Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 9.djvu/143

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vated this science with more success than others, and among these the Assyrians, Babylonians, or Chaldeans, are preëminent. The records of their observations were adopted by the Greeks, and through the latter were transmitted to the Romans. Thus our modern astronomy is really traceable back to the plains of Babylonia. The question arises, Of what race were the founders of Chaldean astronomy? This subject is considered by A. H. Sayce, who, in a communication to Nature, says that they were not Semites, but a people who are now generally termed Accadians, and who spoke an agglutinative language. "They had come from the mountains of Elam or Susiana, on the east, bringing with them the rudiments of writing and civilization. They found a cognate race already settled in Chaldea, and in conjunction with the latter they built the great cities of Babylonia, whose ruins still attest their power and antiquity. Somewhere between 3000 and 4000 b. c., the Semites entered the country from the east, and gradually contrived to conquer the whole of it. It is probable the conquest was completed about 2000 b. c. At all events Accadian became a dead language some two or three centuries later, but, as the Semitic invaders owed almost all the civilization they possessed to their more polished predecessors, it remained the language of literature, like Latin in the middle ages, down to the last days of the Assyrian Empire."


Sounds produced by blowing into a Flame.—Some noteworthy observations have been made by Decharme on the production of sounds by blowing into a flame through a tube. He is of opinion that the air acts rather chemically than mechanically. The sounds, according to him, result from small explosions by the combination of the oxygen of the air with the hydrogen or carbon of the flame, in imperfect combustion. For the sound to occur, the presence of air, or of an inert gas mixed with oxygen, seems necessary. In one of M. Decharme's experiments the white flame from a Bunsen burner, with the lateral apertures closed, gave a very strong sound when blown into with a tube; whereas the blue flame, produced when the apertures are open, gave a very weak one, or none at all. Carbonic acid alone, or nitrogen, or oxygen, or chlorine, blown into a flame of illuminating gas, gave little or no sound; protoxide of nitrogen gave a sound that was weak, but more acute than that obtained from air.


Exploration of Victoria Cave.—Dr. Tiddeman read a report on the exploration of the Victoria Cave, Settle, during the year 1874–'75. The report assigns to the preglacial or the glacial age the lower deposits of this cave, which contain early Pleistocene animal remains associated with a human fibula. The animal bones were nearly all mere fragments, though one was perfect; they represent bears, oxen, deer, goats or sheep, elephants, swans, etc. Attention was called in the report to the great distance of time which separated that age from our own. In the cave Roman times were separated from our own day by deposits sometimes less than a foot thick, but nowhere by more than two feet of talus, the chips which time detached from the cliffs above. The Neolithic age, which antiquaries know was a considerable time before the Roman occupation, is represented in some places at a depth of four or five feet beneath the Roman layer, but at others it runs into it. Then come nine feet of talus without a record of any living thing. Judging by the shallowness of the Roman layer, this must represent an enormous interval of time. Next come the bowlders, the inscribed records of the Glacial period. They must represent a long series of climatic changes during which the ice was waxing and waning, advancing and moving back over the mouth of the cave. Then there is a break in the continuity of the deposits, the bowlders lying on the edges of the older beds, which shows that time was given for changes to take place to allow the district to cool down from a warmth suitable to the hippopotamus and become a fitting pasture for the reindeer. It was in that warm period that the man lived and died whose fibula occurs among the bones in the cave.


Methods of preserving Fresh Meat.—So numerous are the processes devised in modern times for the preservation of food, that