50 Years Ago

From the November 21, 1931, issue

11:28am, November 19, 2001
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The beautiful bronze turkeys that furnish the biggest specimens for the family festivities were domesticated before white men came to America. Cortez found them in the markets of Mexico, and showed that he was a gourmet as well as freebooter; for turkeys soon found their way to Spain and thence all over Europe, finally being reintroduced into American domestication in the English-speaking colonies, which had, however, already made the acquaintance of the smaller native wild turkey of their own forests.

So popular was the turkey with early Americans that Benjamin Franklin advocated placing it on the national coat of arms instead of the eagle, and there are still those among us who believe that his counsel should have prevailed.


With production in Germany of artificial gamma rays of intensities that approach those of the mysterious cosmic rays, and with 20 million volts promised by a Princeton physicists new apparatus, Prof. Arthur H. Compton, Nobel prizeman, foresees the possibility that man may be able eventually to tap the internal energy of matter and put it to work. A new idea of how the energy stores of our brilliantly radiating sun are supplied was also advanced by the University of Chicago professor, at a conference sponsored by the American Institute of Physics at New York.

An experiment by Dr. Walter Bothe, German physicist, was heralded by Prof. Compton as remarkable and as accomplishing what has long been considered an impossibility. On his recent trip to Europe, Prof. Compton learned that Dr. Bothe has been able to produce artificial gamma rays by bombarding beryllium metal with alpha rays. These artificial gamma rays are an approach to artificial cosmic rays. They are the same kind of radiation as light and X-rays, except that they are much more penetrating. The beryllium metal from which they were obtained is the lightest metal that can be used practically, and the alpha rays that were used by Dr. Bothe in the bombardment are speeding hearts of helium atoms given off when radium and other elements disintegrate radioactively.


One more difference between the sexes has just been found by science. This is a difference in the oxygen demands of the tissues, and was reported to the meeting of the National Academy of Science by Dr. Oscar Riddle of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

In investigations on ring doves and pigeons, Dr. Riddle found that hemoglobin and red blood cells exist in different quantities in the blood of the two sexes, the males having a larger quantity of these oxygen carriers of the blood. The quantities of these cells also vary with changes in seasons, as does the basal heat production of these animals. The changes in quantity of hemoglobin and red blood cells correspond closely with the seasonal changes in heat production.

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