From the March 5, 1932, issue


Dressed in the clothes of imagined creatures from a distant planet, these power plant operators open and close the switches of transmission lines that bring power for electric lamp and industrial motor. The costume, a new invention of safety engineers, is designed to protect the wearer from flashes of fire that occur when high-voltage conductors become short-circuited.

After experiments with asbestos and other materials from which safety clothing is usually made, engineers of a power company in Cincinnati chose white chromium leather as the best material for these suits.


The neutron, the physical concept brought into prominence by research reported by Prof. James Chadwick of Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, England, is a close combination of two other more familiar parts of the atomic structure, the electron and the proton. The electron is the negative particle or unit of matter and electricity, while the proton is the unit of positive charge. The neutron, being a combination, has no charge at all.

Therefore physicists delving into the constitution of matter have considered that it would be very difficult to prove that it actually exists. The neutron would pass through ordinary matter without having any magnetic or electrical effects, but a theoretical possibility formerly suggested for its physical detection would be through the gravitational effect of the neutron upon passing close to some atomic heart or nucleus.

While the idea of an electron and a proton combining to form a neutral particle that might play a part in the structure of matter is probably some 15 years old, the idea of the neutron was put forward formally as an “attractive speculation” by Drs. R.M. Langer and N. Rosen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in a communication to the Physical Review of the American Physical Society on June 15, 1931. Prof. W. Pauli of the Institute of Technology at Zurich, Switzerland, also suggested the usefulness of the neutron when he spoke before the American Physical Society at Pasadena, Calif., last June. He suggested that the neutron might explain some hyperfine structure in the line spectra of elements.

The neutron may be the solution of the mystery of the cosmic ray. Since physicists began to study these extremely penetrating radiations from outer space, there has been a difference of opinion as to whether they are electromagnetic waves like light and X rays or streams of electrons, the negative particles of electricity. Prof. Chadwicks researches just reported from England may give evidence that they are neither, but that they are instead streams of neutrons. This would fit the experimental facts of other investigators here and abroad that show that cosmic rays can not be deflected by magnetic fields as electrons should be and yet do not wholly fit the character of an electromagnetic vibration.


The matter that seems to ordinary eyes solid and unbroken is actually made of blocks, somewhat like a tile floor, each block made of several millions of atoms, Dr. Francis Bitter of the Westinghouse research laboratories has just established for the first time.

A magnetic powder was suspended by Dr. Bitter in a liquid that was allowed to evaporate on a shiny surface of the metal cobalt. As the liquid evaporated a regular lace-work appearance was produced by the grouping of the particles. As these deposits were arranged in the form of hexagons, Dr. Bitter concluded that the blocks of the metal itself had just this arrangement.

Magnetization of the cobalt specimen changed the pattern to a series of not quite parallel lines, showing that the blocks had become differently arranged under the influence of the magnetic force. Irregularities in the pattern were produced, Dr. Bitter believes, by impurities in the metal.

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