Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/149

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139
POPULAR MISCELLANY.

istence is possible greatest, the individuals are more numerous and their composition more diverse. The cycles of changes in the plant and animal kingdom are based for the most part upon the disunion and separate combinations of carbon and hydrogen, because under existing conditions of temperature, etc., these changes can be produced to the greatest advantage of existing kinds of living things and life forces. With a much hotter or colder earth, when the weights of bodies were much greater or less than they are now, not surrounded by an ocean of oxygen gas, or deprived of the chemical force of our sun, some changes would be made in the modes in which life is perpetuated to suit the changed conditions of the planet; "but it is extremely unlikely that life would be extinguished by them unless the conditions changed too suddenly." These changes might affect the kind of matter flowing through the living body, or the attributes of the living thing; or, "if both the elements themselves and the rapidity with which they resolved themselves into new combinations were changed, the diversity of the living things and of the world itself would be so different from what they are now that we have no means of forming the least conception of them. But in none of these cases is it likely that life would become extinct, though the present relations to each other of the three kingdoms of nature would cease to be."

 

Adulterants as Diluents.—People, as a rule, suppose that any substance used as an adulterant of a food-product, or as a substitute for it, is to be avoided as injurious to health. This, according to Mr. Edgar Richards, is not quite correct. It is, in fact, contrary to a manufacturer's interest to use any substance that would cause injurious symptoms, for it would be detrimental to his business. The majority of substances used for food adulterants or substitutes are cheap and harmless, and do mischief only as they go to dilute the genuine article. The principal adulterant of milk is water; and the great harm of it appears when it is fed to a child or an invalid, who might be starved to death if compelled to rely on watered milk for his sole sustenance. The skill of the milk adulterator has kept pace with the march of improvement; and a centrifugal machine is in the market for manufacturing an artificial cream or milk from skimmed milk and also oil, the strength of which depends on the amount of animal fat added. This, it is said, can be used for all purposes for which genuine milk is employed. Oleo-margarine and refined or compound lard are made from what were formerly considered waste products of slaughter-houses. When properly made, with due attention to cleanliness, they furnish a palatable and wholesome product, "which is, however, not intended to compete with 'gilt-edge' butter." Mr. Richards, in fact, prefers compound lard to "prime steam lard," which he characterizes as "about as disgusting a mixture as can be imagined." Cotton-seed oil is used in the manufacture of compound lard, and in the place of olive oil for the table, and in medicinal preparations. The wholesome qualities and purity and uniformity of composition of glucose, or sugar manufactured from starch, have been reported on favorably by a committee of the National Academy of Sciences. However much the public may be cheated in the purchase of ground spices, coffee, etc., adulterated with flours and starches, people are not poisoned by their consumption; and "it is a question how much a purchaser is himself to blame in his endeavor to secure a 'bargain' when he demands a quantity of any given material at less than it can be purchased at wholesale in the market." The addition of antiseptics to food in order to preserve it in transportation is often deleterious and can not be considered safe.

 

Extraordinary Memories.—Among the recorded instances of marvelous memory is one given by Archdeacon Fearon of a person in his father's parish who could remember clearly all the burials, with the exact dates and all the details, which had taken place there for thirty-five years, but in all other respects was a complete fool. George Watson, according to Hone's Every-day Book, could remember, with like exactness, every event of every day from an early period of his fife. Another similar case is that of Daniel McCartney, related in the Journal of Speculative Philosophy. Memory Corner Thompson was able to draw, upon order, exact and perfect plans of many of the