Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/809

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
787
THE EARLIEST PLANTS.

coated confections, such as sugared almonds, pistachios, and perfumed cherry-kernels, are now generally made on a large scale by machinery, as follows: The almonds, we will say, are placed in spherical copper pans over a hot fire, and a heavy sirup allowed slowly to drip over them. The pans are heated by steam passing through coils of pipe, and are kept in continual oscillation; the water of the sirup quickly flies off in vapor, leaving the almonds covered with crystals of sugar.

The fruit-pastes sold at candy-shops are prepared by reducing the fruit—be it peach, orange, or quince—to a kind of marmalade, mixed with the exact amount of sugar required. The roots of the marshmallow are not often used nowadays in the compounding of the popular paste of that name. This is owing to the unpleasant taste of the roots. The juice or jelly of the apple is employed instead. The other ingredients are gum arable, the beaten whites of eggs, and flavoring—the whole thickly dusted with powdered starch.

Chocolate caramels are made of gelatin, dairy cream, sugar, and chocolate. The delicate molasses chips made for fastidious consumers of confections are compounded of sugar and a little molasses for flavor; their brittleness is simply due to the fact that the sirup is boiled to the brittle or "crack" decree.

 

THE EARLIEST PLANTS.[1]
By Sir WILLIAM DAWSON.

THE knowledge of fossil plants and of the history of the vegetable kingdom has, until recently, been so fragmentary that it seemed hopeless to attempt a detailed treatment of the subject. Our stores of knowledge have, however, been rapidly accumulating in recent years, and we have now arrived at a stage when every new discovery serves to render useful and intelligible a vast number of facts previously fragmentary and of uncertain import.

Oldest of all the formations known to geologists, and representing perhaps the earliest rocks produced after our earth had ceased to be a molten mass, are the hard, crystalline, and much-contorted rocks named by the late Sir W. E. Logan Laurentian, and which are largely developed in the northern parts of North America and Europe, and in many other regions. So numerous and extensive, indeed, are the exposures of these rocks, that we have good reason to believe that they underlie all the other formations of our continents, and are even world-wide in their distribution. In the lower part of this great system of rocks, which, in some places at least, is thirty thousand feet in thickness, we find no traces of the existence of any living thing on the

  1. From the "Geological History of Plants," published by D. Appleton & Co., "International Scientific Series," vol. 1xi.