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50 Years Ago

From the August 1, 1931, issue

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THE TRUTH ABOUT DEATH VALLEY

Death Valley is a deep trough between two mountain ranges. It is something over 100 miles long and averages 10 miles wide. Within less than 100 miles of Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the United States proper, it sinks its lowest depression to 276 feet below sea level. This is official measurement; there may be lower spots in the valley still awaiting the surveyors telescopic eye.

For ages it has been the catch-basin of desert streams and, it is claimed, was once the scene of geyser action that would have made even Yellowstone look tame; there is on its arid floor a vast accumulation of concentrated mineral salts of various kinds, including the famous borax deposits that until a few years ago supplied the world. It got its name in the epic gold rush days of 1849, when a starved and decimated party of emigrants, who had struggled through it with infinite sufferings, looked back and gave it the sinister title that has clung to it to this day.

BACKGROUND OF BLACK WITH WHITE LETTERS UNDESIRABLE

Psychologists advise against the use of white letters on a black background for lengthy advertising messages as a result of the determination at the University of Minnesota that it takes the reader about 10 percent longer to read material printed in this manner than it does to read similar material printed in the usual manner.

The advertiser who contemplates utilizing white on black must decide whether or not the greater attention value of white on black through novelty will be sufficient to offset the disadvantage of a 10.5 percent difference in speed of reading, Drs. Donald G. Paterson and Miles A. Tinker say in the report of their investigation that will be published in a current issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology.

ATOMS ARE WANDERERS EVEN IN MOST SOLID METAL

Atoms, even the heavy atoms of lead, are wanderers. Prof. J.G. von Hevesy, of the University of Freiburg in Breisgau, has been investigating their properties. Lead atoms are constantly in motion, even in solid metal, he believes. In an alloy of lead and gold, at a temperature half again as high as that of boiling water, the atoms wander through a space of a hundredth of a cubic inch in a day. When there is nothing but lead in the lump, however, moving about is not nearly so easy.

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