AT the time of the Columbian Excosition at ChI.cago' m 1893, two hundred chemists of various nationalities convened at the invitation of the American Chemical Society and the \Y orld' s Congress Auxiliary. So success ful was this meeting that it was decided to establish a triennial international congress. Accordingly, the following year the first International Congress of Applied Chemistry was held in Brussels. Since that time, at internlls of two and three years, the Congress has convened at Paris, Vienna, Paris, Berlin, Romc and London. The Se,'enth Congress held in London in 1909 was attended by four thousand vne hundred mcmbers; 985 papers were presented, and the final report of the Congress occupied over four thousand pages in print, The Eighth International Congrcss is to bc held in this country next year, the opening meeting being in Washington, while the Congress proper will hold <essions in New York. The outcome of these international meetings has been to estiblish uniform standards and to solve llHy problems of internatiollal importance, At the last Congress thirtecn topics were proposed to be reportcd upon at the next Congress. Some of thesc questions relate to the unification of methods of food analysis; thc unification of terms for reporting analytical results of soils, fertilizers, and ash; the establishment of a central bureau for fermentation organisms; the question of securing greater tUliformity in the commercial supplies of potent drugs; the conservation of natural resources, etc. Probably the report on the international patent question will be of greatest interest because it inyoln's the problem of secrecy Hrsus patents in industrial chemistry. It is hoped that a general disCl,% ion of this problem will lead to a closer affiliation of the manufacturer with educational centers. ' cre the theoretical chemist of the uniycrsity laboratory permitted to enter the commercial laboratory and plant, incalculable benefits would result. It is 50 easy in chemical operations to keep a process secret that there ha' not been much incenti\'e to expose methods under protection of patents. In fact, it would be impossible to secure patent protection on some important processes, As a consequence, our profeswrs of chemistry find it difficult and well nigh impo'sible to keep abreast of the times as regard,. commercial practice. The mel they teach are not sufficiently prepared to enter the field of commercial actidb' by reason of the barriers erected by manufactur(s in the path of the imtructors of chemistry. It i' greatly to bc hoped that some way Ilay be found of solving this problem, as it would undoubtedly result in raisinll this nation to a higher plane in the field of cliem-· ical activity. In Germany, for instance, many uniYcrsity professors are cmployed as consulting experts in large ehemical works. Thus they arc brought into doser touch with practical applications of chcmicd principles; which accounts in part for Germany's premier position in the field of applied ehemistry. The Eighth Congress will evidently take up matters of interest not ouh' to the chcmist. but to the general public as well: To stimulate popular interest, four simplified science lectures will be gi\en by representative Jen of diffnent nationalities, The committee in charge of thc Congres& is now eoneerned WIth the formulating of rules to govern the proceedings. A set of twenty-two suggestea rules has been published, and an invitation is extended to anyone interested in the matter to criticise the rules before the first of December next. Thesc 1nles anply particularly to thosc who are to take an active part in the Congress, and relate chiefly to the presentation and publication of papers. In order to avoid the confusion that has existed before, it is specified that papers must be prepared for th.s Congress exclusively, and must not be read at an! previous meeting; or be published in any periodlCals before the Congress convenes, and at no tIme may a paper be published elsewhere w.out giving credit to the Congress. The papers must be 1 the hands of the committee before June 30th, 1912, in order to be published and distributed at the meetings. Altogether the arrangemcnts made b,' tle committee seem to be of a very direct and practical natUe, wInch should contribute largely to th e success of the Congress. Our Consular representatives have been active in stimulating interest among chemists abroad, with very gratifcing results. A number of affiliated associations expect to meet with the Congress, anrl hence, an unusually large gathering is assured. Aside from thc direct benefits to chemists, exeeptiona I commercial advantages should he presented by reawn of the fact that lany leading representa-tives of foreign manufacturers will attend. The op-portunity should not be ignored of advertising the advanta m cs of New York city as a manufacturing dlstrlbnting center, and thus encouraging the establishment of branch manufacturing plants in and about this neighborhood, DR, ALBR ECHT K OSSEL, professor of physiology at the U niversity of Heidelberg, has arnved ,1 our country, on invitation from Johns Hopkins University, to deliver a course of lectures on “The Chemical Constituents and the Physiological Role of Proteids.” With the fact that Dr. Kossel received the 1 obel Prize in medicine for 1910, most of us reaeh the limit of our information about this very interesting man, although it would seem that a work deserving of such high distinction in the field of medicine should appeal to a large portion of the lay public. Professor Kossel's work is much more subtle and more far-reaching than producing a new remedy for some old disease, or devising a painless system for administering drugs. His work has to do with discovering the nature of certain groups of atoms that make living celb do the Ulall) wonderful things that arc so intimately eonnected with living. And it is because we may wcll hope that as a result of this work we shall be enabled to control the chemical activities of cells that are not behaving normally, that the specialized study of “proteid,” is so important for mcdicine. The analysis of the living body as far as the “cell” was completed over seventy yenrs ago, Later the kernel of living mattcr or “nucleus” was the focus of attention as the seat of the “vital” eell activities; and then this was further dissected with the improvement in the mechanical and the chemical technique of microscopic research, so that certain special organs within thc nueleus became the objects of much questioning and speculation among biologists. These are the so-called “chromosomes.” So far the scientists had to deal with things that could be seen, Beyond that point the microscopc could not help; in applying the methods that led from the moleenlc to the atom and then shattered the atom, Professor Kossel was a pioneer. For many years he has been working on the chemistry of the complex substances that are present in cell-nuclci and that seem to have a close relation to the growth of protoplasm. The “nuclein” isolated from cells by }liescher in 1871, turns out to be 1 whole serics of compounds that are characterized by possessing an albumen base and a nucleic acid radicle. These Kossel identified with the “cluomatill” substance of the student of cells, On the basis of his work : alfatti and Lillienthal showed whv the different cell constituents reacted so differently with anilin dyes, the basic dyes combining with “proteids” in the cell in proportion to the amount of phosphorus present-but the amount of phosphorus meant the amount of nucleic acid. By very delicate methods of digestion with ferments, acids and alkalies K05sd succeeded in isolating a number of these “nucleins” and even pro- duecd one syntlwtic;dl dnot indeed fronl tin “dements,” b n t from such relatively simple compounds that his t henl,' of the constitution of the nucleins IS a?un?antIy confirmed. The biological applicatIOn of Ins analyses and s\'ntheses j,' that the nucleins play the leading role in the growth of proto p lasm inasmuch as the acid portion of the nucle.n IS capable of combining with itself an indefinite number of albumen molecules, later to split them off again to become a part of the living protoplasm. while the aeid portion keep.' on a'similating new materwl. Instead of the chromatin, foJ' example. ha .ilg a const a nt composition, the proportion of aCId and albumen is eonstalltly changing, according to varymg conditions. TIle work i' extremely specialized, but of trcllwndoll importance: it will fllrnish the raw llIaterial for results of great practien] importance, as well as of theoretical significane(,. The Legend of the Rain-tree DURING the last few mouths Amcric:w newspapers ha,'e revived the well-worn tale of the “Perm-ian rain-tree,” which affords protection against drought. The leaves of this tree are ,aid t? have the property of condensing atmos)henc moisture lTl large quantities and precipitating It m the form of rain. “ According to one writer, “the wat!'r falls from the leaves and oozes froll the trunk and forms veritable rivcr., which can be led as irrigating canals to any point desired. Making liberal allowance for e,'aporation and infiltration. a squarc mile grove of the trees would supply for distribution about 100,000 gallons of water daily." On the strength of s imilar stories one of the. tr.(” to which the name “rain-trce” hn, been lost often applied, viz, Albi2zia (or Pithecolobium) Samail, has lately been exploited and sold extensively in Australia. The virtues claimed for it have proved to be altogether illusory, although it is useful as a lade-tree, md i. widely planted for this purpose in sem1-troplCal and tropical countries. The legend of the “rain-tree” or “raining-tree” dates back to the storie, of the Fortunat( Isles, where no rain fell from the skies and the soil was refreshed by the moisture shed by a tree of the sort described. The early navigators brought home stories of similar trees in the East Indies, in Guinea, Brazil, etc. The Perm'ian rain-tree appears to htk been brought to the notice of the world by te reports of a United States consul in Peru, about J 877. These reports were widely quoted at the time, and led the go,'ernlllfnt of India to seek information on the subject from the authorities of Kew Garden,. The iIl\'e,tigations of V. T. Thistleton Dyer brought to light a plausible explanation of at least a part of the rain-tree stories. The traveler Spruce reported his own experiences with the cin-tree as follows: "The Tamia-ea.pi , or raiu - tree of the eastern Peruvian Andes, is not a myth, but a fact, although not exactly in the way popular rumor ha' lat ly presented it. I first witnesser the phenomenon in September, J 8!:), wlien residing at Tarapoto. J had gone one mornillg at daybreak, with two assistants, into the adj aCfut wooded hills to botanize. A little after seven o'clock we came under a lowish spreadinp tree, from which with a perfectly clear sky overhead H srnart rain was falling. A glance upward showed a multitude of cicadas ;llcking the juices of the tender young branches and leaves; and squirting forth slender streams of limpid fluid." This is not the only explanation. That many plants spontaneously exude moisture under suitable conditions is well known. The phenomenon js called “guttation,” and lws perhaps been most fully described by A. Burgcrstein in his work “Die Transpiration der Pfianzen” (J ena, 1904). The moisture drawn up from the roots of plants most fn,quently passes off into the air in a gaseous form: i. e., by transpiratioll. If the air is saturated with moisture, and if the supply of moisture to the roots is copious, then liquid drops will be exuded soHWtimes in large qUillltitie<. lolisch records a lase in which a single leaf of a species of ('%locasia gaH off 190 drops per minute. Burgtrstein gives a list of 211 plants, belongillg to 10] families, in wbieh guttation has been obser\'led. This process goes on chiefy at night, aud in clony and foggy weather: i.e . . whcll the relative humidity of the ail' i” highest. It is altogetll<"[ probable that in the moister parts of the tropics there are trces whicb exhibit this phenomenon in such a degree that the name “rain-tree” Iay he fittingly applied to tll(·m. It is, 1Iowc,'C1, certain tliat no such process call occur in a dry climate, and that the proposal to plant the rain-tree as a panace” against drought is entirely chimerical.
This article was originally published with the title "The Coming International Congress of Applied Chemistry, Dr. Albrecht Kossel, and more" in Scientific American 105, 12, 244 (September 1911)