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This special edition is for readers for whom

English is;a second language. I t t a n ^ b e read by
anyone who has learned 2,000 words of English.






The Ladder Series books are specially prepared

editions of well-known American books. They have
been made easier to read for the enjoyment of
readers for whom English is a second language.
The Series is built,on a "ladder" of five steps
from 1,000 to 5,000 different English words. Although the books have been shortened, they keep
the ideas and facts found in the originals.
This book uses 2,000 English words. Some words
in the book are above this step and will be found
written in boldface letters. They are explained in
the Glossary at the back.
The publisher hopes the reader will enjoy this
Series, while going up the ladder to more difficult




A Ladder Edition at the 2,000-word level




To the memory of Ben Shulman, in appreciation

of his deep interest in thlp writing of this book.

I wish to express my sincere thanks to the many scientists and science teachers
who, through their suggestions and readings of various parts of the manuscript,
contributed to this book. Their selfless help was of considerable value to me.
I must, however, accept full responsibility for the book's contents. All the
final choices and decisions wore mine.
Among those I would like to single out for particular thanks are Leonard
Berkowitz (psychologist). Dr. Edmund Braun (psychiatrist). Dr. Harold Clearman (Hofstra University), Philip Ferris (Waidemar Medical Research Laboratory), Dr. Harold Galef (psychiatrist). Dr. George Pappas (College of Physicians and Surgeons), John Patterson (Hoyden Planetarium), Edward Polowayk
(Brentwood Junior High School), Denis Puleston (Brookhaven National Laboratory), Valerie Roberts (Hayden Planetarium), Harry Schachter (City College of
New York), Dr. Arthur Shapiro (New York Downstate Medical Center), Dr.
Peter Tolins (Cornell University-New York Hospital), and Harold Weinstock
(Plainview Junior High School).


{Original title: Triumphs of Modem Science)

Ladder Edition
Published March, 1967

Copyright 1964 by Melvin Berger

Library of Congress catalogue card number; 64-16481

This abridged edition is published by arrangement with
the McGraw-Hill Book Company, the original publishers.
Printed in the United States of America

To the Reader


1. A New Way To Fight Disease

2. Chemicals That Cure

3. Vitamins



4. Virus

5. DNA, Master Planner of Life . . . . ' 37

6. Discovery of the Unconscious


7. The Theory of Relativity . . . . . . . .


8. Atoms


9. X Rays and Radioactivity


10. Atomic Energy

11. The New Astronomy



This LADDER EDITION has been especially

prepared for the beginning reader. It is printed
from brand-new plates made from newly set,
clear, easy-to-read type.


To the Reader

Each day brings us news of advances in some

area of science. These advances are very important
to each of us. It takes years of study to learn about
a single area of science. How can we get some understanding of the many areas of modern science?
We believe that it is possible to become familiar
with the ideas of modern science by looking at
several of its major advances. As we read about
some of the great men of science making their important discoveries, we learn to understand the
thinking that led to their results. In this way we
can perhaps learn to think clearly. We also can
learn that each discovery depends on many that
were made before and leads to new discoveries
that will follow.
Three standards were used in deciding which
advances to include in this book. They had to be
accomplishments of the 20th century, or the years
just before this century. They had to be advances
in knowledge rather than inventions. And finally,
they had to be advances which have made the
greatest change in our world.

A New Way To Fight Disease

Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) always took advantage of accidents and chance happenings.
In 1901 he received the highest score on a test
given in England for entrance to a school of medicine. He could choose any school that he wanted.
He later wrote, I n London there are twelve
medical schools. I had no knowledge of any of
them, but I had played games against St Mary's,
and so to St Mary's I went"
Fleming began to study bacteria for an equally
strange reason. He was good with guns, and St
Mary's had an excellent gun club which needed
new members. After he had completed the four
years of medical school, he was invited to work in
the laboratory at St Mary's, so that he could re9

Advances of Modern Science

main in the gun club. He accepted the position in
1906 and remained at St. Mary's until he died.
Now events began to prepare Fleming for his
most important accident, an accident that led to a
discovery important for every one of us. In 1908,
he wrote a report on the battle against bacteria.
He continued to fight this battle all his life. In his
report, he listed the methods doctors in 1908
could use to fight the bacteria that cause disease.
First on Fleming's list was vaccination. When a
person is given a vaccination, dead or weakened
bacteria are put into his body. This causes the
body to build its defenses, and protects the person
from the disease.
Then there are antitoxins. They are prepared
from the blood of animals that have had the poisons
produced by certain bacteria put into their bodies.
The animal creates a substance in its blood which
fights the poison. When this substance is put into
a person, it helps him fight the poisons produced
by certain bacteria in his body. There are other
methods too, such as building the person's strength
by rest and good food. And there are medicines that
kill certain bacteria.
During the following years, Fleming looked for
new ways to fight bacteria. In 1922, he found a substance in tears that was able to kill bacteria. Unfortunately, the bacteria it killed were not diseasecausing bacteria.
In 1928, Fleming was studying a certain kind of
bacteria called staphylococci. He was growing
these bacteria in dishes that contained a soft sub10

A New Way To Fight Disease

stance. Most of the time the dishes were covered,
except for short periods of time when he took the
covers off to examine the growing bacteria.
The summer of 1928 was hot in London, and
windows were kept wide open to catch any little
wind. In Fleming's laboratory at St^Mary's the windows were open too, and a little piece of dust flew
in. This accident led to one of the most important
advances of modern science.
A few days later, Fleming found that a bluegreen mold was growing in one of his dishes. Fleming knew that little pieces of mold were carried
by the air. He guessed, therefore, that some mold
had come in through the open window, and had
settled in the dish when the cover was off.
Many people would have thrown the dish away
and started all over again. But Fleming decided to
watch what would happen. Imagine his surprise
when he found that the area around the mold was
clear, and not yellow like the bacteria. Something
in the mold seemed to be destroying the bacteria!
Now Fleming used all his skill to leam more
about the mold. First he bad to get some pure mold
so that he could study it more carefully. He removed some of the mold and placed it in a substance where he knew it would grow. It grew very
fast. It began as a white substance, then turned
dark green. It grew by sending out brandies in
the shapes.of pencils, which told Fleming that it
was a member of the Penicillium family of molds.
(The name actually comes from the' same word
as pencil.)

Advances of Modern Science

The next step was to grow more of the mold so
it could be tested on different bacteria. Fleming
found that the juice from the mold was a powerful
killer of several disease-causing bacteria. He made
the mold juice weaker and weaker. Still it was able
to kill bacteria.
Fleming wanted to know if all molds produced
this bacteria-destroying material. He tried five
completely different molds and eight different types
of Penicillium mold. Of these, only one type of
Penicillium worked against bacteria, and this was
the same type as the first mold. Knowing that the
mold juice had a great power to kill some kinds of
bacteria, Fleming then wanted to know if it was
too powerful. Would it be harmful to people? He
added some mold juice to a small amount of human blood. Minutes, then hours passed. The blood
was not affected by die mold juice.
Fleming then decided to try the juice on a living
animal. He put some bacteria into some laboratory
rabbits. Then he gave the animals his mold juice.
Success again. These bacteria were killed, and the
animals had no bad effects.
Now Fleming was ready for perhaps the most
important test of allto use the mold juice on a person. This was very easy to arrange. Stuart Craddock, his laboratory helper, was willing to let
Fleming test the mold juice on him. The test was a
success. Craddock was not harmed by the mold
Soon after, Fleming decided to name the mold
juice. Since it came from the juice of the Penicil12

A New Way To Fight Disease

Bum mold, he called it penicillin. In June, 1929,
Fleming published the first report on penicillin.
Instead of the excitement that he expected, however, it received little attention.
There were a few reasons for this lack of interest Probably the main reason was that no one
was able to obtain pure penicillin. In the mold
juice it was mixed with other substances that might
prove harmful. Before it could be safely used, the
penicillin had to be cleaned so that it contained no
other substance. In addition, it was a long and difficult job to grow the mold from which the penicillin Was made. Although Fleming kept his faith,
penicillin was all but forgotten in the ten years
after its discovery.
In 1938, two men at Oxford University, Harold
Florey (bom 1898) and Ernst Chain (bom
1906), read Fleming's report. Chain decided to see
if he could make pure penicillin. By using new
methods, he was able to get some penicillin that
was very pure. His penicillin was about 1,000,000
times more active than the mold juice that Fleming had used in his early experiments.
Florey and Chain gave 50 animals large amounts
of a disease-causing bacteria. Twenty-five of
them were given penicillin. Twenty-five were
given nothing. In the morning all the untreated animals were dead, and all the penicillin-treated ones
were alive. In other experiments, more animals were
given other bacteria and then treated with penicillin. Every time the penicillin had the same effect
Florey and Chain were ready to test the medi-

Advances of Modern Science

cine on humans. The problem was to get enough
penicillin and to make the penicillin pure. In February 1941, after two years of building a supply,
they had one spoonful of the pure yellow penicillin. They believed that this would be enough to
treat a person. A young man was dying from bacteria that had entered hi/blood. There was nothing
the doctors could do for him, and it was expected
that he would live only a few more days.
Penicillin was given to the man every three
hours. The next day his condition improved. In two
days the hospital doctor said that one more week
of treatment would complete the cure. But the
small supply of penicillin was gone! The man lived
a few more days and then died.
Although Florey and Chain were not able to
save the man's life, they realized that as a test of
penicillin, the experiment was a success. If there
had been enough penicillin, they would have been
able to save the man's life.
Another supply of penicillin was obtained.
Treatment on another man was begun. But again
the supply of penicillin was gone before the man
was completely cured. At last, in May 1941, penicillin saved a human life. A 48-year old man was
seriously ill. After seven days of treatment with
penicillin, he was completely cured.
These experiments proved that penicillin killed
disease-causing bacteria. One problem remained
supply. Florey decided to ask Americans for help.
Within a few months, the United States government and the big United States manufacturers of

A New Way To Fight Disease

medicine were all working on the problem. They
used every method they knew. Yet, at the end of
a year of work they had to report that they had
made no real progress.
By now the United States was in World War
Two. There was a demand for penicillin to relieve
the suffering of the wounded. The supply was far
less than the demand. All the penicillin was being
made from the same kind of mold that Fleming
had used. Many different molds had been tried,
but none had worked as well. One day another
kind of Penicillium mold was found. This mold
was grown in the laboratory, and was found to produce much greater amounts of penicillin than the
original kind.
Soon afterward, a new substance was found for
growing the mold. It produced 20 times as much
penicillin as the old substance. Now more penicillin could be produced. By 1945, more than 1,000
pounds of penicillin were being produced each
month. As more penicillin became available, more
uses were found for i t By 1952, 31 million people
were being treated with penicillin.
Experiments with penicillin continued, and new
kinds were developed. These different kinds of penicillin were able to fight more kinds of bacteria.
Other experiments were done to answer another question. How does penicillin attack bacteria? The first part of the answer came when it was
found that penicillin works only against growing
bacteria. If the bacteria are not growing they are not
affected by the penicillin. Next it was found that

Advances of Modern Science

penicillin stopped the bacteria from building cell
walls. Bacteria are one-celled plants, surrounded
by cell walls. Without these walls, new bacteria
cannot form. This discovery also explained why
penicillin had worked against bacteria without
harming human cells. Human cells do not have
walls like the bacteria. They just have a thin outside layer.
Penicillin was important not only for what it
could do, but because it represented a completely
new approach to fighting disease. Penicillin was
the product of a living thing (mold) that could kill
other living things (bacteria). The name for such
a substance is antibiotic, meaning against life.
There were hopes that with penicillin man would
soon win the war against disease. But by 1948, a
hospital in Australia reported bacteria which had
become stronger than penicillin. How had these
new stronger kinds of bacteria developed?
It is now believed that in the process of killing
some bacteria, penicillin had produced these new,
powerful ones. As the penicillin attacked bacteria,
it quietly killed most of them. But a few were strong
enough to remain alive. These stronger bacteria
were then able to spread and to fill the space
emptied by the weaker bacteria. This new kind,
coming from bacteria not harmed by penicillin, was
also not hurt by penicillin.
There were still other problems with penicillin.
Some people became sick after taking it. Also, many
diseases could not be treated with penicillin. The
search continued for new and better antibiotics.

A New Way To Fight Disease

There are antibiotics to attack bacteria not harmed
by the older antibiotics; antibiotics that do not
make people sick; and combination antibiotics that
work against many bacteria. _
When penicillin was first used, it seemed that
we had won our fight against disease-causing bacteria. The bacteria are beginning to fight back.
But now that we have met the enemy and have
become familiar with his habits, we are getting
ready to carry this fight through to victory.


Chemicals That Cure

Laboratories in Germany at the beginning of the

century were a strange sight Bottles were Med
with brightly colored liquids. The coats of the men
were covered with yellow, red, and blue. Even
their hands and notebooks were many colors. The
large chemical factories did many experiments in
the hope offindingnew uses for their products.
Paul Ehrlich (1854-1915), even as a student in
a school of medicine, was interested in chemicals
for making colors. His professors would sadly
shake their heads when young Ehrlich studied the
effects of these chemicals on human cells instead
of cutting dead bodies to study the different parts.
What kind of doctor would he make, so busy with
his color-making chemicals that he had no time to

Chemicals That Cure

learn the long lists of diseases and medicines that
doctors must know?
With much difficulty, Ehrlich did become a doctor. But his first love still was chemicals and their
effect on animal and human cells. In one now-famous experiment, Ehrlich put a blue chemical into
a living animal. He later cut open that animal and
found that only certain cells had become blue. Why
had just some been colored? Why not others? Ehrlich reasoned that there was an attraction of some
kind between the chemical and certain cells.
Perhaps, he thought, he could find a chemical that
would be attracted to the disease-causing bacteria
in the body. Then, perhaps he could replace the
chemicals with a medicine to kill the bacteria.
To start, Ehrlich chose one type of trypanosome.
Trypanosomes are very tiny disease-causing animals. One type is responsible for African sleeping
sickness. Other types of trypanosomes are responsible for diseases in horses and cattle.
Ehrlich and his helpers started the long job of
testing chemicals, old and new, to find one that
would color, and perhaps kiU, the trypanosomes.
Finally, in 1904, they found a red chemical that
could kill trypanosomes in laboratory animals.
However, it did not cure horses who had the trypanosomes. Nevertheless, it was a good start on the
road to fighting disease with chemicals.
Ehrlich read of experiments in which trypanosomes were killed by a substance called atoxyl.
Atoxyl was a chemical containing a common poison.
Although atoxyl killed the trypanosomes, it had bad

Advances of Modern Science

effects on the animals in the process. Ehrlich decided to experiment with atoxyl. He wanted to
change the atoxyl so that it could kill the trypanosomes without causing other bad effects.
During the following years, Ehrlich kept changing the atoxyl. Over 600 different kinds were
tried. In each case, Ehrlich had to find out first how
much of the new chemical was necessary to kill
the trypanosomes. Then he had to find out how
much could be given to the animal before it began to cause bad effects.
Thousands of animals had to be used in the
search. Finally, in 1909, Ehrlich tried the 606th
kind of atoxyL At last he found one kind of atoxyl
that seemed to work. It was able to kill the trypanosomes in animals without causing sickness.
Ehrlich read a report that the human disease,
syphilis, was caused by a tiny animal of the same
family as trypanosome. Syphilis is a disease that
was attacking many people. At first there were different sores on parts of the body. Sometimes even
death resulted The big question was: Could 606
cure syphilis?
Ehrlich returned to the laboratory again to test
the effects of 606 on syphilis, He found that by
using 606 he could make the syphilis sores in animals disappear in three weeks. 606 seemed to
work. He felt ready for human tests. He sent samples of 606 out to doctors and hospitals. By April
1910, the first reports were in. 606 could cure
syphilis if it was used early enough in the disease.

Chemicals That Cure

Ehrlich's dream had become true. Treating disease with chemicals was a reality.
Encouraged by the success of 606, E. G. Farben
Industries tried to find other chemicals that can
kill bacteria. In their laboratories, chemical after
chemical was tested on bacteria in- glass containers. If the chemical killed the bacteria, it was
given to a laboratory animal that had been given
the disease. But in every case, the chemical killed
the test animal, too.
In 1930, after E. G. Farben had been experimenting some 20 years with no success, Gerhard
Domagk (born 1895) had an idea that seems very
simple to us now. Perhaps, Domagk thought, since
the chemical they were looking for was to kill bacteria in living beings, the first test should be
on a live animal, instead of in a laboratory bottle.
Domagk started by retesting the chemicals that
had been only slightly active against the bacteria.
He gave these chemicals to laboratory animals that
had first been made ill with streptococci bacteria.
(These are deadly bacteria that can cause blood
poisoning and other human diseases.) The amount
of streptococci was strong enough to kill the animal within five days. If, at the end of five days,
the animal was still alive, the chemical was tested
further. This experiment went on for a long time
as each of the chemicals was tried. There was
failure after failure after failure, however, in the
search for a chemical that would kill these bacteria.
At last, a chemical called prontosil red was tried.

Advances of Modern Science

The sick laboratpry animal got better and suffered
no other ill effects. Could this be the chemical for
which Domagk was looking?
The first human test of the prontosil came much
sooner than Domagk wished. His daughter became
very xLL The illness spread through her body. Doctors tried every method they knew to help her, but
nothing helped. Her condition was very poor.
Domagk decided to use the prontosil. How Domagk
must have suffered as he waited, hour after hour, to
see the effect of the medicine. At last, he saw results. His daughter started to improve. Prontosil
cured her as no other medicine had been able to
do. And, best erf all, it did not have any bad effects.
Prontosil had very successfully passed its first human test
For nearly three years, tests continued on prontosil. It had to be tested, not on one or two patients,
but on hundreds. Finally, in February 1935, the first
public announcement was made. Prontosil had an
almost perfect record erf cures.
Some scientists wanted to know more about why
and how prontosil acted as it did. They made
many studies of i t One part, they found, was a
rather simple substance called sulfanilamide that
had been known since 1908. It was this part that
was active against bacteria. The rest of the prontosil
seemed to have no part in fighting the germs.
The sulfanilamide is so similar to a substance
needed by the bacteria that they sometimes pick
up the sulfanilamide by mistake. Since the bacteria
cannot use the sulfanilamide, the bacteria do not

Chemicals That Cure

grow, and the body is soon able to get rid of
Sulfanilamide is safe for humans because of the
way our bodies work. Our bodies do not use the
substance that is like sulfanilamide. Only the bacteria are fooled by the similarity.
In time, other chemicals like sulfanilamide were
developed. They were, more powerful than sulfanilamide. They could attack bacteria other than
those attacked by sulfanilamide, and did not cause
the dangerous effects that some people suffered
from using sulfanilamide.
The 20th century has seen two major advances
in man's fight against disease. One is fighting bacteria with chemicals created by man. The other is
fighting bacteria with the products of other living
things, such as penicillin. Many diseases have disappeared and millions of cures have resulted.



During the 1880"s, Takagi Kanehiro, a member of

tie Japanese navy, was in the habit of meeting the
boats returning from long voyages at sea. The. scene
was always the same. First, there was a rush of
men off the ship. Then came a line of men who
walked slowly. Still others could not walk and had
to be carried. After any long voyage, one out c
every three men returned home either sick or
Takagi did not know what caused the men's illness. He knew only that they had beriberi, a disease that was killing millions of people every year
in the Far East. At first, the diseased person had
difficulty moving and walking. Death soon followed.

To protect his men, Takagi began to search for a
way to cure beriberi. He found that if the men
were given another grain along with the usual rice,
fewer of them got beriberi. Although he had no
understanding of why the other grain worked, he
ordered every ship to carry a supply of i t
His discovery led others to study the disease. But
beriberi remained a killer in the Far East It was
only after 50 years and many experiments that a
way was found to fight beriberi. Then, not only
did men of science find the cause and cure for the
disease, but they also began to understand vitamins.
At the beginning of tins century, the Dutch government sent a team of doctors to the Dutch East
Indies learn more about beriberi. For two
years, the group looked with no success for the
cause of beriberi. However, one of the doctors,
Christiaan Eijkman (1858-1930), noticed something important.
Eijkman noticed something special about the
chickens at one of the prisons'on Java, where he was
studying the health of the men. These chickens had
a strange walk that reminded Eijkman of the appearance of people sick with beriberi. Could the
chickens have some kind of beriberi? Why should
the prison, chickens have beriberi while the chickens outside the prison seldom got the diseiase?
Eijkman was curious. He found that the chickens
were fed prison food. The main food of most people
in Asia was rice. Since whole rice grains soon
spoiled, rice was "polished." That is, the outer part,

Advances of Modern Science

as well as an inside covering called the silver-skin^
was removed. Chickens who lived in the country
outside the prison ate seeds and insects as well as
Eijkman believed that the polished rice would
give the answer to the mystery of beriberi. He set
up experiments to test his theory. He selected some
healthy chickens and divided them into three
groups. Group 1 was fed whole-grain rice, with the
outside and silver-skin. Group 2 was fed rice, with
only the outside removed. Group 3 was fed polished rice, with both the outside and silver-skin
removed. After a few days, all of the Group 1 and
Group 2 chickens were still healthy. Many of the
chickens in Group 3, however, had beriberi.
Eijkman now believed the polished rice was a
cause of beriberi. He fed the sick chickens of
Group 3 silver-skins and the outsides from polished rice. Within a few hours, they all were better.
It is easy today to explain exactly what happened. The silver-skin contains vitamin Bi or thiamin. When the outside of the rice is taken off, the
vitamin is removed. A lack of vitamin Bi causes
beriberi. When Eijkman fed the chickens the outsides and silver-skins, he was giving them vitamin
B ly which cured the beriberi.
But Eijkman, working nearly 70 years ago, did
not know this. He believed that there was something in the ripe that caused beriberi. He was so
close, and yet so far from an understanding of vitamins.
Yet his work was very important. For the first

time, beriberi could be caused and cured by man.
Now others could use this method to find the actual
cause and cure of the disease.
A famous experiment was performed by Sir
Frederick Gowland Hopkins at Cambridge University in 1906. He took one group of young animals and fed them certain foods. At the end of 20
days the animals had not gained any weight He
fed another group the same foods, but added just
a few drops of whole milk. The weight of these animals nearly doubled in the same time. This meant
there was some unknown substance in the milk
that was necessary fear growth. Today we know
this substance was vitaminA.
In 1911, Casimir Funk, working in London, repeated Eijkman's experiment He produced beriberi in chickens by feeding than polished rice, and
then cured it by feeding them the outside of the
rice. Funk then took from the outride die substance that could, by itself, cure beriberi. Today
we know this substance to be several B vitamins,
called the vitamin-B complex. Since the substance
he found contained several chemicals, Funk was
not able to find out very much about i t He decided
to call it vitamine. Later, the final e was dropped.
In 1925, B.CJP. Jansen and W. F. Donath, were
able to get the first pure vitamin Bi. The work of
Jansen and Donath showed others the way to discover many other vitamins. First, certain foods
were fed to animals, while they were carefully
watched for disease to develop. Then, a food was
found that could cure the disease. Finally, the sub27

Advances of Modern Science

stance in the food that cured the disease was
separated. By this approach, well over a dozen different vitamins were found. In time, too, the chemical
form of the vitamins was discovered as well as ways
to create man-made vitamins in the laboratory.
Every time, the vitamin proved to be a substance
needed to keep the body in good health. It was
also discovered that only small amounts of the vitamins are needed. If, however, these small amounts
are missing, diseases develop. If treatment with
vitamins is started soon enough, the disease or poor
health can usually be cured. '
At first it was believed that there were only two
vitaminsvitamin A and vitamin B. Later the list
was extended to vitamin K. Vitamins A, the B
group, G, D, and K are the important vitamins
needed by man.
Vitamin A is important for seeing in the dark.
Good sources of vitamin A are the yellow vegetables. Actually, they do not contain the vitamin
itself, but they do contain a substance which the
body can change into vitamin A.
A dozen vitamins in the B group are known today. We call them by their chemical names, rather
than the numbers that were originally used. Thiamin, niacin, and riboflavin are the best known.
Thiamin prevents and cures beriberi. It also
makes people feel like eating. It can be found in
whole grains and milk. If the body gets less than
the tiny amount of niacin that it needs every
day, serious skin disease may result. Good sources
of niacin are meat, eggs, and whole grains. Ribo28

flavin is necessary in very small amounts. It keeps
the skin and eyesfaealtfay. Good sources are milk
and meat.
Vitamin C is still a mystery. We know that certain fruits are good sources of this vitamin.- We
know too that a lack of vitamin C results in a
disease that affects the gums and teeth and smaller
blood vessels. But it is still not known how it
works in the body.
Vitamin D controls the maimer in which bones
grow. A lack of vitamin D affects the development
of the bones, and may result in a disease called
rickets. Good sources of vitamin D are fish oils,
butter, and the yellow part of eggs.
Another vitamin, vitamin K, is important in
stopping blood from flowing from a cut Vitamin
K, which is found in green leafy vegetables, does
not have to be in the foods we eat It is usually
manufactured by bacteria to the body.
In reading about vitamins it is easy to worry
about getting enough of all the different vitamins.
Actually, if you eat the right foods, you will get all
the vitamins your body needs. Hie amounts we
need are so small that an entire day's vitamin requirements can be rolled into a very tiny ball. Yet,
you must have these tiny bits of vitamin to keep
you in good health.



Parents would have you believe that there were

no such things as viruses when they were children.
"Today," they say, "every time you are sick, it is a
virus. When I was young, we never had viruses."
To hear them speak, it is easy to get the idea that
viruses were invented ten or 20 years ago. Viruses,
however, have existed as long as man. They may
have been the first life on earth. But it was only 70
years ago that they were first discovered, and only
within the last 30 years has, real progress been
made in understanding what viruses are and how
viruses work.
Today we know that more than 100 human diseases are caused by some virus. In fact, it is believed that viruses cause more than one-half of all
diseases of modem man.

A Dutch scientist, Martinus Willem Beijerinck
(1851-1931), was the first to study viruses. He
taught at the laboratory at the Delft Polytechnical
Early in his life, he became interested in a disease of the tobacco plant, Beijerinck's interest in
this disease led him to the study of viruses which
he continued studying all of his life.
For 20 years, he led a search for the cause of the
tobacco disease. He tried to learn if bacteria caused
the disease. Test after test failed to show the presence of bacteria. Part of his plan was to discover
the size of the disease-causing substance. He
ground up some diseased leaves, pressed out the
juice, and pressed this juice through a filter. The
filter would not allow anything as large as bacteria
to pass through. He examined the filtered liquid.
It looked clear. Yet, when he applied the liquid to
healthy tobacco plants, they soon developed the tobacco disease. What was smaller than bacteria and
could cause disease? Could it be a liquid poison?
No. No poison could grow as this substance could.
This substance was able to spread and grow on
leaves, and the new material was also able to attack healthy leaves.
After many experiments and much thought, Beijerinck reported, in 1898, that it was a "live fluid"
that caused the tobacco disease. He called it virus.
Since the virus was able to pass through the filter,
it was a filterable virus.
Beijerinck learned that a Russian, Dmitri Ivanowski, claimed that he had done the same experi31

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ments earlier. Beijerinck accepted the claim that
Ivanowski was the first to discover a virus.
Today, however, Beijerinck is considered to have
been the first man to study viruses. Although Ivanowski performed the experiments a few years earlier, Beijerinck was the first to recognize how
important the discovery was. Until this time, it was
believed that the cell was the base of all life. Beijerinck suggested that this substance, although
alive, had no cells. He knew that anything as large
as a cell would have been caught in his filter. A
substance, he said, could be alive and have no cell.
That is why Beijerinck called the substance a "living fluid."
But exactly what is a virus? Is it a chemical fluid
that has life? Or is it a living thing without a cell?
Men of science began to study the mystery.
Wendell Stanley (born 1904) was one of those
who worked to find answers to the mystery of the
virus. As a young man, he was offered one of
the greatest honorsan opportunity to work at the
Rockefeller Institute in New York City. Later he
moved to the Rockefeller Plant Laboratory in
Princeton, New Jersey. There he started his lifelong
study of the virus.
His first thought was to choose a virus for study.
He chose the tobacco virus because it was easy to
get and to grow. It was a strong virus, hard to destroy during experiments; and it was a plant virus,
so that the scientist did not have to use animals.
Thus began three years of very hard work. His ob32

ject was to separate the pure virus by chemical
He planted tobacco plants and watched them
grow. While they were still young, he gave them
tobacco disease. Then the plants were frozen and
cut into tiny bits. He pressed out the tobacco juice
that he knew contained the virus. Then he performed all sorts of chemical operations on the juice.
After each one, he had to test. Did he still have the
virus? Could the juice still harm the leaves, or had
he lost the virus along the way?
After years of observing the tobacco juice as it
became more and more pure, Stanley one day
noticed a new shine on the liquid. He examined it
carefully in the laboratory. What he found was the
pure tobacco virus. The pure substance proved to
be a hundred times stronger than the juice from
the diseased leaves. He had accomplished the task
he had set for himselfto get the tobacco virus out
of the diseased leaves. After years of cutting and
pressing, and dozens of chemical steps, Stanley had
obtained less than a spoonful of a fine, white powder.
Stanley took the position that the powder was a
chemical substance without life. Who had ever
heard of such a thing? How could disease be
caused by a substance that was not alive?
The pure virus could be kept in a bottle, just like
hundreds of other chemicals. Yet, when this particular chemical is placed on a living thing, it comes
to life. As long as it is on a living material, it grows.
The difficult question still remainedwhat is a

Advances of Modern Science

virus? Is it living or chemical? Men of science had
always thought life and not-life to be as different
as black and white. With the discovery of the virus,
they became aware of a gray area that was neither
black nor white.
Until the 1930"s, it was accepted that there was
also a great difference in size between the largest
chemical molecules and the smallest living things.
As new and much finer filters were invented, men
were able to measure virus. The first virus to be
measured was found to be about 100 millimicrons.
(A millimicron is about 1/25,000,000th of an inch.)
The largest known chemical molecule measures
only 22 millimicrons. The smallest living thing
measures almost seven times that size or 150 millimicrons. When viruses were measured, they were
found to range in size from 16 millimicrons to 300
millimicrons. Most were found to be larger than the
largest chemical molecules and smaller than the
smallest living things.
The answer to the puzzlewhat is a virus?
must be that it is both living and not-living. In a
living cell, it is a live substance. In a bottle, it -is
nothing more than a chemical. We now realize that
the virus is actually a bridge between life and
Less than two years after Stanley's work, two
English men, Frederick C. Bawden and Norman
W. Pirie, found something else in the tobacco virus
that Stanley had not seen. They discovered that
although most of the virus was protein, a small

part was nucleic acid, similar to the substance
found in the nucleus of the cell.
The nucleic acid in the virus was studied closely
by Alfred D. Hershey and Martha Chase at the
Carnegie Institution Laboratory at Cold Spring
Harbor in New York. In 1952 they were working
with a type of virus that attacks bacteria rather
than plants. They formed an experiment to learn
how the virus attacks bacteria. Hershey and Chase
were able to follow both the protein and nucleic
acid of the virus in an attack on bacteria.
To understand their findings, imagine the virus
as a glass pipe with a hollow ball at one end. This
is the protein. Inside is the nucleic acid. The opening of the glass pipe makes a hole in the wall of the
bacteria. Then the nucleic acid flows into the cell.
The empty pipe (the protein) stays on the outside.
For about 30 minutes nothing seems to happen.
Then suddenly the bacterium falls apart, and out
of it come some 200 to 300 new viruses, each looking for other bacteria to attack!
Only the nucleic acid enters the bacteria; the
protein remains outside. Yet, the new viruses have
both the nucleic acid center and the protein coatl
Somehow this chemical, the nucleic acid, is able to
direct the bacteria to make both nucleic acid and
How does the nucleic acid in the virus make not
only itself but the protein coat of the virus? Thus,
our story of virus ends with a question. We have
gone from Beijerinck's "livefluid,"through Stanley's

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pure white powder, to Hershey and Chase's study
of the action of virus. These scientists and many
others have answered many of the questions about
virus. But, as so often happens in science, these answers have created new questions. Perhaps the
most exciting question raised by the study of the
virus is one that we shall try to answer in the next
chapterwhat is nucleic acid and how does it


DNA, Master Planner of Life

The discovery of DNA, one of the nucleic acid

"brothers," is like a mystery story. The main difference is that our story, instead of telling of tie
search for a master killer, tells of the search for the
master planner of life.
First, let us meet our hero. DNA was discovered
hiding in the center of a cell by a Swiss, Frederick
Miescher, in 1869. Miescher was very interested in
the cell's center, the part of the cell that was believed to be concerned with growth.
There are three main parts in every human or
animal cell. First, it has a thin outside shell called
a cell membrane. Inside the cell there is a small,
rounded body called a nucleus. Filling the rest of
the cell is a material called cytoplasm.

Advances of Modern Science

Within the nucleus there are threads of material
called chromosomes. The chromosomes are important in the process of making new cells. The chromosomes make copies of themselves and then separate. The cell splits into two cells, each containing
For his experiments, Miescher chose white blood
cells. All attempts to separate the nuclei failed.
Then Miescher thought of a way to separate the
nucleus from the cytoplasm of the white blood cell.
He knew that the cytoplasm was protein and that
a substance found in the stomach attacked protein.
So he mixed some of this substance with his
cells. Within a few hours, a tiny gray powder settled out from a clear yellow liquid The gray powder was the nuclei of the cells. Miescher called the
substance within the nucleus, nuclein. Later its
name was changed to nucleic acid.
Work continued on cells, but the nucleic acid
was almost forgotten for more than 40 years. In
1931, a German, Joachim Hammerling, was working on tiny one-celled plants called Acetabularia.
Each Acetabularia has a body and a cap, and each
type of Acetabularia has its own cap shape. It was
know that if the cap of an Acetabularia was cut off,
a cap of the same shape would grow again.
In Hammerling's experiment, he put the nucleus
from the stem of one type of Acetabularia (we will
call it type 1) into the stem of a different type
(type 2) that had had a cap removed. He watched
to see which cap would grow on type 2. Would the
new nucleus affect the shape of the cap? It didl

D N A , MasterP l a n r i p rof Life

The type-1 cap shape grew on the type-2 Acetabularia. For the first time, it was shown that it was
the nucleus, and the nucleus alone, that determined how the plant would grow.
Still, the nucleic acid was almost forgotten. In
1944, Oswald T. Avery and others at the Rockefeller Institute in New York were studying some
experiments done earlier by Fred Griffith. Griffith
worked with two different bacteria, one that had a
rough coat, and one that had a smooth coat Griffith
used a quantity of rough-coated bacteria that had
been so weakened that they could not cause disease.
Along with these he used a large quantity of dead
smooth-coated bacteria. He gave both to an animal.
Since the rough were too weak, and the smooth
were dead, he expected nothing to happen. But the
animal did get sick. And its blood, when examined,
was filled with living smooth bacterial
The men at the Rockefeller Institute decided
there must be some substance that could change
weak rough bacteria and dead smooth bacteria into
living smooth bacteria. Avery put the two types
through a long series of chemical operations. Finally, the substance was separated. It came from
the dead smooth type. It was able to direct the
roughs to make the smooth type. You can probably
guess the rest "It" was our long forgotten heronucleic acid. Somehow the nucleic acid from the
dead smooth-coated bacteria was able to direct the
processes of the rough-coated bacteria. It was able
to direct the roughs to make smooths that were exactly the same as the dead smooths.

Advances of Modern Science

In March 1955, nucleic acid was studied at Wendell Stanley's virus laboratory at the University of
California. Heinz Fraenkel-Conrat (born 1910)
wanted to take apart the tobacco virus, find the
part that was responsible for growth, and then put
the virus together again.
By this time, it was well known that all viruses
contain a nucleic acid center and a protein shell.
The question to be answered waswhich part of
the virus, the nucleic acid or the protein, was responsible for virus growth? Fraenkel-Conrat was
able to remove the protein from the nucleic acid of
the tobacco virus. Then, he removed the nucleic
acid centers from another amount of tobacco virus.
This operation, which sounds so simple, was very
He rubbed a little of the nucleic acid on the
leaves of one tobacco plant, and the hollow protein
coat on the leaves of another plant If either had
the power of the complete tobacco virus, the leaves
would have spots. The next day Fraenkel-Conrat
looked at the two plantsand found nothing! He
thought for a while that neither the nucleic acid
nor the protein, by itself, was able to spread the
tobacco disease.
Fraenkel-Conrat had, in effect, taken life apart.
Now, this question remained: Could he put the
pieces back together and get a virus? He mixed
nucleic acid from one virus and protein from another. A few minutes later a shine developed on
the substance. It was the same shine that Wendell

DNA, MasterP l a n r i p rof Life

Stanley had seen 20 years earlier when he had discovered the tobacco vims. Was it really the tobacco
virus? Would it attack the tobacco plaffts?
On Friday he put some on the plants. On Saturday, there was nothing on the plants. On Sunday,
the plants still looked fine. But by Monday morning, the spots of tobacco virus disease had appeared. The virus that he had put together in the
laboratory was able to give the tobacco disease.
As Fraenkel-Conrat continued working he
learned more about the nucleic acid. He found that
it was very delicate after being removed from its
protein shell. It was able to attack the tobacco
plants only if it was applied immediately after separation. The reason the nucleic acid had not attacked the leaves in the first part of the experiment
was that he had taken too long to put it on the
What other facts were learned about nucleic
First, it was soon discovered that there are two
nucleic acid "brothers"deoxyribo-nucleic acid and
ribo-nucleic acids. They were known by their initials DNA and RNA.
It was learned that a little string of DNA, hidden in the nucleus of a cell, stores and then sends
from one cell to another all the information necessary to create a new living thing.
We know that to build even the simplest house
requires pages of drawings, details, and measurements. How could these little pieces contain plans

Advances of Modern Science

{or a living being? It did not seem possible, yet
everything indicated that it was DNA that did the
By 1953, scientists had discovered much more
about DNA. They knew that DNA was a huge
molecule. They knew that it contained sugar molecules and phosphate molecules that were joined to
each other. In addition to the sugars and phosphates, there were four bases that we will call A,
G, C, and T. There were thousands of these six different pieces, each with its own shape and size, in
the DNA molecule.
Two scientists working at Cambridge University
in 1953 tried to build a model of a DNA molecule.
An Englishman, Francis H. C. Crick (born 1916),
and a young American, James Dewey Watson
(born 1928), began to build the model with a supply of wire and many pieces of metal. Each piece
of metal represented a piece of the DNA molecule,
either a sugar, a phosphate, or one of the bases.
The wire was used to hold the metal pieces to each
other. Crick and Watson tried many times to fit the
pieces together. They found that the pieces would
not fit where they placed them. Each failure taught
them more about the arrangement of molecules
within DNA. They realized that only one model
would be correct
Finally the pieces began to fit into the right
places. The phosphates and sugar molecules
formed long curving lines. The four bases were
attached to them to form a ladder. The sides of the

DNA, MasterP l a n r i p rof Life

ladder were made of the sugars and phosphates.
The steps of the ladder were the bases, A, G, C,
and T.

This was the truthbut it was not the whole

truth. The bases were of different sizes. A and G
were bigger, longer bases; C Mid T were smaller,
shorter bases. How could there be a ladder with
steps of different sizes? They discovered that two
bases were required for each step. Each step had
to contain one long base and one short base. Even
so, there are four possible arrangements of the
bases that form these steps. And these steps could
follow in any order.
s T




The whole truth now appeared to be that all

molecules had the same six pieces (sugars,
phosphates, and four bases) and all were in the

Advances of Modern Science

same shape (a curving ladder). Only one thing
could changethe order of the steps.
Not only must the DNA carry the directions for
making new cells, but it must be able to make'
copies of itself. The model that Crick and Watson *
built gave an idea of how the DNA does this. The
process begins with the ladder unwinding at one
end. As it unwinds, single bases, A, G, C, and T,
are left free. But within the cell fluid, other bases
are freely floating. As an example when the broken
step with only a T comes near a floating A, the A
becomes attached and completes that step. Thus,
as the latter unwinds, new bases, with sugar and
phosphate attached, complete the ladder. And by
the time it is completely unwound, two new lad-,
ders have been informed.

This explained how DNA was able to make copies of itself. But how was DNA able to direct the
manufacture of proteins? Protein manufacture was
done outside the nucleus. Yet, DNA was found only
in the nucleus.
Do you recall our mention that there are two
nucleic acidsDNA and RNA?

DNA, Master Planripr of Life

While the DNA was found only in the nucleus,
the RNA appeared in both the nucleus and the
cytoplasm, the substance of the cell outside the
nucleus. Experiments at the University of California showed that UNA somehow moved from the
nucleus out to the cytoplasm.
Then the process became clear. The DNA is the
master planner. It contains the directions for the
making of living material. Within the nucleus, in a
way as yet unknown, the DNA passes its protein
manufacturing instructions to the RNA. The RNA
then goes out into the cytoplasm to help in the
manufacture of die proteins. In some cells, or viruses such as the tobacco virus, it was RNA iot
DNA that contained the master plan.
In 1955, Severe Ochoa (born 1905) of New York
University was able to make some RNA in the
laboratory. This was the first time RNA had been
created outside a living cell. One year later, his
former pupil, Arthur Kornberg (born 1918), made
some DNA while at Washington University in S t
In August 1961, two scientists at the National
Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, were
able to make a simple RNA molecule. They put it
to work making protein, and found that it produced one part of the protein.
Our mystery story ends here. The nucleic acid
brothers, DNA and RNA, are the master planners
of life. Within their tiny, curving ladders is contained the secret of life.

Advances of Modern Science

It is the DNA and RNA that determine thatj
baby chickens look like chickens, and baby rabbits;
like rabbits. It is the DNA and RNA that determine;
the color of the eyes and hair, and the weight and
height of every baby born.
New evidence is bringing us ever closer to an
understanding of the molecules that control life.


Discovery of the Unconscious

Science, during the last 500 years, has struck man

three cruel blows. In the 16th century, Nicolaus
Copernicus proved that the Earth is not the center
of the world, but merely a tiny spot in tile vast
heavens. In the 19th century, Charles Darwin provided evidence that man had developed from the
lower animals. At the beginning of this century,
Sigmund Freud struck the cruelest blow of all. He
showed that man is largely directed by a part of his
mind over which he has no control, that he is not
completely the master of what he is, what he thinks,
or what he says and does.
As a student at the university of Vienna, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) found it hard to decide
what to study. Physiology, the study of how the

Advances of Modern Science

parts of animals and plants work, gave Freud his;
greatest pleasure. He soon began to study the;
nervous systems of men and animals. As an aid in!
this work, he studied medicine and became a doc- '
tor, even though he did not intend to work as a;
After his marriage in 1886, and as his family began to grow, he realized that he would have to
open an office as a doctor to support his wife and
his six children. Since his work had been on the
nervous system, it is not surprising that Freud
treated diseases of the nervous system.
Patients came to his office with nervous conditions, such as loss of sight, hearing, or speech, and
unreal fears. Some of them worried all the time.
Some could not move parts of their bodies. Yet,
when Doctor Freud examined them, they seemed
to have nothing wrong with their nervous systems.
People who have nervous conditions such as these
are called neurotics; such a condition is called a
Freud found that nothing could be done to help
these people. Should he do what the other doctors
were doing, and suggest staying in bed in a dark
room? Should he suggest exercise? Hot baths? Ice
water baths? Since nothing seemed to help, everything was suggested. Freud tried them all, but to
no effect.
In the 1880's Doctor Josef Breuer, one of Freud's
teachers, treated a neurotic patient in a completely
new wayand was able to cure the neurosis. The
patient was a German girl named Anna O. She

Discovery of the Unconscious

could not move her right arm, and she could not
remember how to speak German. She could speak
only English.
Doctor Breuer put Anna into a kind of sleep that
allowed her to listen and talk and follow suggestions. While Anna was asleep, Doctor Breuer helped
her remember back to the moment when she was
first unable to move her arm and when she first
forgot how to speak German.
Doctor Breuer learned that one day, while nursing her dying father, Anna had gone to sleep, with
her right arm over her chair. When she awakened
her arm had no feeling, and from then on she was
unable to move it. Some days later, she again fell
asleep at her father's bedside. This time she
dreamed that an animal was coming out of the
wall to attack her father. She tried to call out, but
could not. All she could say was an English poem
that she had learned as a child. After that, she
could speak only English.
Here, then, was the root of the neurosis. The illness and death of Anna's father had been a very
difficult experience for her.
Doctor Breuer was able to cure Anna by helping
her remember those difficult moments. She was
then able to look at them and accept them. As she
did this, she found that she was able to move her
arm and speak German.
Freud was the first to realize how important
Anna's cure was. He used the case as a model for
his treatment of neurotic patients. As time passed,
Freud made changes and improvements on the ap49

Advances of Modern Science

proach of Breuer. The result was a new sciencjj
called psychoanalysis.
Psychoanalysis is both a new understanding oj
how the human mind works and a new way of
treating illnesses of the mind. One of the important
ideas of psychoanalysis is that we do not know most
of our thoughts and feelings and cannot control
them. Freud compared the human mind to a bloclej
of ice floating in the ocean. Just a small part of thi
ice shows above the surface of the water, while most;
of the ice is beneath the surface. Freud said that
the mind was somewhat like the ice. We know only?
a small part of our thoughts and feelings. He called;
this part of the mind the conscious. The large part
of our thoughts and feelings that we do not know*
and cannot control he called the unconscious.
As you read this page you can prove to yourself ]
that the unconscious part of your mind is at work.
What are you doing with your hands? Are you bit-:
ing your nails? Are you playing with a pen or
pencil? Unless you consciously tell yourself to do
these things, it is undoubtedly the unconscious part
of your mind that is responsible for these actions.
Another idea of psychoanalysis is that all neuroses come from the unconscious part of the mind.;
This idea led to the belief that, if unconscious;
thoughts are made conscious, usually die neuroses
will disappear. In the case of Anna O., you will remember that she was cured by having the unconscious memories connected with her father's death
brought to her consciousness.
If neuroses were to be treated by bringing

Discovery of the Unconscious

thoughts out from the unconscious, then a way had
to be found to reach into the unconscious. Freud
found one approach to reaching the unconscious
that became an important part of psychoanalysis
an approach he called free association. Patients
were asked to let their thoughts wander and say
whatever came into their minds. He wanted to hear
all memories, dreams, and wishes of his patients.
As they spoke, he found they remembered painful
memories from the unconsciousmemories that
they had long kept hidden.
All of us have memories that we keep hidden in
our unconscious. Here is a simple experiment that
will give you some idea of how deeply memories
are buried. Write a list of ten words, including
words such as mother, school, church, and kissing.
Ask a friend to tell you the first word that comes
into his mind after you read each word.
You will find that some answers take much longer
to tell than others. Freud believed that the answers
people could not give quickly were in some way
connected with painful or unpleasant memories.
You will also notice that some answers seem to have
no relation to the word you read. These, too, may
be somehow connected with unpleasant memories.
You will not learn too much about a person by using
free association. In the hands of a trained person,
however, it becomes a valuable tool.
Have you ever forgotten a telephone number that
you knew perfectly well? Have you ever met a
friend on the street and called him by the wrong

Advances of Modern Science

Freud explained these errors as struggles between the conscious and unconscious. You had a
reason, he would have said, for not remembering
the telephone number that you consciously tried to
remember. The reason might be that you do not like
the person you were going to call or you might
have had a recent unpleasant telephone call.
Sometimes it is very easy to see the unconscious
thought For example, a young girl asked her
mother, "Did you have parties like this when you
were alive?" Imagine what the girl thought of her
Just as man has always made errors, he has always dreamed. But Freud, in 1900, was the first to
make a careful study of dreams. This gave us still
another look into the unconscious mind.
Dreams are a form of mental activity that goes on
when a person is asleep. Some dreams may be unreal and seem to make little sense, and others may
be so real and clear that we are not sure that we
are dreaming. Dreams are a stage on which the unconscious can act out its needs, fears, desires, and
hopes while the conscious mind sleeps.
Mary, a young lady, had this dream: She was
driving the old family car, with her father as a passenger. She came to a high hill. It was too high for
her. She asked her father to drive up the hilL
One way to understand Mary's dream is as a wish
to be adult and independent. The hill is a problem
she cannot answer for herself. She needs to be a
child again and ask her father for help. She wants

Discovery of the Unconscious

to be independent at the same time that she wants
to depend on her parents.
After studying hundreds of dreams, Freud found
that dreams have a language of their own. The language of dreams deals with symbols, where one
thing really means something else. In Mary's dream,
the hill was not really a hill, but a big problem.
Driving a car was a symbol for being adult and free.
These symbols sometimes have meaning for just one
person. But Freud found that the same symbols
appear again and again in the dreams of different
people, at different times and in different places.
House is one such symbol that appears in the
dreams of many people. He found that house is
often the symbol for the body. Other symbols, he
found, were kings and queens for one's parents;
water for birth; and a long trip for death. Sometimes symbols mean something quite different from
what you might expect. Dreams of being in a crowd,
for example, often mean that you feel alone; dreams
of clothing or a uniform often mean that you feel
These symbols can be a valuable tool in understanding dreams. To understand the human mind,
a doctor does not simply connect dream symbols
with their meanings in a book. To the trained doctor, dream symbols are another tool of science to
help people understand and accept themselves.
The conscious and unconscious parts of our mind
form what we are, how we think, how we act, what
we want, what we fearour personality. Freud
found that one's personality works in three ways.

Advances of Modern Science

He called these three: id, the ego, and the superego.
They are different ways that the mind, or personality, works. They are not different parts of the brain.
Here, in simple terms, is how the personality is
put together. The id is the selfish child of the unconscious. It is not interested in anyone or anything
except gathering pleasure when it wants it. Good
and bad, right and wrong, mean nothing to the id;
whatever it wants, it takes. The id, or "I want," is
the source of all energy of the personality.
If the id cannot get an object in reality, then it
imagines that it gets it. When the id wants some
food, it either eats or imagines it is eatingand is
satisfied either way. The id cannot tell the difference between real food and imaginary food.
It is the job of the ego to tell the difference between real and imaginaryand to help the id find
it with the least trouble. The ego is the connection
between the needs of the id and the real world
which can satisfy these needs. The ego has to take
care of the entire person, not just satisfy the id.
Sometimes the ego gives the id what it wants.
Sometimes the ego makes the id wait to get what
it wants.
The third part of the personality is the superego.
The superego is shaped by the outside world, especially by a child's parents. Through rewards
and punishments, the parents pass on to the child
their beliefs in what is right and wrong.
The superego also wants to have its own way.
To accomplish this, it either rewards or punishes
the ego. The rewards are feelings of pride; the

Discovery of the Unconscious

punishments are guilty feelings. Sometimes the
feelings are so strong that you reward yourself with
a new dress or suit, or punish yourself with an illness. This can even happen without your knowing
it. Have you ever had a guilty feeling although you
do not recall doing anything wrong? This is probably your superego punishing you, not for something you did, but for something you thought of
The id, ego, and superego, are all parts of our
personality. The id, "I want," the ego, "I can," and
the superego, "I must" or "I must not," sometimes
get along very well together, and sometimes they
do not.
Within our personality, there are struggles between the id, the ego, and the superego. If the ego
gives the id what it wants, the superego may be
angry. If the ego says no to the id and obeys the
superego, the id is not satisfied. How can the ego
defend itself against the damaging effects of struggles such as these?
The ego uses many tricks to defend itself against
attack by the rest of the personality, as well as by
the outside world. These tricks of the ego are called
defense mechanisms. Although there are many different kinds of defense mechanisms, each of us uses
just a few, over and over again,
A favorite defense mechanism is displacement.
When you have a fight with a friend and later go
home and scream at your mother, that is an example of displacement. The feelings that were directed at one object are displaced, and directed

Advances of Modern Science

at a safer object. You are afraid to scream at your
friend, who may very well scream at you. You
scream instead at your mother, since you can be
sure of her love.
Perhaps the most important defense mechanism
is the one that protects by keeping us from realizing that anything unpleasant happened. The unconscious can "forget" bad experiences and memories,
so that you are not conscious of them. This defense
mechanism is called repression.
Freud gives an example of repression in his
own case. Someone was telling him about a summer resort with three hotels. Freud, who had been
at this resort many times, insisted that there were
only two hotels there. When told the name of the
third hotel, Freud realized that it had been repressed from his conscious memory because it reminded him of the name of a doctor whom he
A very popular defense mechanism, similar to
repression, is denial. In repression, the unconscious
part of the mind pushes the unacceptable thought
or feeling out of your conscious. In denial, you
consciously refuse to accept it; you know the truth,
but won't admit it Lies that people tell to protect
themselves in difficult situations, when they know
that they are lying, are examples of denial.
Have you ever started a fight with someone,
and explained it by saying, T i e hates me and so
it is not my fault"? This rather common situation
may be a very clear example of the use of the defense mechanism called projection. Projection

Discovery of the Unconscious

brings relief to the ego by changing the subject of
a feeling. Projection changes "I hate him" to "He
hates me." Projection puts thoughts and feelings
you find hard to accept onto someone or something
else. The purpose of projection is to take difficult
situations that are within the personality, and put
them outside, where the ego can more easily handle
Sometimes the ego is fighting so hard against
some sort of attack that it completely turns itself
around in a defense mechanism that is called reaction formation. Do you know people who are too
neat and clean? Others who are too kind? A person may like to be dirty but feel very guilty about
it. Reaction formation can make him overly neat
and clean. Someone else feels angry at the world.
He feels guilty and the reaction formation makes
him overly kind.
Every one of us uses defense mechanisms in
handling problems. A baby begins forming defense
mechanisms right after birth. The first time he has
to wait even a minute for his milk, he begins to
develop ways to understand and ease his pain.
Part of Freud's theory of psychoanalysis is that
these early experiences are very important in forming the personality that is with a person for life.
The infant is almost all id. If a baby could speak,
the only words he would use would be, "I want, I
ant, I want." As he grows, his ego develops and
be finds the best ways to get the things that he
Wants. The superego develops last, as his parents

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give him a sense of what is right and what is
Freud felt that every adult neurosis could be
traced back to either a childhood neurosis or some
bad experience that left a mark on the personality.
He believed that the child's feelings and mental
activity were very important.
Sigmund Freud made one of the great advances
of modern science. The theories that shocked the
world 60 years ago are still held by many in the
field of psychoanalysis today. Others have kept
some of Freud's ideas, while developing and changing ideas they did not accept. But Freud's ideas
still form the foundation from which all later thinking in psychoanalysis developed.


The Theory of Relativity

There is a joke about relativity that was very

popular some years ago. It told of a man named
Smith who wrote a book explaining relativity.
Someone wrote about the book: "Smith is greater
than Albert Einstein. When Einstein first explained
the theory of relativity, only twelve men in the
whole world understood him. When Smith explains
it, no one understands himl"
We, of course do not want to make the same mistake as Smith. Today more and more people want
to understand relativity. In the New York Public
Library alone there are more than 500 books on
relativity! Einstein's first explanation of relativity
More than a half-century ago shocked the world.
Since that time relativity has become accepted.

Advances of Modern Science

The theory of relativity came indirectly from a
question that scientists had thought about for many
centurieshow does light get from one place to another? By the 19th century, most men agreed that
light is a wave movement, like waves in the sea or
sound waves. Sea waves are moving water, though,
and sound waves need air or some other substance
which can be moved. What about light? Sometimes
light travels through air or through clear material
like glass or water. But what about the light that
comes to us from the stars? Most of space is empty,
with no air at all. Light, then, must be able to pass
through an empty space.
Scientists were very unhappy about the idea that
light waves move without moving something. So
they invented this "something," and called it ether.
Ether was said to be everywhere, filling all the
empty spaces and going through all matter. Ether
was impossible to see or feel, since it passed right
through our bodies.
In 1881 two Americans, Albert Michelson (18521931) and Edward Morley (1838-1923), decided
to discover whether there really was an ether.
Knowing that our earth is moving through space,
they expected that this movement would create ail
"ether wind."
In their experiments, Michelson and Morley sent
rays of light the exact same distance in all directions. They expected that if there was an ethe*
wind some rays of light would be pushed faster by
the wind, and others held back. They measure^
how long it took the light to travel this same disj

The Theory of Relativity

tance with, against, and across the ether wind. The
result? The light took the exact same length of
time, though it traveled in different directions. If
there was an ether wind, it did not affect the speed
of light.
Several men tried to explain why Michelson and
Morley found no ether wind. One idea, stated in
1893 by George FitzGerald (1851-1901), is of interest to us. He explained the results of the Michelson-Morley experiments by saying that the ray of
light which they used got shorter as it pushed
through the ether wind. He compared it to a ship
that gets a little shorter as it goes through the water
because of the water pressing on its front end.
FitzGerald was having a difficult time getting
anyone to accept his idea. For one thing, it did not
seem possible to prove. FitzGerald said that any
object that is moving gets shorter in the direction it
is moving, and the greater the speed, the shorter it
becomes. The only test of this statement would be
to hold a measuring tool next to the moving object.
But since the measuring tool would also be moving,
it too would get shorter!
Two years later, in 1895, Hendrik A. Lorentz
(1853-1928), a Dutchman developed a theory of
how to measure this change in length. As an example, a car speeding along at 50 miles per hour is reduced to its first length times 0.9999999999999. This
tells us that the car is .000000000002 inches shorterl
This change in length cannot, of course, be noticed.
Only at speeds approaching that of light is there
noticeable change in length. If you imagine an ob61

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ject moving 93,000 miles a second, which is onehalf the speed of light, the object becomes 86
per cent of its first length.
Scientists in all parts of the world studied the
Michelson-Morley experiments and the FitzGeraldLorentz theory. One of the men puzzling about this
was Albert Einstein (1879-1955).
Einstein realized how important were the
Michelson-Morley and FitzGerald-Lorentz theories.
Using their work as a foundation, he gave 20th
century science a new understanding of the physical worldthe theory of relativity. It was published
in two parts: The "Special Theory of Relativity" in
1905, and the "General Theory of Relativity" in
The special theory of relativity is based on a few
beliefs stated by Einstein. The first, the one that
gave the theory its name, is the belief that all motion is relative. For instance, to say that an automobile is traveling at 50 miles an hour does not say
very much. To make more sense you must say that
it is moving 50 miles an hour relative to the earth.
But this still does not give the true speed of the car.
We know that the earth is moving around the sun.
The sun, too, is in movement. Therefore, it is really
impossible to determine the true speed of the car,
since there is nothing in the universe that is not
When Einstein applied to the ether his idea thai
all motion is relative, he realized that it is not posj
sible to find the ether. If it were possible to find the
ether, by ether wind or in some other way, thai

The Theory of Relativity

would mean that the ether is fixed and unmoving.
Since Einstein believed that all motion is relative,
that meant that nothing in the universe could be
fixed and unmoving. If there were a fixed ether,
this would be the only part of the universe not in
motion, and not relative to anything else. Einstein
could not accept this idea. Therefore, although Einstein does not say there is no ether, he does say that
it is impossible to find the ether.
The other statement of the special theory comes
from an idea that has been accepted for hundreds
of years. The statement applies when a group of
objects or people (a system) is in uniform motion.
Uniform motion means that the system is either
moving at a constant speed (not getting faster or
slower or not moving at all. The second statement
of the special theory is that there are no experiments that you can do in a system in uniform motion or at rest that will tell you whether the system
is moving or not.
The next time you are in a car or train moving in
a straight line at a steady speed, or in uniform motion, try this experiment. Take a penny in your
right hand, and hold it directly over your left
hand. Drop the penny. You might expect that in the
time it takes the penny to fall, the car has moved
you forward, and the penny would not fall on your
left hand. Yet you will notice that the penny falls
straight into your hand. As long as the car, and you
in it, are moving at a uniform speed, the penny falls
just as it would if you were standing still. If there
Were no windows in the car, it would not be pos63

Advances of Modern Science

sible to perform an experiment to tell you whether
you are standing still or moving at a uniform rate.
Any experiments that you try in a uniformly moving
system will give the same results as if you did them
in a laboratory built on the ground.
Einstein took this old law about uniformly moving systems, and added to it. He said that the speed
of light in a space that has had all the air removed,
as seen by an observer, is always the same. This became the foundation of relativity. Einstein wrote
that regardless of how the source of light is moving
or how the receiver of the light is moving, the
speed of light remains exacdy the same to an observer186,000 miles a second.
The theory that the speed of light always is the
same to an observer seems to go against common
sense. For instance, if you are on a train traveling
50 miles an hour, and you walk forward in the train
at 5 miles an hour, your speed in relation to the
ground is 5 less than 50, or 45 miles an hour.
In his first paper on relativity, Einstein describes
a situation where you cannot add or take away
speeds. A railroad signal light is shining along the
track, traveling at the speed of light, 186,000 miles
a second. When a train approaches the light, an observer on the train would expect to find the speed
of light from the signal to be 186,000 miles a second
added to the speed of the train. After the train
passes the signal, the speed of its light for the observer should be 186,000 miles a second, less the
speed of the train. Yet, Einstein said that the speed
of light to an observer always stays the same.

The Theory of Relativity

To make sense out of this we have to say that if
the speed of light always stays the same then it
must be that something else changes. Einstein believed that time is affected by speed. He stated
that time slows in a system in motion, and f he
greater the speed, the slower the movement of
time. For example, imagine that a man in a plane
makes his watch agree with a clock on the ground
at twelve o'clock. Then he goes on a trip in space,
traveling for the entire time at exactly 93,000 miles
a second. When he lands, the clock on land says
1:00 o'clock, but his watch says 12:54.
This story shows that the flow of time is slower
for systems in motion. When the plane traveled at
93,000 miles a second, one-half the speed of light,
time moved only 9/10 as fast as time does in a system at rest. That is why an hour passed On earth,
but only 54 minutes, which is 9/10 of an hour, on
the plane.
The theory also showed that the mass of an object increases with its speed. (Mass is very much
the same as weight.) As an example, if a 150-pound
man were to run at a speed of 161,000 miles a second, his mass, or weight, would be 300 poundsl
Knowing that length, time, and mass are
changed by speed, we now come to one of the most
interesting and important ideas that came from the
special theory. Mass increases with speed, and as
an object moves faster and faster, its mass gets
greater and greater. For example, if a little ball
were traveling at 99.9999999999999 per cent of the
speed of light, it would have a mass of thousands of

Advances of Modern Science

pounds. If an object traveled at the speed of light,
it would have an endless mass. The same sort of
thing happens to length moving at the speed of
light. It becomes an imaginary number, and therefore not possible. Although Einstein introduced us
to a strange, new world, even he could not accept
endless mass and imaginary length. He therefore
concluded that no object can travel faster than the
speed of light
The special theory of relativity was not the kind
of theory that could be easily tested in the laboratories.
The first tests of the theory came from studies of
atoms. Parts of atoms move at speeds approaching
the speed of light. In studying electrons, scientists
found that the electrons were being sent out of
some substances at different speeds and with different masses. Why? They expected all electrons to
be alike, and they could not understand the many
different weights.
They found that if the electrons all had the same
mass when at rest, the very fast, different speeds at
which they traveled explained the different masses.
Thus, the Special Theory of Relativity seems to
As a result of his work on the special theory, Einstein arrived at the most famous statement in all
science, E = MC 2 , where E is energy, M is mass,
and C is the speed of light. Einstein reasoned in this
manner. The mass of an object increases with motion. Motion is a form of energy. If the increased

The Theory of Relativity

mass comes from the increased energy, that means
that energy really has massl
The special theory showed that matter and energy are not the completely different things that
man had believed for so long. In fact, one can be
changed to the other.
In 1916, Einstein published the "General Theory
of Relativity," which applies to systems where one
system is getting faster or getting slower than the
To help us understand this theory, we will go on
a series of imaginary elevator rides.
First, we will put the elevator on the top floor of
a building, cut the ropes holding it up, and let it
freely fall down. Everyone inside the car feels no
weight, because the car is dropping from under his
feet and he does not weigh on the floor at all. If
someone drops a book, it seems to float in the air,
because the elevator and its passengers are falling
just as fast as the book. If someone jumps up, he
slowly floats toward the ceiling. The exact same
things would happen in the elevator if it were in
outer space, away from the pull of any gravity.
Now, we will put our imaginary elevator out in
space where there is no gravity, and have it pulled
up by a rope attached to the top. This time everyone feels the right weight, the book falls down
when you drop it, and when you jump it is the same
as jumping on the ground. The reason all this happens beyond gravity is that the elevator is being
Pulled up against your feet, the elevator comes up
to meet the book, and the pull makes the jump

Advances of Modern Science

seem perfectly normal. The normal pull of gravity
would give the same results if the elevator were
still in a building on earth.
Finally, we will put the elevator in the building,
and have it going up faster and faster. Since the elevator is being pulled up against you, you feel
much heavier than usual. Because of the feeling of
great weight, it is difficult to jump. The same thing
would happen in an elevator standing still on a
planet with a greater mass than earth, since the
greater the mass, the greater the pull of gravity.
What do these stories tell you? They told Einstein that it is not possible to tell the difference between gravity and the force of changing motion.
This idea is the heart of the general theory of relativity.
Einstein was the first to show that the general
theory was true. It was known that Mercury's path
around the sun changed a little every century. Part
of the change was due to the pull of gravity from
the other planets. But part could not be explained.
Einstein worked out Mercury's path, using the
theories of relativity. He knew that in traveling in
its path, Mercury's speed varied. This would cause
its mass to vary, which would cause the path to
change. His figures showed that Mercury's path
should move exactly the amount that it did. This
not only explained Mercury's changing path, which
had long puzzled men, but showed that the general
theory of relativity was true.
We will return to our imaginary elevator and go

The Theory of Relativity

for another ride. This time we will be out in space,
beyond the pull of gravity. We will have a rope attached to the top, pulling the car upward.
Now imagine that a ray of light comes through a
hole in the front of the elevator. It enters higher
than where it hits the back wall, because in the
time it took to cross the car, the elevator moved up.
All those in the car are surprised at what they
seea ray of light bending! It makes no difference
now whether they are on Earth or in space. There
can be no doubt. They saw a ray of light bend as it
passed through the elevator. Light can be bent by
gravity or by the force of changing motion.
Einstein went further with this idea. He agreed
that light could be bent by gravity or by changing
motion. But he was not satisfied with the idea of
gravity as a force that reached out, held light, and
bent it. He suggested a new way to think of gravity.
He said that gravity actually changes the shape of
space, putting hills and valleys in space. Think of
space as a large, thin sheet of rubber. Think of the
sun as a ball. When you put the ball on the rubber
sheet, it pulls the rubber down. If you were to roll a
smaller ball along the sheet, it would roll toward
the valley caused by the larger ball. In the same
way, as the light travels near the sun, the path of
the light follows space shaped by the sun's gravity.
How could it be shown that light is bent when it
passes through space that has been bent by gravity? Einstein described a possible way. First, take a
picture of a star so that its position is known in re69

Advances of Modern Science

lation to other stars. Then, when the Earth hajjj
moved so that the star can be seen on the edge <n
the sun, the powerful gravity of the sun woulq
change space so that the light from the star woul|
appear to be in a different place than in the firsijj
Since the light of the sun is so bright, the onlj|
time it is possible to see a star on the edge of tha
sun is when the moon comes between the Earth!
and the sun. The first chance to test this part of the
general theory was on May 29, 1919. The sun was;
between the Earth and stars called the Hyades.
Einstein said that the Hyades would appear to;
be a certain distance away from where they usually]
were. He was so sure of the theory that so far as he,
was concerned there was nothing more to be done.;
However, a British society sent groups of men to!
Brazil and to West Africa. Although it was a cloudy
day, both groups did get good pictures. The difference in the pictures was very close to what Ein-i
stein had said it would be.
There is a story that when he was shown the pic-]
tures, he kept saying "wonderful, wonderful,;
wonderful." When someone said that it was trulywonderful that his theory had been shown to bej
true, Einstein replied that it was not his theory thai
was wonderful. He was admiring the quality of the?
Albert Einstein changed thinking in the world o |
science and indeed, changed all of mans beliefs!
Yet he once explained relativity in this simple way|

The Theory of Relativity

"When a man sits with a pretty girl for an horn: it
seems to him a minute. But let him sit on a hot
stove for only a minute, and it is longer than an
hour. That is relativity!"



Probably no one learns about atoms without experiencing a great feeling of wonder. It is hard to
imagine that all things, living and dead, big and
small, are made of atoms too small to be seen. And
the thought that there is a busy little world within
each atom is even more wonderful to consider.
There are three leading kinds of "citizens" in the
world within the atom. They are the protons, the
neutrons and the electrons. The number of these
particles within the atom determines the weight
and chemical character of the atom. Two of the
particles, the protons and the neutrons, are found
only in the nucleus, the very tiny, very heavy center of the atom. They both have about the same
weight. To determine the relative weight of dif-j

ferent atoms, which are much too light to be actually weighed, the protons and neutrons are
considered one atomic weight each. Thus an atom
with eight protons and eight neutrons in its nucleus
has an atomic weight of sixteen.
The difference between the protons and the neutrons is the electric charge on each. The proton has
a positive electric charge. This means that it is
pulled by a negative charge and pushed away by
another positive charge. The neutron has no electric charge at all.
Although all the weight of the atom is found
within the nucleus, the nucleus is only a very small
part of the atom. Almost all of the atom is empty
space. Traveling around the nucleus, though, at
very great distances from it, are the electrons.
Since they are too small to be seen, and since they
are traveling so fast, the electrons are thought of as
a shell or cloud surrounding the nucleus. They
weigh about 1/20,000 as much as the protons or
neutrons. They are so light that they are not even
considered in determining an atom's weight. But
the electron has a negative charge equal to the positive charge of the proton. The number of electrons
is the same as the number of protons. In this way
the positive charge of the protons is balanced by
the negative charge of the electrons.
Even more surprising than the idea of atoms,
and the activity within the atoms, is the story of
how science has discovered the secrets of the atom.
Working with particles too small to be seen,

Advances of Modern Science

touched, or weighed, men have been able to give us
a clear model of the atom.
The tool that gave science its first glimpse within
the atom was the Crookes tube, developed by Sir
William Crookes. The Crookes tube came in many
shapes. It was always made of glass, and had metal
plates at each end of the tube. It also had a thin
neck which was connected to a pump, so that thei
air could be pumped out of the tube. One plate was
positive (the anode) and the other was negative
(the cathode). As more and more air was pumped
out of the tube, a glow of different colors and
shapes filled the tube. Since the glow seemed to be
coming from the cathode, it was called a cathodes
It was this cathode ray that interested Joseph
John Thomson (1856-1940) of the Cavendish LabJ
oratory at Cambridge University in England in tha
final years of the 19th century. He wanted to learfl|
whatever he could about the cathode ray. A series!
of five experiments with the Crookes tube gavel
Thomson a new understanding of the atom that]
was to surprise the world of science.
In the first experiment, Thomson coated the an]
ode in the Crookes tube with a chemical that ha
knew would glow when struck by cathode rays!
Then he put a metal cross in the path of the cathl
ode rays. He could see a clear shadow of the crosi
on the anode. In this way, Thomson learned thai
cathode rays travel in straight lines.
Second, Thomson put a delicately balance^
wheel in the path of the cathode rays. The cathodj


rays were able to start the wheel turning. From
this, Thomson learned that the cathode rays are
really made of particles of matter, rather than just
beams of light.
In the third experiment, Thomson learned that
the ray had a negative electric charge. In the
fourth experiment, Thomson measured the amount
of electricity necessary to bend the stream of particles. In this way he was able to discover the
weight of the particles. He found that the cathode
particles weighed about 1/20,000 as much as a hydrogen atom, the lightest known element.
Finally, Thomson used different cathodes and
put different gases in the tube. He found the particles always acted the same. He guessed, therefore,
that they were part of all matter, and were always
the same.
He studied these five facts. On April 30, 1897,
Thomson felt that he had an explanation of cathode
particles. "Cathode rays," he said, "are particles of
negative electricity." He also said that these particles are all of the same mass and carry the same
negative charge and are a part of all atoms.
For nearly 100 years it had been accepted that
the atom was the smallest piece of matter, that
there was nothing inside the atom, and that it
could not be divided. Now Thomson had found
particles that could be found within every atom.
Our story of the atom now takes us to New Zealand. Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937) was also interested in the electron. He wanted to see if he
could find anything else within the atom. Hans

Advances of Modern Science

Geiger (1882-1945), who invented the Geiger
counter, worked with him in this search.
Rutherford and Geiger decided that the best way
to learn what was within the atom was to blow it
apart. They decided to shoot at the atom with a
particle having a strong positive charge. This was
called an alpha particle.
For the first experiment, Rutherford and Geiger
hung a screen in front of the "gun" that fired alpha
particles. This would show a flash of light whenever
struck by an alpha particle. In this way, they were
able to count the alpha particles that hit the screen.
Then, between the "gun" and the screen, they hung
a very thin sheet of gold, less than 1/1,000,000 of
an inch thick. Although this is very thin, atoms are
so small that the gold sheet still had a thickness of
more than 2,000 atoms.
Rutherford and Geiger still got flashes of light on
the screen. In some way the alpha particles were
able to get through!
The two men moved the screen to the sides and
even in front of the gold sheet. To their surprise
they found light flashes each time. Not only were
alpha particles getting through, but some were
scattered off to all sidesas well as straight back at
the "gun."
Finally, in 1911, Rutherford found the answer to;
what had happened. The atom consists of a very
small, heavy, center, called the nucleus. Very far:
out from the nucleus are the rapidly moving elec-j
trons, each one traveling around the nucleus. Thej
electrons move at different speeds. The ones far-fl

thest out travel at 600 miles per second, while those
near the nucleus travel at 90,000 miles per second
one half the speed of light
If the atom were largely an empty shell, that
would explain how the alpha particles were able to
get through the gold sheet If, within the shell,
there were a small though heavy nucleus with a
positive charge, this would force some of the positive alpha particles to go to one side. Those few that
actually hit the nucleus of the gold atoms would be
sent back.
Although Rutherford now had a picture of what
the atom looked like, many questions remained to
be answered. What was the nucleus made of?
What balanced the negative electric charge of the
electrons? Rutherford performed another similar
experiment that helped answer these questions.
This time Rutherford noticed that there were
hydrogen atoms with a positive charge left (The
hydrogen atom normally contains a single proton
and no neutrons in the nucleus, and one electron. If
the electron is removed, all that is left of the hydrogen atom is the proton, with its positive electric
charge.) This led Rutherford to one of his most important ideas. The atoms of every element he said,
contain one or more of these positively charged hydrogen atoms. Rutherford was to call these positively charged hydrogen atoms protons, a word
which comes from another word meaning first
Now Rutherford was able to suggest a more complete picture of the atom. In the center was the
nucleus made up of the heavy, positively charged

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protons. Very far out from this nucleus were the
much lighter, negatively charged electrons. Thej
were traveling around the nucleus.
Rutherford's model explained many things about
the atom. However, one of his students, Niels Bohi
(1885-1962), saw a problem. The electrons that
travel around the nucleus have negative electric
charges. He knew that a body with an electric
charge always sends out waves of energy. Since
sending out the waves means losing energy, as soon
as the energy of the electron is gone, it should fall
into the nucleus. Bohr figured that this should happen within 1/100,000,000th of a second. How then
could atoms exist?
Bohr worked out an explanation which he based
on a theory first stated by Max Planck in 1900.
Briefly, it says that energy is made of separate
packages called quanta. It is like the atomic theory,
which says that matter is made of separate things
called atoms. Another way of saying it is that energy-Iight or heat energy, for instancedoes not
come out in a stream, but in little packages, or
Bohr was able to join together Rutherford's
model of the atom with Planck's theory of quanta.
He set up three rules for the movements of the
electrons within the atom:
1. There are only a very few paths in which the
electrons can travel around the nucleus.
2. The electrons do not send out energy when they
are traveling in one of these paths.

3. Electrons only lose or gain energy when thej^


jump from one path to another. This energy is the
form of a single quantum.
Thus, as long as the electrons stay in their normal
paths, they do not lose energy.
With Bohr's description of the atom in 1913, the
picture seemed quite complete. The nucleus,
though, still remained a mystery. The generally accepted theory about the nucleus said that it
contained electrons along with protons. These electrons were in addition to those traveling around the
Many men were trying to discover exactly what
was in the nucleus. Three men had the same idea
in 1920. Rutherford in England, William D. Harkins in the United States, and Osme Masson in
Australia all said that there was another particle in
the nucleus. They agreed that it was a particle with
about the mass, or weight, of the proton, but with
no electric charge. Harkins called them neutrons,
because they had no electric charge. With the discovery of the neutron, the picture of the atom with
which we began this chapter is complete.
Recently two models have been suggested of the
protons and neutrons in the nucleus. The shell
model has the protons and neutrons moving in
circles at different levels within the nucleus, just as
the electrons are traveling in circles at different
levels outside the nucleus. The liquid drop model
pictures the nucleus as a drop of water. In this
model the nucleus is shaped like a round drop of
liquid, and is held together in much the same way.
These models were chosen because, in a general

Advances of Modern Science

way, they can help explain how the nucleus acts
Science is still trying to find enough facts to suggest
a more exact model.
Does this mean that every atom is the same? No.
Although the atoms of any one element are the
same, different elements have different atoms because the atoms contain different numbers of particles.
Hydrogen, the lightest element, has one proton
and no neutrons in the nucleus, and one electron.
Since the mass number of an element is the number of protons and neutrons it contains, hydrogen
has a mass number of one. (Electrons are so light
that their weight is not counted.) The mass number
is one way of describing an atom's weight.
Elements can exist in different weights, called
isotopes. Iotopes, then, are atoms whose nuclei
contain the same number of protons but different
numbers of neutrons.
With the discovery of the neutron in 1932, the
picture of the atom was complete. But new theories
led men to describe particles which, although
never noticed before, they believed did exist in the
atom. Thus, in the 1930's, a new branch of physics
was born to study what were called elementary
particles. It has been said that this is a strange
name. Only two principles are certain in the field:
Elementary particles are not elementary; and some
particles act not only as particles, but also as waves
of energy without any mass!
The first particle to be found was the same as the
electron but with a positive charge. It was found i

1932 by Carl D. Anderson (born 1905). It was
called a positron. He found that some atoms struck
by certain rays sent out a particle exactly like the
electron except for a positive electric charge. You
will understand why the positron had not been noticed before when you learn that its total life is
about 1,000,000,000th of a secondl
In 1935, Hideki Yukawa, (born 1907), of Kyoto
University in Japan, said that there should be another particlethe meson. He said that the meson
was the energy bond that held together the particles within the nucleus. The meson was also found
by Carl Anderson. Later it was found that there
are two types of mesonsthe heavy or pi meson,
and the light or mu meson.
In 1931, an Austrian, Wolfgang Pauli (19001958), said that another particle was being sent out
from some elements. It was a particle with no mass
that was able to get rid of the energy that seemed
to disappear during radioactivity (see Chapter 9).
Only in 1956 were these particles found. They are
called neutrinos.
When a positron and an electron hit each other,
both disappear, and energy is sent out. Therefore,
the positron is also called an antielectron, meaning
an opposing electron. This led to the belief that
perhaps there is an antiparticle for each of the particles. At present this belief has proved correct. A
total of more than 30 particles and antiparticles
have been found within the atom.
This gives us quite a complete picture of the
atom. There are the protons and neutrons within

Advances of Modern Science

the nucleus, with the circling electrons. There are
also some elementary particles and antiparticles.
The knowledge we have of atoms can help us to
understand such advances in science as the discovery of X rays, radioactivity, and most important
of all, atomic power.


X Rays and


On the first day of the year 1896, several men received in the mail the most unusual photographs
ever made. In one, the shape of a needle could be
seen though it was inside a closed case. Another
pictured a set of weights inside a closed box. Most
unusual of all was the photograph that showed the
bones within a hand!
^Vilhelm Conrad Rontgen (1845-1923), a teacher
at the University of Wiirzburg in Germany, had
sent these pictures. At once he became worldfamous as the discoverer of the strange X ray.
Rontgen discovered X rays while studying cathode rays. He had been experimenting with the
Crookes tube, a valuable tool that was used in the
discovery of the electron (see Chapter 8). The

Advances of Modern Science

Crookes tube was a hollow glass container from
which all air was removed. Rontgen wrapped the
tube in black paper to make certain that no rays
escaped through the sides. Then he darkened the
laboratory and turned on the electric current. It
was already known that cathode rays could travel
less than an inch in the air. Therefore Rontgen did
not expect to see any rays. How surprised he was to
see a green light on his work table, three feet from
the tube! A large piece of paper covered with a
fluorescent chemical lying flat on the table was actually glowing!
Rontgen wanted to learn more about what made
the paper glow. He held different substances between the tube and the screen. Wood made the
glow a bit weaker. A piece of lead, completely
stopped the glow. One day, Rontgen put his hand
between the tube and the fluorescent paper. He
saw a strange pattern of shadows on the screen.
Suddenly he realized that the pattern was made by
his own hand. The ray he had discovered was able
to pass right through his hand, causing dark and
light shadows of his bones and flesh on the paper.
Later he found that the ray was able to go through
the paper wrapping on photographic film. Therefore, if he held his hand between the tube and a
covered photographic plate, when he developed
the plate he had a picture of his bones and flesh.
This is how he was able to make the pictures that
caused such excitement in the world of science.
For two months, Rontgen studied these strange
rays. Still, he could not answer many questions

X Rays and Radioactivity

about the rays. Since X is the symbol of the unknown, he named the ray he discovered, X ray.
Doctors of medicine were quick to realize the
value of X rays. Now they could take pictures of
the inside of the body. Within months, X rays were
being used in hospitals. (Today's doctors use X-ray
machines that are based on the same principle as
Rontgen's first tube.)
Within weeks of Rontgen's announcement of X
rays, Antoine Henri Becquerel (1852-1908) heard
a report about them at the French Academy of
Science, and saw the first X-ray pictures made in
France. He had had a long-time interest in fluorescent chemicals, and Rontgen's work gave him an
idea. He wanted to discover whether fluorescent
chemicals also send out X rays.
His method was to wrap a photographic plate
with heavy black paper, put the chemicals to be
tested on it, and then put them in the sunlight to
make the chemicals glow. If X rays were sent out
by the fluorescent chemicals, he expected them to
mark the photographic plate through the paper
Becquerel tried many different fluorescent chemicals during a month of testing. He found that
many of the chemicals marked the photographic
plate. Becquerel was certain" that X rays were a
part of fluorescence.
He decided, however, to continue testing. One
Wednesday he used uranium. He made the photographic plate ready and placed the uranium on
top. He was now about to set it out in the sunlight.

Advances of Modern Science

But at that moment the sky became cloudy, and
Becquerel put the plate away in a dark place. He
left it there until Sunday, when out of curiosity he
decided to develop the plate. Since the uranium
had not been in the sunlight, Becquerel was sure
that it had not sent out X rays. The photographic
plate should therefore be blank.
But Becquerel got the unexpected result! Not
only were the bits of uranium shown clearly on the
plate, they were clearer than he had ever seen
them. Why? The uranium had not been in the sunlight. And even if it had, the fluorescence ends
within a second after being removed from the sunlight. Yet the photographic plate showed that rays
had been pouring out of uranium all the time it was
in the dark.
Becquerel tried the same experiment with different substances. As long as the substances contained uranium they sent out rays. The rays
seemed never to stop. This showed that it was not
a chemical reaction, which would soon come to an
end. What then did send out the rays? Becquerel
believed it had something to do with the uranium,
but he did not immediately continue his study.
It was during this time that Marie Curie (18671934), a young student of physical science in Paris,
asked if she might continue the study of uranium
for her doctor's degree. She thought uranium would
be a good subject since most men were more interested in X rays at the time. Thus there was less
danger that someone would make any discoveries'
about uranium before she did.

X Rays and Radioactivity

Marie Curie first wanted to see if anything could
affect the rays coming from the uranium. She
found that neither chemicals, heat, light, nor X
rays did anything to the uranium or its rays. She
next tried to find if any elements other than uranium had this power. After testing every known
chemical element, she found that only one, thorium, was sending out rays. At this point Marie decided that this process of sending out rays should
be given a name. She suggested that it be called
radioactivity, and that the elements be called radioactive elements.
Now Marie was puzzled. She had tested all
known elements and had found only two, uranium
and thorium, that were radioactive. What new experiments should she make?
The school where her husband Pierre taught had
a huge rock collection. Marie decided to test each
kind of rock in the collection for radioactivity. She
expected that those rocks that contained uranium
or thorium would show radioactivity, while the
others would not.
The results of the tests were as she expected. Until she tested pitchblende, the substance from
which uranium is obtained. The pitchblende was
four times as radioactive as she expected. Could it
be that there was a new element in the pitchblende?
Pierre, who had only given Marie advice in her
study until then, now stopped his own work to
help her. From May 1898, until he was killed in an
accident eight years later, Pierre and Marie worked

Advances of Modern Science

as one. They began to search for the element ths
they believed was in pitchblende. By chemici
tests they separated out all the known elemeni
from the pitchblende. Soon they realized that thei
was not one, but two new sources of radioactivity
In July 1898, they found one of the sources of radic
activity. It was 100 times more powerful than ura
mum. They named this new element polonium
after Poland, Marie's country of birth.
Still, they had not found the even more power
ful source of radioactivity for which they wer<
searching. But they were more convinced thai
ever that it existed. On December 26, 1898, the)
announced the existence of "a new element tc
which we propose to give the name radium." The
radium, they knew, had vast amounts of radioactivity. They believed that it was present in pitchblende in very small quantities. Therefore, it
would require great amounts of pitchblende to get
even a tiny bit of radium.
They started with 2,000 pounds of pitchblende.
Somewhere in that mountain of rock was the radium for which they were searchingl
For four years they labored. The work became
more delicate and in a way more difficult because
of their poor tools. Finally, in 1902, they were able
to separate from the pitchblende a tiny amount of
a pure radium. They found its atomic weight to be
225. After all those years of work, they could now:
announce to the world that a new element, radium,?
had been discovered.
Radium was more powerful than their greatest

X Rays and Radioactivity

hopesmore than 1,000,000 times as radioactive as
uranium. Not only does it give off rays, it also gives
off heat and light. It kills germs, and a piece the
size of a pinhead placed on a small laboratory animal, could kill it in 15 hours. If held next to the
skin, as Pierre Curie found out, it causes painful
Since then we have learned more of its powers.
Radiation sickness causes much damage to the
body. Children born to people who have been
close to radium also suffer many bad effects caused
by the radiation. However, it can be used in treating some diseases.
From the results of experiments made in the
early years of the century, men learned that not
only rays, but tiny particles as w e l l , were coming
out of the radioactive elements. They had no answer, however, to the q u e s t i o n w h a t is radioactivity?until Ernest Rutherford and Frederick
Soddy (1877-1956) performed a very simple experiment.
A source of radioactivity, such as a piece of radium, was placed in a lead container, with only a
small opening for the radiatfion to escape. A photographic plate was placed above the hole and a
strong magnet was held nej*r it. After a period of
time, three lines were founcd on the photographic
film. Rutherford and Soddiy realized that these
lines were made by three c d i f f e r e r t t types of particles. They named these piarticleS after the first
three Greek letters-alpha, b-eta, an<l gamma.
Study showed that tie W e made by alpha par09

Advances of Modern Science

tides was bent to the side by the magnet. The way
it was bent showed that alpha particles had a positive charge. Bent to the other side were the beta
rays, showing that they had a negative charge. Unaffected at all by the magnet were the gamma
rays. They traveled straight, without being bent by
the magnet.
Rutherford now wanted to lcnow what the particles really were. He collected some alpha rays in a
glass tube. He found that alpha rays were really
atoms of helium with the negative electrons missing. He found that the beta rays were nothing more
than the electrons which J. J. Thomson had so recently discovered (see Chapter 8). The gamma
rays were quite like the X rays that Rontgen had
In 1902, Rutherford and Soddy explained radioactivity as follows. The atoms of radioactive elements are always sending out particles and rays.
There is a source of energy deep within the radioactive atoms that keeps sending out the particles.
And each time a particle from within the atom
leaves, the atom changes and becomes a different
atom. As this happens, the element is changed and
becomes a different element. This process of radioactive breakdown goes on until the radium, for;
example, becomes lead. Lead is not radioactive,,
does not send out particles or rays, and therefore!
does not change.
This was a strange new idea. Many scientists!
found Rutherford's theory difficult to accept, for|

X Rays and Radioactivity

elements were believed to be substances that could
not be changed or divided.
The story of X ray and radioactivity shows how
one discovery often leads to another. Rontgen was
studying cathode rays and discovered the X ray.
Becquerel was studying the X ray, and the result
was the discovery of radioactivity. The Curies were
studying radioactivity and discovered a new element, radium. Rutherford was then able to use
these discoveries to help understand the atom. This
is how science growsstep by step, each step
based on the one that came before.


Atomic Energy

The dark stillness of the early dawn on the New

Mexico desert was ended by a bright green light.
Directly under the light could be seen a steel tower
topped with a strange device never before seen on
earth. Five, ten, and twenty miles from the tower,
men watched. "Five secondsfour seconds." The
counting seemed to be slower and slower. "Three
seconds." Another light sent its strange glow over
the desert scene. "Two seconds." The faint lights of
dawn were beginning to show in the east. "One
second." A deadly silence covered the area,
A light, brighter than a thousand suns, filled the
sky and miles of desert. In thirty seconds, this
light was followed by a wave of air that caused

Atomic Energy
men to fall miles from the tower. Then came a long
loud roar. A cloud formed and slowly rose over the
scene. When the winds had blown away the cloud,
the tower had disappeared. Where it had stood was
a hole in the desert, 25 feet deep. The sand there
had become a smooth sheet of glass.
This moment, 5:30 in the morning on July 16,
1945, marked the birth of one of the four greatest
discoveries of all time. It ranks with fire, the wheel,
and electricity. Man had made the first test of the
most powerful source of energy ever knownatomic energy. Man had learned how to set free the
energy that, until then, had been locked within the
nucleus of the atom.
In 1919, Ernest Rutherford took the first step in
the releasing of that energy.

Nitrogen + Alpha

Oxygen + Proton

U>NJ I g N /

\ ~ J

He bombarded some nitrogen gas with alpha

particles. (Alpha particles are the nuclei of helium
atoms and contain two protons and two neutrons.)
As a result of earlier work with the same experiment, Rutherford had been able to announce that
protons were part of all atoms. (See Chapter 8.)
After the experiment, he noticed something different. Not only were protons present but there
was also a small amount of oxygen! A different element had been created from the nitrogen and alpha particles.

Advances of Modern Science

How could the oxygen suddenly appear when
none had been present at the beginning of the experiment? Consider the number of particles in the
atoms involved.
What happened was that the alpha particle actually entered into the nucleus of the nitrogen,
setting free a proton as it did so. The resulting nucleus, then was really an atom of oxygen, with
eight protons and nine neutrons. The proton that
had been set free from the nitrogen nucleus remained free. Thus, for the first time, it became possible to change one element into another. The atom
was not divided. But this experiment did show that
it was possible to get inside the atom and scientists
could now begin to take the atom apart.


O X Y G E N -H P R O T O N

Unfortunately, only one out of every 300,000 alpha particles hit the nucleus and set free a proton.
A better method of bombarding the nucleus had to
be found.
The better method was found in the use of a device known as an accelerator. An accelerator moves
a particle faster and faster and then throws it
against an atom. The speed depends on the energy
given to the particle. The energy depends on the
amount of the electric charge. This energy is measured in electron volts. (One electron volt is the

Atomic Energy
energy each electron gets from one volt.) An accelerator must produce enough volts to move the
particles at the high speeds desired.
The first experiment with the use of the accelerator was performed in 1929 by Sir John Cockroft
(born 1897) and Ernest Walton (born 1903) at the
Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, England.
They were able to produce an electric charge of
800,000 volts. This gave a large amount of energy
to the protons and had some surprising results for
the experiment. Since then bigger and bigger accelerators have been built that can give energies as
high as 33,000,000,000 electron volts to the particles.









Here is what happened:


Lithium -f Proton -> Algha + Alpha

Atomic Weight:

7.018 + 1.008

V ^ /
4.003 + 4.003

Cockroft and Walton decided to use protons, the

positively charged nuclei of hydrogen atoms, in the
accelerator. They were able to obtain protons by
sending electricity through some hydrogen gas.
This removed the single negative electron from the
hydrogen atoms, leaving the positive protons.
In 1932, Cockroft and Walton bombarded the

Advances of Modern Science

atoms of the element lithium using protons with an
energy of 700,000 electron volts. They found that
for each proton that hit a lithium nucleus, two alpha particles were obtained. The lithium nucleus
was actually divided to form two alpha particles or
helium nucleil
The atomic weights are greater than the number
of particles because it had been agreed many years
earlier that the proton should be considered 1.008,
instead of exactly 1. If we examine these weights,
we find that the lithium plus the proton weigh
8.026, while the two alpha particles weigh only
8.006, which is a loss of .020.
What happened to the lost weight? Where did it
go? It was one of the most exciting moments in science when it was realized that the weight that had
disappeared had been changed into energy! When
the lithium atom was divided, the mass that disappeared became the energy that released the two
alpha particles.
The amount of energy was the amount expected
from Einstein's famous statement, E = MC2, where
E is energy, M is mass, and C is the speed of light.
This was not, however, the best way to divide
atoms. The rate of hits on the nucleus was very low.
And for each atom to be divided, a proton had to
be supplied. This meant that as soon as the protons
stopped coming, the process stopped.
Enrico Fermi (1901-1954), working in Rome in
1934, was doing some interesting experiments. He
wanted to know what would happen when he
bombarded the nuclei of elements with neutrons.

Atomic Energy
The neutrons, he thought, were better for bombarding the nuclei than the alpha particles and protons
that had been used. The advantage of the neutrons
is that they have no electric charge while both the
alpha particle and the proton have a positive
charge. Therefore the neutron can more easily hit
the nucleus, which has a positive charge.
When Fermi bombarded uranium atoms, which
have a mass number of 238, the resulting atoms
had a mass number of 239. Fermi believed that the
uranium atoms had caught the neutrons, and had
become atoms of a new element with a mass number of 239.
Four years later in Berlin, Otto Halm, Fritz
Strassmann, and Lise Meitner repeated Fermi's
experiments. They expected die same result and
were not disappointed. But Hahn and Strassmann
observed small amounts of two different lighter
weight elements, barium and krypton. They also
thought that bombarding radioactive elements with
neutrons released great amounts of energy.
These two men could not completely understand the results of this experiment. They asked
Lise Meitner to explain the results. She thought the
results proved the truth of Einstein's theory that
mass can be changed into energy. The uranium
atom, she believed, was actually divided by the
neutron. It produced two different lighter weight
elements, barium and krypton. This process, which
she called atomic fission, released energy of 200
million electron volts for every atom that was

Advances of Modern Science

In Germany, in 1939, there was an attempt to re

move all Jews from the universities. Lise Meitne:
was a Jew and was in danger. She went to Hollanc
and took with her an understanding of the work a
Hahn and Strassmann. From there she went t<
At this time, Otto R. Frisch, Meitner's nephew
was working in Niels Bohr's laboratory in Copenhagen, Denmark. After Meitner told him her ideas
about atomic fission, they rushed to talk to Bohr,
who at that moment was leaving for a science
meeting in the United States. He urged them to try
the experiments again, to bombard the uranium
with neutrons, and to give special attention to the
energy obtained.
Niels Bohr attended the meeting in Washington,
D.C., in January 1939. At the meeting he met a
very important scientist, Enrico Fermi, who had
been forced to leave Italy because his wife was aj
Jew. In a few minutes all attention was centered on
Bohr and Fermi. They were excited by a letter that
had arrived from Frisch. Meitner's theories hac$
proved correct. The uranium atom could be mad
to divide, setting free a great amount of energy!
The experiment described by Frisch and Meitnei|

Atomic Energy
was so clear that several men who were attending
the meeting rushed to the Carnegie Institution in
Washington and tried the same experiment. The
results of their experiment were the same, and
they believed that they were the first in America to
divide the uranium atom. Information about the
experiment was sent immediately by telephone to
scientists at three large American universities. The
same experiment was tried at Columbia University
in New York, Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, and the University of California.
The uranium atom was not the first atom to be
divided. The lithium atom had already been divided. But dividing the uranium atom was very important because neutrons were released as the atom
was divided. The neutrons that were released when
the uranium atom was divided would be able to
divide other uranium atoms nearby, and these
would divide still others. It was thought this would
start an atomic chain reactionthe process of dividing atoms by using neutrons released from uranium
atoms divided earlier.
During 1939, scientists in all parts of the country
wanted to learn if neutrons are set free when uranium atoms are divided. Can they be used to start
a chain reaction? The answer: Yes, neutrons are set
free. Yes, it is possible to start a chain reaction when
the right conditions are present.
It was also found that of the three isotopes of uranium, only one, uranium 235, could be made to fission. In nature, uranium contains atoms of different
weights, which are isotopes. Most uranium, 99.3

Advances of Modern Science

per cent, is uranium 238, with 92 protons and 148
neutrons in the nucleus. A much smaller amount,
0.7 per cent, is uranium 235, also with 92 protons,
but with only 143 neutrons. A very small amount,
only 0.006 per cent, is uranium 234, with 92 protons
and 142 neutrons.
Uranium 238 merely caught a neutron and did
not fission. There is not enough uranium 234. Only
uranium 235 could be made to fission.


By March 1940, working with a tiny amount of

uranium 235, Fermi thought they would be able to
produce atomic energy. He found die isotope, uranium 235, that could fission and set free neutrons
during fission. He had found the conditions that
would make a chain reaction possible.
On December 2, 1942, the theories and experiments -with atomic fission were tested. In an attempt
to start a chain reaction, Enrico Fermi built a pile
of uranium and graphite (a soft form of carbon) in;
a room under the sports field of the University of
Chicago. The year before, he had built a pile at|
Columbia University in New York, but had not beeii|
able to start a chain reaction.

Atomic Energy
The Chicago pile had 12,400 pounds of uranium
in the graphite bricks. Water flowed through holes
in the graphite to cool the pile. Control sticks that
could take in and hold neutrons were put in to stop
the chain reaction when desired.
Twenty men were in the room on that windy
morning. Shortly before 10 o'clock the test began.
Fermi directed that the control sticks be removed.
At 10 o'clock the last control stick was very slowly
removed. The chain reaction began. Everyone felt
the excitement filling the room.
Suddenly Fermi said "I am hungry. It is time to
eat lunch." At 2 o'clock in the afternoon they returned and continued examining the results. Shortly
after 3 o'clock, Fermi smiled and very quietly announced that the test was a success. They had
started a chain reaction of atomic fission that would
continue by itself. The chain reaction was allowed
to continue 28 minutes longer. Then Fermi ordered
that the control sticks be pushed in. The chain reaction stopped.
Further work on atomic energy was delayed by
the difficulty of getting the pure uranium 235 necessary for fission. Only 1 pound out of every 140
pounds of uranium in nature is uranium 235. Obtaining the uranium 235 was, at first, a difficult
It was with great interest, therefore, that the men
noted that a new material, plutonium, could fission.
Plutonium was one of the products of the atomic
pile. The process was this:
The plutonium, it was found, has two advantages

Advances of Modern Science

Uranium 2 3 8 N e u t r o n U r a n i u m 839 (no fission)




Uranium 239 - Neptunium 239 + Electron

(One of the neutrons in the U-23Tt!reaks down by itself
into a proton and electron.)
Neptunium 2 3 9 P l u t o n i u m 239 +Electron



(The Np-239 Breaks down as didtKe U-239.;

that uranium 235 does not have. It can be more

easily separated from the uranium in the pile. And
plutonium is made from uranium 238, instead of the
scarce uranium 235.
Scientists in the United States working on the
atom-dividing experiments realized that they had
discovered a powerful new source of energy. Events
were leading to World War Two, however, and
atomic energy would become important for military
reasons. Atomic fission could be used to produce
bombs that would make all other bombs seem like
toys. Doctor Meitner, for instance, had shown that
every atom of uranium that is divided releases 200
million electron volts.
In the summer of 1939 Albert Einstein wrote a
letter to President Roosevelt of the United States

Atomic Energy
asking him to support a program to produce an
atom bomb. The President was quite interested in
the information given him, and soon the program
was started. Speed was very important. The Germans had been the first to approach an understanding of atomic fission. It was believed that they were
working on a bomb.
By July 16, 1945, the many problems of building
the bomb had been solved. We already know the
results of that first test. Another bomb was immediately built that could be used against the enemy.
On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an
atom bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.
The bomb was small10 feet long, 28 inches
acrossand weighed 9,000 pounds. The size of
the explosion of the atom bomb is determined by
the amount of uranium 235 or plutonium, called the
critical mass. If there was less than the critical mass
of uranium or plutonium, nothing could cause an
explosion. If there was more than the critical mass,
nothing could prevent an explosion.
Perhaps in the future, when wars are no longer
likely, the exact story of how an atom bomb operates
will be told. But this much we do know: the critical
mass in the bomb was divided into two parts. At the
right moment, the parts were shot together, creating the critical mass and causing the explosion.
In an ordinary bomb, the explosion kills and destroys. The atom bomb, however, destroys in four
different ways. First, there is the explosion. Then,
the heat from the bomb is very high and starts fires
for miles around. Third, after the explosion, radio103

Advances of Modern Science

active particles cause sickness in all people near
the explosion. Fourth, radioactive products are re-,
leased into the air in the form of fine dust. Then,
very slowly, this material rains down on people,
food, and animals, causing still more sickness.
In the first atom bomb explosion, four square;
miles in the center of Hiroshima were completely;
destroyed. More than two-thirds of all buildings in
the city were destroyed. There were 70,000 people:
killed and 135,000 hurt There was no way to help
those who were hurt. Of 45 hospitals in the city, 42
were destroyed; of 200 doctors, 180 were killed or
hurt; and of 1,780 nurses, 1,654 were killed or hurt
On August 9, 1945, the second atom bomb was
dropped, this time on Nagasaki, another city in
Japan. This brought World War Two to an end.
These bombs were only the beginning. Now there
are bigger and more powerful atom bombs. In 1953,
President Eisenhower said that the United States
had atom bombs with many times the power of all
the bombs that were used by both sides during all
of World War Two.
On November 1, 1952, a new kind of bomb,
many times more powerful than the atom bomb,
was tested. Based on the fusion, or joining, of hydrogen atoms, the new bomb is called the hydrogen
bomb. In a hydrogen bomb, man is able to create
energy in the same manner that energy is created
in the sun and other stars.
The work on atomic energy showed that great,
amounts of energy can be obtained from either the
very heavy or the very light weight elements. If;

Atomic Energy
the heavy elements, such as uranium, are divided,
the resulting parts weigh less than the uranium
before it was divided. The missing mass becomes
energy. When the light weight elements are joined,
the new atom weighs less than the separate parts,
and this loss of mass results in energy.
The lightest of all elements, hydrogen, is used in
fusion. Ordinary hydrogen, with an atomic weight
of one, is not used. Better fusion occurs between
the two heavier isotopes of hydrogendeuterium
and tritium. (Isotopes are atoms of the same element whose nuclei contain the same number of
protons but different numbers of neutrons.)
If the nuclei of deuterium (one proton, one neutron) and tritium (one proton, two neutrons) are
joined, the result is helium plus a neutron, and a
great amount of energy. The most difficult problem
was to combine the two nuclei because both have
positive charges.
It was known that the two nuclei would join
only when there was great heat. There seemed to
be no way to create that kind of heat on earth until the atom bomb was built. An atom bomb explosion creates heat even greater than the inside of the
sun. This heat makes the deuterium and tritium
nuclei move fast enough to be able to join. Thus,
every hydrogen bomb has to contain an atom
The atom bomb can be built only in small sizes
because of the limit in the size of the critical mass.
When the critical mass is reached an explosion oc105

Advances of Modern Science

curs, and any extra uranium is wasted. The hydrogen bomb, however, has no limits.
From the beginning, almost everyone hoped that
atomic power would be used to improve life on
earth. In the years after the development of the
atom bomb and the hydrogen bomb, men began to
look for ways to use atomic energy for life rather
than death.
One way to use atomic energy is to put the
heat that develops in a reactor to work. The heat
from an atomic reactor can be used to change
water into steam, which is used in making electricity.
Making electricity with atomic energy still costs
more than the usual method. This is because the reactor has to be in a special building to prevent
accidents. We are only at the very beginning of the
atomic age. As more and more atomic reactors are
built, the cost will surely be less.
Smaller atomic reactors are finding other uses. In
1955, the United States built the first atomic ship
that sails under water. Now there are about 20 such
atomic ships in the United States Navy. In 1961, the
United States built the first atomic-powered ocean
But using the heat in the reactors is not the only
way to use atomic power. The great flow of neutrons within the reactor provides another use.
Many elements can catch and hold a neutron. With
the extra neutron in the nucleus, these elements
become radioactive. The extra neutron also changes
the weight of the atom, so they are also called ra106

Atomic Energy
dioisotopes. Radioactive elements send out a
steady stream of rays and particles. It is this that
makes the radioisotopes so valuable.
There are already many uses for radioisotopes.
These uses can be divided into three general types.
First, radioisotopes are used in living things, animal or plant. If a doctor wants to examine a certain
part of a man's body he might give the man a drink
containing just a few drops of radioactive iodine.
Once the iodine is in the body, its path can be followed by a device which counts the particles from
the radioactive iodine. The doctor can measure the
rate at which the body uses iodine. This information can then be used to help the doctor understand certain diseases.
Second, the more powerful radioisotopes are
used to treat disease. Doctors know that radioactive rays from radium or X rays will kill certain
sick cells faster than they will kill healthy cells.
But radium is costly and difficult to obtain, while
the X rays, in some cases, also hurt healthy cells.
Radioactive cobalt 60 has been found to be more
powerful than the older sources of radiation, and is
much cheaper. A small amount of cobalt 60, costing about 17,000 dollars, gives off the same amount
of radiation as 50,000,000 dollars worth of radium.
Third, radioisotopes are used in industry. In one
use, a radioactive source is placed under some material, and a measuring device is placed on top.
The amount of radiation that gets through tells the
thickness of the material. In a steel mill, for example, sheets of steel can be measured in this way,

Advances of Modern Science

to make certain that they are of equal thicknesses.
We are at the very beginning of the atomic age.
The road leads in two directions. One road leads to
the greater development and use of atomic energy
for peaceful purposes. The other road leads to the
end of life on our earth. Which road will be followed?


The New


Many consider astronomy to be the oldest of all

the sciences. From the very beginnings of history,
man tried to understand the sun and the moon, the
stars and the planets. For most of this time, men
studied astronomy without any thought of its practical use. In our time, though, we have very practical reasons to learn more about astronomy. Our
times have also seen the birth of a new scienceradio astronomy.
For more than 300 years, since its invention by
Galileo, the telescope has been the most valuable
and important tool of the astronomer. The telescope takes light from the object being viewed
usually the moon or the starsand brings the light
to a point.

Advances of Modern Science

The telescope on Mount Palomar, California, is
believed to be the largest practical telescope. A
bigger one would not allow astronomers to see farther because the earth's air clouds the view. In
1960, astronomers using the Mount Palomar telescope were able to see a system of stars that were
a distance of 6,000,000,000 light years away from
the earth. A light year is the distance that light will
travel in one year. However, astronomers using the
Mount Palomar telescope can see really great distances on only a few dozen nights each year. To
view deeper into the universe, astronomers would
need a completely different tool.

In 1931, Karl Jansky (1906-1950) quite by accident gave the astronomers just such a tool that
allowed them to see much farther into the universe.
Jansky was a young radio engineer. His job was to
learn more about radio noise. On a wooden floor
about 100 feet long and 10 feet wide, he built a
series of frames. They looked like eight doors to
nowhere. This was put on wheels, so that it could
be turned to any direction.
With this device Jansky could hear radio noise

The New Astronomy

from all directions. He recognized the noise from
man-made sources and from electric storms. But
there was another kind of noise that he was surprised to hear. He described it as very weak and
very steady.
What caused this noise? Jansky was curious. But
even after further study, Jansky was still puzzled.
Finally, he realized why he was having so much
trouble finding the source of the noise. The source
itself was moving. It moved from east to west, each
day getting farther and farther ahead of the sun.
This fact helped answer the mystery. If the
source moved ahead of the sun, then the source
was probably somewhere out in space. The source
of the noise seemed to move because of the Earth's
movement. Jansky was soon able to discover that
the noise came from the center of the Milky Way.
The answer was unexpected and important enough
to give birth to the science of radio astronomy.
Radio astronomy is based on the fact that many
objects in space send out radio waves in addition to
light waves. (Light and radio waves are the same
except for their length. Radio waves are much
longer than light waves. The ordinary telescope
uses light waves that are measured in parts of an
inch. The radio telescope uses radio waves that are
as long as 100 feet). Radio astronomy allows astronomers to observe a vast part of the universe
that had been closed to their view.
The radio telescope is a new, rather than a better
tool for studying the sky. Many of the radio sources
in space found with the radio telescope cannot be

Advances of Modern Science

seen through the ordinary telescope. And in the
same way, most of the stars seen by the ordinary
telescope cannot be heard with the radio telescope.
The radio telescope is a very valuable tool, since it
can tell astronomers of objects in space that they
are not able to see.
We have received radio signals from the moon
and from the planets Venus, Mars, and Jupiter. The
sun is the only star whose radio signals we are able
to receive. The other stars, although they also send
out signals, are too distant for us to receive their
radio waves.
But the greatest senders of radio signals are far
out in space. There are three important sources of
radio waves. One is the explosion, or bursting, of a
star. This source, was first noticed by Chinese astronomers in the year 1054. We can still see it
throwing out great amounts of glowing gas. Another source seems to be one system of stars hitting
another. The third source looks like a very faint
cloud of dust in rapid movement.
In the final months of 1963 a new group of
sources not yet understood was found. Called
"star-like" objects by astronomers, they seem to be
more than a 1,000,000,000 times as bright as our
sun. They appear to be the most powerful sources
of radio energy yet found. Furthermore, it is believed that these "star-like" objects are the most
distant objects known to man. They may be from
6,000,000,000 to 10,000,000,000 light years away.
Many parts of the universe have not been seen
with the ordinary telescope because great clouds

The New Astronomy

of dust and gas prevent astronomers from viewing
them. During World War Two a young Dutch astronomer, Hendric van de Hulst, suggested an exciting way for the radio telescope to reach beyond
these clouds. He knew that the space between the
stars contained mostly hydrogen, very thinly
spread. There are, however, huge clouds of hydrogen scattered in space.
Van de Hulst knew that the atoms of hydrogen in
space would send out a radio signal whenever two
hydrogen atoms met. Van de Hulst also said that
the radio waves from hydrogen would have a
length of 21 centimetersabout 8% inches.
It was not until 1951 that the idea of listening to
hydrogen clouds was tried. That year Harold Ewen
at Harvard University built a radio telescope to receive signals from hydrogen. In the early morning
of March 25, the first signal was received. It came
from the direction of the center of our system of
stars. Ewen worked 60 hours without a stop to
make sure that he had really received a hydrogen
signal from space. There could be no doubt. He
had found a new source of information about the
universe. Hydrogen is the most common substance
in the universe. Being able to locate the hydrogen
in space may prove to be one of the most important
keys to an understanding of our universe.
During these same years, though, exciting new
ideas and theories were being announced by astronomers. They were based on radio astronomy and
the development of other new tools of astronomy.
One of the most interesting ideas of 20th-century

Advances of Modern Science

astronomy is that our universe is getting larger 1
and larger. The idea of a growing universe began
in the early years of this century, when astronomers
attached spectroscopes to their telescopes. The
spectroscope spreads a ray of light out into an arrangement of colorsred, orange, yellow, green,
blue, and purple.
The arrangement tells much about the source of
the light When a cool gas is between a glowing
solid and the spectroscope, the arrangement of
colors contains dark lines that tell what chemicals
are in the gas.
When the source or the spectroscope begins to
move, a strange thing happensthe lines are not
in the same place! If the source is moving toward
the spectroscope, the lines move toward the purple
end of the color arrangement. And if the source is
moving away, the lines move toward the red side.
The faster the source is moving, the farther the lines
In the 1920s, Vesto M. Slipher (born 1875) found
that large numbers of stars and star systems showed
a movement of their lines to the red side. This
showed that the stars were moving away from us,
and at fast speeds. By 1925, he had found nearly
40 star systems that showed a movement toward
the red.
You can notice a change in the length of sound
waves when you are traveling in a car. If a car
traveling in the other direction passes with its horn
sounding, the sound of the horn seems to be high ;
as the car approaches and lower after it passes. The

The New Astronomy

reason for this is that as the two cars approach,
the sound waves reach you more often and the
sound is high. As the two cars travel away from
each other, the waves reach you less often and the
sound becomes lower.
Light also travels in waves, and the same land of
thing happens to the light waves seen through the
spectroscope. If the source of the light is approaching, the light waves reach the spectroscope very
often and are recorded near the purple end of the
spectroscope. If the source of light is moving away,
the light waves reach the spectroscope less often
and are recorded near the red end.
If it is correct to explain in this manner the movement toward the red end of the spectroscope of
the light received from the stars, then almost every
star system is moving away from us. Some of these
star systems are moving away at very high speeds.
In 1922, Edwin Hubble found that the more distant star systems were moving away from us at an
even greater speed than the closer ones.
In 1928, Hubble stated the theory that the entire
universe is growing bigger and bigger, and
spreading out farther and farther in space. This
does not mean that all the star systems are simply
moving away from ours. Every star system is moving away from every other star system.
The spectroscope shows not only that the universe
is growing, but the speed at which each star system
is traveling. Some are rushing away from ours at
speeds as high as 38,000 miles per second, more
than one-fifth the speed of light. In the time it

Advances of Modern Science

takes you to read this sentence, such star systems
are about 150,000 miles farther out in space.
The idea of a growing universe is strange and
difficult to imagine. Another idea of modern astronomy has to do with life on other planets. It is now
generally believed that our planet is not unusual.
We guess that there are many planets like ours
around other stars in space.
Sir Bernard Lovell, chief of the the radio telescope at Jodrell Bank, England, has stated that 5
per cent of the stars in our star system might have
planets that could have life. Let us say that 1 per
cent is a better guess. Of the 100,000,000,000 stars
in our system then, 1,000,000,000 stars probably
have planets with life. Even if Lovell is wrong
about 999 out of every 1,000 stars, that would still
leave 100 million stars of our star system with
planets that may have some form of life. And there
are hundreds of millions of other star systems like
If life exists on other planets, there is a good
chance that the people are more advanced than us.
Perhaps they have been trying to talk to us. In November 1961, a group of leading men in several
sciences had a meeting. They discussed the idea
of life on other planetshow the people on other
planets might be trying to talk with us, and how we
might talk with them. Some of these men believed
that people on a more advanced planet would
know about the wave length of the hydrogen signal. Therefore, one method is to listen for some
sort of message on that wave length. The other

The New Astronomy

idea is to use light rays of great strength, called
lasers, to send light signals to our distant neighbors.
Radio astronomy, the growing universe, life on
other planetsthese are the advances of modern
Ours is indeed a universe of wonderbut more
important, ours is a universe of great hope for the


ASTRONOMY: the science of the stars, moon, and
other heavenly bodies. ASTRONOMER: a scientist who studies astronomy.
ATOM: a bit of matter so small that anything
smaller is not the same matter. ATOMIC: concerning atoms.


BACTERIA: a simple form of life too small to be

seen with the unaided eye. Some types of bacteria
cause disease or make food spoil.
BARIUM: a chemical element that is a silver-white
BOMB: a device filled with a material that blows
apart with great force.
BOMBARD: to direct a stream of particles against
the atomic nuclei of an element to produce nuclear

Advances of Modern Science

CARBON: a chemical element found in all living
CELL: a very small bit of living matter. All plants
and animals are made of one or more cells.



CHARGE: a quantity of electricity.

CHEMISTRY: the science in which substances are
examined to discover what they are made of, how
they act in different conditions, and how they are
combined or separated to form other substances.
CHEMICAL: concerning the processes of chemistry; any substance used in chemistry.
COBALT: a chemical element that is a hard, shinygray metal.
CONSCIOUS: that part of a person's mental activity
that he is able to control. UNCONSCIOUS: all of
a person's thoughts, feelings, and desires which
he does not know he has but which influence his

CYTOPLASM: the clear, thick, liquid substance
that is a part of all living animal and plant cells.
ELECTRON: a tiny particle with a negative electric
charge that moves around the nucleus of an atom.
ELEMENT: matter in which the molecules are made
of only one kind of atom.
ELEVATOR: a small room that
can be raised and lowered to
different levels in a building
and is often used to carry
EXPLOSION: a sudden bursting apart with great
FILTER: a material through which liquids can pass
and that is used to separate certain matter from
the liquids; the act of using such material.
FISSION: a dividing into parts. In atomic fission,
atoms are divided and great amounts of energy
are released.
FLUORESCENCE: the quality of a material to
produce light when certain rays, such as X rays,
reach it. FLUORESCENT: having fluorescence.
FUSION: a joining together. In atomic fusion, atoms
are joined together and great amounts of energy
are released.
GRAVITY: the force that tends to pull all objects
toward the center of the earth.

Advances of Modern Science

HELIUM: a chemical element that is a very lightweight gas that will not burn.
HYDROGEN: a chemical element that is a gas that
has no color or smell and that burns easily.
IODINE: a chemical element that is a gray-black
ISOTOPES: any of two or more forms of a chemical
element having similar properties but different
atomic weights.
JEWS: members of a very old religion that began
in the Near East in the early days of history; the
first to believe there is only one God.
KRYPTON: a chemical element that is a gas that is
present in very small quantities in the air.
LABORATORY: a room or building where scientists
LEAD: a chemical element that is a heavy, soft, gray
LITHIUM: a chemical element that is a soft, silverwhite metal.
MAGNET: a piece of iron or steel that has the power
to pull other pieces of iron and steel toward it.
MOLD: a growth that forms on moist, old vegetables or spoiled meat.
MOLECULE: the smallest bit of a substance that
can exist alone without losing its chemical form.
It consists of one or more atoms.

NEGATIVE: the name given to the type of electricity found in electrons. If a substance has on its
surface more electrons than protons, it is said to
be charged with negative electricity.
NEPTUNIUM: a chemical element that is formed
after certain radioactive changes in uranium. It
does not exist naturally on earth.
NEUROSIS: a mental condition in which a person
is always worried, fearful, anxious, or acts in a
strange manner. NEUROTIC: a person who has
a neurosis.
NEUTRON: a particle found in the nucleus of an
electric charge.
NITROGEN: a chemical element that is a gas that
has no color, taste, or smell. Almost four-fifths of
the air is nitrogen.
NUCLEUS: the mass at the center of atoms and
most living cells. NUCLEI: more than one nucleus. NUCLEAR: of or having to do with a
nucleus or nuclei
OXYGEN: a chemical element that is a gas that has
no color, taste, or smell. Almost one-fifth of the
air is oxygen.
PARTICLE: a very small bit of matter.
PHOTOGRAPH: a picture made by an instrument
that exactly copies any object in front of it.
PHOTOGRAPHIC: having to do with a photograph and the method for making i t

Advances of Modern Science

PLANET: any of the large heavenly bodies that
move around the sun.
PLUTONIUM: a man-made chemical element that
is a silvery-white metal.
POLONIUM: a chemical element that is a very radioactive metal.
POSITIVE: the name given to the type of electricity found in protons. If a substance has on its
surface more protons than electrons, it is said to
be charged with positive electricity.
PROTEIN: a substance containing carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen and found in all living
PROTON: a tiny particle with a positive charge
found in the nucleus of an atom.
PSYCHOANALYSIS: a method for treating Neuroses
and some other forms of mental illness.
RADIOACTIVE: sending out energy in the form
of particles or rays as a result of changes within
the nuclei of atoms. RADIOACTIVITY: the
quality of being radioactive.
RADIUM: a chemical element that is a silvery-white,
radioactive metal.
REACTOR: a device for releasing atomic energy by
starting and controlling a series of events in which
some articles of atoms are set free to strike other
atoms in a mass, setting free more particles that
strike still other atoms.

RELATIVE: dependent upon each other. RELATIVITY: a theory of the universe that deals with
the relative qualities of matter, energy, space,
and time.
SPECTROSCOPE: a device for separating light into
a series of colors so that they can be studied.
SYMBOL: an object that suggests or represents another object.
TELESCOPE: a device for making distant things seem closer
and larger, used especially in
studying the stars.
THORIUM: a chemical element that is a soft, silvery,
radioactive metal.
UNIVERSE: the earth, the sun, the stars, and all
things that exist.
URANIUM: a chemical element that is a very hard,
heavy, radioactive metal.
VIRUS: a form of matter smaller than any of the
bacteria, that can increase in number in living cells
and cause disease in animals and plants.
VITAMIN: a substance found in food that is needed
by the body to keep healthy.
X RAY: rays that cannot be seen but that can pass
through objects. They are used to study the bones
and other parts inside the body.

tells how noted scientists from many countries of the
world made the discoveries that brought them fame.
Learn how they thought through their problems and discover ways to improve your own ability to think clearly.


P r i n t e d 'in U.S.A.

C o v e r : B. SYMANCYK