Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 50.djvu/592

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character and standing or scientific journal is missing from it. It contains about eighteen thousand volumes, dissertations, pamphlets, etc., most of which are bound. Among the treasures of the library are complete sets from the beginning up to 1895 or 1896 of twenty-five of the most important scientific (particularly chemical) periodicals—German, French, Italian, English, and American—and series of from fifteen to twenty-five years of six others; and a rich collection of alchemistic books published in former centuries. It seems to us very important that this collection should be kept in its integrity; indeed, it might be regarded as a scientific misfortune if it should be scattered; and it is to be hoped that some learned institution or library, or some benefactor of such, may find the way clear to buy it as a whole.

The researches of M. King concerning the retention of moisture in the soil, while they confirm the view that good cultivation offers an impediment to evaporation, show that bad harrowing and incomplete stirring of the soil have a different effect. A harrowing which simply scratches the ground without covering it with loose earth increases evaporation instead of diminishing it. So a dressing of the soil which extends to less than three centimetres in depth offers but a slight impediment to the escape of water. But a thin coating of dry earth (two centimetres) suffices to reduce the evaporation considerably, and a stirring of the soil from five to seven centimetres in depth will cause the moisture in arable land to be retained. The influence of manures was also studied. They isolate the surface, expose it to complete desiccation, and cause suffering to the crops, particularly in dry weather. The manure in another season becomes mixed with the soil, and the inverse effect is observed. The superficial layers gain moisture.

It appears from the studies of H. L. Russell and John Weinziel of the bacterial flora of American Cheddar cheese at the various phases of the ripening process, reported upon at the American Association, that for the first ten days the number of microbes diminishes from that contained in the milk. Soon an enormous development of organisms of the lactic-acid group begins, while the digesting and gas-producing bacteria gradually decrease. A period of decline succeeds this stage, and continues throughout the life of the cheese until, in the course of a year or two, it is almost sterile. The physical changes that mark the curing of the cheese begin to appear at the same time with the marked development of lactic-acid bacteria. The authors hold that these facts can not be reconciled with the theory that the digesting bacteria are the active agents in the curing.

One of the curious animal stories published in the London Spectator is of a dog belonging to an Oxford University man, which, being excluded from the college at night according to the rules, is kept at a house some distance off. Every morning it comes of its own accord to the owner's rooms, and is accompanied in its morning walk by a Cochin-China hen and a kitten belonging to the man with whom the dog is left during the night. The hen and kitten, not being permitted to enter, always leave the dog at the college (Balliol) gates. Another story in the same number of the Spectator relates to a canary bird whose seed trough was always found empty, though kept well supplied. One morning, observing that the bird appeared much excited and was singing lustily, its master looked and saw a mouse slowly climb down the cord, get through the bars of the cage, and, reaching the seed trough, eat the food with great relish, while the bird continued to sing. Finally, a cat caught the mouse, and the canary was never known to sing again.

An odd controversy has been going on between the Roman Catholic Journal, Volkszeitung, of Cologne, and the Abbé Künzle, of Feldberg, in Tyrol, concerning the authenticity of an alleged signature of the devil. The Volkszeitung denies the authenticity, and insists that it is not possible to procure an authentic signature of his Satanic Majesty. The abbé declares, on his side, that the devil Vitru appeared in October, 1883, in the lodge room of a Masonic lodge, where were several eminent men, including M. Crispi, and announced that a young woman named Sophia Sapho, who was present, would on the following September give birth to a daughter, who would be the grandmother of