[Mathematical requirements for physical chemistry:] Discussion

I am sorry that I got to this meeting only in time to hear the last few remarks of Professor Daniels on mathematics and it may be that the com- ments ...
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exceptions the conspicuous advances in theoretical chemistry are now being made by physicists." You would say that it is not true. Then you would think of Bohr, Planck, Einstein, Rutherford, Debye, Franck, and many others and admit that there is some truth in the statement. When you reflect as to the reason, you realize that physicists are better trained in mathematics and that they have expressed our chemical phenomena with mathematical formulas, and that the expression of these formulas has led to the discovery of mechanisms which are of fundamental significance. Then we would all agree that the oncoming generation of chemists must have a better training in mathematics than the past generation has had.


I am sony that I got to this meeting only in time to hear the last few remarks of Professor Daniels on mathematics and it may be that the comments I have to make may have been covered by him in his discussion. However, even a t the risk of repetition, may I present a few observations on this subject? During the last few years, I have had some experienk in teaching rather rpathematical subjects to graduate students of chemistry and also to students of physics. It is certainly true that graduate students of chemistry have forgotten most of the mathematics that they ever knew and, what is more discouraging, they have in many cases acquired a fear of the subject. Partial derivatives and second derivatives, for example, frighten them so badly that they are ready to withdraw from any caurse in which they are used. The same is not true of physics students and I wish to ask the question, "How and where do chemists acquire this fear, while physics students escape it?' The suggestion that students who naturally like mathematics go into physics while those who are fearful of their ability to use it decide to he chemists may partly answer this question, though I don't believe that it is the complete answer. It is my belief that my professors of chemistry were not able to use mathematics easily themselves and that their advice to me in regard to the amount of mathematical equipment for chemists erred far on the side of too little mathematics. Further, I believe that is the attitude of too many of our teachers of chemistry. Students probably have acquired this nervousness about mathematics from their teachers while undergraduates. There is nothing, it seems to me, which can so effectively prevent this fault as for the professor to handle the mathematics

of physical chemistry with ease himself and to present rigorous mathematics to his students as much as possible without any timorous apologies, but with the attitude "of course everyone understands this." We should not make the subject too difficult, but also we should not "sugar coat" mathematics. Physical chemists with a bachelor's degree should have had mathematics through differential equations, and problems of physical chemistry which naturally require the use of such mathematics should be handled fearlessly and as a matter of course by its use.

Blood Chemistry Determines Demee of Drug Action. The effect of a dose of medicine depends not merely on the chemical makeup of the medicine itself but on the chemical state of the blood in our bodies when we take it. This is indicated by the experiments of Dr. William Salant, of the University of Georgia Medical School, performed a t the University and a t the Cold Spring Harbor Biological Station on Long Island. The blwd of all warm-blooded animals is normally slightly alkaline. When:Dr. Salant injected doses of the drug ergotamin into experimental animals whosi'blood alkalinity had been artificially reduced, a marked depression in their hlood pressure resulted. It was possible to restore the pressure t o normal or even t o increase it beyond that point, simply by controlling the degree of alkalinity of the blood. The effects of a drug depend not only on the alkalinity of the blood but also on the particular balance of certain elements. Dr. Salant has found that the concentratioss of calcium and potassium in the blood are of especial significance in this respect. IR the blood is lacking inralcium, adrenalin, a powerful stimulant and energy-releasing secretion, cannot produce results. Even a considerable reduction in the calcium content inhibits the action of adrenalin, unless the potassium present is correspondingly reduced. If much potassium is present, the poisonous effects of nicotin are greatly increased: and in the presence of an excess of potassium the usually stimulating adrenalin reverses its behavior and becomes a depressant. The toxicity of mercury is greatly increased by reducing the calcium concentration in the hlood. But if the calcium content is increased, the resistance to this poison, and also t o arsenic, is correspondingly increased. This point may eventually become one of importance in medical practice, because both mercury and arsenic, though poisonous, are widely used in medicine, especially in the treatment of syphilis. The diet of the patient, in so far as it affects the potassium and calcium content of his body fluids, becomes a matter of concern in the light of Dr. Salant's researches. It is recognized that the average American diet is very low in calcium.-Science Senice Tiny Island Yields Huge Phosphate Supply. Phosphate cargoes bulking over a quarter of a million tons a year are now being shipped from Nauru, a small island only 26 miles south of the equator, whose resources are being exploited by Australians. The phosphate is marketed in Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. Some thousands of Kanaka and Chinese laborers are employed in the workings, their labor supervised by a force of 100 t o 120 Europeans. The latter are recruited mainly in Australia. They "take on" for a two-year "hitch," which takes them into a virtual exile, relieved by such comforts as a bachelors' club in the tropics may have to offer.-Science Sermice