Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/293

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

rior plane of the body. The author had made a careful examination of the seating in schools, and found that faulty positions are certainly induced because of the lack of adaptation of seat to pupil and of pupil to seat. It was not possible to say how much of a factor poor seating is in causing lateral curvature, but there could no longer be any doubt that it plays an important part. He favored as a counteractive measure the introduction of general neutral movements tending to develop the whole child along the lines of his natural muscular evolution, or exercises like those of the Swedish gymnastic system. Some of the participants in the discussion of the reading of the paper suggested that faulty school attitudes might be less potent in producing curvature than bad habits acquired independently of them. All agreed upon the utility of suitable exercise as a counteractive.

 

Contrasts in Mountain Scenery.—Writing in Appalachia from the New Hampshire mountains of his visit to the Sierra Madre Mountains, Mr. Charles E. Fay begins by describing the contrast between the two scenes, than which, he says, there can hardly be a greater one. "The cool, balsamic air, the morning sky already piled with cumulus cloud prophetic of showers in mid-afternoon, the green fields cut by teeming brooks undulating away to meet the darker forest green that drapes the varied shapes of Whiteface, Passaconaway, Paugus, and the lower slopes of Chocorua, are a striking antithesis to what we looked on there. These mountains woo you, and there is an anticipated satisfaction in the promise made yourself to stand on every one of the peaks within your range of vision, attaining them by pleasant journeys through ferny, mossy, pathless woods. But in southern California the mountains do not invite one—at least, not for their own sakes. The conditions of climbing are most unfavorable. The summer heat is intense. They lie beyond an unattractive stretch; for the grass and flowers that in spring cover in wonderful profusion the ground that slopes upward to the sudden beginning of the steep foothills have withered, and in July all is parched and barren. The scattered live-oaks in the foreground, domineered by the will of the prevailing wind, have a half-frightened air; nothing of the repose of our maples, oaks, and white pines. The mountains themselves, rising with an almost monotonous uniformity of grade, are also burned as dry as a cinder, their dead-white rocks pallidly reflecting the remorseless sunlight. Not until near the summits or deep in the cañons do you find forest trees. The dull vegetation of the slopes of lesser altitude is of a shrubbery hard to penetrate, the most common sorts being a so-called greasewood (not the plant known in Colorado by that name) and a disagreeable thorn-bush, which, however slightly broken as you force your way through it, gives forth a sticky, milk-white juice; less frequent is the Manzanita, its smooth, reddish brown being prettier to the eye than yielding to the push." These slopes abound in rattlesnakes, and there are myriads of lizards or "swifts."

 

Amenities of Scientific Controrersy.—Says the Independent, April 20, 1893: "Not on the ground of Incompetency, but on the ground of courtesy and decency, we will say that there ought to be a certain overhauling of the United States Geological Survey. Our attention has been called to articles in the American Anthropologist and the Literary Northwest by William J McGee, member of the Geological Survey, criticising a geological work recently written by a competent gentleman not connected with the Survey, but who has given great attention for many years to surface geology. This review is sprinkled with such words, applied to the author of this volume, as 'idlers,' 'pitiable paupers,' 'swindle,' 'harpies,' 'parasites,' 'shyster,' 'gull,' 'vulture,' and 'betinseled charlatan.' It is a long while since we have seen so indecent an article."

 

The Channels of Mars.—A new explanation of the channels of Mars is offered by Mr. T. W. Kingsmill, of Shanghai, China, as follows: As Mars revolves round the sun, under the rule of gravitation, it must have tides on its surface; and since its moons are not sufficiently large to cause any sensible rise, its tides must be mostly solar. Now, the best views we have of this planet are when it is in opposition—that is, when we are interposed between it and the sun, so that we should always see it best at high tide. The writer then makes rather a strong point of