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

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

School of Applied Ethics.—An institution with the above name is to hold its inaugural summer session, at some point on the sea-shore near Boston, during six weeks beginning early in July. The department of economics will be in charge of Prof. H. C. Adams, of the University of Michigan. He will treat of the history of industrial society in England and America; President Andrews, of Brown University, will discourse on the evils of our industrial system, and discuss proposed remedies. Prof. Taussig, of Harvard, will lecture on co-operation; Hon. Carroll D. Wright, on factory legislation; Prof. J. B. Clark, of Smith College, on agrarian questions; Albert Shaw will describe the housing of the poor in London and Paris, and examine General Booth's "Way out." Labor and industrial legislation in Europe will be treated by Prof. E. J. James, of the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Henry D. Lloyd, of Chicago, is expected to present two chapters in the industrial history of the United States. Prof. C. II. Toy, of Harvard, will have charge of the department of religious history, for which he has enlisted a corps of eminent scientific lecturers. Prof. Felix Adler, of New York, who is the originator of the school, will preside over the department of ethics. His lectures will treat of personal and social ethics; the ethics of the family, the professions, politics, friendship, and religious association. Criminal and temperance legislation, and questions of like importance, are to be presented by other lecturers. The terms for the whole course are but ten dollars. Detailed information may be had from the dean, Prof. H. C. Adams, 1602 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pa.

 

The Floods of the Amazons.—All the mighty tributaries of the Amazons west of the Madeira and the Rio Negro, according to Dr. P. Ehrenreich, present the same characteristics—viz., a course twisted into innumerable curvings, an uninterrupted navigability over many hundreds of miles, and low banks inundated during a great part of the year by high waters. The forest vegetation is remarkably luxuriant, and the India-rubber plant grows in the utmost profusion. Another characteristic feature of these rivers is the continual change in their course. The high water of the rainy season, exceeding by from fifty to sixty-five feet the low level of the dry season, under-washes the banks; the masses of soil thus detached are again deposited at the next bends of the river, and contribute in diverting the stream from its bed. In this way a labyrinthine system of canals arises, which accompanies the river along its whole course—the so-called igarapés. The old bends of the river, half or wholly shut off, form lagoons, which serve as mighty reservoirs and draw off immense quantities of water, so that the régime of high waters commences in the lower basin much later than in the upper part of the river. At the head-waters of the river the water-level is wholly dependent upon the rainfall in the Cordilleras; it rises and falls very suddenly, so that it not unfrequently happens that the steamer is obliged to be set right about quickly on account of the falling waters, if indeed it does not become stranded for a long time.

 

Hypnotism as a Therapeutic Agent.—A discussion of hypnotism as a therapeutic agent was held at a recent meeting of the Islington Medical Society, London, when Mr. Pridgin Teale and other speakers described some phenomena which they had witnessed. They were followed by Sir Andrew Clark, who characterized hypnotism as a "distortion of the partial sight of truth," and predicted that, like mesmerism years ago, it would have its day and follow into desuetude. Seeking for the physiological truth contained in the subject, he looked for the groundwork of many of the phenomena in the relation of will to the body. The communication of the will with the body, he said, brings about wonderful changes in it; and, independently of will, there is the exercise of attention, of expectation, and of concentration; and we know that without the introduction of any foreign agency—that is to say, the agency of any other person—attention, expectation, and concentration of will operating together bring about most remarkable results in the human body. There are many homely illustrations of this fact—as when one has a headache which disappears on the coming of some unexpected visitor, to return as soon as he is gone, or when a patient is relieved on the administration of a bread-pill. The speaker himself had been so interested in looking at a microscopic object that people had come into his room and spoken to him, and he had not heard or seen them. Looking at these physiological conditions, a great many things can be brought about which are described as being induced by the agency of another person. The speaker estimated the frequency with which such agencies can be made successful as in inverse proportion to the development of the higher ganglia.-People are influenced by them in the inverse order of their intellectual faculties, and in the direct order of the automatic activities of the brain; hence the range in which such phenomena are capable of being seen and produced is practically what is called the neurotic range. This includes people whose nervous systems are movable, excitable, sensitive, irritable, or explosive. All such people are capable of manifesting phenomena which are brought about by attention, expectation, and concentration; and we find, too, that all these phenomena occur in people with a lowly developed nervous system, which is to a great extent automatic, and is manifestly enforced by emotion. The hypnotic phenomena which are related were supposed to be capable of explanation on the simple physiological grounds thus laid down, without the introduction of any person exercising a mysterious power.

 

Scenery of Yellowstone Park.—The merits of the scenery of Yellowstone Park appear to Prof. G. F. Wright to have been considerably exaggerated. He rode through it under favorable conditions for observation, but found his trip, on the whole, disappointing. The figures representing the height of the mountains around it above the sea are deceptive. A mountain 10,000 or 11,000 feet high does not look extraordinarily large and massive when it rises not more than 2,000 or 3,000 feet above the elevated plateau on which it stands as a base; but those 2,000 or 3,000 feet are all that is shown of the mountain-rim of the park, while the glimpses to the outside mountains are few and far between. The grandest views are those on entering the park as one looks outward from the encircling rim. "Those who reside in the Atlantic States do not need to go to the Rocky Mountains for scenery." Even Dr. Hayden acknowledged this substantially after he had been to the Crawford Notch. "He who has seen the Adirondacks and the White Mountains has seen some of the best artistic effects of which Nature is capable. Even he who has looked over the parallel ranges of Pennsylvania has no need to pine for the mountain scenery of the Yellowstone Park." The beauty of the Yellowstone Canon, however, with its unique combinations of rock-carving and variegated color, which "artists are put to shame in their attempts to imitate," can hardly be surpassed. The geysers, Prof. Wright says, in the Boston Congregationalist, "are decidedly vulgar, and one can afford to die without seeing them. Boiling paint-pots, with only one dull color in them, are not inspiring. Acres of land laid waste by sulphurous waters and gases, such as greet one on every hand in these geyser basins, can be seen at any time in Pennsylvania where the refuse water is pumped from the coal-mines to spread its desolation all around. The Upper Geyser basin, with its score or more of steam-jets, looks from a distance like a flourishing manufacturing town. The odors can be matched in the calico-printing mills. The geysers differ from steam fire-engines in throwing hot water instead of cold; and even the Excelsior is not as impressive as the ocean surf of the New England coast." But the author thinks that the scientific interest of the park can hardly be exaggerated.

 

Mosquito-inoculation against Yellow Fever.—Statements are made by two physicians of Havana (Drs. Finlay and Delgado), in the medical journal of that city, concerning their practice of inoculating persons newly arrived in Cuba against yellow fever by means of mosquitoes which have been caused to contaminate themselves by stinging a patient afflicted with that disease. The observations have been carried on for ten years, and relate to fifty-two cases of mosquito-inoculaton which have been followed out, and others which are still incomplete. Of the cases, twelve experienced between the fourth and the twenty-sixth day of inoculation a mild attack of yellow fever; twenty-four experienced no symptoms within twenty-five days, but contracted a mild attack before the end of three years; twelve exhibited no symptoms of the disease within three years; three, who had no symptoms within twenty-five days, contracted well-marked yellow fever within three years; and one, who had a mild attack in consequence of inoculation, contracted a severe attack later on which proved fatal. Thus only eight per cent of those who had been inoculated contracted the disease in a well-marked form, and the mortality was less than two per cent. Of sixty-five monks who came to Havana and lived there under similar conditions, thirty-three were inoculated and thirty-two were not. Only two of those who were inoculated had well-marked attacks, and these were not fatal; while eleven of those who had not been inoculated were severely attacked, and five died. But inoculations performed in cold weather do not seem to be wholly trustworthy and need to be repeated in the spring; also it appears that a person who has been three years in the city without having the disease has become acclimatized, and is not likely to be attacked afterward.

 

Facts about the Aurora Borealis.—The present condition of the investigation of the phenomena of auroras is thus described by Mr. G. S. Griffiths, F. G. S., F. R. S., in an address on the objects of antarctic exploration. The nature of auroras, the author says, is very obscure; but recently a distinct advance has been made toward discovering some of the laws which regulate them. "Thanks to the labors of Dr. Sophus Tromholt, who has spent a year within the Arctic Circle studying them, we now know that their movements are not as eccentric as they have hitherto appeared to be. He tells us that the aurora borealis, with its crown of many lights, encircles the pole obliquely, and that it has its lower edge suspended above the earth at a height of from fifty to one hundred miles, the mean of eighteen trigonometrical measurements, taken with a baseline of fifty miles, being seventy-five miles. The aurora forms a ring round the pole, which changes its latitude four times a year. At the equinoxes it attains its greatest distance from the pole, and at midsummer and midwinter it approaches it most closely; and it has a zone of maximum intensity which is placed obliquely between the parallels of 60 and 70 north. The length of its meridional excursion varies from year to year, decreasing and increasing through tolerably regular periods, and reaching a maximum about every eleven years, when, also, its appearance simultaneously attains to its greatest brilliancy. Again, it has its regular yearly and daily movements and periods. At the winter solstice it reaches its maximum annual intensity, and it has its daily maximum. .. . Whether or not there is any connection between auroral exhibitions and the weather is a disputed point. Tromholt believes that such a relationship is probable. He says that ' however clear the sky, it always became overcast immediately after a vivid exhibition, and it generally cleared again as quickly.' Payer declares that brilliant auroras are generally succeeded by bad weather, but that those which had a low altitude and little mobility appeared to precede calms. Ross remarks of a particular display that ' it was followed by a fall of snow, as usual.' Scoresby appears to have formed the opinion that there is a relationship indicated by his experience. It is, therefore, allowable to regard the ultimate establishment of some connection between these two phenomena as a possible contingency. If, then, we look at the eleven-year cycle of auroral intensity from the meteorological point of view, it assumes a new interest, for these periods may coincide with the cycles of wet and dry seasons which some meteorologists have deduced from the records of our Australian climate, and the culmination of the one might be related to some equivalent change in the others. For, if a solitary auroral display be followed by a lowered sky, surely a period of continuous auroras might give rise to a period of continuous cloudy weather, with rain and snow. Fritz considers that he has established thi3 eleven-year cycle upon the strength of auroral records extending from 1583 to 1874, and his deductions have been verified by others."

Function of Cypress Knees.—The cypress tree (Taxodium distichum) of the Southern swamps is marked by a peculiar growth of protuberances rising above the soil in the region of the roots, and called knees. The purpose of the knees has not been satisfactorily determined. They have been regarded by botanists as simply affording a means for securing the aeration of the sap when the roots are too deeply covered with water to permit them to serve that purpose. Mr. Robert H. Lamborn, after examining the trees in the swamps, has come to a different conclusion. He believes that the knees secure a firm hold to the tree in the exceedingly loose soil in which it grows. The formation of knees is accompanied by roots projecting more or less perpendicularly into the earth. The knee, when fully developed, is generally hollow, comparatively soft, gnarled, and hard to rupture, so that it has the quality of a spring that becomes more rigid as it is extended or compressed out of its normal shape. "When, in a hurricane, the great tree rocks back and forth on its base, and with its immense leverage pulls upon this odd-shaped wooden anchor, instead of straightening out in the soft material, as an ordinary root might, thus allowing the tree to lean over and add its weight to the destructive force of the storm, it grips the sand as the bower-anchor would do, and resists every motion. The elasticity at the point of junction allows one after another of the perpendicular flukes attached to the same shank to come into effective action, so that before being drawn from the sand or ruptured the combined flukes present an enormous resistance." The knees, with their sharp tips, may also serve the purpose of catching the drift of plant-food as it floats on the currents of floods, and effecting its deposition. Mr. Lamborn adds, in his articles in Garden and Forest and the American Naturalist, an observation regarding the roots of other trees that trench upon soils affected by the cypress, and often take advantage of the anchors it sets in treacherous bottoms. They project their cable-like, flexible roots in every direction horizontally, interlacing continually until a fabric is woven on the surface of the soft earth like the tangled web of a gigantic basket. Out of this close wickerwork, firmly attached to it, and dependent for their support upon its integrity, rise the tree trunks. Thus slowly, and by a community of growth and action, a structure is formed that supplies for each tree a means of resisting the storms. Such communities of trees, provided with ordinary roots, advance against and overcome enemies where singly they would perish in the conflict.

 

The Chigger.—Dr. H. M. Whelpley has published two papers on the chigger (Leptus irritans), an insect which is very troublesome to blackberry-pickers in the Mississippi Valley. It has no relation to the chigoe (Pulex penetrans) of South America, which resembles the fleas, while this insect is like the ticks. It is found in the Eastern and Southern States as well as in the Mississippi Valley, but has not been reported north of the fortieth degree of latitude, and does not seem to thrive in the far West. Besides human beings, it attacks the house-fly and is very troublesome to young fowls, where the parasites collect in lumps as large as a pin, and cause death, with the symptoms of poisoning by strychnine. Some persons are more susceptible to its attacks than others. Some specimens of the insect are almost transparent, but they all become darker in color as they become gorged with blood. Several remedies are prescribed for the living chiggers and for the sores they cause. Among them are kerosene and spirits of camphor.

 

Malays and Negritos of Malacca.—In his account before the Anthropological Institute of the races of the Straits Settlement (Malacca), Mr. Swettenham, of the Settlement's Civil Service, assumed that the Malays are not indigenous to the peninsula; but the exact place of their origin has not been established. According to their own traditions, they are of supernatural origin, and crossed over from Sumatra. Until about a. d. 1250 they were pagans or Hindooists, but near that time they came under the influence of Mohammedanism. The Perso-Arabian characters were introduced then, while the language had not previously been written. Relics of Hindoo superstition still exist among the Malays and Negritos of the peninsula, and customs that savor strongly of devil-worship. The author would classify the Negritos into the Sakai and the Samang. The Sakai are a people of moderate stature and large bones, fairer in complexion than the Malays, with long, wavy hair standing straight out from their heads. The Samang are small and dark, with black, frizzy hair close to their heads, like that of the negro races. Some writers have inferred, from comparison of languages, that there are connecting links between the Negritos of various tribes and the Malays, and believe that the former show traces of Melanesian blood.

 

Massage in Ancient Times.—Massage has apparently been practiced from the very earliest times. A Chinese manuscript of three thousand years before the Christian era contains an account of operations very similar to those which go under that name at the present time—friction, kneading, manipulating, and rolling. A form of massage was the common accompaniment of the bath with the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, and was used as a luxury, a means of hastening tedious convalescence, and of making the limbs supple and enduring. Hippocrates commended it; Esculapius believed in it; Cicero affirmed that he owed as much of his health to his anointer as he did to his physician; Julius Cæsar had himself pinched all over every day for neuralgia; and Pliny enjoyed great benefit from it. Celsus advised rubbing to be applied to the whole body; and the works of Plato abound in references to the use of friction. Peter Henrik Ling is said to have based the Swedish movementcure on the Chinese Kong-Fan manuscript. Lepage relates that the Chinese massage was a particular practice borrowed from the Indians, and that it was by such means that the Brahmans effected their miraculous cures. The method is common among the Polynesians, and something like it was found among the Australians.

 

Decay of India Rubber.—Mr. W. Thomson says, in a paper on the vulcanization and decay of India rubber, that copper salts have an injurious effect on India rubber, and, as that metal is sometimes used in dyeing blacks and other colors, cloth so dyed is liable to decompose and harden the rubber put into it. Metallic copper placed in contact with thin sheets of India rubber brings about oxidation and hardening of its substance, although no appreciable quantity of copper enters the India rubber; but metallic zinc and silver have no injurious effect on the rubber. The author had found that if oil containing a certain amount of copper, which it often does, gets on the clothe the action of the bleaching agents on the copper damages the cloth. There is an acid in ordinary linseed oil that rots cloth. The smell of India rubber is one of the characteristics of its decomposition. When a piece of blotting-paper is placed over decaying rubber, it becomes colored by some of the emanations, as does not occur with good rubber. There is therefore no doubt that certain volatile substances are emitted during the oxidation that produces the hardening of India rubber. Rubber can be kept best under water or glycerin, or in coal-gas. It remained good when placed in a vacuum and exposed to sunlight for twelve months. All oils, except castor oil, have a detrimental effect on India rubber.

 

Cancer and Nervous Disease.—In an article in the Nineteenth Century, Mr. Herbert Snow shows that mortality from cancer in the United Kingdom is increasing at an accelerating rate, and that the disease is of nervous origin. According to the Registrar-General's returns, the aggregate mortality from this disease in England and Wales has grown, during the twenty-five years 1864-1888, from 8,111 to 17,506 a year. In proof that the increase in mortality can not be adequately accounted for by the growth of population, the tables are again invoked to show that the mortality from cancer per million persons living has risen during the same period from 385 to 610. The increase, year by year, has been very regular. Returns of a like character from Ireland and Scotland tell the same story. Dr. Fordyce Barker is quoted as having shown that the number of deaths per million in New York rose from 400 in 1875 to 530 in 1885. Cancer may be and often is initiated by direct mechanical injury or irritation; "but in by far the larger proportion of those varieties of cancer which furnish the bulk of the mortality statistics no such mechanical exciting cause can be detected." Moreover, as no additional liability to local injury or irritation now exists than formerly, it is necessary to seek another cause for the increase of cancer. "When we investigate the personal history of cancerous persons, it is impossible to avoid being struck by the large number who speak of antecedent trouble, worry, or mental anxiety. In particular, the face of the average woman sufferer—care-worn, thin, and anxious—constitutes a type well known at every general hospital." The reason of the supposed connection can not be explained; "but the immediate sequence is a matter of daily familiarity, insomuch that it may be laid down as an axiom wherever the antecedents of any major cancerous growth are to be investigated, 'Failing a mechanical exciting cause, a neurotic is always to be found'; provided only that sufficient evidence of previous history and surroundings is procurable. Moreover, it is to be noted that the female, the more neurotic and emotional sex, are the principal sufferers from cancer; also that the organs in them by far the most prone to diseases of this class are normally, in health, specially and peculiarly influenced by emotional conditions, and by states of the central nervous system." The author has made some inquiry into possible hereditary transmission of cancer, but failed to find a sufficient proportion of cases of hereditary connection to justify his including that among general controlling causes.

 

Fine Quartz Fibers.—In a lecture on quartz fibers and their applications, Prof. C. Vernon Boys began by explaining that the physicist in making his experiments has often to deal with very small forces, which are sometimes measured by the direct pull they exert, and sometimes by the twisting effect they can produce when applied at the end of an arm acting as a lever. It is often necessary to be able to detect and measure forces not larger than the weight of a millionth or even of a thousand-millionth of a grain. If these are used to produce a twist in a wire, the wire must be exceedingly thin for the twist to be measurable. A wire when reduced to one tenth of its original thickness will only require one ten-thousandth part of the force to twist it by the same amount; and, consequently, we can measure forces as small as we please if we can only get wires thin enough. Formerly experimenters made use of metal wires, but these were soon replaced by fibers of spun glass, which can be got far finer. Glass, however, has one great drawback, in that it will not, when twisted, return to its original position after removing the twisting force, but acquires a permanent twist, and this renders it very difficult to use in delicate instruments. If we want finer wires we must turn to the single fibers obtained from the cocoons of silk-worms. These are so fine that in ordinary instruments the force required to twist them is so small as to be considered quite negligible. Some three years ago the lecturer constructed an instrument (radiomicrometer) to measure the difference in the amounts of heat radiated from different parts of the disks of the sun and moon. In this instrument it was' necessary to measure a force so excessively small that even a silk fiber was too coarse. He therefore endeavored to obtain finer wires by shooting a very light arrow, which drew after it a very fine fiber of quartz from a piece of molten quartz held in the flame of an oxyhydrogen blowpipe. In this manner a thread of quartz can be obtained which is not more than one fifteen-thousandth of an inch in diameter, and which will show an appreciable twist with a force of a thousand-millionth of a grain weight applied at the end of a lever one inch long. The lecture was illustrated by a number of experiments.

 

Consumption Germs.—Speaking at the Sanitary Convention in Vicksburg, Miss., of December, 1889, Dr. A. Arnold Clark, of Lansing, Mich., accepted the germ as the chief source of the disease, and referred to experiments in which the germs had been found on the walls of rooms where consumptives had been; they are derived from the dried sputa of the patients. Animals, according to Dr. Cagny, feeding on the sputa die of consumption; and the disease has been produced by inoculating with the sputa, by swallowing it, and by breathing it. "When we think of the ten thousand consumptives in Michigan who every hour in the day are expectorating along our streets, and even on the floors of public buildings, post-offices, churches, hotels, railroad cars, and street cars; when we think how these germs are being dried and carried into the air by every passing breeze, by every sweeping, and how they are capable of producing the disease six months after drying; when we think of the miscellaneous crowd sleeping in hotel bedrooms; when we think of the close, unventilated sleeping-car with hangings and curtains so well calculated to catch the germs, and where, as some one has said, the air is as dangerous as in those boxes filled with pulverized sputa where dogs are placed for experiment; then when we remember that man's lungs are a regular hot-house for the multiplication and growth of these seeds of consumption—is it any wonder that one citizen in every seven dies of this disease?" As the lesson from these facts, the author advises that no consumptive should be allowed to expectorate on the floor or street, and all sputa (from consumptives) should be disinfected and burned.

 

Characteristics of Leprosy.—The etiology of leprosy has been studied in Cashmere by Dr. Ernest F. Neve. The disease may be recognized in its early stages by certain integumentary changes, or by an—sthetic patches. The skin of the forehead, especially of the superciliary ridges, becomes somewhat thickened and dusky in color, but not necessarily irregular. The hair of the eyebrows is scanty. There are two main types of leprosy in the valley—the anæsthetic and the tubercular; but patients may often be seen presenting at once anæsthesia, macules, tubercles, and ulcerations of soft tissues and bone. Anæsthesia seldom remains for any length of time uncomplicated. Blisters are apt to form, and then local death of tissue and ulceration. Portions of bone removed by operation in the more advanced stages are spongy, and appear to have undergone a process of rarefying osteitis. Withdrawn nerve-influence is greatly concerned in the affection; and the nerves supplying the degraded part are found, on clinical examination, to be thickened and sometimes tender. The nerves most often involved in leprosy are, in order of frequency, the sciatic, musculo-spiral, ulnar, and median. The changes in the reflexes are essentially of the nature of diminution. Superficial reflexes disappear early. Muscular atrophy occurs in advanced cases. The tubercular form is apt to be more severe than the anæsthetic, and is often superadded. The face becomes distorted, with elevations a few lines in diameter, especially affecting the forehead, nose, and auricles, producing the characteristic leonine appearance, but scattered over the whole body. In treatment, nerve-stretching has been found valuable as a palliative.

 

A Sacrifice to the Yankee Pie Idol.—There is a belief, in other parts of the country, that the New England digestion has been sacrificed to pie; but few persons, probably, have known of other valuable possessions being offered up to the idol. In a biographical sketch of Charles Chauncy, second President of Harvard College, written in 1768 by his great-grandson of the same name, the writer states that, desiring to possess the papers of his illustrious ancestor, he made a search for them and found that they had descended to a son of the president, "who had kept them as a valuable treasure during his life; but upon his death, his children being all under age, they were unhappily suffered to continue in the possession of his widow, their mother. She married some time after a Northampton deacon, who principally got his living by making and selling pies. Behold now the fate of all the good president's writings of every kind! They were put to the bottom of pies, and in this way brought to utter destruction."

 

Mangoes.—Hundreds of varieties of the mango are grown in India; and, according to Dr. G. Bonavia, fifty or more kinds might be named which for texture and exquisiteness of flavor would more than compare with the same qualities in the nectarine and peach. Only those who have had opportunities of trying the choice varieties have any conception how good this fruit is. The uncultivated seedling mangoes are generally fibrous, but this does not prevent their having very often an exquisite flavor. To enjoy them they must be sucked. The choicest mangoes, of which there are scores, have no fiber in their pulp, and not a trace of turpentine flavor, except, perhaps, a suspicion of it in the skin. "When the skin is removed, if you shut your eyes while eating them, you might often be deluded into the idea that you were eating nectarines, figs, etc., and sometimes a delicious compound with a dash of mushroom flavor in it. The flavors of choice mangoes are infinite, and their size varies from that of a small hen's egg to that of a good-sized melon or ostrichegg. A choice mango can be scooped out with a spoon, and it has the texture of a stiff curd."

 

Cultivation of Alpine Plants.—An Alpine botanical garden for the cultivation of mountain plants has been established in Valais, under the auspices of the Association for the Protection of Plants, and was opened on the 21st of July, 1889. It includes about a hectare of land, and is situated at the height of 1,633 metres above the sea, above the village of Bourg-SaintPierre in the Val d'Entremont, on the Great St. Bernard road, and some three or four hours from the Hospice. The tract consists of a hill about sixty metres high, and presents the variety of soil and slope, of wet, dry, and stony tracts that promise to be best adapted to the wants of the various species that will be planted upon it. It is called the Linnæa, and has been placed under the special care of an international committee, whose headquarters will be at Geneva. M. Arthur de Claperède, of Geneva, has been chosen president of this committee; and Dr. Bailey, of Bourg-Saint-Pierre, vicepresident. Among its twenty-five members are Sir John Lubbock and Mr. G. J. Romanes. Visitors not members of the protecting societies of the institution will be charged fifty centimes for admission to the grounds, and perpetual tickets will be issued to those making gifts of ten francs or more.

 

Climatic Conditions of the Glacial Period.—According to Prof. Warren Upham's paper on the climatic conditions of the Glacial period, the formation of the great ice-sheet should be promoted by long-continued rather than an excessive cold, and an abundant supply of moisture by storms, giving plentiful precipitation of snow during more of the year than now, so as to include in the time of snow accumulation not only the present winter but also the autumn and spring months. The summers, too, were probably cooler in glacial times than now, for their heat was not sufficient to melt away the accumulated snow, which gradually increased in thickness from year to year, its lower part being changed to ice. When large portions of continents became thus ice-coated, the storms sweeping over them would be so rapidly cooled that the greater part of their snow-fall would take place upon the borders of the ice-sheet, within probably from fifty to two hundred miles from its margin; but the snow-fall during the advance of the ice was probably in excess of the amount of evaporation and melting over the whole ice-covered area. In New England and New York the average ascent of the ice was from twenty-five to thirty feet per mile for the first one hundred to two hundred miles from its boundary. Toward its center the slope diminished, as on the interior ice of Greenland; but the ice-sheet enveloping the northeastern part of North America probably attained, as estimated by Prof. Dana, a maximum thickness of about two miles on the Laurentian highlands between the river St. Lawrence and Hudson Bay.

 

Cocoa.—Cocoa in its natural state contains a large proportion of fat, so that it can not be taken by persons suffering from weak digestion. The presence of so much fat prevents the easy solution of the naturally soluble portions, which are more or less locked up in the fat. This difficulty was encountered and overcome by the Indians and Mexicans in the same way as our cocoa manufacturers first overcame it—by adding to the powdered cocoa sugar and starch as diluents. Or a considerable part of the fat can be removed by pressure. Chemical analysis has shown that the estimation in which cocoa was held by the inhabitants of the countries in which it was first produced rested on scientific as well as on practical grounds. Our manufacturers are working now on the same lines as did the natives of Central America three hundred years ago, and the additions they make to cocoa are only imitations of what was done in ancient times to make its use more acceptable. As compared with tea and coffee, cocoa is deficient in those aromatic properties which have an exciting effect on the nerves of taste and smell. It has about as much of alkaloids as coffee, but they do not exert an equal stimulating effect. It is, however, rich in such elements of a perfect food as fat, albumen, and starch, and has nearly twice as much mineral salt as tea. To obviate the unpleasant effects of the fat, a large amount of it is removed, or diluted, during the process of manufacture. When deprived of the excess of fat, cocoa yields a bland, easily digested, and slightly stimulating beverage, which is generally free from any subsequent unpleasant effects.

 

New Tests for Color-blindness.—The method of testing the eyes of railway servants by skeins of differently colored wools has been pronounced by the Congress of the Society of Drivers and Firemen unpractical, because the conditions under which it is made are different from any to which the men are subjected in their work. The congress has recommended that the men be tried day and night on the railway with actual signals at any necessary distances; and have suggested that, in any case in which a member of the society is discharged or reduced on account of failure in responding to the dot and wool test, he should be examined by a surgeon, with the right to have a practical trial with signals if the surgeon's report is not unfavorable. The Lancet suggests that there are other cases where a surgeon's examination may be in place—when, for instance, a man's eyesight fails after he has been on duty sixteen, eighteen, or twenty-three hours. Again, a man may have impaired his vision by excessive smoking.

 

Choice Oriental Fruits.—It has been said that more than a hundred different preserves could be made from a judicious blending of the fruits of the East and West Indies and of South America. The Indian preserves were formerly in much request. In the thirteenth century the most renowned preserve was a paste made of candied ginger. In India preserves and jellies are made of the pear, quince, mango, tamarind, date, guava, banana, etc. In Singapore pineapples are preserved whole, and the same manufacture is carried on on a large scale in the Bahamas. Among other fruits preserved in their natural state, in sirup crystallized with sugar, or made into jelly, are the pineapple, bread-fruit, ginger, jack-fruit, papaw, mangosteen, pomeloe, and nutmeg. Preparations of pineapple are among the best of these. Both the red and white guava make excellent sweetmeat paste or jelly. Bread-fruit, whether in sirup or crystallized, is flavorless to the European taste, and more a food-substance than a fruit. Preserved ginger is popular in England, but is not much esteemed on the Continent. The Spaniards eat raw ginger in the morning to give themselves an appetite; and it is used at table, fresh or candied. Among sailors it is considered anti-scorbutic. The mangosteen is one of the most delicious and famous fruits of the Indian Archipelago, and has the "delicate and characteristic flavor of the strawberry, grape, pineapple, and peach, combined." The mango is the best fruit of India, and is cultivated in about as many varieties as the apple. The half-ripe fruits are made into tarts and marmalades. The finest varieties seem to thrive in Jamaica, where the mango is a popular fruit with the negroes. The list of Oriental fruits available for preserves is long and contains many names hardly known, except as matters of curiosity, in the West.

 

Fishing for Crocodiles.—The Sundyaks, or Dusuns, of the east coast of Borneo, eat crocodiles, and fish for them. According to Mr. R. T. Pritchett's description of their mode of fishing, they bind a dead monkey as bait upon a stick, along which, at intervals, are tied lengths of fishing-twine. These are brought together some seven or eight feet off, and attached to the end of a rattan seventy or eighty feet in length. The bait is thrown into the river at a suitable spot, and the other end of the rattan is slightly secured to an overhanging branch. The crocodile takes the bait, and retires to enjoy and digest his meal, paying no attention to the stick. The hunter, going to the river the next morning, and missing his rattan, looks along the river till he finds it floating on the stream; the crocodile is of course at the baited stick. The hunter takes the rattan and with a sharp jerk upon it draws the stick "athwart-ship" in the interior of the crocodile. The rattan is pulled on shore as quickly as possible, and, with the help of as many of the hunter's friends as may be required, the crocodile is disposed of. The professional sportsmen, it is said, address their captive, when they first get him on the line, with different titles of honor, after the manner of the ancient Egyptians, believing that the reptiles have grades and ranks, and gradually going down the scale till he is landed, when they call him very hard names.

 

Gutenberg and the Art of Printing.—The credit of the invention of-printing in Europe appears to have been settled upon Gutenberg by the publication of a letter written by Guillaume Fichet, in 1470, only two years after Gutenberg's death, to Robert Gaguin, which has recently been found in the unique copy of the Liber Orthographiæ of Gaspar Barzilius, the second book printed in Paris, in the library of Basle. In this letter Fichet says, "They report that not far from the city of Mentz there was a certain Jew surnamed Bone-montanus (Good-mountain, Gutenberg), who first thought out the art of printing." The writer then dilates upon Gutenberg's superiority, in virtue of his invention, to the ancient gods and goddesses, benefactors of humanity, and concludes, "Nor will I be silent concerning those who already surpass their master, among whom Udalricus, Michael, and Martinus are said to be chief." The invention may have been original or not with Gutenberg, but this was not the first of it. The art of printing with movable types was known to the Coreans before it was practiced in Europe. The British Museum possesses several Corean books so printed, which, in the opinion of experts, are of earlier date than the middle of the fifteenth century. The same people afterward fell back into block printing.

 

Modes of Hoarding.—The passion for hoarding is an old one, and is naturally developed. All people love what is bright, like gold and jewels, and when it is not safe to use treasure openly, will hide it. The attribute of value, soon acquired by such objects, increases the desire to possess and keep them. The Indians, not having much stock of precious metals, laid up wampumbelts. The Celts and Goths rolled gold into spiral finger-rings, or made necklets, armlets, and bracelets of it to wear. The ancient Egyptians had their ring-money, and treasure-houses where it was kept. The Greeks deposited their money in temples, buried it in the ground, or laid it away in tombs. Many people simply bury it; and this custom is illustrated in the fairy and mythological tales of buried treasure. Hoarding seems to have been more extensively practiced in India than in any other country. It was stimulated there by the rapacity of all governments previous to the English. The efforts of the English to change the habits of the people, by establishing banks and facilities for circulating money with guarantees of security, have had only partial success. The Royal Commission on bimetallism estimates that the hoards of the last fifty years in that country represent about three hundred millions sterling of gold and silver, or nearly one third of the total value of the coin in circulation in the world. The hoards of past centuries must be added to these to get the full amount. The metal is laid up in the form of bullion or coin, ornaments, or jewelry, and it would be hard to say which form is preferred. Jewelry is prized highly, and always finds ready sale. British sovereigns are in favor, because of the image of St. George and the Dragon upon them, which appeals to religious motives. The hoards of some of the native princes are enormous. The treasure of the Maharajah of Burdwan occupied half a dozen or more large rooms and vaults. These hoards acquire in time a sort of sanctity as a family treasure, and it becomes a point of honor not to break into them; so that they are not drawn upon except in extreme cases. Hoarding is common among the thrifty peasantry of Europe; and it was by wisely using the opportunity to draw from stores thus accumulated that the French people achieved their wonderful success in paying off the war indemnity which the Germans levied upon them.

 

Chinese Prize Essays.—The Chinese Polytechnic Institute and Reading Rooms, Shanghai, has for several years been managing a scheme of prize essays which has expanded into considerable proportions. It is based upon the popular system of writing essays in an elevated style of composition, in which the Chinese excel to an extraordinary degree. A high official is asked to give out a subject, on which prize essays are invited, and to co-operate in the examination of the essays and the awarding of the prizes. The subjects ere given out quarterly. Three highest prizes and ten smaller ones are awarded; the essays are printed in the native newspapers, and the year's essays receiving the highest prizes, with the criticisms on them, are published in a book. For the essays of 1889, three extra subjects were selected by Li Hung Chang, far beyond the range of the ordinary Chinese scholar. They were a sketch of Western science, including notices of Aristotle, Bacon, Darwin, and Spencer; the breach of international law by one country turning its back on its treaty with another, and refusing to allow the people of the other country to come and go within its boundaries; and the suggestion of a remedy for the damaging competition of Indian tea with Chinese. There were students, however, who did not shrink from undertaking them, and "many English Sinologues were greatly bored by their native friends" for information respecting the Western savants and their scientific teachings, "hardly knowing, perhaps, why an interest in such celebrated characters should have been so suddenly developed among the Chinese."

 

A Whirligig Spider.—The habit of some geometric spiders of gyrating under certain circumstances is known, and even not uncommon, but, according to correspondents of Nature, has not been described in scientific works. A Pholcus, abundant in La Plata, is described by Mr. W. II. Hudson as having the habit strongly marked. It has legs of extraordinary length, and the color and general appearance of a crane-fly, but is double its size. When approached or disturbed, it gathers its feet in the center of its web, "and swings itself round and round with the rapidity of a whirligig, so that it appears like a very slight mist on the web, and offers no point for an enemy to strike at. Here the correspondence between structui'e and habit is nearly perfect; the slimness and great length of the legs causing the creature, at the moment the swift revolutions begin, to seem to disappear from sight; and, owing to the string-like form of the legs, the fatigue experienced is probably very much less than the action would cause in a stout, short-legged spider like the English species. At all events, it can revolve for fifteen or twenty seconds at a stretch; and, if the cause of alarm continues, it will perform the action no less than three times before quitting the web. The English spider exhausts itself in a few seconds."

 

Impediments to Growth of Population.—In speculating upon the causes of the stationary condition of the population of France, the customs of subdividing the land and of providing dowries for girls have been cited as important factors in keeping down the increase. Abnormal mortality from smallpox and from typhoid fever is mentioned in the Lancet as another probable cause. Dr. Brouardel has pointed out that, while Germany loses only 110 persons a year from small-pox, France loses 14,000, and that the deaths by typhoid fever amount to 40,000. These facts carry the matter back to slackness in enforcing vaccination and to faults in water-supply. Dr. Brouardel concludes his paper on this subject by affirming that if vaccination and revaccination were made obligatory in France, and if the towns were everywhere supplied with pure water, the country would save from 25,000 to 30,000 lives annually, and these, for the most part, of young persons of marriageable age.

 

Curiosities of Marriage. The theory of English scholars concerning the evolution of marriage is in a measure confirmed by Prof. Kovalevsky's studies in Russian ethnography. The evidence of a primitive condition of great license is, however, slight, and rests principally on the testimony of prejudiced witnesses. The evidence of a matriarchal and endogamic stage is stronger, and receives some confirmation from customs that survive among Russian peasants. The transition to marriage by capture and exogamy was general. The former practice existed in Servia and Montenegro until recent times. The growth and prevalence of the custom of purchase are shown by the wedding songs in use among Russian peasants. The Mordvins of Russia, according to the Hon. John Abercromby's conclusions, before they came in contact with the Slavs, wooed by proxy and contracted marriage by purchase, but went through the form of capturing and carrying off the bride as a proof of courage and address. The author calls this form marriage with capture instead of marriage by capture. He thinks the latter was not in use among them, while marriage by purchase may have existed among them from the polished stone age. Capture is sometimes resorted to to reduce the price of a girl or to avoid payment, but is an incident of marriage by purchase. Among the Manchus, according to a gentleman of that people, the middle-man takes a large part in arranging marriages. When he has brought the parents of the pair to an agreement, a solemn inspection of each party is made by the mother of the other, to see that the bridegroom is not dumb, the bride not lame, etc. Then cards and presents are exchanged. The marriage ceremony lasts three days. In the bridal chamber the couple are fed with "offspring dumpling" and "longevity dough"; and a "longevity lamp" is kept burning. An important ceremony is the uniting the cups, by the couple drinking wine alternately from two cups tied together by a red string. Frequently children are promised to each other in marriage while still very young.

 

Gypsy-carried Folk Lore.—"Gypsies," says Mr. Charles B. Leland, "have been the colporteurs of witchcraft." A hundred confirmations, the Athenæum observes, "might be adduced of the saying. It is fifty years now since old Mrs. Petulingro traveled Norfolk with her sparrow that told her all manner of secrets; to-day her descendants are camping in Scotland, Ireland, America, and New Zealand. Wherever they have wandered they have carried with them both gypsy and East-Anglian superstitions; so that you still find them counseling a Clydesdale beekeeper, who has just lost his wife, to 'tell' the bees and put crape upon his hives, practicing their own strange methods of ordeal and tabu, or plucking out the heart from a live white pigeon at midnight and casting it on a clear fire, as a gypsy girl did five years since, to put a spell upon her false lover. For gypsies both borrow and lend: if they gull, they are gullible, and the gentile 'wise man' has no more credulous victims. Found as they were in Finland in 1580, in Shetland in 1612, and roaming as they do from Poland to China, from Hungary to Algeria, the gypsies are a most disturbing factor in the problems of folk lore. How much they have done toward the diffusion of magic and folk tales it were hard to estimate; that they may have done very much is at least possible. Their tales present all the familiar features (of swan-maidens, forbidden chambers, the grateful dead, etc.); their superstitions in eastern Europe are often identical with those of our English peasantry e. g., Transylvanian gypsies seek out a drowned body with a loaf having quicksilver in it. And only last summer a member of the Gypsy Lore Society discovered in Argyleshire a band of boat-dwelling 'tinklers' speaking good Romany."

 

Phenomena of Stream Currents.—In a paper on the flow and friction of water in open channels, read by Dr. D. T. Smith at the American Association, the questions were asked: Why are there streams? Why are the channels of streams trough-shaped? Why are streams higher in the middle than at the edges? Why is the greatest speed of streams not at the surface but at some distance beneath? Why do streams flowing into the sea through deltas have plural mouths? Why are the banks of rivers in deltas raised above the adjacent lands? Why do rivers, flowing down steep inclines, early come to an even rate of speed, and not increase in speed to the bottom of the incline as do solid bodies in falling? Why does drift move from the margins to the middle of rapid streams? Why are rivers deep just before entering the sea, yet entering with the bottom sloping upward? These phenomena, it was claimed, are all produced by movements in the water due to unequal friction. The particles of water rubbing against the sides of the channel are retarded more than those next within, and, as those outside fall behind, those next within move out and take their places, thus preserving the width of the stream. Those next within take the place of these, and so on to the middle of the stream at the bottom. As the water at the bottom moves out, that above settles down in the middle. As the water moves against the banks, it is raised up by the force with which it strikes, and the surface of the stream at this stage potentially represents a trough. The water from the edges of this trough flows back obliquely toward the middle, and by the time it reaches the middle it gains such momentum that the middle of the stream is made the highest. Every stream is by these forces resolved into two cylinders, revolving spirally on parallel axes in opposite directions—that is, outward at the bottom, upward at the edges, inward at the top, and downward through the middle. The principle is denominated "the law of the double spiral," and affords an explanation of all the phenomena in question. Since glaciers are subject to the same conditions, it is believed that they are subject to the same movements. It is believed to apply to air currents also, and that the Western blizzard and the Texas norther may be in part due to waves of cold air descending to take the place of that which friction has caused to ascend the Rocky Mountains.

 

Diffusion of Jade.—Inferences that extensive intercourse between distant regions prevailed in prehistoric times have been drawn from the general dispersion of jade ornaments in the monuments all over the world, and the paucity of known sources of the mineral. Many possible sources of jade have, however, been discovered within a few years, in view of which the necessity of men anywhere having to go to the ends of the earth for their treasure becomes less apparent. Mr. F. W. Rudler recently mentioned to the Anthropological Institute, as among the later discoveries of jade in situ, those of Herr Taube, of Breslau, at Jordans Mühe in Silesia, and at Reiehenstein; the rough pebbles that have been found in the valleys of the Sann and the Mur in Styria; Dr. Dawson's account of the occurrence of bowlders partly sawn through on the Fraser River; and the discovery by Lieutenant Stoney of the mineral in situ at the Jade Mountains, north of the Konak River, in Alaska.

 

Medicine in Thibet.—The course of instruction at the Thibetan University of the Guinoie Ozero Monastery is very elaborate and is adjusted for ten years of studentship. It includes the Thibetan and Mongolian languages, religion, drawing, handicrafts, astronomy, astrology, philosophy, and theology. The medical course requires three years. The Thibetan medical authorities, according to the Russian M. Ptitsyn, recognize 101 fundamental diseases; and 429 names of elements of drugs used by them are given. Of the 101 diseases, only two (paralysis and a kind of influence of the planets) are attributed to a mythical origin; and of the 429 drugs, only three (the bones of a dragon, the horns and the skin of the unicorn) have a similar derivation. The remainder of the drugs are chiefly herbs, seeds, fruits, roots, and flowers, and partly mineral matters. All, except quinine, which is bought in Russia, are obtained in Chinese drug-shops. M. Ptitsyn visited one of the drug-shops, and found all drugs kept in order in separate drawers. He has brought samples of 202 drugs to St. Petersburg, and they will be analyzed by the Medical Academy.