Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/442

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442
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

in the death-rates of England, Sweden, the city of London, etc. The result is a demonstration of the alteration for the better that has taken place in modern times in the rate of mortality from these causes. Diagrams prove graphically that a marked diminution in the death-rate has taken place, especially in the last half century, or since the efforts at prevention and restriction of infectious diseases have become systemized. Facts are brought out in Mr. Willetts's presentation showing that the theory of M. Carnot, that the saving of life from infectious diseases is only apparent, and is made up for by an increased mortality from certain other causes of death, is untenable, for the death-rate from all causes declined during the period under examination. The doctrine of Malthus, likewise, that the effect of diminution of the death-rate is to cause the population to press more closely upon the limits of subsistence, is negatived by the fact which appears that the rate of pauperism has declined in England coincidently with the fall of the death-rate. It also appears that the population is increasing least rapidly where good sanitary conditions have prevailed. The effect of sanitary improvement is thus seen to lie, not in the direction of an over-production of the human race, but toward a better regulated and governed increase.

 

Expansion in Public Documents.—The latest report of the State Mineralogist of California furnishes an interesting object lesson as to the manner in which literature is prepared at the expense of the Government. The report relates, or is supposed to relate, to mining. The Governor of the Slate, in his message, objected to the voluminousness of this as well as some of the other department reports, saying that none but the unemployed and those directly interested and expecting to derive personal benefit from them could find time to read them; intimating that too little time was devoted by their authors to condensing their statements; and suggesting that while the printing of the mineralogical report would cost ten thousand dollars, "two thousand dollars worth of intelligent editorial work bestowed upon the manuscript would have saved four times that amount in the cost of printing, and the volume would have been of greater value to those interested. People," he added, "will not read long, tedious reports, and if it were not for the condensed statements given out through the press the people of the State generally would have very little information in regard to our public institutions." An appropriation having been made for the purpose, the material was put into the hands of an editor for condensation. He found several of the articles that had been prepared not directly related to the subject, though possibly of scientific value and doubtless suitable for publication through other channels, such as an academy of sciences, a geographical or an ethnographical society. In some cases the same ground was covered by the special reports of two or more assistants; in other cases matter was substantially repeated from previous reports, while no attempt had been made in either category to prune any excrescences. The manuscript showed no signs of having been edited, 'aside from the mere paging of the leaves and arranging in order. In parts of the manuscript that had been copied in the office, errors of copyists entirely unfamiliar with mining affairs had been retained without revision or attempt to correct them. Finally, the editor reduced the 2,307 pages of manuscript, largely type-written, to about 844 pages, or 954 pages if an article on mining law, valuable but not relating exclusively to California, is retained; and in doing this believes that he has retained all the matter proper for the report. This excessive expansiveness is not found in the public documents of California alone. We have observed it in those of the United States in more than one department.

 

The Soda "Lake" of Wyoming.—As described by H. Pemberton, Jr., and George P. Tucker, there exists a deposit of sulphate of soda, locally known as a "lake," about fourteen miles southwest of Laramie, Wyo. The deposit is composed of three of these lakes lying within a stone's throw of one another—the Big Lake, the Track Lake, and the Red Lake—having together a total area of about sixty-five acres. They are the property of the Union Pacific Railroad Company, are connected by a branch of that road with the main line at Laramie, and are generally known as the Union Pacific Lakes. In these lakes the sulphate of soda occurs in two