From the January 17, 1931, issue

AN AMERICAN ROMANCE IN STEEL AND STEAM

Things mechanical offer the photographer an unlimited field for the exercise of his talents, and the locomotive–romantic and symbolical as it can be made–is especially attractive to him.

On the front cover of this week’s SCIENCE NEWS LETTER, Photographer Rittase of Philadelphia has chosen the Boardwalk Flyer of the Reading Railroad as the subject of a fascinating study. The Boardwalk Flyer runs from Camden to Atlantic City and is considered one of the world’s fastest trains.

This fact makes us look at the picture a second time. But the photographer might have done equally well with any other locomotive in the world, so universal is interest in the railroad.

SPRING-BUILT MOLECULE MODELS SIMULATE VIBRATION OF ATOMS

Vibrations of steel balls and spiral springs now give science exact information on the motions occurring in actual molecules far too small to be seen with the human eye.

Dr. C.F. Kettering, general director of General Motors Research Laboratories, Dr. D.H. Andrews, now at the Johns Hopkins University, and L.W. Shutts, of the General Motors Laboratories, have agreeably surprised physicists all over the world by constructing mechanical models in which the various kinds of atomic vibrations occurring in, for instance, a molecule of benzene can be visually observed. These models reproduce the light radiations or spectra from liquid benzene.

The models are constructed of steel balls connected by spiral springs. The balls have the same relative weights as the carbon, hydrogen, or oxygen atoms they represent. The web of balls and springs is freely suspended and connected to a vibrating rod whose speed can be varied by an electric motor. At definite frequencies of vibration, which are recorded on a counter, the model takes up a characteristic motion.

Those rates at which the model resonates are found to agree remarkably with the frequencies observed in light scattered by the substance.

MARGARINE MADE FROM PALM OIL BECOMES COMPETITOR OF BUTTER

Palm oil, heretofore used mainly in soap making, is proving a slippery customer for the butter makers who thought they had their market well protected by means of a ten-cent-per-pound tax on artificially colored oleomargarine.

Margarine makers have been experimenting with palm oil for some time. Lately they have succeeded in refining it to a point where it would not give a peculiar taste to margarine.

HARD FOR MATHEMATICS TO KEEP UP WITH DEPRESSION

Mathematical theory, as well as businessmen and investors, finds it difficult to keep up with the speedy movements of prices and supply and demand when economic conditions come to a crisis.

Dr. G.C. Evans, of Rice Institute, Houston, in an address before Statisticians and Mathematicians meeting with the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Cleveland, explained that the tendency of prices to continue to rise and fall once they have started is explained by simple economic theory, but in a crash like that which the stock market has been through, the accepted fundamental assumptions no longer hold.

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