Imágenes de páginas

work. No reversal of the survey's present decline curve need be expected until adequate provision is made for such opportunities. ELIOT BLACKWELDER

DENVER, COLORADO, January 22, 1920


TO THE EDITOR OF SCIENCE: The statement of the First Secretary of the Swedish legation (published in the February 27 number of SCIENCE, p. 207), relative to the award of the Nobel Prize to Professor Haber, contains some erroneous conclusions and some half-truths which should not be allowed to pass unchallenged. While Professor Haber's perfection of the commercial synthesis of ammonia amply warrants the award of the prize to him, I would comment upon the other numbered statements as follows:

2. The production of ammonia is only a step, this product being oxidized to nitric acid and nitrates by the Oswald process. While the Haber process will ultimately be of great value to the world at large, the patents, secrets, experience and profits were all Germany's (until after the war). The first secretary omitted to state that the Haber process made Germany independent of Chile saltpeter (sodium nitrate), not only for agricultural purposes, but also for the manufacture of chemicals, dyes, and especially explosives.

3. The address of Professor Bernthsen in 1912 before the eighth International Congress of Applied Chemistry in New York, was notice to the world at large that Germany could carry on war even if the British fleet cut off the Chile nitrate supply. While giving much general information, Bernthsen did not disclose all of the essential details necessary to the successful manufacture of ammonia, and of nitrates from ammonia. Therefore during the war when this country wished to use the Haber process, it became necessary for one of our large American corporations to work out the details in connection with the War Nitrates Board.

4. The statement that "the Haber plants in Germany were erected with a view to produc

ing agricultural fertilizers" is a half-truth. This naturally was an important object, for in war as well as in peace the army and the nation must be fed, and business go on; but even more vital to Germany's purposes was the fact that ammonia meant nitrates, and nitrates meant explosives necessary for the carefully planned war, which so soon followed the perfection of the Haber process.

5. Although the first secretary disclaims knowledge of the manufacture of gas masks in Sweden, it is probable that Germany got wood or charcoal from Sweden for gas mask purposes, just as she got iron ore. No criticism attaches to Sweden for this, and her fear of Russia and proximity to Germany across the Baltic (a" German lake ") readily explain her attitude toward her powerful neighbor.

However the pro-German activities of certain Swedes and Swedish-Americans, and especially the abuse of Swedish diplomatic privileges by such Germans as Count Luxberg, of "spurlos versenkt" fame, have naturally created among the Allied people an atmosphere of suspicion against Sweden; so that, especially since Professor Haber is understood to be one of those who advised and helped develop gas warfare, it is easy to understand how many believe that the award of the Nobel Prize to him was, at this time, ill-advised and undiplomatic.




A Handbook of Physics Measurements. By ERVIN S. FERRY in collaboration with O. W. SILVEY, G. W. SHERMAN, JR., and D. C. DUNCAN. Vol. I. Fundamental Measurements, Properties of Matter and Optics. Pp. ix + 251. $2.00. Vol. II. Vibratory Motion, Sound, Heat, Electricity and Magnetism. Pp. x+233. $2.00. New York, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1918.

Manuals for use in the physical laboratory have been designed from two quite distinct points of view. On the one hand, an attempt has been made to develop a series of experiments that would serve to illustrate the gen

eral principles of physics and give the student a first-hand contact with the notions discussed in text-books, lectures and recitations. The emphasis is on the underlying ideas and the discussion of methods and accuracy of measurement is purely incidental. Books of this type are eminently suitable for students in elementary physics. On the other hand, the purpose of the manual may be to develop the theory and practise of physical measurements and to describe the construction and operation of standard measuring instruments. Such manuals are essential to the advanced student in physics and, if sufficiently comprehensive, they are useful to the student in chemistry or biology.

Professor Ferry's work belongs to the second category although a few of the experiments described would not be out of place in a manual of the first type. It is a thorough revision and rearrangement of an earlier book on "Practical Physics," by Ervin S. Ferry and Arthur T. Jones, to which chapters on sound, optics, electricity and magnetism have been added. The scope and method of the work are adequately indicated by the following quotations from the author's preface: "Only those experimental methods have been included that are strictly scientific and that can be depended upon to give good results in the hands of the average student. Although several pieces of apparatus, experimental methods and derivations of formula that possess some novelty appear, our fixed purpose has been to use the standard forms except in cases where an extended trial in large classes has demonstrated the superiority of the proposed innovation." "It has been assumed that the experiment is rare that should be performed before the student understands the theory involved and the derivation of the formula required. Consequently the theory of each experiment is given in detail and the required formula developed at length. The more important sources of error are pointed out, and means are indicated by which these errors may be minimized or accounted for."

Several of the methods of measurement described involve the use of instruments of spe

cial design not likely to be found outside of the author's laboratory but the greater part of them can be carried out with the apparatus that should be found in any well-equipped laboratory. The theory and manipulation of the more important modern instruments of precision are comprehensively treated and any student who has occasion to use such instruments will find these sections of the work very useful. The work is well adapted for use as a text in second- or third-year laboratory courses in physics. It should also find wide use as a reference book, in any laboratory where physical instruments and methods are occasionally used.

A. DEF. P.



PROGRESS in science is measured, among other things, by the extent to which the qualitative treatment of problems is supplemented by a more rigorous quantitative treatment. The introduction of quantitative methods into the biological sciences, however, is beset with unusual difficulties. The highly complex and variable nature of the subject matter generally demands the empirical procedure of the statistician rather than the deductive one of the mathematician, and this is true of many problems of physical science as well, for example, those of meteorology. One of the main difficulties to be overcome arises from the simultaneous variation in the magnitudes of the many variables concerned. Especially is this true in "field" investigations where artificial control over the variable is impossible; as, for example, in marine ecology. In order to meet this difficulty the authors have prepared a paper entitled: "The functional relation of one variable to each of. a number of correlated variables determined by a method of successive approximation to group averages." The introduction is written by Wm. E. Ritter under the title: "A step forward in the methodology of natural science."

1 Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts. Sci., Vol. 55, Dec., 1919, pp. 89-133.

This paper presents the development of a general method of ascertaining the relation between a dependent variable and each of a number of mutually correlated ones without being compelled to employ an assumed or predetermined mathematical function. This is accomplished by applying to the observed values of the dependent variable successive corrections based upon each value of all the independent variables. In this way is obtained a series of averages of the dependent variable corresponding to a series of averages of each one of the independent variables in turn and corrected to a constant value of each of the remaining ones. The method is concretely illustrated by an application to a bioclimatic problem; that of predicting the yield of South Dakota wheat from temperature and precipitation.

A limited number of reprints are available for distribution. Requests for them should be mailed to the Scripps Institution, La Jolla, California.




Calorimetric determinations of the energy in yolk-protein and yolk-fat of doves and pigeons: OSCAR RIDDLES. Individual entire egg-yolks were separated into (boiling) alcohol-ether soluble and insoluble fractions. These moisture-free portions considered as yolk-protein and yolk-fat were burned in a Riche bomb calorimeter. Determinations were separately made upon yolks from various pure species and hybrids. The energy per gram of the yolk-protein of pure species averages 5,497 (small) calories; for hybrids practically the same (5,457). The energy per gram of yolk-fat of pure species averages 9,020 calories; for hybrids probably it is less (8,897). The range of variability for yolks from individual hybrids is plainly greater than for yolks from pure species. Some properties of the placental hormone: PAUL M. GIESY. This substance, injected subcutaneously into the female animals, causes growth of the mammary glands and uterus. It was extracted by treating ground placentas with alcohol. In water, some, but not all, of the substance dissolves. It is dissolved by benzene, chloroform, carbon tetra

chloride, absolute alcohol, ether and ethyl acetate, but not by petroleum ether. If the extract is shaken with a mixture of water and benzene, the benzene solution alone is physiologically active. Alcoholic solutions and aqueous emulsions lose their activity on standing. The activity appears to be destroyed by continued heating.

The preparation of fatty acid esters of choles terol: G. D. BEAL AND J. B. BROWN. (By title.) Comparative analysis of fibrin in the presence of various aldehydes: GEORGE E. HOLM AND ROSS AIKEN GORTNER. The comparative action of various amounts of paraldehyde, benzaldehyde, butyl and isobutyl aldehydes to that of formaldehyde when present in the acid hydrolysis of fibrin and gelatin was studied. In all cases the acid insoluble humin nitrogen increase is greater than with (CH,O), and a maximum is reached and maintained even in the presence of large excesses of these aldehydes. The ammonia nitrogen, soluble humin nitrogen and total amino nitrogen of the filtrates from the "humin" do not alter significantly. Using trioxymethylene, the increase in insoluble humin nitrogen is due to the presence of the indole nucleus, while with the other aldehydes tyrosin also enters into this reaction.

The preparation of cholesterol in quantity: PAUL M. GIESY. One hundred pounds of cattle spinal cords were ground, dehydrated with alcohol and extracted fourteen times with ether. The ether was evaporated from the extract, and the residue saponified by boiling with alcoholic sodium hydrox ide. After evaporating the alcohol, the residue was taken up in water and extracted with ether. The ether was evaporated from the extract, and the cholesterol crystallized from alcohol. The first crop was cream-colored and melted at 147.1° corrected. The second crop was brown, and melted at 146.4°. The total yield is about two pounds. The color can be removed by recrystallization from alcohol.

The influence of aspartic acid and asparagin upon the enzymic hydrolysis of starch: H. C. SHERMAN AND FLORENCE WALKER. (By title.)

An improved technic for measuring lipase activity in animal or plant extracts or tissues: LEROY S. PALMER (By title.) The material to be tested is added in the form of an extract or finely minced paste to at least 75 c.c. of artificial "milk," prepared by grinding a suitable oil into hydrated acacia and diluting the emulsion with water. HCHO 1: 1,500 is added to the "milk" as preserv tive. The initial acidity is determined by with

drawing a 25 c.c. aliquot and adding it to 100 c.c. of acetone-ether (2:1), and titrating with 0.1 N alcoholic KOH solution, using phenolphthalein as indicator. The remainder of the "milk" is incubated for 24 hours at 38° C., with occasional rotation of the flask, and the titration repeated on another 25 c.c. aliquot. The features of the method are, (1) the use of an artificial "milk" containing no acid producing substances other than the emulsified oil, (2) the determination of the acidity on aliquot portions of the emulsion.

The influence of various antiseptics on the activity of lipase: LEROY S. PALMER. (By title.) The activity of a commercial lipase was tested using the technic described in the previous abstract. Chloroform, iodoform and acetone were found to have a marked retarding influence on the lipase, depending on the concentration of the antiseptic. Very small quantities of mercuric chloride and iodine, each completely paralyzed the lipase activity. Formaldehyde had no retarding effect up to one part in 250, concentrations between 1: 1,000 and 1: 2,000 actually having a noticeable accelerating effect on the lipase activity.

The activity of phytase as determined by the specific conductivity: F. A. COLLATZ AND C. H. BAILEY. (By title.) The hydrolytic cleavage of phytin by phytase results in the appearance of salts of phosphoric acid in the digestion mixture. The electrical conductivity of the latter is thereby increased, and may be employed as a measure of the progress of the reaction. To a water solution of phytin was added crude phytase prepared from wheat bran, and several such preparations were incubated at temperatures differing by 5° intervals from 25 to 60°. The electrical conductivity was measured every 15 minutes until it ceased to change materially. The rate of hydrolysis was accelerated by increased temperatures up to 55°, which appeared to be the optimum for this enzyme. Plotting the data, calculated to conductance at 30° in order to compensate for increased mobility of the ions at higher temperature, the curves have different shapes at each temperature. As the temperature increases to the optimum, the increase in conductivity per unit of time is more rapid at the outset, but also reaches approximate equilibrium more promptly.

The fermentation of fructose by a group of pentose-fermenting bacteria: W. H. PETERSON, E. B. FRED AND A. DAVENPORT. In the fermentation of fructose by these organisms acetic and lactic acids are the chief end products. Coincident with the

production of these acids is the formation of mannitol to the extent of about 20-30 per cent. of the fructose. The mannitol thus formed can be fermented to acetic and lactic acids by the same bacteria that produced it. It is suggested that the fructose first breaks down into acetic and malic acids and the latter then undergoes decarboxylation yielding lactic acid. Evidence for regarding malic acid as an intermediate product is the fermentation of malic acid to lactic acid. The strong reducing conditions set up in the breaking down of fructose into acetic and malic acid probably brings about the reduction of another portion of the fructose to mannitol.

Factors influencing the invertase activity of mold spores in sugar: NICHOLAS KOPELOFF AND S. BYALL. (By title.) The invertase activity of the spores of Aspergillus S. Bainier, Aspergillus niger and Penicillium expansum is exhibited at concentrations of sugar varying from 10 to 70 per cent. It has also been found that the maximum invertase activity of these mold spores occurs between 50 and 60 per cent. concentrations. It was noted that an increase in the number of mold spores is responsible for increased invertase activity in a saturated sugar solution. However, the least number of spores per c.c. of Penicillium expansum and Aspergillus niger required to produce inversion in saturated sugar solution is between 50,000 and 110,000. About 5,000 spores of Aspergillus 8. Bainier are needed to cause inversion. The evidence that mold spores alone are capable of deteriorating cane sugar is corroborated by the data herein presented.

Carbon nitrogen ratio in relation to plant metabolism: A. M. GURJAR. (By title.) The supply of nitrogen determines the relative proportion of carbohydrates and proteins in the tomato plant. Changes in these proportions are accompanied by very marked changes in the metabolism of the plant, as follows: (a) Although the C: N ratio may be as high as 19 and as low as 2, the fruiting takes place only between the ratios 4 and 6. (b) respiration varies directly as the value of C: N ratio. (c) Photosynthesis varies inversely as the value of C: N ratio. (d) In nitrogen starved plants, catalase activity is not parallel to respiration, but varies inversely with it. (e) Under etiolation, the high carbohydrate plants are reduced to protoplasmic respiration sooner than the low carbohydrate plant, which means that the enzyme system of the former fails to make available the starch reserve. (f) The high carbohydrate plants

have higher respiration at 20 c.c. C., but this is not the case at 10° C. and 30° C. The above observations on tomato, together with confirmatory data on turnips and radishes, emphasize the importance of determining the proper C: N ratios for all our economic plants.

Vanillyl acyl amides: E. K. NELSON. (By title.) Following the demonstration of the structure of capsaicin, the pungent principle of red pepper, which proved to be a condensation compound of vanillyl amine (4-hydroxy-3-methoxy benzylamine) with a decenoic acid, a number of analogous derivatives of vanillyl amine were prepared by the interaction of that substance with acyl chlorides. Derivatives of the following acids were obtained: acetic, propionic, butyric, isobutyric, n-hexoic, n-heptoic, moctoic, n-nonoic, n-decoic, n-undecoic, n-dodecoic, crotonoic, undecenoic and benzoic. As the molecular weights of these substances rise, the solubility in water decreases, while that in ether increases. Pungency, first noticeable in the propionyl compound, increases to a maximum in vanillyl octoyl amide, which is almost as pungent as capsaicin. One eight-thousandth of a milligram of this substance causes a distinct burning on the tongue. The crotonyl compound is slightly, the undecenoyl compound extremely, and vanillyl benzoyl amide very slightly pungent.

On a phenol produced by growing aspergillus tamari: J. F. BREWSTER. (By title.)

Climatic control in relation to plant growth: W. E. TOTTINGHAM. (By title.) Consideration of the profound effects of climate upon the growth and composition of plants, together with the difficulties of interpretation of these effects imposed by fluctuations of climatic factors, makes evident the desirability of experimental control over the latter. A fair degree of success has been realized in the installation of a small plant culture chamber for climatic control within a greenhouse. The atmosphere is conditioned for this chamber by forcing it through a humidifying chamber moistened by wet towelling, the latter being wet by water of controlled temperature. Before entering the culture chamber the air is heated somewhat, to bring both its temperature and degree of saturation with water vapor to desired values. The conditioned air enters the culture chamber beneath the flanged surface of a rotating table, which distributes it about the chamber, and escapes through orifices at the top. The rotating table also serves to equalize climatic differences for the different plant cultures carried by it. With the limited capacity of such

an apparatus, it is necessary to maintain a considerable degree of control over illumination, temperature and humidity of the surrounding greenhouse, in order to realize a reasonable degree of control over climatic conditions within the culture chamber.

Studies in the translocation of nitrogenous and carbohydrate material into the wheat kernel: G. A. OLSON. (By title.)

Physical and chemical studies of wheat gluten: G. A. OLSON AND CHARLES H. HUNT. (By title.) CHARLES L. PARSONS,




Section B was in session, in affiliation with the American Physical Society, at St. Louis, December 30, and 31, 1919, and January 1, 1920. The program of papers presented through the American Physical Society are elsewhere announced and abstracted by the society. On the afternoon of December 31 occurred the annual session of Section B, the retiring vice-presidential address of Dr. Gordon F. Hull and a Symposium on "Phenomena in the Ultra-violet Spectrum, including X-rays," the papers of which will be abstracted elsewhere in SCIENCE under the above title. Dr. Hull's address on the subject, "Some Aspects of Physics in War and Peace," was printed in the issue of SCIENCE for February 5.

The Sectional Committee nominated as chairman of the Section, Professor J. C. McLennan, of the University of Toronto.

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinuar »