1966

Health of a Nation

“What will be the effects on health of the increasing concentration of the population in cities and large urban aggregations? In spite of such known urban pressures on health as air and water pollution, water shortage, overcrowding, poor housing, the stresses of city transportation and the generally accelerated pace of city life, there is no substantial evidence from the National Health Survey that the overall health of the urban resident is worse than that of the rural resident. Indeed, the weight of the evidence indicates that the rural resident is at some disadvantage in terms of both general health and health facilities and services.”

Structure of Enzymes

“For the first half of this century the metabolic and structural relations among the small molecules of the living cell were the principal concern of biochemists. The chemical reactions these molecules undergo have been studied intensively. Such reactions are specifically catalyzed by the large protein molecules called enzymes, many of which have now been purified and also studied. It is only within the past few years, however, that X-ray-diffraction techniques have made it possible to determine the molecular structure of such protein molecules. These giant molecules, which contain from a thousand to tens of thousands of atoms, constitute more than half of the dry weight of cells.”

1916

Shackleton Rescue

“Credit is due to Shackleton for having brought back his men across the ice and sea to the South Shetlands and for having successfully reached South Georgia in a boat journey. Evidently a relief expedition will promptly be sent from the Falkland Islands or Argentina to rescue the main party, left on Elephant Island, and it is to be hoped that succor will reach these gallant men in time to prevent more suffering. I may venture to say that in the history of Antarctic exploration it would be difficult to find another example of an expedition having accomplished so little of the programme originally set forth. It seems evident that Shackleton counted too much on good luck and did not sufficiently take into consideration the possibility of adverse ice conditions. —Henryk Arctowski”

X-rays for Bullet Wounds

“To extract a bullet from the human body, it is necessary to know the location of the bullet very exactly. Dr. Wullyamoz, of Lausanne, has devised a method of reading this depth directly on a fluorescent screen. A Roentgen ray tube projects the shadow of a bullet upon a screen. If the tube is moved, the shadow of the bullet moves. The Roentgen ray tube, coil and accessories are mounted on a shelf attached beneath the operating table, and the surgeon keeps the bullet and the anatomical details continuously in view by means of a fluoroscope attached to his head [see illustration].”

More images of medical progress in 1916 are at www.ScientificAmerican.com/jun2016/medical

1866

Set Fire to the Sea

“The Boston Commercial says: ‘The ship S. T. Joseph, recently arrived here from Liverpool, had a narrow escape on passage. It seems that among the cargo was a box marked sodium, which was placed on deck, with instructions to the effect that if there was any trouble with it from getting wet, to throw it overboard. Soon after getting to sea the captain took a dislike to this box. So he ordered a couple of old salts to pick it up carefully, and throw it over the stern. Instantly on its striking water a terrific explosion occurred, and an immense column of water was thrown up.’ It is the nature of sodium to be very violent when thrown into water. Shippers who are aware of the risks will have nothing to do with it. One reason for the high price of sodium in this country is an extra charge to cover losses by shipment.”

Odors of Disease

“The odor of small pox has been compared to the smell of a he-goat; that of measles to a fresh-plucked goose; scarlatina to cheese. The smell of plague has been compared with the odor of May flowers, and that of typhus with a Cossack. —Prof. Banks, Medical Press and Circular