, SI. Hand-colored photograph study for Don Eddy's C Series paintings, circa 1980. Don Eddy and Leigh Behnke papers, 1966-2009 (original image)

Image by Archives of American Art, SI. Comic-strip clipping enclosed in letter from Roy Lichtenstein to Ellen H. Johnson, April 5, 1963. The comic is by Ted Galindo. Ellen Hulda Johnson papers, 1872-1994 (original image)

Image by Archives of American Art, SI. Collage by Esta Nesbitt, September 19, 1970. Esta Nesbitt papers, 1942-1981 (original image)

Image by Archives of American Art, SI. Xerox studies of collage by Esta Nesbitt, ca. 1970. Esta Nesbitt papers, 1942-1981 (original image)

Image by Archives of American Art, SI. Self-portrait source image for Cross Over, ca. 1980. Photograph by Joan Semmel. Joan Semmel papers, 1949-2013 (original image)

Image by Archives of American Art, SI. “A fireman’s wife with curlers in her hair,” ca. 1955. Photographs by Honoré Sharrer. Honoré Sharrer papers, circa 1920-2007 (original image)

Image by Archives of American Art, SI. Pemaquid Point, Maine, 1947. Photographs by Reuben Tam. Reuben Tam papers, 1931-2006 (original image)

Image by Archives of American Art, SI. Sketches of Maine by Reuben Tam, May 1939. Reuben Tam papers, 1931-2006 (original image)

The Scopes Trial Redefined Science Journalism and Shaped It to What It Is Today

Smithsonian Magazine

Dayton, Tennessee, was just a blip on the map when a small group of businessmen and civic leaders hatched a plan to bring publicity and much-needed commerce to their sleepy little town; all they needed was some help from a local teacher. They invited him to meet at a downtown lunch joint, and from there the plan spun rapidly out of control. Their scheme turned the teacher into a martyr of contrivances and made a national spectacle of the town they had hoped to lift from economic doldrums.

The story of the “Scopes Monkey Trial,” the country’s first legal battle over the teaching of evolution, began in April, 1925, when a Dayton businessman read an advertisement placed in a Chattanooga newspaper by the recently established American Civil Liberties Union. The ad promised legal assistance to anyone challenging the state’s new Butler Law, which banned the teaching of evolution—specifically, “any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals."

John Thomas Scopes was Dayton’s high school football coach and substitute biology teacher. Portrayed today as a hero of great conviction, Scopes did not specifically recall teaching evolution. He did, however, believe the law was unjust, and the town leaders were able to persuade him to stand trial for their cause, although their cause had little to do with evolution. Their aim was simply to draw visitors and their wallets into town for the trial.

The men’s PR instincts were right, if misguided. The State of Tennessee v. John T. Scopes brought two of the most charismatic public orators in America to Dayton. The famous criminal defense attorney, Clarence Darrow, arrived to defend Scopes, and three-time presidential candidate Williams Jennings Bryan stepped up as the prosecuting attorney.

The trial, which took place from July 10 through July 21, 1925 (Scopes was charged on May 5 and indicted on May 25), quickly evolved into a philosophical debate between two firebrands about evolution, the bible and what it means to be human. Radio and newspaper reporters flocked to Dayton; spectators crowded the courthouse; and food vendors, blind minstrels, street preachers and banner-waving fundamentalists fueled the carnival atmosphere. A performing chimpanzee was even employed to entertain the crowd as a mock witness for the defense. Political cartoonists, newspaper journalists and photographers captured the town in all its theatrics.

Image by Smithsonian Institution Archives. Watson Davis and Frank Thone, a writer at Science Service, even gave up their rooms at the hotel in town to stay with the defense witnesses at the private residence they had rented—dubbed the “Defense Mansion.” Photographs of the reporters, scientists and defense team gathered on the steps of the residence reveal their congenial bond. (original image)

Image by Smithsonian Institution Archives. As if in testament to the success of the town’s publicity stunt, three men stand posing behind a small round table. On the table is posted a sign that reads: “At this table the scopes evolution case was started May 5, 1925.” (original image)

Image by Smithsonian Institution Archives. Science journalist Watson Davis took charge of lining up expert witnesses for the defense. On his train ride from Washington to Dayton, he telegraphed a list of scientists to Darrow and his defense team instructing them to invite the scientists to testify. (original image)

Image by Smithsonian Institution Archives. Science journalist Watson Davis sent the invitations, (paying for the telegram) signing them at first with the name of one defense attorney, Dudley Field Malone, and then later changing the sender to Clarence Darrow at the last minute. (original image)

Image by Smithsonian Institution Archives. One series of photographs in particular is exciting for the unique perspective. It was taken from an angle no one had seen before. “In his camera lens you can see the back of Clarence Darrow, and you can see the face of William Jennings Bryan,” historian Marcel Chotkowski LaFollette says. (original image)

In one photo, as if in testament to the success of the town’s publicity stunt, three men stand posing behind a small round table. On the table is posted a sign that reads:

“At this table the scopes evolution case was started May 5, 1925.”

Perhaps the men had not quite grasped the extent to which Dayton was being ridiculed around the country as a reservoir of ignorance and zealotry.

Taken by local college student William Silverman, the photo is among many that have been added to the Smithsonian Institution Archives in the past decade, long after historians thought they had seen everything there was to see relating to the Scopes trial. It provides a glimpse into the rich back story of the trial and its surrounding events. The photo was donated after the archives posted a collection of new images discovered by historian Marcel Chotkowski LaFollette. A research associate at the Archives, LaFollette says hidden gems like these occasionally come to historians when people have the foresight to preserve original materials.

She knows about hidden gems. In 2006, she had been researching a book on the history of science in radio when she found a box in the collection from journalist Watson Davis. He was the managing editor of Science Service, a syndicated news wire providing stories on science to the media. Science Service’s records constitute one of the largest collections in the Archives, but the box LaFollette found had been tucked away unprocessed. She says it was an unorganized hodge-podge of photos and documents that looked like they had been packed at the last minute, quickly and randomly before being sent to the Smithsonian.

But within those documents was a treasure trove of history, including an undiscovered envelope of Scopes trial photos and documents. One series of photographs in particular is exciting for the unique perspective Davis was able to capture. It was taken from an angle no one had seen before. “In his camera lens you can see the back of Clarence Darrow, and you can see the face of William Jennings Bryan,” LaFollette says. “You have the drama of the moment of confrontation between these two great figures in American history. In many ways, it’s as if you had a photograph of the Lincoln-Douglas debates.”

LaFollette, an expert on the history of science in the media, says those photographs led her to dig deeper into the collections and to piece together more of the story behind the trial. The Davis material provided fodder for another book: Reframing Scopes: Journalists, Scientists, and Lost Photographs from the Trial of the Century.

Among other things, the records provided a window into the fledgling field of science journalism at the time. Science Service had been founded just a few years earlier, and the trial was the first real test of the journalists’ ability to cover a complex, controversial scientific topic in a way that a public audience could understand.

51QGn3wYY5L._SL160_.jpg

Reframing Scopes: Journalists, Scientists, and Lost Photographs from the Trial of the Century

Product by Brand: University Press of Kansas ~ Marcel Chotkowski LaFollette (author) More about this product
Price: $45.00

Today, science is regularly covered in the news media, but at the time, scientific subjects were mostly conveyed through dedicated science magazines and newsletters written by scientists for scientists. The idea of newspaper writers bringing a greater understanding of science to the general public through their medium was a new paradigm. 

“They were paving the way for what science journalists do today,” LaFollette says, though in many ways Davis’ documents reveal a much more fluid line between reporting and collaborating than most would accept now. “None of the other historians who had written about the trial knew the extent to which you had these journalists behind the scenes doing things,” LaFollette says.

For example, Watson Davis took charge of lining up expert witnesses for the defense. On his train ride from Washington to Dayton, he telegraphed a list of scientists to Darrow and his defense team instructing them to invite the scientists to testify. He also took it upon himself to send the invitations, signing them at first with the name of one defense attorney, Dudley Field Malone, and then later changing the sender to Clarence Darrow at the last minute. The telegraph read:

DISTINGUISHED COLLEAGUES OF YOURS HAVE SUGGESTED YOU MIGHT BE WILLING TO COME TO TESTIFY FOR DEFENSE AT DAYTON TENNESSEE NEXT WEEK IN THE CASEOF STATE OF TENNESSEE VERSUS PROFESSOR SCOPES STOP WE OF THE DEFENSE WOULD BE DELIGHTED TO ADD YOUR AUTHORITY TO OUR POSITION STOP YOUR EXPENSES WILL BE PAID STOP WILL YOU WIRE ME DIRECTLY AT DAYTON AND I WILL LET YOU KNOW WHAT DAY YOU WILL BE NEEDED

According to Lafollette, Davis also drafted testimony for the expert witnesses once the trial was underway. He and Frank Thone, a writer at Science Service, even gave up their rooms at the hotel in town to stay with the defense witnesses at the private residence they had rented—dubbed the “Defense Mansion.” Photographs of the reporters, scientists and defense team gathered on the steps of the residence reveal their congenial bond.

The epitome of the “embedded” journalists, Davis and Thone stood openly in support of the science of evolution, and they saw it as their duty to help interpret the technical scientific language of the experts into something comprehensible for the general public. For their coverage of the trial, the editor of the New York Times sent a letter of thanks to Science Service.

Despite their valiant efforts, Davis and Thone’s contribution was unable to turn the debate. In the end, Scopes, who never even testified during his own trial, was convicted and fined $100. Soon after, other states, such as Mississippi and Arkansas, passed their own anti-evolution laws. Textbook publishers, wary of having their product banned, removed all reference to the subject for the next 30 or 40 years.

It wasn’t until 1968 that the U.S. Supreme Court banned anti-evolution laws—although that didn’t guarantee evolution was taught. In anti-evolution states, the old laws were quickly replaced with new laws mandating equal time for the teaching of creationism. The topic continues to fuel legal battles over science education today.

Meanwhile, the name Scopes has become an invective for just about any divisive issue that pits religious beliefs against science in education. For his part, Scopes gave up teaching when the trial was over, left Dayton to get a master’s degree from the University of Chicago and took a job as a petroleum engineer in Venezuela where his notoriety would not follow him.

The town of Dayton returned to the sleepy state it was in before the trial but remained the butt of national jokes for many years. It was even memorialized as the seat of fundamentalist bigotry in the 1955 play and subsequent movie Inherit the Wind staring Spencer Tracy and Gene Kelly. In rebuttal, the community eventually began hosting an annual Scopes trial play and festival that emphasizes the publicity stunt and paints a more favorable portrait of Dayton circa 1925. The festival continues to this day.

Surely none of that could have been predicted 90 years ago when a group of small-town businessmen from Tennessee answered an ad in a Chattanooga newspaper.

Berliner Helicopter, Model 1924

National Air and Space Museum
Triplane built on a Nieuport 23 fuselage with two laterally spaced fixed-pitch lifting rotors and a variable-pitch tailrotor for attitude control.

The father-and-son team of Emile and Henry Berliner became the first Americans to make any significant progress towards the

creation of a practical helicopter. Before 1926, they pioneered a number of experimental helicopters with only moderate success.

However, the Berliners' final versions displayed the best performance of any American helicopter project until Igor I. Sikorsky

unveiled his VS-300 fifteen years later.

Emile, a German immigrant living in Washington D.C., was already a prodigious inventor when he began to dabble in aviation. He

received a number of notable patents for substantial improvements he made to the design of gramophones, phonographs, and

telephone transmitters. In 1903, he became fascinated with powered flight and experimented with a large rocket-powered model

airplane.

Even after the success of the Wright brothers' first powered flight became widely known, Emile continued to pursue helicopter

development in a quest for an aircraft that could operate from any location. In 1907, he began work on a helicopter with a tandem

intermeshing-rotor system. This was the same year in which Frenchmen Louis Breguet and Paul Cornu demonstrated the first

man-carrying helicopters. These largely ineffective machines could only wobble momentarily into the air at a maximum altitude of one

meter.

Emile Berliner realized that his design required a light engine and decided on a rotary model instead of the heavier in-line engines

used previously in aircraft. Berliner worked with the Adams-Farwell Company to develop a 36-hp rotary engine for his helicopter.

Remarkably, this was the first application in aviation of the rotary engine, which became quite popular during the following decade

because of its weight advantages. A short time later, Berliner founded the Gyro Motor Company to further the development of rotary

engines in aviation. In 1913, the company donated Emile's historic first engine to the Smithsonian Institution.

On July 11, 1908, Berliner's first "test-rig" helicopter design demonstrated that it had the potential to lift twice its own empty weight.

Emile then constructed a larger version with a 55-hp motor, which he dubbed the Aeromobile. Simultaneously, Berliner cooperated

with J. Newton Williams on a coaxial design. Neither effort progressed very far as the demands of operating the Gyro Motor

Company distracted Emile's attention. However, this did not prevent him from conceiving new approaches to the problem of vertical

flight. In 1910, Berliner began to consider the use of a vertically mounted tail rotor to counteract torque on his single main rotor

design. This configuration later played a pivotal role in the development of practical helicopters during the 1940s.

For the next nine years, Emile's business concerns and deteriorating health prevented him from pursuing improved designs.

However, his son Henry, was also a superb engineer and wanted to continue his father's work. In 1919, after a short stint in the Army

Air Service as an aerial photographer, Henry moved to Washington D.C. to construct a helicopter under his father's guidance.

Henry's first effort was a coaxial design mounted on a two-wheeled test stand. He soon transformed this model into a manned

version, powered by an 80 hp Le Rhône engine. It was able to lift Henry, and make the transition from a hover to forward flight, but

its control was so poor that assistants running alongside had to steady it. Henry decided to take a new approach and adapt his

experience with conventional airplanes to the control problem.

In 1922, Henry ordered a surplus Nieuport 23 fighter fuselage and mounted a Bentley 220 hp engine to the front. He attached a spar

mid-way up the fuselage to form the bottom of a truss extending from the sides of the aircraft. The trusses each supported one of

the two counter-rotating lifting rotors, which the engine powered through a series of geared shafts. The two rotors could tilt slightly

in opposite directions to control yaw.

A variable-pitch tail rotor, 76 cm (30 in) in diameter, mounted horizontally in front of the vertical stabilizer, maintained pitch control

while hovering. To initiate forward flight, the pilot pushed forward on the stick to increase the pitch of the horizontal tail rotor, which

dropped the nose and inclined the lifting propellers slightly to initiate forward flight. The flight controls also connected to elevators

and an enlarged rudder on the tail of the fuselage, which helped maintain control at higher forward speeds. Two sets of five 91 cm

(36 in) x 20 cm (8 in) louvers, located below each rotor, opened and closed differentially to provide roll control by presenting a flat

surface, which reacted against the rotor downwash.

In the fall of 1923, Henry decided to mount a set of triplane wings onto the aircraft to allow for a safe glide in case of an engine

failure. With the new design, he found he could marginally control the helicopter in a hover and in forward flight at speeds up to 64

kph (40 mph). However, Henry discovered that the helicopter did not have adequate thrust to climb out of ground effect. The

roll-control louvers were the weak-point of the control system and lateral handling was poor. On February 23, 1924, the helicopter

recorded its best performance when it reached a height of 4.57 m (15 ft) during a one minute, thirty-five second flight. Many

observers felt that the airframe was simply too heavy, including an Army engineer sent to observe the tests from McCook Field.

Henry and his father then decided to build a new, lighter helicopter to improve the thrust-to-weight ratio. Completed in 1925, the

new design bore a superficial resemblance to the previous model, but it utilized a more efficient biplane configuration. The lower

wing relied on a high angle of incidence and large camber to generate some lift from the rotor downwash. The Berliners also enlarged

the rotors and added a novel differential collective pitch control system to replace the ineffective louvers.

However, even with the reduced weight and aerodynamic alterations, the 1925 model showed only a marginal increase in

performance over the triplane version. Frustrated, Henry abandoned his helicopter experiments and became disillusioned with the

potential of the helicopter. He went on to establish the Berliner Aircraft Company, and played an important role in the development

of the innovative Erco Ercoupe (see NASM collection).

Henry Berliner's reluctance to adopt a cyclic control system and a dependence on relatively small high-load lifting rotors incapable

of autorotation ultimately prevented him from constructing a practical helicopter. While Emile and Henry struggled with their designs,

the Spaniard, Raul Pateras Pescara demonstrated a helicopter with effective cyclic and collective pitch controls. However, his

under-powered machine also could not climb out of ground effect and more than a decade passed before Louis Breguet improved

on Pescara's approach. In 1935, with the cooperation of René Dorand, Breguet completed the Gyroplane Laboratoire, which was the

first helicopter to meet the aviation industry's control and performance expectations for a practical design.

After Emile and Henry completed the testing of their triplane model, the younger Berliner offered it to the Smithsonian Institution.

This aircraft is the oldest intact helicopter in the world and is currently on loan to the College Park Aviation Museum, appropriately

located on the site of the Berliner's original testing ground.

Wingspan:11.58 m (38 ft)

Rotor Diameter:4.57 m (15 ft)

Length:5.49 m (18 ft)

Height:2.06 m (6 ft 9 in)

Weight:Empty, 748 kg (1,650 lb)

Gross, 870 kg (1,918 lb)

Engine:Bentley BR-2 Rotary, 220 hp

References and Further Reading

Gablehouse, Charles. Helicopters and Autogiros: A Chronicle of Rotating Wing Aircraft. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1967.

Berliner No. 5 curatorial file, Aeronautics Division, National Air and Space Museum

Copyright © 1998 National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution (revised 11/19/01 R. D. Connor)

The father-and-son team of Emile and Henry Berliner became the first Americans to make any significant progress towards the

creation of a practical helicopter. Before 1926, they pioneered a number of experimental helicopters with only moderate success.

However, the Berliners' final versions displayed the best performance of any American helicopter project until Igor I. Sikorsky

unveiled his VS-300 fifteen years later.

Emile, a German immigrant living in Washington D.C., was already a prodigious inventor when he began to dabble in aviation. He

received a number of notable patents for substantial improvements he made to the design of gramophones, phonographs, and

telephone transmitters. In 1903, he became fascinated with powered flight and experimented with a large rocket-powered model

airplane.

Even after the success of the Wright brothers' first powered flight became widely known, Emile continued to pursue helicopter

development in a quest for an aircraft that could operate from any location. In 1907, he began work on a helicopter with a tandem

intermeshing-rotor system.

Emile Berliner realized that his design required a light engine and decided on a rotary model instead of the heavier in-line engines

used previously in aircraft. Berliner worked with the Adams-Farwell Company to develop a 36-hp rotary engine for his helicopter.

Remarkably, this was the first application in aviation of the rotary engine, which became quite popular during the following decade

because of its weight advantages. A short time later, Berliner founded the Gyro Motor Company to further the development of rotary

engines in aviation. In 1913, the company donated Emile's historic first engine to the Smithsonian Institution.

On July 11, 1908, Berliner's first "test-rig" helicopter design demonstrated that it had the potential to lift twice its own empty weight.

Emile then constructed a larger version with a 55-hp motor, which he dubbed the Aeromobile. Simultaneously, Berliner cooperated

with J. Newton Williams on a coaxial design. Neither effort progressed very far as the demands of operating the Gyro Motor

Company distracted Emile's attention. However, this did not prevent him from conceiving new approaches to the problem of vertical

flight. In 1910, Berliner began to consider the use of a vertically mounted tail rotor to counteract torque on his single main rotor

design. This configuration later played a pivotal role in the development of practical helicopters during the 1940s.

For the next nine years, Emile's business concerns and deteriorating health prevented him from pursuing improved designs.

However, his son Henry, was also a superb engineer and wanted to continue his father's work. In 1919, after a short stint in the Army

Air Service as an aerial photographer, Henry moved to Washington D.C. to construct a helicopter under his father's guidance.

Henry's first effort was a coaxial design mounted on a two-wheeled test stand. He soon transformed this model into a manned

version, powered by an 80 hp Le Rhône engine. It was able to lift Henry, and make the transition from a hover to forward flight, but

its control was so poor that assistants running alongside had to steady it. Henry decided to take a new approach and adapt his

experience with conventional airplanes to the control problem.

In 1922, Henry ordered a surplus Nieuport 23 fighter fuselage and mounted a Bentley 220 hp engine to the front. He attached a spar

mid-way up the fuselage to form the bottom of a truss extending from the sides of the aircraft. The trusses each supported one of

the two counter-rotating lifting rotors, which the engine powered through a series of geared shafts. The two rotors could tilt slightly

in opposite directions to control yaw.

A variable-pitch tail rotor, 76 cm (30 in) in diameter, mounted horizontally in front of the vertical stabilizer, maintained pitch control

while hovering. To initiate forward flight, the pilot pushed forward on the stick to increase the pitch of the horizontal tail rotor, which

dropped the nose and inclined the lifting propellers slightly to initiate forward flight. The flight controls also connected to elevators

and an enlarged rudder on the tail of the fuselage, which helped maintain control at higher forward speeds. Two sets of five 91 cm

(36 in) x 20 cm (8 in) louvers, located below each rotor, opened and closed differentially to provide roll control by presenting a flat

surface, which reacted against the rotor downwash.

In the fall of 1923, Henry decided to mount a set of triplane wings onto the aircraft to allow for a safe glide in case of an engine

failure. With the new design, he found he could marginally control the helicopter in a hover and in forward flight at speeds up to 64

kph (40 mph). However, Henry discovered that the helicopter did not have adequate thrust to climb out of ground effect. The

roll-control louvers were the weak-point of the control system and lateral handling was poor. On February 23, 1924, the helicopter

recorded its best performance when it reached a height of 4.57 m (15 ft) during a one minute, thirty-five second flight. Many

observers felt that the airframe was simply too heavy, including an Army engineer sent to observe the tests from McCook Field.

Henry and his father then decided to build a new, lighter helicopter to improve the thrust-to-weight ratio. Completed in 1925, the

new design bore a superficial resemblance to the previous model, but it utilized a more efficient biplane configuration. The lower

wing relied on a high angle of incidence and large camber to generate some lift from the rotor downwash. The Berliners also enlarged

the rotors and added a novel differential collective pitch control system to replace the ineffective louvers.

However, even with the reduced weight and aerodynamic alterations, the 1925 model showed only a marginal increase in

performance over the triplane version. Frustrated, Henry abandoned his helicopter experiments and became disillusioned with the

potential of the helicopter. He went on to establish the Berliner Aircraft Company, and played an important role in the development

of the innovative Erco Ercoupe (see NASM collection).

Henry Berliner's reluctance to adopt a cyclic control system and a dependence on relatively small high-load lifting rotors incapable

of autorotation ultimately prevented him from constructing a practical helicopter. While Emile and Henry struggled with their designs,

the Spaniard, Raul Pateras Pescara demonstrated a helicopter with effective cyclic and collective pitch controls. However, his

under-powered machine also could not climb out of ground effect and more than a decade passed before Louis Breguet improved

on Pescara's approach. In 1935, with the cooperation of René Dorand, Breguet completed the Gyroplane Laboratoire, which was the

first helicopter to meet the aviation industry's control and performance expectations for a practical design.

After Emile and Henry completed the testing of their triplane model, the younger Berliner offered it to the Smithsonian Institution.

This aircraft is the oldest intact helicopter in the world and is currently on loan to the College Park Aviation Museum, appropriately

located on the site of the Berliner's original testing ground.

Wingspan:11.58 m (38 ft)

Rotor Diameter:4.57 m (15 ft)

Length:5.49 m (18 ft)

Height:2.06 m (6 ft 9 in)

Weight:Empty, 748 kg (1,650 lb)

Gross, 870 kg (1,918 lb)

Engine:Bentley BR-2 Rotary, 220 hp

References and Further Reading

Gablehouse, Charles. Helicopters and Autogiros: A Chronicle of Rotating Wing Aircraft. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1967.

Berliner No. 5 curatorial file, Aeronautics Division, National Air and Space Museum

Copyright © 1998 National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution (revised 11/19/01 R. D. Connor)

First betatron of Donald Kerst, 1940

National Museum of American History
Object N-08216 is the assembly of the first Kerst Betatron as it appeared in the Atom Smashers exhibition at the NMAH. mounted horizontally, a toroidal vacuum chamber made of white ceramic with two cylindrical ports, each joined to fused-on glass extensions; circular magnet coils mounted above and below plane of vacuum chamber; rectangular laminated iron yoke surrounding the coils on top, bottom and two sides; enclosing the yoke, a rectangular metal frame of four horizontal angle strips joined by four welded vertical straps, two on each side, and by four bolts, two on each end. Between the yoke laminations and each coil is a thin sheet of slightly flexible, warped, black material, like plastic or impregnated cardboard; each is in two pieces to fit around the central axis. Two circular gray plates are positioned at the top and bottom of the vacuum chamber, separating it from the upper and lower coils, respectively.

It is presumed that the left-hand cylindrical port contains the electron source, and the right-hand port contains the beam of x-rays from the internal target. Wires protrude from both cylindrical ports.

History and basic principles

Among the many investigators who attempted to accelerate electrons by magnetic induction, none were successful until Donald Kerst produced 2.3-MeV electrons in a betatron at the University of Illinois in 1940. He later constructed a number of betatrons of successively higher energies, culminating in the 300-MeV betatron at the University of Illinois. Kerst’s success was due to a very careful theoretical analysis of the orbit dynamics in accelerators (including a study of the requirements for injection); to a preliminary analysis of all conceivable effects relevant to the operation of a betatron; and to a careful and detailed design of the magnet structure, vacuum system, and power supply. This was the first new accelerator to be constructed on the basis of a careful scientific analysis and a completely engineered design. Its success represented a turning point in the technology of particle accelerators from cut and try methods to scientifically engineered designs. All later accelerators, including the newest high energy synchrotrons, have been influenced by this early work of Kerst. It is only in the light of these later developments that we see the importance of the betatron not merely as a valuable instrument in itself but as a milestone in the development of particle accelerators generally. For example, the radial and vertical oscillations of the beam in all particle accelerators are now universally called betatron oscillations after the pioneering work of Kerst and Robert Serber, who together in 1941 published the first theoretical analysis of such oscillations as they occur in the betatron.

The betatron was quickly put to use in industry, medicine, and nuclear physics research. It was the first accelerator to provide gamma rays for photo-nuclear studies. In the late 1940s and early 1950s the betatron was used for much of the experimental research on photo disintegration of the deuteron, on photo-nuclear reactions (including the discovery of the giant dipole resonances), and important early work on nuclear structure from electron scattering. Of great importance was the pioneering use of megavolt electron beams for the production of energetic X rays for the therapeutic treatment of cancer. His fascinating depiction of this treatment included a description of the first use of phantoms and the intense activity precipitated by a student afflicted with brain tumor, heroic efforts that achieved much, but were unable to save the student. Kerst took a one-year leave of absence from the University of Illinois (1940-41), designed a 20-MeV betatron and a 100-MeV betatron working with the engineering staff at General Electric. He oversaw the construction and operation of the 20-MeV betatron, which he brought back to Urbana. During World War II days, Kerst built a 4-MeV portable betatron for inspecting bomb duds in situ and, most importantly, built a 20-MeV betatron at Los Alamos for study of bomb assembly implosions. His work was described in the official history of Los Alamos as: “The technical achievements are amongst the most impressive at Los Alamos.” After World War II Kerst built a 300-MeV betatron at the University of Illinois that was brought into operation in 1950 and provided a facility for studying high energy physics until it was superseded by synchrotrons and then by electron linacs.

(Above text excerpted from Donald William Kerst, 1911—1993, a Biographical Memoir by Andrew M. Sessler and Keith R. Symon, Copyright 1997, National Academies Press, Washington DC.)

It is no accident that the magnetic induction accelerator was so late to be realized. The concept had been advanced repeatedly in the preceding twenty years, but the problems of establishing and maintaining a particle beam were far greater than those encountered with several other accelerator types that were reduced to practice in the 1930’s.

Electrons, due to their relatively small mass, are much more “skittish” than the much more massive protons, and in the betatron must make a thousand times more circuits to reach the same energy as protons accelerated in a cyclotron. Where the cyclotron runs continuously, allowing the protons to find their own orbit, the betatron is pulsed: electrons must be injected at the right velocity to be captured into stable orbits, and held in them by a balance between the magnetic fields responsible for their acceleration and their orbit guidance, respectively. Kerst’s success depended decisively upon close mathematical analysis of these orbits, especially those immediately after injection into the vacuum chamber. This analysis was performed in collaboration with theoretical physicist, Robert Serber.

The principle of operation of the betatron is similar to that of a high voltage transformer. Alternating currents in the upper coils produce an increasing magnetic field, thus inducing an electromotive force around the electron’s circular orbit. This force, which Kerst calculated to be only 17 volts maximum acts on the electrons during each of their 200,000 circuits of the vacuum chamber, imparting a total energy of over two million electron volts (MeV).

The electrons are introduced into the vacuum chamber by an injector; they are not brought out of the vacuum chamber, but strike an internal target, converting their energy into x-rays which emerge through a second port.

Kerst, like E.O. Lawrence at the University of California, Berkeley, saw no intrinsic limits to his device. From the moment Kerst’s first device operated successfully in July 1940, he and his University looked forward to one more powerful (300 MeV) even than the cyclotrons being developed at Berkeley. Begun in 1945, immediately after World War II, with a special appropriation from the Illinois State Legislature, it was soon to be outmoded by newer methods of particle acceleration (e.g., the synchrotron).

Montgomery Glider "Evergreen"

National Air and Space Museum
Monoplane glider with a conventional tail with the pilot seated below the wing. Natural finish overall.

John Joseph Montgomery began serious work in aeronautics in 1881-82. In the summer of 1884, he flew a monoplane glider between 100-200 m (325-650 ft) at Otay Mesa, California. In the late 1890s, early twentieth century, he experimented with tandem-wing gliders suspended beneath a balloon, which were then released to glide back to the ground.

The great San Francisco earthquake of 1906 ended Montgomery's aeronautical work for several years, but he resumed his efforts in 1911 with a new monoplane glider called the Evergreen. Between October 17-31, 1911, in the Evergreen Valley, just south of San Jose, Montgomery made more than 50 glides with his new aircraft, each approximately 240 m (785 ft). On October 31, flying at an altitude of less than 6 m (20 ft), the Evergreen stalled, sideslipped, came down on the right wingtip, and turn over. Montgomery hit his head on an exposed bolt and died from his injury two hours later.

John Joseph Montgomery was one of the earliest aeronautical experimenters in the United States. Born in 1858, he exhibited a boyhood interest in flight, making several aircraft models. He began serious work in aeronautics in 1881-82, developing models with flat wing surfaces. After these proved unsatisfactory, he patterned the lifting surfaces of his models after the curved wings of birds. In the 1884-1886, he built three full-sized gliders. The most significant was a monoplane glider spanning slightly more than 6 m (20 ft), and with it he made a glide between 100-200 m (325-650 ft) at Otay Mesa, California, in the summer of 1884. The glider had little means of control and was not flown again. At this time, Montgomery was working in isolation. Whatever merits his 1884 glider had, they were not disseminated among the aeronautical community until 1894, when Octave Chanute mentioned it in his compendium of flight research up to that time, Progress in Flying Machines. But even that account was very brief.

In the late 1890s and the first years of the twentieth century, Montgomery began experimenting with tandem-wing gliders. The first ones were small, unpiloted craft, typically flown tethered on a line between posts. Between 1904 and 1906, he built 3, possibly 4, larger tandem-winged gliders intended to carry a pilot, spanning 6-7 m (20-24 ft). The first was built and tested in 1904, again tethered to posts, with Montgomery on board. A slightly larger version followed, which was carried aloft suspended beneath a balloon, and then released to glide back to the ground. Montgomery enlisted Daniel John Maloney, a balloonist and parachutist, as his pilot. In 1905, they gained great attention with this glider, named the Santa Clara, after a series of public demonstrations in the spring and summer of that year. Maloney made several impressive glides on March 16, 17, and 20 in Santa Cruz, California. Then, on April 29, they made their first major public demonstration of the Santa Clara. Before 1,500 people, at Santa Clara College, Maloney ascended to an altitude of 1,200 m (3,900 ft) suspended from the balloon. After cutting the suspension rope he descended safely to the ground, much to the amazement and delight of the crowd.

The next major demonstration was scheduled for May 21 at the Alameda Race Track in San Jose, California. To raise funds for further aeronautical research and experimentation, admission to the event was charged. As before, Maloney began his ascent in the Santa Clara by balloon, but on this occasion the suspension rope snapped at an altitude of 45-60 m (150-200 ft). He managed to reach the ground safely, but the spectators, expecting more, were disappointed and booed Montgomery and Maloney. A second attempt was made with a back-up glider, similar to the Santa Clara, called the California. Once aloft, problems arose with the balloon and the glider and, in the interest of safety, Maloney simply descended with balloon and glider still connected, landing 50 km (31 mi) away. The failures were humiliating after the triumph of April 29.

On July 18, 1905, Montgomery and Maloney were back at Santa Clara College for another attempt to fly the Santa Clara. Again a problem occurred, but this time Maloney was not so fortunate. As the balloon was released, one of its handling lines, unnoticed by Maloney, was caught up in the structure of the Santa Clara above the wings. Montgomery saw the mishap and called to his unsuspecting pilot to just ride down with the balloon. Maloney failed to hear him and ascended to 1,200 m (3,900 ft). After cutting the suspension rope as normal, the errant handling line damaged the glider. Maloney struggled unsuccessfully to gain control of the crippled craft and crashed to his death.

Undeterred by the mishap, Montgomery resumed his experiments late in 1905 and early 1906. He returned to the earlier method of flight testing his gliders tethered to posts arranged on a hillside. On February 22, 1906, however, another balloon ascension with a suspended glider was made, presumably with the repaired Santa Clara or the California, or possibly some other glider. The pilot, David Wilkie, lost control of the glider as it separated from the balloon at 600 m (2,000 ft), only regaining equilibrium at 90 m (300 ft) when he could hear Montgomery shouting instructions from the ground. The glider was slightly damaged upon landing. Wilkie convinced Montgomery to let him make a second try a few days later, but the balloon was damaged during inflation so no flight could be attempted. Montgomery then decided not to allow Wilkie another balloon-assisted flight trial.

The great San Francisco earthquake of 1906 ended Montgomery's aeronautical work for several years, but he resumed his efforts in 1911 with a new glider called the Evergreen. Moving away from his basic tandem-winged design of the pre-1906 period, the Evergreen was a monoplane glider with a conventional tail with the pilot seated below the wing. Montgomery flew the Evergreen himself. Between October 17-31, 1911, in the Evergreen Valley, just south of San Jose, he made more than 50 glides with his new aircraft, each approximately 240 m (785 ft). On October 31, after making an adjustment to the angle of the horizontal stabilizer, he was airborne once again. Flying at an altitude of less than 6 m (20 ft), the Evergreen stalled, sideslipped, came down on the right wingtip, and turn over. Montgomery hit his head on an exposed bolt and died from his injury two hours later.

After his death, the remains of Montgomery's gliders were given to the University of Santa Clara. In 1947, the Smithsonian Institution acquired from the university parts of the Evergreen and what was believed to be a wing panel from the Santa Clara. In 1979-80 the Evergreen was restored. At that time, the university sent some further original parts of the Evergreen that were not included in the original Smithsonian acquisition in 1947. This enabled the restored aircraft to be 80-85 percent original. The museum also has, from the 1947 acquisition, one wing panel from one of the tandem-winged Montgomery gliders of 1904-05. Initially believed to be from the Santa Clara, in which Maloney was killed in 1905, it is shorter in span, has many fewer ribs than the Santa Clara wing, and is therefore almost certainly from the slightly smaller, earlier tandem-winged first prototype. It is preserved in its original condition.

The Incomparable Legacy of Lead Belly

Smithsonian Magazine

“If you asked ten people in the street if they knew who Lead Belly was,” Smithsonian archivist Jeff Place says, “eight wouldn’t know.”

Chances are, though, they’d know many of Lead Belly songs that have been picked up by others. Chief among them: “Goodnight Irene,” an American standard made a No. 1 hit by The Weavers in 1950, one year after the death of the blues man who was first to record it, Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly.

But the roster also includes “Where Did You Sleep Last Night,” the spooky song that capped Nirvana’s Grammy winning No. 1 “Unplugged in New York” album in 1994 that sold 5 million copies.

And in between? “Rock Island Line,” recorded by both Lonnie Donegan and Johnny Cash; “House of the Rising Sun,” made a No. 1 hit by the Animals; “Cotton Fields,” sung by Odetta but also the Beach Boys; “Gallows Pole,” as interpreted by Led Zeppelin and “Midnight Special” recorded by Credence Clearwater Revival and a host of others.

Also on the list is “Black Betty,” known to many as a hard-hitting 1977 rock song by Ram Jam that became a sports arena chant and has been covered by Tom Jones.

Few of its fan would realize the origins of that hit as a prison work song, in which its relentless “bam de lam” is meant to simulate the sound of the ax hitting wood, says Place, who co-produced a five-disc boxed set on Lead Belly’s recordings out this week.

John and Alan Lomax, the father and son team of musicologists who recorded prison songs and found Lead Belly chief among its voices in 1933, wrote that “Black Betty” itself referred to a whip, though other prisoners have said it was slang for their transfer wagon.

Either way, it’s an indication of how much the songs of Lead Belly became ingrained into the culture even if audiences aren’t aware of their origins.

Today, 127 years after his birth, and 66 years after his death, there is an effort to change that.

 

On Feb. 23, the Smithsonian Channel will debut a documentary about the twice-jailed singer who became so influential to music, “Legend of Lead Belly,” including striking color footage of him singing in a cotton field and lauditory comments from Roger McGuinn, Robby Krieger, Judy Collins and Van Morrison, who just says “he’s a genius.”

Then on Feb. 24, Folkways releases a five-disc boxed set in a 140-page large format book that is the first full career retrospective for the blues and folk giant. On April 25, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts will put on an all-star concert that echoes the original intention of the project, “Lead Belly at 125: A Tribute to an American Songster.”

The 125 milestone is meant to mark the anniversary of his birth to sharecroppers in rural Louisiana. But even if you believe some research that says he was born in 1889, that marker has still passed. “Had things happened quicker,” Place says, it all would have been completed for the 125th, who previously put together the massive “Woody at 100” collection on Woody Guthrie in 2012. The vagaries of collecting materials and photographic rights for the extensive book, and shooting the documentary took time.

It was a little easier to assemble the music itself since the Smithsonian through its acquisition of Folkways label, has access to the full span of his recording career, from the first recordings in 1934 to the more sophisticated “Last Sessions” in 1948 in which he was using reel-to-reel tape for the first time, allowing him to also capture the long spoken introductions to many of the songs that are in some cases as important historically as the songs themselves.

Lead Belly wrote dozens of songs, but a lot of the material that he first recorded were acquired from hearing them first sung in the fields or in prison, where he served two stints. He got out each time, according to legend, by writing songs for the governors of those states, who, charmed, gave him his freedom.

The real truth, Place’s research shows, is that he was up for parole for good behavior around those times anyway.

But a good story is a good story. And when the Lomaxes found in Lead Belly a stirring voice but a repository for songs going back to the Civil War, the incarcerations were such a big part of the story, it was often played up in the advertising. Sometimes, he was asked to sing in prison stripes to drive home the point.

And newspapers couldn’t resist the angle, “Sweet Singer of the Swamplands here to Do a Few Tunes Between Homicides” a New York Herald Tribune subhead in 1933 said. “It made a great marketing ploy, until it got too much,” Place says.

Notes from the singer’s niece in the boxed set make it clear “he did not have an ugly temper.” And Lead Belly, annoyed that the Lomaxes inserted themselves as co-writers for purposes of song publishing royalties. “He was at a point of: enough is enough,” Place says.

While the blues man was known to make up songs on the spot, or write a sharp commentary on topical news, he also had a deep memory of any songs he had heard, and carried them forward.

 

“Supposedly Lead Belly first heard ‘Goodnight Irene,’ sung by an uncle in around 1900,” Place says. “But it has roots in this show tune of the late 19th century called ‘Irene Goodnight.’ He changed it dramatically, his version. But a lot of these songs go back many, many years.”

While the young Lead Belly picked up his trade working for years with Blind Lemon Jefferson, his interests transcended the blues into children’s songs, work songs, show tunes and cowboy songs.

And he stood out, too, for his choice of instrument—a 12-string guitar, so chosen, Place says, so it could be heard above raucous barrooms where he often played. “It worked for him, because he played it in a very percussive way, he was a lot of times trying to simulate the barrelhouse piano sound on the guitar.”

He played a variety of instruments, though, and can be heard on the new collection playing piano on a song called “Big Fat Woman,” and accordion on “John Henry.” While a lot of the music on the new set was issued, a couple of things are previously unreleased, including several sessions he recorded at WNYC in New York, sitting in the studio, running through songs and explaining them before he came to his inevitable theme song, “Good Night Irene.”

One unusual track previously unreleased from the “Last Session” has him listening and singing along to Bessie Smith’s 1929 recording of “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out.”

“Now that’s really cool,” Place says. “I’d play it for people who came through, musicians, and they’d say, ‘That blew my mind, man.’”

The legacy of Lead Belly is clear in the film, when John Reynolds, a friend and author, quotes George Harrison as saying, “if there was no Lead Belly, there would have been no Lonnie Donegan; no Lonnie Donegan, no Beatles. Therefore no Lead Belly, no Beatles.”

And even as Place has been showing the documentary clips in person and online he’s getting the kind of reaction he had hoped. “People are saying, ‘I knew this music. I didn’t know this guy.”

Six Critically Acclaimed African Artists Explore the Dimensions and Complexities of Time

Smithsonian Magazine

There’s something peculiar about how we experience time. We feel it move faster as we age, slow when we’re bored and stand still when we’re shocked. And for centuries scientists, philosophers and writers have mused about its existence and its meaning in our lives.

In his theory of relativity Albert Einstein postulated that time could be warped and that clocks actually slow as they move closer to a massive body. Aristotle, in Book IV of Physics argues “Time, then, also is both made continuous by the 'now' and divided at it.” In her memoir, M Train, Patti Smith comments “Perhaps there is no past or future, only the perpetual present that contains this trinity of memory.” 

At its simplest, time is a system of measurement by which we organize our lives. Yet, nothing about how we experience time is actually straightforward, and it’s much more abstract than the confines of seconds, minutes and hours.

A new video and film-based exhibition at the National Museum of African Art challenges the standard notions and limitations of how we experience time through the multimedia works of six internationally acclaimed African artists.

In “Senses of Time: Video and Film-Based Works of Africa,” an exhibition co-organized with the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the artists, Sammy Baloji, Theo Eshetu, Moataz Nasr, Berni Searle, Yinka Shonibare MBE and Sue Williamson, reconsider the concept of time, how it relates to the body and its place in global considerations of Africa.

“Time is as central as color and line and form. And we need to think about what they means in relationship to the African continent,” says curator Karen Milbourne.  I think this becomes particularly poignant because Africa for too long has not been seen as coeval with the rest of the world.”

The works in the exhibition fall under the category of time-based media, a term developed by art conservators to describe works of art that require technology and that include duration as a dimension, rather than traditional measures of dimension such as height or width. 

Milbourne stresses that time-based media is not a new art form on the African continent noting that one of the works in the exhibition dates to 1999. This exhibition not only challenges common perceptions of the concept of time, but it also confronts notions of what is possible in the realm of African art. 

“This is a dynamic art form that is being driven by some of the most talented artists of this continent and beyond,” she says. “Through this medium we have the opportunity to rethink how we tell the stories of Africa, how we tell the stories of art and how we experience them.”

South African artist Berni Searle, who has two pieces in the exhibition, supports the sentiment of destabilizing the assumptions of the possibilities of African art. In her piece, A Matter of Time, a looping video captures Searle’s own feet gingerly walking across a surface slick with olive oil until finally they slip backwards, before beginning the process all over again. The video is a commentary on time and identity with the olive oil representing her “olive” complexion.

“The importance of an exhibition like this is that it starts to demystify some of the kind of generalized conceptions of what Africa is and the kind of work that is produced by African artists. If you weren’t aware of the politics, these works could be from anywhere,” says Searle.

Yinka Shonibare MBE employs his signature technique of dressing mannequins in western fashion styles made from Dutch wax cloth (which is typically considered African) in his video Un Ballo in Maschera. 

Inspired by the opera of the same name, the high definition digital video follows the narrative of a ball in which all of the characters are dancing in sync in their Dutch wax cloth gowns. The king at the ball is shot dead but stands again to repeat the dance at the ball as a nod to the cyclical nature of history. The dancing at the ball juxtaposed against the bright “African” cloth serves as a reminder that all cultures exhibit traditions. 

While most of the works in the gallery are flat projections, Eshetu's Brave New World requires viewer participation. Upon first glance the viewer sees images flash on a screen within the borders of a hung frame, but to experience the full effect of the piece, the viewer must approach the frame and peer into what is actually an angled box of mirrors that reflect the images from a television set and the viewer’s own likeness throughout the box in a kaleidoscope effect. Images of the Twin Towers, advertisements and baseball games repeat and layer on one another. The viewer’s personal reflection is caught in the ever-changing images emanating from the television set.

“The works of art in this exhibition show how time becomes a force to be reckoned with in discussions of coevalness, politics, faith, family, race—some of the most loaded issues in our day. And it can be done in exquisitely gorgeous ways,” Milbourne says.

Senses of Time: Video and Film-Based Works of Africa is on view at the National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C., through March 26, 2017.

Why We Should Study Cancer Like We Study Ecosystems

Smithsonian Magazine

When pine beetles invaded North American forests, they threw a delicate ecosystem out of balance. Cancer cells, too, behave like damaging invasive species. Photo by Flickr user Kneale Quayle

Sometimes, thinking about an old problem from a refreshing new angle is just the thing needed to find that eureka moment.

Cancer, one of the most notorious medical maladies, has been studied intensely in the current era of modern medicine. But a growing number of researchers think that bringing a fresh, out-of-the-box approach to understanding the disease may lead to some novel insights and, perhaps, solutions. And the subject that they’re hoping can serve as a window into the study of cancer may surprise you: ecology.

On face value, oncology and ecology seem vastly different. For starters, one is localized to specific cells in the body, while the other by definition spans the entire globe. But rather than labeling cancer as a group of mutated cells, as the thinking goes, we should see cancer as a disruption in the balance of a complex microenvironment in the human body. Like a damaging invasive beetle eating its way through forests in Colorado, a novel disease breaking out in populations of wild birds, or loggers mowing down parts of the Amazon rainforest, cancer throws a monkey wrench into an otherwise placid, balanced system.

This way of thinking makes cancer seem even more complex than it already is, but it could provide insights that ultimately make cancer more treatable, propose researchers from the Moffet Cancer Center in a paper published in the journal Interface Focus

“Einstein is known to have said that everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler,” they write. “It turns out that complexity has its place and, as convenient as it would be for cancer biologists to study tumor cells in isolation, that makes as much sense as trying to understand frogs without considering that they tend to live near swamps and feast on insects.”

We tend to think of cancer only in terms of mutated cells, the authors continue. But adopting this narrow approach is like trying to understand why a frog has a sticky tongue without taking into account that frogs use their tongues to catch insects. Cancer cells, likewise, need context. A voracious cancer cell, for example, may situate itself next to a blood vessel not by chance, but so it can obtain more nutrients and oxygen to support its unlimited division.

Cancer cells must compete within the body for nutrients and other resources, just like animals living in an environment must compete with one another in order to survive. This means that cancer, like any organism, must adapt to its environment in order to thrive. The researchers explain: 

It is now beginning to be widely accepted that cancer is not just a genetic disease but the one in which evolution plays a crucial role. This means that tumour cells evolve, adapt to and change the environment in which they live. The ones that fail to do so will ultimately become extinct. The ones that do, will have a chance to invade and metastasize. The capacity of a tumour cell to adapt to a new environment will thus be determined by environment and the cellular species from the original site, to which it has already painstakingly adapted.

So how can all of this theory be applied in real life? The environmental approach to understanding cancer is so complex that it rules out normal experiments; they could easily go awry with so many different components to consider. Instead, the researchers suggest turning to mathematics and computational for understanding the greater environmental context that leads to cancer. Ecologists use one such mathematical approach, game theory, as a way to study evolutionary biology and the way animals interact: 

The force of natural selection keeps ecosystem denizens focused on optimizing the bottom line: long-term reproduction. In the games studied by evolutionary game theoreticians, individuals compete for available resources using a variety of strategies. These features and behaviours, known as the phenotypic strategy, determine the winners and losers of evolution.

Behavioral strategies may change depending upon both an animal’s nature and the situation’s context. Here’s a hypothetical example, based upon game theory thinking: If two hyenas are digging into a large, tasty wildebeest carcass, they’ll happily share that resource. But if two lions find that same carcass, they will fight for exclusive rights to eating it, meaning one lion emerges victorious and takes all the meaty spoils, while the other gets no food–plus is injured. Finally, if a lion meets a hyena at the carcass, the hyena will bolt, surrendering its goods to the stronger lion. In other words, game theory players can react one of three ways depending upon who they are and what’s going on: they can share, fight or forfeit.

Like a swath of clear-cut jungle or an invasive species slowly spreading out and leaving a trail of damage in its wake, a tumors, like the one above, affects and is affected by the tissue in its surrounding environment. Photo by Flickr user Ed Uthman

Similar games may be played with tumor cells. “A good example would be a tumour with cells that move away when confronted with scarce resources (motile) and cells that stay to use them (proliferative),” the authors write. To make things even more complicated, however, tumor cells are known to change their behavior as they proliferate and metastasize throughout the body, meaning they could switch from a hyena to a lion.

One crucial thing that game theory at an ecosystem level shows us, they continue, is that indiscriminately focusing on killing as many tumor cells as possible might not provide the best outcome for the patient. According to game theory models, the eventual long-term result of the game depends upon specific interactions between the players, not on the number of players involved. Lions will continue to fight one another for food, regardless of whether two lions or 2,000 lions meet. “A treatment based exclusively on indiscriminately removing most (but not all) cancer cells may only have a temporary effect; as in most cases, the original number of tumor cells will eventually be restored and exceeded,” the authors write. 

Instead, game theory indicates that a more effective alternative would be based on trying to change the ways that cells interact with one another and with their environment. This may affect the cells’ behavior, strength and reproductive success, the authors explain, which could drive a tumor’s evolution towards less aggressive cell types, or to a more stable coexistence with non-cancerous cells.

“The ecosystem view is, ultimately, a holistic one that sees cancer progression as a process that emerges from the interactions between multiple cellular species and interactions with the tumour microenvironment,” the authors write. “An ecosystem perspective presents us with intriguing implications,” they say, along with a host of questions about how far the analogy between ecosystems and cancer can be taken.

For example, if cancer cells spread like an invasive species through an ecosystem, what evolutionary gain is achieved when the closed off ecosystem (a body) is irreparably damaged (through a person’s death) such that the pestilence also dies? Unlike a virus, which may kill its host but spread to other hosts in the process, cancer cells themselves, for the most part, have no means of spreading from individual to individual. And are cancer cells taking their cues from processes driven by competition or from cooperation? Thinking more proactively, can non-cancerous cells be triggered so that they behave like lions and usurp cancerous cells’ resources until the cancer is manageable?

While ecology and mathematics likely will not defeat cancer on their own, viewing the disease from this perspective could allow doctors to better predict where in the body tumor cells have the best and worst chances of survival, and how to most effectively prevent them from proliferating.

“The heart of the matter is that an ecological view of tumours does not invalidate but complements and builds upon decades of cancer research and undoubtedly this will lead to a better understanding of the biology of cancer and to new and improved therapies,” the researchers conclude. “We need to properly understand the trees (e.g. every leaf, twig and branch) before we can understand the forest but we cannot afford to ignore the forest because the trees are so interesting on their own.”

75 Years of the Blue Ridge Parkway

Smithsonian Magazine

The sign marking the commencement of construction for the Blue Ridge Parkway is an unassuming gray roadside plaque, a few hundred yards from the North Carolina-Virginia border near Cumberland Knob. The low profile seems appropriate here. The parkway’s pleasures are subtle, harking back to a time when traveling was about the journey, not just the destination.

Around every bend, it seems, awaits another enticing vista, whether it’s a hawk’s-eye view of a river valley, a peaceful pasture crowded with cows, or a tree-covered peak. About 16 million people visited last year, making it the National Park Service’s most popular attraction (by comparison, Yosemite and Yellowstone national parks each attracted over 3 million people in 2009). “The Scenic,” as locals called it in the early days, celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.

On September 11, 1935, about 100 workers started clearing and grading land on Pack Murphy’s farm, beginning the parkway’s initial 12.5-mile-stretch from the Virginia- North Carolina border south to Cumberland Knob. It was the first of 45 segments of the parkway, which traces 469 undulating miles from the northern entrance at Rockfish Gap, Virginia, where it connects to Skyline Drive and Shenandoah National Park, to Cherokee, North Carolina, and the eastern entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The country’s ultimate crooked road tops mountain crests, dips into river valleys and meanders through farmlands and national forests. It crosses four major rivers, more than 100 gaps and six mountain ranges, dropping to 649 feet above sea level near the James River in southwest Virginia and climbing to 6,053 feet near Mount Pisgah, in North Carolina so there’s a wide range of ecosystems.

Planners envisioned the parkway as a new kind of road. “It is the first use of the parkway idea, purely and wholeheartedly for the purposes of tourist recreation distinguished from the purposes of regional travel,” wrote Stanley W. Abbott, the landscape architect whose vision guided the parkway’s design and central themes.

“Like the movie cameraman who shoots his subject from many angles to heighten the drama of his film, so the shifting position of the roadway unfolds a more interesting picture to the traveler,” Abbott wrote in 1939 after much of the route had been set. “The sweeping view over the low country often holds the center of the stage, but seems to exit gracefully enough when the Parkway leaves the ridge for the more gentle slopes and the deeper forests.”

Image by Johner Images / Alamy. The Blue Ridge Parkway crosses four major rivers, more than 100 gaps and six mountain ranges. (original image)

Image by Visuals Unlimited / Corbis. About 16 million people visited the Blue Ridge Parkway, making it the National Park Service's most popular attraction. (original image)

Image by Tony Arruza / Corbis. Along the two-lane road, there is not a single billboard, stop sign or traffic light. (original image)

Image by U.S. National Park Service. A worker surveying the Blue Ridge Parkway corridor. (original image)

Image by U.S. National Park Service. On September 11, 1935, about 100 workers started clearing and grading land on Pack Murphy's farm, beginning the parkway's initial 12.5-mile-stretch from the Virginia-North Carolina border south to Cumberland Knob. (original image)

Image by U.S. National Park Service. Workers line drainage ditches with rocks along the Blue Ridge Parkway. (original image)

Image by U.S. National Park Service. Bridges are built to allow motorists on the Blue Ridge Parkway to cross over streams. (original image)

Image by U.S. National Park Service. Entrances to the parkway appear regularly, but they are unobtrusive with no hint of civilization in sight. (original image)

Along the two-lane road, there is not a single billboard, stop sign or traffic light. Utilities are buried. Signs are few. Only the mile markers are a constant. Entrances to the parkway appear regularly, but they are unobtrusive with no hint of civilization in sight. The parkway succeeds in fulfilling Abbott’s desire to eliminate the “parasitic and unsightly border development of the hot-dog stand, the gasoline shack, and the billboard” so that the natural scenery prevails. Cruising along at the speed limit of 45 miles per hour is like taking a step back in time.

Abbott, who earned his degree from Cornell University and had worked on the Westchester and Bronx River parkways, referred to the parkway as a “managed museum of the American countryside” and he sought to purchase right of ways that would preserve the vistas. He wanted to create a series of “parks within parks,” places to hike, camp, fish and picnic. So at intervals the ribbon of highway, endless skyway, widens to include recreational areas, what Abbott called “beads on a string, the rare gems in the necklace.”

Over the years, the park service has added or restored cultural attractions like the Blue Ridge Music Center at the parkway’s midpoint, which features concerts in an outdoor amphitheater; or Mabry Mill, a century-old gristmill; and Johnson Farm, a restored 1930s living history attraction. The many small towns along the route, like Floyd, Virginia, and Asheville, North Carolina, have seized upon their arts and crafts and musical heritage to become cultural destinations.

“What continues to catch the imagination of the American public and why they come to the parkway is the diversity,” says Dan Brown, who retired from the park service in 2005 after five years as the parkway’s superintendent. “The parkway traverses some of the most outstanding natural areas to be found in the eastern United States and it also travels through some very special cultural lands. The American public has always been intrigued by the southern Appalachian culture. The music and the crafts of the region are second to none.”

A scenic drive along the spine of the Blue Ridge had been proposed as early as 1906. In 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt visited Shenandoah National Park and was impressed by Skyline Drive, then under construction. Senator Harry Flood Byrd of Virginia suggested a mountain road extending to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Roosevelt expressed interest and Byrd secured backing from elected officials in North Carolina and Virginia. On November 24, 1933, Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes announced approval of the parkway and $4 million was allocated to begin work.

Watch this video in the original article

Abbott and his contemporaries were admirers of Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of Central Park. Just like Central Park, the parkway would appear to be natural, but that appearance would be the result of human imposition. Politics would play a part as well, as individual landowners, towns and states fought over the route (North Carolina won the biggest battle over Tennessee to host the southern portion of the parkway).The first 50-mile section near Roanoke opened in April 1939. About two-thirds of the road was completed by 1942, when the war halted construction. All but the section with the Linn Cove Viaduct, in North Carolina, was completed by 1967.

Little of the land was pristine. It had been timbered, farmed and commercialized. So thousands of trees and tons of dirt were moved. Much of the early labor was done by hand. The Public Works Administration’s first contract paid men 30 cents an hour for a six-day week.

“I can’t imagine a more creative job than locating that Blue Ridge Parkway, because you worked with a ten-league canvas and a brush of a comet’s tail. Moss and lichens collected on the shake roof of a Mabry Mill measured against the huge panoramas that look out forever,” Abbott said in an interview years later.

Anne Whisnant, a longtime parkway traveler and author of Super-Scenic Motorway: A Blue Ridge Parkway History, notes that the designers’ desires often met with political reality. “The fact remains they were pushing this through a populated landscape,” she notes, taking land by using eminent domain. The designers wanted a 800-to-1,000-foot right of way, but in Virginia, in particular, they couldn’t get it because the legal mechanisms were not robust enough. To Whisnant, that means the parkway through Virginia is a less satisfying experience, more interrupted by access roads and with more views encroached by development.

Abbott pioneered “scenic easements” that allowed the park service to acquire all development rights without having to pay for the land, in essence buying the view at a considerable savings.

As the park ages and homes along its narrow corridor become more popular, it faces increasing pressure from encroachment of those view sheds. “Most of the parkway landscape, the things people love about it, is borrowed, “ Whisnant says. “There is a big job working closely with those who own the landscape in trying to create some kind of joint sense of benefit so we all work to protect it.”

Looking back, Whisnant says the parkway’s history is comforting when she thinks of the road’s future. “A lot of the problems facing the parkway have been endemic and central since its first day,” she says. “What each generation has to do is take up the challenges, think about them and make decisions. Do we value this or not? If we do, how do we act so it’s preserved? It’s the same thing we’ve done for 75 years.”

Republic RC-3 Seabee

National Air and Space Museum
4-place amphibian; pusher prop.; white w/brown trim; all-metal, single-engine.

The Republic Seabee amphibian was one of the most unusual airplanes to appear on the post-World War II general aviation scene. It was designed as an affordable, all-purpose sport aircraft for transportation as well as a wide spectrum of recreational purposes. The sea/landing capability not only broadened travel options but also provided remote access to fishing, hunting, and many sporting activities, and 1,076 of the aircraft were constructed before a collapsing market terminated its production by Republic in 1948. However, many Seabees are still flying and they remain popular with seaplane pilots.

The Museum acquired the aircraft in 1984 from Robert N. Stiner, who had owned it for the previous fifteen years. In 2001, Stiner donated the aircraft's original propeller blades made from Hartzite, an early type of composite material consisting of fabric impregnated with plastic introduced to offset the effects of water erosion.

The Republic Seabee amphibian was one of the most unusual airplanes to appear on the post-World War II general aviation scene. It was designed as an affordable all-purpose sport aircraft for transportation as well as a broad spectrum of recreational purposes. The sea/land capability not only provided a broader selection of travel options but also remote access to fishing, hunting and many sporting activities.

The design of the Seabee originated as a private venture of Percival H. "Spence" Spencer who flew the all-wood original prototype in 1941. Spencer had designed a number of airplanes in his earlier years and teamed with Vincent Larsen in 1937 to produce a forgettable amphibian known as the Spencer Larsen SL-12. Spencer decided to strike out on his own and, on Long Island in 1940, he developed a more practical design, the Spencer S-12 Amphibian Air Car. It was a two-place, side-by-side amphibian of all-wood construction, with flat sheet plywood shaped to fit the bodylines. The wings and tail structures were fabric covered with wood spars and ribs. It was powered by a 110 hp air-cooled Franklin engine, mounted in a pusher configuration powered the aircraft. The tail was mounted on a structural boom and the wings and tip pontoons were strut-braced. Spencer demonstrated the airplane and intended to go into production, but World War II intervened.

After the war, Spencer worked for Republic Aircraft which had begun to look for a commercial design for sport flying. Some of his colleagues at Republic remembered his Air Car design and Spencer soon sold the rights to Republic in December 1943. He was assigned to help convert the airplane to all metal. Along the way it became a three-place airplane with a bigger engine, metal hull from nose to tail, a tapered smooth skin cantilever wing and single strut-mounted wing floats. The airplane was renamed the Republic RC-1 Thunderbolt Amphibian. It was a good performer but the construction was very labor intensive and the costs began to skyrocket. The original intent was to market the airplane for $3,500 but when the price estimates reached $12,000, the aircraft was redesigned.

The aircraft became a four-place airplane for better utility. The rear seat in the RC-1 had been restricted to one passenger because the partially retracted main wheels were located in wells that protruded into both sides of the rear seat area. To provide space to seat two back seat passengers comfortably, the wheel retraction wells were eliminated and the main landing gear rotated up parallel to the hull. The design increased drag on the aircraft slightly but reduced manufacturing costs and provided a fourth seat. The re-designated RC-3 Seabee was now a model of simplistic lightweight construction in labor and tooling costs. The rivet count, for example, was reduced from 9,650 to 3,440. The fabrication and assembly time was reduced from 2,500 man-hours to a phenomenally low 400. The design changed from a tapered to a straight wing with simple spars and end ribs, and the inclusion of beaded structural skins for the wings and tail surfaces. The hull became nearly a full monocoque bulkhead and skin construction, thus eliminating the usual multiplicity of stringers and intercostals. The wing tip floats were made in two hydro-pressed longitudinal halves that were machine-riveted along their exterior seams.

Operationally, the Seabee was an extremely rugged and versatile aircraft that could take harsh treatment, but it required high maintenance. It had excellent cabin accessibility and a cavernous interior with exceptional visibility. The water handling was outstanding but it was considered less comfortable in land operations. Its in-flight performance was adequate, cruising at 105 mph, but with somewhat heavy flight controls. As a victim of the collapsing market, the projected goal of producing 6,000 Seabees was terminated at 1,076 aircraft in 1948. J. K. Downer of Saginaw, Michigan purchased the design certificate in 1956 and provided spare parts for the remaining Seabee owners. Still underpowered, its owners resorted to several engine conversions, and the United Consultant Corporation marketed the Twin Bee which had two 180 hp Lycoming IO-360 BID engines. This venture was not too successful because of high initial purchase and operating costs. However, many Seabees are still flying and they remain popular with seaplane pilots.

RC-3 Seabee, N6709K, came off of the Republic production line in June 1947 as serial number 992. Robert N. Stiner and Alexander D. MacCallum purchased the airplane on September 16, 1969 from JUL Incorporated of Hato Rey, Puerto Rico. With his son as a passenger, he personally delivered the aircraft to Hyde Field, Maryland, on September 6, 1984. It had logged 835 flight hours and came equipped with the 215 hp Franklin engine and the optional Hartzell controllable and reversible propeller, with aluminum blades. The ability to alter the blade pitch, or angle, of the propeller increased performance at takeoff and cruise and facilitated maneuverability of the water.

In 2001, Stiner donated the aircraft's original propeller blades made from Hartzite, an early type of composite material consisting of fabric impregnated with plastic that Hartzell introduced to offset the effects of water erosion. Over the years, owners often replaced them with aluminum alloy blades because the Hartzite blades began to disintegrate when the laminate coating wore off.

Delegate

National Museum of African American History and Culture
A 1976 issue of Delegate magazine published by MelPat Associates. The cover of the magazine features a collage of cropped black and white photographic portraits. In the center is an angled blue square with text that reads [DELEGATE] in white text and [76] in striped red and white text, with a circle of stars in the center of the six [6]. Black text on the white spine reads [BI-CENNTENNIAL EDITION - DELEGATE 1976].

The magazine’s content opens on the first page with an editorial note titled “The Long Journey from the back of the bus,” about how this issue of the Delegate will focus on “200 years of Contributions Blacks gave this nation as part of our Bicentennial Celebration.” There is also a masthead reading [DELEGATE, 1976] and a table of contents.

The majority of this issue consists of a 137 page article titled “The Negro in America, 1550-1976.” The content then continues with articles and profiles of African American business organizations, business leaders, community organizations, sororities, fraternities, doctors, dentists, politicians, actors, and journalists. This includes the National Association of Black Social Workers, The National Caucus of Black School Board Members, Prince Hall Masons, Prince Hall Grand Lodge, Empire State Medical Association, National Newspaper Publishers Association, Links, Chi Delta Mu Fraternity, NAACP, Navy, Elks of the World, Democratic Party, Chi Eta Phi, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Common Cause Ladies, National Association of Business and Professional Negro Womens Club, National United Church Ushers Association, Eta Phi Beta Sorority, National Bar Association, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, National Urban League, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, NBC, National Medical Association, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, National Association of Negro Women, CBS, Shriners, Daughters of Isis, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Republican National Convention, Museum of Art, Whitney M. Young Classic, Black Caucus, 369th Veterans Association, Phi Beta Sigma, Paul Robeson and Langston Hughes, Edges,

The issue concludes with a “Lest We Forget” page with a list of individuals who had passed away, including Ezzard Charles and Paul Robeson. There are approximately 348 pages with black and white photographs and advertisements throughout, as well as a few advertisements in color. The back cover of the magazine features a full page advertisement for Kool cigarettes.

What Does It Mean to Be American Muslim?

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

Speaking from a tented stage to a live audience, Nazea Khan related an interaction she had with her friends:

“The other day, I was buying some supplies for the Fourth of July, and some of my friends were like, ‘Yo, Nazea, why are you buying stuff for a party for America, for a country that doesn’t love you?’”

Without pausing, she told them they were wrong.

“There are some people in this country who don’t love me, but I am who I am because America has given me the opportunities that I have today, and I am a very proud, unapologetic, Muslim American, Bengali teen—and that’s just who I am.”

Nazea finished her story with a rueful laugh. As spectators clapped loudly, a woman shouted, “Perfect. Perfect.”

Despite the humidity and extreme heat, visitors had crowded On the Move’s Story Circle stage at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The panel, “Generations on the Move: What Does It Mean to be American Muslim?” had garnered one of the program’s largest audiences. While there, I glanced at some visitors in the front row. The strains of the current political climate traced their faces like a map. A stack of tote bags sat nearby, stamped with the logo of the Muslim Community Center (MCC).

“Don’t forget to grab one after,” urged president Usman Sarwar.

As the panelists explained, MCC offers a unique space for them to practice their faith in Silver Spring, Maryland. Consisting of one of the oldest mosques in the Washington, D.C., area, the center extends a variety of services, including medical care, youth group, and interfaith meetings. As a youth organizer for the Muslim Youth Organization, Nazea valued the opportunity to reach out to other teens in a similar position as herself. She smiled easily as she spoke, describing her role at MCC with a light, affable demeanor.

For Sanjana Quasem, an organizer for the Young Adults and Professionals Program, there are no set markers that delineate between her American and Muslim identities. These angles reflect off each other, creating a kaleidoscope of memory and feeling.

As she explained, her words quick and firm, “I’m an American that just happens to be Muslim.”

Yet, the rise of inflammatory political rhetoric against Islam has left Sanjana and others struggling to find their footing in a sometimes hostile sphere. Recently, the Southern Poverty Law Center released its annual census of extremist organizations, which stated that anti-Muslim hate groups nearly tripled in 2016.

The dramatic surge in acts of violence against Muslims continues to leave significant wounds upon the broader community. According to CNN, in early 2017, four mosques across the country were burned down within weeks of each other. In May, a man hurled anti-Muslim insults at two young women on a commuter train in Portland, Oregon; when three men intervened to help the girls, two of them were fatally stabbed.

In a moment of vulnerability, Sanjana said, “You get used to the trauma.” She referenced the heavy weight of the political environment, as well as the unavoidable internalization of both fear and anxiety in her daily life.

American Muslim panel at the 2017 Folklife Festival
(L-R) Sabir Rahman, Sanjana Quasem, Nazea Khan, Abdiaziz Ahmed, and Usman Sarwar at the 2017 Folklife Festival.
Video still by Helen Lehrer

Throughout the panel, I witnessed the participants measure each word carefully. We were in a country that had recently instituted a travel ban, that had considered the implementation of a Muslim registry, and seen an influx of anti-Muslim hate crimes. Although the participants acknowledged the growing Islamophobia in the United States, they had tried not to let these realities dictate the conversation.

As they shared their perspectives, they balanced their external struggles with their personal triumphs. Positive and upbeat, Nazea stressed the affirming aspects of her identity, as did Aziz Ahmed, who said that the United States bolstered his reclamation of self as a “proud Muslim.” Similarly, Sanjana asserted that the difficulties she experienced only cemented the importance of Islam in her life.

After the panel ended, I walked across the National Mall with Sanjana, Nazea, and Aziz as they candidly conversed about the flawed reasoning that guides much of the criticism against Islam. One woman asked Nazea why she continued to wear the hijab when it upset others in public—she believed Nazea could “blend in” if she simply took it off. Two other visitors approached Aziz, a soft-spoken college freshman, and inquired about the Islamic oppression of women. Sanjana rolled her eyes.  

Although these questions may appear naive, they are rooted in racialized misconceptions of Muslim practice. Word choice matters. When they encourage Muslim women to take off their hijabs to “fit in,” they place the burden of assimilation on perceived “outsiders.” In this moment, they do not criticize those who hurl slurs and insults. They do not criticize those who actively perpetuate violence—including arson, assault, and murder—against a community solely on the basis of their religion. By asking young girls to take off their hijabs, they imply that head coverings, rather than racist attitudes, incite chaos. 

“It’s really frustrating, especially in a society where we talk so much about freedom of choice, that it’s difficult for people to understand that this—” Sanjana paused and touched her yellow hijab, “—can be a choice.” She passionately described the ways in which the stereotypical portrayals of Muslim women frustrated her. Rather than focus on her contributions to the community, many people “just see the hijab.” As she spoke, she leaned forward in her chair, parsing her thoughts quickly. “It’s not the oppression of religion, it’s the oppression that other folks are putting upon me in seeing the hijab.”

During the Q&A segment of the panel, it became clear that some of us live lives markedly separate from the realities of American intervention and suppression. Many of us exist easily, freely, without finding our actions constantly politicized, dissected, scrutinized. Each panelist discussed the pressure to speak not just for themselves, but for a whole group.

“We have to be perfect in everything that we say,” Aziz said. “We have to be the spokespeople for 1.6 billion people, which is sometimes very hard to do.”

During our interview, they laughed self-deprecatingly at the idea that they have all the answers to Islam.

“We’re not well-versed in every single matter pertaining to our religion, but we can tell you why we are Muslims and why we do what we do,” Aziz clarified.

While they do not want to be reduced to their religion, they do redefine their faith on their own terms—sidestepping the negative, highly prescriptive constructions of Islam that have flooded news outlets and pop culture. In this way, the expectation to act as a “spokesperson” for Islam has transformed into what Nazea calls “a burden and an opportunity.” Their efforts to better understand their faith and to contextualize its presence in their daily lives fortifies their belief.

“In some weird way, it’s forced me to get more in touch with my religion and learn about it and actually value it more,” Sanjana said.

American Muslim panel at the 2017 Folklife Festival
Sanjana Quasem and Nazea Khan at the 2017 Folklife Festival.
Video still by Helen Lehrer

Despite its difficulties, they emphasized that they want people to ask questions rather than harbor misconceptions. When responding to the two visitors, Aziz explained that religion and culture are two different spheres. Cultural misogyny can shape the way a person interprets a specific religion, but that doesn’t mean that the religion itself is inherently misogynistic.

After the enactment of President Trump’s travel ban, Sabir Rahman, an older panelist who emigrated from Pakistan in his mid-twenties, noted that the swell of support from other Americans helped mitigate the effect of hateful reactions. He welcomed burgeoning friendships with advocates and new allies. If the devastating consequences of the September 11 attacks proved isolating, the aftermath of the travel ban appeared to be a bittersweet synthesis. While Sabir had certainly felt the impact of mounting political antagonism, he had also experienced a heightened sense of kinship. For Sabir, he palpably felt the truth behind the words, “We are with you.” 

According to Usman, over a thousand people of other faiths have visited MCC since January. He repeatedly highlighted the ways in which community backing had positively shaped the environment of the center.

“They want to know who we are. They want to support us. We’ve had flowers sent to us. We’ve had cards from churches sent to us.” Visibly touched, Usman added, “This time we have so much support and, I want to emphasize, it means the world to us.”

Before the program ended, he thanked the Festival for providing a platform for American Muslims to speak for themselves. As he noted, “The best thing is to break bread and have dialogue.”

Michelle Mehrtens is a documentary production intern at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and a recent graduate of Brown University, where she studied English and history. Her work at the Center is part of the Katzenberger Foundation Art History Internship program.

An Editor's Note

Smithsonian Magazine

This month the University of Missouri Press is publishing A Love Affair with Life & Smithsonian by Edward K. Thompson, the founding editor of this magazine. The match is fitting, since the university is the home of a distinguished journalism school, and the author is a legendary figure in the history of American magazines.

What follows is hardly an objective review of Thompson's professional autobiography, since I worked under him briefly at the old weekly Life — like most young reporters, regarding him with a combination of admiration and sheer terror. Later he would hire me at Smithsonian. Bias aside, it seems appropriate to offer some comment here for readers who are interested in how this magazine was born, for young people who aspire to careers in journalism and, indeed, for anyone who would like to view some key events of the past seven decades through a perceptive and uniquely positioned lens.

Born in 1907 in St. Thomas, North Dakota (pop. 500), Thompson grew up listening to the howls of wolves outside of town and sometimes walking to school in weather that could hit 52 below zero. At the age of 13, after a trip through Yellowstone Park, he sold his first piece of professional work, a picture of a bear eating garbage, to Boy's Life for the handsome sum of $1 — and never looked back. After editing the student newspaper at the University of North Dakota, where he locked horns with the local Klavern of the Ku Klux Klan, he held a succession of newspaper jobs at a time when practitioners of that trade were more raffish, more freewheeling and maybe more fun, than in the years since.

At the weekly Foster County Independent he honed his skills by editing articles on such events as a "birthday lunch for someone's mother, a lawn party for the American Legionnaire children, a regular meeting of a women's lodge and an auction." Somehow he remained in management's good graces even after having a dustup with the county judge (when Thompson printed what the judge actually said about the state's legal red tape, the judge exploded: "You put dat in da paper?") and wrecking the boss' car by running into a cow.

At the daily Fargo Forum, Thompson's news sources were hotel clerks, cops, waitresses, night nurses and undertakers. There he learned to equivocate when the top editor would call in from a late, wet party to propose a story that he'd be appalled to see in print the morning after.

At age 21, Thompson moved on to the big time — the Pulitzer Prize-winning Milwaukee Journal. There his colleagues were news editor "Scoop" Arnold, "Stuffy" Walters (whose copy desk was a "dangerous place") and "Cap" Manly, a star reporter who sang Gilbert and Sullivan and slugged cops when he got drunk. The fiction editor (newspapers published short stories in those days) and the political cartoonist hated each other so much that they "drew each other's faces on villains and dogs." The photographers had burn scars on their arms from the flash powder they used. When the Depression hit, the pay envelope was apt to be filled with nickels, dimes and quarters collected by the Journal's newsboys. Even so, after sleeping in a nearby flophouse when he had to stay handy to the paper, Thompson was admonished by the news editor: "You work for the Milwaukee Journal . . . no matter what you pay, never again claim less than $5 a night."

Thompson recognized that the 35mm camera and candid photography were changing the face of journalism, and soon won a reputation for his picture layouts at the Journal. In 1937 he was hired by Henry Luce's new picture magazine, Life. With his instinct for the telling photograph and a common touch perhaps nurtured by his North Dakota upbringing (to say nothing of an admittedly large ego and a feeling for how to play corporate politics both competitively and honorably), he prospered there. In 1946, when someone else beat him in a contest to be Life's top editor, he told Luce: "You have the wrong man." He became the right man a few years later, and the Life that many of us remember is to a great degree the Life that Thompson made-the Life of great news photographs, of the light-hearted "Speaking of Pictures," of such series as "The World We Live In" and "The World's Great Religions," of the picture essays like W. Eugene Smith's "Country Doctor."

As managing editor he was notorious for mumbling so incomprehensibly that after layout sessions his editors would caucus to try to figure out what he had said. (It was widely believed that he mumbled on purpose-although I would later discover that he did not mind in the least being asked to repeat himself.) And his attempts to play the role of curmudgeon were usually derailed by his basic humanity.

At Life, in those days when television was not yet a force, anything was possible. Whether it was the McCarthy hearings or the Hiss trials or the launching of the first Americans into space, Life, and Thompson, were there. To cover major events like political conventions, Thompson deployed photographers by the dozen to shoot pictures by the thousands. To beat the competition, he sent reporters waving hundred-dollar bills to buy photographs from the survivors of an airplane crash in the Pacific. What he liked best was tearing up an issue at the last minute and starting again from scratch. A colleague wrote: "Thompson would brighten perceptibly when there was any prospect of a late-breaking story turning a long day's work into a longer night's."

It was customary for Life to publish the memoirs of important figures, and it fell to Thompson to do the requisite celebrity hand-holding. He recounts his experiences briskly but with relish. The Duke of Windsor seemed to believe that he had composed his ghost-written memoirs himself, although when he wrote captions for the illustrations in the article, he "performed almost competently." Winston Churchill, who could take justifiable pride in his prose, responded amiably to being edited, although his table manners when eating caviar left something to be desired.

No athlete, Thompson found himself puffing along with Harry Truman on one of his brisk morning walks and was told that if he kept up the regimen he'd live to be 100. (He's working on it-Thompson is 88 today.)

Thompson worked closely with Douglas MacArthur on his memoirs, and writes: "If you have genuine MacArthur prose, you find that purple becomes the color of choice." Yet Thompson seems to have had a real affection for the general, who by then was frail and trembling with palsy. When they parted for the last time, MacArthur walked him to the door and said: "I've looked that old devil, Death, in the eye a hundred times. But this time I think he's got me."

In 1952 Life published The Old Man and the Sea, thus beginning a not entirely comfortable relationship with Ernest Hemingway. When Alfred Eisenstaedt went to Cuba to photograph him, Hemingway wanted to pose in swimming trunks. "My body," he said. "Women love my body." On a subsequent assignment to write a 4,000-word piece on bullfighting, Hemingway turned in monstrous expense accounts — his custom was to walk into a bar and buy drinks for the house. When he finally delivered his manuscript, it came in at a staggering 108,746 words (Hemingway counted them himself). Trying to turn it into something manageable, Life's editors had to cope with the author as prima donna. Thompson observes: "He was fiercer in defense of doubtful material than when he knew they were dealing with his best."

The most revealing portrait in the book is of Thompson's inscrutable, stubborn, often brilliant boss, Henry Luce. He possessed "an almost painful integrity and pride in his work," Thompson writes. "And when he did have bad ideas, one soon learned — by trial and error — which ones he could be talked out of and which could be quietly ignored and left to collapse of their own weight."

Luce lived in a world of his own. In Rome while his wife, Clare Boothe Luce, was Ambassador to Italy, he had his own office in a building where there was a charge for using the elevator. Since Luce never thought to carry change, "Time Inc. furnished the elevator operator with lira and several portraits of Harry from different angles so that the fees would be paid on his behalf." When his flight was delayed on a trip to Europe, an exasperated Luce ordered an assistant to "call Juan Trippe [who then ran Pan Am] and tell him to get his goddamned plane off the ground." Irritated by the fact that his executives had to pay such high taxes, Luce came up with a cockamamy scheme for providing them such perks as household servants or vacations aboard a corporate yacht. "Those in the highest salary brackets would get two full-time servants . . . and so on down to one cleaning woman once or twice a week." The idea collapsed when Luce learned that perks were taxable too.

Nevertheless, Thompson admired Luce for his seriousness of purpose, his business acumen, and his willingness to gamble on his own ideas and those of his editors. When he was offered the top job at Life, Thompson was asked by colleagues how he could abide the thought of working for someone who wasn't a regular guy. He concluded: "He was enough of a regular guy for me."

In 1970, having retired from Time Inc., Thompson became the founding editor and publisher of Smithsonian. He says he "invented" it. In fact, he did. S. Dillon Ripley, then Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, wanted a popular magazine that would extend the Institution's reach, and he left it to Thompson to carry out the mission. In the book, his stories about the early days of Smithsonian — the shaky finances, the uncertain backing of the Board of Regents, the surprising (although not to him) early success — may be familiar to our regular readers. A monthly magazine, with its stately pace, is less productive of last-minute crises and high drama than a newsweekly. But the fact is that Thompson ran this magazine for the first decade of its life, and although there have been changes — he probably does not approve of all of them — it bears his stamp today.

If there's a message in Ed Thompson's book, it comes not at the end but in the very first sentence. "To those all-out converts to computerized journalism who declaim that 'print is dead,' I say, 'Not so fast.'"

By Don Moser

McMillan synchrotron assembly

National Museum of American History
Object N-09261.01 consists of an assembly of numerous major subparts or components, most of which were separated during dismantling after the NMAH Atom Smashers exhibition closed.

The major subparts include: coils carrying current to produce magnetic field; laminated steel yoke to provide path for the lines of magnetic field; aluminum clamps and steel tie-bars for clamping magnetic yoke together horizontally; "strong back" for clamping magnet together vertically; toroid-shaped vacuum chamber ("donut") in which the electrons circulate and are accelerated; high vacuum oil diffusion pump for evacuating air from vacuum chamber; assembly for remote positioning of high voltage injector (electron gun); source and transmission line for voltage pulse to injector (electron gun); high voltage transformer (110 kV) of pulse to injector (electron gun); radiation warning light; lead shielding wall to prevent stray radiation from interfering with experiments; magnet to sweep out stray electrons, etc., contaminating the x-ray beam; x-ray beam line; tapered lead plugs for making x-ray beam parallel; electrometer connected to ionization chamber in path of beam (measures beam intensity); crash button; "patch panel" for electronic connections between experiment area and "counting room"; peripheral and/or connecting elements, such as conduit containing cables carrying electric current to upper coil, current-carrying coil for producing magnetic field guide, air blower to cool magnet coils, oscillator to generate 47MHz electric field for accelerating electrons, oil diffusion pump to evacuate acceleration (vacuum) chamber, vacuum-insulated storage vessel ("Dewar") for liquid nitrogen, liquid nitrogen receptacle ("cold trap") to improve vacuum in acceleration chamber by freezing out vapors, target, evacuation port, injector (electron gun), evacuation port, synchrotron light port, RF power input.

Along with the McMillan synchrotron assembly proper N-09261.01, there are 25 related objects in this accession with catalog numbers .02-.26. Mimsy XG catalog records have been created for 13 of the objects in this accession. Additional items: a cross-section of the vacuum chamber and magnet pole pieces are in a separate accession (1978.2302.06) under catalog ID N-10012. There is also a related non-accessioned item N-10022, "Synchrotron Counting Room" sign.

Basic Principles and History

The methods of particle acceleration used before WWII were approaching their limits. The size and cost of cyclotrons and betatrons with ever increasing particle output energy had grown substantially. (See “basic principle of the cyclotron” in Background on Dunning Cyclotron; Object id no. 1978.1074.01 in Modern Physics Collection). For accelerating particles to the highest energies in circular machines, the “synchrotron” was developed in the mid-1940s. In contrast to a cyclotron, particles in a synchrotron are constrained to move in a circle of constant radius by the use of a ring of electromagnets, open in the middle and so much less massive than an equivalent cyclotron magnet. The magnetic field is varied in such a way that the radius of curvature remains constant as the particles gain energy through successive accelerations by a synchronized alternating electric field.

Towards the end of WWII Vladimir Veksler in the USSR and Edwin M. McMillan in the USA independently advanced the following “principle of phase stability”; 1) charged particles forced into a circular path by a magnetic field and accelerated by an oscillating electric field will “bunch” if they lie in the proper phase or “side” of the electric wave; and 2) these particle bunches, if confined in buckets, can be carried to higher energies by gradually increasing the magnetic guide field (as in the electron synchrotron), or by decreasing the oscillation frequency of the electric accelerating field (as in the synchro-cyclotron), or increasing both magnetic field and the electric oscillation frequency (as in the proton synchrotron).

After considerable difficulties and some changes in design, McMillan’s synchrotron began operating in the winter of 1948-49 at its intended energy of about 300 million volts – thought to sufficient to produce subatomic particles called mesons, with a mass between that of the electron and the proton. (In later years mesons would be defined as “hadronic” particles composed of one quark and one antiquark bound together by the strong interaction.) Note: The synchrotron electrons never were brought out of the machine, but were brought into collision with an internal target to produce photons with the bremsstrahlung spectrum; these emerging photon beams (x-rays) would then be used to produce the mesons.

Among the first and most significant experiments performed with this accelerator was production of a new subatomic particle, the “pi-zero” meson. Theoretical physicists had previously predicted the existence of an electrically neutral variety of such particles observed in cosmic rays. In this experiment, J. Steinberger, W.K.H. Panofsky, and J. Steller provided convincing evidence that such charge-neutral mesons were produced by the 330 MeV x-rays emerging from the synchrotron and striking an external target. The experimenters looked for the pair of simultaneous photons into which the unstable meson was expected to decay. They found that the energies of these two photons, and the angle between them, were just what would result from the decay in flight of a particle mass about 150 times that of an electron, moving with a velocity expected for such particles were they created by 300 MeV x-rays. A reproduction of the apparatus for this experiment, made for the NMAH Atom Smashers exhibition, is in the Modern Physics Collection (Object ID no. 1989.3014.01).

Virtually all circular high-energy particle accelerators built since WWII have been based on the principle of phase stability. Although particle energies attainable by pre-War accelerator concepts were sufficient for atom smashing (splitting the nucleus in a target atom), they were not high enough to create the sub-atomic particles that had been discovered in cosmic rays in the 1930’s. With the principle of phase stability, and the ability to build particle accelerators based upon it, the field of “high-energy” or “elementary particle physics” came into existence.

Five Wild Ideas: From a Vest for Weight Loss to an Electric Skateboard

Smithsonian Magazine

The average American worker spends 13 hours sitting every day at home and at work. Some plant their feet squarely on the ground underneath their desks, but others sit cross-legged or prop their feet up.

For the latter set, Matt Hulme and Brent Murray, two Brigham Young University students from Provo, Utah, have invented the Foot Hammock. Exactly what it sounds like, the product is a miniature mesh or fleece hammock, intended to improve a user's posture, that attaches, with adhesive hooks, to the bottom of any desk. A Kickstarter campaign for the product, which wrapped five days ago, raised $113, 212, blowing its original $15,000 goal out of the water. Who knew?

Here are five other quirky ideas that were funded this week:

The Cold Shoulder Calorie Burning Vest (Goal: $13,500 Raised: $281,319 on Kickstarter)

In order to stay warm when it’s cold, the body must burn extra calories. This logic is the inspiration behind the Cold Shoulder vest, the latest in unconventional approaches to weight loss. The idea comes from NASA scientist Wayne Hayes, who believes that people can drop pounds, even while sedentary, by wearing a garment lined with ice packs.

Users place the vest in the freezer, and once it’s frozen, take it out to wear anytime. Watching television? Commuting to work? Put it on. Through mild cold exposure, Hayes claims that wearers can burn 500 calories daily, which could amount to a pound of fat per week. He also emphasizes the vest's casual wearability. Luckily, his wife was able to talk him out of wearing it at their wedding.

Zboard: An Advanced Electric Skateboard (Goal: $50,000 Raised: $435,000 on Indiegogo)

Bikes may soon have to make way for the Zboard 2, an electric skateboard that starts, stops and adjusts its speed based on the rider subtly shifting weight. Fans of extreme sports, the Northern California inventors of the product want to offer a fun but reliable mode of transportation for short distances.

The lightweight, waterproof board, equipped with LED lights, charges in 90 minutes and tops out at 20 miles per hour, although speed is at the user’s discretion. There are currently two models available: the Blue, which can traverse 16 miles on a charge, and the Pearl, which can cover 24.

Neeo Remote: Universal remote control (Goal: $50,000 Raised: $1,558,280 on Kickstarter)

A Cupertino, California team of designers and engineers has taken the sci-fi notion of a universal remote and made it a reality. Neeo is a two-piece home automation system, consisting of a remote and a “brain."

The brain—a stationary, oval-shaped device that can be placed anywhere in the house—connects to any infrared and Wi-Fi products in the home, including lighting, window shades, the television and speaker systems. It is compatible with over 10,000 home appliances, such as Nest, Sonos and Apple TV. With the remote, the user is able to control all these devices from one place. Just don't lose it.

Facets: Building Blocks of 3D Geometry (Goal: $12,500 Raised: $36,864 on Kickstarter) 

The next-generation of building blocks. (Kickstarter)

Ron Worley, a Las Vegas toymaker, has a fascination for Archimedean solids. If you need a little geometry refresher, these form when two-dimensional shapes, like triangles, rectangles and pentagons, meet at different edges to create something three-dimensional. And to share his nerdy obsession, he created Facets, a set of magnetized blocks that connect at interesting angles. With a set of these dandy things, kids (and adults!) can move beyond the basic tower and build something more reminiscent of a complex molecular model.

Modus Sketching Tool (Goal: $1,400 Raised: $25,754 on Kickstarter)

Modus is a protractor, ruler and compass, all in one. (Kickstarter)

Move over, melon baller. Watch out, egg separator. Sayonara, mango slicer. The Modus puts unitaskers to shame. By Shard Designs of Pleasanton, California, the slick, metal tool boasts 11 uses. It fulfills an artist's many needs, serving as a portable ruler, compass, protractor, T-square and more. The size of a credit card, the Modus can easily stowed in a wallet, where it actually protects against RFID theft.

What the Heck is Cuneiform, Anyway?

Smithsonian Magazine

Cuneiform made headlines recently with the discovery of 22 new lines from the Epic of Gilgamesh, found on tablet fragments in Iraq. As remarkable as is the discovery of new bits of millennia-old literature is the story of cuneiform itself, a now obscure but once exceedingly influential writing system, the world’s first examples of handwriting. 

Cuneiform, was invented some 6,000 years ago in what is now southern Iraq, and it was most often written on iPhone-sized clay tablets a few inches square and an inch high. Deciding to use clay for a writing surface was ingenious: vellum, parchment, papyrus and paper—other writing surfaces people have used in the past—deteriorate easily. But not clay, which has proven to be the most durable, and perhaps most sustainable, writing surface humanity has used.

           

Cuneiform means "wedge-shaped," a term the Greeks used to describe the look of the signs. It was used to write at least a dozen languages, just as the alphabet that you are reading now is also (for the most part) used in Spanish, German and many other languages. It looks like a series of lines and triangles, as each sign is comprised of marks—triangular, vertical, diagonal, and horizontal—impressed onto wet clay with a stylus, a long thin instrument similar to a pen. Sometimes cuneiform was formed into prisms, larger tablets and cylinders, but mainly it was written on palm-sized pieces of clay. The script is often tiny—almost too small to see with the naked eye, as small the smallest letters on a dime. Why so tiny? That remains one of cuneiform’s biggest mysteries.

Most agree that cuneiform began as proto-writing--like African drumming and Incan quipa – and evolved into the first full-fledged writing system, with signs corresponding to speech. The root of cuneiform lies in tokens, or chits, used by Sumerians to convey information. For example, they would take a stone and declare it a representation for something else. A sheep, say. A bunch of stones might mean a bunch of sheep. These stone tokens would sometimes be placed in a container, and given to someone else as a form of receipt—not that different from what we do today when we hand currency with numbers on it to buy a quart of milk, and the clerk gives us back a piece of paper with numbers on it to confirm the transaction. 

By the 4th century B.C., the Sumerians had taken this system to another level of abstraction and efficiency, moving it from proto-writing to writing.  They began using clay containers instead of cloth ones, and instead of putting stones inside of them, they stamped the outside of the envelopes that indicated the number and type of tokens inside. One could then "read" the envelope to know what information was being conveyed. 

Gradually, Sumerians developed symbols for words.  At first these phonemes (one symbol for one thing, instead of letters to make a word) symbolized concrete things; for example, an image of a sheep meant a literal sheep. Then another leap of abstraction was introduced when symbols were developed for intangible ideas, such as God, or women. Cuneiform, in other words, evolved from a way to track and store information into a way to explain the world symbolically. 

The marks became more abstract over the centuries . They likely began as pictographic-- sheep symbol for a sheep--but they evolved into signs that look nothing like what they refer to, just as the letters “s-h-e-e-p” have no visual connection to a woolly, four-legged animal. These marks and signs took the form of triangular wedge shapes.

Cuneiform marks became more abstract because it made the system more efficient: they were fewer marks to learn. And for the most part, cuneiform needed to become more complex because society was becoming so as well. The origins of writing lie in the need to keep better records, not, as many might assume or wish, to express oneself, create art, or pray. Most agree cuneiform developed primarily for accounting purposes: while we can’t know about tablets that have been lost, about 75 percent of the cuneiform that has been excavated and translated contains administrative information.

Mundane as this story is concerning why writing was invented—to record sheep sales—the story of how it was later decoded is spectacular. It is somewhat miraculous that we can translate these wedges. For hundreds of years, no one could. Even though cuneiform was used for millennia—and much of it, incised on rocks in Persia, was in plain view for centuries after it ceased to be used--the language was unintelligible for almost 2,000 years. Not until 1837, two years after British army officer Henry Rawlinson copied down inscriptions from the steep cliffs of Behistun could anyone know what the marks said.

Rawlinson’s feat was incredible. He had to climb up cliffs on a very narrow ledge in the middle of an enormous mountain in order to copy down what he saw. And how those marks were made continues to defy logic or explanation: the angle and height of the incisions seem to preclude the possibility of a chiseler on a ladder. Rawlinson at least figured out how to copy the marks, by making paper impressions as he stood, perilously, on the ledge.

Then he took them home, and studied them for years to determine what each line stood for, what each group of symbols meant. Eventually, he decoded the markets that had sat in the open for some 5,000 years, thereby cracking the cuneiform code. (The inscriptions describe the life of Darius the Great, king of the Persian Empire in the 5th century B.C. , as well as descriptions of his victories over rebels during his reign.) As with the Rosetta Stone, on which the same text is written in hieroglyphics, demotic, and Greek, Rawlinson discovered the cliffs of Behistun also contained the same words written three times in three different languages: Old Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian. Since the other languages had been translated, he could thus translate cuneiform. 

Fifteen other languages developed from cuneiform, including Old Persian, Akkadian and Elamite. It was taught as a classical or dead language for generations after it ceased to be a living language. It was taught to those who spoke Aramaic and Assyrian, but who read, copied and recopied Sumerian literary works. By 1600 BC, no Sumerian speakers were alive, but cuneiform was still used for another thousand years. Today, it strikes us a somehow hauntingly familiar: cool, hard, palm-sized tablets onto which receipts, notes, messages and even great works of literature are written and read.

Historical events turned into evening attire

National Museum of American History

Celebrities today have their own clothing lines, perfumes, and even cosmetic labels. What if the founders of our country had the same publicity? Hiram Royal Mallinson gave American history that treatment in his company's Early American series of silks.

Mallinson was the owner of H.R Mallinson Co., a large American silk manufacturer. During the spring of 1929, Mallinson produced a series called Early American, with designs depicting American stories and events. The silks that appealed to me the most involved George Washington, Betsy Ross, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, and a Showboat from New Orleans. These prints follow a patriotic pattern, some with angled designs fitting into the 1920s Jazz Age styling. I was curious why this imagery was selected and, as an intern in the textiles collection, I was able to do some research on these beautiful silks.

While not many were used in ready-to-wear clothing, individuals would purchase a few yards and create perhaps a dress or blouse and scarf, or hat and purse, or a cravat and pocket squares. What fascinates me about these designs is the time period in which they were created. While the Stock Market Crash of 1929 affected American lifestyles, or perhaps evoked a patriotic resurgence, these silks were introduced the spring before the crash.

So why the focus on early American history? A possible reason for the expressive line points to the year 1926. In 1926, Stehli Silks produced an American popular culture line called Americana Silks. For example, one of the Stehli designs included a design by illustrator Ralph Barton titled "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," based on the book with the same title by Anita Loos. Perhaps in response, Mallinson's designs highlight American icons, focusing on scenes commonly viewed as important facets of our history and characteristics those iconic figures represented. Whether Mallinson produced this line for a straight profit or because he wanted to convey beliefs of what Americans should understand about their history, 21st-century viewers will have their own perspectives on this vibrant line.

Fabric with vignettes, including Mt. Vernon, Washington as a leader, trees. Dark maroon-brown colors, light yellow, orange, and black swirl-like shapes.

Within this the design is a collage of George Washington's achievements. While Washington could have his very own spring collection with each individual achievement, Mallinson focused on just a few: Washington taking command of his army, Valley Forge, Washington at Mount Vernon, with his mother, and his inaugurations. These scenes focus on "the perfect American character," made clear in Mallinson's description on the print in his catalog, "Early American Series." Characteristics that Americans should aspire to, such as bravery, leadership, and integrity, qualities that commanded respect, are shown in "The Life of George Washington" design.

Purple fabric with geometric streaks of lavender, violet, pink, and white. Vignettes include figures, churches/grand buildings, etc.

Purple fabric with geometric streaks of lavender, violet, pink, and white. Vignettes include figures, churches/grand buildings, etc.

Just as the Washington silk depicted him as the "perfect American," this design equates Betsy Ross with patriotism. The story goes that when asked by Washington to create a flag, Ross did so within 24 hours. The scenes chosen here are the Liberty Bell, 13 stars with the original colonies' seals inside them, Washington asking for her help, and Independence Hall. Ross's story symbolized initiative, passion, and devotion to her country.

Fabric in black, hot orange, red, and white, including images of Franklin at his printing press, a globe, musical notes.

The legacy Americans have left behind through the centuries can speak deeply to what the nation stands for. Benjamin Franklin, for example, left a legacy of involvement in scientific and technological experimentation and innovation. The scenes depicted here use Franklin's printing press and his experiments with kite, key, and lightning as the basis for celebration of a whole raft of later inventions. The design linked great American innovation from humble colonial beginnings to the technological explosion of the 20th century.

Fabric with vignettes, including Lincoln cutting rails, the Lincoln Memorial, and large trees.

While Washington, Ross, and Franklin speak to active characters, patriotism, and innovation, the "Life of Lincoln" design seems more introspective. Depicted in Lincoln's design are images of him studying by firelight and splitting rails, and then the White House, and the Lincoln Memorial. Lincoln represents a different approach to his leadership role. While the Washington design shows a strong commanding leader, this design presents a more humble and peaceful figure. Mallinson could have focused on Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, or on his career in law, but instead he shows him as a barefoot man, working with his hands and educating himself. Lincoln represents tolerance, humility, and patience. The images of the president's house and the memorial built to honor Lincoln's memory speak to his role as a preserver of the Union.

Fabric with colors of cobalt blue, lemon yellow, brick red, white, and light peach. Scenes include a boat, flowers, cotton, and figures.

The previous images speak to the greatness of our country; the Showboat on the Mississippi does too, but with a twist. The scenes on this silk depict a pre-Civil War Southern culture, represented by scenes of life in New Orleans, including images of African Americans. Depicted in the bottom corner is a group of enslaved people picking cotton. Mallinson was remarking on the bleak truth of slavery and the myth of the Old South; the company's publicity stated: "…as recently as 66 years ago, enlightened Americans fought for and died in the belief that to derive their very existence, prosperity and luxury from the unrecompensed sweat of another man’s brow was wholly right and justifiable."

Fabric with colors of cobalt blue, lemon yellow, brick red, white, and light peach. Scenes include a boat, flowers, cotton, and figures.

This collection was an exciting find for me. These images and Mallinson's Early American series in general speak both to the pride that Americans have in their country, and also to the imperfections of that past. Seeing these icons used and displayed as art was fascinating to me as a history student—they transformed from text to textile. This collection attracted my historical interest as well as solidifying my new appreciation of textiles.

Amy Jean Anderson is an intern in the Division of Home and Community Life.

Author(s): 
Intern Amy Jean Anderson
Posted Date: 
Monday, May 9, 2016 - 08:00
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