MySci Round-Up September 24-27: Dialing-In

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On this day in 1889, a Scottish physician named Alexander Dey patented the dial time recorder, a device that allowed employers to track the exact time at which workers arrived and how long they spent on the job. The device featured a dial, which employees used to point to their assigned identification number and then pressed to document their starting and departure times. The data was recorded on a sheet of paper wrapped around a drum.

Dey’s gadget was a key part of a dramatic shift in how Americans worked, which began in the late 19th Century as more and more people stopped working for themselves and took jobs as employees of industrial firms. Over the next few decades, engineer Frederick Winslow Taylor’s newfangled philosophy of scientific management, in which virtually every detail of production was scrutinized and streamlined to maximize efficiency, would put even more emphasis on generating precise data about labor costs and the amount of man-hours required to churn out the desired output. That sort of data-gathering was made possible by devices such as the dial time recorder, which eventually evolved into the more familiar punch clock.

In 1907, Dey’s company was acquired by a rival, International Time Recording Co., which in 1924 became International Business Machines. The latter is more recognizable today by its initials, IBM.

And with that, here are the science and technology stories of the day.

Verizon CEO wants the iPhone for its 4G network. Yes, and we want to trade places with Brad Pitt, too. Or maybe George Clooney. He’s a bit more distinguished looking. 

Spectacular harvest Moon marks Earth’s changing seasons. Oh, so that’s what that big yellow thing over our house is. Seriously, it’s the result of a rare cosmic alignment that last happened 20 years ago.

Plants near Chernobyl have altered protein, apparently as a radiation shield. They’re flourishing, to scientists’ surprise, but still probably are not safe to eat.

Scientists say late 1960s-early 1970s “cooling event” in Atlantic Ocean led to uneven global warming rates in Northern and Southern Hemispheres. It was the ocean that did it, rather than the effects of tropospheric pollution, they’ve concluded. Of course, man-made climate change deniers are going to find some way to misrepresent/spin this finding, in an attempt to convince us that polar bears won’t soon need jet skis to get around what used to be the Arctic icecap.

Virtual avatar-to-avatar psychotherapy is catching on. But is it covered by your virtual health insurance plan?

Researchers identify structure that enables bacteria to resist antibiotics. It’s the first step towards thwarting that process and really hammering the little buggers.