Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 47.djvu/294
��THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
��its trough has been filled up by glacial de- tritus and alluvium. It thereby approximates in appearance to a plain. This appearance is due to the inability of the central stream to scour for itself a central channel a fact attributable to the width of the valleys and the consequent absence of glaciers on any scale, and to the short summers, which do not last long enough, or receive sufficient solar heat, to admit of a very powerful erosive impetus being communicated to the melting snows. Mr. Curzon estimates the extreme length and breadth of the Pamirs to be nearly equal, and each about one hundred and fifty miles.
A Model Public Library. The report of the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Public Library, Cal., furnishes many facts of much interest. One of the most noteworthy of them is the declaration that the library has been a paying investment for the city, as a means of education and recreation to the citizens, and as an attraction to the tourist population. Among the novel features is that of the circulation of current literature, which has met with hearty appreciation from the beginning, and is believed to have been a potent feature in encouraging the reading of the best class of the books and periodicals of the time. Another popular fea- ture is the musical department, which has been much utilized by students of music, and has proved a means of education. Early in the administration of the library, civil-service rules were adopted for the appointment and regulation of the staff of attendants. The first appointments were made after a rigorous examination into the qualifications of appli- cants, ignoring all objects except the greatest good of the library. A training class was es- tablished in November, 1891, from the gradu- ates of which, and of succeeding classes, all appointments to the staff have since been made. Appointments and promotions are all regulated according to efficiency and length of service; and it being understood that the employed of the library are entitled to retain their positions during good behavior, the formality of reappointment from year to year has not been recognized as necessary or advisable. It shows how little the Ameri- can people are removed from barbarism in the management of public affairs that these
��matters embodying the plainest and most obvious common-sense principles have to be explained in the report and shown to be right. The library has 42,313 volumes; gave out for reading at home or in the library or the reference room, 489,086 volumes in 1894; has 18,057 registered members ; and employs nineteen attendants.
The Office of Natural Selection. Xatural selection, Prof. A. S. Packard holds, in his paper on the Inheritance of Acquired Char- acters, as he has from the first insisted, is not an initial or impelling cause in the origi- nation of new species and genera. It does not start the ball in motion ; it only, as we might say, guides its motions down this or that incline. It is the expression, like that of " survival of the fittest " of Herbert Spen- cer, of the results of the combined operation of the more fundamental factors. In certain cases we can not see any room for its action ; in some others we can not at present explain the origin of species in any other way. Its action increased in proportion as the world became more and more crowded with diverse forms, and when the struggle for existence had become more interesting and intense. It certainly can not account for the origi- nation of the different branches, classes, or orders of organized beings. It in the main simply corresponds to artificial selection ; in the latter case man selects forms already produced by domestication, the latter afford- ing species and varieties due to change in the surroundings that is, of soil, climate, food, and other physical features, as well as education.
An Ancient Flint-Implement Factory.
Large numbers of flaked stone implements of beautiful form and material, and in some cases of unusual size, are abundant in the Mississippi Valley within a radius of one hundred and fifty miles of St. Louis. An important site, from w r hich a material and instruments were supplied closely correspond- ing with those used in the St. Louis region, has been found nearly three hundred miles southwest of that city, and is described by Mr. W. H. Holmes. The stone is a whitish or light-gray chert, of conchoidal fracture, flaking easily, and resonant. The excava- tions are in three groups, occupying four or