29 MARCH 1940, Page 26

Sh orter Notices

Science Today and Tomorrow. By Waldemar Kaempffert. (Nicholson and Watson. los. 6d.)

PoPutAa science books aie always heartening reading ; any- way, something is going forward there. The main subjects here are astronomy, atomic physics, and biology ; beginning with the prospects of ultimate destruction, and ending with a hopeful view of the relations or science and democracy. The style is rather excitable, and there is a good deal about rocketing through space and life on Mars. An odd feature after the accuracy of detail is the way the author tends to get mixed up over the quick accounts of controversial theory. " Life was once regarded as a purely chemical manifestation of matter. Now it is recognised that forces are at ..play within and without the cell which enable it to adapt itself in a limited degree to its environment. No one man made this discovery. But because of it . . the day is nearer when the physicist will be able to create life." So far as you can guess what these forces are (vitalism?) they seem likely to put the day farther off. " The piece of chicken heart that lives on in the Rockefeller Institute, a proof that cells and environ- ment, structure and function carnot be separated "—on the face of the thing, the piece of chicken heart proves exactly the opposite. " In no other laboratory has this exploit been repeated over a period of time so long "—obviously not, because it is still going on ; these hasn't been time to. Like so many popular science books, in fact, this tends merely to go through the motions of making a significant statement ; though maybe only at points where nothing very definite could be said.