From the October 22, 1932, issue


Joshua, it is recorded, commanded the sun and the moon to stand still and they obeyed him.

In this modern Yankee land and age of hustle, we are much less interested in making things stand still than in making them move faster. Present-day Joshuas would be more likely to command the sun and the moon “to get a move on!”

Indeed, this has already been accomplished in effect, by a remarkable combination of telescope and movie camera, which obtains films of sun and moon, planets and stars, going through days or months of slow celestial changes condensed into minutes of projection time. A month on the moon boils down into a quarter of an hour on the screen.

The place where this feat has been accomplished is, appropriately enough, near Detroit, the city where speed is incorporated into machines and shipped on wheels all over the world. The Joshuas who turned the trick are three: Robert McMath, Francis C. McMath, and Henry S. Hulbert. By day, the McMaths are engineers and financiers and Mr. Hulbert is a judge. But by night they are all astronomers–pioneer adventurers into an entirely new field of the oldest of the sciences.

The front cover illustration shows Judge Henry S. Hulbert, Francis G. McMath, and Robert R. McMath in front of their observatory at Detroit, of which Robert McMath is director.


The conquest of Mt. Everest, the world’s highest mountain, altitude 29,141 feet, is a future feat that interests scientists greatly.

Physiologists are divided into two camps over the question of whether oxygen should be used to assist the climbers who attempt to scale this great height. Some, like Prof. J. Barcroft of Cambridge University, contend that the climbing of Everest is now merely an engineer’s problem, that of designing a light and efficient oxygen breathing apparatus. Others, particularly Dr. J.S. Haldane of Oxford, feel strongly that the attack on the mountain can be made without the aid of oxygen and that the mountaineers can become acclimated to the rarefied air.

That this disagreement arises not so much because these British scientists think differently but because they breathe differently is contended by Prof. Yandell Henderson, the Yale physiologist and authority on respiration.

There are two types of men: those who acclimatize slowly and with difficulty and those who readily become adjusted to low pressure of oxygen.

Men of the first type suffer from prolonged mountain sickness, and it is they who earnestly advocate the use of oxygen. They have what Prof. Henderson calls “sea-level respiratory centers.” For them, oxygen is the breath of life. They are the ones who should fly direct and wholly unacclimatized to the North Col of Mt. Everest, don an improved oxygen apparatus, make the ascent, and get back below 15,000 feet while the supply of oxygen holds out. For them the ascent is an engineering problem.

But the other sort of person becomes so well adjusted during the slow ascent through Tibet to the starting place of the real climb that Prof. Henderson believes a party of such persons might reach the summit without oxygen apparatus. The feat would be difficult and the risk great, but it would be safer without oxygen apparatus for this type of mountaineer.


Using atomic bullets speeding with the energy of over 700,000 electron-volts, Prof. E.O. Lawrence of the University of California and his associates have succeeded in smashing the lithium atom into two alpha particles or ionized atoms of helium gas.

Prof. Lawrence thus confirms work done by British physicists who used lower energy protons as the bombarding projectiles. They found that protons shot at the lithium atoms combined with them and released energy.

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