Popular Science Monthly/Volume 3/August 1873/Miscellany

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MISCELLANY.

Fossil Monkeys.—With the title "On the Primitive Types of the Orders of Mammalia Educabilia," Prof. E. D. Cope recently read a very remarkable paper before the American Philosophical Society. The professor referred to a previous description, by himself, of certain fossil remains under the name Anaptomorphus æmulus, in which he pointed out similarities of the teeth and other parts to like parts in monkeys and man. He also quoted Prof. 0. C. Marsh as saying that three fossil genera, previously described by himself, were all referable to the Quadrumana, or monkeys, saying that "they have the principal parts of the skeleton much as in some of the lemurs," the lowest of the monkey race. Some fossil remains, previously described by Prof. Cope, were referred to a genus Tomitherium, but with no suggestion as to the order to which they might belong. A reëxamination of this genus has caused it to be referred to the Quadrumana. A remarkable feature in the osteology of this genus is, the relationship shown also to the Coati (Nasua). "The first impression derived from the appearance of the lower jaw and dentition, and from the humerus, is that of an ally of the Coati (Nasua). The humerus, indeed, is almost a facsimile of that of Nasua. . . A comparison with Nasua reveals no distant affinity." The fossil remains of these ancient monkeys were obtained in Eocene strata in the Bridger beds on Black's Fork, Wyoming, and already some seven species are described.

As an example of remarkable scientific prescience, as regards this monkey-cousinship of the Nasua, or Coati-Mondi, we give the following foot-note on page six of this interesting paper: "Dr. Lockwood, of Rutgers College, in a recent number of The Popular Science Monthly,expressed serious suspicions of the quadrumanous relationships of the Coati, little thinking at the time that the specimens to confirm his view were, at that moment, in the hands of palæontologists." It is also worthy of mention that Prof. Lockwood's singular induction was worked out of psychological considerations, he stating that the material basis was not at hand, although he insisted that such must exist. Results like the above cannot but give confidence in the processes of the science of comparative anatomy.

 

Light-Waves and Sound-Waves.—A curious instance of the analogies of light and sound is given in the Medical Times, from a German medical journal. Two brothers, named Nussbaumer, are said to receive visual impressions from sounds. When a certain note is struck upon the piano, the brothers at once have a sensation of a certain corresponding color, which is not, however, identical for both. Thus the note which produces in the one the impression of dark Prussian blue, produces in the other that of dark yellow. They do not, however, perceive all colors on occasion of hearing sounds. One of the brothers has sensations of yellow, brown, and violet, most frequently; while blue, yellow, and brown, are most frequent with the other. One of them never has the sensations of red, green, black, or white, awakened by musical notes, though on one occasion he says that, suddenly hearing a noise from the filing of a saw, he had the sensation of green. No doubt it is very difficult to be secure against deception in such a matter as this; but we may add that Prof. Brühl, of Vienna, after thorough investigation, is satisfied that there is no fraud.

 

Meteorological Observations In the Upper Atmosphere.—We take, from the Proceedings of the French Academy of Sciences, the following interesting account of meteorological observations made by M. G. Tissandier during a balloon-ascension in the month of February last: Six gentlemen accompanied M. Tissandier on his aërial voyage. The balloon, whose capacity was 2,000 cubic metres, was filled with illuminating gas. The ascent was made from the city of Paris, and the voyagers soon found themselves at an altitude of 1,200 metres, and enveloped in a dense layer of cloud. Having risen above this stratum of cloud, they entered a region where the sun's rays were intensely bright, and the heavens of a deep blue. For about three hours they sailed at an elevation of about 400 metres above the clouds. The shadow of the balloon, as it fell on this ocean of vapor, was very remarkable. At an elevation of 1,350 metres the shadow of the balloon itself had no halo, though one was risible around the shadow of the boat. At 1,700 metres the balloon's shadow was surrounded with rings of rainbow hues. Again, and at the same elevation, there appeared three distinct concentric halos. In all cases the violet was on the inner and the red on the outer side of the halos, but the blue and the orange colors were most clearly visible.

The temperature was very high, being 17.5° Cent., and the sun's rays so hot as to burn the face. The greatest altitude attained was 2,000 metres. As the balloonists descended through the cloud, a copper wire suspended from the boat gave strong indications of electricity. On reaching 1,200 metres, where the cloud was densest, the voyagers were unable to see the balloon above them, and were chilled by the cold, the thermometer showing 2° Cent. The copper wire gave out vivid sparks, and was quickly coated with ice-crystals, which glistened like diamonds. Similar crystals formed on the boat, and on the clothes and beards of the voyagers.

The descent was made at Montireau, distant 120 kilometres from Paris. Time, 3 hours and 45 minutes. M. Tissandier thinks that the dense opaline cloud through which he passed is made up of ice-crystals. The paper by Mohr, in The Popular Science Monthly for May, shows that vapors can resist crystallization at a far lower temperature than 2° Cent.

 

Social Relations of Ants.—At the Congress of Swiss Naturalists, which assembled in August of last year at Friburg, Auguste Forel read an address upon the "Social Relations of Various Species of Ants." A nest is sometimes occupied by a community belonging to one species, sometimes by a community made up of two or more species, but all have the three classes of males, females, and workers. In a mixed community there will sometimes be found slaves— that is, workers of a different species made captive while still in the cocoon. When these emerge from their silken envelope, they become the friends and willing thralls of their captors, as though such were their natural destiny. A mixed community embraces all three sexes of the captor species, but only workers, or neuters, of the captive. The Polyergus rufescens and the Formica sanguinea both make slaves of the Formica fusca. The Polyergus is extremely indolent, but the F. sanguinea assists his slaves in their work.

There are certain species of ants which live by the labor of others without enslaving them. To this class belongs the Anergates atratulus, a species which have no workers, but which, both males and females alike, live in company with the workers of the Tetramorium cœspitum, and are tended by these latter, though the terms on which the association is formed are not known. The Strongylognathus testaceus also lives by the charity of the Tetramorium. But the author has discovered a species of Strongylognathus having true slaves.

Then there are mixed communities, where two species which usually live separately, lead a life in common; but this is a thing of very rare occurrence, and but little investigated. M. Forel has found ants' nests inhabited by the Formica truacicola and the F. fusca, by the Tapinoma erraticum, and the Bothryomyrmex, etc. On the other hand, he has also met with communities of the F. sanguinea, without slaves.

 

Inherited Traces of Surgical Operations.—In his fifth lecture on "Eggs," published by the Tribune of April 26th, Prof. Agassiz has the following on the transmission of individual peculiarities produced by surgical operations: "But, while the office of inheritance is to preserve typical features, its power to transmit individual peculiarities is also wonderful. My friend Dr. Brown-Séquard, who has made more experiments among animals than any man living, continuing them upon successive generations, and ascertaining what diseases may be transmitted, has stated facts to me which almost defy belief. These facts are unpublished. I will give a few of them. He has found that the disease of epilepsy can be induced in guinea-pigs by certain operations, and that this disease, being so introduced into the system, may be transmitted from generation to generation, and thus become hereditary. Where such operations have produced malformations of the skin, as is often the case, these also have been transmitted; or, where the paws have been affected by such operations, the peculiarity has been also transmitted. Malformation produced by these experiments as a disease during the life of a parent has been passed down to the offspring, and even habits arising from disease have been inherited in the same way. In one such case the peculiarity existed in the female; in another it was produced in the male. In the latter instance the male transmitted its own diseased condition to another generation through a healthy female. More than this, the female through whom these diseased descendants had been produced eventually became herself diseased in the same manner as the male. These facts have a fearful significance. With reference to the process, the subtle influence by which such results are produced, we must be silent for the present, since we cannot explain or understand it. All that we know is, that a material combination takes place which enables us to say that these individual peculiarities are sifted through the egg of the female and the spermatic particles of the male, and may reappear in their progeny."

 

Clay-eaters.—The Agmara Indians, inhabiting the shores of lake Titicaca, and the lofty plateau of the Andes, find the struggle for existence hard, at an altitude of more than 11,000 feet above the sea-level. Their principal articles of food are quinoa, a coarse grain resembling rice, and potatoes, of which tuber their country is the original home. The difficulty of boiling food at so great an altitude necessitates the previous maceration of all articles intended to be so cooked. The potato is, therefore, prepared for storing and use by exposing it to the frost; then it is placed in water, and stamped into a paste; all the soluble matter is washed out, and the starchy and farinaceous substance alone remains. This is called chuno, and it is made into a nutritious though insipid soup. The Agmaras use clay as an article of food, mixing it with quinoa. The clay they use is of a whitish color, and rather gritty. Careful analysis shows that it contains no organic matter, and therefore it must be used merely for the purpose of producing a satisfactory though delusive distention of the stomach.

 

The Faculty of Direction.—It will be remembered that, in the course of the discussion as to hereditary antipathy, a side question was introduced by Mr. Wallace, namely, the faculty possessed by certain animals whereby they are infallibly guided on their return homeward from distant places. Mr. Wallace thinks that this faculty is, in dogs at least, simply a very acute sense of smell. According to him, the dog "takes notes by the way" of the various odors he passes through, and finds his way back by taking the links of this chain in reversed order. But this explanation is open to very serious difficulties, and Mr. Darwin's simpler theory will appear far preferable.

Indeed, Mr. Wallace's theory seems hardly broad enough to account for more than a very inconsiderable fraction of the phenomena which it is proposed to explain. For dogs, cats, horses, and the like, it may be good enough, until a better theory is found. But what possible application could it have to such a case as the following, which is given by Mr. Edward W. Cox, on the high authority of Mr. Robert Fox, of Falmouth? "The fishermen of Falmouth," writes Mr. Cox, "catch their crabs off the Lizard Rocks, and they are brought into the harbor at Falmouth alive, and impounded in a box for sale, the shells being branded with marks by which every man knows his own fish. The place where the box is sunk is four miles from the entrance to the harbor, and that is above seven miles from the place where they are caught. One of these boxes was broken; the branded crabs escaped, and two or three days afterward they were caught again by the fishermen at the Lizard Rocks. They had been carried to Falmouth in a boat. To regain their home they had first to find their way to the mouth of the harbor, and, when there, how did they know whether to steer to the right or to the left, and to travel seven miles to their native rocks?"

It is unphilosophical to set up many different hypotheses, where one would answer. For this reason we are inclined to accept Mr Darwin's explanation of the phenomenon in question, rather than Mr. Wallace's. Mr. Darwin, it will be seen, aims at bringing all the phenomena under one general law, that of a Faculty of Direction, as it may be called. In confirmation of this hypothesis, the veteran naturalist quotes from Von Wrangell's account of his expedition to North Siberia, as to the "wonderful manner in which the natives kept a true course toward a particular spot, while passing for a considerable distance through hummocky ice, with incessant changes of direction, and with no guide in the heavens, or on the frozen sea." Even with the aid of a compass, an experienced surveyor in Von Wrangell's party failed to do what these savages easily effected. Mr. Darwin says the Siberians keep a sort of "dead reckoning" of their course, correcting their deviations partly by eyesight, partly also, perhaps, by a sense of muscular movement, as some men can, even with bandaged eyes, proceed for a short distance in a straight line, turn at right angles, or even back again. Some persons are "turned around," as we say, far more easily than others. Such persons would very easily lose their way, were they to attempt traversing an extensive forest, for instance. Mr. Darwin is inclined to think that some part of the brain is "specialized for the function of direction." If that is the case, it is very natural to suppose that this specialization may be more marked in beasts and savages than in civilized man, as the former have more constant need to exercise the faculty of direction than the latter. Mr. Darwin closes his communication on this subject by citing a case from Audubon, where the faculty of direction was egregiously at fault. The great ornithologist kept a pinioned wild-goose in confinement, and, when the time for migrating came, the bird escaped. Instead of proceeding due southward, as it should have done, the poor creature began its long journey on foot, travelling due northward, exactly the wrong direction.

 

Habits of the Porpoise.—The behavior of the porpoise in the Brighton (England) Aquarium has been studied with warm interest, by Mr. Henry Lee, F. L. S., who communicates to Land and Water an interesting account of his observations. Mr. Lee had previously enjoyed frequent opportunities of watching the porpoise at sea, whether from the bow of a steamer, or over the gunwale of a boat, but an uninterrupted, broadside view of all its movements was, for him, "a new, delightful, heart-stirring sight, and one often longed for." He observed that the tail, with its flat blade spread out horizontally, is the only propelling instrument possessed by the animal. Even when the creature is in rapid motion, the front fins hang straight down from the sides, and come into play only when it wishes to change its course, or to rise to the surface for the purpose of "blowing." For the latter object, both fins are raised toward an horizontal position, the action of the tail is stopped, and, with the impetus previously gained, the porpoise soars gently to the surface; there, the valve of the blow-hole opens, the breath escapes with a sound between a deep sigh and a quiet puff, and, without the slightest pause, the animal descends again.

The new porpoise at Brighton is four feet six inches in length. The tank in which it is kept is 102 feet long, so that the beast has a very fair opportunity to exhibit its paces. The whole of the first day it cantered incessantly from end to end of the tank, keeping usually at a depth of about three feet, and rising to blow every 15 or 20 seconds. It was very timid, shying at every movement among the spectators. At night, it showed a partiality for gas-light, restricting its movements to the end of the tank that was illuminated. The second day the creature was so tame that it would take food from the hand, dart off with it, and come back for more. When it catches a fish, it seizes it by the middle of the body, holds it there for a second, as if pressing its teeth into it, to make it flexible, and then swallows it at a gulp, without any effort to bolt it head-foremost. "The pretty creature," continues Mr. Lee, "has a nice, good-natured face, in which I fancy I can often read an expression of pleasure and animation, and is as full of fun and frolic as a Newfoundland pup, galloping along something like a dog after a stick, and tossing up its tail with a romping kick, as a skittish colt throws up its heels in play. If it lives, as I hope it will, it will probably become as tame and docile as a seal; for the porpoise is a very intelligent animal. It has a large brain, and acute sensibility."

 

Persistence of Cholera in Central Europe.—It would appear as if Asiatic cholera had become naturalized in Central Europe. For a few years past the disease has prevailed to a greater or less extent in the Austrian dominions, and the following notes, taken from the London Times, will show its movements since the beginning of the present year. At that time the disease existed in numerous localities of Galicia and Silesia, and in a few places in Moravia and Hungary. It was increasing in the city of Lemberg, and, though declining in Buda-Pesth, had not disappeared. During the month of January it invaded several new localities in Hungary, Silesia, Moravia, and Bohemia. During February the disease still continued in the districts just referred to, and lingered in Buda. The garrison of the latter city suffered from a serious outbreak during the last week of January and the first week of February.

The cessation of cholera on the Upper Nile is reported. Its ravages during the last half of 1872 extended over the entire region bounded east and west by the Red Sea and the Desert, and between Kassala, in the north, and Korosko, in the south. The questions of the internal sanitary condition of Persia, and the recent prevalence of plague and frequently-recurring epidemic of cholera in that country, are about to be submitted to a sanitary commission appointed by the European powers, Persia, and Turkey. It is admitted that, so long as the sanitary condition of Persia remains what it is, Europe will continue to be visited by this scourge. The recent outbreak of plague in the Shah's dominions seriously endangered the Ottoman provinces of Asia, and it is at the instance of the Porte that the European powers now demand that the internal sanitary state of Persia be improved. This is a matter that very nearly concerns us, even on this side of the Atlantic, and it is to be hoped that the commission will perform its work thoroughly. Religious scruples and antiquated customs will make resistance, as a matter of course; but the civilized world cannot afford to see its population decimated, simply because unwashed devotees will insist on making their unwholesome pilgrimages. In a country where only a few years ago the government put a stop to corpse-caravans, the commission is sure to have enough to do. It was only in 1867 that a stop was put to the popular custom of transporting, on the backs of camels and mules, one or two hundred putrefying corpses at a time to certain holy places, often distant thirty or forty days' travel.

 

Sponges.—Naturalists are now generally agreed in classing the sponge with animals, but place it in the very lowest rank of the Protozoa, abutting on the vegetable kingdom. Like a plant, the sponge grows on rocks or other substances in water, being often found attached to the shells of living crustaceans. It consists of a gelatinous substance called sarcode, and of a framework made up of horny, elastic fibres (keratose), or of calcareous or siliceous spicules. The keratose is the sponge of commerce, and its value depends upon the elasticity and compressibility of its fibres.

The sarcode is sometimes represented to be an amorphous mass of glairy substance, but accurate observation with the microscope shows, according to Huxley, that it is constituted as follows: There is, first, an external layer, continuous, and made up of an aggregation of organisms with nuclei, and much resembling amoebae. This stratum is separated from another of identical structure by a chamber filled with water. The outermost layer has a multitude of pores, through which the supply of food and oxygen enters. The floor of the lower and thicker layer has a number of orifices opening into tubes which widen out into globular caverns a little below the surface. The sides of these globules are studded with amoeba-like organisms, each having a cilium, or appendage resembling an eyelash, which is constantly vibrating, and so establishing a current in a direction downward into canals which open into great, funnel-like, or crater-like orifices. These great orifices are the exhalant apertures, the pores inhalant apertures. The food and oxygen in the stream of water is appropriated by the sponge-organisms individually as it flows by.

When placed under the microscope, the living sponge is a wonderful sight. Dr. R. E. Grant, who was the first to witness it, having put a small branch of living sponge, with some sea-water, into a watch-glass, saw a "living fountain vomiting forth from a circular . cavity an impetuous torrent of liquid matter, and hurling along, in rapid succession, opaque masses, which it strewed everywhere around." Here is a circulation of water answering the same purpose as that of blood in other animals. The sponge takes in food and oxygen through its minute pores, and voids the waste matter through the oscula, or larger orifices. In the Spongia fluviatilis, or fresh - water sponge, the pores are not permanent, but they appear and disappear without leaving a trace behind, as in the case of the amœbæ.

The spiculæ of the siliceous sponges assume sundry shapes, being sometimes straight, like needles; again headed and pointed like pins, or furnished with grapnel-like hooks at their ends, etc. Perhaps the most curious of all the sponges is the "glass-rope" (Hyalonema), which has the appearance of a rope of twisted glass fibres, with a fibrous sponge attached to one end. Another very interesting form of sponge is the Eupledella speciosa, or Venus's flower-basket, which grows in the shape of a cornucopia, and is composed of fine glossy threads of silica.

The best sponges for toilet use come from the Ægean, and are found in about eight fathoms of water. They are gathered by divers. A coarse quality of sponge is found on the coasts of Florida and the West Indies. These are gathered with long-hafted forks. To remove the sarcode, the sponge is buried for some days in the sand, until the animal matter rots, and then the horny keratose is soaked and washed.

 

Jute-Paper.—One day's issue of the Dundee (Scotland) Advertiser was recently printed on paper made of jute. The material is said to be of good, firm quality, though thin and transparent, and of a yellowish tinge. The chief objection hitherto urged against jute-paper is its dark color; and, if, as appears probable, this can be obviated, there is no doubt that jute-paper will quickly supersede that made from rags, except for the best qualities. The jute employed in this instance is old bagging, which commands but a low price. As an encouragement to inventors, the proprietors of the Advertiser offer a premium of £50 for the best ream of paper made entirely from jute, of the size and weight of the paper on which the journal is usually printed, the maker undertaking to supply 50 tons at a price not exceeding 4½d. per lb.; and a premium of £100 for the best ream of paper made entirely from jute, in size and weight as above, the maker supplying 100 tons at 4d. per lb. Old jute bagging may be bought in any quantity, in Dundee, at £9 10s. per ton.

 

Facts for Spencer.—Some striking illustrations of governmental negligence are given in the Lancet, in an article on "Army Medical Services." The writer states that in the armies of the first French Empire there was one surgeon to each 130 men. The French troops sent to Algeria in 1830 had only six surgeons to each 1,000 men. In the Crimean War the proportion was less than one (0.72) per 1,000. Throughout the war, the average number of patients under the care of each surgeon was 300. In the Italian War affairs were about as bad—less than one surgeon per 1,000 men. After Magenta, each surgeon had 175 wounded men, and after Solferino 500 under his charge. If he devoted 2½ minutes to each case, every moment of 24 hours would be taken up. The writer refers in terms of commendation to the medical and sanitary service of the United States during the late War of Secession. During the war between Austria and Prussia, 26,000 wounded of both armies were left, after the battle of Königgratz, totally without medical assistance, and unsupplied with food or water. The French army in the late war with Prussia had only two medical officers per 1,000 men, but 4½ veterinary surgeons per 1,000 horses!

 

A Singular Race.—A French traveller, M. Duveyrier, describes, in "Ocean Highways," a curious race, the Imôhagh (called in our maps Tauricks or Tuâregs), who dwell in the heart of the Sahara. They are pure Berbers, with white skin, but their uncleanly habits give them the appearance of blacks. The men alone wear a thick black veil over the face, while the women dispense with that covering. A man would consider himself dishonored were he to expose his face, and he takes precaution against any involuntary breach of decorum, by wearing his veil at all times, whether sleeping, walking, fighting, riding, and even speaking to his father. As a general rule, the Imôhagh despise fire-arms, as fit only for cowards, " but they fear them extremely" remarks M. Duveyrier.

They treat their women with great respect. No Imohagh woman would consent to her husband indulging in plurality of wives; and, what is perhaps more singular still, the women alone know any thing of the art of writing. In political affairs the weaker sex exercise a powerful influence; and, when a chief dies, the supreme authority descends to the eldest son of his eldest sister.

 

Reproduction of Eyes in Crawfish.—That the crawfish has the power of reproducing an eye which it may happen to lose is a fact quite familiar to naturalists, but we are indebted to M. S. Chantran, of the French Academy of Sciences, for the discovery that this power of reproduction varies according to the animal's age. In a recent number of the Comptes Rendus, M. Chantran gives the results of his observations on this subject, from which it appears that a crawfish one year old quickly and effectually repairs such injuries, while in animals two or more years old reproduction is uncertain in its operation, and never perfect. His first experiment was with a number of one-year-old animals. In October, 1871, after the close of their moulting season, he clipped off their eyes. Moulting commenced in May of the year following, and in September, after four months, the eyes were perfectly reproduced.

The next experiment was with animals two years old. These he deprived of their eyes, either immediately before moulting set in, or in the interval between two moults. The results in these cases were various. In some of the animals, after three or four months, the eyes were reproduced, but then the pupils were so disfigured as to leave it doubtful whether they could serve for the purpose of vision; in others, one pupil was considerably smaller than the other.

Finally, in the case of full-grown animals, which moult less frequently—the females but once a year, and the males twice—the author's results did not show any production of the eye, but only the growth of buds marked with a black point, and, in one case, of opaque bifid buds in place of eyes. The author promises at an early day to communicate to the Academy his observations on certain concretions formed in the stomach of the crawfish, and called crab's eyes in old pharmacopœias.

 

The Amarantus Blitum.—M. Boutin's observations on the Amarantus blitum, briefly alluded to in a late number of the Monthly, are so important as to call for a fuller statement. The amarantus belongs to the order Amaranlaceœ, which contains nearly 300 known species. Some of these are familiar annuals in flower-gardens. The Amarantus blitum is a weed growing abundantly in many parts of Europe, and has never hitherto been supposed to possess any properties of economical value. Boutin's attention was first called to this plant on seeing it employed in scouring brass utensils. He supposed that it must contain some free acid or some acid salt. He found with surprise that it was completely neutral, and contained only nitrate of potash (saltpetre). To determine the proportion in which this salt enters into the constitution of the amarantus, he reduced to ashes 100 grammes (between 3 and 4 ounces) of the dried plant. The 16 grammes of ashes were treated with warm distilled water, and the whole then thrown into a filter. Having washed well the insoluble portion which remained in the filter, the author evaporated the filtered liquid, and so obtained a residue of carbonate of potash, 8 grammes. This weight of the carbonate is the equivalent of 11.68 grammes of the nitrate of potash, or saltpetre. The insoluble portion remaining in the filter would, on desiccation, give a weight equal to that of the carbonate obtained, or 8 grammes, to make up the original 16 grammes of ash. This insoluble portion consisted of lime, oxides of iron, alumina, and silica, with a small amount of phosphate of potash.

The author remarks upon the importance of this plant as a manure. It is superior to guano. And, if from any cause the supply of nitre for the manufacture of gunpowder were cut off, this plant could readily furnish it in any quantity. The question now arises, whence does the amarantus directly derive its nitrogen—from the soil or from the atmosphere? In the spring of 1872 the author had a plot of ground broken up with the spade, to a depth of about 8 inches, and kept free from all vegetal growth during the entire summer. This ground was in a condition to receive all the nitric acid and ammonia produced in the atmosphere by electricity. Yet, on a very careful analysis, no appreciable quantity of the nitrate could be found. On the other hand, the amarantus growing in the immediate vicinity yielded the usual amount—10 to 12 per cent, of the dried plant. Hence the author concludes that plants derive their nitrogen directly from the atmosphere.

 

Discovery of Ancient Egyptian Mines.—Some of the iron-mines anciently worked by the Egyptians have recently been discovered anew by English explorers, and search is to be instituted for other ancient mines of silver, gold, and iron. As the processes followed in ancient times for the reduction of ores were very defective, it is expected that, in the debris accumulated in the neighborhood of the mines, an amount of the useful and precious metals will be found sufficient to make the working it over again profitable. At a recent meeting of the British Society of Antiquaries, mention was made of the discovery, in the neighborhood of Mount Sinai, of the turquoise-mines of the ancient Egyptians. The discoverer, an Englishman, whose name is not given, observed in the water-courses of that region, which in summer are dry, peculiar blue stones which he soon ascertained to be turquoises. This circumstance led to further research. We are now informed that, "aided by the friendly tribes he has taken into his pay, he has discovered the old turquoise-mines of the ancient Egyptians, the rocks that they worked for the stones, the very tools they used, and their polishing and grinding places." The fortunate discoverer has already sent to England some of the finest turquoises ever seen.

While searching for the turquoise-mines, this same explorer discovered the ancient lines of fortification surrounding the works, and came upon the remains of vast ironworks, which must have employed many thousands of hands. Slag taken from the refuse-heaps around these works contains as much as 53 per cent, of iron. The whole surrounding district is well worthy of being thoroughly explored by the antiquary, as it contains many hieroglyphic inscriptions which would doubtless throw much light upon the early history of metallurgy.

 

The Sack-Tree.—A notable tree is the Antiaris saccidora, or sack-tree, of Western India, the inner bark of which forms a very good material for sacking, and also for cordage. It often attains a height of 100 feet, with a diameter of six. The native method of making sacks of this material is very simple. Usually a tree about one foot in diameter is chosen, and from this a section of the length desired for the sack is cut. This log is steeped for some time in water, in order to soften the bark, and is then beaten all round with clubs. In this way the outer bark is removed, and the inner detached from the wood and rendered soft and pliable. Next it is folded over on itself at one end, after the manner of skinning a squirrel, and so turned inside out. All that is now required to complete the sack is, that one of the ends be sewed up, which is readily done. But a sack may be made without stitch or seam. This is done by arresting the process of skinning some two or three inches above the farther end of the log, and then sawing off the latter at that point. The sack has then a solid wooden bottom.

These sacks are extensively used in Western India and Ceylon, and serve their purpose very well. The same material is sometimes employed in the manufacture of clothing, and for paper-making. To prepare it for the former purpose, the bark is stripped off in pieces, which are then thoroughly soaked and beaten out till the texture becomes white and rough like fur. It is then cut according to the required shapes, and stitched together.

 

Substitute for Quinine.—The employment of carbazotate of ammonia (ammonia combined with carbazotic, picric, or trinitrophenic acid) has been suggested as a substitute for sulphate of quinine, and Dr. Beaumetz, of the Société Thérapeutique de Paris, gives the following as the result of his employment of this salt: Case 1, quotidian ague. Daily dose one to two centigrammes in pills. Recovery in 4 days. Case 2, quotidian ague. Complete recovery in 5 days—five pills used. Here sulphate of quinine had been used without effect. Case 3, tertian. Recovery after 8 days—two pills a day. Case 4, quotidian. Recovery after 8 days. Case 5, facial neuralgia. Speedy recovery. Case 6, tertian, recovery in 2 days. Dose about one grain (6 centigrammes). Sulphate of quinine had been given for 17 days, without effect. Dr. Beaumetz hence draws these conclusions: the carbazotate is very efficacious in intermittent fever, and the paroxysms may be suppressed by the use of 2 to 4 centigrammes (⅓ to ⅔ grain) daily. In these doses the drug appears to be innocuous. Its physiological action resembles that of sulphate of quinine.