Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 55.djvu/447

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FRAGMENTS OF SCIENCE.

431

of external gills, but no mouth or anal opening. Two small suckers, just back of where the mouth is to appear, enable it to cling to aquatic plants and prevent its dropping to the bottom of the pond and getting smothered in the mud. It soon develops into a tadpole, and proceeds to its development; but if prevented from coming to the surface of the water no metamorphosis takes place, and the changes are delayed by cold and dark.

At a meeting recently held in Berlin in behalf of a German antarctic exploration, Dr. von Drygalski, speaking of the scientific, practical, and national importance of the enterprise, said that from a geographical point of view the fundamental problem attached to the south polar region—the verification or disproof of a polar continent—is still unsolved. No less important questions likewise await solution with respect to the geological structure and character of the southern lands—so important in connection with a knowledge of volcanic action and the supposed former connection of South America and Australia—and with respect to the conditions of inland ice. Even the study of the floating ice broken away from the main mass may lead to important conclusions as to its mode of origin and the nature of the land from which it comes. Other problems to be investigated are the origin of the cold ocean currents that take their rise in the south, the conditions of the atmospheric pressure and temperature in that region, and the questions relating to terrestrial magnetism, which have a very important bearing on the practice of navigation. The present seems to be a particularly favorable period for the resumption of south polar research by reason of the unusual amount of drift ice which has within the last few years broken away from the main mass, and because, according to Supan, we are passing through a warmer temperature period.

Over and above the statistics and the bare record of facts the annual reports of the Perkins Institution and Massachusetts School for the Blind, afford a continuous and growing interest to friends of suffering mankind in their stories of the development of mental life and illumination. Pupils come there blind and deaf, and apparently without any avenues of intelligent communication with the outer world, and are there brought to full consciousness and keenness of intellect that would be remarked even in many persons possessed of all their senses perfect from birth. The record began with Laura Bridgman, was continued with Helen Keller, and has been occupied for five or six years past with the wonderful mental growth of Elizabeth Robin, Edith M. Thomas, and Tommy Stringer. Before Dr. Howe began with Laura Bridgman, such things would have been deemed impossible and not to be thought of.


NOTES.

The Swiss Association for the Protection of Plants, which was formed in Geneva in 1883, has more than 900 members, and publishes 1,500 copies of its bulletin, which is sent, besides the members of the association, to the libraries of foreign Alpine clubs, the press, botanists, curés, and municipalities in countries harboring plants that require protection. Under its care, or the influence of its work, gardens have been created in various places and devoted especially to the cultivation of such plants as are most threatened with extinction. Of these are the Linnea Garden in the Valais, 5,500 feet above the sea; the Chanousia, founded five years ago by E. P. Chanoux, rector of the Hospice of St. Bernard, 6,800 feet; and the Rambertia, at the foot of the Rochers de Naye, 6,500 feet above the Lake of Geneva. Lectures are given under the auspices of the association, and no occasion for informing the public is lost. A neat chromo-poster calling attention to the association and its purpose has been prepared to be put up in railroad stations and hotels, to which is appended a motto emphasizing the importance of caring for rare plants.

The report of Heinrich Ries on the Kaolins and Fire Clays of Europe, published in the reports of the Geological Survey, is based largely on notes collected by the author during visits in 1897 to most of the important kaolin and clay deposits. To these such facts of importance concerning the clays as have already been published have been added. Some manufacturers have claimed that the foreign kaolins are superior to the American, but the evidence, Mr. Ries says, does not seem to bear out the statements. Notes are added respecting the clays and clay--