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Entries in wwii (11)

Wednesday
Aug032011

Doughboys become "iron boys" to fight wars of the future (1926)

Between 1918 end of World War I and the 1939 start of World War II, American newspapers sometimes ran stories about how robots would battle in wars of the future. Still shaken from the incredible death toll of World War I, people hoped for a time when robots would fight in the place of humans. Sometimes this was imagined as something to ensure that only your side wouldn't see casualties, but other articles predicted a time when wars would simply be decided by whatever nation's robots could conquer that of another nation's robots, leaving no human casulaties.

The December 25, 1926 San Antonio Light ran this illustration of the robot soldier of the future. The illustration is based on an unnamed mechanical man with RUR emblazoned on its chest. R.U.R., of course being the name of the play by Karel Capek that introduced the word "robot" to the English speaking world in 1921. The caption explains that doughboys of the future (a term for American soldiers fighting in WWI) might be called iron boys if they're one day replaced by robots.

Possibly in some grim war of the future the doughboy will have become the "iron boy." The army has enlisted its first mechanical man "Private Robot," and put him to work at Aberdeen proving grounds.

 

Saturday
Jul092011

Waiter, there's a fly in my mealworms... (1978)

It's no secret that I love food. The first issue of Paleofuture Magazine and the first episode of paleofuture.tv are certainly a testament to that. And some might even consider me an adventurous eater. I recently tried cow brain for the first time and will occassionally indulge (much to the disgust of coworkers) in a tongue-stuffed burrito. But for some reason I just can't bring myself to eat bugs. I don't know if it's the texture or the fact that I'm already so full on spiders* after a good night's rest, but a grasshopper salad has never appealed to me.

The 1978 book Future Food: Alternate Protein for the Year 2000 by Barbara Ford includes a menu chock full of creepy crawly delicacies and scientifical concoctions. On Ms. Ford's menu you'll find not only crickets and mealworms, but also pueblo chenopod salad, science soy bread, roast chevon a la heidi, opaque 2 corn, lake chad algae, and tofu fruit whip.

Predictions about a move away from animal products or simply finding "alternative proteins" aren't new. This 1914 article from a Montana newspaper predicted that by the end of the 20th century animal food would be abandoned entirely. Ford's book doesn't predict the end of humans eating meat, but she's a big advocate of finding alternatives to what's currently considered acceptable for our plates. The book presents a fascinating collision of post-WWII food science utopianism and 1970's health food earthiness that I haven't often come across.

And yes, you read that right, chapter four is indeed titled "The Magical Fruit."

In this fascinating and important book, Barbara Ford tells us that by the year 2000 Americans will obtain a large portion of their protein from alternate proteins: food sources such as beans, high-protein grains, non-dairy cheese and milk, unusual forms of marine life, leafy plants such as alfalfa that are now fed exclusively to livestock, one- celled plants such as algae, strange plants you never heard of but undoubtedly will, and an assortment of "weird" proteins that includes insects, reptiles, rodents, small game such as possum, raccoons, and even dogs. 

Our sense of obligation to other people as well as our hardheaded interest in a stable world society almost demand that we cease feeding 98 percent of our soybean crop to animals, as we do today. The use of alternatives to animal protein frees vegetable protein for human use. The chief reason, however, for the predicted change in the American diet is economic. Traditional sources of protein cost more than they used to; from all indications they will continue to rise in price. Future Food is an invaluable and assiduously researched study. In it, Barbara Ford appraises the most important work being carried out 61 scientists to develop new kinds of protein, and she assesses their value. She advises on where to find these new food sources and how to incorporate them into our diet in the most nutritious form. She shows us that by the year 2000 we will be eating Squid Stew and Buffalo Gourd Meal and loving it. 

*Yes, I realize spiders are arachnids. Shut up, nerds.


Thursday
May122011

Futuristic Products, After the War (1945)

American companies during World War II often stressed sacrifice in their print advertising. If we can all just be patient, they promised, we'll have more televisions and personal helicopters and push-button kitchens than you can shake a rocket car at. 

 

After the war, the sun will power our homes.

After the war, we'll have plastic skyscrapers and frozen dinners.

After the war, life will be streamlined.

 

The June 24, 1945 San Antonio Express ran an article by Associated Press science writer Frank Carey that looked at the futuristic post-war products Americans were being promised. Dissecting a Labor Department report, Carey describes what it would take, with the end of the war, for these products to see the light of day.

I'm most intrigued by the article's optimistic outlook on plastics, "...and years after the war, we may even see automobile bodies made entirely of plastics." However, the report acknowledges that plastic's high price doesn't make it quite yet competitive with steel. Magnesium, plywood, aluminum.. it's fascinating to look at what people of the 1940s thought the future would be built upon.

Carey's entire article is below, but I'll leave you with one word about the future: plastics.

 

Dresses made of aluminum mesh...

Bathtubs made of plywood...

Transparent refrigerators made of plastics...

Automobiles with magnesium engine and body parts...

Such visionary products of the post-war world are either in the design or experimental stage, or they're being talked about as possibilities.

But the extent to which they might come into use depends upon various factors. Not the least is the dollar sign.

Discussion of the post-war outlook for such war-developed materials as polastics, aluminum, magnesium, plywood and synthetic rubber, is contained in a report made by the Department of Labor's bureau of statistics to the Senate subommittee on war mobilization.

The latter group, a brand of the Senate military affairs committee, described the report as "the first comprehensive statement of wartime developments."

The extent to which these new materials will be generally adopted is difficult to foretell," says the report.

"It is apparent that many of them will find larger markets than in the pre-war era period, but it is also virtually certain that not all of the facilities built during the war for the production of these materials will be needed. Comparisons of costs of various materials, which have not been of the greatest signifcance during the war, will again become important when peace returns."

And the report adds:

"The costs of production for these newer materials will be influenced not only by purely economic factors but by many political considerations.

"Of primary importance will be the policies followed in the disposition of government-owned facilities. For some materials, notably synthetic rubber, much will depend on the policies adopted with respect to foreign trade.

"Many of the new materials will compete with each other as well as the older materials for particular uses -- for example, plastics, aluminum, magnesium, and plywood."

The Labor Department's glance into the future was part of a comprehensive study of some 1400 technological developments made in various fields during wartime.

Of plastic, this picture was given:

Special qualities of plastics, such as transparency and resistance to chemical action, will fit them for varied uses in industry, the laboratory and the home. Continued use of plastics for structural parts and other articles in aircraft and automobiles is expected.

And years after the war, we may even see automobile bodies made entirely of plastics.

On the other hand --

"The future of the plastics industry will be governed largely by economic factors," says the report. "The price per pound of most plastics remains higher than that of many materials with which plastics compete.

"Despite the fact that articles of plastics are usually lighter than those of metal and that economies may be affected in fabrication, the price differential between plastics and, for example, steel is so great as to discourage large-scale substitution.

"There nevertheless remains a multitude of applications in which plastics are highly economical, because of special properties not elsewhere attainable or because of great savings in fabrication time and costs.

The report points out that the production of aluminum and magnesium expanded tremendously during wartime and says both materials may come into greater use in the future.

While the annual production of magnesium before 1939 was 4,000,000 pounds, production in 1943 was 368,000,000 pounds and the nation has production capacity for much more.

Indicated uses for aluminum, the report says, are for buses, automobiles, passenger ships and for the manufacture of household appliances, furniture, bicycles and burial caskets. But most uses, it adds, "are contingent upon a suitable adjustment of the price of aluminum relative to that of stainless steel, plastics, magnesium or other competing materials."

Desings have been prepared for automobiles with much aluminum in engine and body, "but the large-scale application of these designs will probably have to await further development of inexpensive mass-production methods of working with the metal."

The outlook for plywood in the post-war world "is promising" says the report, but it, too, will have to cope with competition."

Among possible uses are private airplanes, lightweight box-cars, prefabricated chicken houses and automobile bodies.

 

Saturday
May012010

Will Science Harness Sun Power After the War? (1942)

In 1942, with World War II raging, people were naturally thinking about what a post-War world might look like.

Once the present world-wide orgy of destruction has come to an end, there will be a tremendous job of reconstruction to do. Ruined cities, factories, power stations will have to be rebuilt, wrecked railroads and highways relaid, blasted mines and oil wells reopened, sunken ships replaced.

This syndicated piece by Dr. Frank Thone, found in the March 22, 1942 Galveston Daily News (Galveston, TX), imagines a world -- should it not be destroyed outright-- on which humanity could build a bright new future using the latest in solar power technologies. The entire piece appears below.

1942 March 22 Galveston Daily News - Galveston TX paleofuture

(While doing a quick search to learn more about Dr. Thone I found this interesting article he wrote in 1934.)

 

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Friday
Jan292010

Plastic Skyscrapers and Frozen Dinners (1945)

I don't want to miss plastic skyscrapers; frozen-food dinners in one package... wireless transmission of electricity; the chance to live energetically to the grand old age of 150 years. Screwball? Nothing of the kind. All of these things are here already in the minds of men; in scientific possibility; in materials. They just have to be put together. -- Eddie Rickenbacker, 1945

 

 

From the book Future: A Recent History by Lawrence R. Samuel.

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Monday
Jun162008

Torpedo Boat of Tomorrow (1943)

Friday
Mar282008

Future War Tank (1939)


This image appeared on the back cover of the December, 1939 issue of Amazing Stories. The accompanying text for this "Future War Tank" is below.

Future War Tank
This Land Battleship Can Form The Spearhead of Attack in Future Wars

 

It will be used to penetrate and smash strategic enemy positions and hold them until support arrives. massively armored, they will brush aside ordinary tanks. Only direct hits by heavy guns will affect it. Its anti-aircraft guns will repel aerial attack. Flame throwers will demoralize infantry resistance. Trenches and fortifications will be crumbled. Its crew will defend captured positions for days if need be. Its great weight will pave a road for following infantry and field artillery. Its guns will cover their advance.


See also:
Will War Drive Civilization Underground? (1942)
Nazi Paleo-Futurism (1941)
Word Origins: Imagineering, continued (1942)
Our Friend the Atom (Book, 1956)
After the War (1944)
Memory of 'Tomorrow' (New York Times, 1941)
Gigantic Robots to Fight Our Battles (Fresno Bee, 1934)
Pictures Stately Edifices (1923)
Looks for Era of Brotherhood (1923)
Poison War (1981)