Popular Science Monthly/Volume 28/January 1886/Popular Miscellany

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

Prehistoric Human Remains in Mexico.—Mariano de la Barcena describes in the "American Naturalist" some human remains that have been found in the hill Peñon de los Baños, near the city of Mexico, imbedded in a hard rock of silicified calcareous tufa. The cranium, with the upper and lower maxillæ and fragments of the collar-bone, vertebræ, ribs, and bones from the upper and lower limbs, are exposed, and present a yellowish appearance and the characteristic aspects of fossilization. No other fossils occur in the hill, and the age of the formation can only be estimated. The bed has evidently suffered upheaval since the bones were deposited in it, and their disordered condition is accounted for by this fact. Two facts seem at once to show that, even supposing it to be of the present age, it must be of remote antiquity. They are, the elevation of the ground above the actual level of Lake Tezcuco, and the remarkable hardness of the rock, which is different from that of the other calcareous rocks that contain remains of ceramics or roots of plants clearly modern. The stratigraphical and lithological characteristics of the ground indicate that the formation belongs to the Upper Quaternary, or at least to the base of the present geological age.

 

Forests of the Pacific Region.—According to our census report, the forests of the Pacific region owe their density and position to the character of the rainfall, which is heavier on the northern part of that coast than anywhere else in the United States; and their general distribution and density follow the distribution and amount of the rainfall, diminishing as we go southward into drier climates. The forests of this region arc: the Northern forest, from the seventieth to the fifty-eighth degree of latitude, composed principally of white spruce and species allied to but not identical with the canoe-birch and balsam-fir of the Atlantic coast; the Coast forest, extending in a narrow strip from the sixtieth to the fiftieth parallel, and thence along the summit of the Sierra Nevada, almost to the Mexican lino, composed of a few coniferous species, among which are the Alaska cedar, the tide-land-spruce, the hemlock, and the red fir. Its important feature is the red-wood belt, whose heaviest growth is found north of the Bay of San Francisco, and which contains more wood than any other forest of similar extent. The forest of the western slope of the Sierra Nevada, extending from the base of Mount Shasta to the thirty-fifth parallel, is next in density, is from four thousand to eight thousand feet above the sea, and is characterized by the great sugar-pine. The forest of the Valleys is composed of scattered oaks; and the Interior forest, from the Sierra to the Rocky Mountains, is of inferior importance.

 

How Milk is tainted.—According to the "Live-Stock Journal," milk is most liable to be hurt by the absorption of odors when it is colder than the surrounding air. For when it is warmer, the air, warmed by the contact with it, expands, with an increased capacity for absorbing gases and moisture, and rises, carrying such odors as it may have collected along with it. Thus, cold air, though it be not wholly pure, docs not contaminate milk, but tends to purify it Milk will not become contaminated, even in the stable, so long as it is warmer than the surrounding air. The question how stable odors get into milk is answered by the statement that they are acquired from the breath of the cow. The animal can not avoid taking in these odors, and upon entering the lungs they are forced at once into the circulation. The blood becomes charged with them, and the milk, which nerves as a means of unloading the blood of its impurities as well as of its nutriment, also becomes loaded with them intensified.

 

Individual Enterprise in Scientific Research.—While different governments have equipped large expeditions and spent considerable sums of money to assist deep-sea dredging expeditions, a similar work has been going on in Switzerland, which has no marine and not a very plethoric treasury, by individual effort, in the study of life in the depths of the lakes. The brunt of the labor has been performed by Dr. F. A. Forel, of Morgues, Professor of Comparative Anatomy in the Academy of Lausanne, who is at home in nearly all the sciences, a man in the vigor of his age, very active and very enterprising, and acquaianted with Lake Leman to its very bottom and in all its moods. Ho has published a considerable number of memoirs respecting his explorations, and the lessons in biology and the theory of development which they suggest, of which he takes the broadest views, and to which he has given thorough examination. His principal collaborator in the zoölogical field in Dr. Du Plessis, Professor of Zoölogy in the Academy, who has been for twelve years engaged in the determination of genera and species, and has prepared a critical table of the species constituting the deep zone fauna. Dr. Forel has personally made soundings and examinations, besides Lake Leman, in the Lakes of Annecy, Morat, Neufchâtel, Zürich, and Constance. Professor Pavesi, of the University of Pa via, has explored the lakes of the canton of Tessin and Northern Italy. Dr. Asper, of the University of Zürich, has dredged in the lakes of Zürich, Wallenstadt, Egeri, Zug, the Lake of the Four Cantons, Lugano, Como, Klönthal, Silse, and Silvaplana. Some of these lakes are situated high upon the Alps, and are consequently of interest in the study of the vertical distribution of species. Dr. Imhof, of Zürich, has also examined several lakes, and contemplates extending his studies over a considerable geographical area. August Weissman, of Fribourg-in-Brisgau, has also published some works on the inhabitants of the Lake of Constance.

 

Family-Schools of Housekeeping—A writer in the "Pall Mall Gazette" who has herself been trained in that way proposes, as a means of putting an end to the troubles about poor servants and bad housekeeping, that the German plan be adopted of sending every young girl after she has finished her school education, and before she is "out," to learn housekeeping. This every girl in Germany docs, be she the daughter of nobleman, officer, or small official. She goes direct from school into a family corresponding with her station in life. Those who are rich go where they are paid highly, and are in "good family," so that they are enabled to live well and have good cooking and great variety. No one is taken into one of these establishments for less than a year, so that every month a new branch is learned—one month the preserving of fruit in season, the next laying-in of apples and vegetables for winter use, preserving of eggs and butter, etc. These girls are taught everything, from washing up dishes, sweeping and polishing the floors, clear-starching and ironing, dusting and cleaning ornaments, cooking, laying the table, waiting, polishing the silver and glass up, to decorating the table with flowers and fruit. Great is the ambition of the pupil to hear that her taste and management arc the best. Combined with these duties are those of keeping the household linen in repair and learning plain sewing. Thus the young girl gets experience in household affairs. Though the pupils have to learn everything, servants are kept in these establishments, and in their turn are taught by the advanced pupils, who have learned from the mother of the family. This ac-' counts for the excellent housekeeping in Germany, where comfort is combined with economy and the pleasure of having everything precise and clean. The labors of the day are over at midday, that being the dinner-time, when everybody is at liberty for study, needlework, or amusement till time for preparing for supper. There are many families in England who can not afford to keep servants enough to do well all that has to be done. In these families they have to train servants, not being able to afford to keep trained ones. Why not, in these cases, train young ladies (who would also be companions to the daughters)? They might pay something for the instruction, and so put something into the teachers' pocket, while they would also work for her, and at the same time reap information, which they could again impart, and so train good servants, who are at present so hard to get. Mistresses are unable to teach, never having been taught themselves. Thus they are dependent on servants; for when they find fault they are unable, either in cooking or other matters, to point out the mistake or show the correct way. Servants, knowing this fact, arc independent and rule the house, and the "mistresses" must submit. The German system of living with a family and learning by experience how to manage a house is far better than either cooking-schools or lectures on the subject, as a greater variety of things are learned, and they are done in a more refined and economical way.

 

"Rages" in Surgery.—A part of the Presidential address of M. Verneuil at the recent meeting of the French Association consisted in a spirited and somewhat sarcastic protest against the prevalence of fashions, or "rages," as they are colloquially termed, in surgery. When he began his career, tenotomy was the rage, and tendons, ligaments, and muscles were divided subcutaneously in all parts of the body. A little later "resecomania" flourished, especially in Germany and England, so that some surgeons reckoned their resections by the hundred. Nowadays, when a specialist introduces an operation all specialists follow suit, but with a variation in the shape of the new instrument, so that, "if a museum of operative medicine were founded, immense cases would be necessary to exhibit all the lithotomes, urethrotomes, hysterotomes, and other 'tomes,' comprising small unnamed instruments, intended, I believe, to divide strictures of the nasal duct—strictures which, be it said without bitterness, hardly ever exist, or are in places where they have no need of being divided when they do exist." Gynæcology and ophthalmology compete for honors in this department, and the palm must be given to the former, for, apart from cauterizations, etc., of the cervix, it has given rise to an Emmet's operation, Battey's or Hegar's operation, an Alexander's operation, etc. The reviews and journals speak of them and praise them, so that a gynæcologist who has no "cases" to produce is little thought of. In the same strain M. Vernuil criticised other measures recently in vogue, and hinted that most of them would in process of time become as disregarded as the once prevailing fashion of an iridectomy preliminary to cataract extraction. Much had been made of late years, he said, of extirpations of the larynx, of the pharynx, of the stomach, of the uterus, of the kidneys, etc., and he asked, "How many patients have been cured thereby? How many have derived any benefit whatever from those terrible undertakings? Barely tea per cent For these I admit that the operation has been of service, but for the ninety others can its abuse be denied? Given a hundred cases of disease," he added, "at a certain period one half are operated upon; twenty years later not more than one fourth are submitted to operation. If the results of the two series are equally successful, I conclude that, of fifty of the operations in the first series, twenty-five at least were superfluous,"

 

Mediæval English Law.—A collection of records of English criminal cases of a. d. 1221 has recently been published, in which may be found numerous illustrations of the condition and peculiarities of the law of the period. In a case where the persons charged with a triple murder had fled and could not be held, it was recorded that "Englishry was not proved, therefore there are three fines." This refers to a rule made by the Conqueror, fur the protection of his follow, ers, that the hundred or township in which a foreigner was slain should be fined if the slayer was not produced. On the strength of this, the lawyers invented a tradition that every one should be considered a foreigner till it could be proved that he was an Englishman; and they took care that this should not be an easy thing to prove. In Gloucestershire, where these trials took place, three witnesses had to be produced, two on the father's and one on the mother's side. No woman's testimony was admitted. Consequently, in a great many cases, where probably there was no reason to believe the victim to have been a foreigner, "Englishry was not proved," and the death-fine was exacted. Prisoners not caught in the commission of the offense seem to have had the privilege of declining to be tried, when they enjoyed the possibility of escaping punishment. One John do la Mare, who had killed a miller with a stone, refused to be tried by a jury, saying he had been in the war with King John, and had done harm to many people. He was not produced when he was wanted, and his securities were fined half a mark apiece. A father and son, suspected of murdering a person who had been their guest, denied the charge, and refused to put themselves on their country. The jury, corresponding to our grand jury, however, declared that the son and his mother had committed the murder, and decided that the father should be released on bail, while the others should be kept in prison. The records of the trials offer several instances of the old custom of levying deodands. Robert Sprenghose fell from his horse and was drowned. The value of the horse, two marks, was assessed as deodand. One Osbert fell from his horse and was drowned in the Severn; the horse had no value, and no deodand could be assessed. "William Miel fell down dead as he drove the plough of Richard Sarg, his master, and Richard Witepirie, who was with him and held the plough, fled in a fright; but he is not suspected by twelve jurors, who declare on their oath that this happened by maladventure, and that the man had the falling-sickness." The justices decreed: "If Richard returns, he is to be left in peace. The coroner has forty pence of the said Richard's chattels. These arc a deodand, and are to go to the house of Llantony." The power of levying deodands gave opportunities for abuse, which, with other opportunities of a similar tendency, the sheriffs were not slow of improving to their own profit.

 

Salt Lakes of the Murghab Valley.—In the Murghab Valley, Afghanistan, are two lakes of solid salt, which Captain Yate has ridden over and described. One, from which the Tekke-Turkomans of Merv get their supplies of salt, is in a valley about six miles square, which is surrounded by a steep, almost precipitous descent, impassable for baggage-animals except by a single road. The bed of the lake, which is about fourteen hundred and thirty feet above the sea, is one solid mass of hard salt, perfectly level, and covered by only an inch or two of water. To ride over it was like riding over ice or cement. The bottom was covered with a slight sediment, but, when that was scraped away, the pure white salt shone out below. No one has ever got to the bottom of the deposit. The second lake is the one from which the Saryks of Penjdeh take their salt, and is about eight hundred feet above the sea. The salt in this lake is not so smooth as in the other one, and does not look so pure. It is dug out in flakes or strata, generally of some four inches in thickness, and is loaded into bags and carried off for Side without further preparation.

 

Production of Beet-Sugar in Germany. —The consular reports to our Department of State show that the beet-sugar industry in Germany has made great progress during the last twelve years. The exportation of this sugar only began in 1860, but it has been fostered by the Government through the grant of drawbacks that really amounted to bounties till it has undergone a remarkable development. In Pomerania, while in 1871-'72, 38,000 tons of beets were manufactured into 3,000 tons of sugar, in 1832-'83, 7,700 tons of sugar were obtained from 84,000 tons of beets. It is estimated that there are now 523,000 acres of land under beet-cultivation in Germany; and it appears that there were, during the year 1882-'83, 358 factories in operation, as compared with 343 in the previous year, and that they produced 835,164 tons of raw sugar, against 599,722 tons in 1881'-82. The taxes paid by the industry amounted to $35,000,000 as compared with $25,085,000. It is expected that for 1883-'84 there will be found an increase of at least fifteen new factories over those in operation in 1882-'83. As compared with the year 1871-'72, in that year 2,251,000 tons of beets were used to produce 186,412 tons of sugar, while in 1882-'83, 8,747,000 tons of beets were used, producing 835,164 tons of sugar. The quantity of beet-root used to produce a pound of sugar has diminished, under increased skill in the manufacture, from about twelve pounds to a fraction over ten pounds.

 

The Harmony of Colors.—M. Chevreul, the chemist, although in his hundredth year, is not too old to discuss the interesting question of bonnets and millinery. A black bonnet, he says, with white, pink, or red feathers or flowers, suits a fair complexion. A dead white hat is only suitable for florid complexions, whether blondes or brunettes. Gauze crape or tulle bonnets suit all complexions. A white bonnet for a blonde should have white or pink flowers; blue is still better. Brunettes should avoid blue, and rather choose red, pink, or orange. Light blue bonnets are especially suitable for fair persons. They may be trimmed with white flowers, or even yellow or orange, but not pink or violet. For dark persons who venture to wear a blue bonnet, yellow or orange is indispensable. A green bonnet sets off a pale or slightly colored complexion. A pink bonnet should not be too near the face, but should be separated by the hair, or by a white or green inside trimming, the latter color especially. White flowers, with an abundance of leaves, produce a good effect on pink. A dark-red bonnet is only suitable for persons with a highly colored complexion. Avoid yellow or orange bonnets. Violet is not to be recommended unless separated from the face, not only by the hair but by yellow accessories also.

 

Estimating the Age of Trees.—Mr. John T. Campbell, of Rockville, Indiana, records in the "American Naturalist" some of the results of his observations on the age of forest-trees as determined by their rings of growth. He regards the rings as capable, when correctly interpreted, of giving the true history of the tree, and showing the dates of prosperity and adversity in its career. The amount of growth between the rings is not determined by the character of the particular season in which each year's growth is made, as is generally believed, but by other conditions, such as the provision of top and branches and the presence or absence of rival trees competing with it for air, light, and moisture. He found stumps of trees of the same species, the same size, and presumably the same age, standing within twenty feet of each other, on the same kind of soil, cut down the same year, and, so far as he could judge, subject to the same conditions throughout, "one showing a large ring where its neighbor would show only an average one, and in some few cases they showed the opposite." While he can not account for the spasmodic production of single rings of large or small growth, interspersed here and there among those of average size, he has been able to trace successions of large or small rings to some plausible cause. In making some surveys, he had had occasion to refer to two trees which had been marked in the Government surveys of fifty years before, as "witness-trees," to aid in identifying comers. Both were described in the field-notes of those surveys as ash-trees three inches in diameter. One had grown to be eighteen inches in diameter; while the other had added only a half inch to that dimension, but the required rings of growth could be plainly seen under the glass. The former tree had had a good soil on level ground, while all of its adult rivals had been blown down by a tornado which had passed over the spot. The latter tree "stood in dissolved sandstone for soil, on the top of a narrow ridge, between three large oaks, which robbed it of sunlight and rain, and nearly all the soil nourishment. It had but five or six small branches for a top, and but few leaves to a branch; under such conditions it did well even to exist." Mr. Campbell read the history of two oaks as it was revealed to him by the rings and the configuration of the ground. One sprouted from the seed in 1502; the other, twenty feet distant from it, in 1694, or ninety-two years afterward. "In 1731 a tornado from the northwest blew down a still older oak, which in its fall struck against and greatly damaged the top of the one born in 1502." The two younger trees had been freshly cut down when the author examined them. 'Their stumps were about four feet across, and there was not over an inch difference between their diameters, though ninety-two years difference in their ages. The younger had a large, healthy top, no broken or dead limbs, and it had put on rings of growth from the beginning of more than average size. The older one had been injured in its branches by the fall of the still older tree before mentioned (in 1731), and for fifty-seven years had put on very small rings of growth,. . . when a new set of branches developed to take the place of the damaged ones, and the rings began to increase in size and gradually attained to the average. I examined their tops, which coincided with what has gone before. There were the peculiar knots in the top of the older one where dead limbs had rotted off and were healed over. During this delay the younger oak caught up with the older one in size. The size of a tree is a very uncertain indication of its age." Mr. Campbell examined one tree that was six hundred years old, and learned from it that "at the age of about two hundred years it had some ill fortune which caused it to form about one hundred small rings. It then regained its health and formed normal rings for about one hundred and forty years, when another mishap caused small rings till within the last fifty years, when it was putting on fair growths again."

 

Uses and Nature of Physiological Experiment.—Dr. H. Newell-Martin has replied to an accusation made against him in the London "Zoöphilist," of practicing cruelty in his physiological experiments on living animals. First, he responds to the charge that the experiments are useless, saying: "Every one is aware that in very many cases severe fevers result in death. It is well known to most medical men that most such deaths arc due to failure of the heart. This failure is caused by too rapid beat, the organ not getting rest enough between its strokes for nourishment and repair. This quicker beat might be due to any of four or five possible causes. . . . To ascertain which of them was mainly responsible for it, and thus throw light upon the proper means to be adopted to save life, was the object of my research; an object which, I am proud to say, I in large measure attained." In regard to the amount of pain inflicted in the experiments, his first endeavor was "to put out of action, to kill, all parts of the body but the heart and lungs. These do not possess consciousness, and are incapable of suffering pain when the brain is dead." In doing this "no pain whatever was inflicted, except, in some, the slight smarting due to hypodermic injection of morphine. Two experiments were performed under curare, a drug the power of which to destroy consciousness is still in doubt. . . . The reason for making these was that chloroform, ether, and morphine, act themselves on the heart; and, finally, to clinch the question as to the influence of hot blood on that organ, it was necessary to experiment on a heart which had not been exposed to possible alteration by the action of any one of them. In these cases pain was stopped as soon as possible by tying the carotid.-?, and this took three or four minutes. . . . If," Professor Martin adds, "the precise truth concerning every physiological experiment made in this country be brought before the public immediately after its misrepresentation in any anti-vivisection journal, our science is safe. Truth can not hurt it. Publicity will swell the ranks of its students. Legislation impeding our work need not be feared. Human and animal disease and suffering will be diminished, life prolonged, and the world made better as well as happier, through our researches. If we fail to use every effort to protect and promote those researches, arc we not guilty toward our fellow-men and the lower animals dependent on us?"

 

Who shall try the Dynamiters?—In an article on "Dynamiting and Extra-Territorial Crime," Mr. Francis Wharton, LL. D., has aimed to show that the prosecution of persons sending dynamite abroad for criminal purposes belongs to the states from whose soil the dynamite is sent. Authorities on the law of nations agree in maintaining that when, in one sovereignty, overt acts are taken toward the commission of a crime in a foreign land, jurisdiction exists both in the place of preparation and in the place of execution. A similar doctrine has been repeatedly held in England, as growing out of the common law; and British courts have enforced the obligation to punish persons, whether British subjects or foreigners sojourning in the country, who prepare in the United Kingdom attacks to be made in other countries. The same principle has been observed in the United States. The particular question Mr. Wharton discusses is, whether, in such crimes as dynamiting, the jurisdiction should lie in the Federal courts or in those of individual States, The foreign country sees only the nation; but, within the nation, what entity should answer the responsibility? The General Government has already taken cognizance of offenses of this class where sovereigns are concerned, as it might well do, by virtue of its functions in maintaining diplomatic intercourse with their courts. But to hold the same attitude with respect to common crimes against common persons, or the general public, would be to trespass upon the duties and prerogatives of the States. It would, moreover, tend to give those offenses and the measures taken against them a political aspect, and to call in all the complications of political feelings and prejudices. The question should be made to appear as a matter of social order, affecting the homes and lives of the whole community from which the jury to decide upon it is drawn. To make it a matter of national concern would at once divide the jury according to their national sympathies. "It would be otherwise, however, when the question is, whether the law permits dynamiting, or whether it will stop dynamiting at the place where it is started, which is the only place where it can be stopped."

 

Hindoo Cosmogony and Physics.—The Rev. Sumangala, chief-priest at Adam's Peak, in Ceylon, has recently published an account of the opinions of Hindoo astronomers on the form and attraction of the earth. Bhaskara, who flourished in the twelfth century, thought that the terrestrial globe, composed of land, air, water, space, and fire, had a spherical form, and, surrounded by the planets and the orbits of the stars, maintained itself in space by its own power. This, he says, is in fact demonstrated. Lands, mountains, gardens, and houses cover the earth as pollen covers the flower of Kadamba, and serve as the homes of men, Kaksasas, Devas, and Asuras. He rejected the idea that the earth rested on anything else, for the obvious reason that, if another support were needed, there would be no end to the supplementary supports. Therefore we shall have to admit a final equilibrium somewhere; why not accept it at once? . Is not the earth one of the forms of Siva? As heat occurs naturally in the sun and fire, cold in the moon, fluidity in water, and hardness in the stone, so mobility exists in the air. Every object has its own properties, and the properties implanted in some objects are wonderful." Bhaskara believed that the earth, possessing an attractive force, drew to itself everything heavy in the atmosphere surrounding it, whence those bodies fall to it. "But," he said, "how could the earth fall into the ethereal space, since that space is equal on all sides?"

 

Opposing Views of Arctic Exploration.—Admiral Bedford Pim, in a recent lecture on "Arctic Exploration," related a conversation he had had with Secretary of War Lincoln, on the utility of the perilous adventures undertaken for that purpose. The Secretary asked him, "What is the good of the journeys to those regions, and how can you defend the fearful loss of life, unnecessarily, as I think, thrown away?" The admiral, in reply, recalled the biblical command to replenish the earth and subdue it, and asked: "How can we possibly do that if we are not even acquainted with its land and water? And then, with respect to the loss of life, more men have been slaughtered in one skirmish than have been lost in the polar expeditions for four hundred years; in point of fact, the percentage of loss of life in the polar regions is less than in any other sea employment. Then, some of the best examples of seamen, both morally and physically, have been men trained in all the hardships and dangers and difficulties of the polar regions. I can conceive of no better school. . . . The spirit of enterprise is strongly encouraged by these expeditions. And, depend upon it, if we men are such arrant cowards, and so forgetful of our duty, as to abandon research until somebody's flag is planted on the north pole, the ladies will do it." Lieutenant Danenhower opposes further attempts to penetrate the polar area for the present. While nothing useful is to be attained there in the way of geographical discovery, it is well to weigh the comparative importance of investigation in that branch in other parts of the world. British America has not been fully explored, though it possesses an area more than eight times that of the central polar region. Much work needs to be done in Central Africa, the Himalayas, New Guinea, and other parts of the world. For hydrographic research, it is not necessary to go to these regions, but the best field for operations lies below the eightieth parallel. As for the interests of meteorology, "there is no special reason for believing that the meteorological phenomena of the central polar regions differ essentially from those observed near the borders, and the possible advantages to be gained would not alone justify further exploration." Neither is any great advantage to be gained for magnetic and auroral observations. The magnetic poles are known, and arc in or near already explored regions, and the most brilliant auroral phenomena are observed near them. In short, we know nearly as much on all these subjects, or can study them as well in the regions we have already opened, as we could learn by going to the pole. But "the time may come in the progress of civilization and advanced knowledge when the exploration of all the present unknown parts of the torrid and temperate zones shall have been completed, and it will then be the occasion to explore the ice-locked regions of the north pole "; and, "after having served with one Arctic expedition, and having devoted seven years to the study of the subject,. . . I unhesitatingly record myself as opposed to further exploration of the central polar basin, with our present resources. The gradual extension of observatory stations in the interest of meteorology', magnetism, and other scientific branches, should be made, but national support should not be given to another polar expedition."

 

Meteorology of the Congo.—Mr. A. von Danckelmann, a German meteorologist, has been making observations at Vivi, in the country of the Congo, and reports some curious results. During about a year that ho stayed there the barometrical column did not vary more than ten millimetres; even the passage of tornadoes seemed to produce no greater effect upon it. The year is divided into rainy and dry seasons. During the latter, from May to October, no rain falls, but the earth is occasionally moistened by the depositions from fogs. From November to April heavy showers of short duration prevail, and the water falls, in portions, sometimes as high as one hundred and two millimetres—about four inches—in two hours. Long, fine rains arc unknown. The country is visited by cyclones, but, while storms passing to the north of the station turned the vane in a contrary direction to that of the hands of a watch, those passing it to the south turned it in a direction corresponding with theirs. The natives burn the tall prairie-grass in the dry seasons, causing fires that last for a long time, and produce considerable meteorological effects. The air is constantly loaded with smoke, while cumulus clouds arc formed over the fires and emit lightning with thunder. One of the most remarkable meteorological phenomena of the region is the existence of a southwest wind, which, beginning at sunset, blows all night till sunrise with such force as to raise large and dangerous waves on the river.

 

An Affectionate Mother-Spider.—The Clubiorics are minute, grayish-yellow spiders with a dark brown stripe along their back, which build their nests among growing oats, generally using two or three stalks. M. Ernest Menault, a French naturalist, looked into one of their nests and found there a great number of little eggs in various stages of development. The mother-spider was frightened and much excited on observing his proceedings, and endeavored vainly to collect her treasures again. From another nest M. Menault tore away the protecting web, but the diligent mother soon set herself to work spinning a patch to cover exactly the breach he had made. lie repeated the experiment several times, and the spider as often came to repair the mischief. Another spider, the lycosa, gathers her eggs, as soon as they are laid, into a little ball, which she then wraps with a thin but compact and solid covering of silky tissue. This ball, stuck to her web, she drags after her wherever she goes. When pursued, she runs as quickly as the weight of the egg-ball will let her, but, if any attempt be made to seize the cocoon, she stops at once and tries to get it back, when she shows considerable courage and fighting capacity. If the cocoon is destroyed, the lycosa will retire into a corner, and in a short time die. When the eggs are hatched the mother-spider takes her young upon her back, and has them always with her. "It is impossible," says M. Menault, "to behold without emotion this little creature, naturally so quick and jerky in all her movements, acquire a motion so much gentler when carrying her treasures. She carefully avoids all dangers, only attacks easily won prey, and abandons all chance of obtaining anything the capture of which would necessitate a combat that might cause her to drop the young ones, which press and move by hundreds round her body." Bonnet tells of a lycosa whose egg-bag was captured by an ant-lion, which nevertheless refused to leave it, preferring to be swallowed up and share the fate of her eggs. When taken away by force, she persisted in returning to the scene of danger.

 

Race Characteristics of the Jews.—Dr. A. Neubauer read a paper recently, before the British Anthropological Institute, on "Race Topics of the Jews," the purport of which was to show that there had been considerable intermixtures in the Hebrew race from the time of Abraham down. Joseph married an Egyptian and Moses a Midianite; David was descended from a Moabitess, and Solomon was the son of a Hittite woman. So we read of the non-Jewish women in contact with the Israelites, and undoubtedly the proselytes increased the mixture of races by marrying Jewish women. Moreover, some quite marked differences prevailed in the middle ages, and still exist, between the Jews residing in different nations. Mr. J. Jacobs, in a paper "On the Racial Characteristics of Modern Jews," took a different view. Regarding only the Askenasian Jews, who form more than nine tenths of the whole number, he pointed out as among their characteristics fertility, short stature as compared with Europeans, and narrow chests, brachycephalic skulls, darker hair and eyes than those of any nation in Northern Europe (though nearly one fifth of the Jews have blue eyes, and they have nearly twice as many red-haired individuals as the inhabitants of the Continent), and a peculiar cast of countenance. He pointed out that the purity of the race depended on the number of proselytes made by the Jews in ancient and mediæval times. The earlier proselytes, before the foundation of Christianity, were mostly follow-Semites, and would not affect the type, while the numbers made afterward were too small to modify the race. A considerable number of Jews, the Cohens, were not allowed to marry proselytes, and must consequently be tolerably pure. Mr. Jacobs's general conclusion was therefore in favor of the purity of the Jewish race.

 

The Elm-Leaf Beetle.—The entomological division of the Department of Agriculture has published an account, prepared by Dr. Riley, of the elm-leaf beetle (Galeruca xanthomelæna), which has committed serious damage upon the elms in many States during the past few years. It is an importation from abroad, and fortunately gives its attention mostly to foreign species of elm, the common native species, Ulmus Americana being generally exempt from its ravages. The injuries it commits are severe about one year in three, while they are relatively light in the intervening years. It works its destruction from May to August, and prefers the warm side of the tree. The most effective remedies against it are the ordinary arsenic washes and powders, and these appear to injure the tree as well as kill the insect. Their effect is also worst on those species and varieties which suffer most from the ravages of the beetle. In administering the poison, it is well to anticipate the appearance of the insect, so as to prevent its getting a start.

 

Conditions of Success In Life.—The physiological conditions of success in life, according to Dr. James T. Searcy, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, m his address before the State Medical Association, consist chiefly in the vigorous and healthy action of the brain and nervous system. Therefore the structural integrity and functional capacity of the brain are most important matters, and how to preserve and improve them are vital questions. Hence the author believes, "if we can discover the ways in which brain capacity is improved, we will have done a great deal, and, if we can slate the ways in which it is lowered, we will have done a great deal." The excellent man will not only show his ability to take in, to understand, but he will also show it in knowing what to take in, in his ability to select for a purpose. "The successful man possesses ability not only to learn, but to verify his learning and to deduce his conclusions correctly, and execute them tenaciously. The simply erudite man is not the successful one. He must be capable not only in his receptive ability, but also in his adjusting and emissive abilities. This often puts the man who is simply the scholar at such disadvantage in the presence even of the unlettered man of 'common sense.' 'Common sense' may be defined to be the inherent excellence of capacity in all three of the departments of brain-action. He need not be an 'educated' man to show this trait, but if he is educated his inherent 'common sense' tells all the better. He leans well and properly, he reasons well and properly, and he executes well and properly."

 

How Woods preserve Moisture.—M. Wocikoff, an eminent Russian observer, asserts, in a recent article in Petermann's "Mittheilungen," that the office of forests in diminishing evaporation can not be explained by the lower temperature or the greater humidity which are known to exist under their shadow. The most important factor contributing to the result is the resistance opposed by woods to the winds, the force of which being greatly reduced under the trees, the air is changed more slowly, and consequently the moisture is less readily carried away. Documents which have been collected at Nancy, in France, show that the vicinity of a forest increases the quantity of rain. It would seem that in Central Europe, where the difference between the temperature of the ground and air within the forest and that of the open is but little in the winter, the forests would have slight influence on precipitation at that season. Nevertheless, the forests receive more water than the open spaces in winter, because of the lowness of the clouds combined with the resistance that the woods offer to the moist west winds. Rain-water is stored in the moss and herbage of the woods, to be consumed by the vegetation during the dry season. A striking illustration of this fact is given in a forest on the western coast of the Caspian Sea, where the vegetation is very luxuriant, although it never rains except in the fall and winter. M. Woeikoff has also observed that forests depress the temperature of the neighboring regions. Thus the normal temperature ordinarily increases as we go from the sea toward the interior in Western Europe and Asia; but the presence of a forest compensates for the rise in temperature, so that there are places far from the sea that arc cooler than the shore itself. This is the case in Bosnia, where the summer is five or six degrees cooler than in Herzegovina, on account of the woods.