Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 8.djvu/133

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MISCELLANY.

123

Oxus. At the time when the river emptied itself into the Caspian the conditions of its régime were such that the volume and velocity of its summer or flood water were sufficient to clear away annually from its bed the deposits of mud resulting from the smaller volume of its winter course. From certain data it is concluded that the difference of the delivery of water between winter and summer is as one to three: thus the bed would not undergo any deterioration, its course would remain unchanged, and the river would continue to discharge itself into the Caspian. But, as soon as the volume and velocity of its summer waters were diminished by the action of irrigation canals, those compensatory arrangements of Nature would be upset, and a proportion of the muddy deposits of winter would escape the annual scouring. In course of time bars would form in the bed of the river, and in the end prevent it extending its course to the Caspian. That the Oxus has changed its lower course is proved by numerous historical documents.

Antiquity of the Divining-Rod.—A paper on "Rabdomancy" (or the use of the "divining-rod") and "Belomancy" (or divination by means of arrows) was read by Miss A. W. Buckland. According to the author, the staff as a sceptre was probably a later form of the horn which was thus used in prehistoric times, and in that character adorned the heads of gods. From this use of rods or horns arose a veneration for them as possessing the power of healing. Hence their use by magicians, whose chief instruments have always been a ring and a staff. These symbols conjoined are found in Egyptian, Assyrian, and Peruvian sculptures, and may be traced in some of the stone circles of Britain and in the shape of ancient Irish brooches. Belomancy, or divination by marked arrows, said to be of Scythian origin, was practised in Babylon, Judea, and Arabia, and traces of it may still be found in the popular tales of Russia and Siberia. "That the arts of magic and divination are a remnant of pre-Aryan religion is proved," said the author, "by their present existence among aboriginal non-Aryan races; and they might even be used as a test of race, so that those who in the counties of Somerset and Cornwall claim the power of divination by the rod might possibly have some remote affinity with the aboriginal inhabitants of Britain."


The Clinical Thermoscope.—Dr. Seguin, of this city, has devised an ingenious little instrument, called the clinical Thermoscope, to be used as an aid in diagnosis. It is employed for detecting the variations of temperature on the surface of the body, and estimating the rate of radiation going on therefrom.
PSM V08 D133 The clinical thermoscope.jpg
In the words of the inventor, it is "intended as a quicker and more delicate test of differential temperatures than the thermometer; and less to give the degree of heat than the velocity of its radiation." We present a cut of the instrument half the actual size. It consists of a glass tube seven inches long, with a minute bore open at one end, and terminating at the other in a bulb. An adjustable scale is attached to the outside of the tube. To prepare it for use, immerse the bulb in hot water, which rarefies the air inside. The open end is then plunged into cold water and quickly withdrawn, when a drop or two will be found to have entered the tube. This forms a "water-index," which should become stationary within an inch or two of the bulb. If it falls into the bulb, or does not approach it sufficiently, too much or too little heat was applied in the first instance, and it will be necessary to jar the water from the tube and try again. When the index is provided, adjust the scale, bringing its lowest figure on a level with the top of the column of water in the tube, and it is then ready for use. It may be applied to any part of the surface, where disturbance of temperature is suspected, but its habitual place in the hands of Dr. Seguin is, not the axilla, but the shut hand. The claims