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SCIENCE NEWS LETTER

A SCIENCE SERVICE PUBLICATION

What General Electric people are saying. . .

L. TONKS

Dr. Tonks is Manager— Physics Section—Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory

For several years we have been operating a reactor which is serving not as a prototype or a direct source of power-reactor performance in- formation but as an auxiliary in such a program—much as a cathode ray tube can be useful in testing tele- vision sets. We had experienced the limitations of a Ra-Be source in a graphite pile and foresaw that an experimental thermal reactor could serve as a very valuable tool. Purely as a substitute for the graphite pile, it could easily give us many more neutrons even at low power. Thus, activation experiments either for weighing absorbing foils or fuel itself could be carried out more rapidly. It became reasonable to think that with sufficient intensity and using a chopper we might make actual differential cross-section meas- urements, and a certain type of ex- ponential experiment in fissionable material became a possibility. Fi- nally, the criticality condition in a reactor makes it suitable for neutron absorption measurements by observ- ing the effect of the material under test on reactivity.

These were the considerations that led us to build our first thermal test reactor based on the fundamental de- sign of Dr. Steward of this Labora- tory...

Our thermal test reactor has under- gone a logical evolution in accord- ance with its proved usefulness. From a small beginning with a power level of one watt, all-manual controls, makeshift shielding and borrowed fuel, it has justified development into the 10,000-times-more powerful reactor we are about to complete. It is still small as reactors go and yet can give thermal neutron fluxes for experimental purposes which are comparable with far larger units. And by exploiting danger coefficient techniques it can measure thermal capture cross sections of small samples and weigh isotopes.

at the American Physical Society, Rochester, N. Y.

E. J. LAWTON

Mr. Lawton is with X-Ray Research, Electron Physics Research Department, General Electric Research Laboratory

We have recently found that certain polymers, or plastic ma- terials are cross-linked or ‘‘cured’’ when bombarded with high-velocity electrons. This curing process cross- links, or ties together, the long chain-like molecules that make up the plastic material. Some of the properties of this cross-linked ma- terial are greater form stability at high temperatures and improved solvent resistance. For example, con- sider polyethylene bottles or con- tainers (squeeze bottles). These, as you might expect, will collapse if subjected to high temperatures. A short time electron bombardment of such a bottle, however, will change its characteristics so much that it can stand up under steam steriliza- tion. You can start an almost end- less list of applications with sterile but unbreakable containers for phar- maceutical and biological materials which require sterilization after pack- aging. Unbreakable, re-usable milk bottles can be another possible use. Other plastic materials that can be cross-linked by the electron beam are nylon, rubber, and silicone prod- ucts.

In some of our earlier work we found that certain liquid materials would polymerize to solid plastics when exposed to the electron beam. In this process, there is a joining together of many smaller molecules to form the long chain-like molecules that make up the solid plastic. This means of initiating polymerization does not necessitate the use of cat- alyst and high temperature that is required in the conventional chem- ical polymerization process. In fact, we found that polymerization could be initiated at temperatures as low

as about 100° Fahrenheit below zero. Further, by controlling the pattern of the electron beam, it was found that specific solid plastic shapes could be produced in the liquid, thus providing a new and interesting way of casting objects.

General Electric Science Forum

WGY, Schenectady, N. Y.

C. A. BURKHARD

Dr. Burkhard is a Research Associate at the General Electric Research Laboratory.

When one desires to find informa- tion concerning a field or particular compound he is confronted with the problem of consulting abstract jour- nals, books or files to find the data which he desires. It is possible by use of either hand-sort or machine- cards and equipment to ag tech- nical libraries which will have avail- able files of information pertaining to the entire field of science. Then one confronted with the task of making a survey of a given field could consult such a library, and, by making the proper sorts by hand or by machine, obtain (1) a list of references pertaining to the subject in question (2) obtain pertinent data concerning the subject. As an ulti- mate in this type of activity it would be possible with the machine sort ro to ey ptepare printed sheets of references, lists of com- pounds and their physical properties, or lists of materials having certain physical properties. By the use of such type files it would also be pee sible to correlate and analyze data ee to particular rescarch and

evelopment problems from time to time without requiring the necessity of using research personnel to con- duct such surveys.

at the American Chemical Society Chicago, Ill.

M_

GENERAL G ELECTRIC

PHYSICS

Science News LETTER for November 14, 1953

Nobel Prizes Awarded

Dr. Hermann Staudinger wins Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work on high polymers. Dr. F. Zernike awarded Nobel Prize in physics for his development of the phase microscope.

See Front Cover

> BETTER UNDERSTANDING of how cancer cells grow, by allowing scientists to spy upon living body cells in color as they carry on their important life functions, is resulting from the pioneering studies of Dr. F. Zernike, the Dutch physicist who won this year’s Nobel Prize in physics.

The new technique of “color staining” living cells by light waves without killing the cells is Dr. Zernike’s most recent re- finement of the phase microscope, which he visualized and developed about 20 years ago.

Dr. Zernike, professor of physics at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, since 1920, was visiting professor in physics at the Johns Hopkins University in Balti- more in 1948. He participated in a sym- posium on optics at the National Bureau of Standards in October, 1951.

The ordinary phase microscope uses two transparent rings to reveal, in black and white, previously unknown details concern- ing delicate cell structure. Two optical companies—Bausch & Lomb Optical Co.

DR. F. ZERNIKE— Awarded the

Nobel Prize in physics for 1953, Dr.

Zernike visualized and made the first

phase microscope about 20 years ago,

recently refined it to allow study of living cells in color.

and American Optical Company—now make instruments of this type in the United States. Only a few phase microscopes that work in color are being used in experi- mental work in this country at the present time.

In the black and white phase microscope, a ring separates a small portion of light and distributes it over the whole field of view of the microscope, taking advantage of the fact that light travels in waves. This separated light, spread over the whole image, gives an evenly illuminated back- ground.

The image of the cell being viewed ap- pears bright where the phase of the direct light used for viewing is the same as that of the background light, so that the two light beams reinforce each other. It shows dark when the phases of the two light beams are different, so that by interference they nullify each other.

Rings such as the one shown on the cover of this week’s Science News LETTER cause details in transparent objects to stand out in marked contrast in Dr. Zernike’s phase microscope.

In the phase microscope by which cells can be seen in color, the ring that separates the light works in an opposite way in the red end of the spectrum than it does in the green end. Thus it gives some details more red light, some more green, depending on their thickness, enabling scientists to see the living cell in color.

Science News Letter, November 14, 1953

CHEMISTRY Nobelist Pioneered in Chemistry of Synthetics

> THOSE WONDERFUL synthetic fibers, plastics and rubbers that play such an im- portant role in the modern world owe their existence in large measure to the German chemist, Dr. Hermann Staudinger of the University of Freiburg, who has been awarded the 1953 Nobel Prize in chemistry for researches that began over three decades ago.

Pioneering in what has become known as high polymer chemistry, Dr. Staudinger is credited with establishing that the mole- cules of the synthetics like nylon have their atoms in long chains. Either by natural processes or by the skill of the chemist’s reactions, big molecules are made out of little ones by a process called polymeriza- tion. This is fundamental to many fields of industrial chemistry today, with products that gross many millions of dollars.

307

DR. HERMANN STAUDINGER—

Winner of the Nobel Prize in chem-

istry for 1953 is Dr. Hermann Stau-

dinger, whose work laid the founda-

tion for macro-molecular chemistry,

basis of synthetic fibers, plastics and rubbers.

Hardly any scientific compilation on polymers in the years since World War I has failed to give references to the funda- mental work of Dr. Staudinger and a host of fellow workers. Some American chem- ists between the two world wars studied in his laboratories.

A relationship between molecular weight and viscosity was discovered by Dr. Staudin- ger in 1930 and aided in the development of the new synthetics.

Molecules of the high polymers are com- posed of 2,000 or more atoms. The way the molecules regiment themselves deter- mines the differences between springy rub- ber, hard plastic and tough fiber. Natural substances such as cellulose, starch, proteins, chitin and rubber also have the long-chain

structure. Science News Letter, November 14, 1953

PALEONTOLOGY Museum Gets Spider 250,000,000 Years Old

> A RARE 250,000,000-year-old spider of the hypochilid family has been added to the collection of the American Museum of Nat- ural History in New York. The spider was one of 45,353 specimens of nocturnal spiders, beetles and moths collected by three Museum expeditions this summer.

Science News Letter, November 14, 1953

Permanent magnets made of ceramic ma- terial have recently been produced.

The earth would look 80 times as bright from the moon as the moon does from the earth.

308

INVENTION

Science News Letter for November 14, 1953

Space-Saving Machine

> U. S. PATENT Office officials now are creating a “space-saving device” to solve their acute filing problem. They report, however, no plans to get a patent on their machine.

The space saver will be too specialized in its work to merit a patent, reports T. B. Morrow, Patent Office executive officer.

By 1955 all patent-storage space in the vast underground three-acre file room will be exhausted. Patent officials have two choices:

1. They can expand their files—a costly procedure in the eyes of nimble-scissored budget trimmers.

2. They can microfilm about 250,000 pat- ents, install a $130,000 reproducing ma- chine and, in five years, cut expenditures for filing equipment and printing by as much as $70,000 above the machine’s cost.

Patent officials are excited over the pos- sibilities offered by the latter choice.

In plan, the machine will microfilm the first 250,000 patents granted by the Patent Office. This will compress on 1,400 feet of film enough patents to extend the files an- other five years. By the end of that time, more patents can be microfilmed to extend the files another five years.

Made up of electrical assemblies already proven, the machine will be able to scan as many as 1,000,000 patents a day on micro-

VETERINARY MEDICINE

film. It will be able to select automatically and reproduce about 1,000 patents a day. This is more than adequate since requests for the old patents are comparatively few.

The machine’s economic advantages be- come vivid when it is considered what must be done if the Patent Office has to expand its files. This would entail renting or con- structing more storage space, either of which would be costly.

The storage space would have to be filled with steel files to house the patents. These files are specially designed for the purpose. They are divided into inch-wide slots, 50 slots to a row and 10 rows tall on both sides. The file slots are arranged accord- ing to a decimal system to make it easy to file and pull patents. Steel files to handle one year’s normal issue of 40,000 patents cost $25,000.

Increasing the file space also means in- creasing personnel to handle the patent copies. One patent puller working at top speed can only draw about 1,000 patents a day from the files. Normal draw, at pres- ent, is 20,000 patent copies a day.

Since the machine will make photo copies of patents ordered, the Patent Office’s print- ing bill will be cut. It costs about $15,000 a year merely to replenish the printed sup- ply of old patents that becomes exhausted in the group to be microfilmed.

Science News Letter, November 14, 1953

Disease Prevention Studies

> A METHOD of experimentally produc- ing erysipelas, the nation’s number two swine killer, will help solve the problem of controlling the disease.

A scarification of the skin method, which produces the disease in selected hogs, has been developed by Dr. R. D. Shuman of the Bureau of Animal Industry, U. S. De- partment of Agriculture. It is similar to a smallpox vaccination for human beings.

Tests of an experimental vaccine for erysipelas have been greatly handicapped by the lack of a means of producing the dis- ease. Hogs were vaccinated in field tests, but scientists were unable to determine defi- nitely if the animal had been immunized.

The scarification method makes it pos- sible to determine a hog’s immunity or sus- ceptibility to the disease. For the first time, it is possible to measure the degree and length of immunity produced by vaccina- tion. Experiments have indicated that sows should be vaccinated before breeding, and baby pigs at weaning age.

As yet veterinary scientists have been un- able to determine how swine get the disease. The American Veterinary Medical Associa- tion has suggested that the new method may be used to trace the complete history of the infection.

Erysipelas is caused by a bacterium. In the acute septicemic stage, it is frequently fatal and its symptoms are similar to hog cholera. One form of the chronic disease is akin to arthritis, with lameness and swol- len joints. A skin form is frequently called the diamond-skin disease because of the red diamond-shaped patches that form on

the skin. Science News Letter, November 14, 1953

PHYSIOLOGY Body’s Natural Defense Against Cold Studied

> TO PROVIDE better evaluation and treatment of injuries resulting from ex- posure, the human body’s natural defenses against cold are being investigated.

Dr. Alan Hemingway of the University of California at Los Angeles is performing the study under a grant from the U. S. Air Force.

Cold defense mechanisms include: 1. shivering, 2. constriction of certain blood vessels near the skin’s surface to reduce heat loss, and 3. increased activity of certain hormones, which produces additional heat.

Particular emphasis has been placed upon

studying the body’s temperature-regulating mechanism in the brain. This is located in the hypothalamus and controls shivering.

In animal studies, it was found that an electrical stimulus of a certain area of the hypothalamus stopped shivering suddenly. In actual practice, shivering is initiated when sensory nerves react to cold exposure. A sudden emergency involving self de- fense or flight may call for use of muscles involved in shivering, and thus “turn off” the shivering.

The practical value of the research is re- lated to problems of cold encountered by airplane pilots.

Science News Letter, November 14, 1953

SCIENCE NEWS LETTER

VOL. 64 NOVEMBER 14, 1953 NO. 20

_The Weekly Summary of Current Science, pub- lished every Saturday by SCIENCE SERVICE, Inc., 1719 N St, N. W., Washington 6, D. C., NOrth 7-2255. Edited by WATSON DAVIS.

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+t

Science News Letter for November 14, 1953

“BRAIN” AT WORK—A giant electronic computer, such as the ORACLE shown here, will be helping weather forecasters make predictions on a trial

run within a year.

J. C. Chu of Argonne National Laboratory is shown

here illuminated by the light of the computer’s 2,000 electronic tubes.

METEOROLOGY

Weather by Giant “Brain”

Plans now made for daily use of electronic computer as an aid in predicting weather. Wind charts drawn with its data will be sent experimentally to local forecasters.

> A GIANT electronic “brain” will be making daily wind predictions to be used for local weather forecasts, on an experi- mental basis, within a year, according to plans of the nation’s top weather experts in Washington.

Official announcement of plans for the first day-by-day use of an electronic com- puter in a trial run on weather forecasting is expected in 1954. The experimental pro- gram, planned eventually to give more ac- curate weather forecasts, will be jointly run by the Navy, Air Force and Weather Bu- reau.

Using electronic computers is a revolu- tionary method in numerical weather pre- diction, pioneered at the Institute for Ad- vanced Study, Princeton, N. J. The sys- tem is so new that there are comparatively few experts on it in the world. Yet it is so promising that government weather officials have completed plans for its trial, and need only the necessary funds to start the pro- gram.

During its operations, the computer will be fed information on air pressures at sev- eral levels in the atmosphere, from near the

ground to about 30,000 feet. It will then perform mathematical calculations on this information and come up, within an hour, with the figures from which nation-wide upper wind charts can be drawn.

These wind charts, needed in predicting weather patterns over the entire country, will be sent to local forecasters. With this nation-wide picture as a background, the weathermen will then apply their special- ized knowledge of local weather conditions to make their 24-hour prediction.

In making forecasts at the present time, weathermen rely heavily on the skill and knowledge they have acquired, during years of practice, to make their predictions as accurate as possible. With a picture of today’s weather, they have to jump im- mediately from that to their own estimation of what to expect in 24 hours, or five or 30 days. Thus, essentially, weather prediction is an art, based on certain physical princi- ples, but varying with the forecaster’s per- sonal judgment resulting from his expe- rience.

In the trial run with an electronic com- puter for making the wind charts, most, if

309

not all, of the forecaster’s subjective judg- ments concerning winds will be eliminated, although he will still have to make subjec- tive decisions to go from the wind charts to actual weather forecasts.

One numerical forecasting expert now foresees that high speed “brains” will even- tually eliminate most of the forecaster’s personal opinions from his predictions. The techniques needed to record automatically the required weather data, to send such in- formation to a giant computer, and to re- transmit a finished weather map to local forecasters are now available, or are ex- pected to result within several years from such programs as the one now being launched.

At present, numerical forecasting works like this: Information on current weather conditions across the country is fed into the computer. Stored in the computer’s “memory” are certain mathematical for- mulas describing the motions of great air masses. Using these formulas, the “brain” computes the winds one hour in the “fu- ture.” Then, working in one-hour jumps, these forecasts are repeated until, finally, a picture of the winds 24 hours in advance of the “present” is obtained.

One computer can now perform the mil- lions of steps necessary to make such a 24- hour prediction in somewhat less than an hour.

With the use of formulas not yet com- pletely worked out, which would take into account such energy sources as variations in the heat received from the sun and those resulting from water evaporation and con- densation, meteorologists hope eventually to be able to use computing machines to make numerical weather forecasts for five or 30 days, or perhaps even farther into the fu- ture. Such long-range predictions, how- ever, are not expected very soon.

Experts in numerical forecasting believe this system has two advantages over pres- ent methods:

1. The computer can use and store in its “memory” many hundred times the in- formation a human forecaster can possibly keep in his head.

2. A human forecaster cannot use a pre- cise, step-by-step, hour-by-hour method and stay ahead of the weather. He has to jump directly to the desired future time by sub- jective methods. Step-like predictions are more accurate than such relatively long- time jumps.

Which of the electronic computers now operating in the country would be the most satisfactory for numerical forecasting pur- poses is a question representatives of the Weather Bureau, Air Force and Navy still have to settle.

With this question answered, and with the necessary funds made available, the pro- gram will be put in operation. Then top meteorologists throughout the world will watch with high interest to see how weather predictions, made with the aid of com- puters, compare with the actual sunny or stormy conditions that mean either blue skies or rubbers.

Science News Letter, November 14, 1953

310

PHYSICS

ScIENcE News LETTER for November 14, 1953

Atom Smasher “Cheats”

“Swindletron” gives protons two boosts of energy with

each electrical impulse, instead of just one kick.

It operates

at lower voltages than the giant accelerators.

> A “SWINDLETRON,” a new kind of atom smasher that seems to “cheat” on an elementary law of physics, is being devel- oped at the University of California.

Heretofore, the machines that physicists have built for smashing atoms have given only one boost of energy to atomic projec- tiles by a single electrical impulse. The “swindletron” gives two boosts of energy per electrical impulse.

The “swindletron” can operate in the region of several million electron volts, but cannot rival in energy the big cyclotrons, cosmotrons and bevatrons. However, scien- tists say it will operate cheaper, easier and more safely in the energy ranges now cov- ered by Cockcroft-Walton and Van de Graaff atom smashers.

In the Berkeley pilot model “swindle- tron,” more formally called the charge ex- change accelerator, protons, the nuclei of hydrogen atoms, are used as atomic bullets.

The protons are shot at about 30,000 volts through a thin, uncharged sheet of aluminum. In this “capture” foil, the slow- moving protons tend to pick up two elec- trons each. Being negatively charged, the projectiles are then pulled violently toward another aluminum screen which is positively charged. The particles are boosted to 500,000 volts by this charge.

TECHNOLOGY

Porcelain for

> THE SAME sort of porcelain enamel that gives refrigerators, stoves and washing machines their glossy appearance promises to become a major low-cost house and office -building construction material, the Building Research Advisory Board in Washington reports.

Porcelain enamel panels now are being produced in a variety of colors and textures. They are suitable for exterior walls of build- ings and houses, for flooring, decorative trimming and laboratory work benches.

Porcelain panels are not a substitute for regular load-bearing building materials, but they make high quality facing material. Attached to a strong building frame, the panels are exceptionally weather-resistant and are said to outlast the framework of the building itself.

The panels never have to be painted since color is an integral part of them. A quick washing will restore their snappy look when they become dirty.

Few office buildings and even fewer

As they rush through this screen, the fast particles tend to lose their two electrons. So on leaving this “stripping” foil, the par- ticles are once again naked protons with a positive charge. They are violently pushed away from the foil, receiving another 500,000 volt boost.

Thus, with a single 500,000 volt charge, the protons are accelerated to 1,000,000 volts. The physicists get twice as much energy out of the machine as they put in. In larger versions of the machine, it will be possible to get 4,000,000 volt protons with an expenditure of 2,000,000 volts of energy. Four million electron volts is the energy range of a standard type Van de Graaff.

The idea of the “swindletron” was con- ceived independently by Dr. Luis W. Al- varez, professor of physics at Berkeley. After his publication of the idea, he learned that it had been patented in 1936 by Dr. Willard Bennett of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, although Dr. Bennett had never published a scientific paper on the subject. The small pilot model in Berkeley, the first of the “swindletron” species, is being developed by Dr. John R. Woodyard, professor of electrical engineer-

ing. Science News Letter, November 14, 1953

Buildings

houses now use the panels to their fullest advantage, the Board adds, but engineers and architects are excited over the prom- ise the panels hold.

In addition to their ruggedness—they are difficult to chip—the panels are easily hung in place and may be one answer to the prob- lem of low-cost housing.

Some filling stations and supermarkets already are using porcelain panels for ex- terior walls. Some office buildings and homes also are using them for interior dec- oration.

Tests at the Atomic Energy Commission’s Oak Ridge National Laboratories show the panels make good laboratory construction materials in radioactivity danger areas. Not only do they resist contamination, but also they can be easily decontaminated when “hot.”

To explore the possibilities of the panels from their chemical and physical properties to their architectural and esthetic qualities, the Building Research Advisory Board held

a conference with porcelain enamel manu- facturers at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington. The open meet- ing drew many persons engaged in the con- struction business. Various conference ses- sions brought out research and practical ex- periences that experts have had with the panels to date.

Science News Letter, November 14, 1953

MEDICINE New Antibiotic Stops Viruses of ‘Flu in Mice

> AN ANTIBIOTIC drug that can stop two human influenza viruses in mice was announced by Drs. D. A. Harris, H. B. Woodruff and Laurella McClelland of Merck and Co. Research Laboratories, Rah- way, N. J., at the antibiotic symposium held under the sponsorship of the Food and Drug Administration, U. S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

The new antibiotic has been obtained in crystalline form from an organism called Nocardia formica.

Besides its “favorable” effect on mice in- fected with the human ’flu viruses, it en- abled mice infected with swine influenza virus to survive twice as long as infected, untreated mice.

It also delays the development of mumps virus in eggs.

Science News Letter, November 14, 1953

DENTISTRY Taste Governs Dentifrice Choice

> AMERICANS CHOOSE their dentifrice for its taste more often than for any other reason, it appears from replies of 3,000 fam- ilies to a questionnaire by the American Dental Association.

Of 81.4% who answered the question- naire, 18.5%, said taste was the reason for selecting the dentifrice they used, with an- other 9% giving aftertaste as the reason. One out of 18 used a particular dentifrice because the dentist recommended it.

“A minority of respondents thought that ammoniated or chlorophyll dentifrice had an advantage over other dentifrices in the care of the teeth,” the association reports.

The figures on this question show that 23.4% thought an ammoniated dentifrice best for teeth, 20.2% thought a chlorophyll dentifrice was best for the teeth, with 16.3% thinking a plain dentifrice was best, and 36.8% replying “It doesn’t make much dif- ference what kind is used.”

Tooth paste is used by 69.1% of those answering the questionnaire, with 21.8% using tooth powder, and only eight-tenths of a percent using a liquid dentifrice. The others used soda, salt or some other denti- frice.

While 60.1% said they knew teeth should be brushed after each meal, only 29.1% said they actually did. The most common prac- tice is twice-a-day brushing.

Science News Letter, November 14, 1953

MEDICINE

Science News Letter for November 14, 1953

Arteriosclerosis Tendency

Tendency toward artery hardening can be predicted by three comparatively simple laboratory tests, two of which measure the size of fatty particles in blood serum.

> A TENDENCY to develop arteriosclero- sis, or artery hardening, can be predicted by three “relatively simple” laboratory tests, Dr. Thaddeus D. Labecki of the Mississippi State Board of Health, Jackson, Miss., de- clared at the meeting of the American So- ciety for the Study of Arteriosclerosis in Chicago.

This artery disease often leads to crip- pling and even fatal heart attacks. The tests, made on samples of blood and blood serum, reflect the body’s efficiency in utiliz- ing fatty substances.

Many factors, such as sex, age, high blood pressure and diabetes, contribute to de- velopment of arteriosclerosis and heart dis- ease, Dr. Labecki explained. However, he pointed out, it is generally accepted that persons who develop disease of the heart arteries do not utilize fat in the proper manner.

Dr. Labecki’s research is part of a long- range project planned to investigate in what ways the tendency to hardening of the heart’s arteries reflects itself in certain sub- stances circulating in the blood. These are the lipoproteins, that is, large molecules of fat combined with proteins.

“In certain individuals,’ he explained, “some of these particles deposit themselves in the lining of the arteries, particularly arteries leading the blood to the heart mus- cle itself (coronary arteries), and even- tually the thickening which results from the deposition causes obstruction to the blood flow. If a vital coronary artery is

MEDICINE

Lung Cancer

> POLLUTED AIR over our big cities is more to blame for the increase in lung can- cer than tobacco smoking, Dr. Paul Kotin of the Universtiy of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles, charged at the meeting of the American Cancer So- ciety in New York.

Air-extracted aliphatic hydrocarbons and their oxidation products give signs of be- ing concerned with tumor production in skin painting experiments with mice, Dr. Kotin’s researches show.

In cooperation with the University of Southern California’s School of Engineer- ing, he studied the exhaust products of gaso- line and diesel engines running at various speeds. Benzene extracts of materials caught on filter papers placed over the en- gine exhaust pipes produced skin tumors on approximately 50% of the mice on which

suddenly obstructed, a heart attack occurs which the patient may survive or which may result in instantaneous or subsequent death.”

To determine how to find out whether a subject had a tendency toward, or actually had, arteriosclerosis, a group of 33 patients with coronary occlusion was compared with a group of 197 presumably normal patients.

In each of these reported cases, the per- formance of three tests, including two tests, ultracentrifuge and chylomicron determina- tion, which so far have been limited pre- dominantly to research centers, showed the disease could have been suspected in all pa- tients, even if they failed to show definite clinical symptoms of the disease, Dr. La- becki reported.

Two of these tests measure the size of the fatty particles in the blood serum. The large particles, called chylomicrons, are large enough to be studied with the aid of a high-power, dark field microscope. The tiniest of the particles, lipoproteins, are too small to be seen, but can be studied through separation into several categories through the use of a centrifuge rotating about 55,000 times a minute.

The third test is based upon the determi- nation of how much cholesterol, a fat sub- stance excessive concentration of which has often been associated with arteriosclerosis, circulates in the patient’s blood. This latter test has been long known to the medical profession.

Science News Letter, November 14, 1953

Increase

they were painted. Petroleum, natural gas and coal are the main sources of the air- polluting hydrocarbons. Previously, Dr. Kotin said, they have not been considered associated with tumor formation.

These same aliphatic hydrocarbons, their oxidation products and ozone cause a per- son’s eyes to water on a smoggy day, and may be blamed for damage to the body’s respiratory tract.

“We are creating a marked cancer haz- ard in the air over our big cities,” Dr. Kotin said, “by dumping all manner of fumes and gases into the atmosphere.

“The increasing frequency of lung can- cer in cities as compared with rural areas all over the world indicates that the atmos- phere may be the principal cause of this disease. The agents responsible for the ac- celerated rate of lung cancer in man are

311

almost universally distributed, and evidence points to the air we breathe as their source.

“Until it can be explained why many per- sons who never smoke get lung cancer, or why more cases develop in air-polluted cities than in rural areas, or why there is less cancer of the larynx than of the lung which smoke reaches last,” he declared, “smoking can be considered only as one possible source but not necessarily the principal of-

fender.” Science News Letter, November 14, 1953

BIOCHEMISTRY Cranberries Give Aid To Penicillin Effect

> A CHEMICAL from cranberries has been purified and converted into a com- pound that may prolong the effect of peni- cillin in the body.

The cranberry chemical is ursolic acid, found also in the shiny skins of other fruits such as apples. An amino derivative from it is the compound expected to prolong penicillin’s effect, Prof. Lloyd M. Parks and Betty Y. T. Wu of the University of Wis- consin found in research aided by a grant from the National Cranberry Association.

Science News Letter, November 14, 1953

TECHNOLOGY Devise Process for Reclaiming Asbestos

> SCIENTISTS AT the National Bureau of Standards have learned to reclaim criti- cally short asbestos from discarded pipe insulation.

Working at the request of the Navy’s Bureau of Ships, Elmer W. Zimmerman, a bureau chemist, discovered the asbestos can be reused if discarded pipe insulation is broken down with acids or alkalies to lib- erate the asbestos fibers from extraneous material.

Asbestos-cotton fabrics that do not con- tain paint can be treated with a five per- cent solution of hydrochloric acid, then rinsed. Fabrics painted on one side are boiled in a five percent solution of sodium hydroxide for 15 to 30 minutes. In both cases the fabric is rinsed, but in the latter case a detergent is added to remove paint pigment.

When cotton strands are mixed with the asbestos fibers, they can be “burned” out in a muffle furnace operating between 750 and 840 degrees Fahrenheit. Careful control must be exercised at this point to prevent the asbestos from becoming brittle due to a lack of moisture.

After the asbestos has been freed of its extraneous matter, the cloth is reduced to fiber in a rotary food blender or paper pulp beater and is ready