From the March 13, 1937, issue


St. Patrick himself could not have claimed less concern about serpents than Frank Garvin, S.J., of the Fordham University science faculty. If anything, matters would seem to have improved considerably since the days of Patrician legend; for here neither snake nor man had any fear for the other. The serpent, a big, husky gopher snake, was starting the difficult process of shedding his skin when Mr. Garvin proffered aid. The snake seemed to appreciate this human assistance in moulting, and submitted to handling without a sign of resentment. The discarded skin is shown on the front cover of this week’s Science News Letter.


Preliminary tests indicating that neutron beams can be concentrated by use of paraffin lenses have been reported to the American Physical Society by Prof. Gilbert N. Lewis of the University of California.

Prof. Lewis’ announcement, appearing in the Physical Review (March 1) in collaboration with Philip W. Schutz, will be of the greatest importance to physical, chemical, and medical radiation research if confirmed independently in other laboratories.

Importance of the announcement lies in the fact that the neutrons are the latest and in many ways the most effective “bullets” with which scientists probe the nuclear cores of atoms and learn new knowledge of this hidden physical world. Moreover, it has recently been found that neutrons are much more efficient in creating ionization in living tissues than are X rays or gamma rays from radium. Thus, the possibility of using neutron beams for treating cancer has been a motive behind much of the recent research.

If Prof. Lewis’ findings, that use of a paraffin lens will gather and collect neutrons and can increase the concentration of these nonelectrical particles in a beam, turn out to be correct, then laboratories throughout the world will take up the technique used.


Just as the character of a man or woman today is determined to a considerable extent by the past history of experience and environment, so, too, is the character of a piece of glass determined by its past history, it was disclosed at the Corning, N.Y. meetings of the Optical Society of America.

In man, the past experience changes one’s education, moral training, and other attributes. In glass, it is such physical properties as density, expansion, elasticity, and that all-important factor of light bending, known as the index of refraction, which are changed by the past history of a given sample of glass.

Howard R. Lillie of the Corning Glass Works showed the atomic arrangement of glass and tests devised to study changes in glass with changing past heat treatment.

Scientists of the University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics, L.C. Martin and Dr. T.R. Wilkins, showed how they obtain three-dimensional photographs of tracks in photographic emulsions caused by the passage of some high-speed atomic particles like alpha rays.

Highly important in the trick of using such photographic emulsions in the study of cosmic rays and the radiation obtained in atom bombardment experiments, is the knowledge of the exact position of the minute tracks in three dimensions. Stereoscopic viewing and photography made this possible.

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