Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/579

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

the size of the cask. These lengths are then boiled for two or three hours in a closed vessel, while a current of electricity is passed through the water. The wood is thereby softened so that it can be cut, in a machine rotating the log in the same manner as the ordinary lathe, into a sheet of any desired thickness. The sheets are then passed through a grooving machine and grooved. Another machine seizes the sheet between two arms, and by means of knives cuts a series of mortices or slots around the sides, so as to give them, when made up, the desired conical shape. Eventually the sheet reaches the cooper, who rolls it into cylindrical form, drives on the hoops, and makes a barrel of it.

 

The Chemung Geological Formation.—The conclusions of Prof. John J. Stephenson's review of the relations of the Chemung and Catskill formations on the eastern side of the Appalachian basin, as expressed in his address at the American Association, are that the series from the beginning of the Portage to the end of the Catskill forms but one period, the Chemung, which should be divided into three epochs the Portage, the Chemung, and the Catskill; that the deposits of the Catskill epoch were not made in a closed sea or in fresh-water lakes; that the disappearance of animal life over so great a part of the area toward the close of the period was due to gradual extension of the conditions existing in southeastern New York as early, perhaps, as the Hamilton period; and that the Chemung period should be retained in the Devonian.

 

Scenery of the Mustagh Glaciers.—In his description, before the English Society of Arts, of the Pamirs and neighboring regions, Captain F. E. Younghusband gave a picturesque account of the scenery of the glacial regions of the Mustagh Mountains. The first object to attract attention in ascending the mountain streams is the appearance of what seem to be great heaps of gravel, with a stream issuing from their feet. Clambering up to the summit of one of these mounds, the traveler looks upward over a sea of needle-like pinnacles of ice, of every fantastic shape and variety of color, and among them sees long lines of rocky débris, the medial moraines of the glacier, "while on either hand mountains of stupendous height rise in stern and solemn glory." Among the pinnacles, or serecs of ice, "may be seen fairy-like caves and grottoes of pure ice, with icicles twenty or thirty feet in length hanging from the ceiling or formed in a delicate fringe across the entrance, and into the walls of these lovely caves one can look as into a sheet of glass." When the great snow-fields at the head of the glacier are reached, "all is white, pure, and unblemished; and the bold intruder is deeply and unforgetablyimpressed with the noble sublimity of the mountains towering round on every hand, and moved by his audacity in daring to intrude into regions ruled by Nature in such stern and silent grandeur. He feels, too, what tremendous forces are at work beneath the calm and placid surface; for, while at first sight all seems still and unchangeable, a glance around shows the glaciers rent into great chasms with perpendicular walls of ice, perhaps hundreds of feet deep, into which, if a stone is dropped, it bounds from side to side, and the echoes are heard coming up from the very heart of the glacier. And then a little observation shows that these vast seas of ice, motionless and immovable as they seem, are year by year forcing their way down the valleys, carrying on their icy bosoms the fragments and craigs of rock which have been broken off from the mountains by the nipping fingers of the frost. Great cliffs, too, are met with, worn away and ground by the glacier forced against them; and I have seen a whole cliff of limestone polished and smoothed by the glacier almost as well as small fragments of rock are by the hand of man."

 

Eastern and Western Weeds.—A comparative list has been published by Prof. Byron D. Halsted, made up from his own observations and those of his correspondents, of the weeds of New Jersey or the East, and Iowa or the central West. Of 297 weeds in Iowa, 210 are native and 87 are foreign; and they are further classified as 51 worst weeds, 94 bad weeds, and 152 indifferent weeds. In passing from the worst weeds through the middle class to the indifferent, the percentage of perennials rapidly increases. In New Jersey, 135 weeds are native and 130 are