From the November 14, 1936, issue


Newest tool of science to detect conditions causing such diseases as silicosis is a special dust-counting microscope. With this it is hoped to attain more knowledge in the field of industrial health.

The illustration on the front cover of this week’s Science News Letter is not a view of the heavens as seen through a telescope, but the dust in the air man breathes as viewed on the darkfield background of the new instrument, which was developed by the Bausch and Lomb Optical Company. Each square in the reference microscope screen is 30 microns across, or about one ten-thousandth of an inch.


Prevention or control of diseases like infantile paralysis, influenza, and others caused by viruses may soon be achieved as a result of recent research. This optimistic opinion was expressed by Dr. Ernest W. Goodpasture of Vanderbilt University Medical School at the meeting of the American Public Health Association.

“It is not too much to expect very soon” he said, “the introduction into practical prevention of new and more effective methods of control of this great group of infective disorders.”

Dr. Goodpasture used as an example of these newer methods the alum-picric acid spray for the prevention of infantile paralysis, which was tried out on a large scale during the outbreak of the disease in Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi this summer. How effective this nasal spray is cannot be told at present, but the method is a step in the right direction, it appears from Dr. Goodpasture’s discussion.

He explained that virus diseases cannot be fought in the same way that scientists have learned to fight diseases caused by bacteria, such as typhoid fever and diphtheria. Scientists have been able to fight such diseases successfully by sending reinforcements to the body’s own disease fighters, the antibodies produced by body cells in response to bacterial invasion. This is the strategy of vaccination, serum treatments, and the like. The fight against virus diseases, it appears, will have to be advanced by chemical warfare.

The reason is that the virus takes a different line of attack from bacteria. The viruses, whether they are living or not, can only multiply and cause disease when they get inside the cells of the body. This is true of some bacteria, but many of them can live and multiply as well between the cells as inside them. Many viruses, in addition to requiring the environment within the cells for multiplication, have a special predilection for nerve cells. This means that in the cases of infantile paralysis, for instance, the virus enters the nerve cells without ever coming in contact with the fluid between the cells that contains the body’s disease-fighting antibodies.

This is where the chemical warfare may prove effective. The alum-picric acid spray is designed to create a barrier through which the virus cannot pass into the nerve cells. Another piece of chemical strategy suggested by Dr. Goodpasture would be to inject into the body chemicals that would make the nerve cells unsuitable for the growth of viruses once they got in.


Seven hours of treatment with intense sound vibrations—having the impact of mechanical blows—will produce a whiskey equivalent to one aged 4 years in the wood. The result of this research was announced for the first time by Dr. Leslie A. Chambers, of the School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania, before a meeting of the Institute of Radio Engineers, Philadelphia Section, in the Engineers Club, Philadelphia. This was only part of the research conducted by Dr. Chambers in the realm of pressure pulses, and the results of his research indicate that they will have their greatest use in the preparation of serums.

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