By Steven Cassedy
Among the tip of the 19th century and the start of the 20 th, americans underwent a dramatic transformation in self-conception: having previously lived as contributors or contributors of small groups, they now stumbled on themselves dwelling in networks, which arose out of clinical and technological techniques. there have been transportation and verbal exchange networks. there has been the community of the globalized market, which introduced into the yankee domestic unique items formerly cheap to just a number of. there has been the community of ordinary time, which certain jointly all however the such a lot rural americans. there has been the general public future health move, which joined contributors to their fellow voters by way of making every body accountable for the overall healthiness of all people else. there have been social networks that joined participants to their fellows on the municipal, nation, nationwide, and worldwide degrees. past histories of this period specialize in alienation and dislocation that new applied sciences prompted. This publication exhibits that American contributors during this period have been extra attached to their fellow electorate than ever—but through bonds that have been incredibly glossy.
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Extra info for Connected: How Trains, Genes, Pineapples, Piano Keys, and a Few Disasters Transformed Americans at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century
But instruction in hygiene be- 30 Body and Mind came routine and included references to the causes of illness. To cite one isolated example: in the Gardner School in Valparaiso, Indiana, starting in 1910, teachers regularly treated pupils in all grades to “health hints” on the subject of sunshine, air, personal cleanliness, care of the eyes, care of the teeth, and flies. A health hint titled “Air” began, poetically, like this: Night air is purer and more wholesome than day air. Night air is charged with health and strength.
2 And there was more. If the methods for studying organic substances are the same as those for studying inorganic substances, Schäfer thought, it’s because organic substances arose from inorganic matter. He believed that the transition from one condition to the other happened gradually, as the result of many separate events. Evolutionary theory was so fundamental to his approach that he didn’t see the need even to argue for it. Dismissing a host of recent and contemporary theories about the origin of life, Schäfer declared that “the evolutionary hypothesis” offers the best solution.
Thus science offered solid grounds for optimism that longer life was possible. But an increase in the “expectation of life” (whether or not members of the public thought about it in those words) simply meant a better chance of making it to an age that, in human history, had always been attainable—just not by a very high percentage of any known population. But what if “old age” itself was a kind of disease, one that modern science could identify and promise at least partially to cure? Then what the public was looking at was the chance not just to make it to a preconceived limit, say 75, or for the extremely rare and lucky, like Stephen Smith, (almost) 100, but to push that limit beyond what had ever been recorded (outside of the Hebrew Scriptures, of course).
Connected: How Trains, Genes, Pineapples, Piano Keys, and a Few Disasters Transformed Americans at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century by Steven Cassedy