local Archives

  1. The ‘Penn State Automatic Computer’ →

    Some local history on one of the first large-scale university computers.

    They secured $25,000 in University funds and $17,000 from the National Science Foundation for constructing PENNSTAC — Penn State Automatic Computer. The machine they envisioned would cost $300,000 on the commercial market. Yet building it from scratch, Tarpley said, would provide his team of faculty and graduate students invaluable hands-on experience.

    And this:

    According to a 1957 account in the Daily Collegian student newspaper, PENNSTAC could “perform 1,400 additions of 10-digit numbers in one second, and its magnetic drum can store 2.5 thousand 10-digit figures.”

  2. Century-Old Pennsylvania Relief Map Restored by PSU →

    Here are some excerpts of the story:

    In 2014, as Penn State’s Steidle Building was undergoing renovations, a large—7.5 feet x 17 feet, to be exact—map of Pennsylvania was discovered leaning against the wall of an office.

    It turned out to be a relief map, or a map that depicts land configuration and height of land surface, of the state. Made in the late 1800s, the map was displayed at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, also known as the Chicago World’s Fair.

    The fully restored 7.5 feet by 17 feet plaster relief map of Pennsylvania is displayed in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum and Art Gallery

    It’s great that they were able to restore it. I really want to go see this thing.

  3. Penn State Lunar Lion keeps eyes on the Moon →

    While Google’s Lunar XPRIZE may have been an ambitious goal, the new goal of reaching the moon within the next decade sounds like the start of a slow death to this project. I hope I am wrong.

    Penn State’s Lunar Lion team has announced that it is withdrawing from the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition — however, the program continues with the goal of landing a spacecraft on the Moon within the next decade.

  4. Weis Online Shopping →

    Upon my return from Colorado, I went to the local Weis grocery store to find two new parking spots near the front entrance. Both were highlighted with bright blue paint indicating they were for online shoppers.

    I am sure this will come with its own challenges — such as, what to do with cold foods if the customer arrives late — but it is cool to see local stores adapting to available technologies.

  5. Black Bear Sighting in Rothrock State Forest

    After 13 years of poking around in Rothrock State Forest, I saw my second black bear tonight on the fire road adjacent to Detweiler Run. I was on my mountain bike, and heard it crashing down through the woods towards Detweiler Run, after I unknowingly startled it from a distance.

    Judging by its size, I suspect it was an adolescent, but not this year’s cub.

    The sighting was foreshadowed by something I have never seen: a large green metal bear trap, likely for research, as it was positioned in the woods well after the locked gate to the fire road. The trap was open on one end, with what appeared to be food dangling inside. While I didn’t take a photo, it looked very similar to this one.

    An Eastern Box Turtle and now a black bear — a good week for seeing critters. Now where are those timber rattlers…