Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 30.djvu/595

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greatest delight was to see the baby bathed. The child becoming sick, the parrot was sent to the kitchen. There, after a time, he set up a terrible cry, "The baby, the dear baby!" All the family rushed down, to find the parrot, in the wildest excitement, watching the roasting of a sucking-pig. A parrot, which was a slow learner, was taught till it could repeat verses, when, if it made a mistake, it would say angrily, "You are no good"; but, if it went on without error, it praised itself. There is considerable difference in the capability of parrots to learn, and in the way they learn. One is taught with difficulty, but remembers. Another picks up everything that is going on, and remembers nothing for more than a few days. Some few learn easily and also remember well. There are parrots which have a better ear for music than for words, and some which will whistle and sing, and not speak. Moreover, the best acclimatized parrot is easily upset by a change of food or attendance, but especially of surroundings.



A specimen of the vibikari, or sacred snake of Japan, in Dr. Stradling's collection at Watford, England, recently gave birth to between sixty and seventy young ones. Some fifty living and still-born snakelets were collected, and it was believed that at least a dozen more had been destroyed by other snakes in the cage. At ten days old the young ones had cast their skins, and were beginning to eat earth-worms and small slugs. These snakes well illustrate the curious provision of a temporary, long, chisel-like front tooth with which baby-snakes are enabled to cut their way through the soft, membranous envelope of the egg. They showed fight as soon as they were born, and were always ready to snap at an intrusive finger. This is the first time this species has bred in Europe.

Sir Emerson Tennent long ago called attention to the power of the cocoanut-palm to conduct lightning, and the subject is again called up by a Ceylon paper. Five hundred of these trees were struck on a single plantation during a succession of thunder-storms in April, 1869. But the trees suffer terribly from the effects, for, however slightly they may be touched, they are sure to die. Even if only the edges of the leaves are singed, or only a few of them are turned brown, the tree will in the end wither gradually and perish.

Dr. J. Stuart Nairne, of the Glasgow Samaritan Hospital for Women, has recorded several instances in his practice in which the use of fish, boiled or fried, as food, by patients, even when considerably advanced in convalescence, was followed by evil consequences; and he had begun to believe that, under any circumstances of debility, fish was a very dangerous diet, and forbade its use. Further observation taught him that the fault was not in the fish itself, but in the method of cooking it; and that when steamed, instead of being boiled or fried, it was much more easily digestible and perfectly harmless.

Mr. J. Sturgeon explained to the British Association a scheme for the introduction of compressed air-power into Birmingham. He showed that although each 1,000 horse-power at the central station may only produce 500 effective horse-power at the user's engines, it will displace fully 1,000 horse-power of small boiler-plants, furnaces, chimneys, etc., and the same engines can be used with compressed air as with steam. The centralization principle permits the use of engines and boilers of large power, with all the modem improvements. At the pressure proposed (forty-five pounds) the air-driven engines will indicate from thirty to sixty-five per cent of the power developed at the main engines, according to the mode of using the compressed air.

The Rumford Medal of the Royal Society has been awarded to Professor Samuel P. Langley for his researches on the spectrum by means of the bolometer.

Summing up the points of an address on "What constitutes Malignancy in Cancer?" Dr. Herbert Snow, of the cancer Hospital, London, expresses the conclusion that the phenomena designated by that term "result from conditions which irritate normal protoplasm, cause it to proliferate abnormally, and to assume a quasi-independent parasitic vitality. These conditions may be mechanical; in a much larger proportion of cases they are neurotic. That is the farthest point we have yet reached; nor do I see how our knowledge of cancer can make much advance until we know far more than at present about the ultimate properties of protoplasm, and the manner in which this is influenced by states of the nervous system."

It is reported that the state management of railways has proved a practical failure in all those countries where private lines have been allowed to compete with it. Instead of the government regulating the private railroads, as it was expected to do, it is regulated by them, and has had to adjust its terms to meet those which they imposed. In Belgium, the Government rail-