Popular Science Monthly/Volume 1/August 1872/Miscellany

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MISCELLANY.

Death of Dr. Stimpson.—In the recent death of Dr. William Stimpson, secretary of the Chicago Academy of Sciences, American science has suffered an irreparable loss. He was born near Boston, February 14, 1832, and was drawn by a strong impulse to the study of science in his boyhood. His chosen field was natural history, and before he was nineteen, at which age he published his first scientific paper on conchology, he had made extensive collections. In his search for specimens at the bottom of the sea, he pushed out into deep water and claimed to be the first to enter upon the work of deep-sea dredging. He studied with Agassiz, and in 1852 accompanied him to Norfolk to investigate the marine fauna of that region. He was appointed naturalist to the North-Pacific Exploring Expedition, and spent three and a half years (1852-1856) in observations and collections. For nine years after his return, he remained for the most part in the Smithsonian Institution, working up the results of his worldwide explorations. He became curator of the Chicago Academy of Sciences in 1864, and was soon after elected secretary.

In an able obituary address before the Chicago Academy, President Foster has enumerated his chief contributions to science, and thus speaks of his labors in the institution:

He maintained a correspondence with not less than fourteen kindred societies at home and over one hundred abroad. He organized a system of exchanges by which our library was supplied with the scientific journals and Transactions, and our museum enriched with natural-history specimens from every quarter of the globe: He edited, with an accuracy of proof-reading rarely surpassed, the two parts of our Transactions, and prepared our annual reports with an almost commercial exactness. So thoroughly classified were the collections, that he could instantly refer the scientific inquirer to the particular specimen required. Under his directorship, the collections in certain departments of natural history had grown to be the most complete in the country; and learned foreigners, in pursuit of information, resorted here as to one of the chosen seats of science. This vast collection had been accumulated within the short space of five years; for, on the 7th of June, 1866, our previous accumulations were almost wholly destroyed by fire. Under this calamity Stimpson bore up manfully, but when the tremendous catastrophe of the 8th of October occurred he was, as it were, crushed to earth. From that time, I think, his spirit lost its buoyancy; and, while he assumed an air of cheerfulness, in his quivering lip and tremulous voice it was easy to detect what he would fain conceal. The iron had entered his soul. Let him who would accuse our friend of undue weakness, read over the melancholy catalogue of losses prepared by the secretary, and dated the 30th of October last, and then call to mind that, in addition to the total destruction of the Academy's collections, which he had arranged and classified, his own collections had been involved in the general calamity; rare books, obtained with difficulty, or presentation copies bearing the autographs of the authors; shells which he had dredged from the ocean all the way from Nova Scotia to the Japanese Sea; and manuscripts in which were embodied the results of twenty years of almost unremitting scientific labor, and whose publication he fondly hoped would form the solid basis of his fame.

Dr. Stimpson had long suffered from weakness of the lungs, and died of hemorrhage May 26, 1872, aged 41.

 

Purification of Coal-Gas.—In the ordinary process of manufacturing coal-gas it is found necessary to put the product through a course of purification before it is fit for illuminating purposes. The sulphur compounds are the most deleterious of its impurities, and how these may be best removed forms the subject of an instructive lecture, recently delivered by Mr. Vernon Harcourt at the Royal Institution, from which we condense the following: Sulphur being an almost constant constituent of the coal from which gas is made, it is volatilized in the retorts and passes over with the gas in combination with its two principal elements, carbon and hydrogen. Unpurified coal-gas thus contains sulphuretted hydrogen—the gas of rotten eggs—and bisulphide of carbon. A considerable part of the sulphuretted hydrogen is removed in the "condensers" and "scrubbers" by the action of water and ammonia. It has, however, been found that, if coal-gas is washed too much, its illuminating power is greatly impaired, and indeed all washing does some injury to it in this respect. To complete the removal of sulphuretted hydrogen, the washed coal-gas is passed through large boxes, containing either lime or oxide of iron, and which are termed purifiers. Either of these substances acts very effectually in depriving coal-gas of its sulphuretted hydrogen. Lime is the cheaper material, but has the serious drawback that when saturated with sulphuretted hydrogen its smell is very offensive, so that when taken out of the purifiers it becomes a nuisance of a very obnoxious character. Oxide of iron absorbs sulphuretted hydrogen equally well, and has the great superiority that, when taken out of the purifiers and exposed to the air, it not only creates no nuisance, but becomes in a short time fit to be used again. The same oxide may thus be used over and over again for twenty times or more, and when it becomes unfit for the purifiers it is still more valuable on account of the quantity of sulphur it contains.

But neither lime nor oxide of iron exerts any action on the other sulphur impurity, the compound of sulphur and carbon, and at the present time this bisulphide of carbon remains in the gas without any attempt being made to remove it.

The bisulphide of carbon, when burnt, forms for the most part sulphurous acid, which, being a gas, is removed with the carbonic acid by efficient ventilation. But a small part of the sulphur in this compound is converted into sulphuric acid, which, with the aqueous vapor formed, condenses on the walls of the apartments, and has been proved to destroy the leather bindings of books, and the canvas of pictures.

If coal-gas is to be burnt in rooms as freely as oil or candles, it is absolutely essential that the amount of sulphur it contains should be reduced to the smallest possible quantity.

One means by which the elimination of sulphur may be achieved, a process by which the amount of sulphur may be brought down to one-fifth of the present legal maximum, namely, 30 grains in 100 cubic feet, is the following:

The coal-gas is made to pass through tubes which are filled with fragments of iron and heated to redness. When dry hydrogen, contaminated with the vapor of bisulphide of carbon, is passed through a heated glass tube, carbon is deposited, and sulphuretted hydrogen is produced. The action is precisely the same when coal-gas containing bisulphide of carbon is made to pass over strongly-heated surfaces; the bisulphide is decomposed, and sulphuretted hydrogen formed, which is speedily removed by the ordinary purifying apparatus.

Mr. Harcourt showed, by means of a jet-photometer, that there was no appreciable difference in illuminating power between the coal-gas which had passed through an iron tube filled with nails and heated to redness, and that of ordinary cannel-coal gas. He also demonstrated the truth of his statement that, after being thus treated, but one-fifth the quantity of sulphur remained that is found in common illuminating gas.

 

Facts in relation to Rainfall.—From observations at Fulwell, near Twickenham, England, it appears that the rainfall for that locality during the year 1871 was 22.42 inches. This is nearly the amount which falls at Paris and at San Francisco, California. A calculation made by John James Hall, which was published in Nature, April 18th, and corrected in a subsequent number, gives some interesting statistics of the rainfall at Fulwell:

He states that one inch upon an acre of ground gives 22,623 gallons. Now, 640 times this amount, multiplied by the depth of rainfall, 22.42 inches, gives the quantity on a square mile as 324,612,902 gallons.

If this amount be multiplied by 10, the number of pounds of water to the gallon, and the result divided by 2,000 for tons, we shall have, for the quantity of rainfall on the square mile, nearly 1,623,064 tons.

The coal-carriages used on railways in England and in the United States carry from 8 to 10 tons of coal each. We will assume the former number, and find that 202,883 such carriages would be required to convey the weight of the rainfall above given, and, if each carriage measures 20 feet in length, they would form a train 768 miles long.

The quantity of rain which falls at Flatbush, Long Island, in the immediate vicinity of New York City, is 43 inches yearly. This is based upon observations made during 26 years. It will be seen that this amount is nearly twice as great as that which falls in a year at Fulwell, and is not far from the annual average that falls on our coast from Maine to Florida.

The computation which gives the results for Fulwell will give the quantity for each square mile of our own coast. For Flatbush, with an annual rainfall of 43 inches, we have the enormous quantity of 622,594,960 gallons nearly, or 3,112,974 tons of 2,000 pounds each. This is just about one-half the estimated weight of the largest of the pyramids. To convey this amount by railway carriages, of 8 tons each capacity, would require 389,121 carriages, and, if of 20 feet length, they would make a train 1,473 miles long.

When we consider that for each year and upon each square mile of surface along our ocean border, and many miles inland, so vast a volume of water falls, we are astonished at the grandeur and vastness of some of the most common of the operations of Nature.

 

Prof. Agassiz's South-American Observations.—Prof. Agassiz and his scientific party are continuing their explorations of the South-American coast, in the steamer Hassler, and the professor has just made a second report to the Superintendent of the Coast Survey on the progress of his observations. As is well known, Prof. Agassiz undertook this expedition to accumulate evidence in regard to the extent of glacial action in producing geological effects. He has been a student of glaciers for forty years, grew up in a glacial region, and is familiar with the phenomena; early framed a theory upon the subject, and felt so certain of the truth of his views, that he predicted with great confidence the results of the explorations now undertaken. He says: "As soon as geologists have learned to appreciate the extent to which our globe has been covered and fashioned by ice, they may be less inclined to advocate changes of level between land and sea, wherever they meet with the evidence of the action of water, especially where no marine remains of any kind mark the presence of the sea." He confirms many of Darwin's observations made in the same region thirty years ago, but thinks he ascribed too much to the agency of upheavals. Nevertheless, he discovered a salt-pool with marine animals, in the interior, near Possession Bay, which were undoubtedly due to upheaval. He says:

About a mile from the shore bluff, I found, nearly 150 feet above the sea-level, a salt-pool, in which, to my great surprise, marine shells, identical with those now living along the shore, were abundant. They were in a perfect state of preservation, and many of them were alive; so that I gathered a number of specimens with the living animal, which I have preserved in alcohol. The most common were ferns, myrtilus, buccinum, fissurella, putella, voluta, etc., all found in apparently the same numeric relation as that in which they now exist in the sea below the cliff. The presence of this pool, with its living inhabitants, shows a very recent upheaval of the coast. The period at which it may have taken place it is hardly possible to determine without a more extensive survey.

But these and other evidences of upheaval do not disturb his profound conviction that ice has been the grand agency by which the southern continent has been moulded, as appears from the following:

It was not till we rounded Cape Froward that I felt confident that the range of hills immediately in sight along the channel we followed had assumed their present appearance in consequence of abrasion by ice. Now, however, that I have seen the whole length of the Straits of Magellan, have passed through Smyth's Channel, and visited Chile, I am prepared to maintain that the whole southern extremity of the American Continent has been uniformly moulded by a continuous sheet of ice. Everywhere we saw the rounded, undulating forms so well known to the students of glacial phenomena as roches moutonnées, combined with the polished surfaces scored by grooves and furrows, running in one and the same direction; while rocks of unequal hardness, dikes traversing other rocks, slates on edges, were all cut to one level. In short, the surface features of the Straits of Magellan have much the same aspect as the glaciated surfaces of the Northern Hemisphere. Whenever the furrows and scratches were well preserved, their trend was northern.

 

Notes on the Seychelles Islands.—In August, 1871, Nicholas Pike, Esq., U. S. consul at Mauritius, visited the Seychelles Islands, a group lying 900 miles northeast of Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean. They are 29 in number, some of them mountainous, comprising about 50,000 acres of land, and lie between 3° 33' and 5° 45' south latitude. Most of them are covered with tropical vegetation.

The shores are fringed with coral-reefs in all places favorable to their growth. Gigantic astræas, brain-corals, madrepores, and coral shrubbery of many hues, cover the reefs of which they form a part.

Consul Pike visited many of the islands and made an interesting sketch of their natural history, which has been published in pamphlet form at Port Louis. Landing at Mahé, he penetrated inland, and found upon the slopes of the hills groves of the jamrosa and the guava-tree.

The jamrosa is the favorite food of the curious leaf-fly (Phiyllium siccifolium).

The peculiar dress of this insect enables it to elude the pursuit of the uninitiated. In form they imitate various leaves, and the resemblance is the more striking from the peculiar veining of their wings. They are sometimes over three inches in length, and their legs have curious leaf-like expansions. They hide on the under surface of leaves, and, when disturbed, double themselves up, so as to closely resemble crumpled leaflets. Probably no more perfect illustration of protective resemblance and mimicry is afforded by the animal kingdom, than by this little insect.

Scorpions abound on the islands, but are less dangerous and dreaded than a large spider of the genus Phyrnus. The female of the species, so plenty on the islands, is one-third larger than the male, being about fourteen lines long.

The many-jointed forelegs are of exceeding tenuity, and measure five inches in length.

These spiders attack by springing on their victim, and their bite causes inflammation, sometimes cramp, vomiting and swelling of the whole body. Ammonia is used by the natives as an antidote for their poison.

A species of mason wasp swarms on the islands, and intrudes everywhere. It builds in houses upon suspended strings, in caves, and in every accessible nook.

It is of a bright-brown color and about one and a quarter inch long. Their cells are about half an inch in length, and built of red mud. Like many species of their class in other parts of the world, they have a curious instinct for preparing food for their young, when in the larva state. After the egg is deposited in the cell, it is carefully filled with small spiders, and closed. The spiders are probably paralyzed by being stung. They continue fresh for several weeks, even retaining their natural colors, and afford the necessary food for the young larva.

The author gives a most interesting account of the wonderful palm-tree, the coco de mer. A century ago it was abundant on these islands, now it has nearly disappeared. For one of the nuts of this tree, it is said that the Emperor Rudolph offered 4,000 florins.

These nuts resemble the cocoa-nut in some respects, but are two-lobed, and four or five times larger.

A fine specimen forwarded by Consul Pike to the Long Island Historical Society of Brooklyn, N. Y., is now in its Museum of Natural History.

The tree grows sometimes a hundred feet high, with a slender stem and a ragged head of green and withered leaves. When the young plant attains the age of 20 or 25 years, and before fructification commences, the leaves have attained their greatest size and luxuriance. The stem then begins to rise.

It is nine months after planting before the germ begins to shoot; then, instead of rising directly, it shoots away like a root 15 or 20 feet, when it rises above the surface. Each leaf requires a year's elaboration in sun and air before the next appears. The early Dutch and Portuguese explorers found the immense nuts of this palm floating in the sea, and supposed it to be an ocean product, hence its name coco de mer.

 

Elevation of Lagoon Islands in the Pacific.—At a meeting of the Geological Society of London, held May 8th, Mr. D. Forbes is reported to have said that, "when in 1859 he spent some months in the Pacific, he had been requested by Mr. Darwin to examine into the evidence as to the origin of atolls by elevation, and had found that the asserted cases of the existence of masses of coral at a considerable elevation above the sea merely arose from blocks having been transported inland by the natives."

He, however, thought it possible that elevations had taken place in some instances.

The report, which is given in Nature for May 23rd, undoubtedly fails, on account of its brevity, to express clearly the remarks and meaning of that eminent naturalist.

It is, we believe, conceded that the observations of Prof. Dana among the coral-islands of the Pacific are thorough and accurate. On pages 345 and 346 of his recently-published work on "Corals and Coral Islands" is given a catalogue of about forty islands in the Pacific which have been more or less elevated since the formation of their reefs. Of these, several are lagoon islands.

Penrhyn's Island has an extensive lagoon and a total elevation of 50 feet above the sea.

Tougatabu and Hapaii are elevated atolls of coral; both have lagoons; the one on Hapaii is now a salt lake 1½ mile long.

Of the elevated islands as given by Prof. Dana, the amount of elevation is from one or two feet to 600 feet in two instances.

The island of Mengaia is girted by a coral-reef 300 feet high.

Others have 25 feet, 60 feet, 90 feet, and 300 feet of elevation.

These reefs were formed as reefs are now being formed, near the surface of the ocean, and their great thickness is accounted for by long but slow subsidence of the land. But it is equally certain that important elevations must have followed in the instances given of elevated atolls and reefs. It is not contended that the elevation is as general as the subsidence was. Nevertheless, instances of elevation occur in various parts of the Pacific, but the amount is not uniform even with islands not very distant from each other. The fact appears to be, that in some cases single islands, in others groups of islands, as the Gilbert Group and part of the Tonga Islands, have risen after an indefinite period of subsidence, and this seems so well established as to be scarcely open for discussion.

 

Chloral-Hydrate in Hydrophobia.—The Lancet for April 20th contains an interesting account of a case of hydrophobia, where the disease was controlled, and terminated in recovery, under the use of hydrate of chloral. The patient was an active business-man, about forty years old, who bad been bitten on the hand by his own dog some four or five months previous to the attack. The wound was cauterized at the time, and little more thought of it, until about a fortnight before the disease developed.

The patient states that he first felt a pricking sensation about that part of the hand which had been bitten, followed in two or three days by swelling, and a pain striking up the whole arm, which afterward became numb. He thought it was rheumatism. These symptoms increased, and he began to decline in health. His appetite failed; he had chills and heats, with an occasional headache; felt confused, anxious, and irritable; was easily startled and alarmed. When walking along the streets he would suddenly stop or turn round, and did not know the reason why. If a bird flew out of a hedge, or any unusual noise occurred, he felt agitated. When at chapel the Sunday previous to his being laid up, he experienced a sudden impulse to spring forward and jump over the front of the pew, and he restrained himself from the attempt by laying hold of the seat with both hands. The attack was characterized by the usual hydrophobic symptoms, great difficulty of breathing and of swallowing, distress at the pit of the stomach, convulsions, frightful struggling and howling, wild expression of countenance, frothy discharge from the mouth, and on one occasion a strong propensity to bite. The paroxysms succeeded each other at intervals of about ten minutes, and perceptibly grew worse as they continued. Shortly after being called in, the attending physician, who relates the case, began the administration of chloral-hydrate in twenty-grain doses. After the third dose, the violence of the symptoms began to moderate; the fourth dose was followed by still greater improvement, and the fifth dose put the sufferer to sleep. This soporific effect was kept up by giving the same dose of the chloral at longer intervals. For the next twenty-four hours nothing of any consequence occurred, with the exception of slight twitchings of the face and jerkings of the arms and legs during sleep. These were allayed at any time by an extra dose of the chloral. Beef-tea, mutton-broth, common tea, or water-gruel, was given him occasionally, which he swallowed without much objection when fairly roused up. During the next three days the somnolency was kept up by the medicine, with only a few twitchings showing themselves. On the morning of the fifth day he awoke out of a gentle slumber, and said to his wife, "I feel as if I should like to bite somebody." This was the last symptom noticed of a hydrophobic character. After the fifth day the chloral-hydrate was discontinued, and the quantity taken altogether amounted to 360 grains. When fit to travel, the patient went into the country, subsequently returning able to attend to business.

 

Northern Exploring Expeditions.—According to a correspondent of the London Daily News, four expeditions are now on their way or about to start from different ports in Europe for the north-pole. The Swedish Government sends out one of these under the control of Prof. Nordenskiold, an experienced arctic explorer, who will attempt to reach the pole from high latitudes, by means of sleighs drawn by reindeer. The expedition takes with it a portable house, which is to be put up on the Seven Islands in latitude 80° 30', the most northern point at which an expedition has ever wintered in these regions. Fifty reindeer are also to be taken along, together with the necessary fodder, and a number of Lapps to attend them. The scientific mission of the expedition is as follows: During the autumn the expedition will take soundings eastward of Spitzbergen; the eastern part of Spitzbergen is to be thoroughly surveyed; a series of continuous meteorological and magnetic observations for the space of an entire year are to be made; pendulum observations for determining the oblate form of the earth, refraction observations, besides a series of careful observations of the abundant animal life found in the Polar Ocean in these high regions. The scientific gain, it is expected, will be exceedingly valuable. The chief object will, however, be to attempt in the spring of 1873, after pushing as far as possible northward by vessel, to proceed, by sleighs drawn by reindeer, in the direction of the pole, and if possible to reach that point.

An Austrian expedition, which has the enthusiastic support of Dr. Petermann, is to set out about the end of June. The object of this expedition is the further exploration of the ice-free ocean, which they met with last summer, to the east and north, and the exploration of the Arctic Ocean to the north of Siberia. The plan of the voyage is as follows: The expedition being provisioned for a period of three years, the first winter is to be spent on Cape Tschelinskin, the most northern promontory of Asia; during the second summer the exploration of the Central Polar Ocean is to be continued, and an effort made to reach the pole; the second winter will be spent on the new Siberian Island, and the third summer will be employed in reaching Bering's Straits and an Asiatic or American haven. A third expedition, which is to act as a sort of tender to the last mentioned, is being fitted out by a certain Count Wilczek, who has already given largely in aid of northern exploration.

Two Norwegian fishing-steamers, under the command of able captains, are also, at the end of the fishing-season, intending to proceed in the direction taken by the Austrian expedition, and make explorations in the Siberian ice-sea, largely with an eye to future business.

A French expedition is also reported, which goes out under the direction of Gustave Ambert, who likewise proposes to follow the track of the Austrian vessel, with a view to "practical" as well as scientific results. Another French explorer, it is said, intends to get at the north-pole by way of balloon; but, how he is to obtain in that locality the supply of gas necessary to enable him to return and announce the discovery, is not stated.

 

Preservation of Wood.—Since the telegraph system of England came into the hands of the Government, active preparations have been going on for the very considerable extension of some of the lines. An important part of the work is the treatment of the poles for the purpose of preventing decay. Boucherie's process is the one employed. This was invented and largely used in France for the preservation of railroad ties and telegraph-poles, and is said to be both cheap and effective. It is thus applied by the English: The manufactory, as it may be termed, is situated in the middle of an extensive field, and consists, in the first place, of a quadrangular structure, four strong poles, some 60 feet in height, forming the angular points. Within 6 feet of the top is a platform, on which are two or three vats, each capable of containing 200 gallons. In the bottom portion of this structure are pumps for the purpose of forcing a liquid, chemically prepared, into the vessels above. The principal ingredient, besides water, is sulphate of copper. From these vessels two systems of tubing are carried downward to the ground, and continued along the surface forward to a distance of a couple of hundred yards, in a direction at right angles to the front of the rectangular structure already mentioned. Raised at slight elevation from the ground, and placed at right angles to these tubes, lie the trees to be operated upon, with their thicker ends inward; at intervals of 12 or 15 inches, in this horizontal tubing, is placed a series of taps, each connected by a short India-rubber tube to the end of a tree, to which it is secured by means of cramps and screws, and rendered water-tight by a sort of nozzle. By means of cocks at the upper end of the horizontal piping, the solution in the vats is permitted to descend. The pressure exerted from above forces it into the pipes through the India-rubber tubing and into the trees, traversing them in the direction of their fibre. In a short time, the sap and a portion of the chemical solution are seen to ooze slowly from the smaller end of the tree, when it falls into a sort of wooden gutter, inclined at such an angle as causes it to run back to a cistern near to where it had been originally prepared. After undergoing some filtration here, it is placed along with the yet unused liquid, and again performs the circuit of the vats above and trees below. The time necessary for the complete saturation of the trees varies from ten days to three weeks, according to their quality and age. In this way an application of the principles of hydrodynamics, combined with what is little more than a mechanical chemical knowledge, enables the manufacturer to provide poles for telegraphic purposes which will resist the action of the atmosphere for at least five times as long as the telegraph-poles formerly in use.

 

Propagation of Disease.—At a late meeting of the Manchester Philosophical Society, the president, in some remarks on the propagation of disease, pointed out how this might occur through house-drains that emptied into sewers. The sewer, acting as a reservoir, receives the diseased emanations from one house, only to send them back through improperly-trapped drains into other houses. Proof of this being a possible mode of spreading disease was furnished by a case, where, in one of the streets of a town suffering from an epidemic of small-pox, several houses on one side of the street were visited by the disease, while on the other side every house escaped. This circumstance was all the more remarkable from the fact that, on the side affected, the yards and spaces about the houses were clean and dry, while on the other side "the privies and slops overflowed the yards and lanes, and the stench was almost unbearable." On the clean side, the houses were connected with the sewer, sewage-gas was within them, and so was the epidemic. On the dirty side, none of the houses communicated with the sewer, and all were free from the disease. "Thus untrapped or badly trapped drains, terminating in sewers, may be worse than no drains at all."

 

Detection of Alum in Bread.—Anybody who wishes to test his bread or flour, for the presence of alum, may do so by the following process, which we find described and vouched for by Mr. John Horsley in a recent number of the Chemical News, First, make a tincture of logwood, by digesting, for eight hours, two drams of freshly-cut logwood-chips, in five ounces of methylated spirit, in a wide-mouthed phial, and filter. Second, make a saturated solution of carbonate of ammonia in distilled water. A teaspoonful of each solution mixed with a wineglassful of water, in a white-ware vessel, forms a pink-colored liquid. Bread containing alum, immersed in this liquid for five minutes or so, and then placed upon a plate to drain, will in an hour or two become blue on drying, but, if no alum is present, the pink color fades away. If, on drying, a greenish tinge appears, that is an indication of copper, as carbonate of ammonia produces that color, but never a blue.

 

A Singing Marmot.—Dr. Lockwood's theory of the latent singing capacity of the Rodents has received an interesting item of confirmation from an article in the June number of the American Naturalist by Dr. R. A. Kellogg, librarian of the Academy of Natural Sciences, San Francisco. He says that Dr. Lockwood's recent articles call out again a statement of his having a young Maryland marmot or woodchuck, when a boy, that "sung like a canary-bird, but in a softer, sweeter note." His impression was, that it was a female. "I used to watch the pet very closely to see how it sang, as children are apt to do. There was a slight motion of the nostrils and lips, and consequently of the whiskers, with an air of unmistakably happy or serene enjoyment."

 

Is the Singing of Magical Mice labial or guttural?—In answer to this question, which has been prompted by the reading of the article on musical mice in the last number of The Popular Science Monthly, Dr. Lockwood says: "The sound is undoubtedly produced in the upper part of the throat, although, while singing, the lips and nostrils keep up that movement noticeable in the upper lip, so to speak, of the rabbit.

 

The Rising of Circumpolar Land.—Mr. H. H. Howorth, in a letter to Nature, summarizes the evidence in favor of the view that the lands about the north and south poles are undergoing general upheaval. Concerning the northern polar lands, he quotes Captain Parry to the effect that Melville Island shows unmistakable signs of elevation, in the presence of bones of whales and drift-wood buried in the sand, in some cases 15 or 20 feet above the present level of the sea. Franklin gives similar testimony concerning the coast extending from the Mackenzie River to the Rocky Mountains; while Dr. Richardson found a like state of things to the east. The narratives of Maclune and Belcher contain evidence of similar purport. Though generally spoken of as subsiding, the islands in the vicinity of Behring's Straits bear all the traces of having recently been under water. The eastern coast of Asia, including China and Japan, is also being upheaved. The rise of Spitzbergen was observed to be going on as long ago as 1646, and is again affirmed by Parry, in the account of his journey toward the pole.

Evidence of upheaval of lands adjacent to the southern pole is also abundant. In South America, Mr. Darwin found that the land from the Rio Plata to Terra del Fuego, a distance of 1,200 miles, has been raised in mass (and in Patagonia to a height of between 300 and 400 feet) within the period of now-existing shells." Unmistakable evidences of upheaval are met with at Parana, on the banks of the Uruguay, and below Buenos Ayres. On the west coast in Central and Northern Chili, Mr. Darwin also found the indications of rising land.

Speaking of Southern Africa, Griesback says, "There cannot be the slightest doubt that the upheaval of the country is still going on; for, along the whole coast of South Africa from the Cape to Durham Bluff, and still farther north, even as far as Zanzibar, modern-raised beaches, coral-reefs, and oyster-banks, may everywhere be seen. At the Gzinhluzabalungu Caves is such a point; where the rising of the coast is plainly visible, recent oyster-shells are now 12 feet and more above high-water mark. The same can be observed on the whole line of the Natal Coast."

Of Tasmania Mr. Wintle remarks: "Until a very recent period in the geological annals of this island, a great portion of what now constitutes the site of this city was under water. This is proved by the extensive deposits of comminuted shells, all of recent species, which are met with for miles along the banks of the Derwent. Some of these deposits are at an elevation of upward of 100 feet above high-water mark, and from 50 to 100 yards from the water's edge, plainly showing thereby that a very recent elevation of the land has taken place."

In New Zealand the evidence is the same. M. Reclus says the port of Lyttelton has risen three feet since it was occupied by the settlers. Mr. Forbes says that proofs of upheaving of the land are even now obvious to any intelligent traveller. Some of these changes have been witnessed by the present generation. Again, in the Middle Island upheaval of the land is observable in a marked manner through the entire length of the western coast from Cape Farewell to Dusky Bay. Some of the most extraordinary changes in these regions have taken place within the last few years.

In Australia, the proofs that elevation is now taking place are equally clear and abundant. "The whole coast round, to a distance of several miles inland, is covered with recent shells; the drainage of the country is apparently altering. Lakes known to have been formerly filled with salt water are now filling up with fresh or becoming dry. The lagoons near the coast are filled with salt and brackish water, and their banks are filled with marine shells with their colors in many cases preserved. Reefs of rocks are constantly appearing in places where there were none formerly. At Rivoli Bay the soundings have altered so much as to make a new survey requisite. A reef has lately almost closed this harbor. Other reefs have appeared at Cape Jaffa, etc. It would appear that a vast movement is taking place in the whole of the south of Australia. In Melbourne the observations of surveyors and engineers have all tended to confirm this remarkable fact."

From these and multitudes of other similar facts, Mr. Howorth concludes that the circumpolar land is rising about both poles, and that there is a general thrusting out of the earth's periphery, in the direction of its shorter axis. He also believes that an equally general subsidence is at the same time going on in the intervening region, extending both north and south of the equator, until it reaches the line of upheaval.