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PALEONTOLOGY AND PRAGMATISM
Two recent publications of the United States National Museum admirably illustrate a phase of the scientific activities of the government to which I have long thought of calling attention, since they are accomplished without noise or press notices and are of immense value to the people as a whole in addition to their intrinsic scientific worth.
The publications to which I refer are North American Early Tertiary Bryozoa, by Canu and Bassler, constituting Bulletin 106, and Contributions to the Geology and Paleontology of the Canal Zone, by T. Wayland Vaughan and associates, constituting Bulletin 103. More particularly I wish to refer to the work of Canu and Bassler on the Bryozoa, Joseph A. Cushman on the Foraminifera, Marshall A. Howe on the calcareous algæ, and T. Wayland Vaughan on the corals.
These are all groups of organisms whose habits are exceedingly interesting and whose forms are often highly artistic, but none of which furnish food for commercial fishes or humanity, or are objects of trade,1 or yield any gums, wax, gems, or minerals that might make them seemingly worth while to the man in the street.
The Bryozoa are inconspicuous colonial animals, some of them with a beauty all their own, but seldom appreciated since they require magnification in order to be seen to advantage. Some are usually included in amateur collections of so-called sea weeds, but to the average person a bryozoan is as unknown as a native of Mars. The recently installed sea
1 The red coral of commerce and its imitations are exceptions, but these are European and not American products and do not affect the force of the statement.
bottom exhibit in colored glass at the American Museum of Natural History will undoubtedly call the attention of a considerable circle to the wonderful habits and esthetic forms of these tiny animals. That the monograph by Canu and Bassler is a splendid contribution to paleozoology goes without saying -the names of the authors are a guarantee of that what I wish to emphasize is the utilitarian value of such studies.
The Bryozoa belong to a geologically very old phylum, the vast majority secrete a calcareous skeleton, and since they are so plentiful and so tiny they are preserved as fossils in great abundance at very many geological horizons. They are thus admirably adapted to become medals of creation, and highly satisfactory time markers for geologists. They well illustrate the old aphorism of the importance of the insignificant, since while. infinitely varied in detail, their specific limits are usually sharp and their range in time is not too great to enable them to be used with great precision in the determination of the age of geological formations and their correlation over wide areas. Their value has long been recognized in the older geological formations of the Paleozoic and Mesozoic, but in this country at least, their usefulness in delimiting the later formations, has hitherto remained unevaluated.
Geologic correlation may seem remote from the affairs of the workaday world and yet upon its successful consummation rests not only the understanding of the local and general relations underground that are the basis of all exploitation of artesian waters, oil, and other mineral resources of the earth, but it is of prime importance in determining the places or origin and the paths of migration of the life of bygone days. The early Tertiary bryozoa of the Atlantic Coastal Plain not only serve to substantiate the evidence derived from other classes of fossils, but may be expected to eventually help determine whether the past floodings of this region were simultaneous with similar events in the Old World and hence caused by changes in sea level or whether these were due to regional changes
in the attitude and elevation or depression of the land.
National Museum Bulletin 103 contains elevent different papers upon the geology and paleontology of the Canal Zone and much additional information with regard to the Antilles, especially with respect to the corals. In fact, if the Mollusca could have been included, it would serve as a complete manual of the geology and paleontology of that region. A knowledge of calcareous algae, either recent or fossil, is confined to a few specialists. Their fossil remains have never been much used in stratigraphic geology, because, like the bryozoa, diatoms and foraminifera, sufficient intelligence had not been focused upon them to determine their value as indicators of horizons, past events, or past physical conditions. It is only recently that their importance in the formation of magnesium carbonate and the great part they take in the formation of the so-called coral reefs of both the past and the present, has been understood.
The Foraminifera constitute a group of organisms that are exceedingly abundant in existing seas, and useful in a variety of ways in studies of plankton and experimental evolution. They belong to the great and primitive group of the Protozoa, or unicellular animals, and since, unlike so many of their congeners, they early acquired a siliceous or calcereous skeleton they have been preserved in ever increasing abundance in certain marine formations from the Silurian down to the present.
Although they have been utilized to some extent abroad, particularly in the recognition of zones in the nummulitic limestones of the Mediterranean regions, they have attracted but few students in this country, and have been rather generally regarded as lacking in chronologic value. This reputation was largely the result of the specific limits as conceived by English students such as Parker, Jones and Brady, who published large standard works in which single species showed most astonishing ranges of millions of years. Naturally forms that live on unchanged for eons
may safely be ignored in trying to determine the age and succession of the rocks.
It may be doubted, however, if any class of organisms do not have an interesting and important story to tell provided we learn their language. This has proven to be the case with our American foraminifera at the hands of Cushman. Since forams are generally small and abundant when present at all they stand a much better chance of preservation in both compact limestones and coarse sandy marls than do the tests of higher and larger marine organisms. They have been particularly useful in tracing the Tertiary geological zones around the equatorial belt of the world. In Panama, around the borders and on the islands of the Spanish Main, as well as in our own southern coastal plain, the Foraminifera have proven to be often the only, and always among the most satisfactory types of fossils. Widely distributed in the seaways, rapidly mutating into recognizable differentials, they have been one of the keys to our understanding of the history of equatorial America.
They, like the Bryozoa, are generally small enough to be present in well samples where larger forms are not encountered or are largely smashed beyond recognition by the drills. They have lately been shown to be of profound significance in the location of the oil sands by means of a study of well cuttings in the Texas oil fields. They are almost the only fossils in the thick series of calcareous clays that overlie the oil sands in the Tampico district, and in this last region alone will eventually contribute more in dollars and cents to the wealth of the world than all of the issues of the Congressional Record that have ever been printed.
Probably the laymen requires no introduction to corals. All boys can probably be divided into two classes, at least such was once the case-those who avowed that they were going to be locomotive engineers when they grew up, and those who longed to explore a coral reef or live on a South Pacific coral atoll. Any one who has never experienced the thrill that comes from contem
plating the profusion of surging life in and around a coral reef, or does not know the fascinating beauty of even the dead skeletons of coral life would do well to read the popular illustrated account by Vaughan in the last annual report of the Smithsonian Institution.
Corals are all small marine animals, but many of them dwell in colonies, notably the so-called stone corals, and secrete the calcareous skeletons familiarly known as corals. Like the Bryozoa, corals are sedentary except for the short period when they have a freeswimming larval fling as it were. Their ancestors go back as far as the fossil records go, and they have never suffered the obliquity as horizon markers that has at times attached to the Bryozoa and Foraminifera.
Reef corals require definite temperatures and environmental conditions in order to flourish. hence they are useful in retrospective prophecy. Geologically they are especially important during later geological times in Mediterranean regions-in the south of Europe, the Antilles, and the balance of equatorial America. Their contribution to our understanding of the relations and geological history of the Antilles is probably not equalled and certainly not exceeded by any other group of organisms.
In conclusion to cite but a single pragmatic instance of the ultimate commercial value of these monographic paleontologic studies that are published by the National Museum-the exploration for oil in central and northern South America, and the successful interpretation of structure that is the key to commercial success or failure in the far off tierra caliente of Colombia or Venezuela, rests very largely on the application of the results of the unostentatious and unadvertised paleontologic studies.
EDWARD W. BERRY
JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY
A NEW OBSERVATORY IN CLEVELAND
CASE School of Applied Science, Cleveland, Ohio, dedicated a new observatory on Columbus Day, October 12, 1920. It is to be known
as the Warner and Swazey Observatory, in honor of the donors, members of the noted firm that have made so many of the largest and best telescopes in this country. Mr. Warner is a trustee of Case School of Applied Science, and both men have long taken an active interest in the work of the school. They secured the site on the brow of a hill overlooking a residential section of East Cleveland, about two miles from the campus, but easily accessible, and erected on it a handsome brick structure filled with all the necessary equipment to carry on college instruction in astronomy. The gift to Case is the most noteworthy addition to astronomical equipment in this section of the country, and especially significant because it is in the home city of the men whose name it will bear.
The observatory is L-shaped, with the tower and dome at the angle. One wing contains two astronomical transits, and a zenith telescope, all from the Warner and Swazey factory. The other wing contains a constant-temperature clock room, provided with two Riefler clocks, and a library room, suitable for class use as well, housing the school's collection of astronomical books. The tower will accommodate a small class where the ten-inch telescope is mounted. The lens was ground by John Brashear, of Pittsburgh. The tube is fitted with every device known to the expert makers to increase its usefulness. In the basement are living apartments for a caretaker, a storeroom, a battery room, and a dark room for photographic purposes.
At the dedicatory exercises, which were held outdoors on the grounds, both Mr. Swazey and Mr. Warner spoke, the former relating some of the firm's experiences in the making and improving of astronomical instruments, and the latter referring especially to the instrument presented to Case, and making the formal presentation. President Charles S. Howe accepted the gift on behalf of the trustees. The main address of the occasion was given by Director W. W. Campbell, of the Lick Observatory of the University of California, on the subject, "The Daily Influence of Astronomy." Professor D. T. Wilson, professor of
astronomy at Case, outlined the work done at the school in astronomy, and the services he hoped the school would be able to render the community by means of this splendid observatory.
K. O. THOMPSON
A SURVEY OF FOREST RESEARCH
"NORTH American Forest Research" published as Vol. 1, Part 4, No. 4, of the Bulletin of the National Research Council, Washington, D. C., is a summary of the investigative projects in forestry and allied subjects. It covers the work carried on in 1919-1920 by national, state, and provincial governments, schools of forestry, scientific schools and private interests in Canada, Newfoundland and the United States. The work is a compilation by the committee on American forest research, of the society of American Foresters. It is the first and only authoritative and complete outline of research work in forestry devoted to increasing the knowledge of the best means of producing and utilizing one of the greatest natural resources of the North American continent.
Agricultural research, as exemplified by the agricultural experiment stations, has proved its practical value. Forest research attempts to do for forest production what agricultural research has done for agricultural production.
The bulletin describes the investigative work that is being done in four main fields. (1) Utilization of forest products; (2) Proper handling of the forest and its perpetuation; (3) Proper handling of the range within or adjoining forests; (4) Forest economics, or the relation of the forests and their products to the economic life of the continent.
The survey is said to contain brief descriptions of studies being carried on for practically every important forest region, type and tree and in every province and state in which the forests are an important economic factor in North America.
A SCORE FOR HEALTH ACTIVITIES THE New York State Department of Health has prepared an activities score for cities with
a population of from 25,000 to 175,000 inhabitants. Of a possible 1,000 points for perfect, adequate public health nursing service counts 75; other follow-up social service 10; adequate dispensary or clinic service 70; hospital facilities for the communicable diseases 45; a day nursery 10; Little Mothers' League 10; good newspaper publicity regarding health matters 50; and a physician in charge of the infant welfare station 15. This gives a total of 285 points for activities in which the nurse is directly concerned. In general the score provides the following distribution of credit:
COUNCIL MEETING OF THE ILLINOIS STATE ACADEMY OF SCIENCE
Ar the call of President Cowles a meeting of the council was held at the University Club, Chicago, on September 28. There were present President Cowles, retiring President Ward, Vice-president Knipp, Treasurer Watermann and Librarian Crook.
The first question taken up was how best to meet the great misfortune which had befallen the academy in the death of Secretary Pricer. It was voted that the librarian continue until the next meeting to serve as secretary, as he had been doing at the request of the president since the death of Secretary Pricer. With
some misgivings as to the wisdom of such appointment the librarian consented.
In conformity with action at the Danville meeting the following legislative committee was appointed: H. C. Cowles, Chicago, chairman; William Barnes, Decatur; E. W. Payne, Springfield; R. M. Barnes, Lacon; Geo. Langford, Joliet.
It was voted that the fiscal year of the academy begin with the calendar year and that dues be payable on the December 1st preceding, to accord with arrangements with the A. A. A. S. The secretary was instructed to mail the three volumes of Transactions which are to appear shortly, to paid-up members only.
It was decided to hold the annual meeting for 1921 at Carbondale some time in the spring with the hope of having a field day and the president was requested to begin arrange ments for such meeting. The president was requested to appoint chairmen for the various sections which it might seem advisable to form at the coming meeting. The treasurer presented matters concerning various classes of members and the relation between the State Academy and the A. A. A. S. It was suggested that he publish a list of members whose address is unknown, in hope that some member can supply the information wanted.
The following committee was appointed to continue the work of interesting high school science clubs, other science clubs, boards of education, teachers, etc. in the work of the academy and to suggest to them the desirability of sending delegates to academy meetings: Charles T. Knipp, Chairman, Urbana; W. G. Watermann, Evanston; R. H. Linkins, Normal; H. S. Pepoon, Chicago.
A. R. CROOK, Acting Secretary
THE ENGINeering foUNDATION
AN anonymous gift of $200,000 toward a fivemillion-dollar fund for the promotion of research in science and in engineering is announced by Engineering Foundation at its headquarters in the Engineering Societies Building, New York City. This contribution.