Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/590

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

surroundings of the mud huts of the present generation. The water of the Nile holds in its volume an unusually large percentage of air; and it is probably due to this circumstance that it is so healthful and palatable even at its reddest. The crop seasons are divided into three different productive periods: the autumn, or nili—August till the end of November; the period of flood, in which maize, millet, sesame, and a few minor crops are grown; the summer, or sefi—April till July; the warm-weather period, in which tropical and semi-tropical crops—rice, sugar, and cotton—are produced; and the winter, or shitawi—December to March, or cold-weather period—when the European crops, grown in a temperate climate, come to maturity.

 

Spring Two Hundred Tears ago and now.—Has change of climate within historical times, Dr. P. H. Pye-Smith asks, brought about change of diseases? "I think," he says, "we may assert that, with a few important exceptions, such as the draining which has led to the general disappearance of malaria, and the improved habitations of the poor, which have made plague unknown and typhus rare, no such changes have taken place; and in particular that there is no foundation for the opinion that in former time the English spring was milder than at present. 'The uncertain glory of an April day' was as uncertain at the close of the sixteenth as at the close of the nineteenth century. In the seventeenth century the great Earl of Verulam met his death from standing in the snow on Highgate Hill on Easter Monday, and Evelyn remarks, under date of March 27, 1681, 'An extraordinary sharp spring, not a leaf yet on the trees.' In the eighteenth century Horace Walpole writes that 'the spring has set in with its usual severity'; and the contrast between poetical description of the 'ethereal mildness of spring' and its actual inclemency has become a commonplace of satire."

 

Typhoid Fever and Sewage in Drinking-water.—Outbreaks of typhoid fever occurred in several of the half-dozen cities and towns situated near the junction of the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers during the winter of 1890-91, and, while their cause can not be fixed with certainty, Prof. William P. Mason, of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, holds that there is good reason to attribute them to a contaminated water-supply. In a paper read to the Franklin Institute he states that every one of these places drains into the Hudson River or its tributary, the Mohawk. There were epidemics of tvphoid fever in Cohoes, West Troy, and Albany, which take their supplies of water from one or the other of these rivers; but in Waterford and Lansingburg, which take water from the Hudson above this group of towns; in Troy, which uses in part a similar supply and depends partly on the lakes back in the hills; also on Green Island, opposite Troy, which obtains sand-filtered river-water from wells, there was little or no fever besides imported cases. Ice-cutters at Van Wie's Point, four miles below Albany, who used the river-water for drinking, also had the fever break out among them. It is true that typhoid germs were not found in the water, but the facts above cited are certainly worthy of careful consideration.

 

Sulphuring Dried Fruit.—The dainty whiteness which commercial dried fruits have taken on within a few years is due to an unwholesome bleaching by means of the fumes of burning sulphur, which is practiced in the drying factories. Fruit-driers say that sulphuring makes the fruit dry quicker, keep better, and sell better. But these advantages do not benefit the consumer, who suffers the disadvantages, which are loss of flavor, impossibility of distinguishing unripe and poor fruit from good, and the presence of sulphide of zinc in fruit that is dried on trays having a zinc surface. This matter is thoroughly ventilated in the Transactions of the American Public Health Association by Dr. Joel W. Smith, who says further that the contamination with sulphide of zinc was the reason why American evaporated apples were excluded from Germany. He also quotes from a paper read by J. L. Mosher at a fruitgrowers' convention in California the statement that "if fruit be picked before ripe, and over-sulphured to produce whiteness, it is devoid of its true rich taste and flavor, and only requires polishing to make buttons."

 

Physiology of Over-exertion.—Pertinently to the death of a young Englishman,