Popular Science Monthly/Volume 15/October 1879/Popular Miscellany

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Popular Science Monthly Volume 15 October 1879  (1879) 
Popular Miscellany
 

POPULAR MISCELLANY.

The Saratoga Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.—The Saratoga meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science was very numerously attended by members from all parts of the United States. The presence of very many of the foremost scientists of the country was a reassuring evidence of the high esteem in which the work of the Association is held by those whose pursuits and attainments best qualify them to judge of its value. The first public session was held in the Town Hall of Saratoga, on Wednesday, August 26th, Professor O. C. Marsh, the retiring President, in the chair. The President-elect, Professor George F. Barker, having been duly installed, an address of welcome was presented to the Association by Dr. McEwen, chairman of the local committee, on behalf of the citizens of Saratoga. The President made a graceful response to this address, expressing the thanks of the members of the Association for the cordiality with which they were received. Referring to the labors of scientific men, and the aims and purposes of the Association, he said that " the American Association is a scientific body, and, using the word science in its widest sense, we claim that only that knowledge which is actual should be garnered as wheat, though much undetermined material may be collected for investigation. It is the more or less crude speculation, rather than the established fact, which tends to bring science into discredit. Undoubtedly, in advancing into an unknown country progress must be slow and results more or less doubtful, until the ground has been more thoroughly explored, and the relations of things have been established. But the antagonism of varying views and the cross-questioning of opposing opinion soon bring the truth to light, and fix it as an integral part of science.

"But our Association has for its object to advance science not only by the discovery of new truth, but also by the diffusion of that already known. To this end it extends a cordial recognition to all organizations of whatever sort, whose objects are akin to its own. Being itself national in character, it gives its indorsement to all local enterprises, and stands ready to assist them in any legitimate way. Whether it be a State geological or topographical survey, an academy of science, or association or individual seeking to unravel nature's secrets, the Association desires to strengthen their bonds and to uphold them in the communities where they are located. Its province is to awaken an interest in pure science; or, where such interest already exists, to develop it to the full. It invites all interested in science to its membership, and opens its sessions to all comers. That its periodical and migratory meetings, in the words of the constitution, have actually done what they were intended to do, have promoted intercourse between those who are cultivating science in different parts of America, have given a stronger and more general impulse and a more systematic direction to scientific research, and have procured for the labors of scientific men increased facilities and a wider usefulness, no one who has watched its history can doubt."

The following abstracts of the more interesting papers read at the meeting are condensed from the reports published in the "Times" and the "Tribune":

 

The Orang-outang at Home.—Mr. William T. Hornaday read a paper on the orangoutangs of Borneo. The author spent several months last year in that island, studying its simian fauna and collecting specimens. Each individual of the Bornean orangs, he said, differs from its fellows, and has as many facial peculiarities belonging to itself alone as can be found in the individuals of any unmixed race of human beings, as the Chinese or the Japanese. The faces of the more intelligent orangs are capable of a great variety of expression, and in some the exhibition of the various passions is truly remarkable. The author had in his possession in Borneo four young living orangs. Three were dull and impracticable, but the fourth was singularly intelligent and docile; the development of its forehead and entire cranium "would have been quite alarming to an enemy of the theory of evolution." This specimen was a male infant seven or eight months old, twenty-two and a quarter inches in height, thirty-seven inches in expanse of arms, and fifteen and a half pounds in weight. He exhibited fully as much intelligence as any child under two years of age, with all the emotions of affection, dislike, anger, fear, etc. When teased beyond endurance he would first whine fitfully, but, if the teasing were continued, he would throw himself upon the floor, kicking and screaming and catching his breath like a child. Touching the habits of adult animals, Mr. Hornaday said that the male orangs are much given to fighting, their huge canine teeth being their principal weapons of offense. One of the specimens exhibited by the author bore the scars of many a fierce contest. Large pieces had been bitten out of both lips, and his middle fingers had been bitten off. He. had also lost two of his toes in this way. The orang's nest consists of a quantity of leafy branches broken off and piled loosely in the fork of a tree. The orang usually selects a sapling, and builds his nest in its top. Sometimes the nest is fully three feet in diameter, but usually not more than two, and quite flat on the top. There is no weaving together of branches. On this bed the orang lies, reposing on his back, his long arms and short thick legs thrust upward, and firmly grasping the branches within his reach.

 

Edison's Electro-Chemical Telephonic Receiver.—An exhibition of Edison's electro-chemical telephonic receiver was given before the Association in the Town Hall, and was prefaced by a very clear and succinct explanation of the principles involved in different kinds of telephones, by Professor Barker. Mr. Edison was present, and offered an explanation of his new instrument. Apparently, it is simply a small box provided with a crank, and looking like a coffee-mill. Its working is based on the fact that, when a piece of metal is pressed upon a chalk cylinder saturated with phosphate of soda, and a current of electricity is passed through the metal, there is no friction between the chalk and the metal, no matter how great the pressure. But, the instant the current is checked, the pressure applies and causes friction. In the new receiver there is a chalk cylinder which is made to turn by means of a crank. Upon the cylinder rests a metallic arm or bar that is attached at the opposite end to the center of a metallic diaphragm. This arm or bar is a lever, and multiplies the scope of vibration. The current which is transmitting a message vibrates the diaphragm. In proportion to the strength of the wave of electricity on the wire, the friction between the arm and the cylinder is varied, and the amount of sound produced is varied in like proportion. The sound transmitted is thus magnified. The person who talks furnishes the power, but the person who is at the receiving instrument controls the power, and the message only becomes audible when the chalk cylinder is rotated. This receiving instrument has no connection with the wires that transmit the message, owing to defects not yet overcome in the manufacture of telegraph wires. It takes its message through a coil placed in close proximity to a second coil which is in communication with the ordinary telegraph wire. Could the coil be dispensed with, the sounds could be still more magnified than they are with the present arrangement. The instrument exhibited was only an experimental model; nevertheless it transmitted messages which were heard by the whole audience, numbering fifteen hundred persons.

 

Experiments on the Living Brain.—At the close of one of the daily sessions of the Association, Professor Burt G. Wilder gave illustrations of some of the experiments of Ferrier on the brains of living animals. Having by the use of ether reduced a cat to the state of insensibility, Professor Wilder laid bare the surface of the animal's brain by removing the roof of the skull. On the wall was hung a diagram of the brain, with certain regions of it designated by figures. A chart stated what movements would be made by the cat, as these different regions of its brain were successively touched by the terminals of a weak electric current, and in every case the movements occurred precisely as laid down in the chart. Thus, when the place on the brain answering to that marked "1" in the diagram was touched, the opposite hind-leg of the animal was advanced as the chart said it would be. When "4" was touched the opposite fore-leg moved as if to strike, being first drawn back. Again, the animal was made to scream, spit, and lash its tail, by similar means.

 

Insect-Destruction of Evergreen-Trees.—Professor S. H. Scudder gave to the members of the Entomological Club, an annex of the Association, an interesting account of the destruction of the pine-forests of Nantucket Island. Formerly, he said, the island was well wooded; but, during the war with England in 1812, the inhabitants, cut off from intercourse with the mainland, were reduced to such straits for fuel that they burned every tree. Some years ago plantations of pines were begun, and now a large portion of the island is covered with pines and scrub-oaks. Now, however, sure though slow destruction threatens the young forest through the agency of a small moth, whose larvae attack the leaf-buds. This moth is closely allied to the Retinea silvestrina of Europe, but probably belongs to a distinct species. It bores into the tip of each terminal bud, and saps the life of the tree. Every pine on the island, Mr. Scudder says, is affected, and he sees no way to save the forest. Other members reported the presence of Retinea and allied species of insects in different parts of the country. Professor J. H. Comstock had found a large species of Retinea destroying pine-trees in western New York. Mr. Bassett said that a few years ago the white pines and Norway spruces in Connecticut were threatened with destruction by a moth, but the danger passed away. Professor Riley said that the junipers on Long Island are attacked everywhere by a destructive moth, and that all the foreign imported evergreens suffered in like manner. He recommended the use of Paris-green as a means of exterminating the pests.

 

The Constitution of the Sun.—Professor S. P. Langley, Vice-President, addressed Section A upon the progress of solar physics. Even after the invention of the telescope, he said, astronomy was more concerned with the motions of the heavenly bodies than with their physical nature. With the aid of mathematics, the great law of gravitation was ascertained, and the movements of the heavenly bodies thenceforth could be predicted. But great questions still remained untouched. Life on the earth depends on the great central fire, the sun. What is that fire? What are its sources? How long will it continue? With almost the sole exception of the Herschels, a few years ago nobody attempted to solve these questions. Melloni was among the first to give the subject serious attention. He used the thermopile and the galvanometer in his researches. Fraunhofer prepared the way for the spectroscope, and in 1860 the employment of that instrument by Kirchhoff opened the pathway of the modern science of solar physics. At first we knew little more than that the sun was a hot globe, with occasional spots on its surface; now the work has been divided into special fields of research. Professor Langley here recounted, in considerable detail, the labors of the great modern physical astronomers, but our space is too circumscribed even to give a synopsis of his remarks. In concluding, he pointed out the practical value of many of these researches. The direction in which to look for the resolving of elements into simpler forms may be indicated by solar analysis. The real nature of terrestrial elements may thus be ascertained. The problems of meteorology may find their ultimate solution in studies of the sun, and enable us to predict the years of dearth or plenty in our harvests. But as yet none of us are able to prophesy the weather for even the coming week from our knowledge of the sun. A more promising field of utility is opened in the construction of solar engines. These may be made at some future day to employ the sun's heat to better advantage than we now use steam, power. At present our science teaches us to look for a period, in the far-distant future, when our sun's fires shall become extinct, and earth a frozen orb. The glacial era tells us of a previous epoch, when life may have been equally restricted by cold, and we are thus taught that the human race is the creature of yesterday, and can not endure for ever.

 

The Coal of the Future.—In a paper on the anthracite coal-fields of Pennsylvania, Mr. P. W. Sheafer estimated the production of that kind of coal in 1820, when anthracite mining was begun, at 365 tons; it is now 20,000,000 tons per annum. According to Mr. Sheafer, only one third of the coal goes into market; the other two thirds is wasted, being lost in the mines and in preparation. The maximum product he estimated at about 50,000,000 tons per annum, and, at the present rate of increase, this limit will be reached in the year 1900. At that rate the anthracite coal-fields would be exhausted in 186 years, say in the year 2065. Then we must have recourse to our bituminous coal-fields, whose area reaches the enormous extent of 200,000 square miles, or four hundred times the area of the anthracite. The competition between the several anthracite coal companies, and between them and the producers of bituminous coal, will always keep the price moderate. Mr. Sheafer doubted if Great Britain could much increase its present enormous product of 136,000,000 tons, but at her present rate of increase she will have exhausted her coal at about the time when our anthracite resources are at an end.

 

Origin of Certain Mound-Formations in California.—A correspondent of the "Monthly" in the number for December, 18*78, described the curious hummocky appearance of the surface of the ground in the Yosemite Valley, and expressed a wish to have the phenomenon explained. It appears that a similar surface-conformation is to be seen in many other parts of California, and Dr. G. W. Barnes offers an explanation of its origin in a paper in the "American Naturalist," on "The Hillocks or Mound-Formations of San Diego." According to Dr. Barnes, these mounds, in their most common type, may be described as rounded eminences or knolls, rising from one to four feet above the surrounding surface or the depressions between them, and ranging from ten to fifty feet in diameter. Each mound, he says, marks a spot where formerly grew a shrub, or cluster of shrubbery, which served to fix its location, and which exercised an important influence in tire successive stages of its development. Dust set in motion and borne along by the winds is arrested by the shrub, and together with its fallen leaves accumulates within and around it, often nearly enveloping the whole plant, The gopher, subsisting upon roots and preferring for its operations the loose soil about them, is, in exceptional cases, an adjunct of the wind in heaping up material about the plant. While the loose earth of which the deposit is composed is protected by the branches and foliage of the plant, the more solid earth beneath is also protected from the wash of rain by its massive roots (the author refers to the roots of Simmondsia Californica), while all around erosion goes slowly on, facilitated by the peculiar susceptibility of the soil to wash. In the course of time the plant dies—is smothered by the drift which nearly covers it, or is destroyed by the annual fires. Thus deprived of its protection, the winds in turn and the rains which fall upon it wear down the top of the loose deposit, and to some extent widen its base. While this is going on the surrounding earth is being continually lowered by the action of water. The wash being greater at the base than at the summit, its effect is to perpetually maintain or increase the prominences. Such is the explanation of these hummocks offered by Dr. Barnes.

 

Steadiness of the Electric Light.—In employing the electric light for projection on a screen, two chief points are to be considered, viz., brilliancy of illumination and steadiness of the light. When the source of electricity is sufficient, the first of these ends is easily obtained. The second is not so easy of accomplishment. The difficulty here met with is pointed out in the "American Journal of Science," by Mr. H. W. Wiley, who also proposes a method of obviating it. The carbons burn away so rapidly that when no mechanism is present to produce alternating currents the electric arc is constantly passing out of the focus. Often, too, Mr. Wiley finds that when the current is quite strong the arc will extend itself momentarily between points as far as a centimetre from the end of the carbons. To prevent this too rapid combustion of the carbons, he coats them with a thin film of copper—a plan well known in France, though seldom tried here. With this coating of copper the carbons work satisfactorily for a short time; but soon the film is oxidized, and the combustion is as rapid as before. Mr. Wiley therefore protects the copper from oxidation by covering the carbons (after copper plating) with a film of plaster of Paris. After the plaster has set, the edge of the carbon which is to be turned toward the condenser is carefully denuded of its plaster covering, which is also cut away till quite thin on the adjacent surfaces. These precautions are taken so that the plaster may not interfere with the radiation of light in the direction of the condenser. The copper surface at the end of the carbon being uncovered, it is fastened in the holder in the usual way. The light now produced is steady and the combustion of the carbon slow. The film of plaster melts gradually as the point is consumed, and thus never interferes with the illumination. The points of both the negative and positive carbons remain blunt, and there is no wasting away of the stem. A carbon prepared in this way will last at least ten times as long as one used in the ordinary way. The chief advantage, however, is found in the comparative steadiness of the light.

 

The Shape of the Earth.—There is in England a man named Hampden who believes the earth is flat, and is sorely tried because he can not win all his fellows to this opinion. He is fond of conducting controversies on this subject in the public press, and evidently derives great satisfaction from every contest, being a member of that fraternity who are "of the same opinion still," however convincing may be the facts and arguments which are adduced against their peculiar ideas. Mr. R. A. Proctor has lately found time to engage in a published correspondence with this interesting person, and now proposes to settle the matter by an experiment. It appears that, some years ago, Hampden agreed to forfeit a certain sum of money if the result of a similar experiment should prove to be adverse to his opinion. He lost the money. To this experiment Mr. Proctor alludes in the opening sentence of his challenge, which is as follows: "In the Bedford Canal experiment, the result of which cost Mr. Hampden so much loss and annoyance, he distrusted the evidence of the referee's eyes, and considered also that there should have been three boats in line, one at each end and one in the middle of the long distance. Now, as nothing would be easier than to photograph three boats so arranged on a clear, quiet day, and as the collodion-film can neither be deceived nor lie, I can not understand why he should not try that simple experiment, instead of calling me and other students of astronomy by bad names. To encourage him further, I will undertake to pay the hire of suitable photographic apparatus and all expenses of a qualified operator, at any convenient place in the neighborhood of the Bedford level, if any one of the negatives should show the three boats (at distances, say, of one mile, three miles, and five miles from the camera) at the same, or anything near the same, level. Mr. Hampden will observe that I reply to his questions by simply denying that the facts are such as he alleges, and by showing a convenient way in which this matter may be put to the test, once for all."

 

Poison-Proof Animals.—The action of the solanaceous alkaloids on the rodents has been investigated by Professor Heckel, of Marseilles, with a view of ascertaining the conditions which determine the remarkable immunity which those animals enjoy against poisoning by the substances named. Not only the rabbit and the pig, but rats can with impunity take belladonna, and the alkaloids of Datura stramonium and D. tatula. The alkaloids of black and white hellebore, too, are innocuous to the rodents. Professor Heekel's researches show that the rabbit and Guinea-pig may be fed for a long time with the leaves and even with the roots of the poisonous Solanaceæ without detriment, and that the rat bears very well the addition of these vegetables to its ordinary food. The immunity of the rabbit and Guinea-pig is so great that M. Heckel Mas been able to bring up several generations on this food, giving them during the summer the leaves exclusively, and during the winter mixing dried powdered leaves and roots with equal parts of other food. It is his opinion that the effect of poisons lessens in proportion as animals recede in organization from man.

 

Opium-Eating and Intemperance.—It is asserted by Dr. Moffat that one result of the early closing of public-houses in England is an increased consumption of opium and laudanum. It would be an interesting subject of inquiry to ascertain what is the exact ratio between the decline of "intemperance" and the growth of opium-consumption. Dr. Moffat in 1874 first became impressed with the belief that the consumption of opium was more general among the working classes than was commonly supposed; and set to work to ascertain the truth. The druggist in a certain mining village informed him that since the public-houses were closed at 10 p. m., his sales of laudanum have increased from a very small quantity to two quarts per week. Similar reports were received from druggists in other mining villages. Nor is it only in opium and chloral hydrate that there is increased consumption. There are many soporifics and stimulants taken in place of beer, viz., absinthe, cologne-water, tincture of rhubarb, mixture of opium and chloroform, chlorodyne, and the ethers. In Ireland there has been a great increase in the quantity of sulphuric ether consumed since the public houses in that country were closed on Sundays.

 

Statistics of Population.—In "Petermann's Mittheilungen" the population of the globe is estimated, for 1877, at 1,429,145,000 souls, occupying a superficial area of 134,460,000 square kilometres. Inhabitants are distributed among the continents as follows: in Europe, 312,398,480; in Asia, 813,000,000; in Africa, 205,219,500; in Australia and its islands, 4,411,300; in America, 86,116,000. Between 1875 and 1877 the whole population increased by 42,000,000. This increase, however, does not depend on the very great excess of births over deaths, but is the result of more accurate enumeration, and more extended knowledge of various localities. The populations of European countries, in 1877, were: Belgium, 5,336,185; Holland, 3,865,456; England, 34,242,966; Italy, 27,769,475; Germany, 42,727,360; France, 36,905,788; Switzerland, 2,759,854; Austria, 37,350,000; Denmark, 1,905,000; Spain, 16,526,511; Portugal, 4,057,538; Greece, 1,457,894; European Turkey (exclusive of the tributary states), 9,573,000; European Russia, 72,392,927; Sweden and Norway, 6,237,268. As regards the proportion of the sexes, there were to 1,000 men in the Canary Islands 1,208 females; in Sweden, 1,064; Switzerland, 1,045; England, 1,043; Germany, 1,037; Austria, 1,024; Russia, 1,022; Spain, 1,016; France, 1,007; Italy, 989; Belgium, 985; Greece, 983; North America, 978; Brazil, 938; Egypt, 1,025; Japan, 971; Siberia, 934.

 

Dimensions of the Esquimau Skull.— Though the Esquimaux are generally below the middle stature of man, their heads are as large as those of more favored races. According to Professor Flower, the average capacity of an Esquimau skull (male) is 1·546 cubic centimetres (94·3 cubic inches), almost exactly the same as the average English skull of the lowest class, while it exceeds by seventy-one cubic centimetres the average of seventy-four modern Italian skulls. This large size of the brain seems not necessary to be connected with intellectual development. Another distinctive characteristic of the Esquimau skull, as pointed out by Professor Flower, is its great length and narrowness, especially in the upper part. The base is fairly broad, and the mastoid processes well developed; but, instead of expanding upward to the parietal region, it narrows, and, toward the median line above, contracts so rapidly that the upper part of the skull has the form of the roof of a house. The affinities of the Esquimau race are declared to be more with the inhabitants of northeastern Asia than with the American Indians; and probably they are derived from the same stock as the Japanese.

 

The Climate of Mogador.—From the journal of a tour in Marocco by Dr. Hooker and others, recently published, we learn that the climate of Mogador is one of the most equable known in the temperate zone. This fact is shown by careful observations, made by M. Baumier, covering a period of eight years. The lowest temperature observed was 50·7°, the highest 87·8°. The mean temperature for the hottest year was 68·65°, the mean for the coldest year was 65·75°. If we compare the mean temperature of summer with that of winter, we find a difference of 10° only, the mean for summer being about 71°, the mean for winter being 10 less, or about 61°.

It is stated that phthisis is almost completely unknown among the people of this part of Africa. A resident physician, Dr. Thevenin, had found five cases only in ten years, and of these the disease was in three cases contracted elsewhere. Europeans suffering from lung-diseases find speedy relief on removing here.

In Algeria, which has some fame as a health resort, the range of the thermometer is much greater, and the climate is less suited to delicate constitutions. The same is true of the climate of Egypt, and of Madeira (Funchal).

The total rainy days in a year at Mogador is forty-five. If a fog occurs, it is rapidly dissipated as the morning advances, and the desert-wind, so distressing over many parts of northern Africa and southern Europe, is scarcely felt, the period of its prevalence being only about two days in a year.

The northeast trade-wind, which prevails two hundred and seventy-one days in each year, and the proximity of the great Atlas chain of mountains, greatly modify the climatic conditions. There seems no reason to doubt that invalids will find Mogador a most favorable place of resort. At present, however, the social conditions in which a stranger finds himself in this Moorish city are a serious drawback. There is want of society, of occupation, and amusement. But Dr. Hooker well observes, "One interested in any branch of natural history may find constant occupation in a climate where not half a dozen days in a year but may be passed agreeably out of doors."

 

Remarkable Luminous Phenomenon.— Commander Pringle, of the British naval ship Vulture, makes report of a singular phenomenon observed at sea, at about 9·40 p. m., on May 15th, in latitude 26° 26' north, and longitude 53° 11' east. It was a clear, unclouded, starlight night, Arcturus being within some 7° of the zenith, and Venus about to set. The wind was northwest, sea smooth, ship on starboard tack, heading west-southwest, and going three knots. Commander Pringle writes, "I noticed luminous waves or pulsations in the water, moving at great speed, and passing under the ship from the south-southwest. On looking toward the east, the appearance was that of a revolving wheel with center on that bearing, and whose spokes were illuminated, and looking toward the west a similar wheel appeared to be revolving, but in the opposite direction. I then went to the mizentop (fifty feet above water), and saw that the luminous waves or pulsations were really traveling parallel to each other, and that their apparently rotatory motion, as seen from the deck, was caused by their high speed and the greater angular motion of the nearer than the more remote part of the waves. The light of these waves looked homogeneous and lighter, but not so sparkling as phosphorescent appearances at sea usually are, and extended from the surface well under water; they lit up the white bottoms of the quarter-boats in passing. I judged them to be twenty-five feet broad, with dark intervals of about seventy-five between each, or one hundred from crest to crest, and their period was seventy-four to seventy-five per minute, giving a speed, roughly, of eighty-four English miles an hour. . . . I could only distinguish six or seven waves. . . I observed no kind of change in the wind, the swell, or in any part of the heavens, nor were the compasses disturbed. A bucket of water was drawn, but was unfortunately capsized before daylight. The ship passed through oily-looking fish-spawn on the evening of the 15th and morning of the 16th."

 

An Imported Sovereign.—In a communication to the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia the Rev. Mr. McCook records an instance of the adoption of a fertile queen of Crematogaster lineolata, a small black ant, by a colony of the same species. The queen, which had been taken on April 16th was on May 14th introduced to workers of a nest taken on the same day. The queen was alone within an artificial glass formicary, and several workers were introduced. One of these soon found the queen, exhibited much excitement, but no hostility, and immediately ran to her sister workers, all of whom were presently clustered upon the queen. As other workers were gradually introduced, they joined their comrades, until the body of the queen (who is much larcer than the workers) was nearly covered with them. They appeared to be holding on by their mandibles to the delicate hairs upon the female's body, and continually moved their antennæ caressingly. This sort of attention continued until the queen, escorted by workers, disappeared in one of the galleries. She was entirely adopted, and thereafter was often seen moving freely, or attended by guards, about the nest, at times engaged in attending the larvæ and nymphs which had been introduced with the workers of the strange colony. The workers were fresh from their own natural home, and the queen had been in an artificial home for a month. As among ants the workers of different nests are usually hostile to each other, this adoption of an alien queen is an example of the strong instinct which controls for preservation of the species.

 

Ant-Intelligence.—A wonderful exhibition of ant-intelligence was witnessed by Mr. E. W. Cox, who gives in "Nature" an account of his observations. Two large cockroaches having been killed, their bodies were left lying on a gravel-strewed shelf in a hot-house; this shelf was four feet from the floor. In about twenty minutes a swarm of ants emerged from their nest, which was at some distance, climbed the wall, gained the shelf, and there, dividing into two parties, proceeded to take possession of the carcasses. The ants were the smallest of their kind; the body of their prey was nearly two inches long and half an inch in width. In order to carry these huge carcasses to their nest the ants had first to draw them for a space of ten inches over rough gravel, then along a smooth board for two feet, then to drop them to the floor beneath, then to drag them over some very rough rubble for sixteen inches, and finally to pass them between two slabs of wood into the nest. The author recounts as follows the difficulties encountered by one of the parties in removing the prey: They surrounded the corpse of the dead cockroach, and, seizing it with their mandibles, moved it onward a little way. It was inclined on its side, and when moved the projecting edges of the side hitched in the stones and prevented progress. On some larger stones near the spot were seen half a dozen ants looking at the work, but taking no part in it. When the hitch occurred, and whenever afterward any obstacle was met, these "surveyors" left their stations, went to the workers, and then returned to their place of observation. Forthwith the laborers changed their plans. They now turned the cockroach on its back, and in this position they moved it onward triumphantly for three or four inches. At length the body was successfully brought to the smooth edge of the shelf, where it could be dropped to the floor beneath. But here occurred a new difficulty: the floor was strewed with bricks and plants. In fact, there was but one open space of about four inches square into which the body could be sent so as to be carried securely to its destination; to reach this spot" they had to drag the burden along the ledge for a space of seventeen inches. That spot having been reached, the carcass was dropped by all at once loosing their hold of it. Previously to this, however, the "surveyors" had run down the wall to the floor and posted themselves directly under the ledge on which the body lay (four feet above). After the drop of the body, all the ants came running down the wall, seized their prey again, and in half an hour carried it a distance of nearly three feet to the entrance of the nest. But here a new difficulty faced them: it could not pass between the boards when lying on its back. They turned it on one side and tried again. At last, as the legs still hitched, the ants bit them off, and then the body was turned on its side and taken through the narrow way into the nest.

 

Cinchona Cultivation in California.—Five packages of fresh cinchona-seeds were received from India some months ago, by the Director of the Economic Garden of the University of California. These seeds represented five different species of cinchona, viz., C. succirubra, C. calisaya, C. officinalis, C. condaminea, and C. hybrida. Professor E. W. Hilgard writes in the "California Horticulturist" that the calisaya germinated most readily. At present there are growing in the propagating house of the Agricultural Department of the university several hundred healthy plants of each of the five species. So soon as the trees are sufficiently advanced they will be distributed to the various sections of the State of California, where the climate gives promise of success, there to be tried by careful and competent persons. The accounts received from India and Australia of the success of the cinchona in those countries, encourage the belief that some of the five species will prove hardy both as regards cold and drought in the coast region south of San Francisco, and in the more sheltered portions of the bay region. There the summer fogs and the uniformity of temperature seem to present the main conditions known to be requisite for the growth of the cinchona, which appears to be a tree of considerable adaptability.

 

Eastern Extension of the Long Island Drift.—Mr. Warren Upham, in an article on the formation of Cape Cod, published in the "American Naturalist," shows how the two series of drift-hills of Long Island extend, the more northerly one across Cape Cod from west to east, and the more southerly across Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Island. The outmost border of the great ice-sheet of the glacial period is definitely marked by a continuous series of drift-hills which extend across New Jersey and from end to end of Long Island. From the Narrows to Montauk Point this moraine is commonly known as "the backbone of Long Island." The west portion, reaching from Fort Hamilton to Roslyn, is mainly an unstratified deposit; but from Roslyn to Montauk the hills are composed of modified drift. South of these hills are gently sloping plains of fine gravel and sand. Another series of plains extends to the north from Syosset to Riverhead, and thence continues along the north branch of the island to Orient Point. North of these plains, from Port Jefferson to Orient Point, is another series of drift hills which, like the southerly chain, is mainly composed of stratified sand and gravel with few bowlders; but in the vicinity of Greenport and Orient the material is changed to a very coarse unstratified deposit like the upper till. This series is very plainly continued northeastward in Plum and Fisher's Islands, which are made up of hills of glacial drift like those near Greenport; thence it passes into Rhode Island at its southwest corner, and extends close to the coast seventeen miles from Watch Hill nearly to Point Judith. About two miles northwest from Point Judith it sinks to the sea-level, and its further continuation is lost, probably because it turns southward into the ocean. Twelve miles to the south, the first or southerly range is lifted into view in Block Island. The sea covers the next thirty miles on the line of continuation of these two series of hills, but both emerge again, the northern forming the Elizabeth Islands and traversing the west-to-east portion of Cape Cod; while the southern moraine forms No-Man's-Land, the crest of Gay Head, and prominent ranges of hills in the northwestern part of Martha's Vineyard, extending northeast nearly to Vineyard Haven. Here it is lost, but it reappears on Chappaquiddick and Tucanuck Islands, and in Saul's Hills and Sankaly Head on Nantucket.

 

Professor Huxley on Bathybius.—In seconding the vote of thanks to Professor Allman at the close of his able address on protoplasm, delivered at the late meeting of the British Association, and elsewhere printed in this number, Professor Huxley alluded as follows to his past and present views regarding Bathybius: "It is my business to recollect, on the present occasion, that I have come to praise Caesar, and not to bury him under any mountain of talk of my own; and I will, therefore, not venture to dwell upon any of those very large topics upon which he has dwelt with so much fairness, with so much judgment, and with so remarkable a knowledge of the existing information respecting them. But I will ask you to allow me to say one word rather on my own account, in order to prevent a misconception which, I think, might arise, and which I should regret if it did arise. I dare say that no one in this room, who has attained middle life, has been so fortunate as to reach that age without being obliged now and then to look back upon some acquaintance, or, it may be, intimate ally of his youth, who has not quite verified the promises of that youth. Nay, let us suppose he has done the very reverse, and has become a very questionable sort of character, and a person whose acquaintance does not seem quite so desirable as it was in those young days: his way and yours have separated; you have not heard much about him; but eminently trustworthy persons have assured you he has done this, that, or the other; and is more or less of a black sheep, in fact. The President, in the early part of his address, alluded to a certain thing—I hardly know whether I ought to call it thing or not—of which he gave you the name Bathybius, and he stated, with perfect justice, that 1 had brought that thing into notice; at any rate, indeed, I christened it, and I am, in a certain sense, its earliest friend. For some time after that interesting Bathybius was launched into the world, a number of admirable persons took the little thing by the hand, and made very much of it, and, as the President was good enough to tell, you, I am glad to be able to repeat and verify all the statements, as a matter of fact, which I had ventured to make about it. And so things went on, and I thought my young friend Bathybius would turn out a credit to me. But, I am sorry to say, as time has gone on, he has not altogether verified the promise of his youth. In the first place, as the President told you, he could not be found when he was wanted; and, in the second place, when he was found, all sorts of things were said about him. Indeed, I regret to be obliged to tell you that some persons of severe minds went so far as to say that he was nothing but simply a gelatinous precipitate of slime, which had carried down organic matter. If that is so, I am very sorry for it, for, whoever else may have joined in this error, I am undoubtedly primarily responsible for it. But I do not know at this present time of my own knowledge how the matter stands. Nothing would please me more than to investigate the matter afresh in the way it ought to be investigated, but that would require a voyage of some time, and the investigation of this thing in its native haunts is a kind of work for which, for many years past, I have had no opportunity, and which I do not think I am very likely to enjoy again. Therefore my own judgment is in an absolute state of suspension about it. I can only warn you what has been said about this friend of mine, but I can not say whether what is said is justified or not. But I feel very happy about the matter. There is one thing about us men of science, and that is, no one who has the greatest prejudice against science can venture to say that we ever endeavor to conceal each other's mistakes. And, therefore, I rest in the most entire and complete confidence that, if this should happen to be a blunder of mine, some day or other it will be carefully exposed by somebody! But pray let me remind you, whether all this story about Bathybius be right or wrong makes not the smallest difference to the general argument of the remarkable address put before you to-night. All the statements your President has made are just as true, as profoundly true, as if this little, eccentric Bathybius did not exist at all. I congratulate you upon having had the opportunity of listening to an address so profound, so exhaustive in all respects, and so remarkable, and I ask you to join in the vote of thanks which has just been proposed."

 

A Specimen of African Civilization.—At the recent meeting of the British Association, Commander Cameron gave the following interesting particulars concerning the manners and customs of the people of Urua, a country in Central Africa bounded on the east by Lake Tanganyika, on the north by independent tribes in Manguema, on the west by Ulunda, and on the south by mountains south of Lake Bangueolo. The Uruans are probably the most civilized race in Central Africa. Their late supreme chief, Kasongo, claimed divine honors. On his death all his wives save one were slaughtered at the grave; the exempted wife passed to his successor, into whom also migrated the spirit of the dead Kasongo. The central object of the people's religious homage is an idol set up in the midst of a dense jungle; this idol has for wife one of the sisters of the reigning chief. Caste is very clearly defined. Authority is maintained by mutilation: hands, feet, ears, noses, are mutilated, and the people do not seem to mind it much. Fire is obtained by friction from a fire-block, and in one case a chief used the shin-bone of a conquered rebel to produce fire from the block! The dress of the people consists simply of an apron. The coiffure is curious. In some cases the hair is worked up into four ring plaits crossed at the top of the head like a crown, and surrounded at the bottom with a band of cowries or other shells. The people are not a hairy race, but they manage to grow their beards long and plaited like a Chinaman's pigtail. The women are tattooed. Commander Cameron saw a wedding, which was very curious. The festivities continued several days. A ring was formed of the natives, two men with big drums being in the middle. The drums were played and the people round danced. The bride was brought out, dressed in feathers and other finery, on the shoulders of two or three women; she was taken into the middle of the ring and was jumped up and down on the shoulders of the women. The bride threw shells and beads about, for which there was a scramble, as the possession of them was supposed to confer luck. Ultimately the husband came into the ring and putting the bride under his arm carried her off. The means of communication is by drum-signals. They have a call on the drum for everybody's name, and they can ask questions and convey intelligence over hundreds of miles and receive answers almost immediately. In war, messages are constantly sent enormous distances to bring up reënforcements or to stop their coming. The mass of the people live in huts on dry land, but there are one or two exceptions to this. Commander Cameron saw two lakes on which people were living in huts. In one case the people had covered over the long grass growing in the water with earth, and on that had built their huts; in the other the huts were built on piles.