Page images
PDF
EPUB

Though oil was known to exist in the Big brick building on York Street, adjacent to Horn Basin as early as 1888 and sporadic at- Wrexham Hall. tempts have from time to time since been made

ACCORDING to the Journal of the American to discover it in large quantities, the produc- Medical Association the number of students tion of oil in this region may be said to have enrolled in the medical department of the begun in 1906, when wells were drilled in the

University of Buenos Aires is over 5,000. In Byron field. Wells were afterwards drilled in

1917, there were 4,078 enrolled, distributed as several other parts of the basin, and though follows: medicine, 3,051; pharmacy, 317; docsmall quantities of oil and gas have been dis- tor in pharmacy, 88; odontology, 428, and obcovered in fourteen fields, the region is well stetrics, 194. Including the departments of known largely because of the production since law, engineering, philosophy and literature, 1914 from the Grass Creek, Elk Basin, Grey

agronomy and veterinary science, there are a bull and Torchlight fields. From 1914 to

total of 9,521 matriculated students. There 1916 the production of oil in Wyoming rose are 984 students inscribed in the medical defrom 3,560,375 to 6,234,137 barrels, and a con

partment of the other university in the counsiderable part of this increase has been de

try, the University of Cordoba. rived from the fields just named. The report

DURING the absence of President Harry describes fifty anticlines and domes, twenty

Pratt Judson, of the University of Chicago, as seven of which have been tested by drilling.

head of the American Commission for Relief Four of these contain very productive oil and

in Persia, the dean of the faculties, Professor gas fields, and seven contain fields that are less

James R. Angell, head of the department of productive and less promising. The anticlines

psychology, has been designated by the board lie in a broad belt around the border of the

of trustees as vice-president of the university. Big Horn Basin, and the authors of the re

FRANK L. DE BEUKELAER, professor of chemport conclude that those which are nearest the

istry at Washburn College, Topeka, Kansas, central trough of the basin offer the greatest

has been appointed to an instructorship in the prospect for successful drilling. In fact, none

department of chemistry at the University of of the explored anticlines that are separated

Chicago. from the central trough by other anticlines have yet yielded more than traces of oil and

Dr. Cyrus H. FISKE, who has held the posigas. As nine anticlines adjacent to the cen

tion of assistant professor of biological chemtral trough remain untested there is a good istry at Western Reserve University, Cleveprospect that other productive fields may yet

land, will join the Harvard medical staff with be discovered. The report was prepared by D.

the same title. F. Hewett and C. T. Lupton.

DISCUSSION AND CORRESPONDENCE

THE SUPPLY OF ORGANIC REAGENTS UNIVERSITY AND EDUCATIONAL NEWS

TO THE EDITOR OF SCIENCE: In order to proBy the will of Elmer P. Howe, of Marble

vide for the supply of organic reagents for head, Mass., after private bequests amounting research and industrial purposes the Eastman to between $35,000 and $40,000 are provided

Kodak Company has determined to commence for, the residue of the estate is to be divided their preparation in its research laboratory. equally between Yale University and the Wor

This decision was arrived at partly as a cester Polytechnic Institute for general use.

result of the letters of Dr. Roger Adams and For the purposes of the probate bond the es- Professor Gortnerl which drew our attention tate is estimated at $30,000 real and $400,000 to the need for an adequate supply of these personal property.

materials produced by a firm of standing. DR. CHARLES A. TUTTLE has presented to 1 SCIENCE, March 8, 1918, p. 226 and June 14, Yale University his home and offices, a large 1918, p. 590.

In order to carry on the work a separate section of the laboratory has been established under the title of the “ Department of Synthetic Chemistry," which will be under the immediate direction of Dr. H. T. Clarke, well known for his publications on organic chemistry.

In order to meet the need expressed in Professor Gortner's letter and to make available to research laboratories in this country the organic chemicals which they require, it is proposed that chemicals for research work shall be supplied at the lowest possible price. At first, no doubt, this price will necessarily be higher than that charged by the German firms before the war, but it is hoped that eventually the profit made on chemicals supplied for commercial purposes may enable the rarer materials made in small quantities for research work to be sold at a price which will be within the reach of all who require them.

At first, of course, the laboratory will be able to supply only a limited number of substances, and these in small amounts, but the department will be expanded to meet the demand and with the assistance of other laboratories interested in organic chemistry, and of the firms who are producing dyes and intermediates, it is hoped that after a time an ade quate supply of synthetic organic reagents can be made available.

It is possible that laboratories may have in stock unusual reagents which they are unlikely to require. If any laboratories possessing such reagents will write to us we shall be glad to make an offer for the materials, thus making them available on the market.

Our thanks are due to many of the chief chemists of the country who have encouraged us to commence this work and especially to Professor Roger Adams for the way in which he has received our proposals and has assisted us by placing at our disposal the information as to this work which he has accumulated.

Communications regarding reagents should be addressed to the Research Laboratory, Eastman Kodak Company, Rochester, N. Y.

C. E. K. MEES July 11, 1918

FIREFLIES FLASHING IN UNISON IN SCIENCE for February 4, 1916, I published a short note entitled “Fireflies Flashing in Unison" in which I gave my own observations with confirmatory notes of K. G. Blair regarding a European species. This note led to a discussion in the pages of SCIENCE in which various views were expressed; one writer throwing doubt on the correctness of my observations, another suggesting that I was deceived and the effect psychological, another that it was the result of coincidence and still another giving confirmatory evidence of the phenomenon in question.

IN SCIENCE for September 15, 1916, I was able through the courtesy of Professor E. B. Poulton of Oxford, to note the advanced pages of a book entitled, “ A Naturalist in Borneo,by Mr. S. Shelford, an old student of Professor Poulton. Mr. Shelford describes vividly the synchronous flashing of fireflies he observed in Borneo. In SCIENCE for October 27, 1916, Mr. F. Alex. McDermott, who has made a special study of the light emission of American Lampyridæ,1 has found no periodicity in the phenomenon. In SCIENCE for November 17, 1916, Mr. H. A. Allard says:

The synchronal flashing of fireflies appears to be a very rare phenomenon in North America. So rarely does it seem to occur that one may consider himself fortunate if he has observed the phenomenon once in a lifetime.

His observations were made at Oxford, Mass. A heavy thunder storm had passed over followed by a profound calm, the air was very warm and humid; thousands of these insects were sailing low over the ground flashing incessantly as far as the eye could

After a while a most remarkable synchronism in the flashing appeared to take place, giving one the impression of alternating waves of illumination and darkness in the distance. Though Mr. Allard had given great attention to the flashing of fireflies since these observations were made twelve years before he had never since observed this phenomenon.

In SCIENCE for September 28, 1917, Mr. Frank C. Gates, of Carthage College, from ex

1 Canadian Entomologist, Vols. 42, 43, 44.

see.

periments made on two specimens in a tent plain a well-known occurrence in a small with a flashlight and observations made in the group of individuals, as at a dinner party Philippines concludes that the synchronism when they all cease talking for an appreciable in the flashing of a group of fireflies is ac- time, but would not explain the quiet pause cidental and of very rare occurrence

which one sometimes observes in a large dinMr. Olaf O. Nylander, of Caribou, Me., to ing hall containing hundreds of diners. I whom I sent a copy of my firefly article, in a discovered the cause of this phenomenon some letter dated October 8, 1916, says that a num- years ago. While dining with a number of ber of years ago, while walking from Caribou friends at the Parker House the guests at a Mills to his home, he noticed in a small clear- neighboring table had been noisy, even boisting the greatest assembly of fireflies that he erous, doubtless we had been somewhat noisy had ever seen; the ground and stumps were too. The neighboring table suddenly became fairly aglow. The flashes were not perhaps quiet and we stopped talking to see if the as regular as an army officer would like to see noisy ones had gone, but they were still there, in regimental drills but were so rhythmic that other tables looked about for the pause and any one would take note of their action. He this hush spread rapidly through the hall. also observed that the air was very damp at Dear old Dr. Virchow had often observed this the time.

pause and thought my explanation correct. In The Scientific American of January 19, He also told me that it was a saying in his 1918, Mr. John V Purssell, of Washington, country that when this hush occurred an angel D. C., records that

was passing through the room, also that a In the town of Cotabato, Island of Mindanao,

lieutenant was paying his debts! So in reP. I., a few years ago, there were two trees about

gard to fireflies a dozen or more might flash the size of apple trees, and perhaps a hundred feet

for awhile in unison as a coincidence, but apart, and every evening these were filled with fire- when thousands are observed to flash in unison flies which flashed in synchronism, first one tree no doctrine of probability or chance can aclighting up and then the other. There must have

count for it. been several thousand insects in each tree, yet the

EDWARD S. MORSE synchronism was so perfect that rarely or never

SALEM, Mass., did a single firefly flash at the wrong time.

July 2, 1918 To the best of my recollection the illuminated period lasted about two or three seconds and the

THE VERO MAN AND THE SABRE TOOTH dark period perhaps twice that long. I can positively vouch for the accuracy of the foregoing for

IN determining the relative antiquity of the it seemed so strange, and produced so beautiful an Vero man and the fossil plants and animals effect that I thought it one of the most remark- there associated, certain larger factors yet able things in the Philippines, and it made a deep require attention. The direct evidence has impression on me.

been minutely examined from varying points The independent observations of this syn- of view: geologic, paleontologic, anthropologic. chronism in the flashing of fireflies by the It seems conclusive that the man of Vero author in Gorham, Me.; K. G. Blair in Eu- reached one of the last lairs of the sabrerope; S. Shelford in Borneo; Dr. H. C. Bum- toothed tiger, as Dr. Hay contends; while pus near Woods Hole, Mass.; H. A. Allard in Berry discloses a degree of change in the local Oxford, Mass.; Olaf O. Nylander in northern flora not to be ignored. But, on the other Maine and John C. Purssell in Mindanao, hand, the anthropologists show that the acPhilippine Islands, are I think quite sufficient companying artifacts are like those elsewhere to establish the fact that these insects do at recent. times flash in unison. The rarity of the oc- Perhaps the anthropologists have the best currence is a mystery.

of the argument, as such. Florida has reIn this connection a coincidence might ex- tained much its present outline since the close of the Eocene, sometimes a little below the locally characteristic for its old floral eleocean level, never far above. Geologic changements, and of generally soft climate since the has been at no time great enough to prevent Eocene. the easy reentrance of the sub-tropic vegeta- Evidently the spruce pine” country extion, persistent in the United States at three emplifies a pronounced type of the so-called points only—the Lower Colorado, the Lower " asylum” or isolated and persisting habitat Rio Grande, and the lower part of the “spruce Bubjected throughout long periods of time to pine," and Pinus heterophylla sections of the minimum of environmental change. EsFlorida. In each of these widely separated pecially the cats earlier tended to drift to the regions larger continental features tend to south; and there the man of Vero found them create and maintain melior climatic condi- when he reached that soft climate and emtions. The Colorado cuts deep, and holds its ployed or developed arts admittedly recent. valley protected from the cold. The gulf Seemingly too, the fossil plants and animals warms the low coastal strip markedly as far of Vero, after persisting beyond their geonorth as the mouth of the Rio Grande; and logically appointed time, were finally cut off Florida, though flung well out to sea, so blocks by changes relatively slight. the warmer gulf waters that the southern half

G. R. WIELAND has long held to the favorable mean of dry

YALE UNIVERSITY days, rain and warmth. Long coastal barriers afford further protection.

SCIENTIFIC BOOKS Even a cursory glance at forest distribution

Fossil Plants. By A. C. SEWARD. Cambridge in Florida serves to throw into relief the belts

Biological Series 1917. Vol. III., pp. xviii and regions of change of first concern. The

+ 656, 629 figs. upper half of Florida is still favorable to the

The present volume, the third of Seward's “long leaf pine” (Pinus palustris), and now

great work, Volume 1 having been published undergoes marked variation in its winter tem

in 1898 and Volume 2 in 1910, is appropriately peratures. Facing the Atlantic, this forest

dedicated to the late Professor Zeiller, the dean sharply gives way to the " spruce pine," and

of paleobotanists. It is to be followed by a not far below Vero the palmetto-cycad under

fourth volume, which it is stated is already in bush begins. Along the southern-western

press, and which will discuss the remaining coast, is the region of “pine islands and cy

gymnosperms——the great group of angiosperms, press straits," as Bowman says, even more

so abundant in the fossil record from the midmonotonous than the east coast." All the

Cretaceous to the present, apparently not comhigher ground is invested by a Pinus hetero- ing within the category of fossil plants in the phylla forest, with a nearly pure palmetto un- mind of a British botanist, which is quite in derbush, while the cycads also show a different keeping with British tradition and practise. facies. The Zamia floridana is rare in the Volume 3 opens with a very satisfactory open woods, although the 2. pumila grows chapter devoted to a discussion of existing more characteristically inside the mangrove cycads, largely an abstract of already pubfringes next the coast.

lished data. Then follow three chapters deThe Vero man thus occurs near the border voted to the Pteridospermæ. These are diof the “spruce pine” (Pinus glabra) forest, vided into three families—the Lyginopteridæ, with its striking and unique underbush of Medulloseæ and Steloxyleæ, and are rather cycads and bush palmetto (Zamia floridana fully and very satisfactorily discussed. and Sabal serrulata). The latter in places The remaining structural forms that are make up the underbush nearly in equal num- probably more or less closely related to the bers. But that this striking forest facies earl- foregoing pteridospsrms are considered to repier extended to the north of Vero is probable; resent the following seven families: Megawhile in any case Vero lies within a region loxyleæ, Rhetinangieæ, Stenomyeleæ, Cycadoxyleæ, Calamopityeæ, Cladoxyleæ and Pro- older workers. It may seem ungracious to topityeæ, and these are discussed in a separate criticize a noteworthy undertaking but it seems chapter under the group term of Cycadofilices. to the reviewer that throughout the three volThese presumable pteridosperms, because of umes already published there is a disregard of the dearth of conclusive evidence, are thus proportion and an unevenness of execution arbitrarily segregated. While caution is to be that seriously impair their value. It is imcommended in dealing with fragmentary plant possible to discover the method of selection of fossils it may be questioned whether judg- matter to be included-unimportant and even ment may not be suspended until it dies of doubtful forms are sometimes discussed, as inanition. It is also questionable how far it under Williamsonia, among the seeds, or the is desirable to introduce purely artificial frond genera of Cycadophytes, while more imgroups, and if it be granted as desirable, it portant material is not even mentioned. In may be pertinent to ask what criteria are to a work spreading through four stout volumes decide such a question. That such a course one reasonably expects either completeness or does not make for clearness and that such a formulated method of selection. If the dequestions rest after all upon personal equation sire was to present in the main fossil plants rather than upon objective facts may be illus- based upon structural materials, why burden trated by Seward's reference of the genus the pages with a very incomplete representaSteloxylon to his Pteridosperma and the tion of other classes of plant remains. scarcely to be distinguished genus Cladoxylon The author assumes an oracular air that to his Cy dofilices. The fact that so many

reminds one of Lowell's charming essay enof the so-called families of the latter group are titled “On a certain condescension in foreignmonotypic is convincing enough evidence that ers," and there is constantly displayed a readithey illustrate chance discoveries and the im- ness to pass judgment merely on the illustraperfection of the geological record and that tions of other students' work, often in cases they have absolutely no other significance such where most paleobotanists would be disposed as Scott has suggested.

to deny the author's competency, as for exFollowing the chapter devoted to Cycado- ample in the case of the determination of filices are two chapters dealing with the American species referred to Eremopteris. Cordaitales which are described under the There are also certain insular tendencies, as three groups of Poroxyleæ, Cordaitex and in the overemphasis of Carboniferous, Jurassic Pityeæ. A succeeding chapter of 65 pages is and Cretaceous horizons that have been studied devoted to Paleozoic gymnospermous seeds and in Britain, and the space devoted to the local the remainder of the book is taken up with a history of important British specimens. consideration of fossil Cycadophytes. These Professor Seward's position on the difficulty last chapters are, on the whole, a very satis- of founding well-marked botanical species on factory summary of the present state of our

material preserved as impressions is well knowledge although the concluding chapter, known and in the main sound. However, as devoted to the fronds, is much abbreviated and has been pointed out recently by Halle, this not especially noteworthy.

does not justify the assumption that all fossils There can be no doubt of the usefulness of that are superficially similar belong to the Seward's book, particularly in the case of same species regardless of geographical posimature students and professional morpholo- tion or geological horizon. Such a method of gists. The author has a wide acquaintance treatment entirely obscures whatever real value with the literature, especially on the side of such fossils may have for purposes of deducmorphology and modern botany, and the book tion concerning geographical distribution, the shows throughout the results of considerable problems of paleogeography growing out of original work and a large amount of reinvesti- distribution, and the bearing of fossil plants gation of insufficiently described material of

upon stratigraphy.

« PreviousContinue »