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A Practical Handbook on the Distillation of Alcohol from Farm Products

August 1, 2014 | by

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 prose available in the public domain. Tonight’s prescription: “Alcoholometry,” a chapter from A Practical Handbook on the Distillation of Alcohol from Farm Products, published in 1907.

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David Rijckaert III, Man Sleeping, ca. 1649

Alcoholmetry is the name given to a variety of methods of determining the quantity of absolute alcohol contained in spirituous liquors. It will readily be seen that a quick and accurate method of making such determinations is of the very utmost importance to those who are engaged in the liquor traffic, since the value of spirit depends entirely upon the percentage of alcohol which it contains. When alcoholic liquors consist of simple mixtures of alcohol and water, the test is a simple one, the exact percentage being readily deducible from the specific gravity of the liquor, because to a definite specific gravity belongs a definite content of alcohol; this is obtained either by means of the specific gravity bottle, or of hydrometers of various kinds, specially constructed.

All hydrometers comprise essentially a graduated stem of uniform diameter, a bulb forming a float and a counterpoise or ballast. The hydrometers may either be provided with a scale indicated on the neck or else with weights added to sink the hydrometer to a certain mark. The first instruments are called hydrometers of “constant immersion,” the others, of “variable immersion.”

At the latter end of the last century, a series of arduous experiments were conducted by Sir C. Blagden, at the instance of the British government, with a view to establishing a fixed proportion between the specific gravity of spirituous liquors and the quantity of absolute alcohol contained in them. The result of these experiments, after being carefully verified, led to the construction of a series of tables, reference to which gives at once the percentage of alcohol for any given number of degrees registered by the hydrometer; these tables are invariably sold with the instrument. They are also constructed to show the number of degrees over-or under-proof, corresponding to the hydrometric degrees. Other tables are obtainable which give the specific gravity corresponding to these numbers.

The measurement of the percentage of absolute alcohol in spirituous liquors is almost invariably expressed in volume rather than weight, owing to the fact that such liquors are always sold by volume. Nevertheless, the tables referred to above show the percentage of spirit both by volume and weight. Read More »

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Minutes from the Second Annual Meeting of the American Society of Microscopists

May 23, 2014 | by

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 prose available in the public domain. Tonight’s prescription: “Minutes from the Second Annual Meeting of the American Society of Microscopists,” published in 1879.

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Eric Earnshaw, After Lunch, 1942

The American Society of Microscopists met in Second Annual Convention, pursuant to the final adjournment of the First Annual Session, in the Central School building, Buffalo, New York, at ten o’clock a.m., August 19th, 1879; the President, Dr. R. H. Ward, in the chair.

The Rev. Dr. Van Bokkelen, of Trinity Church, offered prayer.

Then, on behalf of the local Microscopical Club, Dr. H. R. Hopkins welcomed the visitors with the following address:

Mr. President and Gentlemen: let us exchange congratulations upon this the occasion of the second meeting of the American Society of Microscopists.

I most heartily congratulate each and all of you who have the pleasure of remembering that you assisted in the work of founding this society, and I also congratulate all of you who have the opportunity of attending the second meeting and of enrolling your names among the lists of its members. I also ask you to congratulate the citizens of Buffalo upon the fact that the second meeting of this society is held in our city.

I congratulate you upon the hearty cordiality with which you are made welcome by every member of your local committee, and the various societies and associations which that committee represents, and I ask you to congratulate us upon the cheering prospects that our expectations of the pleasure of listening to your deliberations are so near fruition.

Again I congratulate you upon the fact that there is an American Society of Microscopists, and I believe that the work of recording what Americans have done and are doing for the advancement of this department of science can safely be trusted to the future of the Society. With this thought in my mind, I must congratulate you upon the prospect of having with you one who has had the rare good fortune to teach the world how to make objectives, whose angles extend far outside the limits which authorities had fixed as the boundaries of the possible. Let us give all honor to the modest yet noble American, Mr. Charles A. Spencer, at once the father and the genius of Modern Microscopy. Read More »

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Medical Expert Evidence

April 25, 2014 | by

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 prose available in the public domain. Tonight’s prescription: “Medical Expert Evidence,” a treatise first published in Lippincott’s Magazine of Popular Literature and Science in April 1873.

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Albert Anker, Zwei schlafende Mädchen auf der Ofenbank Date, 1895

There is scarcely any position of more responsibility than that of the medical expert in cases of alleged poisoning. Often he stands with practically absolute power between society and the accused—the former looking to him for the proof of the crime and for the protection which discovery brings; the latter relying upon him for the vindication of his innocence. How profound and complete, then, should be his knowledge! how thorough his skill! how pure and spotless his integrity! how unimpeachable his results! Yet recently the humiliating spectacle has been repeatedly presented of expert swearing against expert, until the question at issue was apparently degraded into one of personal feeling or of professional reputation. So far has this gone that both judicial and public opinion seems to be demanding the abolition of expert testimony. The medical expert must, however, remain an essential feature in our criminal procedures, partaking as he does of the functions of the lawyer, inasmuch as he has, to some extent, the right to argue before the jury, partaking also of the judicial character in that it is his duty to express an opinion upon evidence, but differing from both judge and advocate in that as a witness he testifies to facts. Were the attempt made to do away with his functions, there would be an end to just convictions in the class of cases spoken of, because no one would be qualified to say whether any given death had been produced by poison or by a natural cause.

In many matters that come under the notice of medical experts there is room for honest differences of opinion. Of such nature are questions of sanity and insanity. It must be remembered that these are, after all, relative terms. Reason leaves its seat by almost imperceptible steps. Who can determine with exactness the line that separates eccentricity from madness—responsibility from irresponsibility? Moreover, the phenomena upon which opinion is based are, in such cases, so hidden, so complex, so obscure, that in the half-lights of a few short interviews they will often be seen differently by different observers.

In scarcely any of its parts does toxicology belong to this class of subjects—certainly not at all in so far as it deals with mineral poisons. To a great extent it is a fixed science—a science whose boundaries may be widened, whose processes may be rendered more delicate, but whose principles are in great measure settled for ever. Not in the imperfections of the science, but in the habits of the American medical profession and in the methods of our criminal procedures, lies the origin of the evils complained of.Read More »

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The Actual Return Upon Taxable and Tax-Exempt Securities

March 7, 2014 | by

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 prose available in the public domain. Tonight’s prescription: “The Actual Return Upon Taxable and Tax-Exempt Securities,” first published in the War Taxation: Some Comments and Letters, in 1917.

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Wilhelm Schumann, The Sleeping Embroiderer, 1838.

Dear Sir:

Your letter indicates that you do not sufficiently realize the enormous advantage in interest yield which under the income tax schedule as fixed in the House Bill is possessed by tax-exempt securities as compared to taxable securities, especially, of course, in respect of large incomes.

Permit me to call your attention to the following eloquent facts:

The yield of tax-exempt securities at prevailing prices ranges from 3-1/2% to nearly 4-1/2%. Under the rates fixed in the War Revenue Bill as it passed the House of Representatives, a taxable 6% investment would yield:

 

 

per annum

2.28%

 on incomes over

 $2,000,000

2.34%

“““

1,500,000

2.40%

“““

1,000,000

2.69%

“““

500,000

2.97%

“““

300,000

3.26%

“““

250,000

3.54%

“““

200,000

3.90%

“““

150,000

4.20%

“““

100,000

Read More »

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How Mechanical Rubber Goods Are Made

February 14, 2014 | by

It’s late, and you’re still awake. Allow us to help with Sleep Aid, a new series devoted to curing insomnia with the dullest, most soporific prose available in the public domain. Tonight’s prescription: “How Mechanical Rubber Goods Are Made,” first published in the Scientific American Supplement on February 13, 1892.

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Christian Krohg, Sleeping Mother with Child, 1883.

While the manufacture of rubber goods is in no sense a secret industry, the majority of buyers and users of such goods have never stepped inside of a rubber mill, and many have very crude ideas as to how the goods are made up. In ordinary garden hose, for instance, the process is as follows: The inner tubing is made of a strip of rubber fifty feet in length, which is laid on a long zinc-covered table and its edges drawn together over a hose pole. The cover, which is of what is called “friction,” that is cloth with rubber forced through its meshes, comes to the hose maker in strips, cut on the bias, which are wound around the outside of the tube and adhere tightly to it. The hose pole is then put in something like a fifty foot lathe, and while the pole revolves slowly, it is tightly wrapped with strips of cloth, in order that it may not get out of shape while undergoing the process of vulcanizing. When a number of these hose poles have been covered in this way they are laid in a pan set on trucks and are then run into a long boiler, shut in, and live steam is turned on. When the goods are cured steam is blown off, the vulcanizer opened and the cloths are removed. The hose is then slipped off the pole by forcing air from a compressor between the rubber and the hose pole. This, of course, is what is known as hose that has a seam in it.

For seamless hose the tube is made in a tubing machine and slipped upon the hose pole by reversing the process that is used in removing hose by air compression. In other words, a knot is tied in one end of the fifty foot tube and the other end is placed against the hose pole and being carefully inflated with air it is slipped on without the least trouble. For various kinds of hose the processes vary, and there are machines for winding with wire and intricate processes for the heavy grades of suction hose, etc. For steam hose, brewers’, and acid hose, special resisting compounds are used, that as a rule are the secrets of the various manufacturers. Cotton hose is woven through machines expressly designed for that purpose, and afterward has a half-cured rubber tube drawn through it. One end is then securely stopped up and the other end forced on a cone through which steam is introduced to the inside of the hose, forcing the rubber against the cotton cover, finishing the cure and fixing it firmly in its place. Read More »

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