MySci Round-Up, October 21: Radiotelephone Home

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On this day in 1915, American Telephone and Telegraph Co. engineers staged the first experimental transatlantic telephone call.

According to an 
Associated Press account, the phone message was transmitted from a U.S. government wireless telegraph station in Arlington, VA, to another station in the Eiffel Tower in Paris. At shortly after Midnight, B. H. Webb, an AT&T engineer, had the telegraph operator signal the French station, setting up a call between Webb and his fellow AT&T engineers H.E. Shreeve and A. M. Curtis at the other end. “Hellow, Shreeve!” Webb shouted into the mouthpiece. “One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four. Goodbye!” Oddly, Webb hadn’t been equipped with a receiver, so Shreeve and Curtis were unable to respond directly. Instead, Webb had to wait until the afternoon, when a cable message from Paris confirmed that they had heard his call.

Soon afterward, Webb also received a telegraph message from another AT&T engineer in Honolulu, who confirmed that he had heard Webb’s message as well.

According to the 
Early Radio History website, the 1915 experiment was the culmination of 40 or so years of work by engineers and inventors. In 1879, an inventor named David Hughes managed to transmit radio signals 500 feet from one room to another, using a spring wound device that sent out electric impulses at regular intervals, and a carbon microphone used by Hughes as the detector. His work inspired 
Institute of Electrical Engineers president William Crookes to give a speech in 1891 in which he predicted the “bewildering possibility  of telegraphy without wires, posts, cables, or any of our present costly appliances.” The development of the vacuum tube, which could amplify, switch and/or modify electrical signals, made it possible to develop a radio receiver capable of reproducing Webb’s voice with clarity.

And with that, here are the stories of the day.

Far-off galaxy is found.
 It’s 500 million light years away.

Intricate, curving 3-D nanostructures created.  
They’re created by a process called “capillary forming.”

Feeling sad makes us more creative.
 Aristotle was the first to come up with this idea, in the 4th Century BCE. But now, there’s biochemical proof.

Scientists simulate hurricane-force winds in the lab. 
They used more than 100 giant fans to crumple a house in seconds. Awesome.

Dad’s diet may give children diabetes. 
An Australian researcher says that chowing down in an unhealthy way can interfere with the normal development of chemical tags in a father’s DNA, which determine how a gene is expressed. So lay off the creme-filled donuts, will ya?