Thursday, November 7, 2019

Featured artifacts: X-ray Tubes

I walked into the Benton County Historical Museum's collection workroom and saw this 5-foot item sitting on a cart.  The Horner collection contains many pieces of scientific equipment.  Most of the time I don't have a clue what they do but the tags on this one said it was an x-ray tube.

GE Coolidge X-Ray tube
Wilhelm Roentgen discovered x-rays in 1895 and won the Nobel Prize for his work. The first clinical medicine use of x-rays soon followed (1896).  Scientists then worked at improving x-ray tubes to improve their power and reliability and to increase the sharpness of the image they produced. The modern x-ray tube was developed by General Electric Company researcher William Coolidge and patented in 1916.   GE became a leading producer of x-ray devices including early portable x-ray machines used in military hospitals in World War I.

Zed J. Atlee graduated from Oregon State University in 1929 with a BS degree in electrical engineering and was hired by General Electric's Tube Division.  He “improved instrumentation for crystal analysis and a rotating tube for medical therapy.”  He also helped develop the one-million-volt x-ray tube for industrial uses.

One of the first GE 1 Million Volt X-Ray Tubes
Atlee was awarded a honorary Doctorate of Engineering from OSU in 1943 and is included in the university's Engineering Hall of Fame for his role in “establishing a leadership position for the USA in x-ray techniques.”  He sent these tubes to long-time OSU engineering professor Samuel Graf, who 
donated them to the Horner Museum.

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Jack-o-lantern history

Happy Halloween! These Philomath first graders look ready for the holiday with their carved pumpkins.
Philomath, Oregon, 1972 first graders with jack-o-lanterns

I was surprised to learn this tradition came to the United States from Ireland.  There, people carved turnips or other vegetables and placed embers in them to ward off evil spirits.

The name “Jack-o-lantern” comes from an Irish folk tale about a man called Stingy Jack who cheated the devil as well as townspeople.  After he died, he was refused entry into both heaven and hell.  The devil sent Jack off with a burning coal which Jack put into a carved turnip.

Irish immigrants to the U. S. continued this tradition but found pumpkins to be larger and easier to carve than turnips.

In 2013 Keene, New Hampshire set a record with a display of 30,581 lit Jack-o-lanterns.  The largest ever Jack-o-lantern, carved in 2018, weighed 2,077 pounds.

So, get carving!

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon

Halloween postcard