From the June 11, 1932, issue


Butterflies have been called “winged jewels” so often that the conceit can hardly be considered poetic any longer. Yet the appropriateness of the old metaphor receives new confirmation when we look at the egg of a butterfly, which represents the humblest beginning of its career of beauty. For this tiny nursery, whence the young caterpillar, unwinged and unlovely, will presently creep, is itself exquisitely jewel-like in its proportions and symmetry and in its delicate sculpturing.

Seen in magnification, without any of our common grosser objects to present a dwarfing size-scale, as Cornelia Clarke’s camera has pictured it for the cover of this issue of the Science News Letter, the egg of a common Monarch butterfly on its milkweed leaf looks like the dome of an Eastern palace rising above a fantastic forest in Fairyland.


The common cold lasts only three or four days. People who tell you they have “had a cold all winter” have really not been suffering from a cold but from some secondary infection, Dr. Wilson G. Smillie, professor of public health administration at Harvard University, told the Conference of State and Provincial Health Authorities of North America. Dr. Smillie’s report covered studies of the common cold in four isolated communities: a “moonshine” village in southern Alabama; Labrador; Spitzbergen, the northernmost inhabited point; and the island of St. John in the Virgin Islands, which was the original of Stevenson’s Treasure Island.

In all these places contact with the outside world was very limited and Dr. Smillie and associates were able to trace the course of cold epidemics from their very start. Colds are contagious and are spread by direct contact, they found. In Spitzbergen there were no colds from a period in November, soon after the last boat left, until the day after the first boat arrived the following spring. The miners in this community of 500 persons lived in very hot, humid barracks, went out into extreme cold and wind every morning, worked all day in mines where the temperature was below freezing, and came back to the hot barracks at night. Such conditions would seem ideal for the development of colds, and the fact that none developed disproves the commonly held opinion that exposure to drafts, bad weather and similar environmental factors is a cause of colds.


The chief function of the vital adrenal glands is to regulate the body’s use of sugar, Dr. S.W. Britton of the University of Virginia Medical School declared at the session of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology in Philadelphia.

These glands secrete two very powerful hormones: the familiar adrenalin, and cortin, which is now saving the lives of patients suffering from the once fatal Addison’s disease. The part of the gland that secretes cortin is necessary to life. Dr. Britton thinks that it is through its control of the sugar metabolism that the cortex exerts its vital influence.

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