Fort Collins and The War to End All Wars

 

In the spring of 1917, the United States entered the war raging in Europe. Here’s a description from the National World War I Museum and Memorial:

“The day after an overwhelming majority in the Senate votes for war, President Wilson signs the declaration. The United States quickly puts the entire country on the road to war.  Going from a standing army of 133,000 men with almost no heavy artillery pieces, millions of men were inducted into the armed forces over the next two years and given basic combat training.”

One hundred years later, the changes wrought on the world as a result of World War I – the Great War – are still being studied, discussed, and debated. You’ve probably seen a presentation or two yourself. But you might not know the part Fort Collins played.   

Battery A – originally a National Guard unit formed at Colorado Agricultural College, later part of a regiment of the US Army – included Fort Collins men, and would train in Camps Baldwin (Denver), Greene (North Carolina), Mills (New York), and Merritt (New Jersey) before landing in Europe. The Archive houses a scrapbook that captures one soldier’s experience of the war, Mr. John Hurdle.

The first date that appears in Hurdle’s scrapbook is from July, 100 years ago. The scrapbook is filled with photographs and handwritten notes that track Battery A’s route through the fields of war, and includes many images of Fort Collins citizens. A few pages are featured below.

During the remainder of this year, and through the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice, we will share with you details of the war as experienced by the citizens of Fort Collins (including those at home and those who never made it home). You can expect excerpts of letters, pictures from the Front, first-hand accounts of the Second Battle of the Marne, and much more.

*Stay tuned for more research on WWI and the Hurdle scrapbook from Jenny Hannifin and Doug Ernest.

 

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LaserDome: David Bowie Recap

Did you make it to the LaserDome: David Bowie show in the OtterBox Digital Dome Theater last weekend? Couldn’t make it, but still want to enjoy our curated playlist of David Bowie tunes? Well, we’ve got you covered! Check out the Spotify playlist below to re-live it or experience it for the first time! Every LaserDome playlist is carefully curated and arranged by our music-loving staff members here at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, so we are sure you’ll enjoy this playlist as much as we do!

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Volunteer Spotlight: Amy Parker

Name: Amy Parker

 

Position at FCMoD: Animal Encounters, School Group Host, & Public Programs

 

When you started volunteering here: October 2016

 

Hobbies/Interests: I enjoy road bicycling, hiking in the mountains, photography (nature & landscape), gardening, and birding

 

Hometown: I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but I lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan for 30+ years

 

Current/previous occupation: I was a Pre-K teacher for 25 years, working primarily with kids 4-5 years old. I retired 3 years ago.

 

Favorite book: My favorite kid’s book is Owen by Kevin Henkes, and my favorite adult book is The Emerald Mile by Kevin Fedarko, which is about the Grand Canyon.

 

Favorite vacation memory: We took a trip to the Canadian Rockies with my family, and we got to hike Sentinel Pass and see Moraine Lake. Everyone enjoyed it so much!

 

One thing you want people to know about you: I love dogs, and I say hello to just about every dog and dog owner I see while I’m hiking!

 

Favorite thing about volunteering at FCMoD: I like that the volunteer program is well-organized and that we are well-supported by staff.

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Fun with Fruit

As I was processing a collection of agricultural yearbooks (1902-1998), I didn’t expect much in the way of beauty.

But amidst the descriptions of foot-and-mouth disease, insect infestation, and state-by-state parameters for “a bushel,” I found these delightful color plates.

Enjoy the fruits of my labor – all from The Yearbook of Agriculture: 1902 (published by the US Department of Agriculture).

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Tomorrow’s Robot Pop Stars, and Today’s Elementary Students

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, over 65% of today’s elementary school students will have jobs that do not yet exist. Wow! These same young students will also be the first humans to set foot on Mars, based on NASA’s mission schedule. It is exciting to dream about the major technological and societal changes coming in our lifetimes.

And if today’s students will have jobs that do not yet exist, what about the jobs that currently exist? What about the jobs that you, or I, hold right now?

Scholars at the University of Oxford recently surveyed 352 of the world’s leading researchers in artificial intelligence (AI), to learn when AI employees would become better—and less expensive—than human employees in many job fields.

In the next 10 years, according to these researchers, AI employees will surpass human employees in:

 

* translating languages (by 2024)

* writing high school essays (by 2026)

* driving trucks (by 2027)

* generating a Top 40 pop song (by 2027)

 

It will take less than 5 years for AIs to outperform humans in Angry Birds (by 2018) or the World Series of Poker (by 2019), for that matter.

That said, human employees will remain better than AI employees in many job fields for the coming decades. Still, in the next 40 years, AIs will surpass humans in:

* working in retail (by 2031)

* writing a New York Times bestselling book (2049)

* working as a surgeon (by 2053)
These researchers believe AIs will outperform humans in all job fields within 45 years! But, as the MIT Technology Review notes, predictions of 40+ years are not always accurate. Cost-effective energy fusion is predicted to occur in the next 40 years—but it was also predicted to occur in the next 40 years when first explored… over 50 years ago.

Most people have a working life of 40 years. This working life-span is increasing to 45 or 50 years, though, as adults continue working beyond retirement. So, if you are an adult today, it is unlikely that your job as a truck driver, retail salesperson, or even surgeon will be fully supplanted by AI employees before your retirement. But what of today’s young students?

Here at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, we are asking these questions. We discover, often in conversation with students, many new and insightful answers. In our educational programs, youth build 21st century skills, to help them succeed in our changing world. Rather than focus on single disciplines, youth develop cross-disciplinary skills like critical thinking, creativity, and initiative through hands-on exhibits and experiences. As a result, museum visitors are better able to handle the incredible technological and societal advances on our horizon.

 

But we still wonder—could AI employees ever run a museum? Guess we’ll find out!

 

 

Explore More:

“Experts Predict When AI Will Exceed Human Performance.” MIT Technology Review (5/31/17).

“When Will AI Exceed Human Performance?” Cornell University Library (5/30/17).

“How AI Is Transforming the Workplace.” The Wall Street Journal (3/10/17).

“A Robot May Be Training to Do Your Job. Don’t Panic.” The New York Times (9/10/16).

“Museums, Libraries, and 21st Century Skills.” Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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Growing “up” – Fort Collins’ first skyscrapers

These days, a drive around Fort Collins always includes orange traffic cones, route deviations, and a horizon line crossed with a building crane. We are growing, aren’t we? Fort Collins residents of the 1960s felt the pressure of growth as well:

“City planners were hard pressed to keep up with the city’s growth, especially in the rapidly developing suburbs. Fort Collins’ population almost tripled between 1950 and 1970. New industries, such as Kodak and Aqua Tec, were locating in the area, attracting more people. The Chamber of Commerce reported that industrial employment rose from 1,068 in 1960 to 3,411 in 1969. Builders tried to keep pace with the growth as all-time records were set for private construction. A consequence of these efforts was the building of Fort Collins’ first skyscrapers. The twelve-story First National Bank Tower and the eleven-story Home Federal Savings Building (now Norwest) were built in 1968.”  (From “Timeline 1960”, www.history.fcgov.com  )

Plans for First National Bank’s twelve-story “condominium” office building at 205 West Oak were publicly announced on November 19, 1967; less than two years later, Fort Collins residents celebrated its completion.  According to the Denver Post, “An estimated 12,000 persons attended the recent one week long celebration opening the First National Bank’s 12 story building” (7-6-1969 4/5).

Here’s a shot of the “new” building from June 16, 1969:   

Here’s a ribbon-cutting picture taken at the opening, also from June 16, 1969:  

 

This aerial shot shows the cityscape northeast of the new tower:   

 

Building is a messy process.  To actualize this (a rendering of the “new” courthouse, circa 1969): 

 

You gotta go through a lot of this:        and

 

 

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Art as Science: Early Botanical Artists

RARE II – at FCMoD from May 6 to August 6 – is an exhibit of contemporary botanical illustrations depicting globally imperiled plants found in Colorado. Members of the Rocky Mountain Society of Botanical Artists created these works of art using the Master List of Rare Plants (produced by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program). I hope you have a chance to see this rare combination of scientific accuracy, aesthetic appeal, and technical mastery.

Which brings me to my subject today:  a glimpse at the role botanical illustration played in the early history of science.

Surgeons traveling with the Roman army – including Greeks Dioscorides (circa 40-90 AD) and Galen (131-200 AD) – compiled herbals (text + drawings) that remained the primary materia medica texts for centuries (by some accounts, at least 1500 years). Herbalism traditions were preserved through the middle ages in the monasteries of Britain and Europe, where monks copied and translated works of  Hippocrates, Dioscorides, Galen, and non-Western scientists like Ibn Sina (aka Avicenna). The advent of the printing press in the mid-fifteenth century created unprecedented access to mass-produced books, some of which included botanical illustration. (Details in this paragraph drawn from the University of Virginia’s Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, exhibits.hsl.virginia.edu/herbs/brief-history/ ).

So, Printing press + Woodcut illustrations (later lithographs) = Beautiful botanical books of both scientific and aesthetic value.

For more details about the background of botanical illustration, check out these folks:

  • 16th century, Leonhart Fuchs
  • 17th century, Maria Sibylla Merian
  • 18th century, Pierre-Joseph Redouté
  • 19th century, Pieter de Pannemaeker (Ghent) and Emily Stackhouse (Cornwall)

And enjoy the Rare II exhibit!

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Volunteer Spotlight: Pat Tvede

Name: Pat Tvede

Position at FCMoD: Research Assistant in the Archive

When you started volunteering here: April 2011 (started at the Landmark Preservation Commission)

Hobbies/Interests: I love to knit and read!

Hometown: I grew up on trains, so I lived everywhere!

Current/previous occupation: I was a teacher, a supervisor, and a gemologist

Favorite book: I can’t think of a favorite book, but my favorite author is PD James. She’s a mystery writer.

Favorite vacation memory: There was this really neat pool in California. It was huge, and it had slides! There was also a creek through town, but it was ice runoff. I jumped in, and it was like an ice cube!

One thing you want people to know about you: I have survived for many years!

Favorite thing about volunteering at FCMoD: I love the people here! The personnel are very helpful and knowledgeable.

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Archive Fun: Great Pranks Edition!

Today, a 1965 CSU alumnus stopped by the Archive to dig up an article from his college days. On April 21st, 1963, five members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity decided to go to a showing of the new Hitchcock film, “The Birds,” with a little something up their sleeves.

Smuggled in the jackets of these young Greeks were several dead pigeons. These young men waited until the part of the film when the birds start attacking, then began tossing the dead pigeons onto the unsuspecting audience. The Coloradoan reported it to be “near pandemonium.”

It seems these boys pulled off quite the coo…er, um, coup.

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