Popular Science Monthly/Volume 17/September 1880/Popular Miscellany

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Popular Science Monthly Volume 17 September 1880  (1880) 
Popular Miscellany
 

POPULAR MISCELLANY.

American Climate and Character.—Mr. C. Edward Young, of Hartford, Connecticut, has given in "The Sanitarian" a summary of the opinions which several distinguished European hygienists have expressed respecting the influence of our climate upon the temperament and civilization of the American people. Dr. Edward Reich, in his "Studien über die Volksseele," speaks of the great difference existing between the English and Americans, although they are of the same race, and ascribes it to the contrast of the climates. The air of America, he says, "is much too dry for the Anglo-Saxon race, in point of heat too excessive; from this results the exaggerated nervous activity, the excesses of the national character, and the mad chase after the material things of the world." Dr. Max von Pettenkofer has concluded, from the investigations he has made into the comparative loss of heat experienced by a person breathing dry air and one breathing damp air, that with the dry air more heat is lost and more created, and in consequence the circulation is quicker and more intense, life is more energetic, and there is no opportunity for the excessive accumulation of fat or flesh, or for the development of a phlegmatically nervous temperament. Hence, in our dry climate is laid the foundation of the nervousness which characterizes our people. Dr. Prosper de Pietro Santa, in his "Essai de Climatologie," makes essentially the same deduction. Dr. Büchner, author of "Mind and Matter," has remarked, in a series of articles in the "Gartenlaube," that the Americans are tending toward the Indian type, and that he has observed the resemblance not only in the face and form, but also in the gestures and movements. A. Mühry, in his work on "Climatology," says that the evaporation is nearly twice as great at New York as at Whitehaven, England, hence the Americans and English live under very different conditions, and exhibit great divergences of temperament. Dr. Carl Reclam, editor of "Die Gesundheit," compares the air of America and its effects to those of heights, where the lightness and dryness favor extraordinarily the evaporation or exhalation from the body, and notices in the Americans not only the characteristic physical features induced by such an air, but also "mental peculiarities, traces of which may be seen with us (Europeans) by a careful observer during a dry northeast wind." Mr. Young gives as the result of his own observations, that "the dry air with us produces nervous, energetic, large-jointed skeletons, which have little or nothing in common with the stout, fresh, rosy, phlegmatic inhabitants of the mother-country. Not only is the physical resemblance lost in the second generation, but the mental also, and ideas especially Britannic give way to ideas peculiarly American, the product of the climate, the soil, and the habits caused by these two factors." With the English the muscular system predominates; with the Americans, the nervous. American women possess beauty of face, almost never of form; and even the beauty of face is soon worn out by the drying, irritating effects of the climate and of American life. English women have beauty of form and face, and keep both to an advanced age.

 

The Jablochkoff Electric Light in London.—The London Metropolitan Board of Works has recently renewed a contract for one year for lighting the Victoria Embankment and Waterloo Bridge with the Jablochkoff electric light. The Jablochkoff system has been in successful operation on the Thames Embankment since the 13th of December, 1878, when twenty lights were started between Westminster and Waterloo Bridges. Twenty lights, extending the work to Blackfriars Bridge, were added in May, 1879, and ten more were put on Waterloo Bridge in October last; ten lights have also been placed in the Victoria Railway station. All of the lights on the Embankment have been kept in operation regularly for six hours each night since they were first started—a fact that is worthy of consideration when it is borne in mind that the machinery was originally arranged for twenty lights only, with no thought that the system was to be extended, and that the changes rendered necessary by each of the two extensions have had to be made without interfering with the daily efficiency of the apparatus. The price paid by the Board of Works was, at first, 6d. per light per hour; it was reduced to 5d. in the first, and 3d. on the second extension, and has again been reduced on the renewal of the contract to 212d. per light per hour. The Jablochkoff system of electric lighting is now in use under almost every possible condition and in every variety of establishment—in streets, on bridges, in railway stations, theatres, circuses, engineering and industrial works, docks, basins, on board steam-vessels, in hotels, and in private residences. King Theebaw, of Burmah, has sixty lights fitted up in his palace at Mandalay; the Shah of Persia four, at Teheran; Prince Agaklam six, at Bombay; and the King of Portugal and the ex-Queen of Spain are also using them. At present, seventeen hundred and sixteen are in use in different countries, one hundred and ninety-eight being in England.

 

Coloring of the Waters in Seas and Lakes.—Geographers were not able to determine why the Red Sea was so named until Ehrenberg, sailing over a part of it, observed that the water of the whole Gulf of Tor was colored a blood-red. Drawing up some of the water and examining it with the microscope, he found that the color was due, to a minute, thread-like, dark-red oscillatoria, or alga. The same alga was observed by Dupont twenty years afterward, giving rise to the same appearance over an extent of 256 nautical miles. A similar plant was noticed by Darwin in his voyage round the world, coloring the water near the Abrolhos Islands, off the coast of Brazil. Oersted, in 1845, noticed that the waters near Madeira had a peculiar obscurity, which was occasioned by numerous minute tufts of oscillatoria waving in the mass. These plants were found all the way to the West Indies, sometimes thick enough to give a color to the water, but never wholly wanting. In other cases the sea is colored red by animals of different kinds, by minute crustaceans or infusoriæ, or eggs. The name of Red Sea or Vermilion Sea has been given to two different phenomena in the Gulf of California, in which the water is colored two distinct shades of red by different microscopic infusoriæ. One of the coloring animals is irritating to the skin, and produces blisters and sores on the bodies of those who come in contact with it. Diatoms often give rise to similar colorings. Professor Cleve, of Upsala, mentions fifty-four species of diatoms which have been found on the surface of the Sea of Java, and speaks of others which have been observed between Europe and Greenland and in Davis Strait. Grunow gives a list of thirteen species which are found near the Nicobar Islands. Kjellmann gives especial attention to the diatomaceous flora in his treatise on the alga of the Kara Sea. The Swedish polar expedition of 1872-'73 saw on the northwestern coast of Spitzbergen an expanse of sea of considerable extent covered with masses of diatoms of a single species, forming what the English sailors call a "sawdust sea." The same has been observed in Davis Strait, in the Kara Sea, and on the northern coast of Finland, covering large spaces. Johann Steenstrup found spots in the Atlantic Ocean between Scotland and Greenland, where the water changes from ultramarine to an emerald green, so suddenly that only a line separates the two colors. The coloring seems to have some relation to temperature, the green prevailing in the warmer months, the blue in the colder, and is thought to be connected with the development of diatoms. Professor Ossian Sars, of Norway, has observed a dull grayish-green color of the sea, which he ascribes to a bathybius that he found floating on the surface of the water. Similar colorings occur in fresh water, and have received the names at times of bloody rains, bloody dews, etc. Schwammerdam, observing water thus strangely colored at Vincennes, was strongly affected by the sight, but, examining it, found that the color was given by small crustaceans. The Husten Lake in Switzerland has been colored by oscillatoria which were so thick in the water as to make it unhealthy for the fish, and to cause them to die; the fishermen are well acquainted with the phenomena, and speak—referring to the mixture of green and red—of the lake blooming. The water in one of the lakes of Denmark has been found colored a deep red by another oscillatoria. In still other cases the colors are given by the spores of an alga. The so-called "bloody rain" is colored by an alga, which, because they have not noticed it before, some believe to have come down from the clouds, while others think it was previously present but was dried up, and has only been refreshed and enlivened by the rain. It has recently been identified with the "red snow," a one-celled, spherical plant, green or red in color, which may be increased by division, and is propagated rapidly in water or melting snow. In the still waters of the coast of Denmark a red deposit appears on the decaying sea-weeds, or floats loosely on the surface, giving a raspberry-red color to the water. It is caused by bacteria, which, probably contributing to the decay of the sea-weed, are thought to have a part in the formation of the sulphuretted hydrogen gas so common in that region. Of a similar character—caused by vegetable or animal growths, often by bacteria—are the colored spots which appear on decaying food; and it can no longer be considered an occasion of marvel that a pond becomes as red as blood, or that what seem to be drops of blood may appear on the sacramental wafers. These phenomena are all assignable to natural causes which have been traced out and are clearly known.

 

Luminous Paint.—The invention of luminous paint is based upon the fact that certain substances after having been exposed to the light will continue to shine for some time after the light is removed. The existence of this power in some gems has been known for a long time, and is mentioned in some of the works of the ancients. Japanese antiquaries tell of a luminous stone that was dug out of the ground in a. d. 669. The phosphorescent power of barium sulphide was discovered in 1675. Canton, in 1761, discovered the so-called phosphorus which bears his name by calcining oyster shells with sulphur so as to form the calcium sulphide, the most remarkable of phosphorescent substances. Its luminosity appears to be permanent, for Professor Heaton, in a lecture describing the qualities of the luminous paint, delivered before the Society of Arts, on the 11th of March last, exhibited a specimen of it which had been sealed in glass by Canton himself in 1764, and which still glowed. The power is attributed to a property which the substances possessing it have of absorbing rays and afterward emitting them with an increased wave-length, as is remarkably shown by quinine, which shines after having been exposed to the ultra-violet part of the spectrum, and converts invisible actinic into visible light-rays. The late Mr. Balmain succeeded in producing from a compound of lime and sulphur a constant and very powerful phosphorescent substance, which he patented and applied as a paint; articles coated with it become luminous after exposure to the light and retain their glow for a considerable length of time. The sensitiveness of this substance was shown during Professor Heaton's lecture by passing electric sparks in front of a card painted with it which had been previously kept in darkness. Each spark impressed its image on the card, and made it luminous. Even a lucifer-match struck in front of a dark pane produced a visible effect on the paint. The highest effect is produced by the violet and ultra-violet rays. The red and yellow rays do not add to the luminosity; in fact, they diminish it when they are allowed to continue to act for a considerable time. This is owing to their calorific effect, which, though it may stimulate the light for a while, in the end causes it to disappear more rapidly. A short exposure of the paint to ordinary daylight is sufficient to produce a high degree of illumination, the amount and duration of which will depend considerably on the quantity and quality of the light and on other conditions. When the paint has been exposed to the intense light of the sun or of burning magnesium, a good deal of the brilliancy disappears quickly, but after that the fading is very slow; and it may be said that a more or less useful light will remain through the length of an ordinary winter's night. In one case, Professor Heaton was just able to see the dial of a watch by the light emitted from a card which, after having been exposed to daylight of moderate intensity for two hours, had been in total darkness for twenty-six hours. The paint appears to be of satisfactory durability as against all weathers and the action of seawater. The useful purposes to which it may be applied are almost innumerable. Clock-faces painted with it will show the time; match-boxes can be found, all through the night; the roofs of railway-cars will light passengers through tunnels; buoys in harbors and channels, and life-buoys, can be made visible; ships may show themselves to each other in the darkness; the diver, painting his dress with it, may be his own lantern and carry enough daylight with him to enable him to work under water at a considerable advantage. Its application to use in powder-magazines and coal-mines, and wherever fire-lights are dangerous, may be considered as among the things that are practicable. The manufacturers of the paint, Messrs. Ihlee & Home, of Aldermanbury, London, say that it now costs twenty-eight shillings, or about seven dollars, a pound, and that a pound of it will paint about twenty-eight square feet. Two years ago they held it at five guineas a pound, but they have been able to lower the price gradually, and hope ultimately that it may be afforded at less than the cost of white-lead.

 

Is South America rising or sinking?—The question whether the South American Continent is sinking or not is one on which considerable difference of opinion still exists. Professor Orton several years ago expressed the belief that the barometric observations of the heights of the principal mountains, which have been continued through more than a hundred years, afforded evidence of a gradual sinking, and this opinion has prevailed extensively. Professor Agassiz believed that the eastern coast was sinking while the western coast was rising, and Darwin infers, from the discovery of the remains of an ancient civilization on lands that are now too high for the development of human life, that the land is rising. Dr. W. Weiss read a paper before the Berlin Geographical Society at a recent meeting, in which he advanced the theory, founded on a comparison of observations which had been made at the mouths of rivers, that the continent is rising. The Isthmus of Panama seems to be rising, and signs of elevation are apparent on the north coast of the continent. The delta of the Magdalena River has suffered notable changes within comparatively recent times. The tertiary highland of Turbaco, which extends from Carthagena to Sabanilla, was once an island in front of the stream, as is indicated by the forking of the river. One arm of the river empties toward the west near Carthagena, the other arm forms the present mouth with its branches in the lagoon of Santa Marta; ships formerly sailed into the western arm, which is not now navigable. The closing of this branch is generally ascribed to the luxuriant vegetation, but it is more than probable that other causes were combined with it. A small elevation would be enough to stop the flow of water, and the fact that such an elevation has taken place is shown by the discovery of recent shell-beds in a part of the lagoon. The bay of Santa Marta, with its monotonous sand-flats between steep, bald cliffs and island-like uprising knobs, produces the impression of a recently dried sea-bottom. Similar appearances are presented farther east, to such an extent that it was believed in the sixteenth century that the sea had retreated. The region of the lagoon of Maracaybo, and indeed the whole coast of Venezuela, appears to have taken part in a movement of uprising. The existence of the delta of the Orinoco favors the theory of elevation, for, though it can not be held that deltas are not formed except where the ground is rising, it is nevertheless true that elevation is most favorable to their formation. The observations along the coast of the British, French, and Dutch possessions are contradictory; but as a whole they seem to indicate that the land is gaining on the sea. The character of the changes that are taking place at the mouth of the Amazon is generally supposed to indicate a sinking of the land, but there are circumstances that favor the opposite view. The signs that the upper part of the bed of the river is rising are numerous, and all the phenomena of washing away at the mouth which are generally considered evidences of a depression can be accounted for by supposing that the interior is rising faster than the coast. Indications of a recent elevation may be seen all along the coast from Cape St. Roque to the La Plata, in the hardened shore-ridges of the Rio Grande do Norte, Parahyba, and Pernambuco, the elevated shore-lines of Rio Vermiglio, Bahia, and Rio Jequitinhonha, the coral reefs of the Abrolhos, the holes of the sea-urchin found above the level of the sea near Cape Frio, the new formations near Rio de Janeiro, the deterioration of the harbors of Santa Catarina, Porto Alegre, and other places. Darwin proved by the discovery of recent shell-deposits that the region of the La Plata was rising; since then some facts have been adduced pointing to a sinking, but the La Plata affords relations similar to those which have been referred to in the case of the Amazon. A lake in the Straits of Magellan containing marine animals, but situated at a higher level than that of the sea, is cited by Agassiz in proof that a rise of the land has taken place there. On the west coast signs of a sinking appear in the Chonos Archipelago, but they give way to trustworthy evidences of elevation in southern Chili. These continue to Callao and Lima, where a sinking is suddenly indicated. The land at Callao consists of gravel-beds, which may be considered as river and shore formations. Washings away from beneath, assisted by earthquakes, might readily have caused slight local falls, without making it necessary to invoke a sinking of the land. Not enough is known of the coasts north of Callao to justify a definite expression of opinion.

 

The Law of Mutual Help.—At the Congress of Russian Naturalists and Physicians, held in January last, Professor K, Kessler delivered an address on the law of mutual help, which he urged was entitled to a place by the side of Darwin's law of the struggle for existence. Having given a brief sketch of the theory of the struggle for existence, Professor Kessler remarked that it did not play the only part in organic development. By the operation of the reproductive instinct, there was developed in the different animal races a strong inclination for a closer association of the sexes, as well among individuals as in the whole group, under which the members of a society, of the whole species or family to which they belonged, were impelled to assist each other in the struggle for existence. He had observed numerous instances in which, after the death of the male, the female died, and conversely, or parents with the greatest self-denial sacrificed themselves for the protection of their young. All such examples showed that the reproductive instinct bound groups of related animals to each other through the law which he had enunciated. The principle was not limited to sexual association, but was exhibited wherever mutual help appeared to be necessary. As an example, the case was cited of a group of beetles which would combine their forces with severe exertion to drag away a dead mouse. Further, ants and bees illustrate the operation of the law in a high degree. The principle is developed with especial prominence in mankind. Only by the most powerful cooperation could men have succeeded in reaching the degree of civilization which the race has attained.

 

Iceland.—Mr. C. G. W. Lock, in a recent lecture before the British Society of Arts, on Iceland, mentioned that the island, so far from being small, as it is erroneously called, is considerably larger than Ireland or Ceylon. Its situation is such that its whole northern coast is shut in nearly every year by the descent of masses of ice from the north. The southern and western shores are affected by ice in very exceptional instances only. The country is essentially volcanic and mountainous; but Hecla, which monopolizes the geographical knowledge of most students on the subject, does not possess a single characteristic to place it above its fellows. The whole central plateau is a wild waste of lava and volcanic sand, and the only habitable parts of the island are a narrow fringe of coast land and a few of the larger river valleys. The great ridge of ice-clad hills, stretching across the island, acts as a refrigerator to the moisture-laden winds from the southwest, and produces two distinct climates: the northern, generally dry; and the southern, generally wet, and more temperate than the other. The fact that colonists from Great Britain participated in the settlement of Iceland more than a thousand years ago is attested by the identity of many words that are used by the people with British words. Ponies are the chief animal product of the island. From them the stocks of the "Black Country" of England are recruited. The sheep furnish a fine mutton, and a wool which is made up into excellent fabrics at home, or is exported. Profitable trades are driven in skins, catgut, fox-fur, and eider-down; the cod-fisheries are very important, and considerable trade is carried on in cod-liver oil and shark-oil. The salmon-fishery has been shamefully abused by the excessive employment of barbarous methods of taking the fish. It, however, is the one great attraction the island offers to sportsmen; and more profit might be gained, directly and indirectly, by letting out the streams, as in Norway, to English fly-fishers, than by contracting with fish-curers. The island was at one time well wooded, and supplied itself largely, if not entirely, with cereals, but the climate has deteriorated and the soil become sterile in consequence of the cutting away of the trees, and every grain of corn is now imported from Denmark. The principal mineral product is sulphur, which is deposited in a very finely divided state around the volcanic vents by the vapors issuing through them. It is the custom to describe the sulphur-mines of Sicily and the sulphur-mines of Iceland as somewhat similar, but for all practical considerations they are as distinct as a coal-seam and a forest. The Sicilian mines consist of deposits formed in past geological ages, now lying at great depths, and utterly devoid of reproductive power; the Icelandic beds are the work of to-day, lie on the very surface of the ground, and live and grow with unabated energy, replacing the deposit as fast as it is removed. The area comprised in the Icelandic sulphur districts collectively amounts to, perhaps, a dozen square miles. The sulphur forms a layer of varying thickness, covered by an earthy crust and underlaid by clays containing sulphur mixed with various acids and salts, and is invariably wet, in consequence of the steam condensed within it. The crystals are almost absolutely pure, but impurities are mechanically mixed with them. Other mineral products are gold and silver, which are found in minute quantities, Iceland-spar, pure specimens of which are valued for optical instruments and cabinets, coarse chalcedonies and zeolites, lignite, basalt, and volcanic products. The manufacturing industry of the country is confined to woolen fabrics, socks and stockings, gloves, and a homespun cloth, which are excellent.

 

The Eyesight of Readers.—A writer in the "Library Journal" calls attention to the danger which readers run of injuring their eyesight by the use of a bad light. He remarks that engravers, watchmakers, and all others who use the eyes constantly in their work, take extra care to preserve them by getting the best possible light by day, and using the best artificial light at night. The great army of readers are care less, and have, sooner or later, to pay the penalty of their carelessness by giving up night-work entirely, and sometimes reading, except at short intervals and under the best conditions. All departures from common type, making the matter more difficult for the eye to take in, increase the danger. The magnitude of the physical labor of reading is not appreciated. A book of five hundred pages, forty lines to the page and fifty letters to the line, contains a million letters, all of which the eye has to take in, identify, and combine each with its neighbor. Yet many readers will go through such a book in a day. The task is one he would shrink from if he should stop to measure it beforehand. The best positions and best lights, clear type, plain inks, with the best paper of yellowish tints, and abundant space between the lines, afford the best safeguards against harm.

 

What Vivisection has done for Man.—Dr. Charles Richet, in a vigorous defense of the practice of vivisection, demands that it shall be judged by its practical results, and claims that, if it can be shown that we have gained by that method of experiment the means of curing one or two diseases of man or of assuaging pain, it must be considered lawful. He cites a number of discoveries that have been made through vivisection to sustain his position. Among them is the discovery of the circulation of the blood. Galen established the fact that the arteries contained blood by observations in the artery of a living animal; Harvey opened the chests of living animals, cut into the pericardium, observed the contraction of the heart, and what was going on in the veins and arteries, and deduced from what he saw his theory of the circulation. Transfusion of blood, an operation resorted to in extreme cases with the best results in saving life, was introduced after its possibility had been ascertained from experiments upon animals first made in 1664 by Lower and afterward by Denis. "Experiment alone," Dr. Richet says, "will teach us precisely what quantity cf blood is necessary and what is harmful; and if over-sensitiveness forbids animal suffering for this end, then the experiments would have to be made on human beings." The mode of death from the inhalation of carbonic oxide, and, correlatively, the method of avoiding or preventing death from inhalation, have been made known only through vivisection. So also "all that we know in hygiene of the quantity of air necessary to support life is the result of experiments on dogs and rabbits. Sometimes a precise knowledge of the conditions of respiration has served to prevent men from perishing." Only two methods exist by which we may learn the conditions of gastric digestion and collect its secretion, viz., by observation of gastric fistula? produced by chance in man, and by artificial fistulas in animals. The first method has been possible only in three or four instances, but the effect of food on the gastric secretion in dogs and cats has been largely observed; and the knowledge of the remedies which have been applied to the relief of dyspepsia has been derived from such studies.' Our knowledge of nutrition has been largely added to by means of experiments in which dogs and cats have been submitted to varied alimentation, and from which the quantity and quality of food necessary to sustain life have been deduced. What we know of the nerves has been gained from studies of animals, as have also the means of relieving neuralgias and paralysis, in which, thanks to the scientific analyses of the vivisectors Fritsche, Hitzig, and Ferrier, "we can pass from the effect to the cause, and assign to paralysis a central lesion at a well-determined spot, so that trephining at this spot may cause the paralysis to disappear." The experiments of Galvani and his followers on frogs have taught us to estimate the effect of the electric current on nerve and muscle, and shown us how to apply galvanization to the prevention of the paralysis which ensues from the destruction of the motor nerves. The numerous patients relieved of nervous diseases "by this admirable therapeutic agent have no call to speak ill of such vivisectors as Galvani, Aldini, Volta, Magendie, Marshall Hall, Remak, Du-Bois Reymond, and many others, since it is to their discoveries that the relief of their ills is owing. Would Galvani have made his discoveries had he refrained from dissecting frogs? Would the electric current have been applied to atrophied limbs if it had not been found that the action of this current in dogs was salutary and not dangerous?" Certain diseases of the urinary organs have been studied in animals. The treatment of sympathetic ophthalmia by section of the ciliary nerves of the diseased side has been shown to be advantageous by experiment, and the results yielded by experiments on dogs and rabbits have been applied to patients. The correct treatment of cataract has been similarly learned. Encouraging progress is made by vivisection in the study of the formation of callus, of pseudarthrosis, of osseous grafts, of regeneration of bone by periosteum, subjects of great importance in surgery. The vasomotor theory, which plays a large part in the medicine and surgery of the present day, has been established by experiments on the great sympathetic and the rabbit's ear. Dr. Brown-Séquard has furnished useful ideas relating to epilepsy and tetanus from the results of painful experiments on dogs and Guinea-pigs. Trial on animals is useful to determine the action of new medicines, for "we do not wish to experiment on man at the risk of poisoning him, where animals can be employed"; so with poisons. Finally, if we deprive savants of the right to submit living animals to experiment, we shall go back beyond the days of Galen. "If all those who have been relieved—verily made to live again"—says Dr. Richet, "by modern medicine and surgery, could speak, they would confound those who load vivisection with calumny, and they would hold that their own life and sufferings weighed more in the balance than the sufferings of those animals which have been sacrificed in laboratories to the lasting benefit of man."

 

Compression of the Feet of Chinese Women.—Miss Norwood, an American missionary at Swatow, has published a description of the processes employed to reduce the size of the feet of Chinese women. The binding of the feet is not begun until the child has learned to walk and to do certain other things which she could not well be taught to do afterward. The bandages employed are manufactured for the purpose, and are about two inches wide and two yards long for the first year, five yards long for the subsequent years. The end of the strip is laid on the inside of the foot at the instep, then carried over the top of the toes and under the foot, drawing the four toes with it down upon the sole; thence it is passed over the foot and around the heel; and by this stretch the toes and the heel are drawn together, leaving a bulge on the instep and a deep indentation in the sole under the instep. This course is pursued with successive layers of bandage, until the strip of cloth is all used, and the end is then sewed tightly down. The "indentation" should measure about an inch and a half from the part of the foot that rests on the ground up to the instep. The toes are drawn completely over the sole, and the foot is so squeezed upward that, in walking, only the ball of the great-toe touches the ground. Large quantities of powdered alum are used to prevent ulceration and lessen the offensive odor. At the end of the first month the foot is put into hot water, and, after it has been allowed to soak for some time, the bandage is carefully unwound, "the dead cuticle, of which there is much, being abraded during the process of unbinding." Ulcers and other sores are often found on the foot, and "frequently, too, a large piece of flesh sloughs off the sole, and it sometimes happens that one or two toes drop off." When this happens, the woman considers herself amply repaid for the additional suffering by having smaller and more delicate feet than her neighbors. Each time the bandage is taken off, the foot is kneaded, to make the joints more flexible, and is then bound up again as quickly as possible with a fresh bandage, which is drawn up more tightly. During the first year the pain is so intense that the sufferer can do nothing, and for about two years the foot aches continually, and has to endure besides a pain like the pricking of sharp needles. If the binding is kept up rigorously, the foot in two years becomes dead and ceases to ache, and the whole leg, from the knee downward, becomes shrunken to be little more than skin and bone. When once formed, the "golden lily," as the Chinese lady calls her delicate little foot, can never recover its original shape; and, when uncovered, it is so unsightly that women object to take off their bandages even before members of their own family.

 

A Volcano rising from a Lake.—M. de Lesseps has communicated some interesting papers on the extraordinary phenomena which accompanied the earthquakes of January last, in the republic of San Salvador, to which the French journals add accounts furnished by the consul of the republic and the French consul in Guatemala. The shocks, which, although of considerable strength, were not violent enough to do harm to houses, seemed to proceed from a center in the Lake of Ilopango or Cojutepeque. The waters of the lake having fallen from an extraordinary level to which they had risen before the shocks began, a small island with three peaks appeared to be rising from the center of the lake. One of the peaks reached a height of about ninety feet above the water, and sent forth a column of smoke and flames of considerable height. An attempt was made to approach the island in a boat, but the waters in contact with the hot rock were boiling, and gave out great jets of vapor. The water around the volcano continued to boil for some time after the eruption was over, and indicated a temperature of 100º at the edges of the lake. The fish were cooked and rose to the surface, and with them many shells and aquatic animals. The lake is in the line of the volcanoes of Central America, where volcanic cones seem to alternate with lakes, and itself occupies the place of an ancient volcano. Its water is brackish, bitter, and almost slimy, and has at times given out bubbles of sulphuretted gas. The rise of the water preceding the eruption agrees curiously with an ancient tradition that earthquakes may be expected whenever the level of the lake is elevated. So fully was this believed that the people were formerly accustomed to dig channels to carry off the superfluous waters; and while they did this they had no earthquakes. These facts have a bearing upon the theory that earthquakes and volcanic phenomena are largely due to the action of water.

 

Volcanic Eruptions and Earthquakes in 1879.—According to Herr Fuchs, only three volcanic eruptions took place in 1879, none of which were of extraordinary violence. The most notable one was that coincident with the appearance of a new volcano in Lake Ilopango, in San Salvador, following on a series of earthquakes in December. The eruption of Etna, which began on the 26th of May and lasted for eleven days, was especially marked by an uncommonly long lava stream—of sixteen kilometres, or ten miles. The preceding earthquakes were not very strong. The third eruption was that of the volcano Merapi, in Java, on the 28th of March, which was marked by an abundance of lava and ashes. Only a few of the ninety-nine earthquakes which came to the knowledge of Herr Fuchs were of remarkable strength. A violent earthquake was felt in northern Persia for several hours on the night of the 22d of March, and destroyed a number of villages. About nine hundred persons perished between that date and the 2d of April, when the last vibrations occurred. Earthquakes of unusual strength occurred in the Romagna (Italy) on the 25th of April, and in Mexico on the 17th of May. In the latter earthquake the movement of the ground was observed in all the region from Vera Cruz to the capital, and much injury was done in Cordoba and Orizaba. Violent earthquakes began in a part of China on the 29th of June, extended over thirty districts, and the shocks were repeated till the middle of August, with the loss of many hundred lives. These earthquakes were marked by great jets of water spouting up through the opened ground. Several other earthquakes of the year were accompanied by the phenomena of fountains, as in Bessarabia in May, and one on the lower Danube in October. Earthquakes occurred at nine different points in the German Empire on thirteen days. The days on which the most earthquakes were noticed were the 14th of February and the 2d of July.

 

Relation of the Algæ to the Phanerogams.—Dr. Ernst Krause in a late number of "Kosmos" has a discussion of the relationship between the algae and the phanerogams, taking the Podosiemaceæ as the special subject of his dissertation. The species of this family, he believes, combine characteristics of the algæ and phanerogams, and show a direct transition between them, as in the opinion of many botanists the Cytineæ and Balanophoreæ do between the fungi and the phanerogams. The resemblance between the two families is so striking, and the forms of both so variable, that one would be excusable for inferring that the podostemes are algæ with phanerogamous flowers; their flowers are, moreover, either apetalous or imperfect, and very simple. They are described by H. A. Weddel as very small plants, which cling to rocks overflowed by running water in the tropical regions of Asia, Africa, and America. The lower forms are composed of* little else than parenchyma, while only the larger ones have vascular organs. The stem is either wanting or assumes an extreme diversity of shapes; sometimes it is upright and dichotomous, branched and leafy; sometimes it is like certain mosses; often it is spread on the ground, or attached with a cushion-like foot; sometimes it creeps like a rhizoma or is leaflike, like the thallus of some liverworts or lichens, and clinging to the stone in the same manner as they do. It has hardly any true roots. Leaves are for the most part absent in the thallus-like species, but are highly diversified in the stemmed species, departing at the same time widely from the ordinary forms; they are seldom square on the stalk, are entire or unequally divided, often forked. The nerves, when they exist, are dichotomous, seldom parallel. The buds, both of the stem and the flowers, are folded convolutely. The cushion-like organs of attachment are elsewwhere found only among the algæ; the absence of vascular organs is common to algae and mosses among green plants, and also to a few phanerogams, as the Naiadeæ, Ceratophylleæ, and Lemnaceæ. As the lower plants of these orders show no differentiation of stem and leaf, at least no more than the algae, they might be placed, with the Podostemaceæ in a group representing a direct transition between the algae and the phanerogams, for which the provisional name of Anthophycæ is suggested. If we also regard the Cytineæ, which have no cotyledon, and the Balanophoreæ, which have only a simple undivided embryo, as higher forms rising out of the fungi, we may join them as Anthomycetæ with the Anthophycæ representing the lowest phanerogams, as Anthothalloidæ.

 

Chimborazo and its Climbers.—Referring to the successful attempt of Mr. Whymper to ascend to the summit of Chimborazo, Dr. Nachtigal stated, at a recent meeting of the Berlin Geographical Society, that a Frenchman, Jules Remy, professed to have accomplished the feat in 1856, but it is very doubtful if he did. He gave the height at 7,328 metres (23,816 feet), whereas it is 1,000 metres, or 3,250 feet less. Humboldt observed the height trigonometrically to be 6,530 metres (or 21,222 feet), and Reiss, as the result of three measurements, found the highest of the two peaks to be 6,310 metres (20,507 feet) and the other 6,269 metres (20,374 feet). Humboldt, in 1802, attempted the ascent, but only reached a height of 5,878 metres (19,103 feet), while Boussingault, with Hall, in 1831, reached a height of 6,004 metres (19,513 feet); they attempted the ascent from the south side, while Dr. Stuhel, from the north side, reached a height of 5,810 metres (18,882 feet). After an inspection of ten days, Mr. Whymper made three attempts, and on the third day succeeded in mounting both peaks. The night before the final ascent he spent at a height of 5,227 metres (16,988 feet).

 

The Comets of 1843 and 1880.—It seems to be well established that the comet which recently appeared in the southern hemisphere is identical with the great comet of March, 1843. This comet, one of the most remarkable in history, appears to have been first seen by Captain Ray, an American sailor, at Concepcion, South America, at about noon of February 27th, only a short distance in the sky from the sun. On the 28th of February, the head of the comet, with a tail several degrees in length, was observed at noon in various parts of Italy, off the Cape of Good Hope, and at different points in the United States and Mexico. The tail was remarked on the 1st of March in southern latitudes, on the 8th at Lisbon, Portugal, and on the 11th at Montpellier, France, but was not observed in England till the 17th, on the evening of which day it attracted general attention in most parts of Europe.

 

Hygiene of New-born Children.—The subject of the hygiene of new-born children is engaging the attention of French sanitarians. The present minimum rate of mortality of children under one year old is estimated to be one hundred per thousand. The rate in France is double this, or two hundred per thousand; and the excess is really greater than it seems, for the minimum itself is larger than it should be, and ought, by proper management, to be reduced to eighty and even seventy in a thousand. The chief among the several causes to which the large proportion of deaths is ascribed is artificial alimentation. That the whole physiological development of the newborn child is determined by the character of the food that is given to it, is enforced by all the facts that have been gathered in France. The subject was fully discussed at the International Hygienic Congress, held at Paris during the Exposition of 1878, and some significant facts were presented in illustration of the enormous difference which exists between the mortality of children brought up at home and that of children intrusted to hired nurses and the not less marked difference in the rate of mortality of children nursed at the breast and of children fed artificially. Among children of the easier classes, brought up at home, the rate of mortality often falls as low as 70 or 80 per 1,000; among children intrusted to hired nurses, it was stated to vary from 240 to 750, and even to 900 per 1,000. Among children nursed by their mothers, a rate of mortality was found of only 8·28 per 100; among children brought up by nurses, of 18 per 100 at home, 22 per 100 when they were taken away; among those fed from the bottle, the average was 51 per 100. Dr. Monot stated that, in the department of the Nièvre, in the case of children who had been sent down from-Paris without supervision, and had been consigned to hired nurses, the mortality was 710 per 1,000. In the case of assisted children sent out by responsible organizations, under the care of agents and inspectors, it was 240 per 1,000; in the case of those intrusted to nurses who were watched over by the societies for the protection of infants, it fell to 120 and even 90 per 1,000; and, in cases where the young mothers were helped to the means of living, and were able to take care of their children and nurse them, to 70 per 1,000. These facts, though many of them are only approximative, seem to be decisive as to the superiority of maternal nursing. Inasmuch, however, as the number of mothers who can not themselves nurse their babies is very great, and a large proportion of them are not able to hire wet-nurses, the question as to what is the best substitute for mother's milk is an important one. The Municipal Council of Paris has just authorized an experiment which will help answer it. It has decided to establish a nursery in connection with its hospital for assisted children, with stables to be occupied by the various animals usually depended upon for their milk, the milk of which will be given to the children fresh and absolutely pure, in such a systematic manner that the advantages attributed to the milk of each animal may be rigorously and scientifically tested. The whole will be under the direction of Professor Parrot.

 

Equatorial Temperatures.—Why is the equator not warmer in January, when the earth is nearest to the sun, than in July? Mr. Croll assigns as the reason that the northern hemisphere, which he calls the dominant hemisphere, having its winter in January, the whole earth is colder at that time; also that the northern trade-winds pass farther south in January, and cool the equatorial regions more than at the other seasons. His views are disputed by Mr. A. Woiekoff, of St. Petersburg, who denies that the winds and condition of the northern hemisphere have any perceptible influence at the equator, and ascribes the mildness and uniformity of the equatorial temperature to the prevalence of the rainy season in our winter, the southern summer months. Water acts during this season to reduce the temperature through its great capacity for heat, through the screen of clouds which it interposes between the sun and the surface of the earth, and through evaporation, and this upon the higher as well as upon the lower strata of air. It is admitted that winds have some effect as aids to the cooling, but the insignificance of their influence, as against any active heat-producing force, and in the absence of moisture, is shown by the fact that the Sahara is the hottest region in the world, notwithstanding the winds that blow over it from the cool Mediterranean.

 

Messages by Heliograph.—The usefulness of the heliograph was recently satisfactorily tested in the transmission of a dispatch from General Stewart, in Afghanistan, announcing the result of an attack on the British troops, which was sent from Camp Ghuzni, April 22d, and was received at the India Office, London, on the following day. The news could hardly have been brought more speedily by electric telegraph. The heliograph, signaling right over the heads of the enemy, if necessary, to stations which may be few and far between, does not require any route to be kept open, and can not be interrupted. A ten-inch mirror, that being the size of the ordinary field-heliograph, is capable of reflecting the sun's rays in the form of a bright spot to a distance of fifty miles, where the signal can be seen without the aid of a glass. The adjustment of the instrument is very simple. If an army corps, having left its base where a heliograph station is established, desires to communicate with the other division from a distance of several miles, a hill is chosen and a sapper goes upon it with his heliograph-stand containing a mirror swung so as to move horizontally and vertically. A little of the quicksilver having been removed from behind the center of the mirror, a clear spot is made through which the sapper can look from behind his instrument toward the station he desires to signal. Having sighted the station by adjusting the mirror, he next proceeds to set up in front of the heliograph a rod on which is a movable stud, manipulated like the foresight of a rifle. The sapper, standing behind his instrument, directs the adjustment of this stud until the clear spot in the mirror, the stud, and the distant station are in a line. The heliograph is then ready to work, and the sapper has only to take care that his mirror reflects the sunshine on the stud just in front of him to be able to flash signals so that they may be seen at a distance.

 

Ocean Temperatures in the Pacific and Atlantic.—Herr von Boguslawski has been led, from a comparison of the results of recent deep-sea investigations, to the following conclusions respecting the temperatures of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans: 1. The water of the North Pacific is, in its whole mass, colder than that of the North Atlantic. 2. The water of the South Pacific is, down to 1,300 metres (4,225 feet), somewhat warmer than that of the South Atlantic, but below this depth colder. 3. The bottom temperatures are generally lower in the Pacific than in the Atlantic at the same depths and in the same degree of latitude; but nowhere in the Pacific are found such low bottom temperatures as in the Antarctic portion of the South Atlantic, between 36º and 38º south and 48º and 33º west longitude, in which bottom temperatures of  -0·3º C. to -6º C. have been measured. 4. In the western parts of the Pacific, and the adjoining parts of the East Indian Archipelago, the temperature of the water reaches its minimum at depths beween 550 and 2,750 metres (1,787 and 8,937 feet), remaining the same from this depth to the bottom. In the whole of the Atlantic the temperature from 2,750 metres (8,937 feet) to the bottom gradually though very slowly decreases.

 

The Harvard Medical Course.—Professor James C. White, of the Medical School of Harvard University, states that the enlargement of the course of instruction which was adopted by the department ten years ago has been followed by a general elevation of the standard of medical education throughout the country, and has been attended by great advantages to the Harvard school. The classes have grown constantly larger, and the quality of the students has improved in nearly the same degree. An admission examination was instituted soon after the new course was adopted, and has recently been made considerably more efficient. The faculty now find that the three years which are allotted to the course are not enough to permit a thorough mastery of all the branches which it embraces, and contemplate adding a fourth year. For the present, the additional year will be optional with the student, who may either crowd all he can into three years as before, or take more time for what has hitherto been attempted in that period, and pursue the special studies which are additionally provided for the fourth year. In the schedule of studies under the new arrangement the main studies of the third year are continued into the fourth year, and an examination will be held at the end of the latter year in a number of special branches, the instruction in which is intended to be more clinical and individual in character than that heretofore given and to take the place partly of the private teaching which American students have heretofore sought in European schools after graduation.

 

The Cutting Ant.—The Rev. H. C. McCook, of Philadelphia, has made a very interesting study of the cutting or parasol ant (Atta fervens, Say), having encamped for the purpose close by its haunts near Austin, Texas. The habitation of the insect was marked by a bed of denuded earth on the prairie, measuring in the case of the one specially examined eight feet nine inches by about seven feet. Over this denuded surface were scattered between twenty and thirty circular, semicircular, and S-shaped elevations of fresh earth-pellets, the circular ones resembling a spittoon three or four inches high, which had apparently been formed by the accumulation of the pellets of sandy soil as they were brought out and dumped upon the circumference of the heap. No life was noticed around the colony during the day, but earthen knobs or warts, and small, irregular heaps of dry leaves, bits of leaves and twigs were noticed scattered over the surface. As evening began, the scene was wholly changed. "Hosts of ants of various sizes, and in countless numbers, were hurrying out of open gates into the neighboring jungle, and two long, double columns were stretched from the bottom to the top of the large overhanging live oak. The ants in the descending columns all carried above their heads portions of green leaves, which waved two and fro and glanced in the lantern-light, giving to the moving column a weird look as it moved along. It seemed like a procession of Liliputian Sabbath-school children bearing aloft their banners. It is this habit which has given this insect in some quarters the popular name of the 'parasol ant.' It is also called in Texas the 'Brazilian ant,' but is quite universally known as the 'cutting ant,' certainly a most appropriate name." The heaps of leaves and twigs lying around the habitation were the closed gates. The opening and closing of these gates occurred before and after every exit from the nest. The process was a long, careful, and complicated one, the opening beginning toward evening, and the closing ending in the morning, sometimes as late as half-past ten. Toward dusk, the minims, or smallest ants, would appear, taking away from the heap particles of sand; larger forms followed carrying away bits of refuse, which they dropped at about two inches from the gate. Finally, the throng would rush out, bearing before them the rubbish, which after a few moments was cleared away from the gallery and spread around the margin of the gate. The litter thus taken away was brought into use again when the gates were closed. In closing the gates, the larger forms did their work first, bringing in twigs, some as long as an inch and a half, and dried leaves, which they deposited to the depth of from a half-inch to an inch and a half below the surface. As the hole was gradually closed, only the smaller forms appeared, and the last touches were carefully and delicately made by the minims, which filled in the remaining interstices with minute grains of sand. A division of labor was noticed in the work of cutting and carrying the leaves. The party consisted of soldier-ants, seeming to act as escort and scouts, the cutters, and the carriers, who took the cut leaves from the base of the tree and bore them to the nest. This work was not given to the smaller castes. The leaves principally gathered were those of the live-oak. The ants seemed to prefer trees with a smooth leaf, were severe upon grapes, peaches, the China tree, and radishes, took many other garden vegetables and plants, and loved sugar, grain, and tobacco. The interior of the formicary, as carefully examined by Mr. McCook, seemed to consist of an irregular arrangement of caverns of various sizes, communicating with the surface and with each other by tubular galleries. Within the chambers were masses of very light, delicate leaf paper, wrought into a honeycomb-like fabric, hemispherical, columnar, or hanging, composed of cells of various sizes, generally hexagonal in shape, the material of which crumbled under even delicate handling. Large numbers of ants, chiefly of the smaller castes, were found in these cells. Ten distinct castes or sizes of ants were measured, the largest being seven eighths and the smallest one sixteenth of an inch long. Several holes in the vicinity of Austin were visited, out of which nests of ants had been dug. They were nearly as large as a cellar for a small house, one measuring twelve feet in diameter and fifteen feet deep, and the main cavity being as large as a flour-barrel.

 

The Aborigines of Botel Tobago.—Dr. Charles A. Siegfried, of the United States Navy, in a letter which has been read before the Philadelphia Academy of Sciences, describes a visit he made in December, 1878, to an island called Botel Tobago, about eighty miles east of the south cape of Formosa. He found there a race of aborigines, supposed to be from Malay stock, who knew nothing of money, rum, or tobacco, but who gave goats and pigs for tin pots and brass buttons, and would hang around the ship all day in their canoes, waiting for a chance to dive for something thrown overboard. They wore clouts only, and lived mainly on taro and yams, though they had also pigs, goats, chickens, fish, and cocoanuts. Their thatch houses were low, with overhanging roofs, and surrounded by stone walls strongly made of laid stone to protect them from monsoons. They were peaceful and timid, did not mark the body or deform the face or teeth, and seemed happy enough in their condition, and fairly healthy. They wore their hair naturally, the men partly clipping theirs, and adorned their necks with the beards of goats and small shells. They had axes, spears, and knives, but all of common iron, and their axe was inserted in the handle, instead of the handle being inserted in the axe, as with us. Their canoes were beautiful, made without nails, and usually ornamented with geometrical lines.

 

Asphalte and Amber in the Mud of New Jersey.—The "Proceedings" of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia contain a description of a mass of asphaltum, weighing about a hundred pounds, which was found near Vincenttown, New Jersey, in the ash-mud, a layer above the green-sand proper, about sixteen feet below the surface. It is the first specimen of this peculiar kind of hydrocarbon that is known to have been observed in New Jersey. . It is very brittle, black, with a resinous luster, uneven fracture, inclined to conchoidal, melts easily, and burns with a yellow, smoky flame, leaving a voluminous coal and but little ash. It is soluble in chloroform and oil of turpentine, in ether with difficulty; insoluble in alcohol, water, and solution of caustic potassa. Oil of vitriol dissolves it into a black liquor, of which a part is retained in solution in water, a part subsides as a dark colored powder. Nitric acid reacts upon it at an elevated temperature, forming with it soluble products of oxidation. Near the pit from which the asphaltum was obtained, a specimen was found of a yellow mineral resin, which occurs frequently, but not regularly, in the mud of the cretaceous formation. It is usually called amber, or succinite, but differs from the typical amber of the Baltic in being lighter than water, fusing into a very fluid, mobile liquid, and in having a less strong cohesion, qualities which indicate its analogy to the variety of succinite called krantzite. It burns easily, with a yellowish, strongly smoking flame, leaving but little coal; it may be vaporized into a gray cloud of strongly penetrating odor, which condenses into an oily liquid, and some crystals. It is freely soluble in chloroform, bisulphide of carbon, and oil of turpentine, sparingly soluble in water, alcohol, and ether, and is partly dissolved by caustic potassa. Cold nitric acid affects it but little. Oil of vitriol makes with it a red solution. The yellowish powder becomes orange-red on warning.