Automatic Respirator.--An ingenious apparatus for coaxing new-born babies to breathe was shown at an exhibition held by Britain's Royal Society late in May. The most common cause of deaths in new-born infants is shortage of breath, caused by defects in the lungs or by general weakness which prevents normal breathing. These difficulties are often only temporary, and the baby will recover if he can be tided over the emergency by an artificial respirator. Unfortunately machines used for paralyzed adults, delivering a dose of air at regular intervals, will not do for the new-born baby, who often takes a few breaths and then rests for a while before starting again. If a regular rhythm is imposed by a machine, the infant struggles against it and does not take in enough air to keep itself alive. The new machine is an electronic respirator which is actually controlled by the infant itself. When the baby makes an effort to take in breath, a small pressure change in his face mask operates a sensitive trigger valve and brings an electronic controller into operation. The original impulse supplied by the baby is amplified and used to open a valve connected to an air or oxygen cylinder. In this way the baby receives breath when it wants it. But the amount of air that it gets is not limited by its own feeble strength. If the child stops breathing for a dangerously long time, the machine takes charge and gives it breath without being asked. But as soon as the child makes another effort itself, the machine responds to it. The machine, developed by a team of doctors, engineers and physicists, is in regular use for the treatment of respiratory difficulties in premature babies and other new-born infants at the Royal Maternity and Women's Hospital in Glasgow, Scotland.
[J. F. I.
The apparatus may have application to the treatment of adults, particularly in respiratory paralysis after poliomyelitis. It is reported that a modified version may be produced commercially.
Lighter, Stronger Sheet Protectors.--Pity the poor salesman with the overstuffed briefcase! A partial solution is offered by a new transparent sheet protector which enables a salesman to carry up to 50 per cent more presentation and reference material in the same amount of space. Sheet protectors made of transparent film are widely used for protecting albums, displays, reports, presentations, and other papers against dirt and handling. The new protectors, made of "Mylar" polyester film, are thinner, lighter, and stronger than protectors made of other films, according to the manufacturer. Weight of the new protectors is approximately 50 per cent that of other protectors, since the strength of "Mylar" permits use of film only 0.002 in thick. Reinforcing is unnecessary, since the punch holes will withstand a 60-1b. pull without tearing, according to the manufacturer. Because of the thin gauge film, a standard 1-in. binder will hold 55 sheet protectors as against 35 to 45 of any other kind, it is claimed, thus providing additional space for crowded storage facilities. The protectors have excellent scratch resistance, clarity, and will last almost indefinitely since the film is not affected by moisture, temperature, or age. Sheet protectors of "Mylar" polyester film are manufactured by the Joshua Meier Company, Inc., New York, and are available at stationery and department stores throughout the country.