October 16th, 2012
For anyone facing surgery, the possibility of pain looms large. Imagine back to a time when options for “anesthesia” were limited to alcohol or the danger of opium. When a Boston dentist demonstrated the “power of ether” back in 1846 at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Jospeh Warren – a well-respected surgeon – announced to a stunned audience in the operating theater - “Gentlemen, this is no humbug.” It was revolutionary.
On this day October 16…
…in 1846, a crowd gathered in the operating theater at Massachusetts General Hospital. A Boston printer with a tumor on his jaw lay on the table. Curious and skeptical physicians and medical students waited impatiently. Finally, Boston dentist William Morton entered the room carrying a glass inhaler with an ether-soaked sponge. He used this apparatus to render the patient unconscious. A surgeon then removed the tumor. After the patient recovered consciousness, he reported that he had experienced no pain but only a sensation like that of being scraped with a blunt instrument. The historic moment was proclaimed “Ether Day,” and hailed around the world as “the greatest gift ever known to mankind.” One London newspaper declared “WE HAVE CONQUERED PAIN.”
Learn more here at MassMoments.com: http://www.massmoments.org/moment.cfm?mid=299
September 22nd, 2012
The autumnal equinox heralds the start of Fall which in 2012 begins here in the Northern Hemisphere today September 22 at 10:49 A.M. EDT.
The word equinox comes from the Latin words for “equal night.” The fall and spring equinoxes are the only days of the year in which the Sun crosses the celestial equator. The daylight hours are dwindling now and will continue to do so until we reach the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and the start of winter. Many cultures and religions celebrate or observe holidays, fall and harvest festivals around the Autumn Equinox. People enjoy fall festivals as they sense the closure of the summer season and the coming of a possibly long winter.
In just a week look for the Harvest Moon! In traditional sky-lore, the Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox. Since we will experience the autumnal equinox on September 22 – the full moon for us in the U.S. will come on the night of September 29. That makes the September 29-30 full moon the Harvest Moon. The Harvest Moon is surrounded by a powerful mystique that sees it as the largest, brightest – nearly orange or pumpkin-like in color – a beacon for bringing in the crops, for inspiring romance or pondering the Universe.
Locally, we too are anticipating the activities of fall – the changing season. Along with the return to school, the walks, food festivals, cemetery tours, apple-picking and the like, we are knee-deep in civic duty and awareness as we absorb the chatter of campaigns and mull the choices before us. It’s an exciting time!
September 16th, 2012
While walking through the grounds of the Whistler House Museum of Art yesterday on our way to the “Bernie & Bill” exhibit, the person I was with exclaimed “what a beautiful butterfly bush!” I’d probably heard of such a shrub before but the name never made much of an impression until I took a closer look yesterday and spotted nearly a dozen butterflies flitting about the blooms on this bush.
April 29th, 2012
On April 29, 1962 President John F. Kennedy held a banquet honoring Nobel Laureates at the White House. Forty-nine Nobel Laureates, or their representatives attended. The guests included Pearl Buck, Rudolf Mossbauer, Mrs. Ernest Hemingway, Mrs. George Marshall and Dr. Linus Pauling.* It was on this occasion that Kennedy made his famous extemporaneous remark: “I think this is the most extraordinary talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
This photo (from the JFK Library) shows the president talking to author Pearl Buck, while Mrs. Kennedy talks with poet Robert Frost.
Full remarks and program here: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=8623#axzz1tSZN3l6h
Note 1: Dr. Pauling an avid anti-nuclear activist spent time ealier that April day picketing outside the White House in favor of a nuclear test ban. Donning evening clothes he attend the Nobel Laureate event and then was back on the picket line the next morning. Read more here.
Note 2: In the spirit of all the gowns and dresses causing “oohs, aahsand naahs” at the WHC dinner last night, I include this color photo of the evening dress Mrs. Kennedy’s wore at the Nobel Laureate event. She wore an Oleg Cassini evening dress made of celadon silk jersey.
February 4th, 2012
In yesterday’s New York Times Douglas Martin wrote of Lowell-born Roger Boisjoly who died a few weeks ago just before the anniversary of the 1986 Challenger Space Shuttle disaster. Why link these two events? Remember the O-ring question? An O-ring seal in Challenger’s right solid rocket booster failed at liftoff – a situation that Morton Thiokol, the company that made the boosters, was warned about by one of it’s own engineers – Roger Boisjoly. In a memo to the company, Boisjoly warned that if the weather was too cold, seals connecting sections of the shuttle’s huge rocket boosters could fail. He wrote: “The result could be a catastrophe of the highest order, loss of human life.”
After the Challenger disaster – Roger Boisjoly gave a presidential commission investigating the disaster internal Morton Thiokol corporate documents – the memo he had written six months before – it was a bombshell. He became a whistle-blower both praised and reviled. He became sought after as an expert in forensic engineering but his health suffered and suits against his former company were dismissed. Of his former space-project colleagues he remembered that only Sally Ride – the first woman in space – made any positive gesture to him.
Exerpts from his obituary:
NEPHI, UTAH — Our beloved Roger Mark Boisjoly’s time on earth has ended. He passed away January 6, 2012, in Nephi, Utah, after a courageous battle with cancer. He was born April 25, 1938 in Lowell, MA to Joseph Antonio Boisjoly and Isabell St. Cyr.
He was raised and educated in Lowell, MA and graduated from the University of Lowell with a degree in mechanical engineering. He married Roberta Malcolm on April 21, 1962… In his college years Roger enjoyed hockey and tennis. Roger worked in the aerospace industry for 27 years. Later he started his own business in forensic engineering and enjoyed speaking to universities on ethics…He will be missed
My note: Besides his wife, the former Roberta Malcolm, he is survived by his daughters Norma Patterson and Darlene Richens; his brothers Ronald (retired Lowell High School teacher), Russell and Richard; and eight grandchildren.
Read the NYTimes article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/04/us/roger-boisjoly-73-dies-warned-of-shuttle-danger.html?_r=1&src=twrhp
Read more about Roger Boisjoly here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Boisjoly
January 7th, 2012
Young brides were given a copy of the Fanny Farmer Cookbook as a must-have staple to begin married life. Middle class housewives and “ladies of the house” used it religiously. Later, it became the basis of those science of home economics classes taught in public high schools.
The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, one of the best-selling cookbooks in American history, began life in 1896 as the Boston Cooking-School Cookbook. Its author, Boston-born, Medford-raised Fannie Farmer, was writing for the growing number of American women “who aspired to the new ideal of middle-class family life: home ownership, with a wage-earning male head of household and a full-time mother and housewife to oversee the home and family.” The book was a tool for learning what most women tried to learn from other women in their families – mother, aunt, grandmother. In the Preface to the 1919 edition – the last one completely written by Miss Farmer herself – she writes:
With the progress of knowledge the needs of the human body have not been forgotten. During the last decade much time has been given by scientists to the study of foods and their dietetic value, and it is a subject which rightfully should demand much consideration from all. I certainly feel that the time is not far distant when a knowledge of the principles of diet will be an essential part of one’s education. Then mankind will eat to live, will be able to do better mental and physical work, and disease will be less frequent.
At the earnest solicitation of educators, pupils, and friends, I have been urged to prepare this book, and I trust it may be a help to many who need its aid. It is my wish that it may not only be looked upon as a compilation of tried and tested recipes, but that it may awaken an interest through its condensed scientific knowledge which will lead to deeper thought and broader study of what to eat.
|Read the full entry from MassMoments.org here to learn more about Fannie Farmer.
October 12th, 2011
Mass Moments reminds us today of the first use of the so-called “iron lung” developed by Harvard’s Dr. Philip Drinker. He was responding to a terrifying new disease that was causing sudden paralysis. Doctors called it poliomyelitis — or polio. First used on this day October 12, 1928 at Children’s Hospital in Boston, Drinker’s machine was designed to do the work of the lungs while they were paralyzed. Vacuums connected to it worked like a huge bellows. Although polio was commonly called infantile paralysis because of its tendency to strike children, youth and adults were not immune to the disease. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was struck by polio as a young adult. Iron lungs were eventually built in all sizes. In the 1950s, a vaccine was developed finally developed to combat polio. The number of cases and the need for the iron lung plummeted. By the 1960s, patients with difficulty breathing were using a modern compact respirator. Today an “iron lung” is a museum piece!
…in 1928, Children’s Hospital in Boston was the scene of the first use of an “iron lung.” Developed by a young Harvard doctor, it was little more than a galvanized iron box, a bed, and two household vacuum cleaners. A little girl whose lungs were paralyzed by polio was placed in the airtight metal cylinder with only her head exposed. The 700-pound, 3X 7 foot, galvanized metal machine breathed for her. Vacuum pumps connected to it drew the air in and out of the cylinder, causing the child’s lungs to rise and fall in regular breaths. For the next 30 years, this invention would mean the difference between life and death for victims of polio. It breathed for them.
Read the full article here at MasssMoments.com
October 8th, 2011
Mr. Jobs’s legacy will be ‘the blending of technology and poetry. It’s not about design per se; it’s the poetic aspect of the entire enterprise.’
James B. Stewart today writes about Steve Jobs’s passion for great design in a long article in the Business Day section of the NYTimes. If you want to know what I mean when I use the term “creative economy,” this article captures the meaning better than most of what I’ve read about the creative economy. It’s not about “the arts”—it’s about a way of seeing the world through the dual lens of ideas and emotion and doing things that haven’t been done or haven’t been done better up to now. Read the article here, and get the NYT if you want more.
“Most people underestimate his grandeur and his greatness,” Gadi Amit, founder and principal designer of New Deal Design in San Francisco, told me. “They think it’s about design. It’s beyond design. It’s completely holistic, and it’s dogmatic. Things need to be high quality; they have to have poetry and culture in each step. Steve was cut from completely different cloth from most business leaders. He was not a number-crunching guy; he was not a technologist. He was a cultural leader, and he drove Apple from that perspective. He started with culture; then followed with technology and design. No one seems to get that.”
October 6th, 2011
Last month when Steve Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple I wanted to write something about him and what he accomplished.
Truthfully, I never felt confident enough that my meager writing ability could do Steve Jobs and his accomplishments justice.
I feel the same today as I try to digest his death.
I am not an Apple fanatic. In fact I own and have owned Windows PC’s all my life.
But Apple’s accomplishments are undeniable and Steve Jobs was the catalyst.
He was a game changer and the game he changed, altered the world.
Last night around 8:00PM I got a breaking news alert informing me of Steve Jobs’ passing on my iPhone 4.
I was stunned. Sure, I knew he was failing. Sure I knew it was only a matter of time…but every time I thought of Job’s inevitable death I thought maybe next month or maybe next week or maybe even tomorrow, but I never thought today. He could never die today. Jobs lived in the future.
As the media world grabbed the story of his death, I watched several shows celebrating the life of Jobs. More than once I heard him compared to another genius, Thomas Edison.
Edison was a scientist. He took electricity and made it light.
Steve Jobs was a time technician. He took tomorrow and made it today.
My favorite Jobs story occurred in 1983. Apple was emerging as a major computer company and Jobs needed someone to take care of the day to day business. He set his sights on Pepsi CEO John Scully. During their meeting Scully resisted Jobs’ offer to take over Apple. Scully told Jobs he knew nothing about computers. But the persistent Jobs knew what he wanted, and he wanted Scully. Here is how John Scully tells the story:
Steve was dressed in his mock turtleneck, blue jeans and running shoes. In those days, he had very dark hair and deep brown piercing eyes. He looks at his running shoes a long time. Then he said, ‘Do you really want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?’
And change the world he did!
RIP Steve Jobs
September 18th, 2011
Book Launch: From Critical Science to Solutions: The Best of Scientific Solutions
Monday, September 26, 4:00 pm, at the Allen House, South Campus, UMass Lowell
Richard Clapp edited the book, which is a selection of New Solutions articles published over the past two decades—articles by scholars and staff from UMass Lowell’s Center for Sustainability and Toxics Use Reduction Institute and other friends in the Boston area. The book is part of the Work, Health and Environment Series of Baywood Press. Series editors are Charles Levenstein, Robert Forrant, and John Wooding.
IN PRAISE OF THE BOOK:
“This book is a must-read for anybody interested in how science can be used to improve our lives—or to undermine health protection. Dr. Richard Clapp, editor of the “Scientific Solutions” section of New Solutions for 17 years, has chosen wisely from the many articles published during this period. From Critical Science to Solutions provides important insights and will captivate a wide range of readers—from students to experienced public health scientists.”
—Les Boden, Professor of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health
“This thought-provoking collection serves as a call for a science that is unabashedly supportive of intervening to protect the health of working people from occupational and environmental hazards in the face of scientific uncertainty. The contributions in this volume, first published in New Solutions between 1994 and 2010, illustrate how scientific research can be a foundation for action to change public policy. They call attention to the need to develop a science that embraces the precautionary principle to protect workers and the public from the toxic assaults to which they are subjected, and the need for a movement that places the health of working people as its organizing principle.”
—Joel Shufro, Executive Director New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health