Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 59.djvu/115

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105
THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE.

explored furthest to the south. The German expedition, under Dr. von Drygalski, is also making active preparation, and its vessel—which has been named 'Gauss,' in honor of the great mathematician—was launched on April 1. Expeditions to cooperate with those from England and Germany are also planned in Scotland and Sweden. It seems unfortunate that the United States, which sixty years ago, at the time of the great antarctic expeditions by Ross, d'Urville and Balleny, sent Wilkes with five vessels, should not be represented in the present movement to make a thorough exploration of the antarctic regions.

 

While Great Britain is sending out its antarctic expedition at a cost of $500,000, a less pretentious, but perhaps equally interesting expedition is being planned. In view of the enormous importance attached to the recent discoveries of the relation of mosquitoes to malaria, and perhaps to yellow fever, Dr. Patrick Manson has urged the sending of a party to the islands of the Pacific, and, in the first instance, to Samoa, to study the life history of the mosquito and the conditions on which its existence and development depend. In certain of the islands of the Pacific, elephantiasis, a disease also due to the mosquito, is so prevalent that it occurs in half or more of the population, while in other islands it is entirely absent. It is hoped that the study of the distribution of mosquitoes, and, perhaps, experiments on their introduction, may show what is antagonistic to their development, thus making it possible to find a means of destroying them when they are present. Towards this plan the sum of $2,500 has been subscribed anonymously, and it is hoped that the British Government will assist in providing the $10,000 necessary to carry it into effect. It seems evident that the Department of Agriculture should at once undertake the study of the distribution of the malaria-bearing mosquitoes in the United States. The annual money loss to the country through the prevalence of malaria may be as little as $10,000,000 or as much as $100,000,000, but it is in any case so enormous that a thorough investigation, at whatever cost, would be in the direction of the strictest economy. There are, for example, no Anopheles on Manhattan Island, but within a mile of it they are abundant and malaria is prevalent. It may be supposed that the value of real estate, at the seashore and mountain resorts, for example, will be doubled or halved, according as Anopheles are absent or present.

 

The plague has now been so long prevalent in India that the newspapers no longer regard it as necessary to report on it, and probably very few think of its ravages, yet the deaths in Bengal alone during the last week, of which reports are at hand, were 4,000, and the recent census of India shows that the population of Bombay is 50,000 less than before the epidemic. The occurrence of the plague at Cape Town has, however, attracted notice, in view of the possibility of its spreading in the British Army, and attention has recently been called to the existence of the disease in San Francisco. It has for a long time been known in medical circles that there have been cases of plague in the Chinese quarters, but the State authorities have denied their existence and have attempted to suppress any information in regard to the epidemic. It appears that Secretary Gage appointed some time since, in spite of the protest of the Governor of California, a commission to investigate the matter. This commission, consisting of Prof. Simon Flexner, of the University of Pennsylvania; Prof. F. G. Novy, of the University of Michigan, and Prof. L. F. Barker, of the University of Chicago, has made a thorough investigation and has presented a report, from which it appears that thirty-two fatal cases have occurred in San Francisco during the past year; and this probably is incomplete, as six deaths were