March 1968

Hayflick Limit

“Could man's life-span be extended, or is there an inescapable aging mechanism that restricts human longevity to the present apparent limit? Until recently few biologists ventured to attempt to explore the basic processes of aging; obviously the subject does not easily lend itself to detailed study. No doubt many mechanisms are involved in the aging of the body. In our own laboratory at the Wistar Institute we have addressed ourselves to one question: the limitation on cell division. Our studies have focused particularly on the structural cells called fibroblasts, which produce collagen and fibrin. These cells, like certain other ‘blast’ cells, go on dividing in the adult body. We set out to determine whether human fibroblasts in a cell culture could divide indefinitely or had only a finite capacity for doing so.—Leonard Hayflick”

Bilingual Convergence

“By presenting a bilingual subject with information in one language and then testing him in the other, the investigator should be able to learn much about the mental operations involved in the acquisition, storage and retrieval of the information. Two hypotheses about the way a bilingual person handles information are represented by two arrangements of tanks. One hypothesis (left in illustration) is that all his information is stored centrally, or in one tank, and that he has access to it equally with both languages, which are represented by the various taps. The other (right) is that his information is stored in linguistically associated ways, or in separate tanks. Experiments by the author indicated that the actual situation of a bilingual person combines parts of both hypotheses.”

March 1918

Germany's Next War

“A book written by Lieut. General Baron von Freytag-Loringhoven bears the title Deductions from the World War. The General is Deputy Chief of the General Staff. Although the General does not, of course, put it down in bald English that Germany has failed in the present war, it is impossible to read this work without realizing that the Grand General Staff understands that the great stake for which they played is lost—at least for the present. This von Freytag-Loringhoven gives us to understand that Germany would make this war with all its vast experience, the stepping-stone for another attempt which shall surely win out.”

Malarial Comeback

“Malaria was once common in certain parts of England, but as a result of drainage and the use of quinine, it was completely stamped out, notwithstanding the fact that anopheline mosquitoes remain in the country. The parasitic cycle was broken, and the insect was no longer infected. Now comes the report of a recrudescence of indigenous malaria in England. According to a circular issued by the Local Government Board, many men have contracted the disease while fighting on the eastern war fronts, and have brought it home with them; thus they serve as foci of infection for the civilian population.”

March 1868

Cholera Subdued

“There now seems good reason to believe that epidemic cholera has been conquered by the power of intelligence. Among the many substances that are produced when bituminous coal is subjected to destructive distillation is a compound which has acquired the name of carbolic gas. It is this substance which seems to have given man control over the last and most terrible pestilences that have desolated the world. During the summer and fall of 1866 the cholera several times secured a foothold in this city [New York], and every time it was stamped out by the Board of Health. Dr. Harris and other members of the Board regard carbolic acid as the most efficient agent which they employed.”

The Ugly American

“A correspondent recently returned from the East says: ‘In Turkey, in Asia, the only mode of measuring distances is by the walking gait of a horse, and the traveler is told, when he inquires the distance to a given village or city, that it is so many caravan days or hours, which of course is not uniformly the same. This to a stranger is a great annoyance.’”