From the April 9, 1932 issue

SPIDERS’ EGGS FORM PATTERN LIKE MOSAIC OF PEBBLES

Like a rough mosaic of pebbles is the array of spider’s eggs photographed by Cornelia Clarke and reproduced on the cover of this week’s Science News Letter. Although smaller than small pinheads, the enlarging lens brought the eggs up to such apparent size that they were guessed to be puffballs, moldy grapes, and a number of other objects of similar size by persons to whom the photograph was first shown.

SUPER-SENSITIVITY OF NEW RESEARCH TOOL IS CONFIRMED

“A powerful new tool for research, one thousand times more sensitive than the most delicate methods of analysis now used,” is the report Dr. B.S. Hopkins and Dr. Gordon Hughes of the University of Illinois gave the American Chemical Society following a study of the magnetic-optic method of analysis developed by Dr. Fred Allison of Alabama Polytechnic Institute, and used in the discovery of the last two chemical elements.

The Illinois scientists are devising improvements to Dr. Allison’s method which they expect will make it a dependable tool for routine use in the laboratory–one with which the limits of human knowledge can be extended to present “unknowns” where infinitesimals of one-millionth of one per cent are matters of importance.

LIGHT VELOCITY IS KEY TO OTHER NUMERICAL CONSTANTS

Physicists have acknowledged that light’s velocity is one of the most fundamental constants of nature, and now Prof. J.E. Mills, University of South Carolina chemist, has discovered that this speed is a numerical master key for computing other constants used in science.

By using a formula that involves the velocity of light as the circumference of a circle and certain other relations involving the velocity of light, Prof. Mills has been able to derive with great numerical accuracy the values for the geometrical constant, the mass of the electron, the mass of the proton, Planck’s constant, the electronic charge, the gravitation constant, and Boltzmann’s constant, all of which are familiar to physicists. It is necessary to ignore the placing of the decimal point, however.

Prof. Mills believes that it is not possible that any merely accidental agreement could produce the numerical agreement he has achieved and he therefore suggests that the relationships he has found are real and not merely mathematical.

EUROPEAN SCIENTISTS STUDY NEUTRON, LATEST ATOMIC PART

Leading physicists in Europe are making investigations to detect the neutron, latest of the atomic parts to be revealed by science.

The negatively charged electron and the positively charged proton have been known and measured for years. But the neutron, supposed to be a close combination of the electron and the proton, is just now receiving experimental support. It has no detectable electric charge and leaves no fingerprints in the form of ionized or electrified particles to mark its passage in a gas.

“It is not certain at present whether we are dealing with material particles or with radiation,” le duc Maurice de Broglie said. He is a member of the French Academy of Science and one of France’s foremost physicists.

He continued: “The facts so far known about the peculiar rays, whose nature is being investigated, do not agree completely either with the ‘quantum’ or with the ‘neutron’ hypothesis. It is difficult to devise crucial tests that will distinguish between them. If it could be shown that the rays are even very slightly affected by an electromagnetic field, that would definitely prove their material nature, because quanta could not be so affected.”

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