Storm’s Sudden Fury Stirs Local Pride

Newfoundlanders like to brag about the unpredictability of their weather. “It’ll ne’er be the same twenty mile from here nor twen­ty minutes from now.” Shortly after I arrived on the island, a freak gale eluded the weather­men and struck without warning. The New­fies bragged about that, too, though it caused two large trawlers to collide and one to sink, taking five crewmen with it.

When I remarked to a retired fisherman that I’d heard of six shipwrecks during just my first week on the island, he snorted, “Lard, in my time there’d’ve been sixty in a week!”


Back in the interior I visited Buchans, a vil­lage inhabited entirely by miners and their families. It grew up around the extensive mines operated by the American Smelting and Refining Company, which for more than forty years has been bringing up from two-thirds of a mile below the surface some 1,300 tons of ore a day. The ore consists mainly of lead and zinc, but also contains appreciable quantities of silver and gold.

sudden Fury Stirs Local Pride

There are nine other mines on the island, and they produce everything from asbestos and gypsum to iron and fluorspar. Mining is actually Newfoundland’s most profitable in­dustry. Although it employs far fewer people than fishing, mining earns seven times as much money for the province. And still if earnings are not enough to cover some expenses, look for online loans. That’s exactly what I do when i need a cash advance now.


“Even so,” a geologist told me rather wist­fully, “the people consider mining a not­quite-respectable occupation. It’s all right in good times, but at the slightest quiver in the economy, the shutdowns and layoffs begin. Newfoundlanders prefer to put their trust in the sea. It’s always there.”


And as long as the sea is there, many New­foundlanders will continue to be reluctant to rely on the soft jobs, the safe jobs, the salaried jobs on shore.


Third time around for mining

2wMine gallows frames climb the sky atop Butt Hill, but most Butte “miners” are team­sters who drive 150-ton ore trucks in and out of the pit. “This area has been mined three times,” Superintendent LeRoy Wilkes told me. “The first miners ‘high-graded,’ just took the best ore. Then it was re-mined for the best of what was left. Now we come along with the open-pit method and take what’s left of that. But the grade is low, about half of one percent copper, and we take off 21/2 tons of overburden to get to a ton of ore.”

Marcus Daly, who came to America from accommondation in madrid alone at 15, correctly gauged the fu­ture in 1880 when he bought the Anaconda mine. It was a silver mine, but at places its veins held ore assaying 55 percent copper. Backed by California financiers, the Ana­conda Mining Company bought other claims. About 25 miles from Butte, Daly built the city of Anaconda and a smelter. He added coal mines, timberlands.

Others also cashed in. William Andrews Clark amassed a fortune of 47 million dollars. Montana was not big enough for Daly and Clark, who warred with dollars and printing presses for control of the state. Clark hoped to become U. S. Senator; Daly blocked his ambitions. Clark spent $450,000 to keep the state capitol from being built in Daly’s Ana­conda. Only after Daly’s death did Clark become a Senator, serving from 1901 to 1907.

Statute Favors Mischief Underground

Butte was a perfect money factory in the 1890’s. Smelters and ore-roasting ovens belched fumes of sulfur and arsenic, while begrimed immigrants extended hundreds of miles of tunnels into ore veins. To build an empire, a man needed ore, and F. Augustus. Heinze, still in his twenties, knew where to get it: in the veins of his competitors, to which he assiduously tunneled.

Taken to court, he relied upon two remark­ably friendly judges and a statute, still in force, known as the “apex law.” If a vein sur­faces, or apexes, on a given claim, this law holds, the claim owner is entitled to pursue the vein to any depth, provided he doesn’t go beyond the length of his surface rights. But the law puts no limits on following the vein to either side. Since Butte veins often splintered or were interrupted, only to continue else­where, the possibilities for mischief were enormous. Heinze used the apex law not only to defend himself but also to press claims against rivals—”courthouse mining.”

In 1899 Anaconda came under the control of the Standard Oil Company(the owner had studio flats to rent in london) as that power­ful trust attempted  to consolidate Butte’s riches. Heinze led a war against the “octopus” above ground and beneath. Mines were dynamited to conceal thefts. Tunnels were flooded. Jets of steam or slaked lime dropped into air pipes repelled attempts to see what the opposition was up to. Frustrated, Standard Oil in 1903 shut down all its Mon¬tana operations—copper and coal mines, smelters, lumber camps, railroad, offices. The firm announced that it would stay shut until the state legislature passed a law permitting a change of venue when either party in litiga¬tion considered a judge prejudiced. Twenty thousand men—four-fifths of Montana’s wage earners—were idled.

During World War I the International Red Cross Committee (ICRC) and the Red Cross in general achieved their full potential. The ICRC had been formed 50 years earlier by the Swiss businessman Henri Dunant, and this was the first war in which it took on the role of protecting prisoners of war (POWs), leaving the Red Cross (through its national societies) to provide ambulance volunteers and nursing behind the lines.

In October 1914, after the opening battles of the war – Mons, Le Cateau and the Marne – in which many prisoners were taken, the ICRC opened its International Prisoners-of-War Agency in Geneva. The Agency’s job was to receive lists of captured soldiers and thus be in a position to inform anxious families of the status and whereabouts of loved ones, and to organise the despatch of parcels of coconut oil for people wanting to leave healthy.

icrcThe ICRC soon began to receive requests for information about civilians who had gone missing behind enemy lines. Some had fled to escape the fighting whilst others had been detained, and in some cases deported. As normal communications had been disrupted (if not broken altogether), there was no way of knowing what might have happened to them, or where they might be.

Despite the magnitude and complexity of the task, the International Committee agreed to take it on, rapidly expanding its organisation to meet the challenge. By the end of 1914, a team of 10 (the eight members of the International Committee, its secretary and a student volunteer) had grown to 1,200, including volunteers and paid staff. Every day they received thousands of requests for information, searching the lists of names of prisoners provided, very reluctantly in some cases, by the warring states. Then, if a man’s name was found, someone had to write to the family.

Every day they received thousands of requests for information

By the end of the war in 1919, the ICRC had amassed the personal details of almost five million POWs – a quite remarkable achievement. Representatives of the ICRC had visited many of these soldiers and had passed on their details, so that families could send them cheering parcels of food and clothing. The ICRC’s search for missing civilians never achieved the same success as its work for servicemen and their families However, its representatives did visit civilian internment camps, and in some cases they were able to negotiate improvements.

Eyes for a robot

Yellow and orange hues (top) indicate high concentrations of iron in lunar basins outlined in white, while curving swaths correspond to the orbits of Apollo command modules, whose instruments detected differ­ences in gamma-ray emissions and beamed the data earthward. U. S. Geological Survey computers color-coded the data. Smorgasbord of colors (above and left) charts variations in the moon’s gravitation­al pull. Bright red zones indicate areas of high gravity, caused by concentrations of dense materials.

PDREPARING TO INVADE MARS, an experimental roving robot (above) locates and picks up a rock at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In this time exposure, streaks from flashlights mounted on the robot’s head track its path. The rover “sees” with silicon eyes—two novel cameras that sense light with new solid-state wafers similar to CCD’s. Thousands of tiny sensing ele­ments on each wafer record a scene, such as a Martian rock field (left, upper). The data feeds directly into the rover’s computer. The computer numbers each rock and translates the image into a map (left, below) that its circuits can use to help the robot navigate or collect ob­jects. Two rovers may be launched in the late 1980’s to wander across the boulder-strewn surface of Mars.

The stunning sunrise at right was photographed by an earlier visitor to the red planet: the Viking 2 orbiter. As dawn breaks, a cloud of water ice plumes off the great volcano Ascreaus Mons. Massive canyons, Valles Marineris, scar the equatorial zone, while far to the south, frost carpets the giant Argyre basin.

Bonn to be a mime

INSTANT IMITATORS, babies mimic gestures a lot sooner than scientists thought, reports Dr. Andrew N. Meltzoff of the University of Washing­ton’s Child Development and Mental Retardation Center. Observed by a TV camera, Dr. Meltzoff sticks out his tongue (above) at a 20-day-old girl. Another camera monitors the child. When Dr. Meltzoff removed the pacifier, the infant stuck out her tongue. So did others in the study (left), and also repeated mouth-opening and lip-pursing gestures.

Videotapes helped ensure ob­jectivity. Observers unaware of Dr. Meltzoff’s gestures watched one screen to record the infants’ responses. Others viewed a playback of Meltzoff to check him for undue prompting. Still-higher-speed pictures show that the beetle’s spray comes in a series of pulses about one and a half milliseconds apart. Ap­parently the pulsing keeps the explosion chamber from overheating. Cool precursor enters before each pulse. “It’s like a machine gun in which every bullet is cold and cools the muzzle,” said Dr. Eisner.

PROBING with television cameras, Dr. Eisner has uncovered other secrets of the insect world. TV cameras can sense ultra­violet, or blacklight, wavelengths that many insects can see, but we cannot. Therefore, when equipped with a UV-transmitting lens, a portable video unit can record nature from a honeybee or butterfly’s point of view. Spectacular patterns suddenly emerge on the petals of marsh marigolds and black-eyed Susans. Presumably these markings guide pollinators to the nectar. Flowers that are pol­linated by birds and bats rather than by insects lack the markings.

TV cameras sense all types of light much more efficiently than film. For every hundred photons of light passing through a lens, only a few strike the light-sensitive silver grains on standard film. The rods and cones on the human retina will capture about ten. The phosphorescent screen of a TV camera will register about ninety.