From the October 21, 1933, issue

COULD YOU DO THIS AT 18 MONTHS?

Could you climb a smooth slide as the baby on the front cover does when you were a year and a half old?

Of course not. But perhaps you could have, had you been given the training that 18-month-old Johnny, pictured in one of his favorite exercises, has gone through; for his twin brother, Jimmy, who has lived the untrained life of a normal infant, cannot climb and skate and swim and dive like his brother. However, the normally-cared-for Jimmy sat alone, learned to reach for toys, and stood alone at practically the same time as his twin, who has been exercised since he was 20 days old.

With Johnny is pictured Dr. Myrtle B. McGraw who conducted this experiment at the Babies Hospital, New York City.

UNPREDICTED METEOR SHOWER SURPRISES ASTRONOMERS

A great unpredicted meteor shower, seen from Europe on Monday night, Oct. 9, has been identified with a minor periodic comet that otherwise made no stir in the astronomical world.

European astronomers saw the display of “shooting stars” and immediately cabled the news to Harvard Observatory, which is this continents central station for astronomical telegrams.

The shower will probably go down in history as one of the major meteoric displays of history. A hundred “shooting stars” a minute were reported from the Soviet observatory at Poudkovo, near Leningrad. This indicates that the display surpassed in brilliance the showers of 1833 and 1866. The shower was short-lived, lasting only a few hours, and its maximum came at 20 hours Greenwich time or 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, when it was still bright daylight in the United States.

Dr. W.J. Fisher, Harvard astronomer, checking possible causes of the shower, found that the Giacobini-Zinner comet, a periodic visitor to the suns neighborhood, was in such a position as to be associated with it. Meteors have been seen but sparsely only a few times in the past in association with this comet. The theory is that the meteors are stray fragments of the comet that plunge into the upper atmosphere of the earth and burn with brilliance that gives the popular name “shooting star.”

INVISIBLE LIGHT FOUND TO PIERCE THIN METAL FILMS

New tools for the study of invisible light rays have been placed in the hands of science as a result of researches on the optical properties of metals by two physicists at Johns Hopkins University. Prof. R.W. Wood has found that thin films of the alkali metals possess the unique property of being transparent to ultraviolet light, and a colleague, Prof. A.H. Pfund, has succeeded in preparing powder films of silver, gold, and several other metals that are transparent for the infrared or heat rays. Both types are opaque to visible light.

The value of these filters in scientific research lies in their ability to remove the visible rays from a beam of light. Visible light is almost always produced in sources of infrared or of ultraviolet light and frequently causes disturbances in measurements. Of the few materials now known that are capable of transmitting ultraviolet but not visible light, one is a nickel-oxide glass invented by Prof. Wood. The new alkali metal filters transmit a wider range in the ultraviolet spectrum than any filters of this type previously available. Technical applications, such as photoelectric counters operating with invisible beams, may be expected to follow.

From the Nature Index

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