From the May 28, 1932, issue

FLYING ARCHAEOLOGIST MAKES UNIQUE PICTURE RECORD

Flying over the far-flung ruins of civilizations, which his own scientific institution is busily exploring from the ground, Charles Breasted of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago has obtained 12,000 feet of unique motion picture film, showing the work of “the largest archaeological research organization in the world.”

Mr. Breasted, who has just returned from his magic-carpet flight over the broken magnificence of old Babylonia, Persia, Egypt, and other Near Eastern countries, told of his experiences recently in a radio talk under the auspices of Science Service, over the Columbia Broadcasting System.

The tombs of Xerxes and Artaxerxes, near Persepolis, were visited by the fliers, and the impressive rock sepulchres were photographed. (See front cover, above.)

The motion picture record obtained in the air survey will be used in a talking picture in which the voice of Dr. J.H. Breasted, director of the Institute, will describe the scenes.

ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT CHANGES CARROT PIGMENT INTO VITAMIN A

Vitamin A, the food factor that promotes growth and prevents infections, is produced when ultraviolet light of a particular wavelength acts on carotene, the yellow pigment found in carrots, yellow corn, butter, egg yolk, and other plant and animal substances, Drs. F.P. Bowden and C.P. Snow of Cambridge University announced in a report to Nature.

Ultraviolet light of wavelength 2650 Angstrom units transforms the mother substance, carotene, into the vitamin A. This light is too short to be seen by human eyes, but it can be recorded on photographic plates.

The production of vitamin A was checked by the fact that the substance formed absorbs ultraviolet light in the way that known vitamin A does. It also yields a colored substance when treated with antimony chloride, which is another test for vitamin A. The irradiated carotene has not yet been tested biologically upon animals, however.

Production of vitamin A from the yellow pigment, carotene, by action of ultraviolet light is another step to understanding the essential food elements that a few years ago were totally unknown.

SHAPE OF MOVIE SCREEN SHOULD BE IMPROVED

The shape of the motion pictures on the screen has not been so pleasant to look at since the coming of the talkies cut a slice off the side of the picture, Lloyd A. Jones of the Kodak Research Laboratories has found during a study of what would be the best dimensions for the projected rectangle.

Before the talkies, the standard motion picture projection had breadth and height in proportions four to three. The narrowing of the available picture area in order to provide space for the photographic sound record has reduced the breadth to 115 percent of the height. Pictorial composition and practical usefulness are both injured by the unsatisfactory proportions of this area, experts are agreed.

Statistical studies of the proportions used by famous artists in their paintings have now shown that certain ratios of breadth to height are favored more than others. In particular, it was shown by a study of the works of Rubens that as the number of human figures in the composition increases, the breadth of the picture should become relatively greater.

The four-to-three ratio is an example of what is called “static” symmetry as contrasted with the “dynamic” symmetry widely used in the famous “whirling square” of classical Greek art. In deciding the best dimensions for the moving pictures on the screen, Mr. Johns found that many other factors than those applied to still pictorial composition must, however, be taken into consideration.

From the Nature Index

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