Page images

momentarily at temperatures above its melting point. Such an interpretation is untrue since this phenomenon has been observed by several investigators with materials such as the minerals quartz and albite, which, while in the process of melting, may exist for some hours at temperatures above their true melting points. Correctly interpreted, Findlay's distinction holds good for cases of true metastable equilibrium, in which no change of phase is in progress, and which are the cases he evidently had in mind.


September, 1919


METEOROLOGICAL SOCIETY [Objects: The advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of meteorology and climatology; and the broadening of their applications in public health, agriculture, engineering, aeronautics, industry and commerce.]

SINCE the publication of the original announcement in SCIENCE, August 22, 1919, pp. 180-181, several thousand circulars have been

distributed among prospective members. Up to December 1, 470 had indicated their desire to join the society when organized. Roughly, the percentage make-up of these is as follows: 1. Weather Bureau

2. Cooperative observers of the Weather Bu


[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Of the whole number 40 per cent. are professional meteorologists. Many have urged strongly that the practical applications of meteorology be emphasized and that special efforts be made to interest engineers, business men, shippers, farmers, fruit growers, aviators and others whose work is closely dependent on the weather. Those who study merely for its scientific interest will have much to gain from association with those who apply meteorology in the conduct of their business. Two leading views expressed concerning the type of organization are:

(1) That the society should be popular in nature in order to get as many as possible interested in the scientific aspects and applications of meteorology and climatology, and in this way to advance the science by united effort and funds to promote research, and (2) that the society should be strictly scientific, and have rigid qualifications for membership, so that the professional meteorologists can by close personal contact cooperate in research to the best advantage. These two views may not be incompatible if the society when organized welcomes as a member any one who is interested in the aims of the society, and elects from among the members, fellows, as a recognition of eminence in meteorology or climatology. It is generally agreed that all

members and fellows should have the same privileges and pay the same dues. The council of the society would, naturally, be composed almost of fellows. Thus, the affairs of the society would be directed by its scientists, with the close backing of a large body of interested members.

Dues must be sufficient to pay current expenses of issuing a periodical leaflet of news, notes, queries, etc., but they must not be burdensome for the large group of underpaid government employees and teachers who are interested. If more than 500 members are procured, dues of $1 per year would probably be sufficient. Much has been said in favor of an endowment fund, and, as some have suggested, also library, instrument, scholarship, and building funds. To procure endowment, the society will probably be incoporated

and provisions made for contributing, sustaining and patron memberships.

A preliminary meeting to discuss organization plans and to nominate officers of the American Meteorological Society will be held at the close of the meteorological program of the Philosophical Society of Washington, Saturday evening, December 20. The meeting for organization will take place at Soldan Hill School, St. Louis, December 29, at 2 P.M., and sessions for the presentation of papers will be held December 30 and 31. Joint sessions are being arranged with the American Physical Society and the Association of American Geographers for December 31 or January 1. Plans are being made for a meeting in New York on January 3.

A tentative constitution and by-laws, conforming as far as possible with the numerous and diverse suggestions received, is being drafted, and will be printed about December 10, along with the programs and abstracts of papers to be presented at the St. Louis and New York meetings. These, with details as to hotel accommodations in St. Louis, will be mailed up to December 20 to those who have indicated their desire to join the society. CHARLES F. BROOKS






F. B. Carpenter, Chairman

H. C. Moore, Secretary

Injurious effects of borax in fertilizers on crops: B. W. KILGORE.

The conservation of nitrate of soda in the chamber process for the manufacture of sulfuric acid: ANDREW M. FAIRLIE. In connection with the prevalent protest against the high cost of food, means for conserving nitrate of soda in the manufacture of sulfuric acid has a two-fold interest: (1) The lowest possible consumption of nitrate of soda in the manufacture of sulfuric acid means low cost for producing the acid, and, as sulfuric acid is a principal item in the cost of making acid phosphate, cheaper sulfuric acid should result in cheaper phosphate, and cheaper phosphate, in

cheaper food. (2) Nitrate of soda is itself an important ingredient of fertilizer, and any decrease in the consumation of nitrate for making acid should react in favor of a decreased demand, and so of a lower price, for nitrate of soda. The various methods of introducing nitrogen compounds into the acid-making process are reviewed, and the methods in common use for controlling the chamber process are briefly described. Attention is directed to the gradual extension of the analytical method for chamber-process control, and to the improved results attained where this method has been adopted. The Gay-Lussac tower, as a means of recovering the nitrogen compounds, is not yet an ideal, nor yet an efficient, piece of apparatus, and the need exists for either (1) an improved type of Gay-Lussac tower; (2) an auxiliary to the Gay-Lussac tower; or (3) a substitute for that tower, capable of effecting a higher percentage of niter recovery.

Check meal work of the Society of Cotton Products Analysts (in particular reference to the moisture and ammonia determinations: F. N. SMALLEY.

The Deroode-perchloric acid method for determining potash: T. E. KEITT.

A rapid and accurate method for determining nitrogen in nitrate of soda by the Devarda method, and the use of the Davission scrubber bulb: C. A. BUTT. A rapid and reliable method for determining nitrogen in nitrate of soda, suitable for routine analysis, consists of reduction of the nitric nitrogen to ammonia by the use of 3 grams Devarda's Alloy, 20 mesh, in a solution of 300 c.c. volume containing 3-5 c.c. sodium hydroxide 45° Be. The distillation of the ammonia is carried out synchronously with the reduction, using the regular Kjeldahl apparatus fitted with the Davisson type of scrubber, which prevents alkali mist reaching the receiving flask. An aliquot of the nitrate solution, corresponding to .8517 grams sample, is used and the ammonia collected in N/2H.SO. Titrations are made in the usual way, using methyl red indicator. Results are reported showing accuracy of method.

The rapid and accurate determination of nitrate, as ammonia, in nitrate of soda by a modification of the Kjeldahl-Gunning method vs. the deceptive west coast or refraction method. Correct and rapid application of the modified Kjeldahl-Gunning method to mixed fertilizers containing nitrate: H. C. MOORE. The author compares the various methods in common use for analysis of nitrate of soda,

referring to the relative convenience of these methods for fertilizer chemists. Also points out again that the West Coast method is deceptive and recommends that it be eliminated from contracts governing transfers of commercial, nitrate of soda. Also shows development of a modification of the Kjeldahl-Gunning (sulfuric-salicylic) method for the rapid and accurate determination of nitrate, as ammonia, also indicates errors in this method as sometimes used. Also shows correct application of the method to mixed fertilizer containing nitrate.

The caking of sulphate of ammonia: C. G. ATWATER AND DR. J. F. W. SCHULTZ. Sulphate of ammonia, even when dried and screened to fit it for fertilizer use by itself as a top dressing, has shown a tendency to cake in certain cases. Examination of the material that had given trouble finally indicated in this case that the trouble was due to the presence of salts of pyridine bases which are deposited with the salt in the saturator. These impurities give the salt a slightly sticky nature; cause absorption of water and caking. By passing dry ammonia gas through the sulphate to neutralization, the pyridine was set free and the objectionable characteristics removed.

The caking of sulfate of ammonia and acid phosphate mixtures: C. G. ATWATER AND J. F. W. SCHNULTZ.

The American potash industry: R. O. E. DAVIS. Domestic production of potash grew from 1,000 tons in 1915 to 9,000 in 1916, 32,000 in 1917, and 55,000 in 1918. At the close of 1918 there was a potashproducing capacity in this country of approximately 100,000 tons per annum. The sources of potash are widespread, covering about sixteen states in various sections of the Union. The main production has come from Nebraska and California. Fourteen cement plants have installed methods of collecting potash from flue dust. Two blast furnaces have similar methods in operation. Five molasses distilleries are recovering potash from their wastes. A number of beet sugar refineries recovered small amounts of potash. The Green sands of New Jersey are a source of potash for two plants. One plant is utilizing Georgia shale as a source of potash. One plant at Marysvale, Utah, is utilizing alunite, and kelp formed the basis of operation for four large companies on the Pacific coast. Other minor sources exist, such as wood ashes, wool washings, and the brines of the great Salt Lake basin. The best prospects for the development of a permanent industry in competition with foreign potash appears to be from the gradual solving of technical details of proc

esses where potash can be obtained in localities near consumption centers and in the development of by-products. Western producers must meet the handicap of high freight rates to eastern markets, although the development of by-products and improved methods may overcome this handi


The relative availability of nitrate nitrogen and commercial organic nitrogen-field and cylinder experiments: A. W. BLAIR. For more than 20 years, the New Jersey Experiment Station has been studying by means of field and cylinder experiments, the relative availability of nitrate nitrogen from organic sources. The work has been conducted on two types of loam soil and also on a loam with varying admixtures of coarse white sand to represent soils varying in texture. For all of these soils, except those containing 80 per cent. or more of sand, the nitrates have stood first in yield of dry matter and percentage of nitrogen recovered in the crop. Under the most favorable conditions, only a little over 60 per cent. of the applied nitrogen can be recovered in the crop. Under less favorable conditions, the percentage recovery is much lower, often amounting to only one third of the amount applied. The average recovery of nitrate nitrogen in the field experiments was 37 per cent. and of organic nitrogen 26 per cent. It is suggested that the reason for the larger return from nitrate nitrogen than from organic nitrogen may be found in the immediate availability of the former. The plant is thus given a good start and on account of the rapid growth which it makes, it is able to utilize the nitrogen more fully than the plant which must wait for a supply of available nitrogen, until the organic matter has gone through the process of decomposition. CHARLES L. PARSONS, Secretary

[blocks in formation]



[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]



THE advance of physical science during the past century, and the application of the results gained therein to industry, and especially to the means of transportation and intercommunication, have made desirable and available, areas of the earth's surface hitherto unsought or inaccessible. Because of the development of mechanical agencies through science, the present age, more than any other, is characterized as an age of economic exploitation. The freedom and mystery of the older earth are departing, and soon will be gone forever. Never again will there be another Odyssey. The spirit of the new Age of Steel is over us-the spirit of exploitative and capitalized industry, that is reaching with magnificent ease out to the remotest confines of the planet, uncovering all the secret places, and blazing plain bare trails athwart the earth, straight to the very capitals of the ancient fairylands of geography. What mystery is there left in Peking or Timbuktu, in Samarkand or Candahar? To commerce, the names of the nations are but words in a game; their habitations but the squares of red and black on the chess board upon which the game is played; their remoteness a mere relativity of cost of communication.

In a sense that is far from Emerson's this spirit is embodied in the words:

Far or forgot to me is near,

Shadow and sunlight are the same,
The hidden gods to me appear,
And one to me are shame and fame.

The first exploitation of new territories has always been made by adventurers driven by the primitive Wanderlust; by men impatient of sitting in sodden security, but ever eager

1 Address before the Iota Chapter, Sigma Xi, University of Kansas.

to voyage on and try the hazard of new fortunes. It is to men like these that we owe the opening of new regions to settlement. In them through all ages has spoken the soul of Odysseus:

Push off, and sitting well in order, smite
The sounding furrows, for my purpose holds
So sail beyond the sunset and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.

The world, however, has passed through this epoch. No new lands lie under the sun waiting discovery, for the earth's surface, in all its essentials is roughly known. The home of El Dorado, the Fountain of Perpetual Youth, the Seven Cities of Cibola, Bagdad, the Land of Ophir, Cipangu, Lhassa, the country of Prester John and the city of the Great Khan, like the Poles of the Earth and the "Old Moon Mountains African,"all these have faded out of the romanticism of twilight obscurity into the daylight monotony of the commonplace. Magical names that once lured mankind, have vanished like the Wagnerian gods, over some rainbow bridge into the Valhalla of their own


We will do well to pause for a moment to contrast the modern movement that is enmeshing the earth in a net of industrial enterprises, with the spirit of the Age of Discovery just closing, that we may better orient educational work with respect to future necessities and present demands. Especially is this required of the sciences, upon the development of which industry depends. In the field of biology, the extent to which botany becomes an effective factor in modern education, depends very largely at the present time, whether we will it so or not, upon the degree to which it can be brought to efficiently cooperate in practical affairs.

For our greater and our lesser happiness, the boyhood of the human race is past. We are growing up socially and economically, and the inevitable outcome is going to be the mastery of the globe by means and for ends that are scientifically economic, and in the long run unquestionably altruistic. If this development means the elimination of mystery and glamor so far as the earth's surface is

concerned, it yet remains for biologists to exploit the deeper mystery and the more thrilling story of life itself in all its protean forms upon that surface. If this transformation means the elimination of the poetry of the naïve childhood of the race, we may yet, perchance, find a higher poetry in the grander rhythm of a developing social life and a more harmonious evolution of wider racial ideals. Such at least are the deeper reflections of science science that has come both to destroy and to fulfill.

In no other field of industry is the scientific age working greater changes than in agriculture. The cldest, the most primitive and the most necessary of occupations, agriculture, has been, until the last centruy, the field most neglected by science. In the older countries of Europe, a sharp social stratification, involving contempt for manual labor among the so-called upper classes, has been one of the retarding factors in agricultural development. Agriculture there is still largely the occupation of the peasant, and for the most part, the university and the peasant never meet. While this is rather a bald and radical statement of the situation, it holds good in its general outlines for most of the European states operating under the aristocratic systems of the past, while in the rest, the prejudice referred to still survives as a social memory.

In our own country, settled at the outset by immigrants who chiefly came from a body of land-loving and free-holding people, social prejudice toward agriculture is a comparatively minor matter, economically speaking. Strange to say, however, the very favoring conditions of our environment have hindered agricultural development along scientific lines. Our land was originally boundless and seemingly inexhaustible. It was impossible not to make a living on a farm, and anybody could become the possessor of one. There were no agricultural economic problems to solve, beyond the question of markets for the surplusage of the farm. What wonder that agriculture awakened scant interest in the scientific world. If the soil began to yield less as the years went by, under a wasteful,

« PreviousContinue »