From the January 16, 1937, issue


When winter settles down upon the highways of 36 states that make up America’s great snowbelt, an army of plows begins the annual battle against the blockade of the national transportation system, and 10,000 miles of snow fence are standing guard against the onslaught of snow-laden gales. So indispensable has become the unimpeded movement of an endless caravan of motor vehicles in the delivery of goods and passengers to otherwise isolated communities that winter maintenance is now a function of tremendous public consequence, and a problem which the highway engineer must face intelligently and stubbornly.

The good roads movement, which started with the cry of “get us out of the mud,” has in many localities been supplanted by the “open roads” movement and the cry of “get us out of the snow.” In some states to answer this cry means that the plows never cease to operate from one end of the winter to the other, except to stop for fuel or repairs. For 24 hours a day, these faithful servants of the highway pass back and forth on their endless journey, cutting through the drifts again and again as fresh-falling flakes or whirling clouds of white obliterate what has been accomplished with such difficulty and expense.


A unique radio station, which has the only permit ever granted by the Federal Communications Commission to broadcast continuously on all radio frequencies, is in operation at Kensington, Maryland.

The only comparable station in America is that of the National Bureau of Standards, where the radio division operates a transmitter by special Presidential decree.

Known as Special Experimental Station, W3XFE, the all-wave transmitter broadcasts only to itself and enables the scientists of the department of terrestrial magnetism of the Carnegie Institution of Washington to bounce radio waves off the electrically ionized layers scores and hundreds of miles above the Earth’s atmosphere. A study of these radio-reflecting layers, or “mirrors” as they have been aptly called, is disclosing new facts about radio transmission, magnetic storms around the Earth, particle emission from the sun, and magnetic storms on the sun itself.


A connection between vitamin A and a mechanism for protecting the body from poisons is suggested by experiments reported by Dr. Ira A. Manville of the University of Oregon Medical School. (Science, Jan. 9.)

One of the signs of vitamin A deficiency is damage to mucous tissues such as line the inside of the eyelids. The same sort of change, Dr. Manville finds, occurs in the mucous lining of the digestive tract when vitamin A is lacking in the diet. There is an actual decrease in the mucus-secreting cells, and the stomach and other parts of the digestive tract are consequently more easily injured, with ulcers and erosions resulting.

Mucin, which protects the lining of the stomach, has for one portion of its molecule a substance called glycuronic acid. This acid helps the body get rid of certain kinds of poisons by a chemical process of detoxification. The body gets its supply of the acid from food and from its own protein building blocks. When there is poison in the body, all available glycuronic acid will be used to detoxify the poison, and if the food source of the acid is low, none of the acid will be left over for mucin production. This leaves the stomach and digestive tract unprotected.

Animals deprived of a food source of glycuronic acid and given menthol soon showed signs of poisoning, Dr. Manville found. Those animals which survived the poisoning for 2 to 4 days were examined after death and found to have ulcers in the stomach, gallbladder, pylorus and both large and small intestines. These ulcers resembled markedly those occurring in vitamin A deficiency.

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