From the June 18, 1932, issue


Pearls we usually picture as coming up from limpid greenish tropical sea depths, in the fingers (or perhaps the mouth) of a swimming brown-skinned native. It seems a bit of a comedown to think of pearls coming out of the prosaic waters of the muddy Mississippi–and as a mere adjunct of the button industry, at that.

Yet so it is. The $3,000 handful of pearls photographed for the cover of this issue of the Science News Letter by Cornelia Clarke was taken out of river mussel shells somewhere near Muscatine, Iowa. Every mussel fisherman spends his time hoping that the next pair of shells he pries apart will yield not only their quota of button blanks, but a pearl that will drop a month’s pay in his lap in a minute.


Discovery that carbon dioxide is probably present in the atmosphere of the planet Venus, next-door neighbor of Earth toward the sun, has been announced by the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

Speculation as to the existence of life on Earth’s twin sister planet will be revived by the studies of the infrared, or heat, spectrum of Venus made with the world’s largest telescope, the 100-inch reflector, at Mt. Wilson, Calif., Observatory by Dr. Walter S. Adams, director, and Dr. Theodore Dunham.

The reported discovery is also notable because it is the first time that a gas of any kind has been detected upon any planet except Earth.



Extremely fast electrons, coming from the sun with a speed practically identical to that of light, may be responsible for the production of the cosmic radiation, whose origin is still wrapped in mystery. Dr. Alexander Dauvillier, of the Institut des Hautes Etudes of Paris, puts forward this view in a theory that links together several happenings of the sky.

“My theory,” stated Dr. Dauvillier, “gives definite shape to a view which has also been suggested by Lord Rutherford, namely that very fast electrons accelerated in very weak cosmic electric fields may account for the formation of cosmic rays.”

The source of the electrons, according to the new theory, is to be found in the bright spots (“faculae”) that are seen on the sun’s surface. They represent regions where the temperature reaches 7,000 degrees centigrade. The negatively charged electrons stream out of these hot regions with relatively slow velocity but are enormously speeded up as they move through the positively charged “atmosphere” of the sun. This atmosphere consists mostly of hydrogen and calcium atoms, positively charged because the ultraviolet radiation from the sun knocks out some of their electrons. The electrical field surrounding the sun thus resembles that around Earth.

From the Nature Index

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