From the October 17, 1936, issue


An electrostatic generator capable of producing ultrapowerful X rays at a potential of 1 million volts, expected to be the most powerful tool science has for cancer treatment, was announced before the American Roentgen Ray Society by Dr. Richard Dresser of the Huntington Memorial Hospital, Boston, where the equipment is being installed.

Designed by Dr. John G. Trump of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the new generator has two advantages over existing equipment. First, the more penetrating high-voltage rays are better able to treat deep-seated malignancies. Second, high-voltage rays are more specific in their action in diseased tissue than the relatively low ones.

The new generator’s tremendous power is indicated by Dr. Dresser’s prediction that it will be able to produce a greater intensity of gamma rays than the combined output of all the available radium in the world.

Nearly 15 feet on a side, it appears like a giant mushroom of polished aluminum. Its operation is similar in principle to the generator of Dr. Robert Van de Graaff of MIT, in that both are essentially belt conveyors of electricity. It is expected to be ready for operation late this winter.


Many persons with migraine, or “sick headache,” may find quick relief in a drug known as ergotamine tartrate, reports Dr. Mary E. O’Sullivan of Bellevue Hospital, New York City.

Dr. O’Sullivan has by this treatment saved 89 migraine patients from “39,000 hours of suffering in the last 2 years,” she tells physicians (Journal, American Medical Association, Oct. 10).

The alkaloid, ergotamine tartrate, is not a cure for migraine, the woman physician emphasizes, but it has brought relief to all but eight out of 97 patients who have been treated. It completely checked 1,042 headaches in the 89 patients discussed.

The drug is injected under the skin by the physician, or it may be taken, somewhat less dependably, in tablet form. It should not be taken except under a doctor’s orders.

“Any disease that will incapacitate an adult, interfering with his work for a day or more from one to four times a month, is a definite economic liability,” says Dr. O’Sullivan. She and others are at work on the cause of migraine under a grant from the Josiah Macy Foundation.


The next time your neighbors turn up their radio and give the apartment house, or area, in which you live the benefit of their chosen program, pause a moment before you make the statement, “How can they stand it so loud!”—or something worse.

Maybe the neighbors are among those individuals who differ greatly from you in their sensitivity to sound and in their judgment of sound intensity. What you may consider, and perhaps rightly, a very loud sound may to them be merely a pleasing loudness.

New findings by scientists at the Bell Telephone Laboratories show that people have a sound intensity threshold, or lower limit of hearing sensitivity, which may vary as much as one-fifth of the total auditory range. Technically, the threshold range for a 1,000-cycle note amounts to a spread of 25 decibels.

Still more widely varied is the individual judgment of loudness of a sound, it was found. From test observations on people who had no prior experience in acoustics or sound measurements, J.C. Steinberg and W.A. Munson found that the variation might be as great as one-third the whole audible range. For scientists it can be explained that the range on a 1,000-cycle test note was 45 to 50 decibels.

In their report (Journal, Agricultural Society of America, October), the scientists describe the experimental equipment employed to make possible the comparison of sounds as to their loudness and the efforts made to allow the use of observations coming from a group of 100 test subjects of varying ages.

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