Peace, and Quiet


In which the Army hires an acoustician. Writing the dictionary of war and
weaponizing silence.

Early in World War II, military researchers received a message: bomber cockpits were so loud that British air crews could barely fly. The propellers were so loud and the intercom was so weak that pilots and navigators and tail gunners were having trouble communicating. In a combat zone, flying deaf was almost as bad as flying blind.

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Nuclear Medicine


In which physicists, physicians, and primates share a laboratory. How proton accelerators became accidental oncology.

The first and second Harvard University cyclotrons were in operation for a combined 67 years. In that time, they helped explore the nucleus of atoms, end World War II, spark the Cold War, and treat thousands of cancer patients. Not bad for a technology designed in 1931.

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On time

ep01_ontime_pic01_fullIn which trains crash and clocks talk. The astronomer who set his mind—and his watch—to synchronized time.

In 1853, two trains of the Providence-Worcester Railroad collided in Valley Falls, Rhode Island. A dozen people were killed, and soon journalists and train officials set out to reconstruct the chain of events. One bystander said that the crash happened at exactly 7:34am. A train conductor, meanwhile, thought it was more like 7:32.

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