Popular Science Monthly/Volume 37/July 1890/Notes

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Prof. Samuel Cushman, Apiarist of the Rhode Island Agricultural Experiment Station, maintains, as the result of personal observation, that bees do no damage to growing or fair fruit. The juice of fruit is, in fact, injurious to them; and they do not attack sound fruit, but only bruised fruit, or that which has been previously injured by other insects. Every member present of the State Horticultural Society, before which Prof. Cushman read his paper, sustained him in this view. The author spoke also of the useful agency of insects, particularly of bees, in aiding the fertilization of flowers, and in contributing to cross-fertilization.

In Prof. John Bach McMaster's course of instruction in the history of the United States in the University of Pennsylvania, text-books are eschewed, and lectures and a printed syllabus take their place. Students are referred, whenever it is possible, to printed documents for information; and maps and diagrams, prepared by the members of the classes, are required to accompany the theses.

The Royal Geographical Society has awarded its Royal Medals to Emin Pasha and to Lieutenant Younghusband—to the latter, for his journey from Manchuria over the Mustagh Pass to Cashmere and India, of which we have published an account; the Cuthbert Peek grant to Mr. E. C. Hare, for observations on the physical geography of Lake Tanganyika; the Murchison grant to Signor Vittoria Sella, in consideration of his recent journey in the Caucasus; and the Gill memorial to Mr. C. M. Woodford, for his expeditions to the Solomon Islands, of which a report has been published in the Monthly.

Extract from Stephen Girard's will, dated February 16, 1830, in his eighty-first year: "The orphans admitted into the college shall be instructed in the various branches of a sound education, comprehending reading, writing, grammar, arithmetic, navigation, geography, surveying, practical mathematics, astronomy; natural, chemical, and experimental philosophy, the French and Spanish languages (I do not forbid, but I do not recommend, the Greek and Latin languages), and such other learning and science as the capacities of the several scholars may merit or warrant. I would have them taught facts and things, rather than words or signs; and especially I desire that by every proper means a pure attachment to our republican institutions and to the sacred rights of conscience, as guaranteed by our happy constitutions, shall be formed and fostered in the minds of the scholars." It is interesting to see how distinctly this notably clear-headed man set forth the requirements of a real education, which are only beginning to be adopted sixty years after he penned these words.

In the opinion of Sir T. Spencer Wells, President of an English Sanitary Association, much of the outcry about dangers from women taking up men's work is breath wasted. He thinks women capable of a great deal more than they have been accustomed to do in times past. "If overwork sometimes leads to disease, it is more morally wholesome to work into it than to lounge into it." For every example of disease of mind or body induced by mental overstrain he has seen twenty "where evils equally to be deplored are caused in young women by want of mental occupation, by deficient exercise, too luxurious living, and too much amusement or excitement."

Movements for the abolition of war are likely to gather increasing strength from the growing and universal expensiveness of the system. In the middle ages but little harm was done by war, except to the fighters. If a territory was overrun and devastated, there was but little fixed capital to be damaged, and the next year's production of the soil would be as good as ever. But the effects of to-day's wars in civilized countries are felt, not by the belligerents only, but to the very ends of the earth. The network of commerce is so complicated and extensive that any suffering felt by one member of the family of nations is shared in more or less by all. The Lancashire weavers probably suffered more from the stoppage of the cotton supply in our civil war than they would have done by any contingency in a war between England and Germany or France.

The researches of Mr. Charles B. Plowright into the distribution of calculous disease in England make apparent a correspondence between it and gout, and some likeness with the distribution of diabetes, but little or no parallelism with that of rheumatism and albuminuria. When compared with the rainfall map of the country, the disease seems to prevail most where there is least rain. So in Ireland, where the rainfall is very heavy, fatality from calculus is rare. Exposure to a dry atmosphere means, of course, more loss of fluids to the body than immersion in a moist atmosphere; and it has been proved experimentally that immersion in water of a lower temperature than the body of itself lessens the acidity of the urine.

Several agencies deleterious to health are mentioned by M. Raymondeau as confronting the workers in Limoges china-ware. They are forced to occupy a position that promotes a spinal curvature; the dust arising in the early operations of crushing and grinding the quartz is deleterious to the lungs; the work in preparing the paste is done on a panned floor over which water flows continuously, or under conditions favorable to the propagation of the maladies of dampness; those who have to place the prepared paste in the ovens are exposed to the danger of an escape of sulphuric-acid gas; and those who turn, polish, and dust the china suffer from the action of dust on their bronchial tubes.

Some interesting facts were furnished some time ago by English hatters respecting the sizes of men's hats. The "size" is a mean between the length and breadth of the hat; thus, measurements of seven inches and a half by six inches and a half would give No. 7, and so on. The usual size for an adult Englishman is No. 1. Germans have round heads, Malays small ones. The heads of Portuguese average from six inches and seven eighths to seven inches; those of Spaniards are a little larger. The heads of Japanese excel the English average. Men that have much to do with horses are said to have the smallest heads; and a rough relation appears to exist between the size of the headdress and the mental capacity.

Among the peculiar geological features of Palestine, as described by Prof. Hull, are traces of old sea margins two hundred feet above the present sea margins, and the evidences that an arm of the Mediterranean had at one time occupied the valley of the Nile as far as the First Cataract, when Africa was probably an island. It is also made probable that, at the time of the Exodus, the Red Sea ran up into the Bitter Lakes. In illustration of the great changes that have taken place in the elevation of the land eastward of these lakes, it was mentioned that the waters of the Jordan Valley once stood at 1,292 feet above their present height.

A small exposure of peridotite in Pike County, Ark., described by Messrs. Branner and Brackett, of the State Geological Survey, is regarded as important in the suggestion it offers respecting the time and character of the disturbing influences by means of which the region was sunk toward the end of the Cretaceous period beneath the ocean, and as interesting because it is the third reported occurrence of picrite-porphyry in the United States. The entire exposure is 2,400 feet long by 1,600 feet wide.

A meeting of the International Congress of Hygiene and Demography is arranged for, to be held in London in 1 890. Sir Douglas Galton is president of the organizing committee.

Three asteroids which have been discovered since the 1st of January, 1890, bring the number of these worldlets that have been identified up to 290. Most of the more recent discoveries seem to have been made by specialists who pursue the search for asteroids as their chief work. Mr. Luther, who discovered No. 288, has been about forty years at the business, and this is his twenty-fourth planet. M. Charlois, the discoverer of No. 289, has detected six of these. No. 290 is M. Palissa's seventieth asteroid, although he has been looking for them only since 1874. Mr. Peters, of Clinton, New York, has discovered forty-eight. The brothers Henri discovered seven each, but of late years their attention has been turned from this subject to that of photographing the sky.

The collection of birds from the Galapagos Archipelago, made in connection with the voyage of the steamer Albatross in 1882, is of special interest, for the reason that two islands are represented in it upon which no collections had been made before; and several new species have thus been added to science; while other islands have been carefully examined. From Mr. Robert Ridgway's description of these collections—published among the Scientific Results of the Expedition—it appears that the avifauna of the islands is not yet exhausted as a field for promising research in the problem of the derivative origin of species.

Preserving fruits and vegetables by drying in the sun has been practiced from time immemorial. Within historical times drying in kilns has been introduced, and within the present century compression of the dried product has been added to the process by the French. Immense quantities of dried and compressed fruits and vegetables are prepared for the British Army and Navy. In the Crimean War the following proportions for mixed vegetables were decided upon and are still adhered to: potato forty per cent, carrot thirty, cabbage ten, turnip ten, and seasoning herbs (onion, leek, celery, parsley, parsnip, etc.) ten per cent. The vegetables are also put up separately to meet special wants in various parts of the British possessions. After being dried they are compressed to about one eighth their original bulk, and formed into small slabs which are packed in soldered tins stamped inside with the year of manufacture.

The American Geologist states that the largest gold-mine in the world is in Alaska. It is lighted throughout by electricity and is worked day and night. An offer of sixteen million dollars for this mine has been refused.