From the May 7, 1932, issue


It is no longer fair to blame your barber or beautician for that bald spot; nor can you lay your gray hairs onto worry over your childrens naughtiness or your brokers shortsightedness.

Getting bald or going gray are just primate traits, like walking on two legs instead of four, according to the latest pronouncement of science. They are merely one more set of characteristics that set you off from the four-legged animals and from the birds, fish, and other nonprimates.

You share these traits with the other members of the primate group, the monkeys, apes, and lemurs. These animals get bald spots on their heads, and their hair and beards turn gray, although no monkey ever read a strip of ticker tape, visited a barbershop, or wore a tight hat.

Beards on men usually turn gray before the hair on the scalp. This same pattern may be seen in many species of monkeys, such as the individual shown on the front cover of this week’s Science News Letter. Another pattern that is surprisingly common in both monkeys and man is a dark line at the cheek-margin of a gray beard.


Earthquakes may be predicted, subterranean movement of lava before volcanic eruptions detected, and other small but important shifts in Earths surface observed by means of delicate instruments known as tiltmeters. The varied usefulness of tiltmeters was outlined before the meeting of the American Geophysical Union by George E. Merritt of the U.S. Bureau of Standards.

Tiltmeters are built in several different patterns, but all types of the instrument depend on one of two general principles. Either they measure the tilting of Earths surface by the change in position of a delicately balanced pendulum, or they make use of the “interference” of light reflected from two nearly parallel surfaces, one of which is a liquid which naturally maintains a horizontal position in response to the pull of gravity, while the other surface is secured to the rock whose movement is to be measured and shifts with it. The “interference” method permits the construction of more-rugged instruments and also their operation at the bottom of deep, narrow pits and in other awkward places where pendulum tiltmeters would be harder to handle.


Climate here on Earth varies in cycles, and there is hope that future generations may use the knowledge and records being accumulated by science to predict their weather and climatic environment for long periods in advance.

The National Academy of Sciences devoted one session to reports from the leading investigators of climatic cycles. While they presented evidence from sunspots, tree rings, clay layers, solar radiation, and other phenomena showing regular fluctuations, they joined in placing the widespread practical application of these methods of prediction some years in the future.

The importance of knowing the regular fluctuation of climate was emphasized by Dr. John C. Merriam, president of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, chairman of the Academys committee on the subject.

Summarizing 40 years of study of the suns radiation, Dr. C.G. Abbot, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, reported that the suns output of radiation is variable, that its variation is periodic, that the United States weather departures from normal are periodic, and that nearly all the ranges of weather departures from normal are composed in a series of periodicities that are identical to those found in the sun.

From the Nature Index

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