1928: The Birth of Sliced Bread, Missouri.

bread-slicer

Sliced bread and its inventor, Otto Rohwedder, have both celebrated a birthday. Rohwedder was born on July 7, 1880, and the first sliced loaves were sold on July 7, 1928.
Every invention that makes life easier is now deemed “the greatest thing since sliced bread,” (or if you live in Australia, ‘the greatest thing since canned piss’) but the idea of presliced bread actually took a while to catch on.
Rohwedder spent over 10 years trying to get a bakery to try out his machine. Bakers thought that their customers simply wouldn’t be impressed and wouldn’t care if their bread was presliced or not.
Skeptics were also worried that the presliced bread would become stale faster or would crumble and fall apart during the slicing, according to the Constitution-Tribune.
However, once Rohwedder got his foot in the door, it didn’t take long for the invention to catch on.
The small town of Chillicothe in northwest Missouri became the first place where sliced loaves were sold to the public. The news even made the front page of the local paper.
mural13_bPhoto: Chillocothe, Missouri.
While there’s no proof, it’s likely that the phrase, “the greatest thing since sliced bread,” came from the advertisement that ran on the back page of the paper, which called the sliced loaves “the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped.”
Just two years after it was introduced, use of the slicing machine spread across the country, and the company Wonder Bread began building its own bread slicers and mass-producing the presliced loaves.
During World War II, the government banned sliced bread in order to put more resources into weapons production rather than bread-slicing-machine production.
The ban only lasted two months because of the strong backlash, not just from bread companies, but also from consumers who had grown used to the presliced bread and were outraged at the idea of having to slice it themselves, according to the Kansas City Star.
Rohwedder’s original machine includes multiple steel blades that chop the loaves into slices just under 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) wide and then stuffs them into a heavy waxed paper wrapping.
Read on via Sliced Bread: The ‘Greatest Thing’ Turns 86.

Black-throated finch wins Aussie bird of the year.

Photo: Eric Vanderduys/Stop Adani [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr.
The black-throated finch has been voted “bird of the year.”
In Australia for 2019, helping draw attention to the species’ decline as human activities increasingly threaten its habitat. The finch’s victory was reportedly driven by support from conservationists, who connected its plight to deforestation and bushfires in Australia, as well as opposition to the Adani coal mine.
The finch won the online vote in a landslide, The Guardian reports, noting it received 11,153 votes in the final round of 10 birds, or about 35% of the total. That put it 7,802 votes ahead of the tawny frogmouth, which came in second. Third place went to the superb fairy-wren (2,875 votes), followed by the magpie in fourth (2,725) and the laughing kookaburra in fifth (2,650).
Black-throated finches once inhabited dry, grassy woodlands throughout northeastern Australia, gathering in small flocks to forage for seeds and insects. They experienced steep declines in the 20th century.
Source: Black-throated finch wins 2019 Australian bird of the year | MNN – Mother Nature Network

Paolo Mascagni’s Exploded Torso.

Illustration of human viscera by Paulo Mascagni, from his Anatomia Universa (1823-31) – Source: Wellcome Library, London.
Paolo Mascagni (January 25, 1755 – October 19, 1815) was an Italian physician and anatomist. He is most well known for publishing the first complete description of the lymphatic system.
Mascagni was born in the comune of Pomarance (in the Province of Pisa) to Aurelio Mascagni and Elisabetta Burroni, both belonging to old gentry families of Chiusdino.
He studied philosophy and medicine at the University of Siena. Upon graduating in 1777, renowned anatomist Pietro Tabarrini took Mascagni as an assistant. Upon Tabarrini’s death in 1780, Mascagni was appointed as an anatomy lecturer at the University of Siena.
As a young man, Mascagni was interested in geological sciences, as evidenced by his several papers on the Lagoni (thermal springs) of Siena and Volterra. Upon graduation, he turned his interest to the human lymphatic system. His many discoveries in this field led to the composition and publication of Vasorum lymphaticorum corporis humani historia et iconographia in 1787.
He was elected a corresponding member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1796, and president of the Accademia dei Fisiocritici in 1798.
During the French occupation of Tuscany in the spring of 1799, Mascagni showed himself to be an enthusiastic Jacobin.
For this reason, he spent seven months in prison after the French were expelled. Mascagni was freed from prison by a motu proprio of the King of Etruria, who on October 22, 1801 appointed Mascagni a professor of anatomy at the University of Pisa, with the additional charge of lecturing twice a week at the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova in Florence.
In 1807, Mascagni was appointed professor of anatomy at the University of Florence. There, he wrote Treatise of Anatomy.
Mascagni died of sepsis in 1815. Via. Wikipedia
Source: The Wellcome Library’s Top 10 Open Images – The Public Domain Review

Where are all the Christmas beetles?

Do you remember when hordes of large, brightly coloured scarab beetles used to descend on Aussie summertime gatherings like mobile festive decorations?
by John Pickrell
Image credit: Stuart_Cox/Shutterstock
Christmas beetles were said to be so numerous 100 years ago in the Sydney region that they could be found floating in the harbour in huge numbers at this time of year.
These iridescent insects were known to swarm in such quantities that the boughs of eucalypt trees would regularly bend under their weight.
Once common in summertime – particularly at night around streetlights or as visitors at barbecues in eastern Australia – these large and often colourful scarab beetles comprise 36 different species, nearly all of which are endemic to Australia. They’re all in the genus Anoplognathus, with the common names of some species including king, queen, and campfire beetle, washerwoman and furry tailed prince.
But you may have noticed that they are less common than they used to be, with these metallic pink, brown, green and gold insects likely to be experiencing similar declines in numbers that are blighting other insects worldwide, particularly in urban areas. According to Australian Museum experts, the evidence for declines in New South Wales is anecdotal but compelling.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, increasing human population numbers and habitat loss are implicated as the most likely causes for declines.
Sydney’s human population grew from just over 4 million in 2011 to more than 5 million in 2018.
Meanwhile, Cumberland Plain woodland in Western Sydney – once rich with eucalypts that adult Christmas beetles feed on – now covers less than 10 per cent of its original area.
Climate change is likely to be another factor in declines, experts say. Christmas beetle larvae usually pupate into adults from about November or December and the adult stage only lives for a few weeks, during which time they must mate and lay eggs. Unusually dry spring weather can delay development of pupae into adults until the following year, which can mean fewer beetles around in a given year.
Insect populations have been declining worldwide, with some studies suggesting the problem is significant.
While some think of Christmas beetles – named for their yuletide arrival and festive bauble-like appearance – as pests, many will cast their minds nostalgically back to their youth and lament this pretty little creature’s decline.
Source: Ghosts of Christmases past: where are all the Christmas beetles?

The Emu War of 1932.

emuThis is perhaps the only formal war where one of the belligerents was not human, but rather avian.
In 1932, the emu population in Australia was growing out of control, with an estimated 20,000 emus running around the Australian desert and causing havoc among crops.
In response, the Australian military sent out a task force of soldiers armed with machine guns to kill the emus and even jokingly declared war on them.
In mid-November they drove out into the desert and proceeded to hunt down any emus they could find.
However, they ran into complications; the emus proved remarkably resilient, even when struck by multiple machine gun bullets they continued to run away, easily outstripping the heavily laden soldiers.
The Emu War lasted for nearly a week before Major Meredith, the commander of the emu-killing task-force gave up in disgust after the soldiers only bagged a fraction of the elusive birds.
War duration: (November 11-18 1932) Seven days.
Casualties: 2,500 emus.

White-tailed eagles return to UK after 240 years.

A white-tailed eagle, Britain’s largest bird of prey. Photograph: Mike Crutch/Forestry England/PA
White-tailed eagles are gracing the skies of southern Britain for the first time in 240 years after six eaglets were released on the Isle of Wight.
The huge birds, which are fitted with satellite tags, are expected to disperse along the south coast of England in a scheme backed by the environment secretary, Theresa Villiers, who welcomed the return of the “majestic” species.
It is hoped Britain’s largest bird of prey will eventually breed in the wild and mirror the success of the reintroduction scheme in Scotland.
The birds, which grow to have a wingspan of up to 8ft (2.4 metres) and are also known as sea eagles, were persecuted to extinction across Britain by the start of the 20th century.
It took several decades after chicks from Norway were returned to Scotland in the 1970s before the birds bred and expanded their range.
There are now 130 breeding pairs across Scotland, and the six young Isle of Wight birds were taken from Scotland under special licence.
“This release is a great opportunity for the Isle of Wight to expand its ecotourism market, creating wealth and jobs in the local economy,” Villiers said.
The Scottish reintroduction, which centred on the Isle of Mull, was found to have bolstered the local economy by up to £5m a year.
Source: White-tailed eagles return to southern Britain after 240 years | Environment | The Guardian