Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/264

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252
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

to ten of the nutritive matters of milk—a proportion of added preservative material which contrasts very favorably with the 25 to 28 per cent, of sugar found in ordinary condensed milk. If the one pound of gelatine required could be at once dissolved in the whole eight or ten gallons of milk, the process would be simplified and cheapened; but gelatinization could not then be secured, for it is the gradual drying up of the slabs of jelly, with which the animal and vegetable food materials have been uniformly incorporated, that envelops every particle of changeable substance with an adequate protective coating of gelatine.

 

Notes on Afghanistan.—Afghanistan is happily described by a writer in the Geographical Magazine as a star of valleys radiating from the stupendous peaks of the Koh-i-Baba, and bounded all round by very rugged and difficult mountains. These valleys are traversed by streams which flow in various directions, the most important of them being the Cabool and its tributary the Kunar, the Argandab, the Helmund, the Harirud, and the Murghab. The appalling grandeur of some of the defiles north of the Hindoo-Koosh—a name applied to the whole line of Alpine water-shed stretching southwest from the southern end of Pamir—is not surpassed anywhere, while many of the sheltered glens on the southern slopes of that range are the delight of travelers. The general elevation of the country, which is considerable, diminishes toward the frontiers, and as its face becomes lower the rivers are absorbed by irrigation or lost by evaporation, and a belt of very barren, desert-like land is thus formed, bounding Afghanistan on all sides except the northeast corner. The spurs of the Hindoo-Koosh run out on both sides into the basins of the Oxus and the Cabool. Its peaks in all probability rise throughout to the region of perpetual snow, and the loftiest attain 20,000 feet in height, or over. This mighty range is pierced by upward of twenty passes, all leading from the basin of the Oxus to that of the Cabool. The climate is very diversified, but this is due to difference of elevation rather than of latitude. At Ghazin (7,730 feet) the winters are very severe, and here, as well as in the Hazarajat, the people stay in their houses during the cold season. The summer heat is everywhere very great, except in the most elevated parts of the Hindoo-Koosh and other lofty mountains. A deadly hot wind blows over the southwestern portion of the country, which is a sandy and almost uninhabited desert. For nine months the sun shines with the greatest possible splendor in Afghanistan, and the nights are even more beautiful than the days. The geology of the country is but little known. Antimony, iron, and lead, are found in the Ghorband Valley, and quarries of white marble in the hills near Maidan. Copper is found in various localities, but the deposits are unworked. Lead is obtained from the Hazara country; sulphur from Pir-Kisri, on the eastern confines of Seistan; and zinc and nitre from the Zhob Valley and Herat respectively. The main wealth of Afghanistan consists in the domestic animals—the horse, camel, cow, etc. The population is estimated at a little below 5,000,000. Wheat is the staple food; rice is largely grown; other agricultural products are turnips, ginger, turmeric, sugarcane, castor-oil plant, madder, asafœtida, tobacco, and fruits.

 

Japanese Fermented Liquors.—Some time ago Prof. De Bary, of Strasburg, discovered that alcoholic fermentation can be effected by the growth of a species of Mucor. Singularly enough, as we learn from a communication in Nature, by Prof. R. W. Atkinson, of the University of Tokio, this agency for bringing about alcoholic fermentation has long been known in Japan breweries, where it is employed in preparing from rice the alcoholic liquid called saké. In the breweries at Hachiôji the main room is usually one hundred and twenty by fifty feet, and twenty-five or thirty feet high; along the middle of it is a platform about twelve feet from the ground; on this are ranged wooden tubs, which serve for the preparation of the ferment, an operation repeated several times during the brewing-season. At the close of the previous season a quantity of green mould is produced on rice by exposing steamed rice mixed with ashes, and over which the spores of this fungus have been scattered in a well-closed chamber—the "fungus-chamber"—a small room