May 1934: Getting Loopy
Airplane-inspired amusement-park rides of the 1930s spawned some of todayâ€™s theme-park favorites
Devalued stocks, raging unemployment and weakened national pride plagued the 1930s, but PopSci escaped the Great Depression with a focus on fun inventions. A ride that “gives thrill seekers topsy-turvy sensations, comparable to those of looping the loop in a plane” graced our May 1934 cover, half a century after the roller coaster first appeared in American amusement parks. A giant steel arm swung this four-passenger car like a pendulum until momentum took over, hurling riders around a full loop. A year later, experimental-aircraft designer Lee Eyerly secured a patent for a similar design made from his surplus of airplane parts-materials that were in low demand during the Depression. Spin-offs of his wildly popular “Loop-o-Plane”, which later grew another arm and swung two cars, still delight riders at theme parks today.
Other news from the May 1934 issue:
NEW MASKS KEEP BULLS CALM
Thanks to cattle blinders being tested in
England, “vicious bulls may no longer be
a menace to passers-by,” we wrote. The masks blocked the animals´ sight so that they would remain docile around people.
NICOTINE GIVES CIGARETTES THEIR KICK
Smoking is enjoyable because nicotine stimulates adrenal glands and releases sugar in the body, Yale University scientists found in 1934. It would take another 54 years for the U.S. surgeon general to acknowledge the drug´s addictive power.
HOOVER LEADS TEAM OF EARLY CSI AGENTS
Bureau of Investigation chief J. Edgar Hoover embraced forensic advances in wiretapping, fingerprinting and chemical analysis to
solve a rash of kidnappings and murders
in the 1930s. One technology used wax
and sulfuric acid to detect gunpowder on
a suspect´s trigger finger.