May 24, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
It’s late, and you’re still awake. Allow us to help with Sleep Aid, a series devoted to curing insomnia with the dullest, most soporific texts available in the public domain. Tonight’s prescription: a chapter from Ants and Some Other Insects: An Inquiry into the Psychic Powers of These Animals, a 1904 book by the University of Zurich’s Dr. August Forel.
An insect is extraordinarily stupid and inadaptable to all things not related to its instincts. Nevertheless I succeeded in teaching a water-beetle (Dytiscus marginalis) which in nature feeds only in the water, to eat on my table. While thus feeding, it always executed a clumsy flexor-movement with its fore-legs which brought it over on its back. The insect learned to keep on feeding while on its back, but it would not dispense with this movement, which is adapted to feeding in the water. On the other hand, it always attempted to leap out of the water (no longer fleeing to the bottom of the vessel) when I entered the room, and nibbled at the tip of my finger in the most familiar manner. Now these are certainly plastic variations of instinct. In a similar manner some large Algerian ants which I transplanted to Zurich, learned during the course of the summer months to close the entrance of their nest with pellets of earth, because they were being persecuted and annoyed by our little Lasius niger. In Algiers I always saw the nest-opening wide open. There are many similar examples which go to show that these tiny animals can utilize some few of their experiences even when this requires a departure from the usual instincts. Read More »
March 22, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
It’s late, and you’re still awake. Allow us to help with Sleep Aid, a series devoted to curing insomnia with the dullest, most soporific texts available in the public domain. Tonight’s prescription: “History of Sumach Tanning in England, Degradation of the Manufacture of Leather, and History of the Reform Movement,” the first chapter of Leather for Libraries, a 1905 book by E. Windham Hulme.
The section of the leather trade to which this Handbook relates is that concerned in the manufacture of light leathers tanned with a pale tannage preparatory to being dyed. Bark and most other vegetable tanning substances leave a colour on the skin which cannot be removed without detriment to the durability of the leather; the retention of the colour, however, detracts from the purity of the final colour imparted by the dye. The reputation in the past of the sumach-tanned Spanish leather was founded upon this peculiar property of sumach of leaving the skin white, and on this point the wisdom of the ancients has been justified by the results of an exhaustive series of experiments conducted by the Society of Arts’ Committee, which have given to sumach the first place in the list of tannages for light leathers. Read More »
February 10, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
It’s late, and you’re still awake. Allow us to help with Sleep Aid, a series devoted to curing insomnia with the dullest, most soporific texts available in the public domain. Tonight’s prescription: “Administration of Timberlands in Canada,” a chapter from Bernhard E. Fernow’s A Brief History of Forestry in Europe, the United States, and Other Countries, published in 1911.
In the development of ownership conditions, the realization of the valuable assets in timber growth had not been overlooked by the home government, care of supplies for naval construction giving, as in the United States, the first incentive to a conservative forest policy.
Even under the early French rule, the grants of land were made under reservation of the oak timber fit for naval use, as is evidenced from a landgrant made in 1683. This reservation led to considerable friction as it hampered the colonists in making their clearings on the best lands. Later, the reservation was extended to include other timber needed for military purposes, and when the British occupation began, these established rights of the crown were not only continued, but reservations of larger areas for the timber were ordered, notably around and north of Lake Champlain. In 1763, and again in 1775, the home government ordered reservations to be set aside in every township. Read More »
December 2, 2015 | by Dan Piepenbring
It’s late, and you’re still awake. Allow us to help with Sleep Aid, a series devoted to curing insomnia with the dullest, most soporific texts available in the public domain. Tonight’s prescription: “Cattle Barons and Pioneer Drovers of Illinois,” a chapter from Frank Webster Farley’s History of the Beef Cattle Industry in Illinois, a 1915 thesis submitted “for the degree of Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in the College of Agriculture of the University of Illinois.”
Previous to the end of the first quarter of the nineteenth century, no droves of cattle were seen in the country west of Ohio. The first drove ever driven from Illinois was taken from Springfield, through Chicago, to Green Bay, Wisconsin, in 1825, by Colonel William S. Hamilton. Beginning with this date, the practice of collecting cattle into droves and driving them to market soon grew from a minor occupation into an industry within itself; beef cattle that were grown and fattened in Illinois were gathered together into large droves by men who made it a business, and were driven to the then great cattle markets on the sea board. Foremost among these early pioneer cattlemen were: Jacob Strawn, John T. Alexander, B. F. Harris, and Tom C. Ponting. In the scope of their operations, Jacob Strawn and John T. Alexander exceeded many of the conspicuous operators in the rise and fall of the range industry in this state. These men owned hundreds of acres of the prairie land of the state, on which they collected enormous droves of cattle. These cattle were grazed here throughout the spring and summer, then were fed during the winter. It was no uncommon occurrence for one of these operators to buy all the corn for sale during one season in three or four counties. The next spring these fat bullocks were trailed across the level country to the eastern mountain ranges, over which they climbed to reach Lancaster, Philadelphia, and New York. Cincinnati and Buffalo received a few of these cattle, but most of them were driven on through to the markets on the sea board, where better prices were obtained. These cities bore about the same relation to the livestock traffic of those days as Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, and St. Joseph bear to the cattle trade of today; they were the collecting points for the business, and the slaughterers who bought them either salted the carcasses down in barrels and casks or sold them to local consumers. Other dealers, however, bought some of these cattle and drove them on to smaller towns nearer the coast. “In the census of 1850, it was recorded that Illinois alone sent 2,000 head of cattle each week to the New York market.” Read More »
October 8, 2015 | by Dan Piepenbring
It’s late, and you’re still awake. Allow us to help with Sleep Aid, a series devoted to curing insomnia with the dullest, most soporific texts available in the public domain. Tonight’s prescription: Cold Storage, Heating, and Ventilating on Board Ship, a 1911 guide by Sydney Ferris Walker.
A cold store is a chamber that is built expressly to prevent heat from passing from outside to the produce inside. It is not possible to construct a chamber that will not allow some heat to pass through the walls, floor and ceiling, and this heat which is constantly leaking through into the chamber has to be removed, just as that of the produce itself is, and transported to the sea or the atmosphere. The quantity of heat that leaks through depends upon the difference of temperature between the inside and outside of the cold chamber, upon the construction of the walls, floor and roof, and upon the extent of the surfaces exposed to the action of the heat. Certain substances are good thermal insulators, just as certain substances are good electrical insulators, and the thermal insulators are used to prevent the ingress of heat into the cold chambers, in the same way that electrical insulators are used to prevent the egress of electricity from the I conductors. This fact is very often not understood, and is sometimes challenged, because the sizes are so different; but if it be borne in mind that the thickness of the walls of the chamber correspond with the thickness of the insulating envelope of a cable, or even of the insulation of the iron core of the armature of a dynamo machine, though they are much greater, while the air inside the chamber corresponds with the copper or the iron, it will probably be appreciated that heat leaks in through the thermal insulator just as electricity leaks out through the electrical insulator. Dry, still air is the best insulator known, and the other substances that are good insulators owe their property very largely to the fact that they contain a large number of very small air cells, across which the heat current has to pass. Read More »
July 30, 2015 | by Dan Piepenbring
It’s late, and you’re still awake. Allow us to help with Sleep Aid, a series devoted to curing insomnia with the dullest, most soporific texts available in the public domain. Tonight’s prescription: The Square Root of Two, an e-book sequel to Pi published in 2008 by Stan Kerr. NB: The text is abridged.
This choice was made by popular demand for a second number, from the responses to our posting of Pi to a million places as one of the January, 1993 Project Gutenberg Etexts. This was surprising, in that we never expected the massive response we got. For you, who are interested, we will also do e, Pi to the e, e to the Pi, and perhaps a few more. Suggestions welcome. For those who are not interested, don’t worry, we don’t have many of these in mind.
This electronic text was prepared by Stan Kerr as below. He would like this computation confirmed. This was computed on a Convex C240 using Richard Brent’s multiple precision arithmetic routines (MP), published as algorithm 524 in the March 1978 issue of Transactions on Mathematical Software. Using the MP routines, a base of 10,000 was chosen, to make the final decimal conversion trivial. The time to compute sqrt(2) was 32293 seconds, and the time to compute sqrt(2)**2-2 as a check was 31031 seconds. The number is presented as an integer. Read More »