Spheres of Science


In a radio talk which he gave during an intermission in a Philharmonic concert Dr. Ernest A. Hooton, Harvard's iconoclastic anthropologist, pleaded for "a science of the individual man that will teach us our physical and mental capacities and limitations early in life, so that we can profit from that knowledge."

"Every single person is born with an unique combination in details of anatomical structure, peculiarities of physiological function, variations in mental capacity, and assorted temperamental traits," says Hooton. This mass of inherited potentialities is then developed or stunted by all of life's experiences from infancy to maturity-food, housing, parental care, family life, climate, human associates, formal education. The individual is an organic unit, with aspects of his total personality all mixed up. None of these can be understood without a knowledge of the whole person and of his background. "At present we learn separately about human psychology or physiology or the structure of the family, but nothing about the whole individual self," is Hooton's way of putting it.

A science of the total man would give each individual early in life a complete inventory of his unique self so that he could correct as far as possible, his personal weaknesses, capitalize his strong points, and seek a place in human activity that he is fitted to fill. Hooton maintains that "such a science can be promised to you today, if you will only demand it as your right, as the cornerstone of your education."

In the individual we are first concerned with anatomical structure of body build. Here Hooton holds up for admiration the work of William H. Sheldon, who has devised a satisfactory scheme for classifying all varieties of the human physique. Peculiarities of the body and its general form often reflect invisible traits that are far more important than skin, bone, muscle, cartilage, or other structural features. We are beginning to learn that the physiology of the individual also varies rather closely with his body type.

Rating temperament

In this field, again, William H. Sheldon has devised a scheme of temperamental rating which will serve for the present and which is related to varieties of body build. Thus the extreme of physique represented by the tall, narrow, skinny person is associated with a cluster of some twenty trait tendencies including "love of privacy," "emotional restraint," "hypersensitivity to pain," "need of solitude when troubled," etc. Hooton says that close enough relationships can be established between physique and personality traits so that eventually body build may be used as a shortcut to personality analysis. In fact, he maintains that if physical, mental and temperamental characteristics are known it is possible to predict within certain limits fitness for various tasks, ability in performance under different conditions-in short, the quality of behavior.

Heredity imposes certain limitations upon change and improvement of the personality, so that "human brass cannot be transformed into gold," yet Hooton is certain that "most persons can be built up to a higher level of competence and self-sufficiency if they are studied individually and properly trained before they are warped and hardened by mistakes in education and bad environment." But 11 we must catch our subjects young." -W. K. in N. Y. Times.

Tomorrow's World

* Hikers will be able to purify water (without adding odor or changing taste) through use of filter .125 of an inch thick. Canteen is filled with water, chlorinating pellets dropped in to kill bacteria, and filter placed in position. When canteen is raised for a drink water flows through filter, activated carbon in filter removes unpleasant taste while fibrous felt surrounding it holds back foreign matter. One filter will purify 2 1/2 gallons of chlorinated water.

* Workmen who need hands free to use tools in dark corners may wear Fingalyte, a tiny electric torch worn like a finger ring; derives current through insulated cable from battery clipped to belt.

* Eggs roasted at high temperatures (look and taste like hardboiled) can be kept indefinitely without refrigeration. Boston egg dealers have developed nickel-inslot machine which delivers roasted egg.

* We have mentioned revolving windows (E-W, Jan. '46); another idea is glass strips arranged a la venetian blinds. Will not raise or lower but may be angled to admit air; closed tightly to exclude cold and rain. Lower louvers may be opaqued for privacy.

* Motor oil now being tested is claimed to be "ever-enduring." Will cost more but replacement will be negligible since screening occasionally will clear out any sludge.

* Classrooms may obtain new multiple microscope which permits 10 persons to view slide, simultaneously.

* Some women will be strutting about in coats of Ordinary sheep pelts, which have been transformed by a new plasticizing process so that they are almost indistinishable from luxury furs such as beaver and nutria.

Trackless trolley, already in use in about 5o U. S. cities, is being improved and now resembles roomy, ultra-modern bus. Is slated to supersede street car, where regular bus does not do so, since it is faster (can weave in and out of traffic), more comfortable, quiet, and cheaper, it costs $100,000 a mile, to build double track street car rails, only $7,000 a mile to install trackless trolley overhead wires.

Health Front

Buttercup Juice. The growth of pneumonia, streptococci, tb, anthrax and several other germs can be stopped by juice pressed from buttercup leaves, sterns and, blossoms, or by steam distillate of juice. Anemone juice gives similar results! Present problem is separating poisonous from antigerm substances.

Retrieving Swallowed Objects: An alnico magnet (an alloy) is strong enough to lift 100 times its weight. Will attract iron and steel objects. Can be passed into stomach attached to rubber tube which has bulb at outer end. When stomach is filled with air, any collapsed portion is lifted and foreign body freed, and attracted to magnet. Said to be much simpler and quicker than old method involving use of flexible forceps.

How Cold Germs Spread: Now science has measured the velocity of a cough! It has been charted at more than 245 miles per hour as it leaves the throat.

Aspirin Changed- For the minority who cannot use the common aspirin tablet Without ill results, Prof. K. P. Link (U. of Wisconsin) has ladded a minute amount of vitamin K to counteract harmful action.

Muscles Relieved and strengthened: A syntheric chemical, Neostigraine, has for some years been used successfully to relieve fatigue and, muscle weakness. Used in infantile paralysis it was found to relax muscle spasm, relieve pain, increase strength and muscular coordination. Dr. H, Kabat (of U. S. Public Health Service) inferred from these previous experiences of his that it might be effective when nerves and muscles failed- to function. When tried on 53 patients (such varying Cases as: muscle spasm-, contracture; joint weakness; pain and muscular weakness persisting too long after sprain. fracture or chronic infection, paralytic stroke; Bell's palsy or facial Paralysis a-MCI the spastic type of cerebral palsy, rheurmatoid arthritis; bursitis (of shoulder) it was found that: "Improvement in range of motion, relief from pain and increase in strength and endurance may occur rapidly",

Skin Storage: "Skin-banks" to which volunteers donate (as they have done to blood-banks) may be established in, future, now that human skin stored 3 weeks has been used successfully in grafts on badly burned servicemen.

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