Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 50.djvu/591

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573
FRAGMENTS OF SCIENCE.

A feature of considerable interest is the ancient temple of Zoroaster, which for twenty-five hundred years was the sacred resort for pilgrimage of the Guebers or fireworshipers of Asia. Although, owing to its importance as a commercial center, Baku at present almost monopolizes the petroleum industry in southern Russia, it is but one of many important oil fields in this district.

 

Life in the Coldest Country. — The coldest region of the globe, that of Werkojank in Siberia, where the lowest temperature of — 90° F. has been observed, and the mean of January is — 48° F., is inhabited by about ten thousand five hundred persons of the Jakut and Lamut races. In a large part of the region, according to the representations of Mr. Sergius Kovalik in the Bulletin of the Geographical Society of Irkutsk, the air is so dry and winds are so rare that the intensity of the cold is not fully realized. Farther east there are sometimes terrible storms. In the summer time the temperature sometimes rises to 86° F. in the shade, while it freezes at night. The latter part of this season is often marked by copious rains and extensive inundations. Vegetation is scanty. There are no trees, only meadows. The people hunt fur-bearing animals, fish, and raise cattle and reindeers. It requires about eight cows to support a family, four being milked in the summer and two in the winter. The cattle are fed hay in the winter, and are allowed to go out occasionally when it is not too cold, their teats being carefully covered up with felt. Milk is the principal food, occasionally supplemented with hares, which are quite abundant. The houses are of wood, covered with clay, and consist of one room, in which the people and their animals live together. The wealthier classes are better provided with lodging and food. The people are very hospitable, but excessively punctilious concerning points of honor, such as the place at table.

 

MINOR PARAGRAPHS.

The great work described by M. P. Demoutzey in reforestation and the stemming of mountain torrents in France has been fittingly eulogized by M. Dehérain. Not more than a quarter of the work contemplated has been accomplished; but that which has been done proves what may be done, and that the solution of the difficult problem has substantially been reached. The needed work is not long or very expensive; it is only to assist Nature by easy and simple devices, and keep at it. When this is done, thirty or forty years will be long enough to produce great changes in the conditions and appearance of a devastated and torrent-rent region. M. Demoutzey's book is illustrated with plates and photographic views showing the character of the work accomplished.

Originally the area of natural gas in Indiana, according to the last report of W. S. Blatchley, State Geologist, embraced part or all of seventeen counties lying northeast of the center of the State, and comprised about five thousand square miles. On account of the encroachment of salt water and petroleum this area has become gradually reduced, until to-day the main gas field includes an approximate area of twenty-five hundred square miles. This, however, it is claimed, is larger than has ever been possessed by any other State in the Union. The average initial or rock pressure of the entire field in 1889 was three hundred and twenty-five pounds to the square inch. To-day, according to careful measurements, it is two hundred and thirty pounds to the square inch over the main field. Hence it is not doubted that the supply is diminishing, and that, as there can be no increase of it, the pressure will decrease more rapidly in the future than it has done in the past. The diminution in pressure is most noticeable in cities like Indianapolis and Richmond, which receive their supply through pipe lines, and less so in the cities that lie wholly within the field.

The library of the distinguished chemist August von Kekulé, of the University of Bonn, lately deceased, is in the hands of Gustav Fock, Magazingasse 4, Leipzig, for sale. Seldom has a collection of such value been put on the market. It was made with rare zeal and most intelligent judgment exercised through many years, and is so complete that hardly any work of scientific