Popular Science Monthly/Volume 40/February 1892/Popular Miscellany
Ancient River Channels.—A remarkable contrast in the physical geography of the eastern and western coasts of the American continent is pointed out by Prof. Joseph Le Conte. The continent is bordered on both sides by a submarine plateau sloping gently seaward till it attains a depth of about one hundred fathoms, from which point the bottom drops off rapidly into deep water. This submarine plateau may be regarded as a merged coastal plain, and its margin as the true boundary between the continent and the ocean basin, or as the submerged continental margin. On the eastern coast the submarine plateau is trenched with submarine troughs running out from the mouths of the great rivers to the submerged continental margin and then opening into deep water. The best known of the channels are opposite the mouths of the Hudson and Delaware Rivers, Chesapeake Bay, and the Mississippi. Along the California coast the phenomena are different. The researches of Prof. Davidson have brought to light some twenty or more submarine channels on the coast from Cape Mendocino to San Diego, a distance of about seven hundred miles. But they have no obvious relation to existing rivers. They are not a submarine continuation of any system of river valleys on the adjacent land, but run in close to shore and abut against a bold coast, with mountains rising in some cases to three thousand feet within from three to five miles of the shore line, and wholly unbroken by any large river valleys. The channels of the Eastern coast are accounted for by supposing that they were always connected with the rivers opposite them, and that they have assumed their present positions by the operation of the changes of level to which the land has been subjected. But the disconnected positions of the Western channels can not be accounted for except as being the result of orogenic changes which have diverted the lower courses and places of emptying of the rivers since the channels were made. Prof. Le Conte's paper is devoted to the study of the nature and history of these changes.
Jupiter and the Comets.—Prof. 11. A. Newton showed, at the meeting of the British Association, that if a comet or other small body should pass in front of Jupiter, the kinetic energy of the planet would be increased by the gravitational attraction between the two bodies, while that of the comet would be diminished, and might be diminished to such an extent as to cause it to form (though possibly only temporarily) a member of the solar system. On the other hand, if a comet, already a member of the solar system, pass behind Jupiter, the kinetic energy of the planet will be diminished and that of the comet will be increased, and may conceivably be increased under favorable circumstances to such an extent that the comet may no longer remain a member of the system. The author had calculated that of one billion comets from space crossing, in all directions, a sphere equal in diameter to that of Jupiter's orbit, about twelve hundred would come near enough to Jupiter to have their period so much diminished as to be less than that of the planet.
The Baths of the Accursed.—Hammam Meskoutine, or the Baths of the Accursed, are a famous bathing-place and health resort not far from Constantino in Algeria. They are but a few minutes' walk from the railway station. The first object of interest within a quarter of a mile of the station is a superb hot waterfall, whence the vapors fly away abundantly. "Yet," says a writer who describes it, "it is not all of water. For the most part it is rigid, like a thing of ice. It is, in fact, mainly a petrifaction. The calcareous deposit in the hot spring above has incrusted the rocks, so that they have the corrugated appearance and something of the color of barley sugar. Here and there, over and between the still masses, there is an ooze or trickle of warm water, adding to the work already done. Grass and flowers grow well by the sides of this nutritious waterfall, though the whitened soil in the neighborhood does not seem adapted for vegetation of any kind. You climb to the level of the cascade, and then see, close by, a number of odd-looking cones and columns standing up from the blanched surface of the ground. The soil is hot to the hand, and you tread with an echo." The springs bubble up with a temperature of more than 200° Fahr. A litter of egg-shells and fowls' feathers by the edge of them tells of the purpose they serve to the residents of Meskoutine. Here the dinner is cooked, and the clothes are washed in one or another of the little basins by which the springs eddy up to the daylight. Though the Arabs give the baths an impolite name, and tell various weird tales about them, they love them well. The cones look like a procession of gigantic phantoms suddenly petrified. Some arc six or seven feet in height, and some are fourteen or fifteen feet. They mark the sites of ancient springs now subsided. At one time each of these cones was but the mere rim or lip of a basin in which the hot water bubbled as we sec it at the top of the cascade. Thus the water continued to boil upward ia jets, like the geysers, for centuries, gradually, by the deposit of lime which fell from it, raising its lip. At length the subterranean force that impelled it vertically weakened. The cone had attained its full stature. According to the Arabs, however, the cones arc deaf, dumb, and blind genii in whose charge Solomon put the baths when he is supposed to have created them for all the world. The worthy guardians, who still think King Solomon is alive, continue to keep the baths warm as they did at the first for the use of the king's subjects. It is supposed to be a matter of great difficulty to announce to these genii the fact that their master is dead. The inference is, therefore, that they will continue to warm the baths to the end of time. Various other stories are told to account for the origin of the baths.
Lepers in the Middle Ages.—Leprosy was common in England and continental Europe some five hundred years ago, and those who were afflicted with it were subjected to treatment which would now be considered cruel. Institutions for the segregation and treatment of the diseased, erected by the Church or by the aid of pious donors, were to be found over all England; and at one time there was a leper hospital or village near every town. According to Prof. Simpson, there were in the year 1226 two thousand lazar-houses in the small kingdom of France. "In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries," says an English writer, "a leper was not allowed to hold property, was deemed incapable of making a will, and lost all the privileges of citizenship. He was hunted from the towns and driven from the dwellings of men; he was forbidden to drink from the running stream, lest he should defile it, and it was unlawful for him to touch things that were used for food by man. Anything was deemed good enough for the leper." When a man was supposed to have leprosy, he was examined, and, if the disease was found upon him, was banished from society, after enduring a service at the church resembling the funeral ritual, and sometimes embodying a part of it. If a man was wealthy, he might buy himself an exemption from the extreme disabilities, as did the abbot Richard de Wallingford, who was able, with great difficulty, to keep his position. The hospitals maintained by the Church did much to alleviate the woes of lepers. The regulations of the Hospital of St. Julian, which were drawn up in 1344, have been preserved. Though strict, they were not hard. Among them was an exhortation to avoid slander and cultivate brotherly love and true charity. Each leper was allowed seven loaves of bread a week, five of white and two of brown, made from corn "just as it had been thrashed from the sheaf." Every seventh month he had fourteen gallons of ale or eight pence; on Christmas-day, forty gallons of ale or forty pence, two quarters of pure and fine com, and his share of fourteen shillings, to be applied to the purchase of mufflers. On St. Martin's day each one had a pig from the common herd, the patients taking choice in the order of seniority of admission, or a money equivalent m case pigs were scarce. Other periodical allowances were a bushel of beans 01 peas every winter; a quarter of oats on the 14th of February; two bushels of salt, and four shillings for clothing, on the 24 th of June; a penny on St. Alban's, St. Julian's, and Easter days; a half-penny on Ascension day "for the taking away from themselves of dirt"; and flour for pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. With these gifts they were commanded to be content.
Offices of Forests.—A writer who narrates the history of the woods and pastures of Lynn, Mass., in the Transcript of that city, says that the "Lynn woods have had three periods of usefulness. Down to 1706 they furnished pasturage and timber and shelter to the village. In their second period, covering the life of the town in its shifting from the pastoral to mechanical pursuits, they were still useful, although restricted to furnishing fuel to the inhabitants. As time went on, and cheap coal came in with the ever-advancing density of population, it seemed as if the slaughtering brick-maker and fire-fiend would render the woods a desert and a menace to our fair town." But a period of greater usefulness, according to Garden and Forest, has come. The inhabitants of cities require pure water, and the people of Lynn have wisely determined to protect and preserve the abundant supply which still flows from the springs that watered the cattle of the Puritans, and these woods now perform their noblest duty, in furnishing the great city with water, oxygen, and sylvan beauty for the repose of its inhabitants.
Fossil Insects.—The publications of the last ten years on fossil insects comprise, according to Mr. S. H. Scudder's review, about one third of a complete catalogue of papers on the subject. This literature records some of the most important discoveries that have been made in this field. Passing the discovery of Silurian scorpions in several parts of the world, we have, first, Brongniart's discovery of the hexapod, Palæoblattina, in the Silurian of France, as yet the only known true insect in that system. Next is the remarkable Devonian insect fauna in New Brunswick, first announced before 1880, but only fully published, with figures of the species, then. With these must be classed the Devonian myriapods, the earliest known members of that group, elaborated by Peach. In the Carboniferous period we have the abundant forms of Mazon Creek and other deposits in the United States, which include so extraordinary a number of blattarians that Mr. Scudder calls it, so far as its insect fauna is concerned, "the age of cockroaches." These discoveries are even more than paralleled by the similar discoveries of M. Brongniart in France, equally characterized by multitudes of cockroaches. There the principal discoveries in the Palæozoic series have been accompanied by the publication of many striking forms which indicate the ancestral types of living insects, or by the better elucidation of types already known but whose significance had not been understood. A new era has been begun in the study of the earlier types, in that the subjects have been treated in more than a scattered way, by fuller discussions, and by attempts to systematize. Our knowledge of Mesozoic insects has been likewise much enlarged. Of Tertiary insects, the earliest are to all general intents and purposes identical with those of to-day, although they differ no doubt specifically, and to a considerable degree generically. Most of those so far recovered from temperate regions indicate a warmer climate in their time; but, taken as a whole, the grand features of insect life appear to have been essentially the same since the beginning of Tertiary times. Of the insects of this period, the Florissant deposit alone of the Western United States is as productive, if we exclude the insects found in amber, as all the Tertiary fields of Europe taken together. Last year the author found that the strata of a considerable tract of country in western Colorado and eastern Utah were packed with fossil insects as closely as at Florissant. "Whether these new localities will excel or even equal that place in the variety of their fossil treasures is yet to be determined; but there can hardly be any doubt that we shall soon be able in our Western Territories to rehabilitate successive faunas as successfully as has been done with many of our vertebrate types, and as has not yet been done for insects in any country in the world." Insects have now been found, too, in a score of places in our Carboniferous series.
Ancient Superstitions in Italy.—In a paper at the International Folk-lore Congress on Modern Tuscan Tradition, Mr. Charles G. Leiand spoke of a mountainous district, the Romagna Tuscana, between Forli and Ravenna, in which the peasantry have preserved old customs and lore to a degree for which there was no parallel elsewhere in Europe. There are certain families in which witchcraft is especially cultivated, among whom the old traditions and names of the gods still live. There is ten times as much belief in the superstitions as in the Catholic religion; and when people are in trouble, though they first tried the saints, they always found sorcery and spirits best in the end. The basis of the cult was a peculiar polytheism, or a worship of the spirits called folletti. These spirits generally bear the names of old Etruscan gods, mostly very little changed? or of the old Roman minor rural deities First among them is Tinia, the folletto of thunder, lightning, and storms. There is also an herb called tigna, identified with this spirit and much used in magic to repel Tinia when he injures crops. The spirit of the vineyards, wine-cellars, and wines, whose name, Fafian, is but little changed from Fufluns, the ancient Etruscan Bacchus, is described as "enchantingly beautiful" and given to good-natured mischief. When the peasants arc gathering grapes, he comes invisibly and knocks their panniers all about; but if this is taken pleasantly, he replaces everything, and then his ringing laughter is heard. Sometimes he falls in love, and, of course, always woos successfully. Teramo is the spirit of merchants, thieves, messengers, and carrier-pigeons, and corresponds with Turnus, the old Etruscan Mercury. Maso or Mas is Mars, not the god of war, but his Etruscan prototype, a god of crops and fertility. Diana preserves to this day her title of queen of the witches. The great mediæval writers declare that all the Italian witches asserted that they did not worship Satan, but Diana and Herodia. Marcellus of Bordeaux, who was court physician to the Emperor Honorius in the fourth century, collected and recorded a hundred magical cures which he had gathered among old women and peasants. Of these, Mr. Leland by dint of much inquiry had found fifty in practical use, and bad recovered some of them in a more perfect form than that given by Marcellus. Through all this lore there runs the thread that all disorders and ill luck and earthly mischances are caused by witchcraft, and must be cured by Christian saints or heathen sorcerers, of which the latter are preferred.
Allotropism in Alloys.—In his presidential address before the Chemical Section of the British Association, Prof. Roberts Austen spoke of the consequences of allotropic changes which result in alteration of structure as being very great. The case of the tin regimental buttons which fell into a shapeless heap when exposed to the rigorous winter of St. Petersburg is well known. The recent remarkable discovery by Hopkinson, of the changes in the density of nickelsteel (containing twenty-two per cent of nickel) which are produced by cooling to 30°, affords another instance. This variety of steel, after being frozen, is readily magnetizable, although it was not so before; its density, moreover, is permanently reduced by no less than two per cent by the exposure to cold; and it is startling to contemplate the effect which would be produced by a visit to the arctic regions of a ship of war built in a temperate climate of ordinary steel, and clad with some three thousand tons of such nickel-steel armor; the shearing which would result from the expansion of the armor by exposure to cold would destroy the ship. The molecular behavior of alloys is, indeed, most interesting. W. Spring has shown, in a long series of investigations, that alloys may be formed at the ordinary temperature, provided that minute particles of the constituent elements are submitted to great pressure. W. Hallock has recently given strong evidence in favor of the view that an alloy can be produced from its constituent metals with but slight pressure, if the temperature to which the mass is submitted be above the melting-point of the alloy, even though it be far below the meltingpoint of the more easily fusible constituent. A further instance is thus afforded of the fact that a variation of either temperature or pressure will effect the union of solids.
The Instincts of Cattle.—Many habits of the lower animals can be explained by analogy with our own behavior in similar circumstances and still more with that of savage men. Thus the tenderness and ingenuity that a cow shows in caring for her calf, and the fierce courage that she displays in its defense against foes from which she would flee if alone, all find their counterparts in human life. Several instincts that are more difficult to account for are discussed by Mr. W. H. Hudson, in a recent number of Longman's Magazine. This writer accounts for the angry excitement shown by cattle on the appearance of a red cloth as an outgrowth of curiosity. Were a red flag displayed in a field by itself, the animals would surround it with every sign of interest and curiosity; but should a man drape himself in it, the bolder would attack him, not on account of the color, but because the man had drawn their attention irresistibly to himself. In regard to the unerring detection by cattle of the spot where blood has been spilled, the furious fighting over it by the stronger males, the strange anxiety of the whole herd to survey it, and above all the weird horror expressed in the discordant note that the bellowing at once assumes, Mr. Hudson supposes that "their inherited memory associates the smell of blood with the presence among them of some powerful enemy," and that their attacks on each other result from the lack of any visible foe. This seems reasonable, and it might be worth while for Mr. Hudson to consider whether a better explanation of the excitement caused by red objects could not be found by connecting the impression produced by the sight of red—the color of blood—with that produced by the smell of blood. To the same blind terror and the same invisibility of cause is attributed the impulse of cattle to gore or trample to death a disabled companion—ability to discriminate between distress and the cause of distress being wanting. Of a very different origin is the persecution of the weakly members of a herd by the stronger. This comes from the instinct of self-preservation that prompts the individual animal to establish ascendency over as many of the herd as it can.
The Preparatory Stage in Education.—The young mind, with all its latent powers, with all its individual characteristics, is likened by President J. M. Coulter to an uncultivated field that must be drained and broken up and harrowed, to be ready for the seed; and the seed is one's specialty, which is to be planted when the ground is ready. This popular cry for a "practical education" asks us to omit the preparation of the soil and plant the seed at once, that there may be no loss of time. This figure seems to express the proper relationship between the general training or preparation which we call "education" and the special training or apprenticeship which looks directly to one's life-work. It is these two stages which are distinct in method and purpose that are ignored in the popular reasoning. One prepares the soil, the other sows the seed; the one reduces the metal, the other fashions it to its special use; the one develops the muscle, the other turns this developed power to some definite purpose; the one weaves the cloth, the other cuts and fits it. Think of shaping an axe from unreduced ore; of wielding a sledge-hammer with weak and flabby muscles; of cutting clothes from an unworked fleece, and you have the sort of reasoning used by "practical" men concerning what is called "practical" education. The author thinks it is apparent that mental muscle may be developed without a single item of information being obtained as such; and that it may often be cultivated in a pleasanter, more even, and scientific way, if the utilitarian idea of obtaining information be not constantly present. Education, then, being the development of mental muscle, the period of preparation, we are confronted with the question, "What is a practical education?" not in the popular meaning of the term, but really. Plainly, it is that kind of education which will bring about the development of this mental muscle, this preparation which is to bring ability to grasp one's specialty and the problems of life. Hence, studies become tools, the agricultural implements, not the seed; the means, not the end. No study in our ordinary, unprofessional schools has any right to be other than a means; the subject itself entirely lost sight of in its application; the grindstone forgotten in the sharpening of the tool.
The Uses of Potlatch.—The Northwestern Indian custom of potlatch, from Dr. Boaz's description of which in a report to the British Association we gave a condensed extract in the May number of the Monthly, is regarded by the Hon. Horatio Hale as something essentially different from the parade of wasteful and ostentatious profusion which it superficially appears to be. It is, he says, "a method most ingeniously devised for displaying merit, acquiring influence, and at the same time laying up a provision for the future. Among these Indians, as among all communities in which genuine civilization has made some progress, the qualities most highly esteemed in a citizen are thrift, forethought, and liberality. The thrift is exhibited by the collection of the property which is distributed at the gift-feast; the liberality is, of course, shown in its distribution; and the forethought is displayed in selecting as the special objects of this liberality those who are most likely to be able to return it. By a well-understood rule, which among these punctilious natives had all the force of a law of honor, every recipient of a gift at a potlatch was bound to return its value, at some future day, twofold. And in this repayment his relatives were expected to aid him; they were deemed, in fact, his sureties. Thus a thrifty and aspiring burgher who, at one of these gift-feasts, had emptied all his chests of their accumulated stores, and had left himself and his family apparently destitute, could comfortably reflect, as he saw his visitors depart in their well-laden canoes, that he had not only greatly increased his reputation, but had at the same time invested all his means at high interest, on excellent security, and was now, in fact, one of the wealthiest as well as most esteemed members of the community.
An Overlooked Mode of Iceberg Formation.—To the familiar explanation of the formation of icebergs must be added another. Mr. Israel C. Russell, in recounting his expedition to Mount St. Elias, says that the foot of a glacier extends out under the muddy water, sometimes for a thousand feet or more, in front of the visible part of the ice-cliffs. When this extension of the icefoot has reached the point where the buoyancy of the ice at the bottom exceeds its strength, huge pieces break off and rise to the surface. The sudden appearance of these masses of ice is always startling. "At first it seems," says Mr. Russell, "as if some huge sea-monster had risen from the deep and was lashing the waters into foam." Soon it can be seen that a blue island has appeared above the surface, carrying up hundreds of tons of water, which flows down its sides in cataracts of foam. The fragments which rise from the bottom in this manner are usually larger than those broken from the faces of the ice-cliffs, sometimes measuring two hundred or three hundred feet in diameter. Their size and the suddenness with which they rise would insure certain destruction of a vessel venturing too near the treacherous ice-walls.
Artificial Globular Lightning.—M. Planté has used his secondary batteries to reproduce on a small scale the phenomenon of globular lightning. M. von Lepel has shown that it can be obtained also by means of static electricity given by an induction machine. When two small copper wires from the poles of a strong machine are held at a certain distance from the opposite faces of a plate of mica, ebonite, or glass, small luminous red balls will be seen moving here and there, at times slowly, at others rapidly, and sometimes in a stationary position. The most remarkable effects are got with a plate of glass or disk of paper rubbed with paraffine. M. von Lepel believes that the vehicles of the luminous phenomena are small particles of liquid or dust. A slight current of air will remove the spherules, which "will disappear faintly whistling. The experimenter remarks, further, that the phenomena are of weak tension. When this is increased, the luminous balls arc no longer obtained, but instead of them the ordinary spark-discharge.
Contamination of Graveyard Soil.—As a part of the inquiry as to whether the soil of graveyards is liable to become infectious and dangerous. Dr. Justin Karlinski, of Konjica, Herzegovina, has undertaken to determine whether the organs of the body undergo any change in temperature during the natural process of decomposition after burial in the earth, and especially whether any difference appears in the case of infected subjects. His results show that the putrefactive process is invariably accompanied by a rise of temperature above that of the soil around, and that the rise is higher when the parts examined have been taken from bodies that have succumbed to infectious diseases than from other bodies. He found that typhoid bacilli may retain their vitality in the decomposing spleen for three months, and are annihilated only by rapid putrefaction. The author says that he had previously shown that typhoid bacilli could retain their vitality for five months in soil, but that if the earth were thoroughly saturated with rain-water they are destroyed in from seven to fourteen days. The part played by the soil in the origin of epidemics should not, he thinks, be underestimated, since typhoid bacilli can exist in water only for a comparatively short time.
Melanesian Ghosts.—According to Dr. R. H. Codington, in his studies of their Anthropology and Folk Lore, the Melanesians have no conception of the devil as an evil spirit, but are possessed by the belief in a supernatural power or influence called mana, which shows itself in physical force, or in any kind of excellence which a man may possess. "This mana is not fixed in anything, and can be conveyed in almost everything; but spirits, whether disembodied souls or supernatural beings, have it and can impart it; and it essentially belongs to personal beings to originate it, though it may act through the medium of water or a stone or a bone. All Melanesian religion consists, in fact, in getting this mana for one's self, or getting it used for one's benefit—all religion, that is, as far as religious practices go, prayers and sacrifices." The sacrifices are different in different places. In the western islands the offerings are made to ghosts, and are consumed by fire as well as eaten; in the eastern islands they are made to spirits, and there is no sacrificial fire or meal. In the former, nothing is offered but food; in the latter money has a conspicuous place. Notwithstanding our association of idolatry with these people. Dr. Codington gives it no place in his account of their religion. Their belief is all in ghosts. There are land-ghosts and sea ghosts, of which the latter have the more important place. At Wango, in the Solomon Islands, there was a canoe-house full of carvings and paintings representing native life, among them a canoe attacked by ghosts that haunt the seas. Two of them are composed as much as possible of forms of fishes—their spears and arrows long-bodied gar-fish and flying-fish. Even sharks have ghosts. In the volcanic islands it is generally believed that the souls of the dead ascend the mountain and are received within the craters by the ghosts which assemble to welcome the new-comer.
The "Rare Earths" in America.—Mr. Waldron Shapleigh exhibited at a recent meeting of the Franklin Institute some forty specimens of salts of what are called the rare earths, with minerals from which they are obtained, viz.: samarskite, zircon crystals, and monazite sand from North Carolina, monazite sand from Brazil, gadolinite from Texas, and allanite from Virginia. This was the first time the salts of praseodymium and neodymium have been shown and probably separated in this country; the separation of these elements is long and tedious. The specimens shown had undergone nearly 400 fractional distillations, and had been in a state of constant preparation since early in 1888. Tons of cerite and monazite sand had been used, and tons of the salts of cerium and lanthanum obtained, but the yield of praseodymium was only a few kilogrammes. The percentage of neodymium was much higher. Zirconium, lanthanum, and cerium should no longer be classed among rare earths, as hundreds of tons of ores from which they are obtained have been located in North Carolina, and there seems no end to the deposits of monazite sand, one of the richest ores, and containing most of the rare earths. In Brazil it does not have to be mined, as it is in the form of river-sand. In North Carolina it is found in washing for gold. Should the arts, trades, or manufactures create a demand for these so-called rare earths. Nature could readily supply it from these two localities. Thorium and yttrium minerals are not so easy to obtain, but they have recently been found in quantity in North Carolina and Texas.
Cultivation of the Poppy.—The poppy is cultivated for opium in a region of India about six hundred miles long and two hundred miles wide. The plants come into full flower in February, when they are some three or four feet high. Each stem produces from two to five capsules, about the size of a duck's egg. Previous to piercing these capsules, the petals of the flower, now beginning to fall off, are carefully collected. They are formed into circular cakes from ten to fourteen inches in diameter, and put into shallow earthen vessels which are heated over a slow fire, and are eventually used as shells or coverings for the drug. When the capsules have reached their highest development, the ryot visits his poppy field in the afternoon and scarifies each capsule from top to bottom, adding sometimes a horizontal cutting. The juice at once begins to exude; milky white at first, but afterward taking on a pinkish tinge. The exudation continues during the night. If there is no wind and abundance of dew, the return is favorable. A westerly wind and cloudy atmosphere diminish the yield. At an early hour the next morning the ryot again repairs to the field and collects the thickened juice from the capsules. The juice is next emptied into an earthenware pot, and the ryot is expected to expose it every day to the air, but not to the sun; to turn over the mass daily, so as to insure its being thoroughly dried; to keep it free from impurities or adulterations; and to bring it up to the highest standard of consistence and strength. When he has persevered with this process for three weeks or a month he delivers the raw opium at the factory. A dark, coffee-colored fluid, called pussana, exudes from the juice when it is fresh, which contains many of the active principles of the drug, and is dealt with separately. Besides the collected petals which form the envelope of the drug, and the pussana, the ryot has other sources of profit in the poppy. The stems and leaves of the plant are left till they become thoroughly dried up under the hot winds of April and May. They are then removed, broken up into a coarse powder, and used for the packing of the cakes. The oil is used for cooking and lighting. The seeds are like caraway and are sold as comfits; and after the extraction of the oil a dry cake remains, which is given to cattle or sold for medicinal purposes.
Time-reckoning on the Congo.—According to an account of the geography and meteorology of the natives of the cataract region of the Congo, given in the Mouvement géographique, the day is the solar day, in the length of which no variation (the range being only about forty minutes) is recognized. It is divided into four parts of three hours each, which are indicated by stretching the arm or pointing to the east for sunrise; 45° toward the east for nine o'clock; toward the zenith for noon; 45° toward the west for three o'clock, and horizontally toward the west for sunset. Each hour has its name, that for sunrise meaning "early," and that for sunset, "the sun is dead." If a native is asked how long it will take to go to a certain village, he will answer by pointing to where the sun stands at starting, and toward where it will be when the point is reached. Thus he indicates the number of hours by the astronomical angle corresponding with them. Four days form a week, and each day has its name. Public markets are distinguished by the name of the day on which they are held, and of the chief, village, or group of villages that control them. Seven four-day weeks form a month, which corresponds with the lunar month. Long durations of time are expressed in moons; the black does not take account of years. Although he distinguishes the seasons and recognizes their periodicity, he has no fixed point by which to determine the revolution of the sun. The five seasons of the Congo are that of abundant and continuous rains (from the middle of February to the middle of May); that of the end of the great rains and the beginning of the dry season, when the grass grows high (middle of May to middle of July); the dry season, continuing till the middle of September—also the season of great hunts; the beginning of the lesser rainy season, when the sapotas begin to grow (middle of September till the end of November); and the season of decreasing rains, or lesser dry season, when the sapotas are eatable (December, January, and early February). The phases of the moon are understood. The new moon is called the child moon, and the moon at its last quarter the dead moon. The blacks know that the new moon is the same that appeared in the preceding month, but they have no explanation for the phenomenon. They have no notion concerning the stars, further than to recognize the brightness of Venus and give it a name, and to name the constellation of the Three Kings. Atmospheric phenomena—rains, droughts, thunder, rainbows, halos, etc.—are attributed to the action of the spirits invoked by the fetich-priests.
Evolution on the Railroad.—It is most interesting, says Mr. W. Armstrong Willis in the Gentleman's Magazine, to trace how tenaciously the first railway managers in England clung to the traditions of coaching. The builders of the first railway carriages made no allowance for the changed mode of progression and motion which was introduced with the steam-engine. They retained the short, narrow, stuffy body of the stage-coach, set it upon four wheels of another make, and then attached it to the engine as to a new, enlarged kind of horse. With the increased speed of traveling the motion became intolerable, and, when a high rate of speed was reached, few people could keep their seats. By degrees, but very slowly, these things were improved. Better ventilation was insured, more wheels were added, and the carriages were enlarged; doors and windows were so constructed as to keep out the clouds of dust that choked the traveler on badly made and ill-kept lines. The same principle of evolution which has turned the old stage-coach into the comfortable saloon carriage has been at work in every department of railways and their management, and the highly intricate and important system of modern signaling springs from a most simple beginning. Shortly after the opening of the Stockton and Darlington line, which was the earliest line constructed, one of the station-masters is traditionally said to have adopted the simple expedient of putting a lighted candle in the window of the station-house when it was necessary for the train to stop. When the Liverpool and Manchester Railway was first opened, in 1830, the only means of signaling the trains was a flag by day and a lamp by night. The first advance to modern signaling began about four years after the line had been opened, when stout posts were provided upon which lamps were placed by the points-man. Nowadays the signalman's cabin is the center from which all signaling radiates.
Rainfall by Explosion.—Reviewing the theories of artificial rain-making. Prof. E. J. Houston draws the general conclusions, in view of the present state of meteorological science, that rain can never be made to fall at will by mid-air explosions on any part of the earth's surface, irrespective of the climatic conditions there existing; but during certain meteorological conditions, mid-air explosions may result in rainfall over extended areas; that the liberation of energy necessary for such rainfalls is due not to the midair explosions, but to the energy stored up in the moist air from which the rain is derived; that the meteorological conditions which must exist for the successful action of mid-air explosions would probably in most though not in all cases themselves result in a natural production of rain; that a comparatively high difference of electric potential between different parts of the air, or between the air and the earth, is possibly favorable, when taken in connection with other meteorological conditions, for artificial rain-making; and that an undirected mid-air explosion is not as likely to produce rain as an explosion in which the main tendency of the energy liberated is to cause a general uprush of the air. Among the "certain meteorological conditions" mentioned in this summary is that in which the air is in a state of very unstable equilibrium, when a slight determining cause may result in the liberation of the stored-up energy, with a resulting heavy rainfall. In such cases it may appear that there are no reasons why an explosion in mid-air should not be followed by rain. In this case rain might be eventually caused without artificial aid. A condition in which heavy rains might be artificially produced by mid-air disturbances, when without them there would be none, may exist when a layer of warm, moist air exists between the earth's surface and a higher layer of cold, moist air, separated by a comparatively thin layer of air, and other conditions are such as to maintain the two layers separate. The breaking or piercing of the intermediate separating layer might then permit such an uprush of the warmer air as would result in the formation of a true storm center and a heavy rainfall.
Weddings among the Shushwap Indians.—Dr. Franz Boaz, in his report to the Hon. Horatio Hale for the British Association concerning the northwestern Indian tribes of Canada, describes from native accounts the marriage ceremonies of the Shushwap as follows: "A young man who wishes to marry a girl takes a number of horses and other property that is considered valuable, and offers it to the father of the girl he wishes to marry. The latter, before accepting the price offered, invites his whole family to a council and asks their consent. If they agree to accept the suitor, and the price he has offered for the girl is satisfactory, they tie the horses to their stable and take the other goods into the house, as a sign of their willingness. After this the young man may take the girl without further ceremonies. After the marriage the bridegroom and his family go on a hunting expedition, and try to obtain as much game as possible, which is to be given to his father-in-law. The latter dresses the meat and invites the whole tribe to a feast. Then he and his family in their turn go hunting, and present the game they have obtained to the young man's father, who gives a feast to the whole tribe. At this time the girl's father returns all the payments he has received to the young man's father. For a number of days the couple live with the girl's family. When the young man goes to reside with his wife he asks all his friends to support him, and they give him presents of food and clothing. The latter he puts on, one suit on top of the other, goes to his father-in-law, and gives him all the property he carries. The latter distributes this property among the whole tribe according to the contributions every one has made. Then the young couple remove to the young man's family; and before leaving her father's house the bride is fitted out with presents in the same way as the young man was when he came to reside with her family. This is a present to the young man's father, who also distributes it among the tribe."
Some Characteristics of Waves.—The friction of the wind upon the sea-surface, the convulsions of deep-seated earthquakes, and the attraction of the heavenly bodies, give rise to three different kinds of seawaves. If the wind blows directly parallel to the sea-surface, says a writer in Chambers's Journal, the friction may cause an ocean-current without wave-disturbance. As a rule the direction of the wind is inclined to the sea-surface, and its immediate effect is to produce a depression, which relieves itself by means of a wave to leeward and another to windward. This latter elevation is opposed by the wind, and gradually dies away, while the leeward wave is correspondingly accelerated. Each undulation shelters the water under its lee from the wind, which consequently impinges upon the sea a little in advance of the newly formed wave; and thus we get a series of parallel ridges and hollows, provided the wind remain steady in direction and intensity. There is no necessary connection between the advance of a wave and the for. ward movement of the water composing it, as may be seen by running the fingers along the keys of a piano. An inverted ware travels along, but the keys merely move up and down. Similarly, a wave may often be observed running along the ripe ears of golden grain while the stalks are firmly rooted in the soil. The onward progress of a sea-wave is easily perceptible, and by watching some light substance floating on the surface the fact is revealed that the water is not moving with the same velocity as the advancing wave. Should the wind direction suddenly change, a new series of waves will be generated, and cross-seas soon confront the mariner. Hence it is that in a cyclone, or revolving storm, where the wind is frequently changing, there are high waves rolling along from various directions, each as distinct as the ripples in a river, which cross one another without swerving from their course. Waves become short and abrupt in shallow water, and are far more dangerous to shipping than the long, regular billows of the ocean. It is probable that the greatest slope of a wave in open waters does not exceed thirty degrees, and frequently not more than fifteen degrees. Waves raised by the friction of the wind upon the water are relatively superficial. In heavy gales, however, lower depths become troubled, and the undulations more and more imposing. Occasionally an exceptionally large solitary wave is met with, advancing in awe-inspiring grandeur, its white crest towering high above all its fellows. Such ocean giants may be due to the fact that the elevations of series of waves having different lengths happen to coincide; or may be caused by squalls of wind, which are sometimes as terrible in intensity as they are sudden in formation.
The Wagging of the Dog's Tail.—Prof. Eimer, in his work on Organic Evolution, is not able to explain why the dogs of Constantinople erect the tail and carry it upright, while the ancestral wolf and the jackal carry it hanging down. Dr. Joseph L. Hancock suggests, in the American Naturalist, that the reason may be found in the fact that as the dog becomes domesticated it is prone to use the tail as an organ for expressing mental states—wagging it when pleased, dropping it between the legs when disappointed or frightened. The ancestral wolf carries it hanging down, because in that position it is less conspicuous and better eludes detection. A family of wolves playing together undisturbed occasionally carry their tails curled upward. By degrees the tail acquires naturally the upright position as a result of coincident evolution of the mind of the wolf by domestication and of the slow adaptation of the appendage as an organ of expression. The cessation of natural selection in the domestic dog would give the tail greater freedom of motion without detriment to life; and artificial selection modifies it into various shapes.
Sulphur in Sicily.—According to the report of the United States consul at Palermo, there are now about three hundred sulphur mines in Sicily. The deposits are estimated to amount to about 30,000,000 tons, and the annual production to 400,000 tons. The royalties vary from twelve to forty-five per cent, according to the quality of the ore and the facilities for producing the sulphur, and average about twenty-five per cent. The external indications of the presence of sulphur are the appearance of gypsum and sulphurous springs. When the miners detach the ore from the surrounding material, vast cavities are often left which have to be supported on pillars of rock, and frequently give way with disastrous results. Seven different qualities are recognized, and determined by color. The mines have declined in prosperity since the extraction of sulphur from iron pyrites has come into use, and two thirds of them are represented to be at the point of suspension.
Cause of Chinese Emigration.—The main cause of the emigration from China, which is filling all other countries with apprehension, is traced by a Dutch colonial officer in the East Indies, not to the excess of population, but to the poverty of the soil in the provinces whence the emigrants come. The mass of the emigration is from the bare mountainous valleys of the eastern part of China, where the soil yields but little and the rainfall is slight. Disafforestation, making wood scarce and dear, is another factor in the matter. The author believes that as soon as China earnestly sets itself to the task of constructing railways and other great works the stream of emigration will be stopped; for the people will find in the interior of their own country the work and means of livelihood which they now seek for elsewhere,
University-extension Lectures on Science.—Arrangements have been made, in connection with the English university-extension movement, for one month's residence during the long vacation of extension students within the university precincts, where lectures will be given them on the subjects of their studies. The lectures for 1891 included a discussion of the criticism of Weismann's theory of heredity, by Mr. Poult on; the functions of the heart, by Mr. Gotch; the benzene ring, by Prof. Odling; a course of practical chemistry, under the supervision of Mr. Marsh; practical instruction in geology, by Prof. Green and Mr. Badger, with excursions; practical astronomy; four lectures on the application of science to the art of agriculture; the management of poultry; and manures.