Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/263

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251
MISCELLANY.

phenomena, of which they knew so little—namely, that the fringe of the seaboard of the great continents and islands, from the depth of a few hundred feet below the sea-level, was, as a rule, abruptly precipitous to depths of 10,000 and 12,000 feet. This grand escarpment was typically illustrated at the entrance of the British Channel, where the distance between a depth of 600 feet and 12,000 feet was in places only ten miles. Imagination could scarcely realize the stupendous marginal features of this common surface depression.

 

Purification and Deodorization of Petroleum Products.—Mr. S. E. Johnson, of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, England, has discovered a method of treating petroleum and other mineral oils, by which those useful hydrocarbon liquids are not only purified, but also deodorized; and that in a simple and inexpensive manner. Chloride of lime is first introduced into the cask or other receptacle containing mineral oil or spirit, in the proportion of about three ounces of chloride, more or less, to each gallon of the liquid, according to the degree of its impurity, and thus chlorine-gas is evolved in the oil or spirit. If necessary, the evolution of the gas may be assisted by pouring in hydrochloric acid, agitating the contents of the receptacle so as to bring the whole of the liquid into intimate contact with the chlorine-gas. The oil or spirit is then passed into another inclosed vessel containing slaked lime, which, having an affinity for the chlorine, absorbs the same, leaving the liquid sufficiently deodorized and purified.

 

Physiological Effects of Coca.—A correspondent of the Lancet, a physician, states that the use of the tincture of coca, in a two-ounce dose, corrected the "unruly throbbing" of his heart, which had been wont to interfere with his accuracy of aim in fowling. This writer had previously taken the tincture in doses of one-half ounce and one ounce without perceptible effect; but, having on the third day increased the dose to two ounces, his composure was perfect at the critical moment. "As soon as the dogs pointed," he writes, "I expected the usual inward commotion, with its usual results; but, to my surprise, nothing of the kind happened. 'Eureka!' I said to myself; 'the coca has made me a steady shot.' So in fact it subsequently proved. Judged by the effects described," he continues, "coca would seem to be inhibitory as regards the action of the heart. Whether this result is produced by indirect action through the mental functions upon which the drug is said to act remains to be proved." Another correspondent of the same journal, not a physician, states that while traveling in Bolivia at great altitudes, such as from 13,000 to 14,000 feet above the sea-level, he experienced marked benefit from eating the leaves. Nearly all travelers on the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes use the drug as a remedy for that effect on the brain and lungs, produced by rarefied air, which in South America is called zorroche. One use to which it is put by the Indians is that of a "pick-me-up" after a debauch on alcoholic fluids. In Bolivia it is generally eaten with a paste made of wood-ashes and potato. The writer propounds the belief that the leaf loses its virtue in transmission. This is quite possible. It is an undoubted fact that the Cannabis Indica, for instance, loses its potency in crossing the sea. It would seem desirable that a certain quantity of the coca-leaves should if possible be packed in an air-tight case. The price of coca at La Paz, where the best is procured, was last year sixteen dollars per packet of twenty-five pounds.

 

The American Forestry Association.—The American Forestry Association held its first meeting at Philadelphia in September. Addresses were delivered by Dr. Franklin B. Hough, of Lowville, New York, Mr. McAfee, and Mr. Meehan. Dr. Hough gave an account of the efforts made by various European governments to preserve forests and to promote timber-culture, and showed that the Constitution of the United States, and those of most of the States, give the right to interfere for the preservation of our forests. Mr. McAfee reported on the condition of forest-culture in the West, showing how the planting of trees had been going on to an immense extent, and that it was found that the old notions about the slowness of timber growth had been derived from the hard struggle with Nature that wild timber had