From the December 19 & 26, 1931, issues

SANTA CLAUS CAVALRYMEN BESTRIDE STRANGE STEEDS

Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines bestrode an unfamiliar steed; but the gentleman in the cover picture mounts one more unfamiliar still. He might qualify as a trooper in the Santa Claus Cavalry, for he is mounted on a reindeer. According to the U.S. Biological Survey, reindeer are used occasionally as saddle and pack animals in Siberia, whence the original stock of the great Alaskan herds was imported; but the animals are seldom used for these purposes on this continent.

HYDROGEN ATOMS OF TWICE USUAL WEIGHT ARE DISCOVERED

Hydrogen atoms twice as heavy as usual, forming probably a new unit in the building of all other chemical atoms and throwing new light on the mystery of the atom core, have been detected for a first time through the collaboration of Prof. Harold C. Urey and Dr. G.M. Murphy of Columbia University with Dr. F.G. Brickwedde of the U.S. Bureau of Standards.

The low-temperature laboratory of the Bureau, in which liquid helium was made for the first time in the United States some months ago by Dr. Brickwedde and others, assisted in the discovery of this new hydrogen isotope, which differs from ordinary hydrogen only in the weight of its atoms. By evaporating liquid hydrogen under a reduced pressure, and at the excessively low temperature of freezing hydrogen 434 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, a partial separation of the heavier atoms was achieved. Prof. Urey and Dr. Murphy then examined the heavier distillate in their spectroscope in New York and found a new series of Balmer lines that could only be attributed to hydrogen atoms of atomic weight 2. Only 1 atom out of 4,000 in ordinary hydrogen gas, however, he finds, is of the new H-2 kind.

STANDING AUDIENCE IMPROVES BUILDING ACOUSTICS ONE-FOURTH

If theatre audiences would stand instead of keeping their seats they would probably be able to hear much better than they do now because the very act of standing often improves the acoustics of an auditorium. This fact was demonstrated recently in a concert given by the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, Sidney K. Wolf, an engineer of New York City, said in a recent lecture at Yale University.

Prior to the concert, the auditorium was tested for its acoustical efficiency. During the intermission, the audience was asked to stand, and again the auditorium was tested. It was found, according to Mr. Wolf, that the acoustic efficiency had improved 25 percent.

A new type of auditorium has been devised, Mr. Wolf stated, to give the same audibility at the back of the hall and in higher balconies as is obtained in the first few rows.

LOOT FROM HALF OF COUNTRY BROUGHT TO ONE STATE

Robbing half the United States, the Mississippi River lays its loot at the foot of Louisiana to add hundreds of acres to the area of that state each year. A graphic description of this process is found in the exhibit of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey prepared for the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in New Orleans.

The graceful, slender strips of land pictured on the front cover are growing points of swamp along the edge of the delta as photographed in one of the Surveys first aerial mapping projects.

COLD STORAGE DOES NOT HARM VITAMIN C OF APPLES

Apples come through cold storage safely without harm to their precious vitamin C, scientific studies have just shown. Frozen apples have been kept for four months without losing an appreciable amount of this vitamin.

This important fact has been ascertained by Dr. S.S. Zilva and Miss M.F. Bracewell at the Lister Institute, and Dr. Franklin Kidd and Dr. Cyril West at the Low Temperature Station, Cambridge, England.

The apples used were Bramleys Seedlings. It was found that they could be stored in air at 3 degrees Centigrade or 35.6 degrees Fahrenheit for five months and yet contain as much vitamin C as they did originally.

MINUTE OBJECTS IN CELLS MAY BE HEREDITY CARRIERS

Exceedingly minute objects, smaller than the smallest things hitherto seen in the nuclei of living cells, considered to be possibly the bearers of heredity, have been detected by Dr. John Belling of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, working at the University of California. They were described in connection with the annual exhibition of the results of research work by Carnegie Institution scientists.

Within every cell there is a nucleus, a rounded body that is its center of vital activity. Within the nucleus are chromosomes, small sausage-shaped objects that have long been regarded in a general way as bearers of hereditary traits. Each chromosome is divided up into little bead-like knots or lumps, called chromomeres. Until recently, these chromomeres have been the smallest units of the nuclear contents that have been detected.

Working with new and exceedingly delicate microscopic technique, Dr. Belling has seen within the chromomeres still smaller objects. These are what he thinks are possibly either the hereditary units, or genes themselves, or at least the bearers of the genes.

From the Nature Index

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