COOL IMAGES: Current Retrospective

Science  07 Jan 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5450, pp. 7
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5450.7a

These eerie ceramic tubes are draped with currents, not cobwebs, as insulators undergo a high-voltage test in the 1930s at a Westinghouse factory. The first 4 decades of electricity, when corporate scientists seemed to generate endless wonders—from televisions to electric heaters—are chronicled in 600 photos from the Science Service news syndicate and now online at the Smithsonian Institution. The shots range from “dainty maids” (in the words of Science Service caption writers) perched in the center of huge doughnut-shaped generators, to snapshots of the first, sugar granule-sized semiconductors in 1968. The original captions reflect a wide-eyed era when, as Science News put it in 1927, “drama lurks in every test tube.”

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