Popular Science Monthly/Volume 36/December 1889/Notes

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The Board of Directors of the Zoölogical Society of Philadelphia asserts in its last report that the collection has at no previous time been so well able to fill its part among the educational institutions of the city as at present. It contains a sufficient variety of specimens to give a comprehensive idea of the four classes of vertebrates. Some of the larger groups are exceptionally well represented. The series of monkeys is large, and contains a number of species rarely seen in captivity, as well as six specimens of lemurs. The collection of parrots is also worthy of special attention. Arrangements have been made for securing an extensive collection of North American forms of reptiles and amphibians.

A review of "The Sociological Position of Protection and Free Trade" leads Mr. Lester F. Ward to the conclusion that "free trade, laissez-faire, and individualism in general, represent the untamed forces of nature, such as would exist in the physical world had there never been any inventions, contrivances, machinery, or arts"; while "protection belongs to the great class of ingenious instrumentalities which the civilized brain of man has learned to devise and employ for the regulation, control, and utilization of natural agencies."

The studies of Sir J. William Dawson on the Eozoic and Palæozoic rocks of the Atlantic coast of Canada have led him to a conclusion that, in the rocks from the Lawrentian to the Trias, a continuous parallelism exists on the two sides of the Atlantic, in mineral character and order of succession of aqueous deposits; in the occurrence of great earth-movements of elevation, depression, and plication, at corresponding times; in the ejection of like kinds of igneous rocks in connection with like members of the aqueous series; in the order of introduction and extinction of animals and plants; and in the specific identity of animals and plants in corresponding formations.

Prof. Williamson has reported, in the British Association, concerning some specimens of the fruiting of the Calamites of the coal-measures, which he regarded as demonstrating his opinion that these plants were equisetiform cryptogams.

The experiment of amalgamating the Indians with the surrounding population in Canada and inducing them to adopt a settled life has been most successful in Ontario, and in all cases the tribes show an increase in numbers. There are 124,539 Indians in the Dominion, of whom 37,944 are in British Columbia; 26,368 in Manitoba and the Northwestern Territory, 17,700 in Ontario, 12,465 in Quebec, 8,000 in Athabasca, 7,000 in the Mackenzie district, 4,016 in Eastern Rupert's Land, 4,000 on the arctic coasts, 2,145 in Nova Scotia, 20,338 in the Peace River district, 1,594 in New Brunswick, 1,000 in the interior of Labrador, and 319 in Prince Edward Island. The Indian schools are attended by 6,127 youth and girls, one half of them being in Manitoba and the Northwestern Territory.

Experiments by Mr. J. B. Francis, of the American Society of Civil Engineers, show that under a pressure of seventy-seven pounds per square inch, more than seventeen gallons of water per square foot of surface will pass through sixteen inches of cement in twenty-four hours. Thick brickwork laid in cement permitted a copious percolation of water under pressure.

"La Nature" has a commendatory notice of the display of American precious stones that has been arranged by Mr. George F. Kunz, of this city. It includes splendid specimens of native crystallized gold from California; diamonds; "incomparable" rubies, including one quite exceptional in color and limpidity, from Franklin, N. C.; sapphires of rare quality, emeralds, tourmalines, perfectly clear rock crystals, pcriodotites; amethysts of a deep, transparent violet; obsidian, gadolinite, and turquoises; also specimens of Indian jewelry-work, in which turquoises are used; "superb" specimens of pyrites, azurite, malachite, and amber are also mentioned.

Dr. Alfredo da Luy, of Rio Janeiro, believes that the climate of Brazil is degenerating to Europeans, especially to persons from the north. he has noticed that Brazilians in general are more pallid, and are less vigorous and energetic, than persons coming from temperate and cold climates, The degeneration of the Portuguese race may also be noted in Rio de Janeiro. An anæmic condition, caused by malarious influences, is common among them, and, while it does not kill by itself, weakens the hold on life and greatly increases the infant mortalty. The children of Portuguese and Italians do not seem to fare so badly as the children of parents coming from more northern countries.

According to Dr. Macgowan, it is believed in India, China, and Indo-China that a cobra that escapes an attack from a man will eventually revenge itself upon its assailant, whatever he may do or wherever he may go. The Chinese believe, too, that the killer of a cobra will be haunted afterward by its spirit, hence the snakes are shunned rather than attacked. Among the stories by which this superstition is enforced, is one of a snake-spirit which, entering into possession of the slayer of the reptile, used its voice to curse him until he was relieved by death. Stories are also given of the gratitude of snakes. The recently established native newspapers of China are full of accounts of popular superstitions, prodigies, tales, monstrosities, etc., illustrating the folk-lore of the country.

"The Lancet" observes that it has been frequently remarked that genius and insanity are sometimes combined in the same person or in closely connected members of the same family; but it is not easy to trace the connection between those mental conditions and the sinful or criminal acts that are apt to be committed by persons so organized. The medical profession recognizes forms of affection or moral insanity in which the capacity to govern the emotions is in abeyance. A marked feature of this phase of mental disease is the absence of delusions; and from that fact conflict often arises between the medical and legal aspects when the question of criminality has to be taken into consideration.

Prof. Steenstrup has given an account, to the Scientific Society of Copenhagen, of the results of his examination of a great mammoth deposit at Predmost, in Moravia. Dr. Wankel and Prof. Maschka believe that the animals were killed by man and brought to the district to be eaten. Prof. Steenstrup believes that they came to the place of themselves, and died from some cause with which man had nothing to do. But, in maintaining his position, he has to account for some of the bones being split, for their bearing marks of fire, and for decorative lines having been scratched upon them.

Discussing the relation of occupations and trades to public health, Dr. John T. Alridge remarks that erroneous conclusions may be drawn by overlooking factors which, though potent, are not prominent to view. Thus, as a general rule, light occupations, in good social credit, will attract a large ratio of weak lives, pronounced incapable of active labor. Such an occupation is that of clerk; and we must not lay too much stress on its unhealthfulness as being a sedentary calling, when, in truth, it is largely filled with persons already of sickly habit. Dr. Alridge believes that inhalation of dust is a most effective cause of disease, and that those occupations in which much dust is stirred are intrinsically the most unhealthy.

In providing for the water-supply and the disposal of the sewage of the city of Toronto, engineers have to deal with the problem which is presented by the necessity of drawing the water from and returning the sewage to the same body—Lake Ontario. The water intake is now through a crib fixed at about two thousand feet from the outer shore of the island that lies in front of the harbor. Messrs. Rudolp Hering and Samuel W. Gray, who were invited to study the subject and report upon it, have reached the conclusion that "for many years to come no objection can arise and no pollution will be observed, if the sewage outfall is placed as proposed, six and one half miles from the present water intake."

The British Association Committee on the circulation of the underground waters of the kingdom, etc., reports that since it was appointed, fourteen years ago, the recognition of those stores as affording efficient supplies of water free from organic impurity at relatively little cost has made great progress. The publication of the results already obtained has been greatly appreciated by engineers and contractors, and has helped and supported recommendations of water-supplies from underground sources. As time goes on, large numbers of borings are annually made; and numerous provincial societies are giving attention to the subject and publishing results.

Mr. J. A. Loudon, of Newcastle, showed in the British Association that peat fiber can furnish a suitable material for the manufacture of brown paper, wrappers, and mill-boards. It is not, however, available for white paper.

A method of making bottles by machinery was described by Mr. H. M. Ashley in the British Association. The resultant bottle is homogeneous, with ring, neck, body, and bottom, all as one. Specimens had been subjected to an internal pressure of three hundred poundst to the square inch without any being broken. The use of the method is expected to do away with the most unhealthy part of the ordinary process of blowing bottles.