Science: It’s In the Cards

I knew that the first baseball cards were packaged with packs of cigarettes. I hadn’t realized that there were other genres of cards as well. And I certainly hadn’t realized that there were “science cards.”

The New York Public Library has digitized a large collections of cigarette cards, including a run of science cards from Max Cigarettes in the 30s. Brain Pickings has some favorites, but here are a few of my own:

Dog’s conditioned reflex

Somewhat more pleasant than the actual Pavlov experiments.

Guns vs. Cinema

The backside warns of “cinema-suggestion,” what we’d call subliminal messages, which could “sway the will and destroy the independent mind of whole nations…” Good thing they never heard of cat videos on youtube.

Man-made lightning

Here’s one for the Tesla or Steinmetz fans: a lightning generator. Although the back suggests that these arcs are “to be used as the power required for splitting the atom.” Not sure how that’s supposed to work.

The Great Commoner
Romance at Mars Hill
Being Agent Scully
Romance at Mars Hill
  • cnocspeireag

    Looks more like a Van de Graaff than a Tesla generator. I think they were used to provide a high potential difference to accelerate charged sub-atomic particles and ions before they were fed into a particle accelerator such as a linac. The resulting beam could then collide with a suitable target and have enough energy to affect a nucleus. Perhaps someone with more physics could explain.

  • Harold Shuckhart

    For many years, the University of Minnesota ran a lab with tandem Van de Graaffs. The high voltage potentials were used to accelerate heavy atoms and fire them through metal plates that would strip off most or all of the electrons. These highly ionized particles could the be allow to collide with other atoms. Since the electrons had been stripped off, the incoming particle would not be repelled by the interaction of the electrons that surround normal atoms, increasing the odds of the particle hitting a nucleus and causing a “split”.