From the April 20, 1929 issue
Our cover this week is from an unusual painting made for the Buffalo Museum of Science by Wilfred Bronson, portraying an incident in the struggle for existence that goes on unceasingly beneath the quiet blue waters of the warm seas. One of a school of dolphins, the fastest fish that swim the sea, has taken a fancy to a bit of flying-fish for lunch. These living combinations of submarine and airplane have taken to their natural refuge from aquatic foes. Having broken water, they are gliding down the air on their expanded, wing-like fins, propelled by the inertia of the rush that carried them out to the water.
NO HEARTBEATS IN PLANTS
"Hearts" in plants, propelling the sap upward by rhythmic beats, are denied any real existence by several American and European plant physiologists, whose repetitions of the widely heralded experiments of Sir Jagadis Chunder Bose have not given results like those claimed by the Indian scientist. The "pulsations" shown on his records, they state, are due simply to the tremors of imperfectly adjusted instruments, and when these sources of error are eliminated, the apparent pulsations vanish immediately. Without these precautions, a round lamp wick soaked in cabbage juice shows "pulsations" of exactly the same kind detected in the living stem of a plant.
The newest attack on the Bose theories is by Dr. G.A. Persson of Mt. Clements, Mich., in an article which appears in the Scientific American. Dr. Persson, a physician interested in the physiological effects of poisons, was attracted to the Bose experiments by the reported effects of strychnine and other drugs on the "heart-action" of plants. He and his assistant built duplicates of two of Dr. Bose's pieces of apparatus, the electric probe and the sphygmograph.
Both these instruments are supposed to register minute increases and decreases in the diameter of plant stems, making them readable to the naked eye by deflections on the scale of a sensitive galvanometer. Dr. Persson did get wiggly-line tracings that resembled those of Dr. Bose; but he states that when he carefully insulated his apparatus against vibration and electrical disturbance, and refrained from walking near his plant or causing any air currents in its neighborhood, the apparent pulsations stopped completely.
These negative results agree with those of an Irish scientist, Dr. H.H. Dixon of the University of Dublin. Prof. Dixon built an electric probe some time ago and also a third instrument used by Dr. Bose, called a quadrant electrometer. He was not able to detect any heart-like pulsing in plants with either of these pieces of apparatus.
ASTRONOMER DISCOVERS FASTEST NEBULA
The fastest known motion in the universe for a large body has been found, in a spiral nebula that appears to be moving away from the Earth with a speed of 2,348 miles every second. This has been determined by Dr. Milton L. Humason of the Mt. Wilson Observatory with the aid of photographs of the body's spectrum made with the 100-inch telescope, largest in the world. The nebula can only be observed with the aid of a large telescope and is known as NGC 7619, its number in the New Catalog of such objects.
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