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June 1st, 2015 by: Peter Westin

Motorsports and Motoring Public at Full Song (1950 to 1965): Measuring Men, Creatively Destructive, or Stimulating Technology?

Watching a motorsport race live is a visceral, sensory experience.[1] The smells are similar across racing categories and can be either accentuated at certain points on the track or mitigated depending on that day’s weather. When the contest begins, the atmosphere nearest the track is permeated with both fuel and exhaust fumes as the cars…

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June 1st, 2015 by: Alison Kreitzer

Speed Bugs: American Motorsports and the Pursuit of Speed, 1926-1932

Speed and Risk in American Entertainment [1] World War I flying ace and racecar driver, Eddie Rickenbacker told readers of the Altoona Tribune that the greatest accomplishment of the 1928 racing season “was the bringing back to America of the automobile speed supremacy of the world.”[2] In April 1928, Philadelphia-native, Ray Keech, reclaimed the World’s…

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What If Beddoes & Davy Had Attempted Surgical Anesthesia In 1799? Article

April 1st, 2015 by: A.J. Wright

What If Beddoes & Davy Had Attempted Surgical Anesthesia In 1799?

The inhalation of gases to relieve pain during surgery is considered one of America’s greatest contributions to medicine. The “discovery” of anesthesia is often credited to Boston dentist William Morton, who brought an inhalation device and ether into the operating room of Dr. John Collins Warren one October morning in 1846. This event was considered…

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Thresholds of Change: Why Didn’t Green Chemistry Happen Sooner? Article

April 1st, 2015 by: William Lynch

Thresholds of Change: Why Didn’t Green Chemistry Happen Sooner?

It is comparatively simple to sketch an historical overview of the chemical industry in Europe and the United States across the twentieth century.  The identification after 1900 of naturally occurring vitamins and hormones in the body, followed by the development of novel synthetic chemicals, set the stage for the development of the modern industry in…

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October 1st, 2014 by: Barbara Canavan

Riding the Permafrost Rooster Across the Roof of the World

Background “Iron rooster” is a Chinese phrase for a stingy bird, one so difficult to pluck it might as well be made out of iron. Paul Theroux borrows this phrase in Riding the Iron Rooster to describe his arduous train travels across China during the 1980s.[1] The Tibet Autonomous Region has long retained an exotic…

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August 1st, 2014 by: John K. Brown

A Different Counterfactual Perspective on the Eads Bridge

My article, “Not the Eads Bridge,” (Technology and Culture, July 2014) provides a case study of a consequential choice made in 1867-68, a choice influenced by politicians, financiers, railroad managers, and businessmen from St. Louis, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York City, and London.  St. Louis needed a rail bridge across the Mississippi River, two projects competed…

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