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On Being the Right Size

Condensed from Harper's Magazine (March '26)
J. B. S. Haldane

OR every type of animal there

is a most convenient size, and a large change in size inevitably carries with it a change of form.

To the mouse and any smaller animal gravity presents practically

no dangers. You can drop


mouse down a thousand-yard mine shaft and, on arriving at the bottom, it gets a slight shock and walks I away. A rat is killed, a man is I broken, a horse splashes. For the I resistance presented to movement by the air is proportional to the surface of the moving object.

An insect, therefore, is not afraid of gravity; it can fall without danger,

and can cling to the ceiling with remarkably little trouble. But there is a force which is as formidable to an insect as gravitation to a mammal. This is surface tension. A man coming out of a bath carries with him a film of water of about one-fiftieth of an inch in thickness. This weighs about a pound. A wet mouse has to carry about its own weight of water. A wet fly has to lift many times its own weight and, as everyone knows a fly once wetted by water or any other liquid is in a very serious position indeed. An insect going for a drink is in as great danger as a man leaning out over a precipice in search of food. If it once falls into the grip of the surface tension of the water-that is to say, gets wet-it is likely to remain so until it drowns. A few insects, such as water-beetles, contrive to be unwettable; the majority keeps well away from their drink by means of a long proboscis.

Tall land animals have to pump their blood to greater heights than a man and, therefore, require a larger blood pressure and tougher

blood vessels. A great many men die from burst arteries, especially in the brain, and this danger is presumably still greater for an elephant or a giraffe. But animals of all kinds find difficulties in size for the following reason: A typical small animal, say a microscopic worm, has a smooth skin through which all the oxygen it requires can soak in, and a straight gut with sufficient surface to absorb its food. Increase its dimensions tenfold in every direction, and its weight is increased a thousand times, so that it will need a thousand times as much food and oxygen per day.

Now, if its shape is unaltered its surface will be increased only a hundredfold, and ten times as much oxygen must enter per minute through each square millimeter of skin, ten times as much food through each square millimeter of intestine. When a limit is reached to their absorptive, powers their surface has to be increased by some special device. For example, a part of the skin may be drawn out into tufts to make gills, or pushed in to make lungs, thus increasing the oxygenabsorbing surface in proportion to the animal's bulk. A man, for example, has a hundred square yards of lung. Similarly the gut, instead of being smooth and straight, becomes coiled and develops a velvety surface, and other organs increase in complication. The higher animals are not larger than the lower because they are more complicated. They are more complicated because they are larger. Just the same is true of plants. The simplest plants such as the green algae are mere round cells. The higher plants increase their surface by putting out leaves and roots. Comparative anatomy is largely the story of the

struggle to increase surface in proportion to volume.

Some of the methods of increasing the surface are useful up to a point but not capable of very wide adaptation. For example, while vertebrates carry the oxygen from the gills or lungs all over the body in the blood, insects take air directly to every part of their body by tiny blind tubes called tracheae which open to the surface at many different points. But gases diffuse easily through very small distances. Hence, the portions of an insect's body more than about a quarter of an inch from the air would always be short of oxygen. In consequence hardly any insects are much more than half an inch thick. Land crabs are built on the same general plan as insects; yet, like ourselves they carry round oxygen in their blood, and are therefore able to grow far larger than any insect. If the insects had hit on a plan for driving air through their tissues instead of letting it soak in, they might well have become much larger.

Exactly the same difficulties attach to flying. Applying aeronautical principles to birds, we find that the limit to their size is soon reached. An angel whose muscles developed no more power weight for weight than those of an eagle or a pigeon would require a breast projecting for about four feet to house the muscles engaged in working its wings, while to economize in weight, its legs would have to be reduced to mere stilts. Actually a large bird such as an eagle does not keep in the air mainly by moving its wings. It is generally to be seen soaring, that is to say balanced on a rising column of air. But even soaring becomes more and more difficult with increasing size. Were this not the case eagles might be as large as tigers and as formidable to man as hostile airplanes.

But there are advantages of size. One of the most obvious is that it enables one to keep warm. All


warm-blooded animals at rest lose the same amount of heat from a unit area of skin, for which purpose they need a food-supply proportional to their surface and not to their weight. Five thousand mice weigh as much as a man. Their surface and food, or oxygen consumption, are about times a man's. In fact a mouse eats about one-quarter of its own weight of food every day, which is mainly used in keeping warm. For the same reason small animals cannot live in wild countries. In the arctic regions there are no small mammals. The smallest mammal in Spitzbergen is the fox.

Similarly, the eye is a rather inefficient organ until it reaches a large size. In order that they should be of any use at all, the eyes of small animals have to be much larger in proportion to their bodies than our own. Large animals on the other hand require only relatively small eyes, and those of the whale and elephant are little larger than our


Such are a very few of the considerations which show that for every type of animal there is an optimum size.

And just as there is a best size for every animal, so the same is true for every human institution. In the Greek type of democracy all the citizens could listen to a series of orators and vote directly on questions of legislation. Hence their philosophers held that a small city was the largest possible democracy. The English invention of representative government made a democratic nation possible and the possibility was first realized in the United States. With the development of broadcasting it has once more become possible for every citizen to listen to the political views of representative orators, and the future may perhaps see the return of the national state to the Greek form of democracy. Even the referendum has been made possible only by the institution of daily papers.


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The Black Curse of the Osages

Condensed from Liberty (March 14, '26)
Homer Croy

TRANGE and mysterious events
have taken place among the
Osages in Oklahoma. Seventeen

sa of that little tribe of Indians have
et bitten the dust in the approved man-
ner when the white man wants what
The wants. They have been shot in
1 lonely pastures, bored by steel as they
sat in their automobiles, poisoned to
die slowly, and dynamited as they
slept in their homes-all because of
the curse that has fastened itself upon
the tribe.

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There was an investigation in Janor uary, and probably there will be another to determine why 17 innocent Indians have gone to their happy hunting-grounds by methods that would have made Sitting Bull seem like an angel of mercy.

The roots of this curse go back to the time when the Osages were poor and happy-long before they became rich and miserable: for they are now the richest people per capita in the world.

The Osages-there are about 2200 of them-were living in peaceful contentment in southern Kansas, getting $40 a year each from the government. The Creeks, a more vigorous and more demanding tribe, lived in a miserable part of Oklahoma given over principally to alkali, rattlesnakes, and bunch grass. The Creeks complained to the government about the land they had been given and put up such a vigorous protest that the government moved them to another location and picked E up the unprotesting Osages and = dropped them down on the cast-off = land.

But the Osages said nothing and all went more or less well until 1915, when oil was discovered in Oklahoma.

That year each and every member of the Osage tribe received $826; and

the following year the amount climbed to $2608. Then their troubles began. The young Indian boys wanted to see the world; they wanted to have a good time; they wanted fire water and fire water and Indian don't mix.

Money continued to pour in. It was now $10,000 a year; and last year each and every Osage received $13,200. In a family of four or five, with each one drawing, this means a tidy income. Moreover, this income can be increased by inheritance. If a member of the family dies, the next of kin gets the money. There is Mollie Q., an Indian woman, who through inheritance now receives $135,000 a year.

With the increase in the oil money the curse began to tighten around the Osages, for the whites were now camping on their trail. I expected to find Pawhuska a dreary, one-horse town of 8000 population. I was never more surprised in my life, for instead I found marble office buildings, smart Fifth Avenue looking shops, and magnificent custom-built cars rushing by. And small wonder; for since the coming of oil $180,000,000 has been dumped into that little town.

There is an institution in Oklahoma known as a guardian. Most of the guardians were selected from people immediately around the Indians, on the principle that they could keep their benevolent eyes trained on the guileless Indian and help him to spend his money to advantage. But soon the Indians found that they must buy their automobiles where the kindly guardian said and they must take it to be repaired to the garage he wished it taken to. Oh, he was most helpful! And when the car got banged about a bit, the guardian told the Indian that he would permit him to buy a new car. Many of the Indians, incidental


ly, employ white chauffeurs for their expensive cars. It appeals to them to have their ancient enemies in this humble capacity.

It so happens that everything that glitters attracts an Indian's eyes and it so happens that the local people know this, and also a trick or two about Indian psychology. An Indian is probably the most loyal person in the world. An Indian goes into a bright and glittering store in Pawhuska and buys a watch. A few weeks later he comes back into the shop and says, "Him no tick."

The jeweler brings out his trays. "All right, John," says the obliging gentleman. "Take any one there and it won't cost you a cent." John takes it and goes happily away. Nobody in the world can now wean John away from that merchant-hasn't he just demonstrated how honest he is? Later, John comes back to buy a ring or a brooch. The merchant tells him the price and John's trusting hand goes into his pocket. The number of failures among the merchants in this section selling high-priced luxuries to Indians is surprisingly low.

The Indians' money flows away almost as fast as the oil comes up. The Indians took up baseball and betting. Outside teams came in and the Indians loyally bet on their own men. Indians love to gamble. And there are plenty of crooks and schemers in the oil fields; for the Osage country is a stamping place of the bad men, bandits, card sharps, former COWpunchers now looking for an easy living, gamblers and roustabouts.

The whites began to sell diamonds, jewelry, rare vases, and fine rugs and tapestries to these simple people. The whites built houses for them-and increased the death rate of the Indians. What the Indians really wanted to do was to live outdoors, in tents; they liked to live in their village with their pets around them. The whites sold them expensive sets of knives and forks -and the Indians put their food in a big yellow bowl and, squatting around

it in the yard, reached in and ate with their fingers, while the knives tarn ished in the kitchen. I have seen them use the big cut-glass bowls the merchants had sold them to wash their vegetables in, and cloisonne vases to hold their baseball bats.

The Indian girls are pretty up to a certain age, attractive in spite of their white-people clothes. Rough, swear. ing, illiterate men came with smiles on their faces, met the Indian girls, and the trusting girls were flatteredthey were being courted by white men. There would be a short, perfervid romance and the Indian girls would find themselves married to these rough drillers, or coming home with unwanted babies. The men got their oil money, spent it, robbed the girls, and then deserted them. But the girls could not go back to their tribe; they became outcasts, wanted neither by the Indians nor by the whites. One sees constantly things of this kind in Pawhuska that wring the heart.

The Osages became richer and richer and more and more the bad men of the Southwest were attracted to them. But overcharging the Indians for diamonds and pianos and talking ma chines and radios was too slow. curse threw out a new shadow. began to kill the Indians.



Why aren't the guilty ones punished? A natural question, but the thing is to get witnesses. The government procured indictments of W. K. Hale, wealthy rancher, and John Ramsey, a farmer, charging them with the murder of Henry Roan Horse. More than 100 witnesses were summoned, but they were afraid to testify.

In the meantime the curse goes on. The Osages grow richer each year, and where there is sugar the flies collect. Indian oil protection extends to 1946, and for 20 years more the Osages will have money-that is, unless the red hills no longer spout black.





Condensed from Natura Magazine (April '26)

Paul Bartsch, Curator, U. S. National Museum

HERE is scarcely a people which did or does not count pearls among the most valued of its possessions. Pearls were among the earliest jewels prized by man, and have been found in ancient burial places.

A Chinese legend of more than 5000 years ago tells of a certain pearl so brilliant that its radiance made it possible to cook rice a hundred yards away. Mystic qualities are even now arcribed to pearls by the Chinese, for w find them prescribed by their Old School doctors, crushed to a powder ! or dissolved in acid, as medicine.

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They are mentioned in the Vedas, while the Old and New Testaments, the Talmud and the Koran all exalt them as symbols of beauty and purity. The Persians, long before Christ, valued them highly, for pearls have been found in their burial places.

The Romans were particularly fond of these gems, and Caesar, to stop race suicide among the better classes, issued a decree that no woman without husband or children, under 45 years, might wear them.

What are pearls? One poet says they are "the tears of a goddess dropped into the sea-caught to the heart of the pearl oyster and there treasured as the purest gem of the ocean."

Dubois, the scientist, said, "The most beautiful pearl is nothing more than the shining sarcophagus of a worm," and his description is accurate. They are produced by the pearl oyster, the fresh-water clams, the abalone, and in lesser degree by other mollusks, and are the result of an effort on the part of the mollusk to seal up an enemy, or an irritating substance that has found its way inside of the shell, or has bored into

the flesh of the animal. The most perfect spherical pearls are usually started by the baby stage of a fluke worm that must live for part of its early life in some mollusk.

These young worms burrow into the flesh of the mollusk and live upon it until they have reached a certain growth. The mollusk attempts to lock up this undesirable parasite by secreting a shelly capsule around it, and if successful, it kills the parasite that way. But having once begun to secrete nacre-the shiny substance of the pearly shell-it can't stop, and so puts layer after layer of thin coating around this nucleus, and thus the pearl continues to grow until the mollusk dies or some lucky fisherman captures the prize.

Another way in which pearls are formed, and this is usually the history of the irregularly shaped ones known as "baroques" is that a grain of sand or some other hard substance is accidentally forced into the mantle cavity of the mollusk. This will be promptly walled off against the inside of the shell and covered, layer by layer, with a smooth coating to reduce irritation.

Sometimes little water mites attack the gills of our fresh-water clams in large numbers, and these usually cause the irregular pearls known as rose pearls. Then again a small fish or crustacean may sometimes dart into the mantle cavity seeking protection from some pursuer. This, too, will be walled off and fixed to the inside of the mollusk shell and covered with nacre until it develops into a pearl with the shape of the fish or shrimp. But no matter what its shape, whether a mere blister, baroque, rose pearl, or perfect sphere, each pearl represents a hurt overcome.

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