Popular Science Monthly/Volume 28/February 1886/Popular Miscellany

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

Employés and Employers.—The Lehigh Valley Railroad Company has established a relief fund into which the employés put voluntary contributions, and for every dollar put in by a person in its employ the company puts in another dollar. Thus, if the 14,000 employés contribute a dollar each, the company will contribute $14,000. The management of the fund is in the hands of President Wilbur and Paymaster Wilhelm. In case a contributor is disabled by accident, he is allowed three fourths as much per day as his contribution in the fund every working-day during his disability, for a period of six months. In case the accident results in the death of the contributor within six months, or if he is instantly killed, $50 is appropriated from the fund for the funeral expenses. If he leaves a widow and children under sixteen years of age, an allowance of one half the amount of his contribution, for every working-day, is appropriated and paid the widow for one year from the time of the contributor's death, provided she remains unmarried during that time. If there be no widow, then the allowance goes to the children, if any, for the same period. In case the contributor loses a limb, he is provided with an artificial limb, and employment is given to him.—Railway Review.

 

Vapor-and Hot-Air Baths.—The value of hot-air and vapor baths, as well as of other means of promoting the perspiratory function of the skin, has been recognized from very ancient times; and nearly all peoples are acquainted with some means of producing the desired effect. The modes of taking these baths are exceedingly various. Among them are the Turkish and Russian baths, which are, however, usually arranged on too large a scale to be regarded as practicable for small households. Of hot-air baths, the extemporized "rum-sweat" is among the most common. The naked person is seated in a chair, enveloped in blankets which, spread over the chair, inclose him as in a kind of tent extending from his neck to the floor. The heat is supplied by burning spirit contained in a small earthen vessel, which is slipped underneath the chair. This method is attended with considerable peril, the reality of which has very recently been forcibly brought to mind by the death of Dr. W. B. Carpenter, who, taking a hot-air bath in almost precisely this way—using a gallipot of burning spirit instead of his bath-lamp, which was out of order—upset the vessel in changing position, and was so severely burned by the ignited vapors that he died in about four hours afterward. One of the simplest forms of vapor-bath was the old "hemlock-sweat," which, while it was a rude and far from convenient application, was efficacious, and had the character of a medicated bath. Hemlock-boughs, with the leaves, were broken up into a pail, and hot water was poured upon them, with the effect of immediately "steaming" the hemlock. The pail was then slipped under the blankets with which the bather was invested, while simultaneously a red-hot brick was dropped into it, whereby the bather was immediately involved in a profusion of aromatic steam, as hot as he could comfortably endure. We remember to have seen, many years ago, a simple, cheap, and tolerably convenient portable vapor-bath, in the shape of a chair constructed especially for the purpose, with provisions for burning alcohol with reasonable safety and producing steam, all contained within itself. The safest and most convenient arrangement which has come under our notice is the "Home Vapor-Bath," which was invented by Mr. William W. Rosenfeld, it is said, when he was only sixteen years of age. It is compact, and can be introduced, at small expense, into any house having "hot-water" attachments. It is applied to the ordinary bath-tub as it is found in nearly every good house, and, depending wholly upon the use of the hot-water pipe of the tub, avoids the direct application of fire. It can be used with any bath-tub, in addition to the other and usual arrangements, and without disturbing any of them. The principle of its operation consists in subdividing the hot water into small jets over a large area, so as to allow the maximum of evaporation. This is accomplished by affixing to one side of the tub a perforated shower-tube connected with the hot and cold water supplies. The bather sits upon a chair at the foot of the tub, enveloped in a curtain of rubber cloth, with an attachment extending over the tub. He is thus assured the full benefit of all the evaporation from the hot water, while his face is totally shut off from it, so that he does not breathe any of it. By means of another equally simple attachment, substances with which it may be desired to medicate the bath are brought into contact with the water and made to mingle their fumes with the steam. This form of bath, which has all the advantages of the Russian bath, and is, moreover, adapted to domestic use, has been introduced into a great many houses in New York and other places, as well as into hotels and public institutions, and is highly recommended by those who have employed it or examined it. In another form of apparatus, sold by J. Allen & Pons, of London, the lamp is placed outside of the curtain, within which the vapor is conducted by a pipe. The whole apparatus can be packed into a box less than twelve inches square. An arrangement is also furnished by which the vapors are introduced into the bed in which a patient may be lying; or the lamp, if preferred, may be put directly under the chair. This bath has received medals and high awards at several "health" or "sanitary" exhibitions.

 

A Sun-heating Apparatus for Rooms.—Professor Edward S. Morse, of Salem, Massachusetts, has tried the experiment of calling in the heat of the sun to assist in warming and ventilating his house. He attaches to the wall of his house a box nearly the height of the story, about three feet wide, and of suitable depth, and so arranged and connected with openings in the wall as to act as a flue. The outside of the box is made of slate or black corrugated iron, substances which absorb boat, and over this is a "window" of glass. With this apparatus, the air in a room measuring twenty-one by thirteen by nine feet, could be changed in forty-five or fifty minutes, and a very perceptible degree of warmth was obtained. A similar heater, forty-two feet long and six and a half feet wide, attached to the Boston Athenæum, is estimated to do work that would ordinarily require between twenty five and fifty pounds of coal a day.

 

Earthquake-proof Buildings.—The committee of the British Association appointed to investigate the earthquake phenomena of Japan, after reporting upon their experiments into the nature of the vibrations of the ground, offer some suggestions on the construction of earthquake-proof houses. In a house resting at its foundations on cast-iron balls, the measuring instrument showed that, although considerable movement took place at the time of an earthquake, all sudden motion had been destroyed; but wind and other causes produced movements of a far more serious character than the earthquake. To give greater steadiness to the house, eight-inch balls were tried, and then one-inch balls. Finally the house was rested, at each of its piers, upon a handful of cast-iron shot, each one fourth of an inch in diameter. By this means the building has been made astatic, and, in consequence of the greater increase in rolling-friction, sufficiently stable to resist all effects like those of wind. The shot rest between flat iron plates. When erecting a building in a region subject to earthquakes, it appears that we ought first to reduce, as far as possible, the quantity of motion which ordinary buildings receive; and, second, to construct a building so that it will resist that portion of the momentum which we are unable to keep out. To reduce the momentum we may—1. Select a site where experiment shows that the motion is relatively small. 2. For heavy buildings, adopt deep foundations (perhaps with lateral freedom), or, at least, let the building be founded on the hardest and most solid ground. 3. For light buildings, put in the shot foundations. As against the momentum which can not be cut off from the building, it should be borne in mind that it is chiefly stresses and strains which are applied horizontally to a building that have to be encountered. A vertical line of openings, as in doors and windows in a building, constitutes a vertical line of weakness to horizontally applied forces. Avoid coupling together two portions of a building which have two vibrational periods, or which, from their position, are not likely to synchronize in their motion. If such parts of a building must of necessity be joined, let them be so joined that the connecting link will force them to vibrate as a whole, and yet resist fracture, Brick chimneys in contact with the framing of a wooden roof are apt to be shorn off at the point where they pass through the roof. Light archways connecting heavy piers will be cracked at the crown. To obviate destruction from these causes a system of building may be adopted which essentially consists of tying the building together at each floor with iron and steel tie-rods, crossing each other from back to front and from side to side. The center of inertia of a building, and of its parts, should be kept as low as possible. Heavy tops to chimneys, heavy copings, and balustrades on walls and towers, heavy roofs and the like, are all of serious danger to the portion of the structure by which they are supported. When the lower part of a building is moved, the upper part, by its inertia, tends to remain behind, and serious fractures often result.

 

Poteline.—The plastic substance, poteline, introduced by M. Potel, is formed of a mixture of gelatine, glycerine, and tannin, to which may be added sulphate of baryta or zinc-white; and the whole may be colored, if desired, with vegetable colors. Poteline is molded while still hot; and, when it has become cool, yields itself to every kind of manipulation. It can be turned, filed, bored, or screwed, and it is susceptible of a very fine polish, which may be conveyed by pressure. This facility of working permits it to be treated in the same way as bronze, and makes it adaptable for all kinds of mountings. It can also be used to seal bottles and jars hermetically, for the fabrication of dolls' heads that can not be broken, and for the composition of an artificial marble out of which ink-stands, doorknobs, and a thousand other articles can be made cheaply. The proportion of the different materials entering into the composition of this substance varies according to the use that is to be made of it. For sealing bottles, it should be used in a nearly liquid condition; for the manufacture of fancy articles, in an opaque form; while the exact composition of the marble-poteline is a secret known only to the inventor. M. Potel has described a method by which he uses poteline as an envelope, to stop and prevent fermentation and insure the preservation of fruits and meats.

 

Oyster-Culture in Connecticut.—According to the last report of the Shell-fish Commissioners of the State of Connecticut, the policy of farming out the oyster-grounds to individual proprietor-cultivators has been very successful. The number of persons engaged in the business increased ten per cent during the seven months covered by the report; and the rapid development of the oyster industry is further shown in the continued extension of the area of grounds devoted to it, and in the increase in the number of oyster-steamers. It has been found that with reasonable care and labor the number of star-fish may be so reduced that those enemies shall be incapable of doing serious damage to the oyster-beds. A new enemy, however, threatens the beds, in the shape of a sand-tube-building worm, whose structures cause accumulations that suffocate the oysters; but the estimates are contradictory as to the amount of the damage it is likely to do. Efforts have been made during the past year, with much success, to redeem muddy grounds and make them available for oyster-cultivation by covering them with shells and pebbles brought from the Housatonic River. The demand, both for oysters and for seed-oysters, is constantly increasing, and it is not likely that the supply will soon go ahead of it.

 

What is a Real Forest?—In all forest culture, says Mr. M. C. Read, in a paper on "The Preservation of Forests on the Head-Waters of Streams," which is published by the Department of Agriculture in "Special Report No. 6," "it should be remembered that, for climatic purposes, an orchard of trees is not a forest. The planting of trees along the highways, about our homes, in parks and proves, ought to be encouraged for a variety of reasons, but will have little of the climatic effect of true forests. A dense growth of underbrush, herbaceous plants, and mosses under the larger trees, which will retain the fallen leaves in place, fill the surface-soil with rootlets, checking the flow of water and facilitating its entrance into the earth, is an essential part of a true forest."

 

Popularizing Agricultural Colleges.—In the Convention of Delegates from Agricultural Colleges and Experiment Stations, which was held at the Department of Agriculture in July, 1885, the question was considered how the colleges can be made more directly useful and more in sympathy with the people. President Fairchild, of the Kansas State Agricultural College, said that' the Michigan College had arranged in 1875-'76 for a series of farmers' institutes to be held each winter in the different counties of the State. At each institute, the college undertook to provide only half of the programme, and insisted that the place where the meeting was held should provide the other half. The expenses of the institute were also divided equitably. Every question brought forward was open to discussion, to which close attention was given, and which was always encouraged. From that day to this, the institute has grown in favor with both the farmers and the professors in the Agricultural College. "The same thing," Mr. Fairchild added, "has been in vogue with us in Kansas since I went there in 1879. We opened a series of institutes in the winter of 1880-'81, and have continued them from that day to this, with growing interest, and with especial favor as regards the farmer. We promote discussion upon just such questions as the farmers wish discussed, and the professors take especial pains to meet the questions which may be raised by the farmers themselves." The people are thus brought into full fellowship, which they demonstrate, with the college; and in Michigan the reports of the State Board of Agriculture, which formerly had to be "thrown at the heads of politicians," are in demand and are read.

 

More about the Effects of Tobacco.—Dr. Hobart Amory Hare, of the University of Pennsylvania, after an elaborate dissertation on "The Physiological and Pathological Properties of Tobacco," expresses the conclusions that "tobacco does no harm when used in moderation—to the man who, by occupation, leads an out door life, or one in which much physical exercise is taken, but rather does good, by quieting any tendency to continued action which may exist; to those who, by exceptionally long use, have become inured to the effects of the drug, and whose systems depend upon it; or to those whose temperaments are naturally phlegmatic and easy-going. Tobacco does harm to the young and not yet full-grown; to the man of sedentary habits; to the nervous and those whose temperaments are easily excited; and to the sickly and those who, by idiosyncrasy, are strongly affected by the drug." The different methods of using tobacco are harmful in the following order: Chewing, cigarette smoking, cigar smoking, pipe smoking, Turkish-pipe smoking. The quality of the drug governs the degree of its harmfulness more stringently in some cases than in others, as do also the character and constituents of the paper in which cigarettes are wrapped. Finally, the oft-repeated words "excess" and "moderation" "form the keystones of the arches which the writers on tobacco, pro and con, have raised."

 

Life in New Guinea.—The Rev. J. Chalmers, a missionary, recently visited the country west of Maclatchie Point, Southeastern New Guinea. He found the people generous and hospitable. They are certainly cannibals, but only as concerns their enemies. Sorcery and superstition have their home among them. In a dubu, or sacred house, which Mr. Chalmers describes as the finest he has ever seen, two large posts, eighty feet high, support a large peaked portico, thirty feet wide, while the whole building is one hundred and sixty feet long, and tapers down in height from the front. A large number of skulls of men, crocodiles, cassowaries, and pigs ornament it. The human skulls are those of victims who have I been killed and eaten by the tribe; and they speak of this kind of food as the greatest luxury, and think those are fools who despise it. The whole district from Orokolo to Panaroa is one great swamp, and the villages are all surrounded by muddy water. Canoes are a necessity in making morning calls. Bridges of logs or trunks form the streets, and the roads arc more easily traversed barefoot than in boots. The houses are really well built, and in front of many of them are small garden.", raised ten feet from the ground. To make these gardens, a well-built platform is covered with soil, in which flowers and tobacco are planted and cultivated.

 

The International Geological Congress.—The International Geological Congress held its sessions in Berlin from the 28th of September to the 4th of October last, and was attended by two hundred delegates of various nationalities, among whom were Mr. McGee, Professor Newberry, and Professor James Hall, from the United States. The German geologist, Von Dechen, who is eighty-five years old, was named honorary president, while Professor Beyrich served as effective president. Among the important matters to receive attention was the report of progress upon the geological map of Europe, the execution of which had been put in charge of a special commission by the preceding Congress at Bologna. The choice of colors made at Bologna was pronounced a happy one; and the principle of marking the subdivisions of periods by graduated tints of the same color, the darker tints indicating the older beds, was approved. The report on nomenclature stated that, while the Congress of Bologna had established the fundamental principles on the subject, there were some important matters which it had not settled, and upon which the international committees had not been able to agree. On the points considered in this report the Congress decided that the Triassic and Jurassic formations should be divided into three series each, and the Cretaceous into two, the lower series including the Gault. On other points, on which differences of opinion were more pronounced, discussion was remanded to special publications and to future consideration. Professor Neumayr, of Vienna, asked the sanction of the Congress to his contemplated "Nomenclator Palæontologicus," to be published in fifteen volumes of a hundred pages each, in which should be given the names of all vegetable and animal fossils, with the beds in which they occur and the works in which they are described. It will have a French introduction and a Latin text, as brief as possible. The next meeting of the Congress was appointed to be held in London in 1888, between the 15th of August and the 15th of September.

 

The new England Meteorological Society.—At the annual meeting of the New England Meteorological Society, held in Boston, October 20th, Professor Davis read a paper upon the thunder-storms of the summer of 1885, and Mr. Harold Whiting a paper on the self-recording aneroid barometer. A full presentation of the year's work of the society was given in the report of the Council. The number of members had increased from nine in November, 1883, to ninety-five; the number of observers sending reports from forty-five to one hundred and twenty-three. Efforts had been constantly made to secure increased accuracy and greater uniformity in the observations. The subject of accurate instruments received early attention; and it was decided to manufacture a special class of rain-gauges rather than to adopt any now in the market, and to adopt certain makes of self-registering thermometers. All desiring to make observations have been encouraged to do so, and efforts have also been made to secure observers in special localities. In co-operation with the United States Signal Service, local weather-flags are daily displayed in more than a hundred cities and towns of New England. More than four hundred observers have co-operated in the special investigation of thunder-storms; and two hundred and three reports were sent in of a single storm. The National Academy aids these investigations with an appropriation of two hundred dollars. The expenses of the society have, by the aid of friends, been kept within its income. As its financial prosperity depends on the number of members, it is desired to include in the membership all who are interested in meteorological studies in New England, whether they make observations or not.

 

How to exalt the Teacher's Art.—"Teaching as a Business"—that is, why is it not a profession?—is the title of a paper which was read by C. W. Bardeen before the National Educational Association at its last meeting. One reason why teaching is not a profession lies in the way school boards are made up; another, in the fact that so large a proportion of incompetents are applying for positions, not forgetting the highest ones. It is not strange that, with such persons obtruding themselves, the teacher is looked upon by such boards as we have as "an impracticable man, useful enough to take care of boys and girls under rules established by lawyers, doctors, and business-men, but unfitted for participation in any of the serious work of the community." Mr. Bardeen, in looking for a remedy for the low state of the business, holds that it should not be thought to depend upon higher salaries or pensions for retired teachers, or fixed tenure of office—the teacher, if matters were in a proper condition, should be no more anxious about his annual reappointment than the bank-teller or insurance president, who is sure of it so long as he is this side of the St. Lawrence! But teachers should discriminate among themselves in favor of the most competent, should be men among men, should see to it that the differences in the results of good teaching and poor teaching are proved, and emphasized, and illustrated, and should labor to have the work of superior teachers recognized and secured. The average school board is a checker-board, where the only important consideration is that the square be covered, with a button, if the real piece is not at hand; it should be like a chessboard, where, "when a knight falls to the carpet, you do not replace him by a pawn, a rook, or a bishop; and you will make almost any sacrifice to retain your queen. One of these pawns may sometimes be a queen, but not till by long probation and many steps of progress it has won its position in the queen's row. There should be a queen's row in teaching."

 

The Value of the Congo.—A letter from Mr. Stanley, protesting against giving up the control of the Congo to the Portuguese, which was read in the Geographical Section of the British Association, gives a magnificent idea of the value of what that river is capable of contributing to the advance of civilization. "Despite every prognostication to the contrary," says Mr. Stanley, "this river will yet redeem the lost continent. By itself it forms a sufficient prospect; but, when you consider its magnificent tributaries which flow on each side, giving access to civilization to what seemed hopelessly impenetrable a few years ago, the reality of the general utility and benefit to these dark tribes fills the sense with admiration. Every step I take increases my enthusiasm for my work and confirms my first impressions. Give 1,000 miles to the main channel, 300 to the Kwango, 120 to Lake Matemba, 300 to the Mobimbu, probably 800 to the Kaissai, 300 to the Saukuru, 500 to the Aruwimi, and 1,000 more to undiscovered degrees, for there is abundant space to concede so much, and you have 4,520 miles of navigable water."

 

A New Zealand Ice-Cave.—The Whaugachu River, of New Zealand, rises in an immense, deep, perpendicular walled ravine on the slopes of Mount Ruapehu, in which its descent is varied by a succession of waterfalls—"Horseshoe," "Bridal-Veil," etc., varying from 150 to 400 feet in height. "At one point, where the scene is hemmed in with towering precipices of 1,000 feet high and a glacier-slope in front, the gorge," says Mr. Nicholls, "wound in such a way that none of the surrounding country could be seen, and there was nothing but the blue heavens above to relieve the frigid glare of the ice, the cold glitter of the snow, and the dreary tints of the frowning, fire-scorched rocks. Right under the snowy glacier above us were wide-yawning apertures, arched at the top, and framed as it were with ice in the form of rude portals, through which the waters of the river burst in a continuous stream. We entered the largest of these singular structures, and found ourselves in a cave of some 200 feet in circumference, whose sides of black volcanic rock were sheeted with ice and festooned with icicles. At the farther end was a wide cavernous opening, so dark that the waters of the river, as they burst out of it in a foaming, eddying stream down the center of the cave, looked doubly white in comparison with the black void out of which they came. The roof of the cave was formed of a mass of frozen snow, fashioned into oval-shaped depressions, all of one uniform size, and so beautifully and mathematically precise in outline as to resemble the quaint designs of a Moorish temple; while, from the central points to which the edges of those singular designs converged, a long single icicle hung down, several inches in diameter at its base, perfectly round, smooth, and as clear as crystal, tapering off toward its end with a point us sharp as a needle." Wherever the water poured over the rocks it left a white deposit, which, when tasted, produced a marked astringent feeling upon the tongue, with a strong impression of alum, sulphur, and iron.

 

Malaria-Factories in Mauritius.—Reference having been made in a recent health lecture at the Society of Arts to an outbreak—the first in the history of the island—of malarial fever which occurred in Mauritius in 1866, Mr. F. Guthrie, who was there at the time, gives a statement of what he found, upon examination, was the cause of the outbreak. The embankments of the new railroad had caused the accumulation of water in ponds on either side of the track. This became stagnant and impregnated with the sewage that surged down from the higher land, till it was strongly offensive to the sight and the smell. In view of the existence of these cess-pools on a grand scale, Mr. Guthrie does not believe that the outbreak was due to the "clearing of the forests" or to the "upturning of the virgin soil," but simply "to the infatuation of those who did not know, and who, even when it was pointed out to them, could not see that, when lagoons of sewage and saltwater are reeking beneath a semi-tropical sun, fever is the rule rather than the exception."

 

Dancing as Physical Training.—Dr. Crichton Browne has had a good word to say for dancing. In a recent lecture before the Birmingham (England) Teachers' Association, he insisted on the importance of a timely training and discipline of all motor centers, so that advantage may be taken of the superior plasticity that characterizes them during their period of growth. lie spoke of the value of the educational training in this way of the hand-centers of to-be artisan.", of the different kinds of muscle work, and in regard to dancing said that, if taught at the proper time—that is, very early in life—it "may discipline large groups of centers into harmonious action, enlarge the dominion of the will, abolish unseemly muscular tricks and antic:", develop the sense of equilibrium, and impart grace and self-confidence. Every day," he continued, "we may detect in the conversation or carriage of persons we meet painful evidences of the neglect of dancing and deportment in the rearing of the young."

 

Mechanical Repetition and Intellectual Knowledge.—It has sometimes been observed that, when children of savages are put to school, they exhibit great readiness, and sometimes precocity, in learning the elementary branches till they reach a certain age, when they all at once fall off. Professor W. Mattieu Williams regards this as a sign of their intellectual inferiority, and a consequence of it. The earlier instruction of these children "mainly consists in 'learning lessons,' mechanical practice in writing, and mechanical use of the rote-learned addition and multiplication tables. So far, mere verbal memory, finger moving, and repetition-gabble of numbers, does all the work. The higher intelligence of the child contributes little or no aid in the performance of such tasks; it rather stands in the way by inducing thought, i. e., distracting the child's attention from the mechanical drudgery demanded. When work demanding thought is required, whether it be higher school-work or the business of practical life, the difference between the Caucasian and the lower races comes out; not because there is an arrest of development in the lower, but because the higher demand displays the working of the higher faculties. A glib aptitude for learning foreign languages is, generally speaking, an indication of intellectual inferiority, a simple result of the lower intellectual faculties being concentrated upon such mechanical effort without the distracting influence of the higher reasoning powers."

 

M. de Mortillet on Tertiary Man.—M. G. de Mortillet read a paper before the Anthropological Section of the French Association on Tertiary "man," in which he said the question was not one of knowing whether man existed in the Tertiary epoch as he exists to-day. Animals have varied from one geological stratum to another, and the higher the animals, the greater has been the variation. It is to be inferred, therefore, that man has varied more than the other mammals. The problem is to discover in the Tertiary period an ancestral form of man, a predecessor of the man of historical times. There are in the Tertiary strata objects which imply the existence in that age of an intelligent being; and such objects have been found in two different stages of the epoch—in the Lower Tertiary at Thenay, and in the Upper Tertiary at Otta, in Portugal, and at Puy Courny, in Cantal. They prove that at those two distant epochs there existed in Europe animals acquainted with fire, and able, more or less, to cut stone. During the Tertiary period, then, there lived animals less intelligent than existing man, but more intelligent than existing apes, although their skeletons have not yet been discovered, only their works. To these species, the ancestral forms of historic man, M. de Mortillet would give the name of anthropopithecus, or man-ape.

 

Words and Things.—A writer in the "Journal of Science" remarks upon the inadequacy of language to describe motions, as in the flight of different species of butterflies; colors, except a few particularly named ones; forms, except geometrical ones; and tastes and odors, in which the failure is complete. At the same time our mental conceptions of all these things may be of the clearest, when they have once passed under observation. To this he appends the pertinent question: Seeing how very impotent is language, unaided, to convey precise knowledge, "Why is such exclusive attention paid to words, both in lower and higher education, to the almost entire neglect of things? Verbal memory is cultivated above all other faculties of the human mind. Much care is taken to train up youth in the correct use of language. But in what school is the art of observation systematically taught? Who heeds or asks whether the observing faculties are strengthened? Quite the contrary; these faculties, if perhaps not intentionally, are not the less weakened and crowded out by dominant verbalism. . . . I am not seeking to undervalue the use and study of language. It furnishes, at any rate, receptacles in which the rough outlines of our knowledge may be preserved. But it must no longer seek to maintain the exclusive position which it has usurped. It must be made to feel that it is the espalier and not the vine, the purse and not the money, the shell and not the substance."

 

Sands of the Turkistan Deserts.—According to an account by M. Paul Lessar, of the Russian Geographical Society, the sands of the Kara-Kum Desert of Turkistan, represented on maps by one conventional sign, are in reality very varied, and arc divisible into three principal kinds. In the country between Merv and Attok, and between Sarakhs and Chacha, the soil is clayey, largely mixed with sand; its surface is formed into hillocks, rarely more than seven feet high, and usually thickly overgrown with brushwood. This kind of desert presents no particular obstacles to the traveler. The second kind of desert consists of real sands—not, however, of a drifting nature, but everywhere knit together by bushes ten or fifteen feet high. It is only at the summits of the hillocks, which are higher than those just described, that there is a little drift-sand, which is carried from place to place. In sands of this kind, carts move with great difficulty, while horses and camels go freely. No storm need be dreaded in these deserts, for the quantity of drift-sands is so small that it can not become dangerous, though it may cause considerable discomfort. The case is, however, very different with the sands of the third kind, or the so-called barkhans. In them no tree or bush or grass-blade is to be seen; the sand is wholly of a drifting nature; and the slightest puff of wind effaces the fresh tracks of a caravan. Wherever they meet a bush they are de. posited around it by the wind in hillocks that assume a variety of shapes. When the hillocks have covered the bushes they are molded by the wind according to one pattern, in which the side exposed to the wind presents a gradually raised cone, and the reverse a sharp curve, while a section might be accurately figured by a rib. The passage of these sands is very difficult. Horses sink and are hardly able to extricate their feet. It is necessary to proceed with the utmost caution in order not to lose one's way; for there is nothing to serve as a sign-post, except occasional sticks placed by passing caravans; and the wind blows them down and the sand covers them. Each successive caravan replaces them in the most convenient spot These sticks have to be followed on the march, for, when the least wind is blowing, only the most skillful and experienced guides can trace the direction of the road. The barkhans shift from place to place; and plain evidence of their drifting nature appears before the eyes of every traveler between Merv and Bokhara. When they move, it is usually without undergoing any change of shape. Besides the sands in the Kara-Kum, M. Lessar describes the kyrs, takirs, and shors. The kyrs are firm surfaces of clay mixed with sand, only occasionally covered with sand-hillocks, and hardened by vegetation. They usually consist of a row of valleys alternating with eminences not exceeding from one hundred and forty to two hundred and ten feet in height, and are always passable. The takir is a very hard surface devoid of vegetation, surrounded on all sides by sands almost horizontal or sloping but slightly. The clayey soil is impervious to water, but presents a very slippery surface in rainy weather. Shors are similar in appearance to takirs, but distinguished from them by their soil, which is a ferruginous sand, with gypsum protruding in many places on the surface. They arc sometimes dry and sometimes boggy; but in any case not difficult of passage.

 

Ancient Anæsthetics.—A recently discovered manuscript by Abélard gives some curious information concerning the means employed by the surgeons of his time to produce insensibility during their operations. Pliny mentions a stone of Memphis which, brayed and applied with vinegar, was put on particular parts of the body to anæsthetize them. He, Dioscorides, and Mattheolus speak of putting patients to sleep previous to operations by causing them to take, in bread or some other food, the juice of the leaves or a decoction of the roots of mandragora, or a dose of the plant called morion. Opium and hemp were used by the Chinese In the poly-composite pharmacy of the thirteenth century a preparation was made of opium, the juices of henbane, mandragora, hemlock, and other plants, with which sponges were charged. Having been dried in the sun, the sponges were moistened when it was desired to use them, and then applied under the noses of the patients as chloroform sponges are now applied.

 

A Chinese Dinner in High Life.—A member of a Bremen trading-house lately had the honor of taking dinner with a Chinese magnate in Pekin, and has given an appetizing description of the feast. The table was set with twenty-two dishes, and was lit with ten large lanterns, the light of which shone clear through brightly colored shades and ornaments. Instead of being served in courses, the dishes were brought in one at a time and passed to the guests severally, beginning with the most distinguished or with the oldest. The merchant has given a list of them, with his comments, as follows: 1. Doves with mushrooms and split bamboo-sprouts—delicious. 2. Fat pork fritters (or something like fritters) splendid. 3. Pigeon's-eggs in meat-broth, the whites hard but transparent—very good. 4. Chinese bird's-nests with ham-chips and bamboo-sprouts (a mucilaginous dish)—excellent. 5. Poultry, different kinds, cooked with mushrooms and bamboo-sprouts—very agreeable. 6. Duck, with bamboo and lotus fruits, the fruits tasting and looking like an acorn without its cup—tolerably good. 7. Hog's liver fried in castor-oil—bad. 8. A Japanese dish of mussels with malodorous codfish and bacon—horrible. 9. Sea-crabs' tails cooked in castor-oil, with bits of bamboo and ham—would have been palatable but for the wretched oil. 10. A star made of pieces of fowl, bacon, and dove, covered with white of egg—very juicy. 11. Slices of sea-fish and shark's fins, with bamboo and mushrooms—it was hard to tell what kind of a dish it was, but it was rather bad than good. 12. Giblets of poultry with morels—the morels helped the giblets down. 13. Ham and cabbage—not particularly good. 14. Hams of sucking pigs cooked in their own juice. A pause now ensued, during which pipes and tobacco were brought in. The pipes held about a thimbleful of tobacco—enough for two or three whiffs—and we were kept busy filling and lighting; them. 15. Land-turtles with their eggs in castor-oil—abominable. 16. Ends of ham—good. 17. Breast of fowl with sour cabbage—no delicacy. 18. Stale eggs (these eggs had been kept one month in salt and two months in moist earth). The whites looked like burned sugar, and were transparent. The yolks had a greenish color, and the embryos appeared dark, rolled together, and perfectly recognizable—a terrible dish. Dessert: Conserve of sitzon, a red fruit that looks like a shadberry, and tastes like a kind of currant—good. Dark-green fruits, having oval seeds like those of the plum, preserved in brandy—good. Crabs' tails cooked in castor-oil. A green, oval fruit with a long, hard seed, resembling a large green olive, but sharp and sour, and disagreeable to the European taste. Light cakes—very fine. Nuts, almonds, and castor-oil seeds, roasted and candied with sugar—good, even to the castor-oil seeds. Macaroni with sesame-seeds and three-cornered cakes covered with castor-oil seeds—passable. Various bonbons very moderate; baked lichis. The lichi is the finest of Chinese fruits, having a white flesh with the taste of the best grapes—excellent. Shaddocks and mandarin oranges—good. The only drinks were tea, very weak and without sugar, and samion, a rice-wine, which is drunk hot like tea, and is wretched stuff.

 

Temperature of Germination.—M. Hellriegel has undertaken, in a series of experiments on eighteen species of cultivated plants, to ascertain the lowest temperature at which seeds arc capable of germinating. The seeds, sprinkled with distilled water, were planted in large receptacles filled with vegetable mold that were raised to constant temperatures of 48°, 40°, 38°, 35°, and 32°, and kept there from thirty-five to sixty hours. It was found that rye and winter wheat germinated at 32°. Barley and oats showed their cotyledons at 32°, but did not start till 35° were reached. Indian com required 48°. The turnip germinated at 32°, flax at 35°, the pea and clover at 35°, the bean and lupin at 38°, asparagus at 35°, the carrot at 38°, and the beet at 40°. The respiratory function requires little heat, and operates even in the entire absence of light. Heat and light are, however, most favorable for the assimilation of carbonic acid and its conversion into carbon. But little importance is attached to the color of the light.

 

Dust in Rooms.—Professor W. Mattieu Williams contends that minute particles of dust are repelled or driven away from heated bodies, and that the repulsion operates in the open air and confined spaces alike. Large bodies, he adds, arc similarly repelled, but as the repulsion acts only superficially and the inertia of a mass of given matter increases with the cube of its through dimension, and its surface only with the square of the same, the repulsion of such masses demands special and delicate arrangements to render it visible. Assuming this view—that dust is repelled from warmer to cooler bodies, be those bodies solid or gaseous—to be proved, then, "if the walls, floor, ceiling, and furniture of a room be warmer than the air of the room, the dust will be repelled from the walls, etc., to the air; while if the air be warmer than the walls the dust will be projected from the air to the walls." Hence those methods of warming rooms are to be preferred which heat the air rather than the solid objects; and this, in Mr. Williams's opinion, should exclude open fires.