Wanted: Science Talent
Scholarships await promising students who hurdle series of brain-busting tests.
By David O. Woodbury
MARINA PRAJMOVSKY came to this country from Finland when she was four. Her father was a Russian-born machinist, her mother a seamstress. While in high school at Farmingdale, N. Y., in 1942 she entered the first Science Talent Search, a competition held by the Science Clubs of America. Out of some 15,000 entrants Marina tied for first place.
The Search’s $2,400 scholarship got her started at Radcliffe. She graduated as the only sum ma cum laude in biology in the history of the college. In four years more she had a medical doctorate from Yale and now at 27 is doing research on eye diseases at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. Along the way she did highly secret work for the Navy and carried out outstanding research on DDT.
THE FLIGHT OF ATOMS PHOTOGRAPHED
By W. D. HARKINS
Professor of Physical Chemistry, University of Chicago
An atom is 2,000 times too small to be seen through a microscope and it is apt to stagger the imagination of most people to hear about photographing atoms in flight. Not so long ago an atom was spoken of as the smallest particle of matter, but now it is believed to represent a grouping of electrons around a nucleus, much in the manner that the planets arranged around the sun constitute the solar system.
CHEMISTRY: An Exciting and Profitable Hobby
How to Set Up Your Laboratory
By RAYMOND B. WAILES
WITH simple equipment requiring surprisingly little financial outlay, you can build in your home a small chemical laboratory that will provide a fascinating hobby. Here you may amaze your friends with seemingly magical chemical tricks, as by the manufacture of paint that shines in the dark or of writing inks that disappear unless the secret of bringing them back is known. You can manufacture useful things for the home, as soap or liquid court plaster. You can test gold rings and ivory piano keys to see whether they are genuine. If you wish, you can investigate the chemical processes used in industry, with the ever-present possibility of an important discovery. To the real dyed-in-the-wool experimenter, chemicals in themselves are intriguing, and a beautifully colored precipitate or a startling formation of crystals is its own reward for the trouble of preparation.
Scientist Finds Stratosphere Hot
A STRATOSPHERE of 1,000 degrees Centigrade 150 miles from the earth is reported by Prof. E. V. Appleton, British radio authority, who bases his theory on the reactions of radio waves sent 150 miles straight up. The waves were undoubtedly affected by an intense heat which robbed them of their vital properties, he reported.
Giant Explosions REPRODUCED IN MINIATURE by Home Chemists
How Blasts of Grain Dust or of Gasoline Vapor Are Caused in Your Laboratoryâ€”Tests With Which to Prove a Burning Candle Is a Gas Plant
By RAYMOND B. WAILES
HARMLESS, miniature explosions make experimenting with combustibles a thrilling, yet safe, amusement for the amateur chemist. With inexpensive homemade apparatus, he can duplicate the explosions in a gasoline motor and amuse his friends by burning air. When we say a substance burns, we imply that it combines with oxygen to produce heat and sometimes light. Hydrogen and carbon, as well as many other substances containing these two elements, display this property. A candle, for instance, is made of paraffin, a combination of carbon and hydrogen. When the wick is lighted, the paraffin melts and produces hydro-carbon gases, which decompose to form other inflammable gases and carbon.
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Magnesium the BANTAMWEIGHT METAL
How Chemists Have Put It to Work as a Jack-of-All-Trades.
By KENNETH M. SWEZEY
DURING the war magnesium was extensively used as a lightweight structural metal for aircraft parts and as pyrotechnic material for star shells, signal flares, tracer bullets, and flash and incendiary bombs. Strong, silvery white, and only two thirds as heavy as aluminum, it is the lightest of all construction metals. In the form of powder, thin sheets, or wire, it burns with a dazzling flame that water or even carbon dioxide will not put out. Never found alone in nature, magnesium is made on a tremendous scale by the electrolysis of its compounds. These compounds are among the most plentiful substances in the crust of the earth. Whole mountain ranges consist of dolomite, a double carbonate of magnesium and calcium. Asbestos, talc, and meerschaum are magnesium silicates. Epsom salts, named after the springs at Epsom, England, where they were first isolated in 1695, are magnesium sulphate. In the form of its chloride, there are nearly 6,000,000 tons of magnesium in every cubic mile of-the sea, a vast storehouse of supply.
Wow. Particle detectors have gotten a bit bigger in the past 70 years or so. Check out this picture of the new ATLAS detector going online at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva. Here’s a cool movie about it too.
Particles of Smashed Atoms Traced by Special Camera
Sixty-six separate photographic plates are employed in an atom camera with which Prof. T. R. Wilkins, of the University of Rochester, Rochester, N. Y., hopes to gather new scientific data on the repulsive force within the nucleus of an atom. Bombarded in a cyclotron, or atom smasher, atomic particles enter the circular camera, approach a central target, and are “scattered” through pinholes into one or more of sixty-six slots, each of which has a photographic plate bearing a special emulsion on which the atom particles leave “tracks.”
This is a pretty amazing article. It’s a concise summary of the big bang theory published only 3 years after Edwin Hubble made his famous observations about the redshifts of distant galaxies. Yet it’s pretty much identical to one you’d see today. Only a few details like the size of the initial “atom” and the age of the universe seem off. Keep in mind it took another 35 years or so before the scientific community came to accept that the big bang really happened.
Blast of Giant Atom Created Our Universe
By Donald H. Menzel
OUT of a single, bursting atom came all the suns and planets of our universe!
That is the sensational theory advanced by the famous Abbe G. Lemaitre, Belgian mathematician. It has aroused the interest of astronomers throughout the world because, startling as the hypothesis is, it explains many observed and puzzling facts.
According to Lemaitre’s theory, all the matter in the universe was once packed within a single, gigantic atom, which, until ten thousand millions years ago, lay dormant. Then, like a sky-rocket touched off on the Fourth of July after having remained quietly for months on a store shelf, the atom burst, its far-flung fragments forming the stars of which our universe is built.
This was written by Francis Crick, co-discoverer of DNA, about a year after they figured out it was a double-helix. In fact, in the article it’s still a bit of a hypothesis that DNA is a double-helix, they haven’t proved it yet.
The Structure of the Hereditary Material
An account of the investigations which have Led to the formulation of an understandable structure for DNA. The chemical reactions of this material within the nucleus govern the process of reproduction
by F. H. C. Crick
Viewed under a microscope, the process of mitosis, by which one cell divides and becomes two, is one of the most fascinating spectacles in the whole of biology. No one who watches the event unfold in speeded-up motion pictures can fail to be excited and awed. As a demonstration of the powers of dynamic organization possessed by living matter, the act of division is impressive enough, but even more stirring is the appearance of two identical sets of chromosomes where only one existed before. Here lies biology’s greatest challenge: How are these fundamental bodies duplicated? Unhappily the copying process is beyond the resolving power of microscopes, but much is being learned about it in other ways.
One approach is the study of the nature and behavior of whole living cells; another is the investigation of substances extracted from them. This article will discuss only the second approach, but both are indispensable if we are ever to solve the problem; indeed some of the most exciting results are being obtained by what might loosely be described as a combination of the two methods.