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50 Years Ago

From the October 24, 1931, issue

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GLACIERS CAUSED GEOLOGICAL MOVING DAYS

Evolution, not revolution is a nice-sounding catchword used on all sorts of occasions by all sorts of people, especially by conservative politicians posing as liberals. But a broad view of the evolutionary stage, recorded by a leading scientist who has just left it, indicates that evolution has often proceeded by great jumps, and that these waves of change, both in the species of animals and in their distributions, were responses to geological revolutions in the uneasy old earth itself.

One of the last writings by the late Prof. W.D. Matthew of the University of California was a condensed but inclusive inquiry into the causes of animal migrations and evolution during geologic time, especially during what may be called more recent geologic time–the last hundred million years or so.

He found, as the result of his years of study of animal evolution as disclosed by the fossil record, that there has been a sort of long rhythm in the development of life. There have been long, peaceful periods of uniform, moderate climate all over the earth, when animals have been pretty well satisfied with things as they found them and have not bothered to change much. Then there have come other periods of turmoil and change–heaving up of mountains and plateaus, gathering snows on their tops turning into vast glaciers, climates no longer uniform but sliced up into zones; life no longer easy and comfortable but full of change and uncertainty, so that a species must meet outer change with inner change, or else pay the high penalty of extinction.

NEW X-RAY DEVICE SHOWS UP HUMAN INTERIOR IN RELIEF

A stereofluoroscope X-ray instrument that shows the inner workings of the human body as though it were a moving picture has been perfected at the California Institute of Technology and will be forwarded in a few days to the Henry Phipps Institute at Philadelphia, where practical medical experiments are to be conducted.

NATURE SIMULATED AS X-RAYS EXPLODE HEARTS OF LEAD ATOMS

X-rays, directed by mere human agencies, can now make the heavy heart of metallic lead atoms explode and disintegrate, upsetting belief and experience in physics that atomic breakdown is natures own show incapable of control by man.

A Russian scientist, Prof. G.I. Pokrowski of the All Union Electrotechnical Institute, Moscow, has just reported to the American Physical Society that a weak radioactivity is acquired by some of the heavier chemical elements after they are irritated by X-rays. Their atoms fly to pieces in a manner similar to the disintegration of spontaneously radioactive radium.

This suggests a new method of investigating the central nucleus of the atom, which may possibly give science some way of releasing the vast stores of energy that some scientists believe are wrapped within the nucleus.

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