The Great Equalizer

For decades, starting in 1933, Guyatone was a moderately successful Japanese manufacturer of electric guitars and various guitar paraphernalia. Their biggest seller was the Volume Box: an effects pedal that allowed electric-guitar players to change the volume of their instrument on stage -since the sound man never got it right. The Volume Box was an oblong metal box with a …

Pigtails, Duckbills and Roasted Guinea Pigs

The invention of the duckbill speculum in 1845 revolutionized gynaecology. Up until then, doctors had been using the bills of actual ducks (usually dead ones). American doctor and animal rights activist J. Marion Sims felt there had to be a better way and set out to find it. After numerous experiments on volunteers (South Carolina slaves volunteered by their owners, …

The Sun beneath the Clouds

In 1962, Berlin astronomer Johann Dunkeldorf, a 15-year-old Wunderkind and Nobel laureate, made a shocking discovery: our sun will expire one day and then Earth will be shrouded in eternal darkness. Dunkeldorf was a unique product of the Cold War, as he had been conceived and later born in the no-man’s land between the American and Soviet zones of Berlin. …