Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/268

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254
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Haüy investigated the field with much diligence, and succeeded in cataloguing a large number of natural crystals by the side of tourmaline. The subject was amplified later by Sir David Brewster, who added a series of artificial crystalline salts to the list of pyro-electrical materials, among them, notably, hydro-potassic (and sodic) tartrate. The property was found not always to reside on these substances, but to be developed by heating them. Brewster found that even powdered tourmaline exhibited opposite electrifications on the opposite extremities of each tiny particle, causing the latter to act, so far as attractions and repulsions went, as infinitesimal magnets.

Our rapid and imperfect survey has now brought us to the threshold of the great activity in electrical work elicited by the tremendous discovery, made by Professor Oersted, of Copenhagen, of the existence of the electro-magnetic field. It happens that two of the most amiable and estimable individuals that have ever devoted their lives to scientific research stand out in this connection head and shoulders above all other investigators—Ampère and Faraday, the latter sixteen years younger than the former and destined to long survive him.

 
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WINGLESS BIRDS.
By PHILIPPE GLANGEAUD,

IT is often said that there are no rules without exceptions. We purpose to test the truth of this maxim once more. Fishes are made to live in water, but some of them pass the greater part of their existence in mud. Some even perch upon trees, thus competing with birds, whose kingdom is the air, and which are able, with the aid of their wings, to plunge into space and travel rapidly over considerable distances. Yet there are birds, deprived by Nature, which do not possess the wing characteristic of the feathered tribe, and are consequently, like the majority of animals, pinned to the soil.

Birds do not all have equal power of flight, which is closely related to the extent of the development of their wings. There exist all grades in the spread of wings between that of the condor, which is four times the length of the body, whereby the bird is able to rise to the height of nearly twenty-five thousand feet, and the little winglets of the auk, which are of no use to it. The penguins have still smaller wings, which are nothing more than short, flattened stumps, without proper feathers and covered with a fine, hairlike down which might be taken for scales.

Another group of birds exists, called appropriately Brevipennes,