Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/591

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
573
POPULAR MISCELLANY.

short, and two exceeding it, while a vast majority came within a few hundred of it. It was 2,551. Many terminated their guesses with the figure 7; then 3, then 9 came in the order of preference. Odd numbers occurred three fourths of the time; and the number of the year was frequently chosen.

 

Electric Tractive Adhesion.—Mr. Elias E. Ries exhibited, in the American Association, his method of using the electric current for increasing the tractive adhesion of railway-motors and other rolling contacts. The electric conductors are connected with the driving-wheels of the motor-car by means of contact-brushes in such a manner that the rails situated between two pairs of wheels complete the electric circuit. This circuit moves along with the motor-car, which also carries the source of current, and the amount of current flowing through the circuit is directly under the control of the driver. The track-rails in front and rear of the car are at all times free from current which is confined to that part of the track between the driving-wheels. The author claims that the tractive force can be increased by this system nearly two hundred per cent, and the motor can be made capable of propelling itself with ease up a forty-per-cent grade.

 

Origin of Bright's Disease.—The cause of Bright's disease, according to Dr. J. Milner Fothergill, is a tendency of the system to revert to the excretion of solid uric acid, after the manner of the cold-blooded animals and birds, instead of the soluble urea, which is the characteristic excretion of the higher animals. When the uric-acid formation is established, the substance is either gradually deposited in the body—in the articular cartilages by preference—or is cast out by the kidneys, with irritation of those organs. With this effect are often associated "insufficient" liver and migrainous neurotic affections which are growing more common among town populations. "With an insufficient liver, a meat dietary, and insufficient oxidation, the town dweller is the subject, more than all others, of the uric-acid formation, with all its varied consequences. . . . The effect of town life is to produce a distinct retrogression to a smaller, darker, precocious race of less potentialities than the rustic population. Precocity is seen in early puberty, but reproduction is impaired. . . . The retrocedent race perishes either by sterility in the females, or their sparse progeny succumb to the diseases of childhood. . . . This retrocedent race are the possessor's of congenitally insufficient livers, and as a consequence are the victims of the uric-acid formation." And Bright's disease is especially their disease.

 

Plants with Insect-guards.—W. J. Beale and C. E. St. John presented, in the American Association, a study of the hairs in Silphium perfoliatum and Depsocus lacinotus in relation to insects. The upper surface of the leaf in these plants, near the apex, is thickly set with small hairs, all of which point toward the tip. Similar hairs were found all along the mid-veins, side-veins, and veinlets of the upper surfaces of the leaf. The cavities formed by the perfoliate leaves are very small and hold but little water. They are very full after any rain or heavy dew. These cups do not seem to serve any purpose as insect-catchers, as only a few insects were caught during two weeks in which the plants were watched, and they could afford but little nutrition. It seems more probable to the authors that the object of the cups with their water is to protect the plant from crawling insects, and this is done most effectually.

 

His own Publisher.—Mr. Ruskin has adopted a plan of his own for producing his books. He is his own publisher, having simply an agent to attend to the business, who works for a commission, and charges fixed prices for books sold, to all buyers alike. His "Establishment" is, as the angry booksellers once contemptuously asserted, "in the middle of a country field"—that is, in a retired country house, "Sunny-side," at Orpington. At first, he would allow of no discount or abatement to the trade, but charged them the same as private purchasers, expecting them to add their profit openly. This set the booksellers against him, and they refused to handle his works. The public, nevertheless, found him out, came to him and bought his books, and be enjoyed a good income and a growing busi-