Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/138

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.



England is the subject of a learned paper, by Prof. Dana, in the American Journal of Science for March. From it we learn that in Northern New England the glaciers were from 5,000 to 6,500 feet in thickness. At the White Mountains the ice-surface was 6,000 feet above the sea-level, and the mass had a depth of nearly a mile. On Central Long Island the surface of the glacier was 2,100 feet above the surface of the sea, and in the Connecticut Valley 3,200 feet. The slope of the ice-surface from the White Mountains southward was about 24 feet to the mile, and about 19 feet to the mile in the Connecticut Valley. The glacier extended beyond the present coast-line, possibly some 90 miles southward of Long Island. Its forward movement is thought to have been one foot in a week, or about 100 miles in 10,000 years. The crushing and erosive power of such an enormous mass of ice may be appreciated when it is known that, if 6,000 feet thick, it would lie upon the earth with a pressure of about 300,000 pounds to each square foot.


A monument is to be erected in Birmingham, England, to the memory of Dr. Joseph Priestley. In his lifetime his heterodoxy disqualified him for a berth in one of Captain Cook's ships, though he would have been a most valuable aid to the commander. The time has at length come when England and America can do honor to the man who "embraced what is called the heterodox side of every question."

Five living sea-fish were recently sent by mail from Naples to London, the journey consuming a little over four days. The fish were each about two inches in length, and were packed in damp sea-weed, from which all but one came out in good condition, and, soon after being placed in their natural element, became as lively as ever.

Prof. Leidy is of opinion that contagion is frequently transferred from one subject to another by the agency of the common house-fly, and his observations in military hospitals have led him to the conclusion that flies should be carefully excluded from wounds, particularly if gangrene is anywhere about.

Weltwitsch tells of a plant, an oxalis, growing in Angola, Africa, which is so sensitive that it closes its leaves on hearing (so to speak) a footfall in its neighborhood.

A dying pauper in Ireland willed his body to a surgeon for dissection. The poor-law guardians are indignant, and demand that the surgeon, who is medical officer to the Board of Charities, resign. The ground on which it is sought to annul the pauper's will is, "undue influence." This is probably the first case in which a pauper's last will and testament is brought into dispute.

Berlin has grown rich by war, but her poor are growing poorer. About half of the population live in dens which have usually two chalk-lines crossing each other on the floor. A room is thus divided into four compartments, one for the sleeping-place, another for the nursery, the third is hired to a lodger, and the fourth is kitchen, living-room, and workshop.

A San Francisco paper says that oysters can be imported into California from Mexico at a cheaper rate than from New York. The coast of Mexico, from Guaymas to Acapulco, abounds in oysters of large size and excellent flavor. They can be put on board the Mexican steamers at Mazatlan, at less than $15 per ton, and the freight thence to San Francisco would not be over $10.

The following is in striking contrast to the "devil-may-care" policy of our laws in regard to the safety of railway passengers: In England it is against the law to attempt to get on or off a railway-train while in motion, and, more than that, the law is enforced. Recently a young man nearly lost his life in the attempt to board a train which was slowly moving out of a station. He was brought up for trial, and fined five shillings with costs. A woman who stepped off a moving train was also convicted, and, having no money, was sent to jail for ten days. Americans, about to travel in England, may save some of their loose change and perhaps their personal liberty, by making note of this.

Prof. Voght records an instance of what may be called self-cannibalism. He cut in two a male cricket, and immediately the fore part, probably experiencing a sensation of emptiness in the ventral region, turned upon the hinder part and devoured it!

A French apothecary has discovered an excellent and very cheap substitute for quinine, in powdered laurel-leaf. The leaves of the laurel (Laurus nobilis) are slowly dried over the fire in a close vessel, and then powdered. One gramme (15½ grains) is a dose, and is taken in a glass of cold water. The drug so taken produces no bad effects, and soon, it is said, breaks up the most obstinate intermittent fevers.