Popular Science Monthly/Volume 24/January 1884/Popular Miscellany

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Popular Science Monthly Volume 24 January 1884  (1884) 
Popular Miscellany
 

POPULAR MISCELLANY.

Origin of the Eastern End of Lake Erie. Mr. Julius Pohlman, starting with the hypothesis that the beds of the Great Lakes were excavated by water in pre-glacial times, has sought for the river which washed out the eastern end of Lake Erie. The discovery of the many large pre-glacial rivers, in Pennsylvania and Ohio, running into the lake-basin, explains well enough how the erosion in general has taken place. "But the most easterly of these ancient water-courses yet discovered, the Alleghany, which ran northerly past Dunkirk, does not account for the forty miles of lake-valley between that place and Buffalo, and another pre-glacial river emptying into the lake-basin near Buffalo was necessary to complete the river system which occupied and excavated the valley of Lake Erie." The maps of the lake survey show that there are no indications of rocks on the shore of the lake between the southern limit of the city of Buffalo and the Horseshoe Reef of the Niagara River, and that the land is low and level for some distance back. The northern and eastern parts of the city and the bed of Buffalo Creek are underlain by a reef of corniferous limestone, which gradually ascends toward the north. Testings that have been made during the course of excavations for canals, of the depth of this rockless land, show that no rock can be found at a less depth than eighty feet below the surface. This probable fact points to the bed, and indicates the depth of the ancient river which we are seeking for. That river could not go north or east, on account of the out-cropping corniferous limestone, but "it must have taken a westerly course through the soft shales of the Devonian epoch; and if we trace an imaginary line along the deepest portion of the eastern end of the lake from this ancient valley, in a direction a little southerly of west, we can connect our pre-glacial river with the ancient outlet of the river system of the Erie Valley opposite Dunkirk, and have a fair explanation of the origin of the eastern end of Lake Erie."


The New Standards of Time.—On the 7th of October a number of the railroads of the New England States, and on the 18th of November nearly all the important railroads of the Atlantic slope and the Mississippi Valley, adopted a new system of time-standards for the movement of their trains. The object of the change was to secure a more simple and harmonious way of calculating the time at the different stations on East and West lines. Under the time-system previously prevailing, the managers of each railroad endeavored to conform to the local time of the most important stations on its line. The result of this method of accommodation was that seventy-five different standards of time, varying apparently at haphazard from each other, were used in operating the railroads of the United States; and it was only with extreme difficulty that the traveler between the East and the West could keep an account of the hour. The new system which has been adopted contemplates the establishment, for the whole United States, of four principal meridians, distant from each other exactly one hour of solar time, to the nearest one of which the local time of every point in the country shall be referred. These meridians are selected so as to bear an exact relation, in even hours, with the meridian of Greenwich, whence most of the world computes its longitude. "Eastern time," to which the hour from Maine to Florida and in the region of the lower lakes is adjusted, conforms to the time of the seventy-fifth meridian, which is five hours slower than Greenwich time. Its region begins at 67½° longitude, or as near there as is convenient, and ends at or about 82½°. West of this is the region of Central time, which is governed by the time at the ninetieth meridian, and extends to longitude 97½°, including the Mississippi and Missouri Valleys, the upper lakes and Texas. The next division will conform to the one hundred and fifth meridian, and will include the Rocky Mountain region; and the next, for the Pacific coast, to the one hundred and twentieth meridian. To the east of the "Eastern time" region of the United States the maritime British provinces are expected to set their clocks by the time of the sixtieth meridian, one hour ahead of any part of the United States. As the clocks in the United States have for many years been practically regulated by the railroads, it will probably not be long before the whole country, and every interest in it, will be computing its hours so as to conform with the new standards. The movement of which this is the first and a very important practical step was begun in 1875 by the American Metrological Society, and is designed to embrace the whole world. It has been approved, in principle at least, by numerous learned societies and international associations. The complete scheme involves the division of the whole earth into time-sections of 15° of longitude, or one hour each, with standards of time determined at every fifteenth meridian; the establishment of a point where for the purposes of the monthly calendar the day shall end and the next day begin, at the one hundred and eightieth meridian from Greenwich; and a numbering, for scientific purposes at least, of the hours of the day from one to twenty-four without interruption.


Greek in the Colleges.—The "Boston Globe" says that "the Phi Beta Kappa address of Charles Francis Adams, Jr., is bearing fruit sooner and more plentifully than even he could have expected. The meeting of college presidents from nearly all the New England colleges, held in Boston the other evening for the purpose of discussing the question, indicated a very general agreement with the less sweeping of his propositions. A number of the gentlemen were ready to make a beginning of reform. Mr. Adams touched a fuse that was all ready to go off." This presents the case about as it is. The colleges were all represented at the meeting by the modern-language men, who naturally argued the claims of their department with earnestness. President Porter, of Yale, was absent, but President Robinson, of Brown, who was present, believes in the ancient languages for a foundation; and Presidents Bartlett, of Dartmouth, Carter, of Williams, and probably Seelye, of Amherst, are rather conservative in this matter. President Eliot, of Harvard, on the other hand, means to give an A. M. ultimately without regard to Greek. He hopes neither to require it in college nor in preparation, but to make modern languages an equivalent. Yale, too, proposes to require either French or German for examination, and will probably lessen its requirements of the ancient languages in order to make the preliminary work no more severe than now. The fact is, that Mr. Adams drew the attention of the country to a subject which had been receiving much consideration in the colleges, and his address will do much to hasten action in regard to the study of the ancient languages. President Eliot plans a revolution in this matter, while the other colleges will all give more attention to modern languages. At Williams, President Carter means in time to make German a required study running through sophomore year, leaving it optional the rest of the course.—Springfield Republican.

The March of Fever and Ague.—Dr. G. H. Wilson, of Meriden, Connecticut, reviewing the history of epidemic intermittent fever in Connecticut and other parts of New England, traces in it the evidence of a regular progress in a particular direction, and by successive advances from year to year. The advance appears to be "independent of any known or recognized influence, whether atmospheric, telluric, magnetic, or climatic, and through the most diverse conditions of surface, soil, humidity, and temperature, general and local." The direction of the movement appears to be toward the northeast; and in its invasion of Connecticut "the ague crossed, diagonally but decidedly, every one of our main rivers. Starting on the coast, west of the Housatonic, it crossed its valley the next year, but did not ascend it more than about fifteen miles in as many years. It next crossed the Naugatuck, within five miles of its mouth. The Quinepiac it first reached and crossed in South Meriden, sixteen miles from East Haven; the Connecticut at Middletown, twenty-five miles from the Sound; and the tributaries of the Thames in Coventry, forty miles from the sea." In Rhode Island, also, it entered at Westerly and passed through the State to the northeast, leaving the southeast and northwest parts unaffected. The northeast course was pursued during fifteen years, or till 1875, when the malarial influence had reached Windsor, on the Connecticut. After that time, the radiation, or lateral spread of the disease, became more decided, and it finally covered every town in the State, passing the line of Massachusetts at Agawam in 1878. In the next four years it had attacked all the towns in Western Massachusetts, and a few scattered over the eastern part of that State, and had invaded Vermont and New Hampshire, as well as Rhode Island. "It is not too much to suppose that it came over from Long Island and New Jersey, and possibly farther south, as well as from the same region over Westchester County; that its front extends from the Hudson on the west to Buzzard's Bay on the east; that it has moved a hundred miles north and east, and still reaches out its favors to those belated north-men and down-Easters who have hitherto mocked us."


Hygiene in Schools.—An article on this subject in "The Sanitary Record," by John W. Tripe, M. D., contains the following: "Children are now taught, in public, elementary, and other schools, a number of facts concerning the rivers, mountains, coasts, etc., of foreign countries, and many other things which do not immediately concern them, while the merest outlines of the relations existing between the blood and the various organs of the body, and of the changes occurring therein, rarely form any part of their education. It is not necessary to tell children about the size of the liver, the average weight and muscular power of the heart, the diameter and length of the great vessels of the body, the structure of the eye, or any other similar facts; but surely it would be better for children, at any rate in the advanced classes, to be taught as to the action of fermented liquors on the system, and on the organs by which they are excreted from the body, the injuriousness of excesses in eating and drinking, and such like facts, than commit to memory a mass of information which they forget almost as soon as learned. They would also be the better for being instructed in the relations that exist between health and the social habits and customs of those among whom they will pass their lives. They might also be told the reasons why high-heeled boots, constricted waists, unwashed skins, accumulations of refuse, and many other things, are injurious to health as well as opposed to comfort."


How Bnzzards find their Prey.—On the debated question as to the particular sense by which turkey-vultures are directed to their prey from great distances, Mr. Samuel N. Rhoads brings strong evidence in the "American Naturalist" in favor of the sense of smell. In digging some sweet-potatoes, he partly uncovered a spot where a horse and cow had been buried some years before. In a few hours afterward the spot became the center over which buzzards hovered by scores, during the whole of the following day, and less numerously for several days afterward. It was a strangely interesting spectacle, he says, "to behold them swoop within a few feet of the horse-hades, and rise again with slow, reluctant flaps, indicative of disappointment, then return to deliberately 'beat' and 'quarter' the ground aërially speaking, with all the tact and persevering sagacity of their canine compeers." Gosse relates an instance that occurred in Jamaica, where vultures circled around a house in which some meat had been allowed to spoil, though they could detect nothing by sight. The smelling power which enables them thus to detect their prey must be very delicate; for Mr. Rhoads could not detect any taint in the atmosphere while he was working over the burial-place. Doubtless the birds also use their eyes, but these instances prove that the olfactory sense alone is sufficient to guide them.


Pond-Mad as a Diarrhœa-Breeder.—A fact is related in the report of the State Board of Health of Connecticut that illustrates the effect upon health of exposing the bottom of a pond. A small village in the town of Union was situated close upon the borders of a pond that was drawn down entirely during the summer and fall, for several years in succession, in order to get the water from another pond lying above it and communicating with it. "When the pond was first drawn down, while the decaying materials at its bottom, which probably extended over twenty or thirty acres at least, were drying, offensive odors were complained of, and it was stated that they caused nausea and vomiting; and diarrhœal and dysenteric troubles were stated to be unusually frequent. But no cases of malaria were reported as having originated in any part of the town. Several large ponds between Palmer, Massachusetts, and Union, have been completely drawn down and had their beds exposed, without any cases of malaria being known to have originated in the region.


Pigs as Wine-Bibbers.—Mr. W. Mattieu Williams says that he once witnessed a display of drunkenness among three hundred pigs, which had been given a barrel of spoiled elderberry-wine all at once with their swill. "Their behavior was intensely human, exhibiting all the usual manifestations of jolly good-fellowship, including that advanced stage where a group were rolling over each other and grunting affectionately in tones that were distinctly expressive of swearing good-fellowship all around. Their reeling and staggering, and the expression of their features, all indicated that alcohol had the same effect on pigs as on men; that under its influence both stood precisely on the same zoölogical level." He quotes also MM. Dujardin-Beaumetz and Audigé's account to the French Academy of Sciences of their experiments during three years on the effects of alcoholic diet on pigs. "Eighteen of these animals were treated sumptuously, according to old-fashioned notions of hospitality, by mixing various alcohols with their food, in proportions about corresponding to a modest half-pint of wine at dinner. The alcohols that we drink in wine, malt-liquors, whisky, hollands, brandy, etc., invariably produced sleep, prostration, and general lassitude, while absinthe (included as another variety of alcohol) produced an excitation resembling epilepsy. Some of the animals died from the effects of alcoholic poison. The survivors were killed, and subjected to post-mortem examination. All were found to be injured, but the mischief was greatest when crude spirit was used, less when it was carefully redistilled and purified.


Food-Fishes of Lake Erie.—In a paper read before the Buffalo Naturalists' Field Club it is stated that Lake Erie and the Niagara River furnish thirty-seven marketable varieties of fish. But their numbers are becoming rapidly reduced in those waters, owing in great measure to so many fish being taken when they are full of roe. Some fish spawn late in the fall; the eastern salmon, salmon-trout, whitefish, brook-trout, and lake-herring, belong to this class, but the majority spawn in April, May, or early June. Black bass choose a place for their spawn-beds where the water is shallow and the bottom is a sandy gravel. They leave their winter quarters in deep water a month or six weeks previous to spawning. The eggs hatch in from one to two weeks, according to the temperature. Bass are very prolific, yielding fully one fourth their weight of spawn. The bass and the muskallonge (Esox nobilior) are the recognized game-fish of the lakes. Whitefish do not take the bait readily, but are caught in gill-nets, and can be taken in great numbers just at the time they are ready to spawn. They average three and a half pounds in weight, though some are taken weighing ten to eighteen pounds. Sturgeon average fifty pounds, but occasionally one is caught that weighs a hundred pounds or over. Fish differ greatly in rapidity of growth. Some grow in one, two, or three years to a definite size, and then growth seems to be arrested. Such fish are short-lived. Other kinds, which slowly and steadily increase in size, attain a great age. Pike have been known to be over a hundred years old. There is some confusion as to the names pike and pickerel. In England, where there is but one species of Esoz, a young pike is called a pickerel. The pike of our Great Lakes is the true pike (E. lucius). The pickerel (E. reticulatus) is more common in small lakes and ponds. An easy way to distinguish them is to look at the gill-covers. If they are entirely covered with scales, it is a pickerel; but, if the lower half of the opercula is bare of scales, it is a pike.


Karen Funeral-Weddings.—Among the Shan Karens of Farther India, funerals are made the occasions of grand wedding festivals, in which all the marriageable young men and women of the village are prvileged to participate. As it is not always convenient to hold these interesting ceremonies at the exact time when a villager may die, it is customary to deposit the corpse of the deceased in some temporary resting-place, or to burn it and preserve the ashes till the times and the marriage-market are more favorable to giving it obsequies worthy of its former estate. Consequently, six months, or a year, or more, may frequently pass before the memory of the dead Karen receives the honor which is its due. When a good time for weddings comes, the remains are taken from their temporary resting-place and set upon a platform or mat which has been prepared for them, and the eligible bachelors and marriageable young women of the neighborhood having been invited to come and compete in a marrying-match, arrange themselves, dressed in their gayest, in two choirs on opposite sides of them. The "funeral service" is then begun with a chorus of the men celebrating the beauties of the Karen maidens in general. The girls respond in their drawling falsetto, "calmly accepting the eulogy of their graces." These overtures are usually set pieces, handed down from antiquity, or taken and translated from some popular Burmese play. Next, the bachelors, each in his turn, beginning usually, for the sake of peace, with the most muscular one, " deliver themselves of love-stricken solos," directed by name to the several damsels whom they have chosen; if one of them is rejected, he waits till his turn comes again, and addresses, if he sees fit, some other girl. The girls receive the proposals in perfect self-possession, and respond to them in phrases like those with which they have been addressed, the models of which have come down from the old times. All the praise the maiden has received, she appropriates as only her just due, and continuing, she declares that it is a shameful thing not to be married, but that it is worse to be divorced afterward, "to be like a dress that has been washed," but that she will do what she is bid. If the girl rejects the address, she may do so in a tone indicating that she does not consider she has been praised enough, or with some such indirect phrase as "Come to me when the full moon appears on the first day of the month; come dressed in clothes that have never been stitched. Dress and come before you wake. Eat your rice before it is cooked, and come before daylight." Rejections, however, seldom occur, except when some young man makes a mistake and applies to a girl who is known to be reserving herself for another. The "funeral service" goes on in this way till it is plain that no more alliances can be made, when it is closed, all the crockery that belonged to the deceased is broken, and the body is permanently buried. The matches thus made are binding, and no other way of making them is in favor; and, if any preliminary private courting takes place, it is subsidiary to the funereal occasion.


Steel-Iron.—Professor M. Keil has produced a composite material of iron and steel in which the valuable qualities of the two substances are combined, and the combination is made available for a variety of uses. The principle of his process is exemplified in a cast-iron mold divided centrally by a thin sheet of iron, on one side of which sheet fluid iron is poured, and on the other side fluid steel. The dividing plate should be thick enough to prevent the glowing masses on either side from burning through it, and yet so thin that those masses and it shall become thoroughly welded together. The combination has been produced in five shapes: steel by the side of iron; steel between two layers of iron; iron between two layers of steel; a core of steel with the surrounding shell of iron; and a core of iron with the surrounding shell of steel. This steel-iron may be used for a great variety of purposes in which the hard qualities of steel, enabling it to resist wear and tear, or adapting it to cutting purposes, need to be backed by a tougher material competent to resist strains and great vibration.


Hedgehogs and their History.—Professor Grant Allen, writing in an English paper of the structure and habits of the hedgehog, observes that the curious spines the animal wears on his back are a feature very apt to recur among animals of different classes the world over, which are much exposed to carnivorous enemies. The porcupine, a rodent in no way related to the hedgehog, and the Australian echidna, allied to the ornithorhynchus, have precisely similar spines. "The fact is, almost all surviving members of very low and early groups are extremely likely to have such peculiar spiny or armor-plated bodies, because only those which happened to be so protected have managed to escape the persistent attention of a million generations of vermin-eating carnivores. Hence they are apt to be either prickly, as in these instances, or else protected by a regular covering of bone-like hardness, as in the armadillo, the poyou, the pangolin, and the scaly ant-eaters. The spines of the hedgehog are in reality very hard, bristly hairs, specially developed for purposes of defense. Of course, however, he did not get these most effective chevaux-de-frise all at a single blow. They are the result of slow and constant modification in a long line of ancestors, and not a few intermediate forms are still in existence to show us, either directly or by analogy, the fashion in which the defensive prickles were originally evolved. The bulau, of Sumatra, has a few stout bristly hairs scattered among the fur of its back, and gives the first indication of a tendency toward the production of spines. It can not, however, roll itself up into a ball, like the hedgehog. The tanrec, of Madagascar, is covered with a mixture of hairs, bristles, and true spines; while another animal of the same island still more closely approaches the hedgehog in the greater spininess of its body and in the possession of the power of rolling itself up. "Finally, we get in Europe and Asia several kinds of genuine, fully developed hedgehogs, of which our own English specimen here in the ditch is a typical example. It is not often that all the intermediate stages between two distinct animal types have been so well preserved for us by nature as in this interesting instance."


Science in Brazil.— M. de Quatrefages recently improved the occasion of presenting to the French Academy of Sciences a number of documents from the Brazilian museum at Rio Janeiro, to speak in praise of the scientific progress that has been made in that country under the wise encouragement of the Emperor Dom Pedro II. The government, societies, municipalities, and a host of individuals, are rivaling one another in their zeal for the multiplication of educational establishments and for endowing them as richly as possible. Nearly one sixth of the revenue of the country is applied to purposes of public instruction. The first four volumes of the archives of the National Museum are marked by many valuable essays, among which were spoken of, as particularly deserving attention, the studies of Dr. Pizzarro on a curious batrachian, and of M. Frederick Muller on insects; of M. Lacerda on the poison of different snakes and of a toad; the anthropological labors of MM. Lacerta and Peixoto on the tribe of the Botocudos, and on some skulls found in ancient funeral urns; and a memoir by M. Ladislau Netto regarding American origins and migrations. The last study is based upon the strange custom, which is observed in a large number of tribes from the extreme northwestern part of the continent to Brazil, of boring the lower lip and hanging from it ornaments of different forms and natures. A paper also appears in this volume by M. Fireira Penna on the ceramios of Para, low tumuli, which are wholly composed of urns or other vessels of terra-cotta, laid together and arranged in beds. The recent Brazilian Anthropological Exhibition, which was very successful, is to be followed by another, in which it is hoped the whole American Continent will be represented.


Magnetism of a Great City.— Mr. Richard Jeffries, in his essays on "Nature near London," remarks upon the way in which the magnetism of London is a force in its remotest suburbs, and the influence of the mighty city is felt in its most rural environments. "In the shadiest lane," he says, "in the still pine-woods, on the hills of purple heath, after brief contemplation there arose a restlessness, a feeling that it was essential to be moving. In no grassy mead was there a nook where I could stretch myself in slumberous ease and watch the swallows ever wheeling, wheeling in the sky. The something wanting in the fields was the absolute quiet, peace, and rest which dwell in the meadows, and under the trees, and on the hill-tops in the country." The inevitable end of every foot-path round about London is London; the proximity of the immense city induces a mental, a nerve restlessness; and, as you sit and dream, you can not dream for long, for something plucks at the mind with constant reminder "that the inland hills, and meads, and valleys, are like Sindbad's ocean, but that London is like the magnetic mountain which draws all ships to it."


Bacteria and Cholera.—Dr. Koch, of the German Cholera Commission, has made a report of the commission's examinations of cholera cases in Egypt. The disease was on the decline when the commission began its work, and this may partly account for the unsatisfactory character of the results. Twelve unquestionable cholera patients were examined, and autopsies were held on the bodies of ten persons who had died of cholera. No micro-organisms were found in the blood of the patients, and but few in the matters vomited up, but a considerable number were found in the dejections. In the autopsies, no infectious organic matter, except a few probably accidental bacteria in the lungs, was noticed in the lungs, the spleen, the kidneys, or the liver. A well-determined species of bacteria was, however, found in the walls of the intestines, and in some cases had pene- trated to the tubular glands of the mucous coat, and provoked an irritation there, and had even reached the deeper layers of the mucous coat, and sometimes the muscular coat. It seemed evident that they had a connection with cholera, but whether as cause or merely as an accompaniment or result was still uncertain. To test this question, inoculations were made upon mice and monkeys, and a few dogs and chickens, and the bacterial poison was administered to some of the animals, but without effect in producing symptoms of cholera; although in a few of the cases septic affections followed. The results actually obtained, however, seem to Dr. Koch to afford a good reason why the experiments should be continued.


Superstitions about Infants.—Dr. H. Ploss remarks, in his book (in German) on "The Child in the Customs and Usages of Peoples," that the birth of a child impresses its relatives with the feeling that they are brought into the immediate presence of one of the mysterious powers of Nature, whose kindness in conferring the gift is acknowledged, and whose favor is invoked with observances in which feasts and offerings nearly always have a place; and the ceremonies observed on such occasions, and the toys that are given the child, have frequently an ingenious, sometimes an educational significance. The natural process of birth is brought, in the imagination of the people, into relation with hidden or supernatural causes: by many tribes it is supposed to be superintended by particular divinities; and the dangers and diseases to which the child is subject are ascribed to similar mysterious agencies. The accidents of pregnancy, the cries and calls, the influence of the evil-eye, the substitution of a changeling for the child, the ill-omened significance attached to certain acts, form a stock of superstitions deeply impressed in the popular imagination. From the search for supernatural means of driving away the evil spirits supposed to be working harm to the child have arisen very curious and wide-spread doctrines which are of great value in the history of customs. The little being who has come into the world is not always believed to be pure, and to have a clear right to existence. Many peoples regard it as "unclean" and not to be touched for a certain time. Others require it to be expressly recognized by the father; and some give the parents a right to expose or kill it immediately. Among most people it is considered essential to perform some kind of ceremony for formally adopting the child into the family and society. Such ceremonies are generally dietetic, or relate to washing and bathing, anointing the skin, giving the first food, circumcision, putting on clothing, or cutting the hair, and are observed as important mysteries favorable to bodily endurance and mental vigor. Here we approach the transition from the instinctive hygiene of popular customs to religious ceremonies. Survivals of the notions here pointed to are traced by Herr Ploss among popular customs that have not yet died out in the more retired districts of Europe.


Use of Salt.— Among other follies of the day, some indiscreet persons are objecting to the use of salt, and propose to do without it. Nothing could be more absurd. Common salt is the most widely-distributed substance in the body; it exists in every fluid and in every solid; and not only is it everywhere present, but in almost every part it constitutes the largest portion of the ash when any tissue is burned. In particular, it is a constant constituent of the blood, and it maintains in it a proportion that is almost wholly independent of the quantity that is consumed with the food. The blood will take up so much and no more, however much we may take with our food; and, on the other hand, if none be given, the blood parts with its natural quantity slowly and unwillingly. Under ordinary circumstances, a healthy man loses daily about twelve grains by one channel or the other, and, if he is to maintain his health, that quantity must be introduced. Common salt is of immense importance in the processes ministering to the nutrition of the body, for not only is it the chief salt in the gastric juice, and essential for the formation of bile, and may hence be reasonably regarded as of high value in digestion, but it is an important agent in promoting the processes of diffusion, and therefore of absorption. Direct experiment has shown that it promotes the decomposition of albumen in the body, acting, probably, by increasing the activity of the transmission of fluids from cell to cell. Nothing can demonstrate its value better than the fact that, if albumen without salt is introduced into the intestine of an animal, no portion of it is absorbed, while it all quickly disappears if salt be added. If any further evidence were required, it would be found in the powerful instinct which impels animals to obtain salt. Buffaloes will travel for miles to reach a "salt-lick"; and the value of salt in improving the nutrition and the aspect of horses aud cattle is well known to every farmer. The popular notion that the use of salt prevents the development of worms in the intestine has a foundation in fact, for salt is fatal to the small threadworms, and prevents their reproduction by improving the general tone and the character of the secretions of the alimentary canal. The conclusion, therefore, is obvious that salt, being wholesome, and indeed necessary, should be taken in moderate quantities, and that abstention from it is likely to be injurious.—Lancet.


Intelligence of a Turret-Spider.—The nest of the Tarentula arenicola, or American turret-spider, is a vertical tube, extending twelve or more inches into the ground, and projecting half an inch to an inch above the surface. The projecting portion, or turret, is in the form of a pentagon, more or less regular, and is built up of bits of grass and straw, small twigs, etc., cemented with mud, like a miniature old-fashioned chimney. The upper part of the tube has a thin lining of web-silk. A nest was exhibited by Vice-President H. C. McCook, D. D., at a meeting of the Academy of Natural Sciences, of Philadelphia, which, during its journey from Vineland, New Jersey, where it was found, had been plugged at top and bottom with cotton. Upon the arrival of the nest in Philadelphia, the plug guarding the entrance had been removed, but the other had been forgotten. The spider, which still inhabited the tube, immediately began removing the cotton from the lower end, and cast some of it out. But guided, apparently by its sense of touch, to the knowledge that the soft fibers would be an excellent material with which to line ita tube, it speedily put in a cotton padding for about four inches downward from the opening. Dr. McCook pointed out the very manifest inference that the spider must, for the first time, have come in contact with such a material as cotton, and had immediately utilized its new experience by adding the soft fiber to the ordinary silken lining.