Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/444

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

done in this direction than is done; but still, sometimes a cloud will descend so quickly, or it will have such a tremendous store of energy to get rid of, that no points are sufficiently rapid for the work, and crash it all comes at once." Where a flash occurs, a considerable area is relieved of strain, and the rush of electricity along the cloud and along the ground toward the line of flash sets up a state of things very encouraging to another or secondary flash or flashes, practically simultaneous with the first.

 

Weather Plants.—Garden and Forest quotes from a writer in the Illustrirte Gartenzeitung of Vienna, who, while he disputes the excessive claims that have been made for certain "weather plants," points out that a modest degree of power in forecasting atmospheric changes is possessed by a multitude of common plants. The pleasant fair-weather odor of Galium vernum (Our Lady's bed-straw) becomes strong and pungent at the approach of rain. The leaves of Carlina vulgaris close before rain. Calendula pluvialis (marigold) predicts rain when its flowers remain closed after seven in the morning. Oxalis acetosella (wood-sorrel) closes its leaves at the approach of rain or cold. Lapsana communis keeps its flowers open at evening if it is to rain the following day, but closes them if fair weather is coming. The leaves of Draha verna (whitlow-grass) droop before rain. Alsine media predicts a clear day if its flowers open about nine o'clock, and a second one to follow if they remain open as late as four in the afternoon.



A Novel Mound-builders' Structure.—Prof. F. W. Putnam described, at the meeting of the American Association, a curious earthwork at Foster's Station, in the Little Miami Valley. The mound is in the angle of a creek and the river. It is a flat-topped circular hill, about half a mile round at the rim, and has been formed by the river and creek washing away drift material on either side. Around the brow of this hill is, at some parts, a ridge, at others no elevation above the surface. The ridge is made up of well-burned clay, and includes masses of burned limestone, clinkers, charred logs, and heaps of ashes, from a bushel to forty bushels in bulk. It is more than half a mile long, from twenty to fifty feet wide, and from eight to ten feet deep. To have burned all this clay must have required a heat like that of a Bessemer furnace. The rim of burned stuff is backed by an escarpment of well-laid stone wall to keep the burned material in place, which probably once extended clear down to the water; but the creek has worn its way down and to a considerable distance from the wall. No bones and only a few pieces of pottery were found. The fires could not have been those of charcoal-pits, and the place was not a lime kiln. An immense mass of fuel must have been collected to burn this quantity of clay and stone. When asked what he thought was the character of the work, Prof. Putnam said that he had not carried the excavations far enough to formulate a statement.

 


NOTES.

The Hon. David A. Wells has been awarded a gold medal by the jury of the group of Social and Political Economics of the French Exhibition of 1889. This recognition of the great services he has rendered in that branch is all the more significant because it comes to him, a plain-spoken freetrader, from a leading protectionist nation.

One of the subjects touched upon by Dr. Fernow, in his Forestry Report for 1889, is osier culture. Of the many kinds of willows, but few are osier willows fit for basket-work. Some coarse baskets are made from our native willows. For better work, one of the European kinds—the red osier—is grown in this country, but the finest baskets are almost wholly imported. A large number of the hands employed in the salt-works around Syracuse in summer occupy their winters with basket-making. In 1887 Dr. Fernow obtained from an Austrian grower cuttings from some seventy varieties of osiers, which were distributed to the agricultural experiment stations. Some information has thus been gained in regard to the growth of these plants in our climate, but further trials are still needed.

The first rain-gauge, according to Mr. G. J. Symons, was designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1663. Sir Christopher also designed the first recording gauge, but the instrument was not constructed till 1670. The earliest known records of rainfall were made at Paris, in 1668; Townley, Lancashire, in 1677; Zurich, in 1708; and Londonderry, in 1711.