Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 28.djvu/151

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143
NOTES.

the race, or mediocre. The average regression of the offspring to a constant fraction of their mid-parental deviations, which was first observed on the diameters of seeds, and then confined by observations on human stature, is now shown to be a perfectly reasonable law, which might have been deductively foreseen. This law tells heavily against the full hereditary transmission of any rare and valuable gift, as only a few of many children would resemble their mid-parentage. The more exceptional the gift, the more exceptional will be the good fortune of the parent who has a son who equals, and still more if he has a son who overpasses him. This law is even-handed; it levies the same heavy possession tax on the transmission of badness as well as of goodness. If it discourages the extravagant expectations of gifted parents that their children will inherit all their powers, it no less discountenances extravagant fears that they will inherit all their weaknesses and diseases. The number of individuals in a population who differ little from mediocrity is so preponderant that it is more frequently the case that an exceptional man is the somewhat exceptional son of rather mediocre parents than the average eon of very exceptional parents.


Vision of the Honey-Bee.—According to the Rev. J. L. Zabriskie's observations, the honey-bee sees as through the woods. The ocelli arc situated on the top of the head, arranged as in an equilateral triangle, so that one is directed to the front, one to the right, and one to the left. "Long, branching hairs on the crown of the head stand thick, like a miniature forest, so that an ocellus is scarcely discernible except from a particular point of view"; and then the observer remarks an opening through the hairs—a cleared pathway, as it were, in such a forest—and notes that the ocellus, looking like a glittering globe half immersed in the substance of the head, lies at the inner end of the path. The opening connected with the front ocellus expands forward from it like a funnel with an angle of about fifteen degrees. The side ocelli have paths more narrow, but opening more vertically; so that the two together command a field which, though hedged in anteriorly and posteriorly, embraces, in a plane transverse, of course, to the axis of the insect h body, an arc of nearly one hundred and eighty degrees.




NOTES.

Dr. C. Keller, of Zürich, claims that spiders perform an important part in the preservation of forests by defending the trees against the depredations of aphides and insects. He has examined a great many spiders, both in their viscera and by feeding them in captivity, and has found them to be voracious destroyers of these pests; and he believes that the spiders in a particular forest do more effective work of this kind than all the insect-eating birds that inhabit it. He has verified his views by observations on coniferous trees, a few broad-leaved trees, and apple-trees. An important feature of the spiders' operations is that they prefer dark spots, and therefore work most in the places which vermin most infest, but which are likely to be passed by other destroying agents.

The New England Meteorological Society has been making a special study of thunderstorms. A series of circulars was prepared and sent out, explaining the details of the work. Several classes of observations were contemplated. On the 9th of June more than two hundred and fifty observers had offered their services.

A Women's Anthropological Society was organized in Washington, June 8th, with Mrs. Colonel James Stevenson as President, Mrs. Romeyn Hitchcock Recording Secretary, and .Miss S. A. Scull Corresponding Secretary. Miss Cleveland was requested to name the society, and did so.

The "Bulletin" of the French Geographical Society gives some curious details about the system of numeration of the Indians of Guiana. It is based upon the five fingers of the hand. The Indians have names for only four numbers, corresponding with the four fingers; then, when they come to five, they say, not five fingers, but "a hand." Six is "a hand and first finger"; seven, "a hand and second finger"; ten, "two hands"; fifteen, "three hands"; twenty, not "four hands," but a man. From this they proceed by the system of twenties. Forty is "two men"; forty-six, "two men, a hand, and second finger."

The humming of telegraph and telephone wires, so often heard, is generally considered to be caused by the wind. Mr. R. W. McBride, of Waterloo, Indiana, who specially studied the matter for several years on his private wire, which had a