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Quartet of Recipients of Milton Awards Describe the Researches They Will Carry On


The following is the second series of articles and interviews given to the Crimson by recipients of the recent Milton Fund awards. These articles describe in some detail the work of investigation or research which their authors intend to carry on in their respective fields.

Professor K. F. Mather, Associate Professor of Geography when asked by the CRIMSON reporter about his South American trips on which he collected the material for his present work said, "My work deals principally with the physical geography; I am occupied not so much in collecting geological specimens as in seeing the ground and describing the topographical features of the regions covered. So far I have made two trips across the interior of South America, and on these I have obtained much valuable material.

Explored Foothills of Andes

"On my first trip, I landed at Mollendo, Peru and then went by way of Lake Titicaca to La Porz, Bolivia. From there I went with a mule outfit across the eastern Andes to East Bolivia where I explored the foothills of the Andes to determine the probable oil resources of that region. Finally I came down into Argentina to the end of the railroad and then went home by way of Buenos Aires.

Travelled on Mules

"During this trip I covered about 120 miles on mule-back and visited a dozen natural oil springs on the way. I also had an opportunity to see Indians wholly untouched by civilization as well as those who have been semi-civilized through the efforts of the Jesuits.

"On my second trip, I landed in Chile and went by mail to Cochabamba, Bolivia. Then, with a mule train, I again crossed the Andes, the journey across the mountains taking seven days. On the other side, I got a number of Indian carriers and then we walked through the jungle for a couple of hundred miles until we came to one of the tributaries of the Amazon. Down this river we went for about a thousand miles, paddling through jungle in dugout canoes until we reached the Amazon down which we continued finally arriving once more at Buenos Aires, where we took ships for home.

"The results of these explorations which covered at least half of South America will be incorporated with a study of further literature on the subject to make a complete treatise.

Weston Studies Fungi

"Within the next year or so," Professor W. H. Weston, Assistant Professor of Botany, told a CRIMSON reporter yesterday, "I hope that I shall have been able to put into a systematic form the large amount of material which I have collected during the past eight years, and thus make possible a clear and inclusive study of the various fungi which have proved so destructive to crops, particularly in Oriental countries, and whose precise nature and habits have until very recently been but little known. By comparing the material gained from all over the world we hope to gain a better knowledge of these destructive organisms. It is to defray the expenses of arranging and publishing this material that the money of the award will be largely used.

Investigated Fillpino Mildews

"Eight years ago when I was in the Department of Agriculture as an investigator, I was sent to the Philippines to study certain mildews which were most destructive to the corn and sugar cane crops of these islands. At this time very little was known of these parasites, and although the people of the Philippines were not particularly excited about it, the Department of Agriculture realized the danger of the disease being imported into the American corn belt and thereby destroying a crop which yields an annual revenue of two or three billion dollars. I therefore spent two years studying the disease in its native haunts, so to speak, and was able to clear up many of the obscure points in the life history of the mildews.

Found How Mildew Spread

"One of the important things which were unknown was how the mildew spread. I found that the spores of the fungus are produced only at night when the leaves of the plant which they infest are covered with dew. At such times the spores are produced in immense numbers and with a fresh breeze sweeping down from the mountains, they are carried all over the country side, so that they often infest a large extent of land in a single night. One of the interesting things about the production of these spores is that they follow a schedule almost as regular as that of trains. While I was in the, Philippines, I could set my alarm clock for 12.30 at night and get out into the fields just as spore production was starting. Then I could study the mildews all night until the sun began to rise when spores would gradually cease to be produced." Professor Weston said that perhaps the most extraordinary thing of all was that when he had left the Philippines he found that the same thing took place at practically the same hours in similar fungi which were attacking crops in Minnesota and Florida.

"The large majority of these mildews which are so destructive to food plants come from the Orient," Professor Weston went on, "and after I left the Philippines I was to go and study them in Formosa, India, Java, and China. I however, came to the United States, and after studying in various localities. I came here to Harvard."

Forbes Experiments With Q-Rays

Professor E. W. Forbes '95, Curator of the Fogg Art Museum, will carry on the work which he and Mr. Alan Burroughs of the Minneapolis Museum have been doing with money awarded a little while ago from the Fund. The work has to do with X-rays and has great possibilities.

"We are experimenting with the X-ray row and hope to reach definite conclusions this summer. If we are successful a sure way of detecting forgeries in the old and supposedly valuable pictures. This will eliminate the current doubt and expense, which is so deleterious to collectors and experts today. Another great question, whose ghost our experiments if successful would lay is as to whether or not it is worth while to clean old and retouched pictures."

Usher Will Go to Spain

Professor A. P. Usher, Associate Professor in the Department of Economics, has written the following article on his proposed research in Spain:

"The trip to Spain, made possible by the grant from the Milton Fund, is intended to lay the foundations for a study of money and prices in Spain during the period of the price revolution, 1500 to 1660 caused by the importations of gold and silver from the new world. Although Spain distributed the new stock of metals, no statistical study has yet been made of price movements in Spain, nor has there been any substantial study of Spanish Commerce and its relation to the export of specie. The task is so large that the cooperation of a number of research workers will be necessary; candidates for the doctor's degree at Harvard and other universities will doubtless bear the brunt of the work, but it is hoped that others may also be induced to cooperate. Effective planning of the scheme in its entirety makes it essential to examine the material available in the various Spanish archives, printed inventories being as yet incomplete.

Best Material in Nobles' Houses

"For such a study the best material is found in the accounts of institutions and the households of the nobles. The Archives of the great monastic houses, of the five great military orders, and of many ducal houses are known to be substantially complete. The exact nature of these resources is not well known. We know much about the archives of the Indies at Seville and about the archives of the Marta at Madrid. But without further examination, it would not be possible to plan the details of the price series to be embodied in the general index number.

Will Make Circuit of Spain

"The examination of representative deposits of archives will require a fairly complete circuit of Spain. Entering from the north by way of San Sebastian, the municipal archives of Burgos, Yalladolid, and Suinaveas will be visited. There are several important archives at Madrid, both public and private. The archives of the military orders are at Alcala nearby, and if possible the municipal archives at Toledo will be inspected. Leaving Madrid, we will visit Valencia and then proceed northward with stops at Taragona and Barcelona, with a side trip to Saragoza if time permits.

"No attempt will be made to visit the archives in the south, and this itinerary also omits the western towns. It is scarcely possible, however, to examine all the primary municipal archives in the time available for our work."

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