From the February 8, 1936, issue

FLOWERS OF TREES

One of the difficulties is that we have eyes that see not, unless the thing looked at is really pretty big. The beauty of the complex little structures within the catkin of an oak or alder or hazel-bush is lost on us. To most of us, they are just messy things that shed pollen, or receive it from the wind and eventually make a seed or nut. If we could only take a gnome’s-eye view of the matter, these ignored flowers would spring up in beauty and wonder of their own.

This service has been performed for us by Prof. Walter E. Rogers of Lawrence College. In a big new picture-book that he has just published, he presents magnified photographs of a great variety of tree and shrub flowers, most of which are passed up without second glance by the great majority of people—even by the great majority of hikers in the spring woods. The female flower of a walnut becomes a rough-coated vase with a pair of plumes thrust into it; the flower of a chestnut shines forth as a fairy hand with many waxen little fingers. We not only find a new gate into botany, but artists and designers are given hints that may be profitable.

The cover design on this issue of the Science News Letter is from a photograph of a Kalmia flower, in Prof. Rogers’ book.

STORM WINDOWS SAVE FIFTH OF COAL IN TEST HOUSE

Fuel savings of one ton of coal out of every five burned have been obtained by the use of storm doors and windows on the research home maintained by the University of Illinois, according to the report presented to the meeting of the American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers. Prof. A.P. Kratz and S. Konzo, research associate, of the Engineering Experiment Station, made the announcement.

Using a coal-fired furnace with a forced-air heating system, the house was maintained at a temperature of 71 degrees Fahrenheit by thermostat control.

It took from 100 to 260 pounds of coal each day to maintain the 71 degrees in outside temperatures from 40 to zero degrees Fahrenheit if the storm windows were not in place. With storm windows, the same outside conditions required only from 80 to 200 pounds of coal daily. Thus 20 pounds of coal were saved on 40-degree days and 60 pounds on zero days.

FIRST SYNTHESIS OF NATURALLY FOUND RADIOACTIVE SUBSTANCE

Man has at last been able to make a radioactive substance that occurs in nature.

By powerful bombardments of a common substance there has been created synthetically in the radiation laboratory of the University of California a form of radium.

This first synthetic production of any naturally occurring radioactive substance is the accomplishment of Dr. J.J. Livingood, research associate.

The substance that he has created for the first time by artificial laboratory methods is radium E, one of the intermediary products in the slow decay of ordinary radium to lead. The amount of radium E so far obtained is almost infinitesimal, but careful checks leave no doubt as to its identity.

Synthetic radium E was obtained by Dr. Livingood through the bombardment of the common, inert substance bismuth with deuterons at an energy of approximately 5.5 million electron volts.

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