Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/588

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"Of the bones of fish which are found in the petrified fishes.—All animals having bones within their skin which have been covered by the mud of rivers, which have overflowed their ordinary beds, have received to the line the impress of that mud. And with time, the beds of the rivers having fallen, these animals having the impression of the mud which has inclosed them and consumed their flesh and organs, the bones alone remaining—their organization being consumed—they have fallen to the bottom of the concavity of their impression; and in that concavity the mud, when it has been dried by its elevation above the course of the river from its aqueous moisture and then from its viscous moisture, becomes stone, inclosing within itself whatever it finds there and filling everything hollow with itself. And finding the concavity of the impression of such animals, it penetrates subtilely into the minute porosities of the earth by which the air which was in them escapes—that is, by the lateral parts, for it can not escape above, because that porosity is occupied by the humor that descends into the void; and it can not flee below, because the humor already fallen has closed the porosity. There remain the lateral particles opened so that the air condensed and pressed by the humor that descends escapes with the same slowness with which the humor descends. That humor drying becomes stone without weight, and maintains the same form as the animals that have left their impression there, and of which it incloses the bones.


The Taxation of Revolvers.—The following, from the London Lancet, will apply with equal force in this country, where, in not a few cases, the boys even indulge in the senseless and dangerous practice of carrying fire-arms: "The dangerous folly of carrying revolvers was once more illustrated in a case recently tried in the North London Police Court. In this instance a young man, described as being most respectably connected, though without occupation, was accused of threatening to shoot a policeman with whom he had had an altercation. Though he had been drinking, he was not intoxicated. A revolver loaded in two chambers was taken from him. The case is exactly typical of its kind, and requires no further explanation to show the hazard and the uselessness of this custom of habitually carrying fire-arms. Entirely needless for purposes of self-defense, they may become at any angry moment the instruments of hasty and irreparable crime. Another minute and the policeman might have been a corpse and his assailant a foredoomed murderer, all for the sake of a petty difference of opinion. Most persons, we feel sure, will agree with us that the time is overdue for some restrictive measure which will abate this growing nuisance. We would, therefore, advocate once more the imposition of a sufficiently heavy tax upon the possession of these weapons, and of registration in each case of sale. To regulate by such restraints an idle practice and a constant menace to public security implies no injury to, but rather a needful care for, private rights."


The Pamir Table-land.—The name Pamir is not properly the name of any particular spot, but means the country of frozen winds. It is well fitted to the region to which it is applied—a table-land in central Asia, having the height of the Jungfrau, one of the highest of the Alps, and a superficial extent of a hundred thousand square kilometres. In consequence of its height, although it lies in the latitudes of southern Spain, its climate is extremely rigorous. The snow-line varies somewhat, at a height of about fifteen thousand feet, and the zone of cultivation rises to within about fifteen hundred feet of it. Within this zone cereals are raised, and a few good pasture tracts are found here and there. Forest growths are wanting.


About Certain Dye-stuffs.—The principal dye-woods of the Argentine Republic are the Quebracho Colorado, the Algorrobo bianco, the Corovillo, and the Lapacho. The extract of the quebracho, the chemical constitution of which has not been ascertained, when dried, gives an almost black substance, brittle, and having a characteristic luster. It is used alone to dye wool, and with mordants. The brownish-black sap of the algorrobo gradually solidifies in the air into a resinous and gummy substance that wholly