Then, peach pits. Today, cookies.

I look forward with anticipation each year for the knock at the door (one of very, very few I will respond to if it’s a solicitor) from cute little girl scouts selling cookies. I could make myself ill on Samoas.

But the cookies are a fairly modern innovation. In earlier days, the young ladies did their part in other ways.


Here we see three young girl scouts collecting peach pits for the war effort (World War I, so the photo would have been dated around 1917-1918.)

I first saw this image posted at reddit (/r/historyporn) posted by /u/texanwill. The Corbis Images shot can be found here.

CaptionGirl Scouts collecting peach seeds during WWI. The oil from the seed was used for war industries. Undated Photo, Ca 1917-1918

Redditor /u/davidhaslhof posted this interesting quote which explains why peach pits were of value:

The three WWI gas masks in our collection tell the tale of the first widespread use of chemical warfare in modern day history. Tear gas (xylyl bromide) was previously seen in other confrontations but it was the quick escalation to deadly gases like chlorine, phosgene, and mustard gas that caused panic among troops on all sides. Though the gas masks of different armies varied slightly, the concept was the same, charcoal and anti-gas chemicals were combined in the filter found in the mouthpiece. In the US, peach pits were collected as they could be harvested for charcoal. The Girl Scouts pictured here are doing their part by appealing to the nation, “You save peach seeds – they will save soldiers lives.

Everyone pitched in during the two World Wars, including girl scouts and boy scouts.


During World War I, Scouts sold more than $355 million worth of Liberty Loan bonds and war savings stamps. Photo:  Boy Scouts of America.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Wham, bam, tack Madam!

A recent article at BBC (and reported elsewhere as well) indicates that evidence for double-asteroid impacts on earth is growing more credible.


According to astronomers, around 15% of asteroids are binaries, with a smaller “moon” orbiting a larger body. These are formed when a rubble asteroid begins spinning so fast as the result of solar pressure that a portion of its substance is ejected, forming a small satellite.[1]

Several candidates for double impacts exist on earth – Clearwater Lakes in Quebec, Canada are one potential pair (below).


It is obvious that any pair of craters must be the same geological age to be identified as a double-strike candidate. Now,  “Dr. Jens  Ormo and his colleagues studied two craters called Lockne and Målingen, which lie about 16km apart in northern Sweden. Measuring about 7.5km wide, Lockne is the bigger of the two structures; Målingen, which lies to the south-west, is about 10 times smaller.”

Dr. Ormo’s team dated the craters using chitnozoan fossils and determined that the Målingen structure and the Lockne crater are the same age, roughly 458 million years; it is hypothesized that these were formed as the result of a twin strike  in the Ordovician Period.


Click through for another article at i09.

The more we know, the more we know that we don’t know. Science!

The Old Wolf has spoken.

[1] See the additional information provided in a comment by engastrobd below.

The Enns Power Network Computer, 1968


An operator working at an Enns Power Network analog computer. From the City Light, Seattle Municipal Archives. Analog computers were widely used in scientific and industrial applications where digital computers of the time lacked sufficient performance.


From the December 12, 1955 issue of “Electrical World” magazine, page 9

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Be noble, for you are made of stars.

There is supposedly a Serbian proverb that states, “Будите скромни за вас су од земље, да буде племенита за вас су од звезда.”

Be humble, for you are made of earth. Be noble, for you are made of stars.


Whether it is Serbian in origin or not, it’s a good proverb. I like it. Because it’s true. From Random Science Tools comes this chart of the relative preponderance of elements in the body of an average 70kg man:

Element             Amount / kg  Amount / Mol.
Oxygen   43 2700
Carbon 16 1300
Hydrogen 7 7000
Nitrogen 1 .8 130
Calcium 1 .0 25
Phosphorus 0 .78 25
Sulphur 0 .14 4 .4
Potassium 0 .14 3 .6
Sodium 0 .10 4 .3
Chlorine 0 .095 2 .7
Magnesium 0 .019 0 .78
Silicon 0 .018 0 .64
Iron 0 .0042 0 .075
Fluorine 0 .0026 0 .14
Zinc 0 .0023 0 .035
Rubidium 0 .00032 0 .0037
Strontium 0 .00032 0 .0037
Bromine 0 .00020 0 .0025
Lead 0 .00012 0 .00058
Copper 0 .000072 0 .0011
Aluminium 0 .000061 0 .0023
Cadmium 0 .000050 0 .00044
Boron < 0 .000048 0 .0044
Barium 0 .000022 0 .00016
Tin < 0 .000017 0 .00014
Iodine 0 .000013 0 .00010
Manganese 0 .000012 0 .00022
Nickel 0 .000010 0 .00017
Gold < 0 .000010 0 .000051
Molybdenum < 0 .0000093 0 .000097
Chromium < 0 .0000018 0 .000035
Caesium 0 .0000015 0 .000011
Cobalt 0 .0000015 0 .000025
Uranium 0 .00000009 0 .00000038
Beryllium 0 .000000036 0 .0000040
Radium 3.1×10-14 1.4×10-13

Chemical composition of the human body by mass


As little as it may be, we have gold in us. And other rare elements. And we have to remember that at the creation of the universe, the only elements present were hydrogen and helium. Every other naturally-occurring element in the periodic table was born in the hearts of dying stars which ended their lives as supernovæ, or – as recently hypothesized in the case of heavier elements like gold – in collisions between neutron stars.


I like Carl Sagan’s quote, which he also managed to work into his book Contact: “The universe is a pretty big place. If it’s just us, seems like an awful waste of space.” Whether we are alone in the universe is a question which science has yet to answer, but it’s pretty mind-bending to think that the elements which make up our bodies came from the universe around us. As astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson said,

“Recognize that the very molecules that make up your body, the atoms that construct the molecules, are traceable to the crucibles that were once the centers of high mass stars that exploded their chemically rich guts into the galaxy, enriching pristine gas clouds with the chemistry of life. So that we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically. That’s kinda cool! That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It’s not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.”

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Aurora Porn


Beautiful spiral aurora, photograph by David Cartier. See more gorgeous photography at his Flickr Stream.

I love the aurora, I’ve only seen it in person once – as far south as Montana, on a dark night at around 2:00 AM. We were driving back home from a trip to Calgary, and off behind some hills we saw what looked like those big advertising spotlights moving across the sky. We stopped to watch, and saw some ribbons as well. Someday I’ll make it up to Alaska and hope to see some better displays.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


The sun, up close and personal



This image of a sunspot (with superimposed USA for approximate scale) was taken by the New Solar Telescope at the Big Bear Solar Observatory. It is the most precise image of a sunspot ever taken. The granules on the sun’s surface are approximately 1 million meters (621 miles) in diameter, and roughly 2500 miles deep.




From the BBSO website: “New observations of the solar granulation with the New Solar Telescope (NST) at the Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO) allowed a NJIT-Stanford research team to make the next step in understanding of the solar surface structure. A new complex world of very small granules became visible between normal solar granules. Mini-granules, as small as Maine, form a multi-fractal structure, similar to other systems in nature, such as coast lines, glaciers, earthquakes, stock market, etc. A key property of such systems is their unpredictable, burst-like behavior and jagged, irregular shape. Usually, occurrence of numerous independent random processes lead to the formation of a such system. Studying of such systems is beneficial for understanding both the universe and the social life.”

So much energy there, free for the taking.

The Old Wolf has spoken.