From the October 9, 1937, issue


The modern ship’s doctor heals the wounds in a worn hull by welding as shown on the front cover of this week’s Science News Letter. The injured stern frame pictured there belongs to the cargo ship “Alabaman” receiving first aid at the Oakland, California, yard of the Moore Drydock Co. The “surgical” apparatus is made by the Lincoln Electric Co.


Five major campaigns against disease are engaging the nation’s disease fighters with renewed vigor, following the annual American Public Health Association meeting in New York.

With new financial support from the federal government and from private sources, and with fresh impetus, these men and women who protect our health are fighting as never before against such major foes as syphilis, malaria, cancer, and infantile paralysis. At the same time, the lines have been strengthened against yellow fever and other diseases that may be imported from abroad.

Under the leadership of Surgeon General Thomas Parran of the U.S. Public Health Service, also president of the American Health Association, the entire nation has taken up arms in the fight against syphilis. As a result, physicians and health officers are able to apply their knowledge of how to treat this disease and to stop its spread. In Chicago, where a poll was taken, an overwhelming number of citizens expressed their willingness to take the test that shows whether or not a person has the disease. In many communities, as soon as the health authorities started the antisyphilis campaign, patients began coming to physicians for treatment, instead of hiding their illness and trying to cure it in secret with inefficient remedies. Health authorities apparently are well on the way to the conquest of this disease.


Columbus did not prove that the Earth is round, as we were painfully taught in school. He did not even try to; he just took it for granted, as did all educated men of his time. The sphericity of the Earth had been an accepted thing in the minds of scholars for many centuries. Even in the so-called “Dark Ages” really well-informed persons were mostly “round-Earthers.”

The idea of a spherical Earth was familiar to Greek philosophers from the fifth century B.C. onwards, declares Dr. William Arthur Heidel of Connecticut Wesleyan University, in his new book, The Frame of the Ancient Greek Maps, published by the American Geographical Society. Even before that, some philosophers said things that have been interpreted as indicating belief in the rotundity of the Earth, but Dr. Heidel is not able to find anything really unequivocal earlier than Plato.

In one of Plato’s reports of a purported discussion by Socrates, the earlier philosopher (who had been Plato’s teacher) is made to express the belief “that the Earth is really round and at the center of the heavens.” This statement is made after an inquiry about the writings of Anaxagoras, implying that the question whether the Earth is round or flat was a subject of lively debate.

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