Popular Science Monthly/Volume 39/August 1891/Popular Miscellany

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Spontaneous Languages.—We noticed, several months ago, a deeply interesting study of the spontaneous development of language in children, by the Hon. Horatio Hale. The same phenomenon—tantamount to the creation of an original tongue—has been observed by other persons; among them, Miss Watson, of Boston; Dr. E. R. Hun, of Albany; Archdeacon Farrar (in the case of Indian children left by themselves for weeks together in Canadian villages); and by M. Taine, in his work De l'Intelligence. Mr. W. J. Stillman has recently communicated to Nature observations made by him upon his son several years ago, when he was under the care of an Italian nurse. As the child's utterances took shape it was found that he repeated certain sounds with a definite meaning, and soon coined a small vocabulary for himself, comprising words for bread, water, milk, etc. The first word distinguished was chumbhoo, for water. Then in a few weeks he began to couple the Italian words with his, and said chumboo-aqua. Little by little he dropped his own words and began speaking only Italian. Recently, when on a visit to Crete, Mr. Stillman met a boy who had formed for himself a similar language, with the same word for water as his own son had invented. Mrs. Agnes Crane cites in a later number of Nature the case of a nephew of Dr. George Gablentz, a well-known Sinologist, who, before he learned his mother-tongue, called things by names of his own invention. The constant elements were the consonants, while the vowels were varied and employed as they were deeper or higher to denote greatness or smallness. The root for round objects was m—m; a watch, plate, and the moon were mem, a large round dish or table was mum, and the stars were mim mim mim; an ordinary chair was lakail, a great armchair lukull, and a little doll's chair likill. The Rev. J. C. Ball, a distinguished philologist, and his young brother, when six or eight years old, had names of their own devising for their tools and toys. Mary Howitt's elder sister, Anna, did not learn to talk till she was four years old; and even then, having but few words, the children had to coin their own. To sneeze was okis-how—a sound, she thinks, one of their parents must have made in sneezing. By a similar onomatopoeia, an American child called cat mea; in another child's vocabulary, the extraordinary trisyllable shindikik designated that animal. The association of ideas and extension of meaning are often very suggestive—viz., migno-migno—water, wash, bath; waia waiar—black, darkness, negro. It is interesting, Mrs. Crane adds, to note the continued use of Mr. Stillman's boy's own name for water as a means of identifying the acquired Italian aqua for the same object, as frequently happens with adults struggling to express themselves in a foreign tongue. Reduplication seems also to characterize these child-languages like those of some savage tribes, and plurals are formed by repetition.


Botany in the Harvard Museum.—The provisions for the permanent display of the botanical section of the Harvard University Museum are nearly complete, and will be unusually comprehensive. The exhibition is planned to contain both dry and alcoholic preparations, representing nearly all the botanical regions. The genera of North America will be most completely illustrated, while the principal groups from other parts of the world will be properly related to them in accordance with an educational plan. The illustration of the economic plants of this country will be extended through all the stages of development, and will be a prominent feature. A unique feature in the department of imitative specimens will be the collection of glass models, which have been prepared after a secret method by Herr Blaschka. They exhibit the whole microscopic structure with the different phases of growth accurately in details, and in some cases very largely magnified. The collection has also been given a set of duplicates from Columbia College representing the South American collection of Dr. Morony. The exhibition-rooms will be connected by passage-ways with those of the Zoölogical Museum on one side and the mineralogical section on the other side, and this in turn will be connected with the proposed corner-piece extending to the Peabody Museum; so that there will be a quadrangle with an unbroken circuit through those parts of the University Museum which are planned for public exhibition.


Resources of Honduras.—Mr. W. Pilcher gave to the British Association the results of his observations in Honduras during three months when he traveled on muleback over a thousand miles, chiefly through that part of the country lying on the Pacific slope of the Cordilleras. On the Guayape and Jalun Rivers, in Olancho, the gold-washing provides an easy living for the natives. At the old Spanish mines of Opoteca and Yuscaran the mining camps of the Americans and Germans are at full work. Tropical vegetation abounds in the beautiful and fertile valleys and plateaus, and coffee, rice, maize, sugar-cane, bananas, plantains, guavas, oranges, lemons, and other fruits are continuously produced without fear of frost or adverse seasons. Herds of cattle and native horses are scattered over the country, and Honduras, with its natural advantages and its proximity to New Orleans, presents good opportunities to the foreign settler for the successful employment of his capital in the raising of cattle and the production of the fruits of the country.


Prof. Brooks's Studies in Oyster-culture.—Prof. H. Newell Martin refers the beginning of the scientific culture of the oyster to a paper by Prof. Brooks, which appeared in the first number of the Studies from the Biological Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University, "On the Development from the Eggs of a Certain Mollusk." It was followed in the next year by a treatise on the development of some fresh-water mollusca; and during the same year another member of the university endeavored, at the instigation of the Fish Commission, to discover the young oysters and learn their mode of life. The first effort failed, because the young oyster was looked for between the sheila of its mother, where it was not. Then, in 1879, Prof. Brooks undertook the search on the invitation of the Fish Commissioner for Maryland. Within twenty-four hours of his arrival at Crisfield, he discovered that the American oyster is not nursed within the shell of the parent, but shows an early independence; and that it is possible to take their eggs from oysters and fertilize and rear them artificially, as is done with the eggs of shad and trout. "These two discoveries, based on previous investigation of the development of mollusks which have no commercial importance, made a new starting-point for the study of the oyster. It was impossible to catch and study in continuous development the microscopic, embryonic oysters scattered throughout the Chesapeake Bay; but, once we could hatch the oyster in the laboratory and study its growth and life conditions, a very important step forward would be made. It was proved that we could get young oysters in incalculable numbers at a very small cost, and, far more important, an opportunity to investigate the fife conditions of the young oyster would be given. To carry on the growth of the artificially hatched young oysters a steady supply of fresh sea-water was needed. This the university provided the next year by the purchase of a small steam-engine and a complete outfit for the breeding of young oysters on a small scale." Before the party left Crisfield, in July, 1879, they had established the two leading facts that the eggs of the Maryland oyster are thrown out into the bay to be fertilized at random, and that it is possible to fertilize and hatch thousands of them in a watchglass; in fact, that in a few buckets of seawater one could hatch enough eggs to supply spat for the whole Chesapeake Bay.


Building Homes.—A beaver in captivity, says Chambers's Journal, will build a dam across the kitchen, making it of sticks and brushes, with a charming air of doing the best he can. The nest-building of birds has also a delightful air of contrivance about it. One likes them for the marvels they do with bits of grass and rag and wool. There is human nest-building too; but, considering their resources, the birds are before us in the beauty and utility of their work; while in contrivance the beaver in the story leaves us nowhere. Our house-building corresponds to the nest-building of the birds. It is the preparation of our home: utility and beauty are to be as guiding lines in arranging our plan. Let it be remembered that we are not contriving a furniture mart or a bric-à-brac shop, or even a place on view, but a house to be lived in, every room and part of which is to be made enjoyable. It is greatly a matter of common sense and good taste; these produce better results than the check-book and the complete house-furnisher. The moneyed system results in a mansion complete, from a grand piano down to a cat and a duster. The system of contrivance boasts of having secured all one likes best, and all in good taste. The planners and contrivers are the true nest-builders. After duly considering the whole matter, the writer concludes that "our hints resolve themselves into two principles: arrange the house not by rule or custom, but for the use of each room; and let beauty unite with use in every part."


The Massachusetts Institute of Technology.—The history of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is traced by Mr. Augustus Lowell m a commemorative address on the occasion of its twenty-fifth anniversary, June 3, 1890. It was opened in 1865, under the direction of Prof. W. B. Rogers, with twenty-seven students; it has now, after having suffered a decline in the years following the financial crisis of 1872, more than nine hundred students. A laboratory of general chemistry was introduced almost at the outset. The Rogers Laboratory of Physics, where the student could make observations and conduct measurements for himself, followed soon afterward. In 1871-'72 a scientific expedition of students and instructors went to the Rocky Mountains, and brought back with them from California apparatus for a laboratory of mining and metallurgy—the first proper concern of the kind devoted to purposes of instruction in the world. A laboratory of steam engineering was established in 1873, a system of shop-work in 1876, a laboratory of applied mechanics in 1881, the germ of a biological laboratory was introduced in 1884, and a laboratory for a course of electrical engineering was instituted in 1883. The last study is treated as dependent on mechanical engineering, and the recognition of laboratory work in mechanics as an essential feature of a proper training in any branch of the engineering profession is considered the last contribution of the Institute to the philosophy of scientific and technical education.


Petroleum Fuels.—Petroleum is defined by Prof. William Robinson as, in the widest sense of the term, comprising not only the mineral oils found in the earth's crust, but also the oils obtained by the destructive distillation of coal and bituminous shale. These complex liquid hydrocarbons vary in appearance from that of clear, light kerosene oils to heavy, dark-greenish slush or semi-fluid slime. After the volatile or lighter oils have been driven off from crude petroleum, the heavy oil left is known as residuum in America; in Russia it is called astatki. This astatki, or heavy petroleum refuse, is an excellent liquid fuel, and is at least twice as good as ordinary coal for steam-raising purposes. The light lubricating oils, intermediate oils, and kerosene or ordinary lamp oils are all being used at the present time instead of coal-gas in the cylinder of the internal-combustion engine. In some cases the heavier oils are converted into an oil-gas, which, when cooled, is admirably adapted to drive gas-engines. Other internal-combustion engines, as, for instance, the Priestman, Akroyd, and Knight engines, use common burning oils directly, and act as their own gas generators. Prof. Robinson urges that such dangerous and highly volatile hydrocarbons as benzoline, gasoline, and petroleum spirit should not be used as fuel in gas-engines. The long series of accidents so frequently attending the use of these light, inflammable vapors have done more than any other one thing to retard the development of this class of prime motors, by prejudicing the public mind against the appearance of oil in any shape or form. This volatile spirit may, however, act with safety as an evaporating agent instead of steam, as in the Yarrow spirit launches, where it is used in the internal parts, and provision is made against leakage, while ordinary burning oil generates the heat. It will thus be seen that liquid hydrocarbons, such as common petroleum oil, may be employed in prime motors as a substitute for either coal or steam or both. It is becoming generally recognized that for large powers, notwithstanding some advantages, the ordinary vaporizers in petroleum oil-engines are difficult and troublesome to work with. In fact, for large engines the practical plan obviously is to convert oil into gas by means of a gas-producer. Oil-gas, when cooled, can be used with great economy in the engine cylinder. Further, a very decided saving of fuel may be effected by this combination of oil-gas producer with the internal-combustion engine, in place of the boiler and steam-engine, in many places where suitable oil is cheap or plentiful, or where intermittent work is required. On the other hand, more heat may be produced by the direct combustion of liquid fuel with dry steam and air than by converting the oil into gas before using it as a fuel. Oil-gas is a safe, rich, permanent gas made from petroleum oil, and burned with excellent results in the gas-engine cylinder.


Improved Ventilation.—According to Mr. D. G. Hoey, the first attempt to apply really scientific principles to ventilation was made by Sir Humphry Davy in 1811, and nothing better has yet been offered. Davy proposed to ventilate the House of Commons by admitting fresh air through numerous holes in the floor and carrying off the foul air by tubes in the ceiling leading directly without, heated to promote rapidity of discharge, while the doors and windows were kept closed. The scheme failed in practical application because of defects in mechanism. A method based upon the same principles is proposed by Mr. Hoey, and has been applied in certain buildings in Glasgow. In it, for the admission of the fresh air without currents or draughts, a dado, about three feet high, is fitted at conveniently available parts around the room, with a narrow space between it and the wall. On the top of it wire gauze or perforated metal is fixed in an inclined position (to keep things from being put upon it). The fresh air is introduced into the dado space at a low level and in a lateral direction to promote diffusion, through a number of inlets from the outer atmosphere along the whole line. The total area of these inlets is proportioned to the area of the hot-air shaft provided for carrying off the impure air. The total space inclosed by the dados is much greater than the total area of the inlets from the outer atmosphere; and by this means the entering air is made to spread itself slowly through the interior of the reservoir, and to percolate gently through the gauzes so as to permeate the atmosphere of the room by gentle diffusion, instead of entering in a stream. In winter the air admitted may be warmed by a heating surface of pipes fitted along the length of the dado. For carrying off the impure air, a chimney of suitable capacity is provided, with a close-throated fire grate; or a connection is formed with any existing perpendicular flue. There should be an opening in the room, at a high level, into an outlet tube communicating with the perpendicular column of rarefied air in the chimney or flue. When a suitable chimney or upright flue is not available, the same results are produced by a suitable tube erected above a skylight in the roof of the hall, in which a current may also be promoted by means of a Bunsen burner.


Labor as a Means of Human Improvement.—The remark which has been a long time current is re-enforced by the latest studies, that the prevailing and dominant people, races, or nations, and the flow of superior human energy have always come from the cold, bleak, inhospitable regions of the north. Notwithstanding physiology indicates a tropical or subtropical origin for mankind, man in the tropical regions makes no advance, but tends, on the whole, to decline; and when men from the temperate zone settle in tropical regions, they are very liable to become enervated. The probable reason for this tendency is that living in such regions is too easy, and that the conditions prevailing there do not afford the stimulus to the exertion without which it is impossible to keep up vigor. So, when, anywhere, a hard-working, active people meet with fortune and settle into a life of ease, they begin at once to weaken. In England, it is the common people who are multiplying rapidly and swarming all over the earth; while the aristocracy can not even keep up its stock, but has to be refreshed from time to time by the interpolation of fresh blood. These facts are used by Prof. Williams to enforce the maxim that every human being should earn his daily bread by daily work, and that the inheritance of such an amount of wealth as shall render a man or a woman a mere purposeless pleasure-seeker is a most degrading curse.


Aniline Photographs.—Analogous to the photographic process with the salts of silver is the production of pictures by a similar process with the aniline colors. As described by Messrs. Green, Cross, and Bevan, in the Society of Arts, the simplest method of producing a picture in any of these colors is based upon the fact that they all fade more or less on exposure to sunlight. Prints obtained by exposure to sunlight of paper coated with eosine and methylene blue were exhibited by the authors, in which the gradations of shade were exactly reproduced; those parts which received the most light were the most bleached, whereas the shadows of the object had protected the parts of the paper beneath them, and the depth of the shadow of the original was thereby reproduced. These pictures have no practical value, because they are destined to be obliterated by the gradual fading out of the whole surface. In the diazotype process, the picture is fixed by causing a compound to be formed which will resist the further action of the light. The process starts with the yellow body called primuline—a substance constituted with ammonia, having one of the hydrogen atoms replaced by a complex group. It combines with nitrous acid to form a diazo compound, and this, like the other diazo derivatives, exercises a constructive or synthetic reaction with the amines and phenols, with which azo-coloring matters are formed. The essential conditions of primuline photography are that the reactions take place with primuline after its application to any surface or material as a dye, without affecting its union with the material; and that the diazo derivative produces the photo-sensitive in the highest degree. The prints obtained are positive, the light and shadow of the object being exactly reproduced in the colored picture. Natural objects, therefore, of convenient form, such as leaves, may be photographed directly; reproductions from camera pictures require glass positives, or positive paper prints made transparent in the usual way with vaseline. A second process is based upon the peculiar properties of the diazo derivatives of the coal-tar bases, in which the light plays a constructive part in the development of a colored picture. When the diazo compounds are treated with an alkaline bisulphite, they are converted into the diazo sulphonates, on which the action of light is to set free the diazo group from its combinations, but which do not react with phenols and amines. The mixture of a diazo sulphonate with the latter is unattended by any color reaction; but, on exposure to light, the diazo group being set free in presence of a phenol, the development of an azo-color takes place with equal step. In the process based on this reaction, the photographic surface is a mixture of a diazo sulphonate with the alkali compound of a phenol applied to any suitable material. On exposure to light under a transparency, development of color takes place in proportion to the quantity of light transmitted, giving, therefore, a reversed reproduction, or negative picture. When printed, the unattached mixture is dissolved away by copious washing, and leaves the picture, already developed in the azo-color, which is relatively insoluble, permanently fixed upon the fabric or material. The primuline process is simple. It can be practiced with the minimum of apparatus, requires no technical training, and the results are striking and pleasing.


Processes for sterilizing Milk.—The report of Messrs. W. T. Sedgwick and John L. Batchelder, Jr., concerning the milk-supply of Boston, shows that milk drawn directly from the healthy cow is ordinarily free from bacteria, or sterile. It is, however, so rapidly contaminated in the act of milking, and is itself so favorable a medium for the growth of bacteria, that even "pure country" milk contains hundreds of bacteria per teaspoonful. The time required before this can be distributed in the city is so great that milk arriving by rail in Boston contains about 300,000 per teaspoonful, while that taken from wagons or sold in groceries is older and shows from one to ten millions. Mrs. Ellen H. Richards and Mrs. Mary Hinman Abel, who have made an especial investigation of the subject for Mr. Edward Atkinson, find the conclusions forced upon them that a large percentage of milk in daily use is liable to contain disease germs which may under favorable circumstances be communicated to the consumer; and that even healthy milk is a highly putrescible substance, which in its raw state offers a most favorable medium for the culture of many kinds of bacteria that grow in numbers and rapidity, depending principally on the surrounding temperature, and that in the digestive tract, especially of young children, in warm weather this partly decomposed milk leads often to fatal results. Various chemicals have been used to neutralize the acids resulting from the activity of these bacteria, but they have one and all been condemned as injuring the milk or as deleterious to the stomach. It is at present agreed on all hands that only by the application of heat can all this germ life be destroyed and the milk made safe without injuring its food value; and numberless experiments have been made to determine how high a degree of heat must be employed and how long it must be continued. This process is known as sterilization. By the ordinary methods in use considerable changes are wrought in the milk by sterilization; and means have been sought to destroy the bacteria, if possible, at a temperature that would leave the milk unchanged in odor, taste, and appearance. Several processes for this purpose are mentioned in Mr. Atkinson's paper; and it has been found that the object is accomplished by restricting the temperature to 140º Fahr.


Observatory Work at Harvard.—The Director of the Astronomical Observatory of Harvard College calls attention in his annual report to the need of a fire-proof building for the storage of photographic plates. The observatory has received in the last year about nine thousand such plates—some taken in Peru, some in California, and some in Cambridge, and it has in all about twenty-seven thousand of them. They represent the entire sky from the north to the south pole, the greater portion of it being covered several times; and they show the spectra as well as the positions of the stars. A large part of the charts and nearly all the spectra are unique, not having been photographed elsewhere. Much time has been devoted at the three stations of the observatory to visual observations of the colors and markings of the planet Mars. A number of the so-called canals were recognized, but only one of them was seen to be double. The best means of photographic enlargement of astronomical observations have been studied. Investigations have been conducted with regard to the meteorology of the globe, with particular reference to cloudiness and other phenomena affecting the choice of astronomical stations; the fundamental principles of astronomical photography; the great nebulous region of Orion; the best form of standard light, and other details of quantitative photographic work.


Extension of the English Coal-fields.—A discovery of coal has been made near Dover which promises to mark a new era in the industrial development of England. It is full of interest, not only from the commercial point of view, but also, as Prof. Boyd Dawkins, who had much to do with it, remarks, because it is the story of a scientific idea originated many years ago, taking root in the minds of geologists, developed into theory, and ultimately verified by facts. The physical identity of the coal-bearing districts of Somerset on the west with those of northern France and Belgium on the east was recognized by Buckland and Conybeare, as far back as 1826, as well as the fact that the coalmeasures lie buried partially under the newer rocks. Twenty-nine years later, Mr. Godwin Austen read a paper before the Geological Society of London on the possible extension of the coal-measures beneath the southeastern part of England, in which he set forth the facts in the geological structure of the country; whence he drew the conclusion that there are coal-fields beneath the Oölitic and Cretaceous rocks in the south of England, and that they are near enough to the surface along a certain line to be capable of being worked. He mentioned the Thames Valley and the Weald of Kent and Sussex as possible places where they might be discovered. An inquiry was made between 1866 and 1871 under an official commission, before which Godwin Austen testified. The report of this commission, drawn up by Prof. Prestwich, gave the evidence for and against the existence of the alleged coal-fields. The views of Godwin Austen were fortified by a large series of observations; and the conclusions were reached that coal-fields of the same kind and value as those of Somerset and of northern France and Belgium exist under the newer rocks of the south of England, and that the same measures which disappear in the west under the newer rocks of Somerset reappear in the east from underneath the newer rocks of the Continent. The Subwealden Exploration Committee bored for this coal at Netherfield, from 1871 till 1875, to a depth of 1,905 feet without finding encouragement to go further. In 1886 new borings were begun at Dover. They have been carried on till the present time, to the depth of 1,224 feet. The coal-measures were struck at a depth of 1,204 feet from the surface, and a seam of good blazing coal was met with twenty feet lower. This discovery, Prof. Dawkins says, "establishes the fact that, at a depth of about 1,204 feet from the surface, there is a coal-field lying buried under the newer deposits of southeastern England, and proves up to the hilt the truth of Godwin Austen's hypothesis after a lapse of thirty-five years. The question is finally settled so far as the purely geological and scientific side of it goes." The commercial value of the discovery is next to be estimated. A favorable prognostic is derived from the richness of the corresponding beds on the Continent. The depth is not too great for profitable working, for most of the important coal-pits in England are worked to a greater depth than this, and range to more than 2,800 feet; and one pit at Charleroi in Belgium is worked to a depth of 3,412 feet.


Permanent Value of the High-altitude Cure.—The acclimation of consumptives to the climate of Colorado, and the return of cured patients from high altitudes, were discussed at last year's meeting of the American Climatological Association, in Pueblo, Col. Dr. H. O. Dodge regarded the acclimation of the individual as consisting' in overcoming the conditions of altitude and low density of atmosphere that prevail in mountain regions, and in acquiring the ability to do full labor or take continuous exercise without detriment to the system. The diminished heat at the high altitude, together with the increased tissue-changes consequent on the accelerated circulation and respiration, create an increased demand for food; hence the Coloradan mountaineer is blessed with a keen appetite and vigorous digestion, and, while his store of adipose is usually small, his muscular powers are, as a rule, high. The cool nights promote refreshing sleep, and the dry atmosphere enables one to withstand without inconvenience changes of temperature that in more humid regions would be detrimental or dangerous. The aggregate of persons who become acclimated in Colorado and thereby cured may be divided into three classes, viz.: first, a few who are absolutely cured and who may go to any part of the world or engage in any business, and enjoy an immunity from consumption; those who may go to lower and less favorable climates during certain selected seasons; and those who can not with safety make any change of climate. According to Dr. Dodge's observation and recollection, the first class includes about nine per cent of the patients; the second class, including the first, about fifty per cent; and the third class about fifty per cent. Concerning the safety of a return from the high altitudes after having enjoyed an arrest of the disease, Dr. Frederick I. Knight, of Boston, thought that those who show a strong hereditary tendency to the disease had better be encouraged to remain in the climate where the arrest has taken place. But a patient who has no inherent tendency to this form of disease in himself, but has been the victim, as it were, of external circumstances, may be allowed to try a return under different conditions.


Science at McGill University.—During the past year McGill University, Montreal, has received gifts from citizens of that city aggregating one million dollars, one half of which sum has been given by Mr. William C. McDonald. The larger part of the donations is being expended by the Faculty of Applied Science, of which Prof. H. C. Bovey is dean. A group of new buildings, to accommodate classes in civil, mining, mechanical, and electrical engineering and practical chemistry) will be completed for the reception of students in September. A large additional building for instruction in physics will be in readiness early next year. The laboratories in the engineering departments are provided with the latest and best appliances, including a hundred-ton Wicksteed and a seventy-five ton Emery machine for strength-testing, a one-ton Faïja spring-tester for cements, a high-speed steam-engine coupled direct to a dynamo for incandescent lighting, and two Thomson electric balances. The museum will contain the Reuleaux collection of kinematic models, the most complete in America. The workshops are fully equipped with machinery of the best and most modern type. Students will be trained in carpentry, turning, pattern-making, smith-work, molding and casting, and in machine tool-work. In the details of buildings, appointments, and curriculum the faculty has endeavored to profit by the examples of the best technical colleges of the United States; in some respects it has succeeded in taking a stride ahead.


The Central Group of the Caucasus.—The central group of the Caucasus Mountains is thus described by Mr. Douglas W. Freshfield: "Elbruz and Kasbek stand some one hundred and twenty miles apart, the former due north of the easternmost bay of the Black Sea, on the edge of the Scythian steppe, the latter in the center of the isthmus overhanging the Dariel road. About midway between these ancient volcanoes the Caucasus culminates in grandeur, in extent of glaciers, and (setting aside Elbruz) in height, in a cluster of magnificent granite peaks and ridges, inclosing great firths of ice which roll gently into the northern valleys, or pour down southward in frozen cataracts till they touch the forests of Suanetia, where they end at an average elevation of seven thousand feet. The snow-level varies between nine thousand five hundred and eleven thousand feet, according to the nature of the soil, the level, and the exposure. Of the peaks, two exceed seventeen thousand feet, and five sixteen thousand feet, while another is higher than Mont Blanc. The longest glacier, the Bezingi Glacier, is ten miles in length—longer than any glacier in the Alps except the Aletsch."


Force of Mushroom Growth.—Dr. A. S. Hudson informs us that several mushrooms have been found growing in the concrete floor of a livery stable in Stockton, Cal. The floor had been laid a little over a year, and consisted of a layer of cement, three or four inches thick, with a top coating of asphalt and gravel. The mushrooms had started in the concrete; one specimen that was examined came from an inch and a quarter below the surface, and had broken through the cement above this point. It grew to about an inch and a half in height, and its stem was three fourths of an inch thick. The mushroom was white, and its texture was as firm as that of a turnip. Where another one had broken through, the fragment of cement forced up was found a foot away. The most probable way of accounting for the presence of the fungi in this very unfavorable situation is that the spawn became mixed with the cement when the floor was laid.