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Who said: “The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem. Unless we solve that problem it will avail us little to solve all others.”
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United States Patent Office.


Specification of Letters Patent No. 68, dated October 24, 1836

To all whom it may concern:

Be it known that I, Alonzo D. Phillips, of Springfield, in the county of Hampden and State of Massachusetts, have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Modes of Manufacturing Friction-Matches for the Instantaneous Production of Light, which improvements consist in a new composition of matter for producing ignition and in a new mode of putting up the matches for use by which the danger of ignition from accidental friction or from other causes is obviated and I do hereby declare that the following is a full and exact description thereof.

The composition used in preparing the matches usually called loco foco and which light by slight friction, is a compound of phosphorus, chlorate of potash, sulfuret of antimony, and gum arabic or glue. That which I use consists simply of phosphorus, chalk, and glue and in preparing it I use the ingredients in the following, manner and proportions: I take one ounce of glue and dissolve it by the aid of water and heat in the usual manner; to this glue I add four ounces of finely-pulverized chalk or Spanish white, stirring it in so as to form a thick paste. I then put in one ounce of phosphorus, keeping the materials at such degree of heat as will suffice to melt the phosphorus and incorporate the whole together. Into this composition the matches are dipped after being previously dipped in sulfur in the usual manner.

The composition may be varied in its proportions, but those I have given I consider the best. The ingredients also may be varied, as gum arabic or other gum may be substituted for glue and other absorbent earths or materials may be used instead of the carbonate of lime.

In order to prevent the danger from accidental ignition I prepare the pine wood for my matches in the following manner: I cut my pine into thin slabs about the usual thickness of veneers. These I cross cut into lengths for matches, and by means of gangs of circular saws cut these comb fashion and lengthwise of the grain of the wood, leaving a portion at one end uncut holding the strips together like the back of a comb. The number of matches on each slab may be about a dozen. These are then dipped in the sulfur and afterward in the above named composition and put up for sale by laying the slabs upon long slips of paper, cut wide enough to lap over the ends of the matches. The slabs are then doubled up in the paper, in such in the manner of papering pins. A slab when wanted may be taken out without disturbing the remainder and the paper effectually removes all danger from friction.

What I claim as my invention is —

The use of a paste, or composition to ignite by friction, consisting of phosphorus and earthy material and a glutinous substance only without the addition of chlorate of potash or of any highly combustible material such as sulfuret of antimony in addition to the phosphorus. I also claim the mode herein described of putting up the matches in paper so as to secure them from accidental friction.

Thos. P. Jones,
Henry Wilson.

Nature bears long with those who wrong her. She is patient under abuse. But when abuse has gone too far, when the time of reckoning finally comes, she is equally slow to be appeased and to turn away her wrath. (1882) -- Nathaniel Egleston, who was writing then about deforestation, but speaks equally well about the danger of climate change today.
Carl Sagan Thumbnail Carl Sagan: In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) ...(more by Sagan)

Albert Einstein: I used to wonder how it comes about that the electron is negative. Negative-positive—these are perfectly symmetric in physics. There is no reason whatever to prefer one to the other. Then why is the electron negative? I thought about this for a long time and at last all I could think was “It won the fight!” ...(more by Einstein)

Richard Feynman: It is the facts that matter, not the proofs. Physics can progress without the proofs, but we can't go on without the facts ... if the facts are right, then the proofs are a matter of playing around with the algebra correctly. ...(more by Feynman)
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