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Posts Tagged ‘matches

“Everything around us is scale dependent. It’s woven into the fabric of the universe.”*…

 

What do you, your town, and your employer all have in common? Scalability. According to physicist Geoffrey West, there are mathematical principles that govern the growth and longevity of complex organisms, crowded cities, and even corporations…

A fascinating interview with West about his new book, Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies: “What Do Organisms, Crowded Cities, and Corporations Have in Common?

See West talk about his work in a the Long Now Seminar.

[TotH to @jhagel]

* Geoffrey West

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As we get small, we might send illuminated birthday greetings to John Walker; he was born on this date in 1781.  A chemist from Stockton-on-Tees, Walker invented friction matches in 1827; he had accidentally discovered their “secret” the prior year when he mixed potassium chlorate and antimony sulfide, which he bound to a sulphur-coated stick (with gum).

He recorded the first sale as “Sulphurata Hyper-Oxygenata Frict,” but by the second sale (five months later), he was getting the hang of naming: “friction lights.”  He sold them in boxes of 50 for a shilling, with a folded slip of sandpaper as a striking surface.  He ultimately trade-named them “Congreves,” in honor of Sir William Congreve, known for his invention of military rockets.

A tin Congreves matchbox (1827)

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Written by LW

May 29, 2017 at 1:01 am

“Three matches one by one in the night”*…

 

Japanese match book covers…  Many more at Agence Eureka.

(via Tyler Hellard‘s always-enriching Pop Loser)

* “Trois Allumettes,” Jacques Prevert

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As we close the cover before striking, we might recall that it was on this date in 1890 that the Meiji Constitution went into effect in Japan, and the first Diet convened.  Modeled on both the Prussian and the British models, the Meiji Constitution provided for a form of mixed constitutional and absolute monarchy that lasted until 1947.   In practice, the Emperor was head of state, but the Prime Minister was the actual head of government.

“Meiji Constitution Promulgation,” by Toyohara Chikanobu

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Written by LW

November 29, 2016 at 1:01 am

All the food that’s fit to eat…

 

Wired partnered with Food Network to crunch 49,733 recipes and 906,539 comments from their massive website.  The result is a fascinating overview of how Americans cook… and eat.  From food fads to celebrity chefs, from Thanksgiving dinner to regional cuisines, readers can whet their appetites at “Math Proves Bacon is a Miracle Food.”

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As we tuck in our napkins, we might recall that it was on this date in 1836 that Alonzo Dwight Phillips of Springfield, Massachusetts received the first U.S. patent (No. 68) for the phosphorous friction safety match. Though the first friction matches were made and sold in England in 1827,  Phillips’ match– which could be safely stored/carried, then struck on any rough surface– was the first genuine friction match made in America. Known as “loco focos,” and later as “lucifers,” they were a key enabler of the spread of cigar smoking, of gas lighting, of gas cooking– and thus of the acceleration of interest in “finer” cooking that more-flexible gas stoves made possible– in the U.S.  Indeed, by the outbreak of the Civil War fifteen years later, about a million matches a day were being manufactured.

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Written by LW

October 24, 2013 at 1:01 am

Making ends meet…

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Most readers will know that Charlotte Bronte spent most of her daylight hours in service as a governess, and long-time (pre-blog) readers may remember that, in his capacity as Postal Surveyor, Anthony Trollope invented the iconic British “pillar box”…  but did one know that T.S. Eliot toiled as a bank clerk?  Or that Henry Fielding, the creator of the ribald Tom Jones, sat as a Magistrate?

Happy, Lapham’s Quarterly has provided a helpful chart:  Day Jobs.

As we turn again to that unfinished screenplay, we might recall that it was on this date in 1827 that John Walker, a chemist from Stockton-on-Tees, recorded the first ever sale of friction matches; Walker had accidentally created them the prior year by mixing potassium chlorate and antimony sulfide.  He recorded the first sales as “Sulphurata Hyper-Oxygenata Frict,” but by the second sale (five months later), he was getting the hang of naming: “friction lights.”

John Walker

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