Research

"Lacto" Intolerant


In 1913, the college dairy department announced it had manufactured a new food product, "lacto," which closely resembled ice cream. Lacto was made from skim milk treated with a commercial pure lactic acid, making it both cheaper and healthier than ordinary ice cream.

Although the hope that there would be a market for such a product went unfulfilled, making better ice cream continued to be serious business in the dairy department. An article in a 1935 issue of The New Hampshire boasted that the dairy produced about 12,000 gallons of ice cream annually (9,000 of which were consumed on campus). There were 30 different flavors, including ginger, fruit salad, and mint pineapple, plus several kinds of sherbets and a chocolate ice cream sandwich.

Grasshopper Stopper

The 1914 Smith-Lever Act provided funds for cooperative extension work in agriculture and home economics between the land-grant colleges and the US Department of Agriculture. These funds made it possible to organize demonstration work on a county-wide basis.

Arthur Davis, Class of 1912, was hired to serve as the agricultural agent for Merrimack County. The farmers, many of whom were skeptical of the program, told Davis, "If you can't show us how to kill the grasshoppers, you can do nothing for us."

Davis turned to his alma mater for help. The solution proposed was a poison bran mash. Davis gathered a group of farmers together one afternoon, mixed the mash and spread it on the field, anticipating the hungry grasshoppers would eat it the next morning. Many farmers returned the next day, but, to Davis' horror, there were very few dead grasshoppers.

If you can't show us how to kill the grasshoppers, you can do nothing for us.

An entomologist from the USDA office read a newspaper account of the failed experiment and offered his advice: make sure the aroma is strong enough to attract the grasshoppers. Davis called the farmers together again, mixed the mash at 3:30 AM, and applied it to the fields just as the sun was coming up. Twenty-four hours later it was hard to find a live grasshopper or, one suspects, a still-skeptical farmer.

Melon Magic

In 1951, the university won a gold medal in the All-American trials for its hybrid watermelon, the "New Hampshire Midget." This melon subsequently became popular with consumers because it was a size that could fit easily in refrigerators.

The plant-breeding team of the late Dr. A. F. Yeager '52 and the late E. M. Meader '37, '78H continued to make improvements to the melon (the original Midget had a brittle rind that sometimes would break during transit or storage). They also increased the length of time the melon would remain deliciously edible. Seeds for their new introduction, the "Market Midget," became available for sale in 1960.

Microchips Ahoy

When UNH produced its first microchips, they were two millimeters square and had the work capacity of 3,000 transistors. (Modern microchips contain billions of transistors.) The chips were designed using the university's mainframe computer with the aid of advanced design tools from the Massachusetts Microelectronics Center.

Production of prototype chips had previously been done exclusively by industry at a cost of millions of dollars each. The center made the design of chips possible at a relatively low cost.

Spruce Hole

Southwest of Durham, near the Lee boundary, lies a unique geological formation called a kettle bog. Created at the end of the last ice age by immense chunks of melting glaciers, this area, known as Spruce Hole, is the last of six similar sites in New Hampshire.

In 1996, a team of researchers led by civil engineering professor Tom Ballestero used sophisticated equipment, including mini-piezometers, to determine hydraulic conductivity values at the site.

Back in the winter of 1918, two UNH students, armed with 200 feet of line, a five-pound weight, shovels, axes, measures and notebooks, set out to conduct their own research at Spruce Hole, exploring the age-old legend that the depth of the bog was unfathomable.

The New Hampshire reported on their findings:

By careful measurements the center of the surface was found and a hole chopped through twenty-five inches of ice. The line and weight were made ready and when all was clear the iron was started on its descent into the traditional bottomless pit. The line played out rapidly. Foot after foot was reeled off. Still the line disappeared into the depths below. Then the pull on the cord ceased abruptly. The watchers glanced hurriedly at the remaining line, and after vain attempts to sink it farther, pulled it in and measured off the distance. The pool is twenty feet deep at the middle.

Chemical Bonds

On April 16, 2004, the American Chemical Society presented Prof. Allen J. Bard of the University of Texas with the W. H. Nichols Award.

The award was established in 1902 by Dr. William H. Nichols, a pioneer in the US chemical industry and an early champion of the importance of chemistry in the future growth of the nation. A charter member of the American Chemical Society, he maintained a deep commitment to research and development and to the importance of supporting science education and students of chemistry.

The University of New Hampshire is pleased to be able to count two Nichols Medal winners among its faculty. In 1904, Prof. Charles L. Parsons, received the second medal ever awarded for his research and subsequent revision of the atomic weight of beryllium. In 1912, UNH was honored again, when Prof. Charles James was awarded the medal for his work in rare earth compounds.

Mr. Watson—Come Here—I Want to See Ewe

It is not generally known that the inventor of the telephone, Alexander G. Bell, was also interested in scientific sheep breeding. In 1885, he bought a summer home on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. Bell became fascinated by the sheep that lived there.

Observing that those with more than two nipples produced more twins, he decided this could be an important means of increasing wool and food production. Thus he launched enthusiastically into a study of the breeding of multi-nippled and twin-bearing sheep that continued for the rest of his life. He died in 1922.

Meanwhile, down in Durham, the Agricultural Experiment Station was also conducting experiments in applied genetics in sheep. Different breeds were crossbred, then selected over several generations for rapid growth, market conformation, and wool quality.

A bulletin, written by Prof. E.G. Ritzman about the experiments being conducted at the university, attracted the attention of the Bell heirs, and arrangements were made to transfer Dr. Bell's sheep to Durham. By adding the qualities of the Bell sheep, they eventually developed a strain with good growth and conformation, a high incidence of ewes with a high incidence of twinning, and wool of excellent quality.

Salute to Sousa

When we think of university research, the Department of Music may not be the first one to come to mind. However, research was the impetus behind the "Salute to Sousa" clinic held at UNH on January 13, 1951.

John Philip Sousa wrote his marches "on the fly," taking no time to record dynamics, accents and special effects, and published Sousa manuscripts were actually incomplete. Copyrights on his music were running out and abridged editions had already been published, thereby moving the music world further and further away from the real Sousa. Only those musicians who had performed under the baton of the "March King" himself possessed the knowledge of authentic Sousa tradition.

In a first-of-its-kind clinic, university band conductor George E. Reynolds arranged for three former Sousa band members to head all-day sessions to demonstrate the showmanship patterns and techniques of the late band master. Sousa music publishers provided condensed scores so that the clinic members could write in the additions and effects.

Band masters and music lovers from all over the East were invited to attend. Sousa's two daughters, Priscilla Sousa and Mrs. Helen Sousa Albert, were guests of honor. The day culminated in a concert by the 88-piece UNH band conducted by Dr. Frank Simon, former assistant conductor of the Sousa band. The band clinic received national recognition and the following year Sousa clinics were held in the Midwest and the far West.