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50 Years Ago

From the September 19, 1931, issue

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ORCHIDS THAT LOOK LIKE GIRLS

Plucked from their stems and stood on the table, they are the daintiest little dancers imaginable–dancers in the latest fashionable costumes at that. Their skirts are long and concealing, tight over the slim hips and flaring widely at the bottom. The dancers stand poised, their arms thrown up and out, their heads covered with chic cloche of a rather theatrical pattern, such as one would expect show-girls to wear. One involuntarily waits for them to break their fragile repose at any moment and whirl into their dance.

But they are orchids, just orchids. They come from Panama, and the botanists at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis have been very successful in their culture. For official purposes they refer to them by their severe family name of Oncidium stipitatum, but most of the time they call them Dancing Girls, as everybody else does. For botanists are human beings, who smoke pipes and go around in their shirtsleeves, and they can see a pretty girl just as far as anyone can.

Orchids can look like dancing girls, or a variety of other things, because they are such highly specialized flowers. They have evolved one of the most astonishing methods of transferring pollen from one flower to another known in the whole plant kingdom, and in doing so have developed their petals and sepals into all sorts of unusual and beautiful forms. It is all done to attract big bees and moths, and even hummingbirds, and to maneuver them into just the right position for receiving and carrying the masses of pollen that must be transferred if the species is to survive; but incidentally, the orchids make themselves into things of beauty and joys forever–especially to the florists who reap the golden harvests from expensive feminine tastes.

EVIDENCE OBTAINED THAT SPACE BETWEEN STARS NOT TRANSPARENT

From a study of far-away nebulae, some of the most distant objects that can be observed by astronomers, Prof. Edwin F. Carpenter of the Steward Observatory of the University of Arizona has obtained new and additional evidence that space between the stars is not entirely transparent.

Speaking before the meeting of the American Astronomical Society, in session at the Perkins Observatory of Ohio Wesleyan University, Prof. Carpenter told of his latest researches. Previously, Dr. R.J. Trumpler, of the Lick Observatory, and Dr. Piet Van de Kamp, of the McCormick Observatory, found indications that part of a stars light may be absorbed during its journey through space.

ACTIVITY OF PITUITARY GLAND BASIS OF TEST FOR PREGNANCY

The fact that the pituitary gland empties an excessive amount of its hormone into the blood within a few days after conception is the basis for a test for pregnancy that has recently been proved accurate by the following investigators: Dr. M.H. Friedman of the University of Pennsylvania; Dr. H.L. Reinhart and Dr. Ernest Scott of Ohio State University; Dr. P.F. Schneider of Northwestern University; and Dr. T.B. Magath and Dr. L.M. Randall of The Mayo Clinic.

The test, known as the Aschheim-Zondek test because it was devised by Dr. S. Aschheim and Dr. B. Zondek, of Germany, is of extreme medical importance and may be a life-saving measure for the patient.

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