MARVELS We May See in 1927
Leaders in Many Fields of Science Forecast an Amazing Future for Us
Medicine and Surgery
WILLIAM J. MAYO, M.D., Sc.D., LL.D.
Surgeon, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.
THE invention of the microscope made possible the epochal work of Pasteur, which brought about the popular recognition of the role of microorganisms in the causation of disease. As a residt, the scourges of contagious and infectious diseases have nearly disappeared in civilized countries.
Today vision is being extended into the ultramicroscopio field which concerns those biochemical changes which bring about the degenerative diseases of middle and later life. The increasing proportion of deaths from cancer and diseases of the heart, kidneys, and other vital organs affords hope for the future rather than discouragement, because these are the affections of middle and old age and prove the advance of the medical frontier. In the older day, the greater number of human beings died before the period of life at which these diseases develop. Our newer knowledge of the colloid and molecular changes in the tissues and fluids of the human body is vitally influencing the practice of internal medicine through methods which lead to immunization and reconstruction.
As for surgery, rehabilitation by physicochemical means, by which the patient is restored to as nearly normal condition as possible before surgical operation, is enabling surgery to obtain astonishing results.
REAR ADMIRAL BRADLEY A. FISKE, U.S.N.
Marine Engineer, Inventor
ONE of the most important advances in ocean transportation in 1927 will be the increased use of the Diesel engine, in both direct acting and geared forms and also for driving small electric generators that feed motors on the propeller shafts. The Diesel engine has come to be such a menace to the steam engine that boiler and engine makers are prosecuting elaborate researches to enable the steam engine to meet the competition; mainly by making higher pressures practicable and by the use of pulverized coal. At the moment, the latter seems to be the more promising method of combating the competition, at least for the Merchant Service.
The use of radio and of scientific apparatus and methods will increase; especially for direction finding, hearing submarine bells, ascertaining the depth of water and the like.
The advance which will be the most significant as to future events will be the increasing importance on the sea of Germany, Italy and Spain. The magnificent combination of inventiveness, constructiveness, foresight, industry and courage which the German people possess, has already almost put Germany back where she was before the war.
Meanwhile, the United States will continue to fall behind with rapidly increasing speed. In a few years, she cannot fail to be at the rear of the maritime nations. Then those nations will feel a temptation (perhaps beyond human resistance) to blockade her trade routes and seize her wealth.
W. T. HORNADAY, SC. D.
Zoologist; Former Director, N. Y. Zoological Park
I PREDICT that at its next session the SixtyNinth Congress will pass a new bill to provide federal sanctuaries for migratory birds, and the Copeland-Merritt bill to reduce the bag limits in twenty-three states on migratory game.
I predict that next year a good number of state legislatures will enact new laws to safeguard the surviving remnants of their vanishing wild life.
I predict that the great awakening now taking place throughout the United States on the subject of the extermination of wild life will culminate in 1927 in a nation-wide demand for drastic reforms in our present fearfully weak, inefficient and deadly system of wild life protection.
I predict that in the fall of 1927 the voters of Cleveland, Ohio, will vote a special tax law, of one tenth of a mill for five years, to meet the cost of important new zoological developments in that city. This would give Cleveland a thoroughly modern and up-to-date zoological park, already designed, to cost $1,500,000, and it will be followed in due course by an aquarium and a botanical garden.
Finally, I predict that in 1927 the efforts now being made in the New York Zoological Park to breed the vanishing musk-ox of Arctic America in captivity will be successful; and that the capture of musk-ox calves on the east coast of Greenland will be prohibited for five years.
VlLHJALMUR STEFANSSON Arctic Explorer
IN EVERY respect but one, the sensational Arctic flights of 1926 merely advertised to the public the tried knowledge and accepted deductions of the scientists. The one exception was when Wilkins reported the definite absence of land in a previously unexplored area of ten thousand square miles north of Alaska, and when Amundsen reported the same thing a few weeks later for a previously unknown strip also on the Alaska side of the Pole. These results were expected by about half the scientists and unexpected by the other half.
Two things that were much debated, and which therefore come near the field of actual discovery, were settled by Byrd and Wilkins. These two flyers showed not only that the winter Arctic climate is peculiarly favorable for flying, as compared with average temperate or tropic climates, but also that air bumps, air holes, and roughness of the air generally, while appearing in spring and (doubtless) through the summer, are absent in the Arctic in winter.
The Argentinians are to fly in the Antarctic the coming year; Wilkins, Nobile, and others have announced they will fly in the North. Others, such as Byrd, may fly there also. What we may expect is that these flights, if made, will further confirm scientific opinions.
It seems certain that no new land can be discovered in the Antarctic; there is a fifty-fifty chance that islands will be discovered in the Arctic.
Geology and Mining
THEODORE J. HOOVER
Professor of Mining and Metallurgy, Leland Stanford U niversity
RECOGNITION by the public that we are spending our mineral resources “like a drunken sailor,” and that their exhaustion is within measurable distance, would be the most important thing that could happen in geology and mining in 1927.
Any advance in this direction, and there will be some advance, though small, will be the most important advance in this field for 1927 or any other year.
EDWIN O. JORDAN, Ph.D., Sc.D.
Professor of Bacteriology, University of Chicago
IT SEEMS probable that we are on the verge of important discoveries in the bacteriology of measles, and that a specific microbe will soon be firmly established as the causal agent of this infection. In tuberculosis, results of the vaccination of children by Calmette’s method are highly impressive; every year adds to their significance.
In 1927 we are likely to learn important facts regarding the nature of virulence and its correlated characters, the nature of bacterial toxins, the causes and meaning of bacterial variation, the specific soluble substances of bacteria and the nature of bacteriophage. We may expect to have light cast on several obscure immunological phenomena.
We shall probably know something more by the end of another year about scarlet fever, poliomyelitis (infantile paralysis) and possibly epidemic encephalitis. The identity of the African disease resembling yellow fever is likely to be established. At any time important discoveries may be made in the field of filterable viruses, ■ and in such baffling infections as chicken pox, canine distemper and the mosaic disease of tobacco.
DEXTER S. KIMBALL, M.E.
Dean, College of Engineering, Cornell University
ONE of the outstanding features of modern mechanical engineering is the growth in size of industrial machinery. The first locomotive weighed about four tons, while some modern locomotives weigh more than 300 tons. The first electrical generators were mere toys; we are now building turbogenerators that can produce 50,000 kilowatts from a single unit. It is not likely that we have reached the limits of construction in any field demanding large apparatus, and it is interesting to speculate what the maximum size of such machinery may be.
We shall probably see a considerable development in Diesel engines and other internal combustion engines using oil and other liquid fuels. This development will probably be in the direction of increased size of units. Already this form of prime mover has made a place for itself in marine work, and efforts to apply it to locomotives, automobiles and even flying machines have a fair chance of being successful.
We shall see, also, a continued extension of the methods of quantity production. Our successes in producing clothes, shoes, sewing machines, automobiles and many other products at prices unattainable by older methods make it certain that we shall extend these methods to other lines.
ALEXANDER SENAUKE, M. E., E. E.
Radio Engineer, Popular Science Institute of Standards
THE year 1927 will see a great awakening on the part of the general public to the value of faithful and accurate tone reproduction in radio reception. Tremendous strides along this line have been made by the manufacturers of radio receivers and loudspeakers, and broadcast listeners will be educated up to a new standard of quality.
The novelty of receiving distant stations is wearing away, but modern receivers are being made more and more sensitive and selective so that the vast listening public located awray from the big cities will be able to choose exactly the program desired.
A new radio law probably will be enacted that will iron out the difficulties with interference now causing trouble in some sections, and there is a strong possibility that licenses to broadcast will be restricted to stations able to broadcast worth-while features.
Programs will continue to show steady improvement in quality and variety and a system may be worked out between stations in the same locality so that several stations will not broadcast the same type of feature at the same time. By this arrangement the listener who is partial to some particular form of radio entertainment will be able to tune-in the type of broadcasting that jileases him at any hour of the day and will not have to miss one of two features because both are on at the same time.
EDWIN E. SLOSSON, Ph.D.
Chemist, Author, Director^of Science Service-
THE hormones, which determine whether we shall be tall or short, handsome or homely, brilliant or dull, cross or congenial, will soon be made in the laboratory, instead of exclusively by the oldfashioned and unreliable action of our glands. And since the chemist is never satisfied with merely imitating nature's products, he is likely to devise something more effective in this field, as he has in dyes and drugs.
In fact, we seem to be entering a new epoch of organic synthesis. Artificial petroleum is now made from coal and hydrogen. Petroleum can be converted into all manner of physiological compounds, including alcohols and fats. Methanol is made from water gas. So man is being freed from his exclusive dependence upon jilants and animals for his food and medicine, and may ultimately be able to make what he wants from air, water and coal, in all cases where the factory can compete profitably with nature.
We may predict that in 1927 one or more of the elusive vitamins will be run down and identified, possibly synthesized. It is already known that cholesterol, which has been regarded hitherto as stuffing up the cell to no purpose, can be converted into a vitamin by the action of ultra-violet rays, and so serve as a cure for rickets. In like manner means of activating other inert substances may soon be found.
Vice President, New York Edison Company
THERE win be growing appreciation of the value of electric power as an agency for improving the social and economic life of the country; this will be true not alone in the home and in our industrial life, but in that of the American farmer, a field which is as yet substantially untouched. There will doubtless be an increasing understanding of the real meaning and value in service of the term “superpower”; a wider realization of the fact that superpower does not relate to politics, but to economics; that it is an agency already long in existence, through which, by means of interconnection, widely separated but large and economical sources of power generation can be united, with as a result more efficient utilization of the power source and greater security of the service to the individual consumer.
A Year of Thrilling Revelations Ahead of Us!
TF SOMEONE should ask you today wliat great new -*■ discoveries and inventions you would like to see, you might be at a loss for an answer.
Within our lifetime new knowledge and new utilities for our comfort, happiness, and well-being have come upon us, and it sometimes seems as if nothing more remains to be supplied.
Has science, in its progress, reached the top peak of achievement? Or is it progressing toward revelations that will still further change our lives?
Recently we put these questions to twenty scientists. Their answers appear on these pages. They leave little doubt that we are merely on the threshold in invention, physics, astronomy, biology, psychology, and all the rest of the sciences. They assure us that the achievements of the past few decades, marvelous as they seem to us, are indeed small compared with what the future holds.
ROBERT ANDREWS MILLIKAN, Ph.D., Sc.D., LL.D.
Physicist, Nobel Prize It 'inner. Head of the California Institute of Technology
WE ARE clearly approaching a reconstruction of the formulation of a considerable part of that branch of the new physics which is included under the general designation, quantum theory.
The simplifications and generalizations which have been introduced this year into spectroscopy by Hund Lande Pauli and Russel, the new theoretical formulation of Schrödinger, with its application to the Stark effect by Epstein, and the new mechanics developed by Heisenberg, Born, and Jordan; all are indicative of the heroic efforts just now being made to eliminate some of the contradictions in modern physics, and to place the whole structure upon a new basis of experimentally observed facts.
ALBERT EDWARD WIGGAM
Biologist, Writer and Lecturer
THE main drive of psychological inquiry in 1927 will be testing the mental tests, devising tests for character and personality and moral and volitional traits, and determining better the nature of intellect itself. Some important researches are under way in this latter field. Very important researches will be published in April on the problem of heredity and environment.
New efforts will be made to measure the special aptitudes of high school and college students and to devise emotional incentives that will lead students to measure up to their highest capacities. Two big projects are under way in this direction. A number of colleges are planning a regular psychological consultation service for aiding students in their problems, both vocational and personal. Clinical psychology is rapidly advancing in the devising of methods for removing fear and relieving the depressed mind.
CAPTAIN EDWIN T. POLLOCK, U.S.N.
Superintendent, U.S. Naval Observatory, Washington, D.C.
TWO important projects are now under way at the U. S. Naval Observatory, Washington, D. C., as well as at other observatories, and while 1927 will not see their finish it will see a good beginning.
One is the observation of positions of certain stars to be used in the “Eros Campaign” of 193031, when the planet Eros will be used in a newer determination of the solar parallax, or difference in the apparent position of the sun and its true place. Eros, which at times is nearer to the Earth than any other heavenly body except the Moon, will be only 16,000,000 miles away from us in 1930. Mars, at its nearest approach in 1924, was 35,000,000 miles away.
The other project is the “round-theworld” longitude determinations, for which special time signals have been sent these last two months by the United States naval radio stations and for which at the same time astronomical observations were made all around the world. The calculations may be completed during 1927.
These findings will be a start toward proving or disproving the theory that the continents do move and that our moon came from the Pacific Ocean. If it is found that the continents move or that parts of the earth expand or shrink, it may show, as some believe, that it is the Earth and not the Moon which is erratic in its motion. But the most important advance that could be made in astronomy in 1927 would be to have some one donate the millions needed to construct a telescope larger than any now in use.
EDWARD V. RICKENBACKER
Automobile Racer; Aviator
OUR ever-increasing highway congestion, in the writer's opinion, demands the following development in motor car engineering:
Smaller, higher-speed and lighter engines, resulting in greater economy, shorter wheel base and lighter complete cars at less cost.
Lower center of gravity, brought about through double drop frame, worm gear drive or a design giving similar results.
Smaller diameter tires with greater cross section, eliminating the necessity of wheels and using brake drums as substitute. Tires would be mounted directly on the brake drum, permitting brake application on all four wheels directly over the center of the tire.
Rubber spring shackles as a substitute for bolts, eliminating squeaks and the necessity of lubrication.
Simplification of starting problem in cold weather by electrical vaporizers or some equally effective substitute.
Increased compression ratios and the elimination of carbon through the use of antiknock fuels.
I believe motor car engines of the better class will be equipped eventually with superchargers for the purpose of reducing weight and to increase the horsepower per cubic inch of displacement. This will be followed by the supercharged twocycle design for the same purpose.
CLARK WISSLER, Ph.D.
Curator of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History, New York City
BECAUSE of the large number of explorers in the field, there is reason to expect new finds of fossil man in Europe, western Asia, or in Africa, the regions so far furnishing us with specimens. Also in North and South America we may expect new finds suggesting the association of aboriginal man with the mastodon and other extinct animals.
In Mexico and Central America, ruined prehistoric cities may be discovered and more dated Mayan monuments found in them, thus adding to our knowledge of aboriginal America.
The crossing over of the American Indian from Asia to Alaska is a subject now to the fore, and a full half-dozen scientists are ransacking the shores of Bering Sea for traces of the earliest crossing from Siberia. We may expect, therefore, new evidence of Asiatic visitors to Alaska long before the days of Columbus.
About the only remaining spot on earth where white men have not roamed is the interior of New Guinea, where still live a few tribes of men not seen by the paleface. This area is now about to be explored, and we may look forward to the last round-up of primitive man.
WILLIAM CROCKER, Ph.D.
Botanist; Director, Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, Yonkers, N. Y.
THE stage is set for rather large advances in plant science in all the branches mentioned below.
We can expect improved varieties of some of our food plants — varieties which give greater yields, greater resistance to disease and insects, and higher quality. Further advances in hybridization or crossing will teach breeders (Continued on page 140) how to cross plants so as to produce the forms desired with greater certainty.
(Continued from page 22)
A plant sometimes, apparently accidentally, produces a single branch different from all the other branches. These are called bud sports. Many fine forms of ornamentals and some of our good fruits originated in this way. Some one will learn why nature occasionally produces such bud sports, and be able to induce her to produce them frequently.
We may look for better insecticides and fungicides for controlling insect pests and plant diseases. Advances arc also due in the application of the remarkable effects of ultra-violet rays to plant growth.
COLIN G. FINK, Ph.D. Consulting Metallurgist; Professor of Electro-chemistry, Columbia University
T HE nonferrous metal industry, in particular copper, tiii, zinc, lead and alumi num, was unusually prosperous during 1 9~ö and there is every indication that this prosperity will coii tinue into 19~7. About 53 percent of the worlds copper is furnished by the Inite(l States. about 20 percent by Chile and Peru. r1~he Chile Copper Company has almost completed the enlargement of its reduction plant, increasing the annual capacity from 120,000 tons to 175,000 Inn s
The consumption of copper has in creased astoundingly during the last few years. It is being used in increasing quan tities for roofs, leaders, tanks and other chemical engineering apjaratus.
rega;~s aiun~ni~, new fields of usefulness have been opened up by ap plications in railroad equipment, as well as in the airplane and automobile in dustries. For the lead industry, also, the outlook for 1927 is most propitious.
Steam and Power
WILLIAM D. ENNIS, M.E. Consulting Engineer
itlar. This is for 1927. N OTHING has gone up in price faster or farther than coal: yet power is almost the oily thing which is no more expensive today than it was fifteen years ago. Improvements iii power production have been gradual and not spectac the prospective progress
The year 19~27 should see continued applications of pulverized coal and further improvement in the scientific design and application of furnaces and stokers, and probably in air preheating.
We shall continue to build larger power stations and larger generating units. The year (continued on page 141) will see the manufacture of a single unit of 251,000 horsepower, to be installed in New York City in 1928. Another contract recently let was for a unit of 279,000 horsepower.
(Continued from page 140)
CHARLES FITZHUGH TALMAN U.S. Weather Bureau, Washington, D.C.
METEOROLOGY ÍS looking up. Its attention has been centered of late upon the higher levels of the atmosphere; the domain of meteors and the aurora, of ozone and the Heaviside layer. We may expect news from this region during the year.
Perhaps the “break” will be the outcome of researches at the U. S. Bureau of Standards on the spectra of the atmospheric gases under the extreme physical conditions supposed to prevail miles above the earth. Perhaps it will come from studies abroad on the abnormal audibility of distant explosions. Perhaps Professor Goddard, of Clark University, will perfect his long-awaited rocket.
Transmission of weather maps by radio telegraphy may produce in 1927 a daily “mosaic” weather map of the northern hemisphere. This map will be readily available everywhere, by land and sea—an epoch-making advance over the present plan of transmitting merely numerical data, from which the maps must be drawn.
Thanks to Congressional action, the Weather Bureau enters 1927 with twentytwo more pilot-balloon stations than it had a year ago, and will provide adequate meteorological information for aviators along commercial air routes. A novelty of the year will be the use of luminous balloons for observing the upper air currents by night.
CHARLES LANE POOR, Ph.D. Professor of Celestial Mechanics, Columbia University
THE most important advance in mathematical research in 1927 should be the clear perception of the limitations of mathematics; the recognition that mathematical processes merely constitute a sort of specialized shorthand, that they furnish simplified methods for arriving at complicated deductions from stated premises.
The great advance in mathematics will be the return to sane and logical thinking; will be the clear recognition that the laws and processes of nature are independent of the mathematician and his processes, and the recognition that one cannot change the law of gravitation by the transformation of a mathematical formula.