From the September 12, 1936, issue


Lending charm to the scientific model of the moon built by her father, little 5-month-old Verne Carlin Spitz posed as the “Baby in the Moon” for the photograph on the front cover of this week’s Science News Letter

The model, constructed by Armand N. Spitz of Newtown Square, Pa., is intended to show the phases of the moon as seen through a powerful telescope. It will be demonstrated during this month at the Franklin Institute.


Oat hulls and other farm wastes may in future yield powerful antiseptics for use in medicine and for combating plant diseases, as they already supply industry with materials for making plastic products such as steering wheels, radio panels, and electric insulators.

Drs. N.M. Phatak and C.D. Leake, of the University of California Medical School, have combined furan, an oat-hull derivative, with mercury in various ways, producing a number of promising germ-killing compounds. In dilutions one part of antiseptic in from 15,000 to 30,000 parts of water, they killed test cultures of colon bacilli and the yellow germs that cause boils.


The once-abandoned hope of physical science to separate the isotopes of a gas by whirling the chemically inseparable parts in a centrifuge is to be revived once more in new experiments at the University of Virginia.

Isotopes are the two or more varieties of a chemical element which are found to have slightly different masses although considered the same element. Thus, there are two kinds of argon, two kinds of lithium, three kinds of oxygen, and so on. Chemical methods will not separate them, while physical methods will accomplish separation only in some cases, and then only with the utmost technical difficulty.

Prof. J.W. Beams and F.B. Haynes, assistant professor, report to the Editor of the Physical Review (Sept. 1), journal of the American Physical Society, that their new, air-driven centrifuge, which has potential speeds of nearly 1,800 miles an hour, is so much more powerful than any similar device previously tried that the long-sought goal of science is at least worth one more attempt.

The separation of some isotopes, it appears from calculations, should be accomplished at only half the speed which their ultra-centrifuge should attain.

The idea of centrifuging two gases to separate them was tried early in isotope research for it appeared possible to obtain the two fractions of different weights by whirling them, just as one can separate cream and milk in a cream separator.

Inherent in the new research program, which will have the greatest possible benefit to science if successful, is the development of a centrifuge rotor which will spin freely in the penetrating cold of liquid air temperatures at 192 degrees below zero centigrade. Operation in even lower temperature is anticipated, report Profs. Beams and Haynes.

More Stories from Science News on Humans