Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/291

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

American languages differ entirely from any of the Mongolian group. In culture there are various similarities, but not more and not other than can be pointed out between any two groups of early civilizations, and not one of them is evidence of intercourse. The physical similarities relied upon to show racial affinity begin with the color of the skin. But no American tribe shows the peculiar hue of the Mongol. The hair, although straight in both races, differs in color. The oblique, or Chinese eye, about which much has been said, is by no means usual in the American race, scarcely more so than among the whites, and is, moreover, of less importance than has been maintained. The shape of the skull is markedly different. The Mongolian head is round, that of the Eskimo notably long, and of other tribes mixed. The nasal index of the American Indian approaches that of the modern European much closer than it does the Mongolian. There are in certain tribes some general physiognomical characteristics, and that is all—and this is of little importance.


Religious Notions of Gypsies.—The gypsies' religion, says the author of "The Transylvanian Tziganes[1]," in "Blackwood's Magazine," is of the vaguest description. They generally agree as to the existence of a God, but it is a God whom they can fear without loving. "God can not be good," they argue, "else he would not make us die." The devil they also believe in to a certain extent; but only as a weak, silly fellow, incapable of doing much harm. A gypsy, questioned as to whether he believed in the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body, scoffed at the idea. "How could I be so foolish as to believe this?" he asked, with unconscious philosophy. "We have been quite wretched enough, and wicked enough, in this world already. Why should we begin again in another?" Sometimes their confused notions of Christianity take the shape of believing in a God, and in his Son, the young God; but while many are of the opinion that the old God is dead, and that his Son now reigns in his place, others declare that the old God is not really dead, but has merely abdicated in favor of the young God. Though rarely believing in the immortality of the soul, the Tzigane usually holds with the doctrine of transmigration, and often supposes the spirit of some particular gypsy to have passed into a bat or a bird; further believing that, when that animal is killed, the spirit passes back to another new-born gypsy. The gypsies resident in villages and hamlets often nominally adopt the religion of the proprietor of the soil, principally, it seems, in order to secure the privilege of being buried at his expense.


Effects of Cigarette-Smoking.—During a discussion in the American Association, Prof. W. S. Dudley described some experiments which he had made on the injurious effects of cigarette-smoking. He showed that they were principally due to the manner of smoking, and not to the impurities, as is currently supposed. In smoking cigarettes, to get the desired effect, the smoke is inhaled, that is to say it is breathed into the lungs; whereas, in smoking pipes and cigars, the smoke is simply drawn into the mouth and then expelled. In experiments on small animals, in which they were caused to breathe air containing cigarette-smoke, it was found that, after a mouse had smoked one and a fourth cigarette life was extinct. Examination of its blood showed that it had died from the effects of the carbon monoxide which was contained in the smoke, and not from the nicotine and other volatile products of the tobacco and paper. This carbon monoxide is produced by the carbonic-acid gas, which is first formed at the end of the lighted cigarette, passing through the red-hot carbon, while the air is excluded. The smoke of a cigar or pipe, or a Turkish water-pipe, would have the same effect if inhaled.


Development of the Plesiosaurus.—Prof. H. G. Seeley exhibited in the British Association last year a remarkable fossil showing the development of the young of the plesiosaurus. Until this fossil had been discovered and forwarded to him, he had sought throughout the collections of Europe for evidence on that development, but without success. No more remarkable fossil had ever been found, and no incident in the history of fossilization was more singular than that which this specimen displayed. The fossil was a series of mummies of minute plesiosaurus less than five inches in length,

  1. Note of proofreader: Blackwood's Magazine, May 1887