The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: Science

Matt Weinstock, Aug. 2, 1960

Aug. 2, 1960, Comics A  cargo of stolen Caltechium?

Aug. 2, 1960: What do you suppose is in Caltechium?

Matt Weinstock looks at one family’s problems in having a swimming pool.

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Pages of History – The Medical Profession of Southern California

The other day while researching the 1910 Times bombing, I discovered a digitized book that I have been trying to buy for years: Dr. George H. Kress’ “A History of the Medical Profession of Southern California.”

Notice that this is the second edition. The first edition was being prepared for publication at the time of the bombing and was destroyed in the explosion and fire.  The book had to be entirely redone for the second edition.  Copies of this book are exceedingly rare and can only be found in a few libraries (this scanned copy is from the Medical Sciences Library at UC Irvine).

As a writer, Kress is rather dry and uses the starched, stiff style of the era. But the book provides marvelous glimpses of the earliest days of the medical profession in Los Angeles, and these stories do much to dispel the notion that the past was a “kinder, simpler time.”

Here’s Kress on one of the amusing crackpots of the day, William Money, who wrote what is probably the first or second book published in Los Angeles.

Kress’ book and Abraham Flexner’s “Medical Education in the United States and Canada,” also published in 1910, do much to dispel the image of doctors – at least in this era -- as saints in white gowns.

On the Frontiers of Education

June 9, 1910, Caltech

June 9, 1910: Officials dedicate Pasadena Hall, the first building constructed at Throop Polytechnic Institute.  “The new Throop is designed to become one of the great engineering schools of the United States,” The Times says. The hall, which was dedicated to "the kingdom of truth," was renamed Throop Hall and demolished after being damaged in the 1971 Sylmar quake.

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From the Vaults: 'First Spaceship on Venus' (1960)

Venusposter Well, "First Spaceship on Venus" is quite the odd little movie: a vintage space epic filmed in East Germany and co-produced with Poland. It features an international team of characters and a strong anti-nuclear message! Released in German as "Der schweigende Stern" ("The Silent Star," based on a book of the same name by "Solaris" author Stanislaw Lem), it came out in the U.S. two years later dubbed into English and heavily cut. But even in this very imperfect form, the film has an eerie beauty.

And actually, I watched it in an even more imperfect form -- I have to confess I watched the "Mystery Science Theater 3000" episode featuring this movie. Please don't all throw rocks at me! I'm going on vacation this week and I just ran out of time. If it helps, I really don't think "First Spaceship" deserves to be an MST3K movie. It just isn't bad enough.

The plot concerns a mysterious meteorite that proves to contain an alien message of some sort. Scientists can't decipher it but are able to determine that it came from Venus. Radio messages to the planet go unanswered, so this can-do Iron Curtain society sends a ship to find out what's happening on Venus. The whole world (represented by a varied crowd and a friendly, presumably state-run media) watches and cheers as their beautiful, candelabra-like vessel takes off: clearly, this future world is a harmonious place.

Things continue in this pre-"Star Trek" vein aboard the ship, as the international team copes with zero gravity  and dodges meteor showers. German Robert Brinkmann (Gunther Simon) reminisces about an old romance with fetching Japanese doctor Sumiko Ogimura (Yoko Tani).

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U.S. Launches Spy Satellite

May 25, 1960, Midas Satellite 

May 25, 1960, Spy Satellite

May 25, 1960: The U.S. successfully launches a Midas satellite after a previous attempt failed. The Times editorialized that the satellites would make spy planes such as the U-2 obsolete. Which is why the Midas satellites became space junk and we’re still flying U-2s.

And on the jump, burglars at the Queen's Arms get more than they bargained for.

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Mt. St. Helens Erupts


May 19, 1980, Mt. St. Helens Erupts

May 19, 1980: Mt. St. Helens erupts in what The Times called “the largest volcanic eruption in historic times in the contiguous United States.” The eruption killed 57 people, including 21 who were never found, The Times said. The victims included Spirit Lake lodge owner Harry Truman, 84, who refused to evacuate, telling Charles Hillinger, “If I was forced to leave it would kill me.”

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Miracle TI-99/4 Home Computer Has 16K RAM, Runs BASIC!

May 16, 1980, TI-99/4
May 16, 1980: The absolutely amazing TI-99/4 home computer … with 16K RAM! BASIC! 16-color graphics! Thermal printer! An an acoustic coupler! Notice that the ad doesn’t even list a price.

Update: If you poke around a little bit you can find a TI-99/4 and TI-99/4A emulator. This software has not been tested in the Daily Mirror computer labs so proceed at your own risk.

Little Damage From 6.0 Quake, 1910

 May 16, 1910, Quake

May 16, 1910: Here’s an interesting problem – how did newspapers report an earthquake 100 years ago? The Times gathered brief accounts over a wide area, from San Diego and Santa Catalina Island to Riverside, Banning, Mt. Wilson and Elsinore. According to the Southern California Earthquake Data Center, this was an estimated magnitude 6 quake on the Elsinore fault about 15 miles south of Riverside. 

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Air Force Studied Antimissile Ray Gun


April 4, 1960: A little boy, a dog, an ice cream cone … and an ice bag? Very cute. No, we don’t do this anymore.

On the jump, the Air Force discontinues work on a light ray that would bring down missiles. Doesn’t that sound familiar? … and of the five movies nominated for Academy Awards for best picture, only one was filmed in Hollywood.
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Paul V. Coates – Confidential File, March 21 1960

 March 21, 1960, Mirror Cover

Journalism Lesson From a Dixie Editor

Paul Coates    My mother didn't exactly cancel her subscription to The Mirror News.

    What she did, she called me up -- collect -- from her flat in the Bronx just before Christmas last year with the hint that it would be "nice" if I got her something different as a present.

    My custom, every Christmas since my first by-line, had been to send her a year's subscription so she could keep tabs on my progress in this dog-eat-dog world of journalism.

    And I never, until the moment she broke the news to me on the phone, suspected that she was bored to death with it all -- completely disinterested in how I was doing or what I was writing.

    "It's not that I don't enjoy your column," she explained gently, the way mothers explain those things to their sons.  "It's just that I get the news here anyway."

    At the time, the answer seemed logical enough, but lately, I've been thinking.  If a struggling columnist's own mother won't read him, who will?  And why won't they?


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Lummis Quits Library Job

 March 5, 1910, Lummis Quits

March 5, 1910: This was one of those days when there were too many good stories to focus on one: Charles Lummis resigns as city librarian … a veterinarian's assistant dies a horrible death after being bitten by a diseased dog … Andrew Carnegie is coming to see the observatory he’s funding on Mt. Wilson, though he isn’t arriving at the right time for the best view of Halley’s Comet … and plans to generate electricity using water in the aqueduct.

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Ultimate Baby Einstein? Sperm Bank Specializes in Nobel Winners

Feb. 29, 1980, TRS-80

Look! It’s a Trash 80 with 64K RAM and an 8-inch floppy drive for only $3,450 [$8,902.02 USD 2008].

Feb. 29, 1980, Sperm Bank

Feb. 29, 1980: Let’s see … a sperm bank of Nobel-winning scientists. These children should be at least 30 now.Wonder what they're up to.

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