From the July 14, 1934, issue


Plants of the Southwestern desert might well be amused—if plants could feel amusement—over the present grievous outcry caused by the drought’s menace to the softer-bodied crops of the moister areas to the east. For desert plants have learned to live in a land cursed with a drought that never ends. They do not live entirely without water—nothing can do that—but they make the most of the scant brief rains and occasional cloudbursts that come into their lives, and during the long parched intervals just mark time.

Desert plants and their ways of making a living in a hard land have been studied extensively by Dr. Forrest Shreve, director of the Desert Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, located at Tucson, Ariz.

One route through the desert frequently traversed by Dr. Shreve in his plant-study tours follows the old Spanish “Camino del Diablo,” or Devil’s Highway, which lies along the U.S.-Mexican boundary between Nogales, Ariz., and a point a little below Yuma on the Colorado River. This was once the only road through the desert, and its dangers to human life are chillingly manifest through the many groups of graves that mark its course.

Yet plants live in this deadly land. Not many kinds of them, nor many individuals, when all kinds are counted together. But they do survive, tough evidences of the tenacity of properly adapted forms of life.

Most numerous are the creosote bushes, low, rounded, grayish-green leaved shrubs. So much ground space must each have for its spreading wheel of roots to search for moisture that they do not, as a rule, grow closer together than at 10-foot intervals in favorable areas, and they may be as sparse as a mere dozen plants to an acre.


A personality study of identical twins, only one of whom suffers from epilepsy, throws new light on the hereditary constitution of those subject to this disease. The case of these sisters, young girls strikingly similar in appearance, one of whom has been stunted mentally and in personality by the disease, has just been reported to the American Neurological Association by Dr. Walter Freeman of George Washington University.

Physically, one of the girls might be the image of the other, except that the epileptic patient is about an inch-and-a-quarter shorter than her sister. They are similar in color of eyes and hair, skin texture, shape of ears and hands, tone of voice, and even in a peculiar and characteristic fluttering of the eyelids and marked readiness to burst into tears with slight provocation.

They have also followed very similar careers, both starting in the same occupation. Both are married—and to the same type of individual.

But the personalities and mental abilities show significant differences. Since they are identical twins with exactly the same hereditary make-up, scientists may be justified in assuming that the healthy sister presents a picture of what the other girl might have been had she not developed epilepsy, Dr. Freeman says. And their similarities in temperament throw light on what are the fundamental constitutional factors—the X-factors—present in the individual who is subject to epilepsy.


Climbing to altitudes of over 3 miles, Army, Navy, and commercial pilots for the U.S. Weather Bureau will now carry instruments aloft with them each day from 20 different airports, on vertical hops to record conditions in the higher air and give weather experts increased data on which to base their forecasts.

For the past 2 or 3 years, commercial pilots have been making daily jaunts above the clouds to take observations for the weatherman. But up until the beginning of July, mass analyses for the upper air have not been conducted on a large scale.

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