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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/152

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the Bay of Biscay have become of great commercial value. The railway journey of four or five hours from Bordeaux to Bayonne is now made through a long, monotonous pine-forest. The cultivation of the pine improves the soil, which is gradually enriched and altered in quality by the dead leaves and other vegetable débris which fall upon it. In some places clearings have been made in the forests and vineyards planted.


The Colorado Oil-Field.—According to Prof. Newberry's description in the American Association, the oil-field recently discovered in Colorado is situated in the valley of the Arkansas, above Pueblo, about the town of Florence. The geological formation is middle cretaceous, the Laramie coal series (upper cretaceous) forming the table-land on either side of the valley, the oil-wells being bored in the Colorado shales (middle cretaceous). These shales are highly carbonaceous, and have a thickness of about three thousand feet. About twenty wells have been bored, mostly to the depth of from eleven to sixteen hundred feet; some fourteen are now pumping, and yield from eight hundred to a thousand barrels per day. The oil is of excellent quality, has a green color, and an agreeable odor. It yields on distillation forty per cent of excellent burning-fluid, and nearly sixty per cent of superior lubricating oil, which contains much more paraffine than the oil of Pennsylvania. The average yield of the wells is nearly sixty barrels. This is larger than the average yield of the Pennsylvania wells, but there are no great "gushers" or fountain-wells. The oil-field of the Arkansas Valley is extensive, and the yield of oil may apparently be increased indefinitely. At present there is no sale for the lubricating oil, but, when an outlet is opened to that by way of the Gulf of Mexico, the oil industry may be expected to become very important and remunerative. The source of the oil is undoubtedly the carbonaceous matter of the Colorado black shale, from which it is being spontaneously distilled.


Deaths by Wild Beasts in India.—Conditions of peril from wild beasts and snakes exist in India of which it is hard to form an adequate conception in a country like ours. The death-list from these causes has, during the last four years, averaged more than 22,500. Of 22,817 deaths in one of these years, 20,142 were caused by shakes, leaving 2,675 to be ascribed to wild beasts. Last year's returns also mention 60,000 head of cattle as killed by these agencies, of which snakes were, however, responsible for only 2,000, while 20,000 each were ascribed to leopards and tigers. The apathy of the natives in the face of this destruction would be astonishing to a Westerner, as would also their remissness in clearing out places where these nuisances abound.



The article on "Bird Courts of Justice" in the last number of the "Monthly" should have been credited to "Chambers's Journal," from which it was, with a few adaptations and abbreviations, compiled.

Committees were appointed by the American Association at its Cleveland meeting as fellows: Committee on Chemistry Teaching—W. H. Seaman, W. L. Dudley, H. W. Wiley, W. O. Atwater, and W. A. Moyes; Committee on Water Analysis—O. C. Caldwell, J. W. Langley, J. A. Myers, W. P. Mason, R. B. Warder, and W. H. Seaman; Committee to confer concerning the Organization of a National Chemical Society—A. B. Prescott, Alfred Springer, and Edward Hart. Dr. A. B. Prescott was substituted for Dr. Scudder on the Committee on indexing Chemical Literature.

In a paper read by Dr. Franz Boas before the American Association, on "The Development of the Civilization of the North American Indian," the legends of the various tribes are discussed, and it is shown that, notwithstanding their general similarity, the mythology of each tribe is founded on a separate basis. Thus it is shown that the common culture of the tribes of the northwest coast of America is not uniform, and the influence of one of them is more particularly traced. This culture should be analyzed more carefully before any comparisons with Asiatic and Polynesian tribes can be successfully made.

Prof. B. E. Fernow, having shown in the American Association that the prevailing definitions of a tree—as distinguished from a shrub—are various and inexact, proposed this: "Trees are woody plants, the seed of which has the inherent capacity (potential energy) of producing naturally within their field of distribution one main, erect axis (single stem or trunk), not divided at or near the ground (bearing a crown), the primary axis continuing to grow for a number of years more vigorously than the lateral axis, and the lower branches dying off in time."