From the October 15, 1932, issue


The artist has made a sketch of a dramatic scene involving a horselike hornless rhinoceros. It shows the poor animal attacked by a long-tailed saber-toothed tiger. The great cat is pictured as attacking much as a modern tiger or lion sometimes attacks: gripping a hard hold with its forelegs, slashing at its victim’s vitals with raking strokes of its hind legs, and at the same time sinking its tremendous eyeteeth into the base of the throat like daggers, seeking the heart or the great blood vessels.


Dust had an important place on the program of the National Safety Council, which met in Washington.

The explosive possibilities of the dusts of foods were demonstrated with a convincing bang, and results of studies of dusty atmospheres in which men must work were given so that their health may be better protected.

Cornstarch, baking powder, powdered milk, and other grocery store goods are harmless enough once they land on the shelf. But back in the factory where these foods are prepared, the air may grow heavy with particles of dust from the food products. And, in those circumstances, certain food dusts are highly explosive, government engineers have discovered.


Smashing the atom is a favorite laboratory occupation these days, when physicists are energetically attacking the hearts of atoms to discover their secrets. The intentional disintegration of atoms is not a new achievement in science, for Lord Ernest Rutherford knocked H out of light chemical elements in 1919. The H in this case stands for the element hydrogen. Rutherford used fast-flying helium-atom hearts, called alpha particles, for his bombarding projectiles. These came from naturally disintegrating radioactive substances, like radium. The projectiles emitted from the atom in Rutherford’s early smashing were the hearts of hydrogen atoms, called protons, which carry most of the mass of the atom. Protons in their turn are now being used as bullets with which to bombard other elements.

In Cambridge’s famous Cavendish Laboratory, which is presided over by Lord Rutherford, J.D. Cockcroft and E.T.S. Walton gave protons a push of 125,000 and more electronvolts and aimed them at lithium metal. Some of the atomic nuclei were disrupted. A lithium heart, weight seven, combined with a proton, weight one, to give two alpha particles or helium nuclei, each of weight four.

More exciting was the discovery that the smashing of the lithium heart starts a sort of explosion within the atom, which causes it to give off more energy than is fired into it. This is artificial radioactivity. The physicists can write a balance sheet, or formula, for the reaction, and this is an important step in the chemistry of the interior of the atomic nucleus. It promises to lead to more accurate knowledge and theory of how the stars are stoked and how matter can be changed into energy.

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