MySci Round-Up, August 20: The Exciting Debut of "Radio Vision"

blog post photo
On this date in 1930, experimental television station W2XCR began broadcasting from Jersey City, NJ, and aired a TV program that pedestrian passers-by could watch on a TV set in a vacant store window at 57th Street and Eighth Avenue in New York City, in addition to other similar sites in Jersey City and Newark. It was the first large-scale public demonstration of a TV set designed for the home, and it was so exciting that people weren’t quite sure what to call it, since the New York Times account of the event was headlined “CITY CROWDS SEE ‘RADIO-VISION SHOW.” 

The Times reported that the broadcast began at 6:30 p.m., and that “the images picked up appeared about four inches square and at close range could be distinguished with considerable clarity.” Harry Hershfield, the newspaper cartoonist best known for creating the popular Yiddish-themed “Abie the Agent” comic strip, was the master of ceremonies. His guests included comedian George Jessel, dancer Diana Seaby, movie theater owner and man-about-Hollywood Sid Grauman, and a group of newspaper reporters (though we’re not sure what they did). As Ed Sullivan famously would do with Elvis years later to censor his lasciviously swinging hips, the guests were visible to viewers only from the waist up. Despite that limitation, the broadcast  apparently was so entertaining that this newfangled radio-vision thing eventually caught on. And with that, here are the strange science stories of the day.

Scientists detect huge plume of oil remaining from BP Gulf spill. Researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution say they’ve found evidence of a 21-mile long, slowly degrading cloud of hydrocarbons remaining from the disaster. That would seem to cast doubt upon an Aug. 4 National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration report that 74 percent of the spilled oil had been cleaned up or was rapidly vanishing.

The Moon’s surface may be shrinking. It even has wrinkles, scientists say. Time to send a lunar lander full of Botox.

Researchers suggest fresh look at psychedelic drugs as possible treatments for depression, compulsive disorders and chronic pain. Which, ironically, is pretty much what they were interested in using LSD for originally, before Timothy Leary and the CIA got hold of it.

GardenBot monitors soil conditions, temperature and humidity in your garden. You can plot the information on a computer chart and update it every 15 minutes. We’re not sure this will make your tomatoes taste any better, but it sounds cool.

Scientists discover that HIV virus changes, depending on how it is transmitted. 
There are more immune system modulators present when it is transmitted sexually, rather than through exposure to contaminated blood. That may explain why the retrovirus seems to be more readily passed through sexual contact.

Ancient “terror bird” used skull to drive hooked beak into prey. The extinct avian predator Andalgalornis steulleti who romaed Argentina six million years ago, was flightless, but extremely nasty. Imagine a Dodo with an attitude.