Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Who Invented Shock Therapy, and How Does It Work?

It is the stuff of nightmares and horror movies. A patient is dragged kicking and screaming by hospital orderlies and pinned to a gurney. A bite block is forced into their mouth, and a pair of electrodes placed on their head. Then, at the flick of a switch, hundreds of volts of electricity are passed through the patient’s head. This is the popular image of shock therapy, a treatment which, along with the lobotomy, has become synonymous with the historic abuses and excesses of the psychiatric profession, this reputation cemented by horrific depictions in countless books, movies, and TV shows.

Yet despite this stigma, shock therapy – more properly known as electroconvulsive therapy or ECT – remains an accepted psychiatric treatment to this day, and has proven highly effective in cases of severe depression and bipolar disorder which have not responded to other treatments. But how was ECT invented in the first place, and how does it actually work?

While electricity has been used in medicine almost from the moment of its discovery and various versions of shock therapy have been used to treat all manner of things in the interim, the treatment that would eventually lead to the more legitimate and modern ECT actually had nothing to do electricity at all. In 1934, Hungarian psychiatrist Ladislas Meduna, working at the Psychiatric Institute in Budapest, observed that patients suffering from Schizophrenia rarely seemed to suffer from epilepsy – and vice-versa. Meduna began to wonder if the two disorders were in some way antagonistic, and therefore whether inducing epilepsy-like seizures in his patients might cure them of their Schizophrenia. After trying a variety of substances, Meduna settled on Camphor dissolved in oil, which produced violent seizures within an hour of being injected. Early results were encouraging, with around a third of his patients showing remarkable improvement after even a single round of induced convulsions.

Meanwhile, a similar treatment was independently developed by Austrian psychiatrist Manfred Sakel.

In 1927, while experimenting with the newly-isolated hormone Insulin, Sakel accidentally overdosed one of his patients, sending him into a coma. When the patient recovered, he displayed remarkably improved mental clarity, leading Sakel to develop Insulin Coma Therapy as a treatment for Schizophrenia. In this treatment, patients were injected with a massive dose of Insulin, inducing a deep coma. They would be left comatose for up to an hour before being revived with glucose administered either intravenously or through a tube inserted through the nose. This process would be then repeated up to six days per week for up to four months, though procedures varied widely from hospital to hospital. Following the publication of Sakel’s research in 1933, Insulin Coma Therapy was rapidly adopted worldwide, and by the early 1950s nearly every major psychiatric hospital in the Western world had a ward devoted to the treatment.

But while Insulin Shock Therapy boasted a success rate of 80%, it was a time and labour-intensive treatment, requiring a dedicated unit of doctors and nurses to administer. It was also dangerous, wreaking havoc on patients’ metabolisms. Some patients never awoke from their comas, while many suffered fainting spells, sweating, restlessness, and rapid weight gain due to wildly fluctuating blood sugar levels. Consequently, many hospitals turned to an alternative technique developed by Ladislas Meduna, using the drug Metrazol. Unlike his original camphor preparation, Metrazol acted nearly instantaneously and induced seizures for only a few minutes. Thus, unlike Insulin Coma Therapy, a round of Metrazol therapy could be performed by a single doctor with a handful of nurses or orderlies to hold the patient still. By the 1940s Metrazol therapy had all but replaced Insulin in British psychiatric hospitals.

While an improvement on insulin, however, Metrazol was hardly a perfect drug. Patients reported that in the few seconds between administration and the onset of seizures, the drug induced a powerful sense of dread, as if the patient were about to die. Many found the feeling so terrifying that they violently resisted follow-up sessions. Doctors soon realized that a more convenient means of inducing seizures was needed.

The solution would come from a rather unexpected source. As the story goes, one day in 1938, Italian neurologist Ugo Cerletti was returning home from work when he stopped in at a butcher shop. When the shop did not have the cut of meat he wanted, he was lead to the slaughterhouse out back so a pig could be butchered for him. As Cerletti watched, the butcher applied a pair of electrodes to the pig’s head to stun it prior to slitting its throat. Seeing the violent convulsions this procedure induced, Cerletti began to wonder if electric shock could be used to induce seizures in human patients. In April of that year, Cerletti and colleague Lucio Bini applied the new technique of electroconvulsive therapy to a schizophrenic patient for the first time, with promising results. Being far easier to administer than insulin or metrazol and less frightening to patients as it acted instantaneously, ECT quickly won over the psychiatric community and by the 1960s had all but replaced all older methods. Its use also expanded to the treatment of dozens of disorders, including catatonia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, mania, and bipolar disorder.

But like many seemingly revolutionary treatments in the history of psychiatry, ECT soon came to be overused and abused, with many hospitals employing it as a method of keeping unruly patients under control. Among the most infamous misuses of ECT was by Scottish psychiatrist Dr. Ewen Cameron, who, while working at Montreal’s Allan Memorial Hospital in the early 1950s, developed a treatment known as “psychic driving.” This technique involved breaking down or “depatterning” a patient’s personality, then building it back up again along healthier, more socially-acceptable lines. This was accomplished by subjecting them to intensive sessions of ECT, a common side effect of which is long-term memory loss. This was then followed by long periods of induced sleep during which the patients were fitted with headphones playing repetitive messages intended to reprogram their minds and personalities. While Cameron’s research was initially clinical in nature, it soon came to the attention of the CIA, who began secretly funding him as part of Project MKULTRA efforts to develop mind control and brainwashing techniques. Between 1957 and 1954, Cameron experimented on hundreds of unsuspecting patients, many of whom suffered such severe memory loss that they were essentially reduced to an infantile state and had to re-learn basic life skills and even their identities from scratch. That said, to this day Allan Memorial continues to deny its involvement with the CIA, and all official records pertaining to Cameron’s experiments have disappeared.

By the 1970s, however, it became apparent that for the vast majority of psychiatric disorders, ECT was of marginal utility as a treatment. Indeed, as early as 1953, an article in The Lancet titled The Insulin Myth revealed that the very concept of shock therapy was fundamentally flawed, its purported effectiveness based on faulty statistics. In most cases, only patients with good prognoses were selected for Insulin Therapy, and throughout their treatment were kept together as a group and given special treatment and privileges. The supposedly high success rate of insulin shock was therefore largely a product of selection bias, as most of these patients would likely have improved without treatment.  An even more damning refutation of the practice came in 1957, when a study in which half the subjects were given insulin and half a more conventional sedative found no significant difference in outcome between the two groups.

The 1970s also saw the emergence of a wider anti-psychiatric movement. The development of antipsychotic drugs such as Thorazine lead to many old-style asylums being emptied, and traditional institutional care being increasingly replaced by more community-based treatment approaches. Graphic media depictions of psychiatric hospitals such as in the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest further helped to stir anti-psychiatric sentiment, leading to the use of ECT and other traditional treatments being severely curtailed.

Yet as mentioned before, ECT continues to see limited use to this day, being extremely effective in the treatment of severe depression, mania, and catatonia which has resisted all other treatment. However, the days of wide-awake patients, bite blocks, and high amperages are a thing of the past. Today, patients undergoing ECT are sedated and given a muscle relaxant to prevent them convulsing, while the electrodes are typically placed unilaterally – one one side of the head –  rather than bilaterally in order to reduce memory loss. Finally, the shock is delivered in the form of brief pulses rather than the continuous sinusoidal current of older machines. Aside from the previously mentioned retrograde amnesia – which usually clears up within a few days or weeks –  the procedure produces few serious side effects.

But how does ECT actually work? Surprisingly, though the technique has been in use for over 80 years, the answer is: nobody knows. While researchers have variously theorized that ECT stimulates the release of certain neurotransmitters, increases the permeability of the blood-brain barrier, stimulates the immune system, or even alters gene expression, despite decades of research no study has yet been able to pinpoint its precise mechanism of action, with modern improvements in treatment techniques being largely the result of clinical trial and error. But this is nothing new in medicine. Many drugs have been successfully used for decades despite doctors still not knowing exactly how they work. One example of this is Lithium, whose mood-stabilizing properties have been known about for so long that it was once even added to a popular brand of lemon-lime soda. And for more on this, please check out our video Lithium and 7-Up.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Expand for References

Bourne, Harold, The Insulin Myth, The Lancet, November 7, 1953

Sargant, William, The Insulin Treatment of Schizophrenia, E&S Livingstone, Edinburgh, 1944

Jones, Kingsley, Insulin Coma Therapy in Schizophrenia, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, March 2000

Doroshow, Deborah, Performing a Cure of Schizophrenia: Insulin Coma Therapy on the Wards, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, November 14, 2006

Rudorfer, Matthew, Electroconvulsive Therapy,

Tartakovsky, Margarita, 5 Outdated Beliefs About ECT, PsychCentral, October 8, 2018

Read, John et al, The Effectiveness of Electroconvulsive Therapy: A Literature Review, Department of Psychology, University of Auckland,

Smith, Daniel, Shock and Disbelief, The Atlantic, February 2001,

Singh, Amit and Kar, Sujita, How Electroconvulsive Therapy Works? Understanding the Neurobiological Mechanisms, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, August 2017

The post Who Invented Shock Therapy, and How Does It Work? appeared first on Today I Found Out.

from Today I Found Out
by Gilles Messier - October 28, 2020 at 12:28PM
Article provided by the producers of one of our Favorite YouTube Channels!

The Canadian Genius Who Attempted to Launch Satellites Using an Absolutely Ginormous Gun

On the beach just outside Grantley Adams Airport on the island of Barbados, five large naval cannons sit overgrown and rusting in the tropical heat, lying where they were abandoned fifty years ago. These relics are all that remain of Project HARP, an audacious 1960s attempt to launch satellites into space using giant guns – and of the grand ambitions of an eccentric Canadian genius whose dreams of outer space would ultimately end in tragedy.

The idea of launching objects into space using cannons is as old as modern physics itself. In his groundbreaking 1687 work Principia, Sir Isaac Newton imagined firing a cannonball from a tall mountain at such great velocity that the curvature of its flight matched that of the earth, allowing it to circle the planet indefinitely. From this simple thought experiment Newton was able to link his theory of gravitation to orbital mechanics. In his classic 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon and its 1870 sequel Around the Moon, French author Jules Verne also used a giant cannon to get his protagonists into space. Indeed, for much of history guns were considered the only feasible means of space travel, the primitive gunpowder rockets of the time being seen as little more than glorified fireworks. It would not be until the Twentieth Century that the pioneering work of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Hermann Oberth, Robert Goddard, Wernher von Braun and others made rockets the preferred means of reaching outer space.

But some still believed guns had a place in space exploration, and none more so than Canadian engineer Dr. Gerald Bull. Bull first became interested artillery in the 1950s while working at the Canadian Armaments Research and Development Establishment, or CARDE. There he was tasked with designing the outer casing for the Velvet Glove, an air-to-air missile being developed for the Canadian Air Force. While ordinarily this research would be performed using a supersonic wind tunnel, Bull found CARDE’s tunnel unsuited to his needs and looked for an alternative means of studying the missile’s aerodynamics. His solution was an elegant one. CARDE had among its facilities a 120-metre-long tunnel for testing artillery shells, the air pressure inside which could be adjusted to simulate different altitudes. Bull made scale models of the Velvet Glove and encased them in wooden sabots to allow them to fit inside a gun barrel. When the gun was fired, the sabot would fall away, leaving the model missile to fly freely down the tunnel. At first Bull simply hung paper screens at regular intervals along the tunnel to track the flight of the missile, but later he developed special hardened electronics capable of withstanding the extreme acceleration of launch which could be fitted into the model missiles themselves. These innovations would prove instrumental to Bull’s later endeavours.

But what truly cemented Bull’s interest in big guns was the launch of Sputnik 1, the world’s first artificial satellite, on October 4, 1957. Fearful of the new threat posed by Soviet ballistic missiles, Bull began thinking up ways of shooting down nuclear warheads. As guided missile technology was not yet advanced enough for this purpose, Bull wondered whether the job could be done using guns. One of his schemes involved using what was essentially a giant shotgun to fire a cloud of shrapnel into the upper atmosphere; if an incoming warhead, travelling at nearly 20 times the speed of sound, touched even a single piece, it would disintegrate. Another scheme involved using a giant gun to fire model warheads to the edge of space so their reentry could be studied and methods of tracking and destroying them developed.

Unfortunately, Bull had what could charitably be called a ‘prickly’ personality and deep-seated hatred of politicians and bureaucracy, referring to those running Canada’s research and defence establishment as ‘Cocktail Scientists.’ This attitude increasingly brought him into conflict with his superiors until in 1961, frustrated by the abrupt cancellation of the Avro Arrow interceptor and Canada’s timid and reluctant attitude towards space research, Gerald Bull quit CARDE in disgust.

But he was not without allies. During his time at CARDE, Bull had made the acquaintance of Lieutenant-General Arthur Trudeau and Dr. Charles Murphy of the US Army, who shared his enthusiasm for space exploration and big guns. And shortly after leaving HARP, Bull also accepted a professorship from Dr. Donald Mordell, Dean of Engineering at McGill University. Together, Bull, Trudeau, Murphy, and Mordell began dreaming up a research project that would satisfy each of the men’s scientific interests. In March 1962, Bull and Mordell announced the creation of the High Altitude Research Project, or HARP, a collaboration between McGill and the US Army. The stated goal of HARP was to develop the technology to launch small research probes into the upper atmosphere using large guns. This would allow for the collection of data on high-altitude winds and other phenomena for use in weather forecasting – at a fraction of the cost of using conventional sounding rockets. But the Project was also about so much more. For Bull and Mordell, HARP was an opportunity to develop a low-cost means of launching small satellites into orbit, granting Canada a place among the spacefaring nations. As he later stated:

“The general attitude towards the research scientist in this country is that he’s some sort of parasite… Canadians won’t gamble on research unless it’s aimed at earning a dollar. I don’t see Canada engaging in massive research programmes, but I do see us operating in highly imaginative fringe areas, coming out with novel ideas and revolutionary-type thoughts.”

Meanwhile, the US Army had their own vested interest in the project. In 1958, the US Government had essentially banned the Army and Navy from conducting space research, restricting space operations to the Air Force and NASA. Trudeau and Murphy saw HARP as a back-door means for the Army to maintain a foothold – however small – in the Space Race.

Preparations for HARP proceeded swiftly. From the US Navy Charles Murphy acquired a pair of 40cm battleship guns which had lain in storage since the 1920s, each 21 metres long and weighing 125 tons. Meanwhile Mordell secured a test site on the Caribbean island of Barbados. Not only did McGill already operate a weather station on the island and enjoy a friendly relationship with the local government, but the site allowed projectiles to be fired safely out over the Atlantic Ocean.

In the summer of 1962, the first gun arrived in Barbados aboard the US Army Landing Ship USS John. D Page. As the chosen firing site was situated on high cliffs, the gun itself had to be unloaded 2.5 miles away in the largest peacetime over-the-beach landing in US Army history. The gun was transferred to a railway flatcar and pushed down the beach on a custom track to the test site, where it was lowered into a pre-built concrete emplacement.. Preparations continued for nearly six months, work temporarily halting in October due to the Cuban Missile Crisis, until in January 1963 the gun, nicknamed “Betsy”, was at last ready for testing. On January 20, a dummy plywood slug was fired at an angle of 80 degrees, flying 3 kilometres into the air and remaining airborne for nearly a full minute. This was followed the next day by the firing of a real projectile – known as a “Martlet” after the mythical bird on the McGill University crest – which rose to an altitude of 26 kilometres. Project HARP was officially in business.

The Martlet projectile consisted of a steel dart-shaped projectile 1.5 metres long  and 12.5 centimetres in diameter with aluminium fins, fitted in a wooden sabot to fit inside the gun barrel. The head of the Martlet contained the telemetry electronics, while the main body held a load of either triethyl aluminium – which ignites spontaneously with air – or radar chaff. This was released behind the projectile as it flew, leaving a trail that could be tracked visually or by radar and allow high-altitude winds to be measured. Between 1963 and 1965 more than 100 Martlets were fired into the upper atmosphere, generating a body of meteorological data that is still used to this day.

But Bull’s ambitions were loftier than mere weather forecasting; he wanted to fire a satellite, however small, into orbit. While some doubted the utility of such a system, Bull was optimistic, stating:

We are restricted by the size of the gun. Anything larger than 16 inches in diameter won’t get in the barrel. We can’t put a space station in space but, once it’s there, we can send up the wrench left behind.

But even this modest goal presented a massive engineering challenge. According to the laws of orbital mechanics, it is impossible to reach orbit from the earth’s surface using a purely ballistic projectile. Instead, said projectile must be equipped with a small rocket motor and guidance system to reorient and “kick” itself into orbit. Packing these systems into a Martlet and protecting them from high accelerations – all while leaving enough room for a satellite payload – strained the capabilities of 1960s technology, but Bull nonetheless persevered, designing the orbital-capable Martlet III and IV in 1965. Meanwhile, however, the altitude to which Martlets could be fired had topped out at around an astounding 90 kilometres (55 miles). In order to increase this, Bull had a 16-meter tube welded to the end of Betsy, extending the barrel to a whopping 36 metres. This made the gun among the largest artillery pieces ever built, and the largest to be fired near the vertical. On July 1, 1965, the extended gun fired a Martlet II to a record altitude of 150km (93 miles), well above the recognized boundary of outer space.

Sadly, however, this was to be HARP’s last hurrah. Bull’s outspoken disdain for bureaucracy had made him many enemies in Canadian Government, many of whom now began finding reasons to shut down the project. As Bull had predicted, most in Ottawa attacked HARP as an unprofitable waste of Government funds, with K.F. Tupper of the National Research Council stating, “The HARP project consists merely of large and expensive gadgets…[that does not] open up any new possibilities whatsoever.”

Others, like R.K. Brown from Ministry of Industry, were rather less subtle about their disdain for Bull himself:

Although personalities should not affect the decision, they cannot be ignored, and one of the reasons no Canadian government scientists have been closely involved in the control and direction of the project…lies in the personality of Dr. Bull, and it need hardly be said that there will continue to be difficulties in this area.

Another reason for the Government’s contempt for HARP was the involvement of the US Army. As US involvement in the Vietnam War continued to escalate, the Canadian Government took an increasingly dim view of American militarism and sought to distance itself from efforts like HARP -which it saw as a primarily American project with a Canadian veneer. Furthermore, the HARP launch system competed directly with the new Black Brant sounding rocket developed by CARDE. But whatever the reason, by 1967 all Government funds had dried up and even the Army had withdrawn its support. Project HARP was officially over. However, having seen the writing on the wall, in 1965 the Army had constructed its own replica of the 36ft Barbados gun at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. On November 18, 1966, this gun fired a Martlet II projectile to an altitude of 180 km (112 miles) – a record that still stands to this day.

The life of Gerald Bull after HARP is a subject that could fill and entire episode. But in brief and pertinent to the topic at hand, using equipment left over from the project, in 1967 Bull established Space Research Corporation or SRC, a private company specializing in artillery and ammunition design. In the 1980s Bull’s work brought him to the attention of the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein, who made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: in exchange for Bull helping to improve their long-range missiles, they would fund the construction of a giant satellite-launching supergun. The gun, code-named Project Babylon, would be truly gargantuan, weighing 2100 tons with a barrel 1 meter wide and 156 meters long – nearly the length of the Washington Monument. But tragically, just like the Martlet satellite, Project Babylon would never come to fruition, for on March 22, 1990, Gerald Bull was gunned down by an unknown assassin outside his apartment in Brussels.

But the dream of orbital gun launch lived on. Between 1992 and 1995, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Project SHARP – Super-High Altitude Research Project – developed a series of light gas guns capable of accelerating a projectile to near-escape velocity, while in 2005 the Quicklaunch company began development of a 1-kilometer long gun suspended beneath an offshore oil rig which would reduce orbital launch costs to only $1000/pound. However, the development of SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9 rocket has recently rendered the economics of gun launch significantly less attractive, and it now appears that Gerald Bull’s dream will become no more than a fascinating detour on our long road to the stars.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Bonus Facts

#1: In addition to being the youngest ever PhD graduate from the University of Toronto and the youngest professor at McGill, Gerald Bull held a third, ever rarer honour. In 1972, after Space Research Corporation had already been working with the Pentagon for over 5 years, it was realized that as a Canadian Citizen Bull was technically ineligible for Top Secret security clearance. To get around this, in October Senator Barry Goldwater passed a private act of Congress granting Bull American Citizenship. Gerald Bull is only the third person to ever receive this honour after the Marquis de Lafayette and Winston Churchill.

#2: The scientific disdain for rocket propulsion actually carried on well into the 1920s and 30s, the term “rocket” being associated with pulp science fiction novels and comics like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. For this reason, when in 1939 a group of Caltech students founded a small institute for the study of rocket propulsion, they were careful not to use the term “rocket” in their name, instead coming up with the title the institute still bears to this day: Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

#3: Despite being written in 1865, Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon was extraordinarily prophetic in its depiction of space travel. Though his chosen method of launch – a giant cannon – would in reality have reduced Verne’s astronauts to a thin pink film coating the bottom of the capsule, in other respects Verne’s account is remarkably accurate – the result of the author consulting with multiple astronomers in preparation for writing. In the book, the astronauts travel in a bullet-shaped capsule which is furnished with an airlock, oxygen recycling system, and even rocket thrusters for maneuvering. Just like the Apollo missions the capsule is launched from Florida to take advantage of the earth’s rotation, reenters the atmosphere blunt-end first, and splashes down in the Pacific Ocean. Verne even predicts relative weightlessness in space, though he misunderstands the effect as resulting from the earth and moon’s gravity cancelling each other out. But perhaps most coincidental of all, the giant cannon that launches Verne’s astronauts is called the Columbiad, while the Command-Service Module that took Apollo 11’s crew to the moon was called…Columbia.

Expand for References

Grant, Dale, Wilderness of Mirrors: The Life of Gerald Bull, Prentice-Hall Canada 1991

Lowther, William, Arms and the Man: Dr. Gerald Bull, Iraq, and the Supergun, Doubleday Canada 1991

Adams, James, Bull’s Eye: The Assassination and Life of Supergun Inventor Gerald Bull, Times Books 1992

The post The Canadian Genius Who Attempted to Launch Satellites Using an Absolutely Ginormous Gun appeared first on Today I Found Out.

from Today I Found Out
by Gilles Messier - October 28, 2020 at 12:18PM
Article provided by the producers of one of our Favorite YouTube Channels!

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The Badassary of Dorothy Lawrence

In the summer of 1915, a lone British soldier cycled down a country road outside the French town of Albert. His papers identified him as Private Denis Smith of the 1st Leicestershire Regiment, and at first glance he would have seemed quite ordinary: a slightly plump and ruddy-faced boy with short brown hair – no different from the thousands of young men serving on the Western Front in the Great War. But Private Denis Smith was no ordinary soldier. In fact, he wasn’t a soldier at all. He wasn’t even a man.

He was in fact one Dorothy Lawrence, an English journalist who risked everything to report on the horrors of the trenches first-hand. Her story is among the most incredible tales of courage and determination of the Great War.

Little is known about Dorothy Lawrence’s life prior to 1914. Born illegitimately on October 4, 1896 in Hendon, Middlesex, she was adopted and raised by a guardian from the Church of England. By the early 1910s she was working as a freelance journalist in London, selling articles to various Fleet Street newspapers including The Times. When War was declared in August 1914, Lawrence decided to become a war correspondent, but as even male journalists were largely forbidden from reaching the Front, she was forced to find alternate means of travelling to France. At first she applied to work as a nurse for the Voluntary Aid Detachment, but was rejected no less than 12 times on account of having no prior nursing experience. So, in the summer of 1915, armed only with a bicycle and a laundry bag of provisions, Dorothy Lawrence took a ferry across the Channel to Calais and began cycling towards the Front.

Along the way, Lawrence befriended and interviewed a number of French soldiers and civilians, and in her later writings paints a vivid picture of the countryside at war, emphasizing in equal measure the brutality of the occupying German Army and the stoic resilience of the French people. However, upon reaching the town of Senlis, only 10 kilometres from the front lines, Lawrence found her progress suddenly halted:

 During my brief visit, gendarmes [French national Police] became very active on my behalf. I passed about half my time under arrest of regaining freedom! If I cycled two miles out, I was promptly arrested and brought back again! In the whole list of French officials no one renders truer services than the gendarme. Spies! Why, he seems to sleep with that word written on his brain!

It was also here that an idea was planted in Lawrence’s mind, an idea that would prove key to her future success:

I explained [to the soldiers] that I wanted to look around; and just a few won my confidence enough for me to say, “I want to go right into the firing-line.” At least one man suggested that I should go there as a French Poilu [soldier]. Unhappily my English accent might perhaps betray identity; acquaintances and I abandoned that idea.

Instead, Lawrence enlisted the help of the Mayor of the nearby town of Criel, whom she convinced to write a pass allowing her to travel to the town of Bethune, which at that time was located on the front line. However, this did little to convince the French police, and after being stopped several more times Lawrence took to the countryside, sleeping in the woods and haystacks on the outskirts of Senlis. But still she made no progress in reaching the front,

…and it was in order that I should get to the front that I endured insects, heat, delayed baths, and vigilant gendarmes. No information likely to help my project had come so far. In view of this fact I resolved, therefore, on returning to Paris. There I hoped, perhaps that further opportunities might arise for getting “out there”.

In Paris, Lawrence planned to follow the advice of the French soldier in Senlis and disguise herself as a soldier – albeit an English one – in order to more easily infiltrate the front lines. To this end she enlisted the help of two English soldiers on leave, who in her writings she refers to only as her ‘Khaki Accomplices’ to protect their identities.

She states of this,

From Paris cafe’s I chose my first two male assistants. Two khaki soldiers, two amongst thousands with which Paris appeared flooded, soldiers with faces of clean-minded boys; they sat with rather lonesome expressions opposite one of the Paris railway stations. “They’ll do”, I said. By flashed I pick units for any organization I undertake, success depends wholly on types and the personalities of each type… My two new acquaintances, struck with the spirit of sport afforded by this new adventure, agreed straight away to help. They undertook to find my outfit; it must consist of jacket, badge, cap, puttees, shirt, and boots. No light matter for two privates to supply. In subsequent meetings I tried in return to offer them some slight token of my gratitude, showing my companions around Paris and giving whatever scant hospitality lay within my quickly emptying purse.

Ultimately these men also showed her how to wear the uniform properly. She states of this,

Reader, have you ever attempted to include trousers in the way that they should go on a female figure? They do not know the way, and suddenly you realize that neither do you! Unfortunately I could not decently call in masculine assistance; whereas I suffered the usual ignorance of “only child and orphan” who never sees brothers’ discarded “brigs.” I was left alone to struggle with unknown buttons, braces, and the division sum of how to make a big body go into a small size of trousers! Eventually I got in by a series of jumps, jerks, and general tightening up! Puttees proved equally refractory; and I had to postpone putting them on until I could be taught what to do.

Beyond this, they also taught her the rudiments of military drill and marching. In order to disguise her feminine figure and complexion, Lawrence wrapped her body in bandages and wool padding, cut her hair short, and darkened her skin with Condy’s Fluid, a reddish-brown liquid commonly used as an antifungal. To complete the illusion, the Accomplices then provided her with identity discs and papers identifying her as Private Denis Smith,  1st Leceister Regiment, No. 175331, and even forged a pass, signed by an imaginary officer, granting Private smith permission to be absent from his quarters for the following two weeks.

Thus disguised, Lawrence left Paris in mid-August 1915 and made once more for the front. Despite being stopped by a number of British Military Policemen and French Gendarmes on account of her strange appearance, Lawrence eventually reached the town of Albert, where preparations were underway for the upcoming Battle of Loos. Here, Lawrence made the acquaintance of one Sergeant Thomas Dunn of the Royal Engineers, who, upon learning of her secret mission, agreed to assist her for the duration of her stay. Sergeant Dunn found Lawrence an abandoned cottage on the outskirts of town and regularly brought her food and other provisions.

Over the next week, Lawrence spent most of her time in the trenches alongside the other men.

She states of her time there, “I dispensed no military duty in the trenches; as a soldier I divided the ten days and nights either alone in the open of no man’s land, about 400 yards from the Boche front line, under simultaneous fire of shell, rifle, and shrapnel, falling into line outside the courtyard, already described, whence the regiment moved into the trenches, or within one of three dug-outs appropriated at night for my own use; throughout several night I slept alone, under fire, among the ruins, presumably within sight of fritz, had he only known.”

Soon, however, the rigours of living and working in the trenches began to take its toll on Lawrence, and she began suffering frequent fainting spells:

I thought, “If I am knocked out by Fritz in the trenches, or only temporarily unconscious through faintness, there is no doubt that my sex will become known; and what will happen at that rate to my little army of khaki accomplices?”

Thus after spending nearly ten days in the trenches, Lawrence asked Sergeant Dunn to reveal her secret to his commanding officer so she could safely make her way out of Albert. Instead, she was promptly arrested and brought to the local regimental headquarters, where the sight of a woman in uniform caused a considerable confusion.

My manner of coming into the Colonel’s presence proved disarming in its effect, I must say. There I stood and I burst out laughing! Really I could not help it! So utterly ludicrous appeared this betrousered little female, marshalled solemnly by three soldiers, and deposited before twenty embarrassed men.

The next few days saw Lawrence bounced from headquarters to headquarters and interrogated by dozens of military intelligence officers, who tried in vain to prove that she was a spy.

Cross examination took place for about the sixth time already; unhappily my sense of humour was aroused, thanks to the appearance of my latest judge, whose normal occupation in war-time was to examine German prisoners! As I happened to be neither German nor spy, he proved rather unsuitable for examining an English girl. Anyone neither spy nor German appeared utterly to baffle his powers.

Finally, Lawrence was brought to 3rd Army Headquarters at St. Omer, where for three days she underwent Court Martial presided over by General Charles Munro. In the course of these proceedings, in addition to being charged with espionage Lawrence was accused of being a “camp follower” – military slang for a prostitute. Lawrence being ignorant of the term,

…we talked steadily at cross purposes. On my side I had not been informed what the term meant, and on their side they continued unaware that I remained ignorant! So I often appeared to be telling lies.

While Lawrence was acquitted of all charges, it was decided that she should be imprisoned for the duration of the Battle of Loos, in case she had acquired information which could be valuable to the enemy, although she did attempt to argue with the need for her detainment, stating to her captors, “No one possesses means to extract information from a woman.”

In the end, she was taken to the nearby Convent de bon Pasteur and held there for several weeks before finally being allowed to return to England. Shortly before returning home, however, Lawrence made an agreement that completely undermined her ability to profit from her exploits:

In an embarrassing interview with [an officer] I promised not to divulge any information till I got permission. In making that promise I sacrificed the chance of earning by newspaper articles written on this escapade; as a girl compelled to earn her livelihood, I lost, temporarily anyhow, all material gain by that promise.

As for her return home, it was less than ideal. She states, “No friends knew that I had come back; and my own house had been let to foreigners. So I had homelessness as immediate prospect! I had to think. Eventually I solved the problem. On some friends I would pay a call; perhaps they could put me up for the night. So I went my way – at home without a home, yet just “home” from the front.”

For the remainder of the war Lawrence worked as a farm labourer for the Women’s Land Army, until the signing of the Armistice in 1918 at last allowed her to write an account of her exploits in France. This was published in 1919 as Sapper Dorothy Lawrence, the Only English Woman Soldier.

The book, however, failed to find an audience, as by this time the British public, weary after four years of war, was keen to put the conflict behind them. Without income or credibility as a journalist and her personal situation deteriorating, Lawrence’s behaviour became increasingly erratic, until in 1925 she was declared insane and committed to Colney hatch Lunatic Asylum in Barnet, North London. Here she remained for the rest of her life, dying in 1964 at the age of 68. She now lies in a pauper’s grave in New Southgate Cemetery.

As to her audacious exploits during the war, Lawrence herself best summed up her gumption by a statement she gave shortly before departing for France: “I’ll see what an ordinary English girl, without credentials or money can accomplish.”

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Expand for References

Lawrence, Dorothy, Sapper Dorothy Lawrence, the Only English Woman Soldier, John Lane Company, NY 1919

Dorothy Lawrence, Spartacus Educational,

Dorothy Lawrence: the Woman who Fought at the Front, Writing Women’s History, July 28, 2012

Marzouk, Lawrence, Girl Who Fought Like a Man, The London Times, November 20, 2003

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from Today I Found Out
by Gilles Messier - October 27, 2020 at 12:08PM
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How Poison Gas Gave Us the First Anti-Cancer Drug

It has been called the Emperor of all Maladies. For the entirety of human history, Cancer has been our constant companion, afflicting young and old, rich and poor, sinner and saint alike. And for most of that history we have been all but helpless against it. It was not until the 19th century that advances in surgery made it possible to safely remove certain tumours, and not until the discovery of x-rays and radioactivity at the turn of the 20th that less invasive treatments became available. But the most common cancer treatment today, chemotherapy, would not emerge until the middle of the century, and by a strange twist of fate its discovery was made possible not by mankind’s compassion and desire to heal, but by its age-old preoccupation with killing.

On September 3, 1943, following a long, hard-fought campaign that had taken Allied Forces from North Africa to the gates of Rome, the Italian Government signed the Armistice of Cassibile, officially switching sides in the Second World War. Italy’s former ally, Nazi Germany, was swift to respond to this betrayal. On December 2, 105 Junkers Ju-88 bombers took off from airfields across Northern Italy and headed South towards the port of Bari, a major supply hub for advancing Allied forces. The bombers achieved complete surprise, and with air defences around the port almost nonexistent they wrought terrible destruction, sinking 28 ships, setting shore oiling facilities ablaze, and killing nearly 2000 military personnel and civilians.

Among the ships destroyed in the attack was the American Liberty Ship SS John Harvey, whose hold was loaded with a secret cargo of 2000 M47A1 mustard gas bombs. Mustard gas, developed during the First World War, belongs to a class of chemical weapons known as vesicants or blister agents. An oily liquid with a strong garlic-like smell, on contact with skin mustard gas inflicts severe chemical burns that can take weeks or months to heal, and if splashed in the eyes can induce temporary blindness. The exploding John Harvey covered the harbour basin in a thick layer of mustard gas, coating hundreds of sailors struggling in the water from head to toe. A huge cloud of mustard gas vapour was also thrown into the air and drifted into the neighbouring town. The next day, more than 600 sailors and soldiers arrived at military hospitals suffering from symptoms that baffled the American medics: chemical burns, blindness, and – strangest of all – extremely low white blood cell counts. But as the John Harvey’s cargo was top-secret, vital information on how to treat the victims was withheld from the medics.

Eventually, Dr. Stewart Alexander, an expert on chemical weapons, was dispatched to Bari. Immediately recognizing the symptoms of mustard gas exposure, Dr. Alexander was able to advise army doctors on the proper course of treatment. But by this point it was already too late:  83 military personnel and an unknown number of civilians had succumbed to the gas’s effects, while many others were severely disfigured. But these men would not die in vain, for  after the War tissue samples collected by Dr. Alexander were to play a pivotal role in launching a medical revolution.

The cytotoxic or cell-killing effects of mustard gas had been noted since the weapon’s introduction, and doctors  soon began to wonder whether this effect could be used against cancer cells. Early trials in the 1920s against lymphomas were unsuccessful as the original form of the compound, sulfur mustard, proved too toxic to human cells. In 1935, however, chemical weapons laboratories began producing new forms of mustard gas in which the sulfur atom was replaced with nitrogen. Of these, one compound in particular, known as mechlorethamine or HN2, showed particular promise as it was the least toxic to healthy human cells. In 1943, pharmacologists Alfred Gilman and Louis Goodman at Yale University conducted the first clinical trial of HN2 on a patient suffering from severe lymphoma. Early results were encouraging, with the patient’s tumours shrinking rapidly. However, the cancer cells eventually developed resistance to the treatment and the tumours soon returned.

Gilman and Goodman continued experimenting throughout the war, but it was not until 1946 when Dr. Stewart Alexander’s report on the victims of the Bari Air Raid were declassified that a breakthrough was finally achieved. Noting the extremely low white cell counts measured in the Bari victims, a team from the University of Chicago’s Medical School led by Leon O. Jacobson turned their attention to leukaemia, a cancer of the bone marrow that results in the overproduction of abnormal blood cells, leading to severe anemia, reduced clotting ability, and a compromised immune system. HN2 proved spectacularly effective, and after several more years of research was developed into the world’s first chemotherapy drug, sold under the brand name Mustine.

On September 21,1946, Gilman and Goodman published a landmark paper detailing their pioneering experiments with Mustine and outlining the drug’s mechanism of action. Mustine was the first of a class of chemotherapy drugs known as alkylating agents, which work by attaching an alkyl group to guanine, one of the four base pairs in DNA. This prevents the genome from replicating and the cell from dividing. Cancerous cells, which have a reduced ability to correct damage in their DNA, are more vulnerable to alkylation and are thus preferentially targeted by drug. Nonetheless, like all chemotherapy drugs, Mustine is also toxic to healthy human cells – especially rapidly-dividing ones like in the bone marrow and sexual organs –  and prolonged exposure can cause other tumours to develop. Such is the delicate balancing act at the heart of all chemotherapy: killing the cancer before the treatment kills the patient.

Mustine is rarely used today on account of its toxicity and it being regulated as a chemical weapon, but its   contribution to medical science is undeniable. The discovery of Mustine heralded a new era in the treatment of cancer, and lead to the development of hundreds of new chemotherapy drugs, many of which are still in use to this day. One wonders whether the inventors of mustard gas, which wrought so much death and suffering on the battlefields of the First World War, could ever have imagined that their creation would one day help save so many millions of lives.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Bonus Facts

#1: The first use of chemical weapons in modern history is usually given as April 22, 1915, when the German Army released cylinders of Chlorine gas against Canadian, French, and Algerian troops at the Second Battle of Ypres. But three months earlier Germany had actually used artillery shells filled with Xylyl Bromide, a form of tear gas, against the Russians near Bolimow in what is today Poland. However, so severe was the Russian winter that the gas froze solid in the shells and failed to disperse. The Russian cold thwarting an invading army? Where have we heard that before…

#2: The Second World War saw the Germans develop an entirely new class of chemical weapons known as nerve agents. These work by interfering with the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, causing all the nerves in the body to fire at once, leading to rapid paralysis and death. The first nerve agent was discovered by accident in 1936 by chemist Gerhard Schrader while working for the pharmaceutical conglomerate IG Farben. Schrader had been trying to develop a new insecticide to protect crops and end world hunger, but instead produced a substance so toxic it was lethal to human in minutes – whoopsie doodle! Due to the terrifying nature of his discovery, he named it Tabun, after the German word for Taboo. Tabun was followed by even more potent agents including Sarin, Soman, and finally Cyclosarin, tens of thousands of tons of which were manufactured and stockpiled by the Germans.

Yet just like the Allied stockpiles of Mustard Gas and other chemical weapons, Nazi Germany never made use of its nerve agents. Various theories have been put forward to explain this, including a fear of retaliation or Hitler’s experience being gassed as as a soldier during WWI, but the testimony of Hermann Goering- Reichsmarshall and head of the Luftwaffe – during the Nuremberg trials suggests a surprising and rather more mundane reason: horses. Despite the image portrayed by Nazi propaganda of a fully-mechanized force, in reality most of the German army marched on foot, with heavy equipment being pulled by horses. The Wehrmacht grew increasingly dependent on horses as the war went on, as shortages of fuel and spare parts made it difficult to operate trucks and other vehicles. This in turn, made the use of poison gas impossible, as Goering explained: “A horse lies down between the shafts or between the thills as soon as his breathing is restricted. We never had a gas mask a horse would tolerate.…all our material was horse-drawn. Had we used gas you would have retaliated and you would easily have immobilized us.”

Expand for References

Bryden, John, Deadly Allies: Canada’s Secret War 1937-1947, McClellan & Stewart, 1989

Mukherjee, Siddhartha, The Emperor of All Maladies: a Biography of Cancer, Scribner, 2011

Freemantle, Michael, Mustine, Chemistry World, March 8, 2017

Mandal, Ananya, History of Chemotherapy, News Medical

Hazell, Sarah, Mustard Gas – From the Great War to Frontline Chemotherapy, Cancer Research UK, August 2, 2014

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from Today I Found Out
by Gilles Messier - October 27, 2020 at 12:01PM
Article provided by the producers of one of our Favorite YouTube Channels!

Monday, October 26, 2020

The Great Light Bulb Conspiracy

In a dim corner of Fire Station #6 in Livermore California hangs a truly extraordinary object…a lightbulb. But this is no ordinary lightbulb. First installed in 1901, it has been burning almost continuously ever since, having only been switched off a handful of times in nearly 120 years. The Livermore Centennial Bulb has become something of a local celebrity, with the city throwing it a birthday party in 2001 attended by over 1000 people. The bulb even has its own dedicated webcam so that anyone in the world can confirm that it is indeed still shining its light upon the world.

The specific model of the Livermore Centennial Light was invented by Frenchman Adolphe Chaillet in 1897 and manufactured by the Shelby Electric Works in Shelby, Ohio shortly thereafter. According to Chaillet’s patent, improvements introduced by his bulb design include a thick, square-cut tungsten filament shorter and more durable than previous models and a flattened bulb head that projects more light downward when installed in a ceiling fixture. Apparently an extremely durable design, the Centennial Light isn’t the only surviving bulb of this construction, simply the oldest, though many others of the same design are close.

In more modern times, while incandescent bulbs have largely been replaced by compact fluorescent and LED lights, the extreme longevity of the Livermore Bulb design can make one wonder: why don’t today’s lightbulbs last anywhere near as long? Amazingly, the answer lies not in the complex and inscrutable interplay of economic forces but rather in a bona fide dark conspiracy: the Phoebus Cartel.

The early 1920s was both a great and terrible time to be a lightbulb manufacturer,  as the ongoing electrification of the world saw consumers buying electrical appliances like lightbulbs at an unprecedented rate. But this boom came at a price, as hundreds of smaller lightbulb manufacturers popped up around the world, increasing competition and decreasing the market share for any one company. Furthermore, lightbulb technology had reached a point where some bulbs lasted up to 2500 hours, limiting the number of replacements a consumer would have to buy in a lifetime. These developments proved disastrous for manufacturers like German firm Osram, which saw its sales plummet by more than 55% between 1922 and 1923. Seeking to stabilize the market and ensure reliable long-term profits, on Christmas Eve 1924 the head of Osram, Wilhelm Meinhardt, brought together the world’s largest light bulb manufacturers – including the Netherland’s Philips, the UK’s Associated Electrical Industries, France’s Compagnie des Lampes, China Edison, Tokyo Electric, and General Electric’s Brazilian and Mexican subsidiaries – to form a Cartel that came to be known as the Phoebus group.

The stated aim of Phoebus was to:

[secure] the cooperation of all parties to the agreement, ensuring the advantageous exploitation of their manufacturing capabilities in the production of lamps, ensuring and maintaining a uniformly high quality, increasing the effectiveness of electric lighting and increasing light use to the advantage of the consumer.

But in practice the group’s activities had nothing to do with benefiting the consumer and everything to do with minimizing competition and maximizing profits. The Cartel fixed global light bulb prices and placed strict production quotas on its members, imposing steep fines on any who exceeded their assigned cap. Even as improving technology lowered manufacturing costs, prices remained steady, netting the Cartel ever-increasing profit margins. Even more insidiously, Phoebus artificially limited the quality of its lightbulbs, standardizing their longevity at only 1000 hours. Though sold to customers as a trade-off of generating more light per watt, the true purpose of regulation was to increase the number of bulbs customers had to purchase per year. All member companies had to submit their lightbulbs for rigorous testing at a central Swiss laboratory, with any who exceeded the 1000 hour standard being fined. Between 1926 and 1933, average bulb lifespan dropped from 1,800 to 1,200 hours, and by 1934 almost no commercially available lightbulb lasted more than 1,500 hours. Meanwhile, Phoebus’ members enjoyed sales increases of up to fivefold. It was among the first large-scale applications of the strategy of Planned Obsolescence- the practice of deliberately engineering a product to fail or be replaced after a certain period.

Yet despite its near-stranglehold on the global lightbulb market, by the 1930s the Phoebus Cartel was beginning to unravel. As often happens with Cartels, several members began to vie for greater market share, lowering prices and increasing bulb lifespans in defiance of Phoebus’ strict standards. The expiration of General Electric’s basic light bulb patents in 1930 also opened up the Cartel to competition from non-member companies, and GE itself found itself subject to several US antitrust lawsuit, further weakening the Cartel’s profits. But the final nail in the coffin was the start of the Second World War, which made further cooperation between the Cartel’s members impossible. In 1940, the organization was officially dissolved.

Though it lasted barely 15 years, the Phoebus Cartel cast a long shadow over the 20th Century. The lightbulb designs it had standardized with their carefully-engineered 1000-hour lifespans continued to be manufactured long after the war, with few models approaching pre-1924 longevity until the advent of compact fluorescent and LED bulbs. 2019 even saw a re-emergence of the Phoebus model in the form of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, an organization representing major lightbulb manufacturers GE, Signify, and Sylvania, which successfully lobbied the US Department of Energy to overturn a 2007 law that called for conventional incandescent bulbs to be phased out by 2020. But perhaps the greatest legacy of the Phoebus Cartel is the principle of Planned Obsolescence it helped to perfect, which is baked into nearly every consumer product on the market today, from cars to clothes to smartphones and, seemingly given most LED and CFL bulbs don’t last anywhere even close to their stated potential for various reasons, lightbulbs.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Bonus Facts:

While the Phoebus Cartel was careful not to state their strategy of planned obsolescence outright publicly, later individuals had no such qualms. For example, in 1932, with the world in the depths of the Great Depression, Bernard London, a New York real estate broker, proposed using planned obsolescence to end the economic crisis and ensure lasting prosperity. In London’s scheme, which he laid out in a series of essays published between 1932 and 1935, all consumer products would be assigned a fixed lifespan by the Government. When this lifespan was reached, products would be declared legally “dead” and taken back by the Government for disposal, whereupon consumers would be required to buy a new model. In this manner, London believed, customer demand, production, and employment could be sustained indefinitely. While London’s ideas were never put into practice, the idea of planned obsolescence would reemerge after the Second World War in a new, more consumer-friendly form. Among the most vocal advocates of this new school of planned obsolescence was American industrial stylist Brooks Stevens, designer of, among other things, the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile. Unlike Bernard London’s model of compulsory obsolescence, Stevens’ philosophy held that through a combination of innovative design, advertising, and peer pressure, consumers could be convinced to constantly desire new models of products. As he himself put it:

Unlike the European approach of the past where they tried to make the very best products and make them last forever – meaning that you bought such a fine suit of clothes that you were married in it and then buried in it and never [had] a chance to renew it- the approach in America is one of making the American consumer unhappy with the product that he has enjoyed the use of for a period, having him pass it on to the second-hand market, and obtain the newest product with the newest possible look.

#2) A product it probably won’t surprise you to learn is often engineered to fail early is that wonderful source of never-ending frustration, the inkjet printer. Many of us have experienced that infuriating phenomenon when a seemingly brand-new printer suddenly ceases to work and displays a warning message reading something like “Parts inside your printer are at the end of their service life.” Often this stoppage will prove impossible or prohibitively expensive to fix, forcing us to grudgingly go out and buy a new machine. This type of failure is typically caused by a quirk of the printer’s cleaning system. Whenever the print heads clean themselves, a small quantity of ink is squirted into a sponge-lined receptacle at the bottom of the printer housing. After a certain number of cleanings, the printer is programmed to shut down – a feature originally intended to prevent ink from spilling out and to allow the user to drain the ink receptacle. But more often than not, no provision is given for doing so or for resetting the cleaning cycle, conveniently creating a situation where it is less expensive to buy a new printer than to fix the old one. Fortunately, for those willing to put in a bit of extra work, software patches are often available online to reset the cleaning cycle and allow the printer to keep working. For the rest of us, well there’s always that scene from Office Space… 

#3) While Thomas Edison is often credited as inventing the incandescent lightbulb, as happens with pretty much any invention whose time has come, the concept was also developed independently by several inventors including Joseph Swan of England and Henry Woodward of Canada. Edison did, however, develop the first commercially-viable light bulb, which first went on sale in 1880. The key to Edison’s lightbulb was its filament, made of carbonized bamboo, which allowed it to last up to 1200 hours. Workers at Edison’s laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey, reportedly tried over 6000 different filament materials before hitting on the right combination. But while revolutionary, Edison’s bulbs suffered from fragile filaments and progressive blackening of the inner bulb surface, and were soon replaced by more advanced models. In 1906, General Electric introduced a bulb with a far more durable tungsten filament and filled with Argon Gas, which was less prone to leakage than earlier vacuum-filled bulbs. This design would form the basis for nearly all incandescent bulbs produced ever since. By the early 1920s when the Phoebus Cartel was formed, light bulbs produced nearly five times as much light as Edison’s first bulbs and lasted more than twice as long.

Expand for References

Dannoritzer, Cosima (dir.) Pret-a-Jeter / The Light Bulb Conspiracy ARTE/Article Z 2010

Krajewski, Markus, The Great Lightbulb Conspiracy, IEEE Spectrum, September 24, 2014

Livermore, California’s Centennial Light

Report on the Supply of Electric Lamps, The Monopolies and Restrictive Practices Commission, 1948

MacKinnon, J.B, The L.E.D Quandary: Why There’s No Such Thing as “Built to Last”, The New Yorker, July 14, 2016

Gaughen, Patrick, Structural Inefficiency in the Early Twentieth Century: Studies in the Aluminum and Incandescent Lamp Markets, December 1998


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from Today I Found Out
by Gilles Messier - October 26, 2020 at 11:53AM
Article provided by the producers of one of our Favorite YouTube Channels!

That Time Toilets Gave Away a Cold War Secret

330 kilometers northwest of the Canadian capital of Ottawa lies the town of Carp. At first glance the place  might seem unremarkable, no different from the countless other sleepy little towns dotted across rural Ontario. But Carp is a small town with a big secret. For 35 years it was the site of a vital piece of Cold War infrastructure, one intended to preserve the function of the Canadian Government in the event of a nuclear war. On the outskirts of town, buried under a hill in an old gravel quarry, lies a massive fallout shelter simply known as the Diefenbunker.

Officially called the Emergency Government Headquarters, the Diefenbunker took its nickname from Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, who authorized its construction in 1959. A truly massive structure, the Diefenbunker stands four storeys deep, covers an area of 9000 square meters, and was poured from 32,000 tons of reinforced concrete. Designed to shelter the Prime Minister and 564 Cabinet members, staff, and military personnel for up to a month without resupply, the facility is equipped with its own Diesel generators, air filtering equipment, decontamination facilities, a three-bed hospital with surgical suite, a dentist’s office, a TV broadcast studio for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation or CBC, a jail, and even a vault to store the Bank of Canada’s gold reserves. The whole structure is suspended on massive springs to damp out shock waves while the 1-meter-thick steel entrance doors are built into the wall of a long tunnel running through a hill, allowing the blast wave from a nuclear explosion to blow harmlessly past. As-designed, the Diefenbunker was intended to withstand a nuclear blast of up to 5 Megatons 2 kilometres away.

Yet despite this sophistication, the Diefenbunker was nearly obsolete before it was finished, a consequence of the ever-increasing power and accuracy of Soviet ICBMs.  This vulnerability was somewhat offset by locating the bunker in Carp, as it was assumed that Russian missiles would be targeted at the Capital itself. But for this to work, the location of the Diefenbunker had to be kept secret – a difficult task for such a massive construction project. Luckily, the Canadian Army already operated a chain of communications bunkers across Canada, so Canadian Government simply claimed that the Emergency Government Headquarters was just another one of these bunkers, even giving it the codename Experimental Army Signals Establishment, or EASE.

While this cover story was widely accepted by the public, one man was not so convinced: George Brimmell, an investigative reporter for the Toronto Telegram newspaper. Convinced there must be something more to the story, in 1961 Brimmell hired a helicopter and flew over the construction site in Carp to have a look for himself. Almost immediately, he spotted something out of place: toilets. 78 of them to be exact, sitting in a material handling yard awaiting installation. To Brimmell, something about this smelled decidedly off; if the Government’s story was to be believed and this was merely a communications bunker for 150 men, 78 toilets was rather excessive. There could only be one conclusion: this was, in fact, the Canadian Government’s secret fallout shelter. On September 11, 1961, Brimmell broke the story in the Telegram under the headline This is the Diefenbunker, coining the name the facility has affectionately known by ever since. Faced with Brimmell’s overwhelming evidence, the Canadian Government was forced, much to its annoyance, to admit to the existence of the Emergency Government Headquarters. And so what was supposed to be Canada’s greatest Cold War secret was exposed by nothing more than some poorly-placed toilets.

Despite the facility’s popular nickname, ironically Prime Minister Diefenbaker swore he would never set foot inside the bunker. This is because spouses of key personnel were not allowed inside, and Diefenbaker preferred to stay in his own home fallout shelter with his family. Not that he was ever forced to make the choice; throughout its 35 years of operation only one Canadian Prime Minister – Pierre Trudeau – ever visited the Diefenbunker. Nor was any gold ever stored in its ultra-secure vault; in fact, following Canada’s abandonment of the Gold Standard in 1971, the vault was largely used as a gym by the 120 military personnel permanently stationed in the bunker. With the end of the Cold War, in 1994 the Diefenbunker was finally shut down and stripped of all its equipment. And this unique piece of Cold War history might have been lost forever were it not for a small dedicated group of volunteers determined to preserve it for posterity. Indeed, the Diefenbunker was mere weeks away from having its entrance tunnel filled with concrete when in 1998 the Town of Carp and the Diefenbunker Development Group took control of the site. Today the restored bunker operates year-round as Canada’s Cold War Museum, and stands as a stark reminder of a dark and fearful period in World History. And yes: the 78 toilets are still there and in working order.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Bonus Facts

#1: While Canada has never officially developed or owned nuclear weapons, between 1950 and 1984 various American nuclear weapons were stationed on Canadian soil. The first weapons to arrive in Canada were Mk.4 atomic bombs similar to the one dropped on Nagasaki, which in 1950 were deployed to Goose Bay in Labrador for use by American B-50 bombers flying northern deterrence patrols.  On November 10 of that year, when the bombs were being flown back to America, one bomber encountered engine trouble and was forced to jettison its weapon over the St. Lawrence river. While the bomb did not have its Plutonium core installed, the conventional explosives aboard detonated, contaminating the river with other radioactive components. However, Canada’s relationship with nuclear weapons would soon become far more hands-on.

In the early 1950s the main nuclear threat to North America was from Soviet bombers flying over the North Pole. With guided missile technology still in its infancy, the only way of shooting down these bombers was with manned interceptor aircraft armed with a largely ineffective assortment of cannons and unguided rockets. This left defence planners in a precarious position, as only one bomber getting through could mean the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians. In response, weapons manufacturers began developing small nuclear weapons to destroy large numbers of bombers at once. The first of these weapons to enter service was the Douglas AIR-2 Genie, also known to pilots as the “Ding-Dong.” The Genie was terrifying in its simplicity, having no guidance system or sophisticated arming mechanisms: just a solid rocket motor, time fuse, and a 1.5 kiloton nuclear warhead capable of destroying anything within a 300 meter radius. The Genie was tested only once as part of Operation Plumbbob on July 19, 1957, being launched at an altitude of 20,000 feet over the Nevada Test Site from an F-89 Scorpion interceptor. To prove that the weapon was safe to use over populated areas, five Air Force Officers volunteered to stand below the blast without any sort of protective gear. For more on this, see our video: That Time Five Dudes Volunteered to Stand at Ground Zero of a Nuclear Blast

The second nuclear air-defence weapon to be developed was the Boeing CIM-10 Bomarc, a ramjet-powered, ground-launched guided missile armed with a 10 kiloton warhead. The presence of the Genie and Bomarc in the US inventory made the Canadian Government more than a little nervous, as even if these weapons were deployed as far north as possible along the border, their limited range meant that interception would likely occur over Canadian cities. In order to push the interception range further north, in 1960 the government of Prime Minister John Diefenbaker reluctantly agreed to build Bomarc missile bases in Canada. This decision proved extremely controversial, especially as it contributed to the cancellation of the highly-advanced CF-105 Avro Arrow interceptor – an decision that still provokes passionate debate in Canada to this day. At first the leader of the opposition, Lester Pearson, opposed the adoption of nuclear weapons, but later changed his mind and largely on this basis won the 1963 election. The first nuclear-armed Bomarcs arrived at Canadian Forces Base North Bay in December of that year.

In addition to the Bomarcs, CF-101 Voodoo interceptors based in Canada carried Genie rockets, while RCAF CF-104 Starfighters deployed in Germany were armed with various nuclear bombs with yields of up to 1 Megaton. Finally, Canadian Army troops in Germany were equipped with the MGR-1 Honest John unguided ground-to-ground rocket, which could carry up to a 61-kiloton warhead. Officially, all these warheads remained the property of the United States, with Canadian personnel required to obtain consent from an American liaison officer before loading them onto Canadian aircraft.

Canada’s time as a nuclear-armed nation came to an end in 1984 when its Genie rockets and CF-104 Starfighters finally became obsolete and were retired from service. Since then Canada has signed various non-proliferation treaties and has disavowed any future possession or use of nuclear weapons.

#2: The Diefenbunker incident wasn’t the only time toilets nearly gave away Cold War secrets. When the Space Transport System, better known as the Space Shuttle, was designed in the late 1970s, one of its key design parameters was that its cargo bay be large enough to carry military satellites. Between 1982 and 1992, the Space Shuttle flew 10 joint missions to deploy secret Department of Defence payloads, details of which remain classified to this day. Maintaining secrecy on these missions was challenging, as the majority of the crews were regular NASA astronauts without high-level security clearance, and the Shuttle was not equipped with secure communications equipment. But the greatest security threat came from an unexpected source: the Shuttle’s toilet. Incredibly, the toilet was equipped with a microphone so that NASA flight surgeons could monitor the astronaut’s digestive health. As the military feared that this microphone could potentially pick up conversations regarding the classified payload, once the Shuttle landed it fell to an unfortunate Military Intelligence officer to sit through several days worth of recorded fart noises to ensure no vital secrets were revealed. And you thought your job was shit…

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from Today I Found Out
by Gilles Messier - October 26, 2020 at 11:46AM
Article provided by the producers of one of our Favorite YouTube Channels!

Sunday, October 25, 2020

The German Rocket Fighter that Dissolved its Pilots Alive

On July 28, 1944, a flight of P-51 Mustangs escorting a squadron of B-17 Bombers on a mission over Merseburg, Germany, spotted something strange in the distance: a pair of white contrails rising at tremendous speed into the stratosphere. As the contrails pitched over and dove onto the bomber stream, the fighters broke formation to intercept. Seconds later, a pair of tiny egg-shaped aircraft with short swept-back wings flashed by and plunged back into the clouds, travelling faster than anything the American pilots had ever seen. It was the Allied air forces’ first encounter with a new German secret weapon: the rocket-powered Messerschmitt Me-163 Komet, an aircraft so fast its performance would not be matched for nearly a decade, yet so horrendously dangerous to fly it would claim the lives of more German pilots in  development and training than Allied aircrew it took down in combat.

Experiments with rocket-powered aircraft have a long history in Germany. In a series of increasingly audacious publicity stunts, during the 1920s automobile manufacturer Fritz Opel experimented with fitting gunpowder rockets to a variety of vehicles from cars to railway wagons. These experiments culminated in the construction of the Lippisch Ente, or Duck, which on June 11, 1928 became the first manned aircraft to fly under rocket power. Later in the 1930s, aircraft manufacturer Ernst Heinkel undertook a series of experiments to develop a liquid-fuelled rocket engine for use in aircraft. Heinkel’s first success came in March 1937 when a modified He-112 propeller-powered fighter flew under rocket power for 30 seconds. Heinkel next constructed the diminutive He-176, which on June 20th, 1939, became the first aircraft to take off, fly, and land solely under rocket power..

But while Heinkel had high hopes for rocket aircraft, the German Air Ministry was decidedly less enthusiastic. On first being shown the He-176, Generaloberst Ernst Udet, Director-General of Equipment for the Luftwaffe, exclaimed: “You want to fly with that? It has no wings…those are running boards!”

On actually seeing the aircraft fly, Udet reportedly flew into a rage, declaring: “That is no airplane, leave it alone! I forbid you to fly it again.”

Even a demonstration in front of top Nazi dignitaries including Adolf Hitler on July 3 failed to make any impact, and Germany entered the Second World War with conventional propeller-driven aircraft. But the realities of War would soon force the High Command to change its mind. Starting in 1942 the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Force began a concerted strategic bombing campaign against Germany and occupied Europe, pounding cities, factories, and other targets round-the-clock. The Luftwaffe, stretched thin by Hitler’s invasion of Russia and chronically short on men and fuel, was unable to cope, and so the call went out for a fast, inexpensive rocket-powered interceptor that could stem the tide of Allied aircraft.

The aircraft that would become the Komet emerged from the work of two aviation pioneers. The first was Alexander Lippisch, designer of the pioneering Ente, who, working with DFS, the German Research Institute for Sailplane Flight, was attempting to develop a unique high-speed tailless glider. In 1939, Lippisch left DFS and took his design to aircraft manufacturer Messerschmitt, who gave it the designation Me-163. Messerschmitt soon began experimenting with fitting the 163 with a revolutionary new rocket engine designed by Hellmuth Walter, who had also designed the engine for Heinkel’s pioneering He-176. Walter’s R-1-203 ‘cold’ engine, originally developed as a Jet-Assisted Take-Off or JATO pod for helping overloaded transport aircraft get off the ground, reacted concentrated Hydrogen Peroxide with Sodium Permanganate to generate high-pressure steam, producing around 1000 pounds of thrust.

The result was an aircraft of unprecedented performance. On the 2nd of October 1941 test pilot Heinrich ‘Heini’ Dittmar flew the prototype Me-163A to a record airspeed of 1003.67 mph, becoming the first pilot to exceed 1000 mph in level flight. Three years later Dittmar would fly the improved 163B model to 1130 mph – a record that would not be beaten by a jet aircraft for almost a decade. The Komet’s climb rate also far exceeded that of any contemporary aircraft, being able to climb to an altitude of 39,000 feet in less than four minutes. This in turn required pilots to maintain a special low-fibre diet to prevent gas from expanding painfully in their gut too uncomfortably. Even unpowered the Komet displayed superb handling characteristics, with pilots reporting the aircraft to be nearly impossible to stall or spin. And so fast was it in a  glide that upon being buzzed by a 163A at 300mph, a startled Ernst Udet is reported to have exclaimed “What sort of engine has it?”, to which a presumably smug Alexander Lippisch replied “None.”

Yet despite this blistering performance, the Komet quickly revealed itself as an extremely hazardous aircraft to fly. Among its major flaws was its landing gear. For takeoff the Komet was fitted with a simple two-wheeled dolly which was jettisoned as soon as the aircraft left the ground, after which the aircraft landed on a retractable ventral skid. However, if the pilot forgot to extend the skid or unlock the skid, the impact of landing could cause severe injuries. Indeed, during the Komet’s development three of its main test pilots – Heini Dittmar, Rudy Opitz, and Hannah Reitsch – suffered serious spinal damage and skull fractures due to hard landings and spent several months in hospital recovering.

But the greatest danger by far came from the Komet’s engine. Hellmuth Walter’s HWK 509 “Hot Engine,” which powered the production Me-163B, ran on a combination of two propellants: “T-Stoff”, highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide;  and “C-Stoff”, a 30% mixture of Hydrazine Hydrate and Methanol. These propellants were hypergolic, meaning that when mixed they immediately and violently exploded. The fact that they were both colourless liquids meant that handling accidents were common, as in the case of one unfortunate ground crewman who inadvertently poured a container of T-Stoff into another containing a small quantity of C-Stoff. As author William Green recounts: “Before he realized the magnitude of his mistake his remains had been spread thinly over the entire test shed.”

This extreme volatility meant that great care had to be taken when refuelling the Komet, with the propellants being loaded one at a time and the engine flushed out with water between each flight. But despite these measures, many Komets and ground crew were lost to explosions before the aircraft ever left the ground. Even worse,T-Stoff is highly corrosive and can strip flesh from bones in seconds. It also tends to react with even the smallest speck of dirt or organic matter, decomposing violently into scalding steam and oxygen, meaning it could only be stored in glass or enamel-lined containers. While Komet pilots were issued with special acid-proof asbestos flight suits, any landing made with propellant left in the tanks was likely to end in disaster – as Mano Ziegler, one of the few Komet pilots to survive the war, recounts in his memoirs:

A certain Feldwebel Alois Worndl from Aschau, an excellent fellow and completely reliable flying with the accuracy of a precision instrument, was chosen from among us pupils to make the first sharp start in the Komet. “Make it good, Alois!” We shouted, and then he was off.

…As expected, Alois’ rocket motor cut out at about 6000 metres altitude, and he turned back towards the field, as precise as ever. Then, without warning, “Sideslip!” The shout came from one of the group. Alois was much too high to touch down anywhere near the landing cross! “Sideslip, sideslip!” We all shouted as if he could hear us, but the Komet shot past us and past the landing cross – too high, too fast!

Anxiously we watched the Komet touch down far outside the airfield perimeter, rebound into the air, drop back again like a brick, then skid into some rough ground and turn over on its back. A split second later a blinding white flame shot up, followed by a mushroom of smoke.

On other occasions pilots suffered a fate worse than an explosion, as in the case of Oberleutnant Josef Pohs, who on one flight released his takeoff dolly too early. The dolly bounced off the ground and struck the aircraft, rupturing a T-Stoff line. Pohs immediately jettisoned his fuel and banked around to make an emergency landing, but just like Alois Worndl missed the runway, touched down on rough ground, and flipped over. To the relief of his watching comrades his aircraft did not explode, but when they finally reached him and turned the Komet over they were greeted with a gruesome sight: T-Stoff leaking from the ruptured line had dissolved the unconscious Pohs alive.

Despite these hazards, development of the Komet pressed ahead, with the first operational squadron, Jagdgeschwader 400, receiving production Me-163Bs in May 1944. The Model B was larger and more streamlined than the Model A and equipped with armour protection for the pilot and a pair of MK 108 30mm cannons with 60 rounds of ammunition each. Due to its limited engine endurance of only 6 minutes, the Komet served as a point-defence interceptor, with airfields being located next to strategic targets such as the Leuna synthetic fuel works near Leipzig. To conserve fuel, the Komet was towed to the runway by a modified agricultural tractor before having its propellant tanks filled. The pilot then took off and climbed to an altitude of 39,000 feet before cutting off the rocket motor and making a gliding dive onto the approaching bomber formation. The pilot would make as many attack runs as fuel and airspeed would allow before breaking off and gliding to a landing on the ventral skid. The now-immobile Komet would then be retrieved by another tractor and prepared for its next flight.

The first operational sorties soon revealed yet another of the Komet’s many flaws: it was too fast. Due to the short range of its cannons, during a high-speed approach the pilot only had a window of around 3 seconds in which to aim and fire, making it impossible for all but the best marksmen to hit their targets. Engineers attempted to correct this issue by developing a unique weapon known as the SG 500 Jagdfaust. This consisted of a set of five 50mm cannon barrels mounted vertically in the wing roots and connected to a photocell, such that when the Komet pilot passed into the shadow of a bomber all ten barrels would fire automatically. Field trials revealed the system to be highly effective, with Lieutenant Fritz Kelb reporting that the B-17 he fired upon “simply disintegrated.”  However, the War ended before the weapon could be deployed in large numbers.

Meanwhile, though the Komet’s incredible speed and maneuverability had initially taken the Allies by surprise, escort fighter pilots soon learned how to counter them, with Lieutenant Colonel John Murphy and Lieutenant Cyril Jones of the American 359th Fighter Group shooting down the first Me-163 on August 16, 1944. Allied pilots also discovered the Komet to be most vulnerable just after landing, and many were destroyed on the ground by roving fighter-bombers. But in the end what finished off the Komet was the deteriorating state of the German war economy, and by early 1945 a shortage of pilots, fuel, and spare parts left the 370 aircraft produced laying idle on the ground. Only a handful of sorties were flown before Germany finally surrendered on the 8th of May, 1945.

So what, in the end, did the Komet achieve? While exact figures are hard to come by, it is believed that between May 1944 and April 1945 Me-163 pilots shot down between 9 and 18 Allied bombers against a total of 10 Komets lost in combat – with many more aircraft, pilots, and ground crew were lost to accidents during the Komet’s long and troubled development. Strategically the Komet was an abysmal failure which, like so many other German ‘wonder weapon’ projects, consumed vast quantities of resources and manpower urgently needed elsewhere while contributing little to the final outcome of the war. Yet despite this, the Komet was an impressive technical achievement and closely studied by the Allies after the war. During the late 1940s and  early 1950s the United States, Soviet Union, and United Kingdom all experimented with mixed-power interceptors propelled by a combination of jet and rocket engines in order that combined the high speed and climb rate of the Komet with the greater endurance and range of a regular jet. However, it was soon realized that the interceptor role was more economically filled by unmanned surface-to-air missiles, and the rocket-powered fighter faded into irrelevancy, an impressive but obscure footnote in the history of aviation.

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Bonus Facts

#1: Only one Allied pilot ever flew the Komet under power: Royal Navy Captain Eric “Winkle” Brown, who to this day holds the record for the most different aircraft types flown by a single person. On May 17, 1945, Brown drove to the Me-163 airfield at Husum and asked the German ground crew to prepare an aircraft for him. At first the crew was refused, not only because of the dangerous nature of the aircraft but because following a series of incidents in which Allied pilots were killed flying captured German aircraft, flights like the one Brown was requesting were officially forbidden. Eventually Brown agreed to sign a disclaimer absolving the crew of any responsibility, and they helped prepare and familiarize him with the aircraft. In a 2014 interview, Brown recounted his experience: “The noise is thunderous, and you are given a bit of a shake-up on takeoff. The acceleration is unbelievable. I thought the performance was – there’s only one word for it – phenomenal [but] I felt that I was flying in a tin coffin because the chances of bailing out were virtually nil. I took it on in the full knowledge of what the risk was, but at the end of the day I felt a tremendous satisfaction in having beaten the odds.”

After landing safely, Brown and the no doubt relieved ground crew reportedly celebrated with a well-earned drink.

#2: Another weapon of desperation to emerge from German drawing boards at the end of WWII was the Bachem Ba-349 Natter, or Viper – an aircraft that was essentially a manned, semi-disposable antiaircraft missile. Realizing that taking off and landing from regular airfields made interceptors like the Komet vulnerable to attack by Allied aircraft, designer Erich Bachem conceived of an aircraft that could be launched vertically from a tower, allowing it to be easily hidden in forests. Built mostly of wood and other non-strategic materials, the Natter was powered by the same Walter HWK 109 rocket engine as the Me-163 and armed with a battery of 24 55mm unguided missiles housed in its nose. Upon launch an autopilot would guide the aircraft to operational altitude, whereupon the pilot would take over and intercept the incoming bomber formation. After expending his armament and fuel, the pilot would then jettison the cockpit section and bail out. The rear section of the aircraft would descend on its own parachute, allowing it to be recovered and the engine reused.

While Bachem’s design was rejected by the Air Ministry, it soon caught the attention of Heinrich Himmler and development began in October 1944 under the direction of the SS. Following a series of 8 gliding flights and unmanned launches, in April 1945 it was decided to proceed with a manned launch. On May 1, test pilot Lothar Sieber climbed into the cockpit and blasted into the air, becoming the first person to lift off vertically solely under rocket power. The launch proceeded smoothly until the Natter reached an altitude of 500 feet, whereupon the canopy, which had been insecurely latched, flew off, knocking Sieber unconscious. The Natter continued to rise to an altitude of 4,900 feet, whereupon it pitched over, plunged to the ground, and disintegrated on impact.

Despite this setback, Sieber’s flight was followed by four more successful manned launches, but the War ended before the Natter could be used operationally. But based on telemetry gathered his ill-fated flight, it is likely that just prior to impact Lothar Sieber achieved yet another first, becoming the first man – albeit briefly – to break the sound barrier.

Expand for References

Ziegler, Mano, Rocket Fighter, Bantam Books 1989

Green, William, Rocket Fighter, Ballantine Books, NY, 1971

Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet, Aircraft of the World, International Masters Publishers AB, 1997

Britain’s Greatest Pilot: The Extraordinary Story of Captain Winkle Brown, BBC 2014

The post The German Rocket Fighter that Dissolved its Pilots Alive appeared first on Today I Found Out.

from Today I Found Out
by Gilles Messier - October 25, 2020 at 12:56PM
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