Industrial and Engineering Chemistry - Industrial & Engineering


Publication Date: July 1926. ACS Legacy Archive. Note: In lieu of an abstract, this is the article's first page. Click to increase image size Free fir...
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Vol. 18, No. 7

Research on Communication YEAR ago E. B. Craft, executive vice president of the A Bell Telephone Laboratories, addressed a conference on the development of research in the Bell System and the reprint of the paper has recently been sent us. I n common with others interested in research, we have frequently told a part of the story of what has been and is being done in research under the auspices of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company. We wish that we might have space to reprint Mr. Craft’s paper, for it not only is a story of what is frequently accomplished in business by the rational application of scientific work but describes in some detail the group system of work which has been found successful in this great corporation. The perfection of the vacuum tube has made it possible to reduce from gage 8 to gage 19 the size of the copper wire necessary for S e w York to converse with Chicago, and as a result of continued studies during the last eighteen years it is now possible to place in a single lead sheath 2.5 inches in diameter as many as 1200 separately insulated metallic circuits, whereas a little while ago the limit was 150. Please note that eighteen years’ work was necessary, that the research was continuous, that i t was properly supported, and wisely directed. Then consider the above, which is just one of the results. A recently laid cable between New York and the Azores does not differ in general appearance from the older cables but transmits messages a t approximately five times the speed of the older conductor of the same size, and this is largely due to the development of the new alloy which possesses a permeability more than one hundred times as great as that of the best Norway iron. A list of the small things that have been put into production without a blare of publicity trumpets shows a total annual saving of some $12,000,000, not only this year but each year to come. The Bell laboratories apparently have satisfactorily solved the problem of making the most of the individuality of scientists and a t the same time securing such cooperation that progress is accelerated to the point where an individual lives to see the fruition of many of his efforts. This plan of dividing a problem into its essential elements and assigning these to individuals or groups of workers is obviously a rational one, and we learn that by i t an experimental system for the transmission of photographs by wire was set up and operated within six weeks after the order was given. While a system for the transmission of photographs over wires had been established, i t was desirable to develop the new method suggested. It is obvious that such an accomplishment would have been an impossibility for a single individual, no matter how brilliant. We can commend to the attention of other organizations the encouragement which the Re11 laboratories give to the publication of the individual’s work in the journals of the various technical and scientific societies. Where groups are involved, these papers appear under joint authorship, thus recognizing each individunl.

JULY 1, 1926 The value of being willing and able to work in cooperation with your fellow men on common problems is clearly demonstrated in the experience of the Bell laboratories and is a faculty which students should be urged to acquire. If you are looking for definite examples of the earning power of research or some one experienced in the various methods of organizing research work, do not overlook the Bell Telephone Laboratories.

Chemistry at the North Pole

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E KNOW that evidences of chemistry are to be found everywhere, but it may not have occurred to you

that the success of Commander Byrd’s recent flight over the North Pole was due in large measure to the contributions of chemistry. The three 200-horsepower engines were largely composed of high-grade alloy steel. The crankshaft and other parts vital to the mechanism contained substantial percentages of chromium, vanadium, and nickel, and the perfection of these steels was, to a large measure, obtained through carefully controlled heat treatment. It is very doubtful whether the polar flight could have been attempted but for the ability of these steels to withstand the alternate stresses, vibrations, and strains under the temperature conditions imposed. Pyrex glass contributed materially to the success of the radio communication, being used throughout for the insulation of the radio sending and receiving sets. It will not be difficult to extend greatly the list of contributions of chemistry to this achievement. An event of such wide popular interest can properly be employed to call again to the attention of the public, whose interest in pure and applied science is increasing, the fact that in every field of human endeavor, including adventure, where great courage is demanded, chemistry makes its presence felt. I n the majority of cases it contributes directly to the ultimate success.

Can a Chemist Do It? P R O F . IGKATZ MOSCICKI, chemist, is President of Poland. It is a difficult post, made complex by a series of circumstances hard for Americans to comprehend. Believing, as we do, that the training of the chemist fits him better than most men for a variety of services, including public office, we shall await with interest the answer to our question-can a chemist do it? Professor Moscicki was formerly a t the University of Freiberg in Switzerland, where he worked particularly in electrochemistry as professor of chemical engineering. When Poland was reestablished as a nation he resigned in order to aid the development of Polish universities, and became professor at the University of Lemberg, now known as Lw6w. He is also the director of the Methan Institute and has been prominent in developing methods of nitrogen fixation, oil demulsification, and aluminum manufacture. He holds more than fifty patents in the chemical field. We trust his record as a statesman may be as successful as his record as a scientist.

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Home Missions

Vol. 18, 5 0 . 7

Incorrect References

ANY times one of the most important features of an article or of a book may be the extensive references to other literature which are invaluable to anyone working in the The committee believes that the full benefits of the contest same field. There have been many instances of lost time and are realized only where the teachers have a keen vision of the temper because of incorrect references, and we have preenterprise and take advantage of the opportunities afforded viously emphasized the importance of authors consulting by the contest; further, that in general the teachers have original sources to be sure that they do not continually copy performed the best work where members of the SOCIETY errors. One bibliographer and literature specialist recently have themselves entered into the proper spirit of the contest, checked a bibliography in a foreign text. He found thirtyinterested the teacher, and supported the t’eacher’s work. eight out of forty citations inaccurate, either as to volume, I n discussing the question of the chemist and the teacher year, or page, and in some cases the errors were so great as entering into the spirit of the contest, a man who has been of to preclude the possibility of blaming the typesetter or the great help to the committee emphasized the inability of many proofreader. I n the compilation of a certain large work, the teachers to make their subjects appeal to the student as some- contributors to which were reputable specialists, the editors thing of direct interest to him, and then spoke of the respon- found an average of 25 per cent inaccurate or incomplete sibility of the chemist. We asked him t o record his views, and literature references. Checking such references is a costly editorial expense. here they are. Would it be a service to chemistry if we should undertake In one of our small universities where each upper class student occasionally to print lists of corrections found by those who knows half of the faculty and two-thirds of his fellow students, consult original sources, and who will communicate their the dean of men requested a conference with the student council for the purpose of finding the causes of cheating in certain classes. findings to us? Or might not a clearing house be designated Much inquiry and investigation led to the unanimous opinion to which all those noting erroneous references could report? that the professors in the classes affected did not “sell” their One having difficulty with a reference could then inquire courses fo the students, and that as, in the eyes of the students, whether a correction was on file. the work appeared to lead to no useful end, i t was not wholly In any research careful consultation of the literature is the wrong to secure some assistance in getting through such courses. first step. What can we do to save time and annoyance and Omitting further reference to the case cited, or its ethics, the eventually eliminate incorrect references? fact t h a t it is no longer necessary for any instructor to be vague F T E R three years’ experience in the conduct of the Prize A Essay Contest of the CHEMICAL SOCIETY, the committee in charge has considerable data for its guidance. AhiERICAK

or indefinite as to the value of his subject, or of the aims of those who place the subject in the curriculum, deserves some comment. The aims of teaching science have been set forth with most commendable clearness. The best educators of the National Educational Association, cooperating. with our most ableminded biologists, physicists, and chemists, have united in the study of the real purposes of teaching, and have listed (Bulletin 26, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Education) those aims and purposes briefly as follows: They are to develop within the student, habits and skills, information and the ability t o reflect, and attitudes and ideals, which may prove useful in: (1) maintaining health; (2) promotion of wholesome family life; (3) pursuing our vocations and establishing order in our economic life; (4)advancing our civic relations with one another; ( 5 ) enriching our capacities for worthy use of leisure; and ( 6 ) development of ethical character. Skilful authors have written books elaborating these six aims. Such books are available in all good general libraries. There can be no excuse for any teacher failing to have a t his command all the information necessary to convince his disciples of the worth of a course in science, but like those engaged in distribution of the goods of the world, some are not salesmen naturally, and some are not making conscious efforts to become salesmen. Since Duncan published his “Chemistry of Commerce” about two decades ago, there have appeared many, most excellent, more on chemistry than popular works on chemistry-probably on any other science. Today it is hard to excuse a teacher of chemistry if he fails to make clear to his students the value of the study of chemistry. Not t h a t we can expect all teachers to be as convincing as the captivating book agent, but that each should be able to make clear the reasons why his subject appears in a curriculum and as to how i t is justifying its holding a position there. Chemistry is not placed in our school curricu!a in order to make chemists of our boys and girls. Why then, is i t there? Surely, a teacher of chemistry should be able to give a short discourse in answer to this question. We have spoken of teachers; now what of chemists in general? Let each chemist who reads this ask himself how he would like to have his telephone ring tomorrow and, answering the call, hear a voice saying, “This is the principal of the high school. Next week we would like very much to have a chemist of our community tell our school assembly why chemistry has been placed in our curriculum. Will you do this for us?” How many could “get away with i t ? ” Would you prove a n “order taker” or a salesman? If you think that you could not qualify as the latter, are you not in need of a little more study? Chemistry needs salesmen in our schools, colleges, industries, and out among our people. Here is a responsibility for each chemist.

A Plea for Humanized Science G I Z N N FRANK, the president of the University of Wisconsin and the author of many syndicated articles, in his address before the intersectional meeting a t Madison stressed some of the points familiar to those who have folSOCIETY lowed the policies of the AhiERIcAN CHEMICAL in respect to humanizing our science. President Frank described the most useful man in America today as “the occasional scholar-genius who combines the burrowing qualities of the mole with the singing qualities of the lark, the man who is master alike of the science of research and of the art of expression.” Instances may be given to show that superstition, even in our day, frequently gains at the expense of scholarship, and unless some way can be found of putting the results of research into the stream of common thought, so that the spirit of the laboratory and the spirit of the market place can be brought nearer together, superstition may yet triumph over science. While the AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY can point to much that has been accomplished as a result of its efforts to have the general public understand the place, the work, and the contributions of chemistry, there still remains a deep-rooted opinion that chemistry has to do with substitutes, subterfuges, and undesirable imitations. A few years ago we endeavored to interest several national advertisers in adding to their display pages and signboards a sentence in small type which might read, “This is a product of American chemical industry.” We thought i t a fair idea through which we could accomplish much in our educational campaign, but the advertising men would have none of it, for they feared the people would a t once conclude that if the chemist had a large share in the manufacture of the article there must be something about it that would need watching. But the other day we saw an advertisement of a prominent clothier which showed a wise man turning a test tube upside down arid a dog unable to find even a smell of fiber that

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ISDUSTRIAL A N D ELVGILINEERINGC‘HE.MIST&Y

remained undibsolved. The advertisement explained that the fabric used by the house was all wool, as could be easily demonstrated by the boiling-out test. Elementary chemistry, we grant you, but an evidence of a little change in attitude. Dean Kimball, of Cornell, in an address a t Detroit recently emphasized the desirability for tlie chemist and the engineer not only to study economics but to lay some stress upon English, public speaking, and psychology, that they might be better able to understand men and acquire an ability to express themselves and to make their work understood by the layman. We agree with President Frank when lie says, “The scientist is the hope of civilization, but his coiitribution does not become a social asset until it gets beyond the stage of inarticulate accuracy.”

Our Monographs HEN arrangements were made for the publication of t,he first in the series of monographs sponsored by the AarERrcax CHEhlICAL SOCIETY, a total of ten was under consideration. The number is now almost thirty, and the series has been an unqualified success. Xone of the monographs has failed to find a place in the literature and, in some cases, reprint,ing has been necessary. More than two hundred orders for copies of every monograph are on file and the books have enjoyed an international distribution. The financial returns to the author from the monographs are as attractive as with any publisher. It is evident that here lies an opportunity for authors which only a portion of our members have realized. Authors submitting outlines of nionographs to the editorial boards receive helpful suggestions and, in addition, specialists are ofteii consulted so that the best treatise on the subject may be presented. The boards of editors are prepared to consider promptly any manuscripts which authors believe would find a place in the monograph series or to advise regarding proposed titles or outlines. W.A. Nuyes, University of Illinois, Urbana, Ill., is the editor of the scientific series, and correspondence relative to the technological series may be sent to the editor of THISJOURNAL. There are still many niches in the literature. The monograph series offers one of t’he best methods of filling them.

Laboratory News T THE intersectional meeting in Madison details were A presented regarding the preparation of piperidine derivatives n-ith local anesthetic properties, the work having been done by S. 31. McElvain and his associates. A long series of careful experiments resulted in a derivative with an isoamyl group attached to the nitrogen which, when used as the hydrochloride, was found to be only one-fortieth as toxic as cocaine and a t least one-third better. Going further, a para-amino derivative, being more basic, was found to be less irritating and produced the longest period of anesthesia ever noted from a single substance acting through the mucous membrane. KO sensational claims were made nor were there predictions-just a calm st,atement of what had been done arid the results that had been noted with animals. The announcement has also appeared t’hat A. B. Luckhardt and Myron Weaver have been successful in isolating a substance secreted in the small intestine which acts on the pancreas, stimulating it to greater activity in forming necessary digestive juices. The result may be the solution of some of the digestive problems. It is fair to assume t,liat tlie majority of the reading public iiiay cabuallg pass o\-er such iniportaiit laboratory iiew

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and forget what has been accoiriplishetl until some persoual need arises. The inen responsible for the work will undoubtedly press forward to new discoveries. Day by day the laboratory news becomes more interesting, more irnportant, and more directly contributory to world health arid happiness.

Wanted-An

Alloy

UR metallurgical friends tell us that scarcely a week goes by without the addition of some alloy to the long list already ebtablished, and without some one appearing with the rediscovery of methods for hardening copper and doing other of the feats usually listed under the lost arts. Notwithstanding all this, we are informed that there is still need for types of alloys that have not yet been devised. One, in particular, would afford a very substantial saving In the cost of manufacturing that type of rayon which is subjected to various weak acids and alkalies in the course of its manufacture. Kot only is there the cost of winding and rewinding from one type of spool to another but there is an unavoidable loss in tangled fiber. Many things have been put to the test and so far all have been found wanting in the ability to withstand the acid, the alkali, the rough handling of the spools, the cutting of the few strands that sometimes remain upon the spools, or are responsible for the decoloration of the fiber. Even an editor can apply sufficient arithmetic t o demonstrate what is possible when a small figure is multiplied by the millions which represent annual production of rayon in pounds. It is a difficult problem admittedly, but one which is not only interesting but extremely practical.

Science Above Politics W H E K Hon. Charles Evans Hughes appeared before the Federal Oil Conservation Board he expressed tlic opinion that America can conserve her oil resource5 through science alone and that political remedies are unlikely t o succeed. “Political action is superficially attractive, but difficult and unlikely to succeed. Something might be acconiplished by removing the legal obstacles to intelligent cooperation. Scientific effort holds the promise of the future. The cracking procebs has done more for conservation than any legislative scheme could do under our Constitution.” By and by it will become generally recogiiized that not only politicians but economists must take into consideration the work quietly in progress in the many laboratories of science before they endeavor to establish laws, regulations, or policies for our guidance.

Smoke and Health E ARE fortunate to be able to present in this issuc a paper by a gentleman who has devoted much time to determining Dhe relation of light to health and the influence of certain chemical elements upon body growth and repair. Industrial chemists will be instructed by this discussion and interested because of the personal application of the facts \vhicli have been established. There is also a professional interest since Dr. Price tells us that the smoke from industry, as n-ell as from domestic heating plants, plays a vital role in preventing needed ultra-violet light from reaching us. -Ilucli has been done in smoke abatement, and the question is still before various groups. Most of us have thought of smoke abatement in terms of economics, but here is evidence that it’ also has a decided relation to health. It is a question, t’lien, wliicli makes insistent demands upon t’lie tecliiiologists for early solution.