Down on the farm

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In this program research scientists explore a mystery that has baffled man for ages – the life process itself. To gain knowledge that someday might answer questions such as, “How do plants make food?” and “What will control the spread of cancer?” Scientists at the United States Atomic Energy Commission’s Argonne National Laboratory are experimenting with the simplest forms of plant and animal life. One avenue of research is centered on the study of algae, one-celled green plants commonly found in pools of stagnant water. The algae were singled out because, like man, they are basically chemical factories – only infinitely more simple in structure. Scientists explain, in this program, how they have succeeded in growing algae in pure “heavy” water, a rare form of water that has hydrogen atoms that are twice as heavy as Normal hydrogen atoms.From a unique “algae farm” the scientists harvest these tiny plants. Their crop gives them chemicals that have heavy hydrogen in place of ordinary hydrogen atoms. Other larger plants are being grown successfully in mixtures of heavy water and ordinary water, and these also are valuable chemical factories.The scientists found that organisms growing in heavy water grow at a slower rate and have different nutritional requirements than organisms growing in ordinary water. From these findings, research scientists are exploring the possibility that heavy water might cause a slow-down in the aging process. Scientist has experimented also with mice to determine what effect heavy water has on animals. Already, they have succeeded in replacing about 30 percent of the normal water in mice with heavy water. Scientists have found that heavy water retards the growth of mice and that tissue which normally grows the fastest appeared to be the most retarded in growth. This latter finding may someday have a bearing on understanding cancer in humans and may lead to a breakthrough in its treatment.Other startling biological effects also have been demonstrated in organisms which have been given doses of “heavy” carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen. In these experiments, scientists were able to alter the growth of the organisms. These alterations may hold further clues to the life process.
Norman Ross; Joseph J. Katz; Henry L. Crespi; David McElroy; Clifford Braun; John Suchy; Richard Puryear; Theodore Krohne; Ross-McElroy Productions; Argonne National Laboratory
Indiana University Audio-Visual Center; National Educational Television
Chemistry ; Biology.
National Educational Television
IUL Moving Image Archive
Rights Statement
No Copyright - United States
Physical Description
2 Films (0:00:00); 16mm
Other Identifiers
IULMIA Film Database: 40000003219369; Other: GR00456803; MDPI Barcode: 40000003219369; MDPI Barcode: 40000003219609

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