Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/266

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254
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
 

Do Plants absorb Diatoms?—Prof. John Phin, in the American Journal of Microscopy, criticises the results of Wilson's microscopic examination of wheat-straw grown on land which had been treated with infusorial earth. The substance of Prof. Wilson's paper we gave in the September number of the Monthly. Prof. Phin reproduces Wilson's engraved representation of the diatom forms said to have been found in the remains of the straw after treatment with nitric acid, and says: "A single glance at the engraving is sufficient to convince any microscopist that Prof. P. B. Wilson never

PSM V10 D266 Engraved representation of diatoms.png

saw 'upon the field of his microscope,' under the circumstances which he has described, the objects which he has delineated.... Bearing in mind that these organisms, as figured, have been obtained by destroying the organic matter with nitric acid, we find Bacillaria figured as it exists only in the living condition—the frustules being joined together in the peculiar way which has given to this form the specific name paradoxa. For this diatom to have passed through a bath of nitric acid, and come out in the condition figured, would have been almost as great a miracle as the passing of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, unscathed through the fiery furnace of Nebuchadnezzar. So, too, we find a calcareous foraminifer figured under the same circumstances. After such instances, the numerous minor features which are utterly irreconcilable with facts may be safely passed over."

 

Another Way of securing the Chestnuts.—The following narrative is taken from the Chronique de la Societé d'Acclimation; we give it for what it is worth: "A Frenchman, fifteen years resident in the Transvaal Republic, where he has established a number of plantations, recounts to us the following fact, which no naturalist has as yet reported: The coffee-plantations are much exposed to the ravages of the great cynocephalous monkeys. Among the coffee-plants there grows a shrub, the scientific name of which I have not been able to ascertain, which has its fruit growing very near the trunk. Some wasps, of a kind whose sting is very painful, had chosen several of these bushes for attaching to them their eggs, and the cynocephali were often seen eying the fruit very eagerly, but they dared not touch them for fear of the wasps. One morning, the planter heard terrible cries, and with the aid of a good opera-glass was enabled to witness an interesting spectacle. A fat old monkey, the leader of the troop, would take hold of the young ones, and pitch them repeatedly into the middle of the bush, despite their cries and groans. The shock brought down the wasps' nests, and the irate insects attacked the victims; meanwhile the old rogue quietly ate the fruit, throwing down the remnants of the meal to the females and young ones on the ground."

 

Taking Impressions of Plants.—M. Bertot, of the Paris Academy of Sciences, offers a simple method of* taking impressions of plants. A sheet of paper is first lightly oiled on one side, then folded in four, so that the oil may filter through the pores, and the plant may not come into direct contact with the liquid. The plant is placed between the leaves of the second folding, and in this position pressed (through other paper) all over with the hand, so as to make a small quantity of oil adhere to its surface. Then it is taken out and placed carefully on white paper; another sheet is placed above, as two impressions can be taken at once, and the plant is pressed as before. On now removing it, an invisible image remains on the paper. Over this you sprinkle powdered black-lead, which causes the image to appear. With an assortment of colors, the natural colors of plants may be reproduced. To obtain fixity, resin is mixed with the black-lead in small quantity; the impression is fixed when it is exposed to a heat sufficient to melt the resin.

 

Ancient Weapons.—Among the Michigan exhibits of ancient stone and copper implements at the Philadelphia Exposition is a weapon fashioned after the model of the "patu-patu" of New Zealand. It is described by Dr. C. C. Abbott, in the American Naturalist. The patu-patu of New Zealand is, according to Tylor, quoted by Dr. Abbott, "an edged club of bone or