Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/881

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

tain Lugard, Emin Pasha, Dr. Stuhlman, and the late Father Schynse have added to our knowledge. The Italians have been energetic in exploring Somaliland, and the French, despite the disaster to M. Crampel, have not abandoned their efforts to reach Lake Tchad from the west. Captain Gallwey and Mr. Gilbert T. Carter have made important discoveries in Lagos and Benin. Mr. Bent's well-known exploration of Zimbabwe, and Mr. Joseph Thomson's study of Lake Bangweola, which ill-health still prevents him from writing up, are the most important pieces of work in South Africa. Sir William MacGregor has been very active in opening up British New Guinea.

 

The New Element Masrium.—The probable existence of a new element is reported in the Chemiker Zeitung. It occurs in a mineral which was discovered in 1890 by Johnson Pasha in the bed of one of the dried-up old rivers of Upper Egypt—a fibrous variety of a mixed aluminum and iron alum containing ferrous, manganous, and cobaltous oxides; in addition to which is a small quantity of the oxide of another element, having properties different from those of any yet known. The supposed element has been named masrium (Ms), from the Arabic name for Egypt, and the mineral masrite. Its atomic weight has been approximately determined at 228, which nearly corresponds with the number (225) for which an element is wanted by the periodic system in the beryllium-calcium group. The monoxide has been obtained, and several salts.

 

Personality in Animals.—We are accustomed to take but little account, says Le Monde de la Science et de l'Industrie, of the possession of a sense of personal responsibility by animals, but if we look carefully into the matter we shall find that it is an important trait among many of them. Many animals know how to impose rules of conduct upon themselves, to assign themselves duties, and to observe them. Their females attend to the wants of their young before securing their own provision of food; the sentiment of the relations of command and obedience is obvious in social animals, like monkeys, deer, elephants, buffaloes, and birds of passage. The shepherd-dog controls the flock that is intrusted to his care with as much authority and self-confidence as his master himself. The imposition of restrictions upon themselves exists among animals to the extent that is necessary for the maintenance of their health. Capacity to adapt its work to the laws of Nature is perceptible in the bird building its nest, as it is in the architect who is constructing a monument. The fox is a skillful constructor of the kind of burrow best adapted to its needs. All these animals exercise a precise action upon their medium for a definite purpose. Dogs seem to have complete consciousness of their existence, and their slightest actions accord with that view. They hunt with as much ardor as men, and seem to take a genuine interest in incidents of the expedition; they prance with joy when successful, and drop their tails after failure. What right have we to deny them consciousness? The rudiments of what we regard as the real bases of personality certainly exist, in a more or less marked degree, in even the inferior animals. If man is a person and derives rights and duties from the fact, so also, to a certain extent, are the elephant, the dog, and the fox, each in its way. It is easier to talk about the gulf that separates man from the other animals than to measure it.

 

Soldering Metals to Glass.—According to the Pharmaceutical Record, an alloy of ninety-five parts of tin and five parts of copper will connect metals with glass. The alloy is prepared by pouring the copper into the molten tin, stirring with a wooden mixer, and afterward remelting. It adheres strongly to clean glass surfaces and has the same rate of expansion as glass. By adding from one half to one per cent of lead or zinc, the alloy may be rendered softer or harder, or more or less easily fusible, as required. It may also be used for coating metals, to which it imparts a silvery appearance.

 

Age of the Central American Monuments.—As a result of his studies of the monuments of Central America and Yucatan, Mr. Alfred P. Mandelay announces in Nature the conclusions that the southern ruins, including Palenque, Copan, and Quirigua, are much more ancient than those of Yucatan, and were probably in full decay before