industrial and engineering chemistry - American Chemical Society

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EDITBRIALS Economic Status

a t a luncheon meeting recently discussed the situation in a clarifying manner. As he emphasized, the OLLOWING action taken a t the Atlantic City priorities system is not the difficulty, but the existing meeting of the AMERICANCHEMICALSOCIETY, shortages. We still find it impossible t o comprehend the the Committee on Economic Status was appointed as magnitude of our defense program. It may just as well announced in the News Edition, October 10, 1941. be understood that it will become even larger before The chairman is Lawrence W. Bass, assistant director safety is achieved. Those who try t o determine and t o of Mellon Institute, and other members are George supply the demands face a difficult task because the Calingaert, Walter A. Schmidt, Walter G. Whitman, scene changes rapidly. Much time and effort are and F. C. Whitmore. lost in debating whether certain estimates are accurate This is a n important committee and t o it has been and some terms justifiable when our entire energy assigned work which means a great deal to the chemshould be devoted to production and still more proists and chemical engineers of the United States. As duction with all possible speed. Bitter experience has in all such‘ undertakings, much information must be taught that i t is far better to have too much too early collated and data tabulated, discussed, and analyzed than too little too late. before it is safe to chart a course for the future activiWorld affairs are so convincing that there can be no ties of the SOCIETY in this difficult and complex field. argument as to whether we want democracy t o continue The facts that must be assembled cannot be obtained and liberty to be preserved. The program can be without the hearty cooperation of the chemists concarried out only a t some sacrifice, which it is clear should cerned. They should be interested in helping because be made without prejudice and without more than it may well be a question of valuable self-help. intelligent, rather than merely argumentative, questions. The committee is fortunate in having the assistBut it should be plain that it is better t o accommoance of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of date ourselves to priorities and scarcities for a relaLabor, in carrying out its initial task. Before long, tively short time and complete the job than t o put up members of the AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETYwill rewith the condition for 10 or 15 years, or longer. ceive a questionnaire carefully designed to minimize As Mr. Nelson said, our biggest problem is not how t o the effort required to supply the answers in a form save business and labor and John Citizen, but rather that ensures the member complete anonymity. We all how to use them. receive more questionnaires than we would like, but in this, as in all other things, it is the discrimination beThe Exposition tween those that are worth while and those without which we can do very nicely that matters. This one NITIATED in a war atmosphere, the Exposition of is important. Treat it circumspectly, complete it, and Chemical Industries now prepares for its eighteenth return it promptly. effort under conditions that are a t least reminiscent of




those that existed a t its birth. The first of these expositions was held when there was doubt whether sufPriorities ficient skill could be found within the United States to produce those things of which the war had deprived EXT t o war news itself, the work of the Supply us, and there were questions as t o the availability of Priorities and Allocations Board seems to be suitable equipment. Many were heartened when they most discussed. If we were actually engaged in a saw what the American chemical industries could proshooting war so much might not be heard of this effort duce and became acquainted with the designers of to put fist things first. It would be done automatiequipment which was soon found t o perform very well. cally. But, as i t is, we have not yet learned that even If such slang had been current it would doubtless this great country is unable to carry on simultaneously have been described as a n affair that gave a “lift” t o the our huge defense program and “business as usual”. new synthetic organic chemical industry in the United Donald M. Nelson, executive director of the board and a member of the AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY, States. For a time this exposition was held every year,





but later exhibitors decided that biennially was often enough and that has been the program recently. In 1941 the doors are scheduled to open December 1, and close on Saturday, the 6th. After all these years surely little need be said about the advantages of such an affair. Those who are time-minded have long since learned that in the week or perhaps some small fraction thereof more can be accomplished with far less out-of-pocket expense in seeing people who know and in examining equipment than would be possible by extended and sometimes inconvenient travel. As in all gatherings, the most important thing is to see the people who, being foresighted, make i t a point to attend the exposition. Paths cross a t such an affair, and in the corners, on the settees, and even in the aisles groups make the most of the opportunities t o ask and answer questions, t o compare notes and decide the future trend of developments. The exposition this year, for which our News Edition of November 25 will present a “Preview and Guide”, promises t o be the most important in recent years. More than 300 exhibitors enrolled literally months in advance, contracting for space on three floors of the Grand Central Palace totaling more than three acres. The large industrial chemical companies, several of the larger general manufacturing units, and many highly specialized concerns will be represented. Equipment, machinery and supplies, materials for plant construction and for processing, containers, recording and automatic control instruments, ingredients required in manufacture- these and many other types of merchandise will make up the exhibits. It is dificult to estimate how many will attend, but two years ago some 45,000 found i t worth while to register. It should be remembered that admission is restricted, though there is no dificulty in obtaining necessary tickets for any who are really interested. Those who know the exposition need no urging. Experience has taught them its value. Others who may be hesitant about putting i t on their “must” list can rest assured that it offers many opportunities to any associated closely with the chemical industry and its progress.

Aluminum ECHNICAL men have been interested in the action whereby the United States Government sought to convict the Aluminum Company of America in a n antitrust suit which began about four years ago. They have been interested because processing aluminum on a great scale with lowering prices as production increased is typical of the industries which depend upon science for advancement and because the modern method for winning aluminum from bauxite was discovered by a chemist and has been improved and furthered by chemists and chemical engineers. The availability of aluminum in quantity and a t satis-


Vol. 33, No. 11

factory prices has been one of the shining examples of what can be done by plowing back into research and development the profits from an industry essentially scientific in its operations. Not being versed in the law and therefore speaking without authority in such matters as an antitrust suit, nevertheless the technical men could have their sympathies and pretty generally placed them with the defendant. It was with some satisfaction, therefore, that the ruling of Judge Caffey appearing in the press of October 10 was read. It is interesting that he holds the Government to have failed t o prove its charges either as to monopolization, conspiracy, or other misconduct as charged in the government’s bill. The Judge said, “Anyone is and has been ab!n to go into the production of virgin aluminum since the Bradley patent ran out in 1909. Anyone so desiring needs only bauxite and water power, and it appears that no one stands in the way and that nothing has ever stood in the way with the exception of the patents, the last of which ran out in 1909.’’ The Judge further pointed out that in its 33-year history the Aluminum Company of America had not made exorbitant profits, showing only 10 per cent annual earnings on an average. Further, seven competitors have flourished and some of them a t times have made greater profits than “Alcoa”. It is not likely that many will read Judge Caffey’s opinion, which runs to about 170,000 words, or the record which comprises more than 58,000 pages. The Government spent $100,000 in prosecuting the case and probably considerably more. Of course there will be an appeal. Doubtless under our system energy and treasure must be spent occasionally in this manner, but who could not suggest better ways?

Exchange Students


surely must favor and sanction policies which have led t o an exchange of students between several of the Latin American countries and the United States. We have always been privileged to have a few students coming from the republics to the south of us take advantage of whatever our educational institutions can offer them. We like the idea of perfecting the organization for the interchange of such young people, that we all may become better acquainted and have a more understanding appreciation of the problems of the several countries involved. Attractive places have been chosen for the students from the south, and i t is to be hoped that they have found their time well spent and their experience both pleasant and profitable. Some of us who are older have frequently realized that we were born too soon. This is just another case in point and we hope the young people involved on both sides of such an exchange arrangement will evaluate their opportunities with the realization that in a very real sense they represent their native country and therefore should make the best possible impression.