National Geographic : 1944 Jan
Brazil's Potent Weapons . pox, tetanus, and yel low fever. To understand the problems, too, you must consider the colossal distances to be traversed. From Belem some of the upper tributary sta tions of the Amazon are as much as a month and a half away. Some can get supplies only in the flood seasons when waters are high. "Much silly romance has been written about the rubber program and development of the Amazon Valley," said one American who was inthejobuptohis sunburned neck. "To us it is hard work, headaches, and how!" In truth, there is little glamour for those who are doing the task. Ask the pilots who are flying mile after mile over a solid mass of green treetops. Ask the men who have to hack trails through the tan gled bush searching and tapping wild rub ber trees. Ask the doc tors who are trying to With Polarized work out the program of health and sanitation Crystals are submerg direct arc lights. Fractl in this hot, watery jun- impair their use for gle land where malarial inspectors, mostly girls, mosquitoes thrive. Airports are opening this vast Amazon Val ley. Infirmaries, are being built at strategic centers, and launches are carrying medical sup plies for the peoples up and down the river. This year when you have no Brazil nuts on your Christmas table, you can blame it on the war. There is an embargo on their shipment. In 1942 just over 20,000 tons of crude rub ber were milked from the Amazon trees. The 1943 output was appreciably larger. How much will be produced in the five-year pro gram no one can yet tell (page 74). In addition to the Amazon rubber, Hevea brasiliensis, other latex-producing trees, no tably the manicoba (Manihot spp.) and man gabeira (Hancorniaspeciosa), are being sought Light She Spots Flaws in Quartz Crystals ;ed in an oil bath and examined under polarized and ures, cloudiness, "ghosts," and other imperfections which adio and detection devices are revealed. Dozens of work in these testing rooms in Rio de Janeiro. in other parts of Brazil. Though not of the quality of the hevea, rubber from these trees can be utilized in making many products. What of the rubber program and develop ment of the Amazon following this war boom? Prior to World War I, the Amazon saw one other scramble for rubber. Production reached 40,000 to 50,000 tons in a year. Then its rubber balloon burst. Manaus still bears sad memories of that glory for a day. Here were luxurious homes, elaborate hotels, and a magnificent Parisian Opera House.* "Will this be another bubble?" I asked * See "Our Most Versatile Vegetable Product (Rub ber)," by J. R. Hildebrand, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, February, 1940.