Popular Science Monthly/Volume 42/March 1893/Popular Miscellany

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Popular Science Monthly Volume 42 March 1893  (1893) 
Popular Miscellany
 

POPULAR MISCELLANY.

Extent of the Great World's Fairs. — In his paper before the British Society of Arts, on the coming Chicago Exhibition, Mr. James Dredge, of the Royal British Commission, presented a summary of previous World's Fairs and their results. The first great World's Fair was held in Hyde Park, London, in 1851, in a single building, 1,851 feet long and 450 feet wide. It accommodated not quite 14,000 exhibitors, half of whom came from the colonies, and closed with a net profit of $750,000. The first World's Fair in the United States was held in New York in 1853, accommodated 4,100 exhibitors within an area of 263,000 square feet, and lost $300,000. The first Paris Exhibition, in 1855, covered 1,886,000 square feet, had nearly 24,000 exhibitors, 144 of whom were from the United States, and was visited by 5,162,000 persons. Smaller exhibitions were held in Melbourne in 1854, Turin in 1856, Brussels in 1857, Lausanne in 1858, and Hanover in 1859. The second International Exhibition in London was held in 1862, covered 17 acres, was visited by 6,210,000 persons, and lost $2,001,500. The second Great Exhibition in Paris, in 1868, covered 11 acres besides many annexes, and had 52,200 exhibitors and 10,200,000 visitors. The Great Exhibition at Vienna in 1873 failed on account of the cholera. The Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876 occupied 285 acres; was participated in by 32 foreign nations, while the United States furnished 30,864 exhibitors, Great Britain and its colonies 3,584, and Spain 3,822; and was visited by 9,911,000 persons. The Paris Exhibition of 1878 covered 54 acres, with annexes and special buildings; had 52,835 exhibitors, of whom 1,203 were American; was attended by more than 16,000,000 visitors; and lost $S,580,000. The Paris Exhibition of 1889 exceeded all these, and had 30,000,000 visitors. The Chicago Exhibition will occupy 666 acres, of which more than 200 acres will be crowded with buildings. The total expense of it will be between $8,000,000 and $10,000,000.

 

New Studies for Grammar Schools.—The Association of Officers of Colleges in New England, at its meeting held at Williams College in November, 1892, recommended for gradual adoption in the programme of New England grammar schools the introduction of elementary natural history in the earlier years as a substantial subject, to be taught by demonstrations and practical exercises rather than from books the introduction of elementary physics into the later years, to be taught by the experimental or laboratory method, and to include exact weighing and measuring by the pupils themselves; the introduction of elementary algebra at an age not later than twelve years; the introduction of elementary plane geometry at an age not later than thirteen years; the offering of opportunity to study French, or German, or Latin, or any two of these languages, from and after the age of ten years; the increase of attention in all class-room exercises in every study to the correct and facile use of the English language. In order to make room in the programme for these new subjects, the association recommends that the time allotted to arithmetic, geography, and English grammar be reduced to whatever extent may be necessary.

 

Rocks and Waters of Arkansas.—Arkansas, says Prof. Branner, in his report on the mineral waters of that Commonwealth, is a well-watered State. Besides the springs of which analyses are given in the report, hundreds of beautiful, free-flowing springs of excellent water gush from hillsides and valleys in all parts of the State. In the limestone region north of the Boston Mountains such springs are especially abundant, large, and beautiful. They are not mineral waters, properly speaking, but they are more valuable than if they were. Some of these springs are so big that they are utilized for driving mills, cotton gins, and other machinery, and, as their discharges are subject to little or no fluctuations throughout the year, they are free from the dangers of freshets and the risks of droughts. Besides these truly gigantic springs, no one who travels through north Arkansas can fail to be impressed by the great number of large and beautiful springs to be found at every town and village, to say nothing of those at almost every farmhouse. Many springs are remarkable for the purity of their waters. The waters of the Hot Springs claim the place of first importance in any consideration of the medicinally valuable waters of the State. It is the custom to speak of a large number of the hot springs, variously estimated at from fifty to seventy; but, while hot water does issue from the ground at as many or more points, it is hardly worth while to dignify each of these trickling streams with the name spring. Much curiosity is naturally manifested on the part of visitors to hot springs regarding the cause of the high temperature of the waters. In the Yellowstone National Park, where hot waters abound, the activity of igneous agencies offers a ready answer to such questions; but in Arkansas, where nearly all the rocks to be seen are of sedimentary origin, there is no evidence of recent volcanic activity. Some of the theories advanced are interesting only as curiosities, and are not mentioned by the author as having any other value. For example, it has been suggested that the heat comes from coal burning beneath the surface of the ground. It is perhaps enough to say that the coal measures to which coal is confined in Arkansas lie far to the north of Hot Springs, and that the hot waters come up through Silurian rocks which contain no coal. Of the theory that heat may be produced by chemical action, it may be said that the water itself gives no evidence of its having received its heat in this way, its chief foreign constituent being carbonate of lime. So far as the geology of the region is concerned, if there were no hot water in the vicinity none would have been anticipated on geologic grounds alone. Notwithstanding a writer at the beginning of the century mentioned having seen a volcanic outburst and streams of molten rock near Hot Springs, there is no evidence of such recent eruptive action, which could not have taken place without leaving readily recognizable traces. There are, however, eruptive rocks near Hot Springs, although they certainly were not thrown up during the last hundred years; and it is probable that the heat of the water is derived from its having come in contact with hot rocks, the cool edges of which may or may not be exposed at the surface.

 

Ancient Outlet of the Great Lakes.—Among the latest geological observations of Prof. G. F. Wright is the discovery of a former outlet of the Great Lakes through Lake Nipissing and the Mattawa River to the Ottawa. It has long been recognized that an elevation of less than fifty feet at Niagara or a depression of an equal amount at Chicago would cause the lake waters to flow into the Mississippi instead of the St. Lawrence. Recent railroad surveys have further shown that a subsidence amounting to only a trifle more than a hundred feet would turn the current from Lake Huron through Lake Nipissing and the course already mentioned. Prof. Wright has discovered evidence that this condition at one time prevailed. Lake Nipissing is scarcely seventy feet above Lake Huron, and empties into it through French River. The western extremity of Trout Lake, the source of the Mattawa, is less than three miles from North Bay on Lake Nipissing, and is separated by a wide, swampy channel which is only about twenty-five feet above the level of either lake. It is large enough to conduct the waters of the Great Lakes over into the present water-shed of the Ottawa when called upon to do so. "On looking for more positive evidence, we find it in a clearly defined shore-line of well-rounded pebbles extending upon the north side of the channel from one lake to the other, and at a uniform height of about fifty feet above the connecting channel. This shoreline is as well defined as that on the banks of the Niagara River, just west of the present cataract. Such a deposit could not have been formed along this connecting depression except by a stream of vast size passing from Lake Nipissing into the Mattawa. It is, however, on going down to the junction of this outlet with the Ottawa that the most positive and striking evidence is seen. For ten miles above the junction signs of the old river terraces are more or less visible high above the present stream; but at the junction there is an accumulation of river deposits, unparalleled, probably, by anything else in the world. The lower angle of the junction between the two streams is filled to a height of eighty feet or more above the present water level with a bowlder-bed about half a mile in width, and extending up the Mattawa for nearly a mile, where it shades off into finer material. On the upper angle the Mattawa is bordered by a terrace equally high, but consisting for the most part of fine gravel." The accumulation is clearly a terrace and not a simple glacial moraine; and that it is a delta brought down by the Mattawa and not by the Ottawa is shown by the fact that it has dammed the latter stream, producing in it deep water above and rapids below, according to the well-known law of river bars.

 

Traveling and Camping in Egypt.—Dr. Frederick Peterson, of this city, recommends winter camping in Egypt as a hygienic measure. He finds it something luxurious, and says: "I have camped out on shooting expeditions in Nebraska, Dakota, and other Western places, and endured hardships that I should not care to experience again. But in Egypt, where labor and carrying cost next to nothing, where everything in the way of furniture and supplies can be stored away somewhere on a camel; where every day can be foreseen to be rainless and beautiful, life in tents becomes a pleasure. It is always well to have some objective point in view to reach, and among the pleasantest desert trips with tents and camels are those to the Sinaitic Peninsula, to the Natroon Lakes, to the Fayûm, and to several other oases to the west of the Nile. Probably the warmest and driest for an invalid would be that from Assiût, Girgeh, or Esneh to the Great Oasis. But one may camp on the edge of the desert, traveling southward along the Nile, in that way having the advantage of more interesting surroundings; for some people might find the desert monotonous." On a trip to Wadi Natroon, where they spent ten days, "we were a party of three, and had eight camels with their drivers, a drag-oman (interpreter), desert guide, cook, hunter guide, and a boy; two tents, three folding bedsteads with mattresses, two folding tables, chairs, rugs, cook-stove, fuel, water, rifles and shot-guns, and provisions for all the party, camels included. Camel-riding becomes easy after a time. One can assume almost any position, even lying down and going to sleep, and one can read with ease. Ladies are not at all debarred from taking such trips. Everything necessary can be procured in Cairo, and the expense should not be over five or seven dollars per day for each traveler."

 

The River from the Lucie Glacier.—The most novel and interesting feature in the Lucie Glacier, Alaska, as described by Mr. Israel C. Russell, is a glacial river which bursts from beneath a high archway of ice and flows for about a mile and a half through a channel excavated in the ice, then to enter the mouth of another tunnel and become lost to view. The stream is swift, and its waters are brown and heavy with sediment. Its breadth is about one hundred and fifty feet. For the greater part of its way, where open to sunlight, it flows between banks of ice and over an icy floor. Fragments of its banks and portions of the sides and roof of the tunnel from which it emerges are swept away by the swift current or stranded here and there in midstream. The archway under which the stream disappears is about fifty feet high, and the tunnel retains its dimensions as far as one can see by looking in at its mouth. Where the stream emerges is unknown; but the emergence could no doubt be discovered by examining the border of the glacier some miles southward. No explorer has yet been bold enough to enter the tunnel and drift through with the stream, though possibly this could be done without great danger. The greatest risk in such an undertaking would be from falling blocks of ice. While the author was standing near the mouth of the tunnel there came a roar from the dark cavern within, reverberating like the explosion of a heavy blast in the chambers of a mine, that he did not doubt marked the fall of an ice mass from the arched roof. At the mouth of the tunnel there are always confused noises and rhythmic vibrations to be heard in the dark recesses within. The air is filled with pulsations like deep organ notes. It takes but little imagination to transform these strange sounds into the voices and songs of the mythical inhabitants of the nether regions.

 

Nansen's Plan for reaching the Pole.—The main principle of Dr. Fridtjof Nansen's plan for reaching the north pole, as it was described by him recently at a meeting of the Royal Geographical Society, is that of working with the forces of Nature rather than against them. In this view the shortest and most certain route to the pole is probably to be found in the ocean current running north from Siberia and south by Greenland. The existence of such a current seems to be proved by the floating of relics of the Jeannette from where she sank in the waters north of Siberia apparently across the polar sea to the vicinity of the southwest coast of Greenland, and by the frequent appearance of Siberian objects in Greenland waters. Dr. Nansen's ship has been built with especial reference to its resisting the pressure of the ice. It is as small as possible consistently with its carrying the coal and stores that will have to be taken along. It is shaped, avoiding perpendicular lines and angles, so that in case of an ice crush it can not be nipped, but, with regularly sloping sides, shall permit the ice to glide under it and lift it up. It will be one hundred and twenty-eight feet long over all, with thirty-six feet greatest beam, a draught of twelve feet with light cargo, and a bearing capacity of three hundred and eighty tons of coal and cargo. It will be built almost solid, and will be rigged as a three-masted fore-and-aft schooner. The expedition is expected to start in the spring. It will try to make the farthest possible point north in open water, and, when it can get no farther, will run into the ice at the most favorable spot, and from there trust entirely to the current running across the polar region. The possibility of the ship being, after all, crushed by the ice is provided against by having two boats aboard, with which the men will move with their provisions upon the ice and camp there. Thus the journey would be continued, with the only difference that there would be two small ships standing on the ice instead of the big one lying between the floes. When they emerged into the open sea on this side of the pole there would not be any great difficulty in the boats; such a thing had been done many times before. The chief difficulty would be to get duly into the current north of Siberia; when this was done, they must be carried some where northward. Whether he succeeded or not, the author was convinced that this was the way in which the unknown regions would some day be crossed. Possibly the current would not carry them exactly across the pole, but it could not easily be very far off; and the principal thing was to explore the unknown polar regions, not to reach exactly that mathematical point in which the axis of our globe has its northern termination.

 

Terra Cotta Roofing Tiles.— In his very interesting study of that subject, Prof. Morse mentions it as a noteworthy fact that the earliest type of terra cotta roofing tile ever exhumed still forms the roof covering of the greater mass of mankind to-day. The enduring nature of these objects, he adds, will ultimately enable one to trace the paths followed by tile-making races in their various migrations. The roofing tile has a considerable antiquity, for its appearance in Greece dates back to the earliest dawn of Greek art; and yet before this, in Asia Minor, there was a time when the tile was not, for, though in Schliemann's Ilios many other kinds of pottery were found in great abundance, there was no trace of tiles. It is probable that the roofing tile was introduced into Greece from the East fully developed. The sloping roof must have preceded the roofing tile by many thousands of years; at the outset, bark, straw, thatch, rough stones, and similar substances were used until better devices were made, which finally terminated in the terra cotta roofing tile. The shape of the earliest form of tile—a normal tile, as Prof. Morse calls it—suggests its derivation from the bark thatch. It consists of a wide under piece (tegula) slightly curved, and a narrow semi-cylindrical piece (imbrex), which was placed in an inverted position so as to cover the junction of two adjacent tegulæ. So, in roofing with bark, we would put down two pieces, concave side up, and cover the crack between them with a piece concave side down. A second type of tile is the pan tile or S-tile, which has a double flexure, forming in section a figure like that of the letter S laid upon its side (S-laid.svg). This is an evident adaptation from the normal tile, in which the two elements, imbrex and tegula, are combined in one piece. A third type, the flat tile, or plain tile, has no genetic relation to the other forms, but is simply a shingle in terra cotta. With few exceptions, the normal tile is the only form used in Asia, Asia Minor, Greece, Italy, Sicily, Spain, the countries bordering the southern shores of the Mediterranean, and all the Spanish and Portuguese countries and colonies in both hemispheres. The pan tile, or Belgic tile, prevails in the countries around the North Sea and the Baltic; and the flat tile in France and central Europe, away from the Mediterranean.

 

The Disinclination to meditate.—A suggestive essay is published in the London Spectator on the Dread of Thought, in which, remarking upon the necessity of people having something with which to occupy their minds—a book, for instance—when left to themselves, the writer asks the questions: "Why is it natural for a man to dread being thrown back upon his own thoughts? Why should he find meditation so unnatural, and reading so natural? "The writer believes that the dread of thought (a little too strong a term, for it is really rather a neglect or ignoring of thought) "in a great measure comes from lack of habit. All children pass a good deal of time in thinking, but men, in the press of business and pleasure, forget how to think, and grow to regard reading as the only possible way of passing the time quietly. . . . We venture to think, however, that a very little patience, and a very little practice, would soon make most men give up their dread of thinking, and would make an hour spent without books or talk a pleasure instead of a pain. No doubt this is not true of all men. There are certain persons cursed with a constitutional melancholy so deep that it is impossible for them to think cheerfully. . . . These, however, are the abnormal cases. The ordinary man at ordinary times has no real reason for dreading his thoughts. It is merely want of habit that makes him dislike thinking. Let him make the plunge, and select something definite to think about, and ten to one he will find following a train of thought a very agreeable exercise. Letting the mind veer backward and forward like a weathercock, at the suggestion of this or that external circumstance, is, of course, dull and worrying; but the man who knows how to think does not do that. He thinks, as he reads, with a definite purpose." The writer concludes by observing that "the man who trains his mental powers by meditation and by following out lines of thought, obtains an intellectual instrument a hundred times more powerful than he who is content never to think seriously and consecutively. The things one merely reads about never stick. Those on which one thinks become permanent acquisitions. Hence, the man who is never afraid of thinking, and who does not dread 'that cursed hour in the dark,' is at a distinct advantage on every ground. He passes the time without being bored, and he strengthens his mind. . . . The man who can enjoy and make use of his own thoughts has a heritage which can never be alienated. Even blindness for him loses some of its terrors."

 

The World's Mineral Industries.—The reviews of the mineral industry, published yearly in a statistical supplement of the Engineering and Mining Journal, have been rising every year to increased value and importance. The publishers of the journal have decided to issue those for the last year in a large octavo volume, under the title of the Mineral Industry, its Statistics, Technology, and Trade, both in the United States and Foreign Countries, from the Earliest Times to the Close of 1892. It will treat the substances which are the objects of mining for profit, from scientific, technological, and economical points of view, describing the modes of occurrence of the minerals, their exploitation and preparation for the market, and the statistics of the trade in them.

 

The Material of Folk Lore.—Mr. George Laurence Gomme maintains, in his Ethnology in Folk Lore, that the constituent elements of folk lore—consisting as they do of beliefs, customs, and traditions that are far behind civilization in their intrinsic value to man, though they exist under cover of a civilized nationality—must in general be traceable to the survival of a condition of human thought more backward, and therefore more ancient, than that in which they are discovered, and which may, therefore, conveniently be called with reference to it a condition of uncivilization. It follows that, as an element of uncivilization, existing side by side with civilization, its development must have been arrested at the point where the civilization began. It may have experienced modification, and, indeed, in most cases has been largely modified; but that modification has tended rather to its extinction than to its development upon the lines upon which it was proceeding at the time the arrestment took place. Ascertain the point of arrestment, which may in general be expected to coincide with the appearance on the scene of a race of people to whom the belief or custom or tradition is strange or unknown, and you may reasonably attribute it to the pre-existing people whom they displaced or subdued. When, therefore, savage or rude customs are stated to have existed in Rome or Greece, or the German or Celtic countries of modern Europe, it is not to be assumed, as it has hitherto been, that they are of Roman, Greek, German, or Celtic origin; but it is to be ascertained whether they embody an idea the development of which was arrested by those civilizations, and if so, they must be referred to an antecedent race of relative uncivilization. Mr. Gomme adduces in support of this conclusion the annual ceremonies connected with the worship of the village goddess in southern India. On this sole occasion in the year it is the outcast pariah, the descendant of the aboriginal race, who is the officiating priest. The goddess is generally adored in the form of an unshapen stone. Bloody animal sacrifices are offered, and the heads of the slaughtered creatures are eagerly scrambled for. Women walk naked to the temple in fulfillment of vows, under the shelter of leaves and boughs of trees. If, Mr. Gomme argues, there is a strong line of parallel between these Indian ceremonies, which are demonstrably non-Aryan, and ceremonies formerly and even still observed in Europe, must not such ceremonies have been in their origin non- Aryan in Europe?

 

Buddhistic Carved Figures.—At a recent meeting of the English Anthropological Institute, Major R. C. Temple illustrated a paper on the Developments of Buddhist Symbolism and Architecture as revealed in Cave Explorations, by exhibiting photographs of life-size figures in wood carved by an artist of Maulmain, of the "four sights" shown to Buddha as Prince Siddhartha on his first visits to the outer world—viz., the old man, the sick man, the dead man, and the priest; and some wooden representations from Rangoon, of Buddha in his standing and recumbent postures, with his begging bowl, and seated as King Jambopati, surrounded by priests and other worshipers. He next showed a set of gilt wooden images from the platform of the great Shnedagon pagoda at Rangoon, of various spirits believed in by the Burmese, seated on the steps of a lofty post, on the top of which is always perched the figure of the sacred goose, which apparently protects pagodas in some way. Some large glazed bricks or tiles from Pegu, at least five hundred years old, which formed the ornamentation of the procession paths round a ruined pagoda, represent the march, battle, and flight of a foreign army, depicted with elephants', monkeys', and other animal faces, with some of the figures clad in the Siamese or Cambodian fashion. A huge figure of a recumbent Buddha, of the fifteenth century, is a hundred and eighty-one feet long and forty-six feet high at the shoulder. Its history is lost, and so was the image itself, till it was accidentally discovered in the jungle by a railway contractor in 1881. Views of the Kawgun Cave were shown, exhibiting the wonderful extent of its decoration by a vast number of terra cotta tablets and images in wood, alabaster, and stone, and the extraordinary variety and multitude of objects of Buddhistic worship found in it. This cave is the richest of those which Major Temple visited; but he had examined half a dozen others in the district, and had gathered information of the existence of about forty. Many of these are hardly inferior to Kawgun in richness of Buddhistic remains, and several are said to contain besides ancient manuscripts which must now be of inestimable value. A few such manuscripts have been found.