Popular Science Monthly/Volume 43/July 1893/Popular Miscellany

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Copper in the United States.—Each of the main geographical subdivisions of the United States, according to Mr. James Douglas, possesses a distinct group of copper deposits. The Appalachian chain of mountains carries throughout its entire extent, from far beyond the northern limits of the United States to near the Gulf of Mexico, copper, which is chiefly but not exclusively contained in masses of iron pyrites imbedded in crystalline slates. Copper mines were worked before the Revolution in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. More recently mines have been worked in nearly all the Eastern, Middle, and Southern States from Maine to Alabama, but most extensively in Vermont and Tennessee. From the great trough between the Appalachian and Rocky Mountain chains, drained by the Great Lakes and the Mississippi, but little copper has been extracted except from the State of Michigan. There have been small workings in other places, but not important. The copper-bearing beds of the Keweenaw series in Michigan, extending, but not in profitable veins, into Wisconsin and Minnesota, consist of beds of trap, sandstone, and conglomerate of doubtful age. Everywhere in Michigan the copper of this series exists exclusively in the metallic state. Three classes of deposits are worked in the Keweenaw promontory: the veins that yielded those extraordinary masses, stray blocks of which were reverenced by the Indians, which attracted the attention of the Jesuit fathers, and which have appealed to the popular fancy; copper beds of amygdaloid diabase, locally called ash beds, and amygdaloid traps; and beds of conglomerate, of which the cementing material consists in part of copper. There are sulphureted ores of copper in Michigan and Wisconsin outside of the Keweenaw series, but mines of notable productiveness have not been opened on any of them. The Rocky Mountain mines may be subdivided into two groups—those of southern Arizona and those of northern Montana. With insignificant exceptions, all Arizona copper comes from three groups of deposits: those near Clifton, at Bisbee, and near Globe. The ores heretofore yielded by these mines have been naturally oxidized, and with the elimination of the sulphur have been purified from certain other obnoxious elements which are commonly associated with sulphur. The Butte mines in Montana came into productive existence almost simultaneously with the mines of Arizona; but, instead of maintaining an almost stationary production, their record has shown an extraordinary augmentation of yield from year to year. Outside of Butte, no district promises in the near future to be largely productive. Promising indications of copper wealth exist in the Seven Devils' district in Idaho, but they have not been exploited. Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming have all yielded more or less copper, and all contain ores which under more favorable circumstances than now exist will be utilized. Colorado stands in the list as a producing State of growing importance. New Mexico does not produce much. On the Pacific coast, California alone has been notable in production.

Coal-tar Perfumes.—The revolution which chemistry has brought about in the manufacture of colors is now becoming apparent in the perfumery industry. As vegetable colors are being gradually replaced by the colors derived from coal tar, so artificial perfumes are gradually taking the place of the natural ones; and these derivatives from coal tar promise to give the best results in the future. Artificial perfumes are obtained by means of the ethers, liquids remarkable for their characteristic odors; by suitably composed mixtures by which imitations are obtained of the perfumes of fruits and of the principal alcoholic drinks; and fixed formulas are given for each flavor and for each liquor. These artificial perfumes are much used for the preparation of confections into the composition of which neither fruit nor sugar enters, but only alga% potato glucose, and artificial flavors, and of bonbons, jellies, liquors, etc. The essences of cognac and rum are also much used in the preparation of drinks with alcohols of grain, sugar beet, or potato. The perfumes of flowers are harder to imitate. Recourse was at first had to mixtures of other cheaper or more easily obtainable natural perfumes. An advance has now been made, and chemistry has succeeded in imitating these odors with substances derived from plants by complex reactions. The first perfume derived from combinations with the derivatives of coal tar was nitrobenzine, which was obtained by Mitscherlich m 1834, but is manufactured on a large scale only by Collas, in Paris, under the name of essence of mirbane. It has an odor like that of bitter almonds, and is used for perfuming soaps. Perfumes of similar origin have multiplied very much in recent years; and we now have among them artificial wintergreen, artificial musk, etc.

Floral Festivals.—In the arrangement in the Arsenal Garden, Tokio, Japan, of special collections of plants selected for the purpose of producing a display of flowers at different seasons of the year, Garden and Forest perceives an idea which can perhaps be adopted advantageously in other parts of the world. It is the expression, it says, of the love of the Japanese for particular flowers and of the popularity of the flower festivals held in spring, when the apricot trees and the cherry trees bloom; in summer, when the wistaria, the irises, and the morning-glories are in flower; and in the autumn, at the season of the chrysanthemum, and when the leaves of the maple trees assume their brilliant coloring. Every public garden in Japan contains collections of these plants, at least of the apricots, the cherries, and the maples, and they are visited by the greatest number of people when these plants are in flower. Their flowering is the excuse for parties of pleasure, and the intelligence of millions of people has in this way been (quickened by their interest in the unfolding of petals of cherry trees or wistaria. Similar arrangements might be made in our own parks. "As our cities grow large and absorb the surrounding country, many of their inhabitants must pass their lives in ignorance of some of the most beautiful things in Nature, without beholding, for example, the glory of an apple tree in flower. In some corner of any one of our large parks, or better, in different parks of a series or system, a number of permanent out-door flower shows might be arranged which Mould add immensely to their value as places of resort, and would have a powerful influence in directing and educating the public taste. There are many trees, for example, with showy and beautiful flowers, which display their greatest beauty only when massed together in considerable numbers; and if the people of our cities had the opportunity to see such collections, they would very soon make holidays for the purpose, and flower festivals before many years would become as much a part of our life in cities as they have in Japan."

Superstitions concerning the "Black Devil".—While the Dara Deil (Forficula oleus), or "black devil," a kind of earwig, used to be an object of almost universal abhorrence in the folk lore of Ireland. Its services were sometimes invoked in labor that demanded extraordinary physical exertion. In creeping along, whenever it hears any noise it halts, cocks up its tail, and jerks out its sting, which is similar to that of a bee. No reptile has been so much feared and dreaded by the peasantry as this insect, and it used to be commonly believed that it betrayed to his Jewish enemies the way the Saviour went when leaving the city of Jerusalem. It was no small gain to destroy this insect, for seven sins, it was said, were taken off the soul of the slayer. The people believed that the sting of the Dara Deil was very poisonous, if not mortal, and that it possessed a demoniac spirit. Under this impression, whenever it was seen in a house by the peasantry they always destroyed it by placing a coal of fire over it, and when it was burned the ashes were carefully swept out. It was not trodden on by foot, as a less formidable insect would be, nor was it killed by a stick, for it was believed that the poisonous or demoniac essence would be conveyed to the body of the slayer through leather or wood. It has often been related that laborers have been enabled to perform extraordinary feats through the agency of the black » devil, which they inserted in some part of their implements of labor; but the few who were so daring as to have recourse to such means were regarded as dabblers in the black art, and were looked upon as reckless, as "utterly left to themselves," and almost beyond the pale of salvation. This insect is still considered extremely dangerous; it is thought to be a kind of scorpion; but very few, indeed, are now disposed to lift it to the dignity of preternatural influence.

Growth of Willow Trees.—Garden and Forest has received a photograph of a willow tree standing in Waterbury Centre, Vt., the trunk of which measures twenty-four and a half feet in circumference, and whose symmetrical top shades an eighth of an acre of ground. A person who knows the early history of the willow testifies that in 1840 it was a tree about six inches in diameter, which had grown from a walking-stick driven into the ground a few years before by some children. In that year it was cut down deep into the ground in the hope of killing it, but it started a new growth, and has reached its present dimensions in fifty years. The rapid growth of the willow in favorable localities is well known, and Dr. Hoskins (from whom the photograph was received) writes of another near his home, which sprang from a cane carried by a returning soldier in 1866, and thrust into the soil in his dooryard. It is now more than four feet in diameter, with an immense top, and bids fair, at an equal age, to reach the dimensions of the one spoken of.

The Jagir Duseens of North Borneo.—The Governor of British North Borneo, visiting the island of Banguey, found there a tribe of Duseens, differing in language, religion, and customs from other tribes bearing that name. Among one of these people, called Jagir, spirits are believed in, and also the power of a priestess to keep them in order; "for she is acquainted with their ways, and knows the future as well as the past." She nominates and trains her successors, but they must wear black robes and carry wooden knives. The priestess thanks the chief spirit, festival when the paddy crop has been successful; but the people never appeal to the spirits or practice any religious ceremony in connection with births, deaths, sickness, or marriages. Marriages are performed, without public gathering or feast, in the forest in the presence of the two families. The rite consists in transferring a drop of blood from a small incision made with a wooden knife in the calf of the man's leg to a similar cut in the woman's leg. After marriage the man takes the bride to her home, where he resides in future as a member of the family. These people have long hair, secured with a wooden pin at the back of the head, and cut short on the forehead. Their only covering consists of a scanty fragment of bark. They use for fire-making both flints and a pointed friction-stick, which differs slightly from the one generally used in the archipelago. The tribesmen are honest, trustworthy, and industrious.

A Chinese Naval College.—The Imperial Naval College at Nankin, China, according to Dr. Fryer's report, was opened about two years ago for the purpose of educating young men of talent for official positions in the southern fleet of the Chinese navy, the northern fleet having been already provided for. It has now eighty students between seventeen and twenty-five years of age, about equally divided between the branches of navigation and engineering. Two English teachers are engaged, with several Chinese teachers who have been graduated from the Tientsin Naval College and are employed as instructors in drilling, rifle practice, torpedo work, and other branches. The second classes of both the navigation and the engineering branches are also taught by qualified natives. The Chinese studies are directed by literary graduates, who teach the classics and other subjects of the usual course. With the good beginning it has had, and ample room for expansion, there can be little doubt, says the report, that the college, under its present administration, will eventually grow into a permanent institution that will bear comparison with some of those of foreign countries. The Chinese mind seems to be able to undergo a severe amount of study and discipline that is simply astonishing. Handicapped by having to keep up their own classics and literary style, while all they learn of foreign subjects is through the medium of a new and difficult language, these youths must be made of the finest material to make any progress at all. The learning capacity and memory of a good Chinese student are almost beyond credibility. It is only in the invention or originating of new ideas or in making deductions that they are weak. Those subjects which depend chiefly on the use of mathematics have received the most particular care and attention.

Sound Economies.—Judging from the summary in the London Spectator, some sound economics are embodied in the utterances in a recent speech by Mr. Balfour touching upon questions of labor and social relations. The speaker animadverted on the unhappy consequences that might ensue from admitting that every one who wants work has a right to get it from the municipality or the state if he can not find a private employer. The admission of such a principle means municipal or state bankruptcy as the not distant consequence of works begun only in order to find employment for the unemployed without any guarantee that they will pay those who set them on foot. When private employment becomes hard to obtain, it is generally because the conditions of the time are unfavorable for effective labor. Now, if just at this crisis the public employer comes in, does it not mean that either the municipality or the state will pay as much for ineffective and ill-supervised labor as private employers have been paying for effective and well-supervised labor? That is only saying, in other words, that they will be paying high for bad labor. Mr. Balfour also gave a warning against attempting so to improve the distribution of wealth as to prevent its production where it is now successfully accumulated. The worst of the new combinations against the present rate of wages is that the rate of profits, already low, must fall lower if higher wages are to be paid, and the consequence of that must be the retirement of a good deal of capital from productive enterprises altogether. The rich manufacturers say to themselves: "We are as rich now as we really care to be. We would go on if we could secure our former profits; but as we can not, we may as well wind up business and retire." The consequence, of course, is that a great deal of wealth which was lately employed in reproductive operations is no longer so employed, and the raising of the general rate of wages becomes more and more impossible.

Solid Air.—At the meeting of the Royal Society, March 9th, Prof. Dewar communicated the results of his experiments upon air at very low temperatures. Having liquefied air at ordinary atmospheric pressure, the author has since succeeded in freezing it into a clear, transparent solid. The precise nature of this solid is at present doubtful, and it can be settled only by further research. It may be a jelly of solid nitrogen containing liquid oxygen, much as calves'-foot jelly contains water diffused in solid gelatin. Or it may be a true ice of liquid air in which both oxygen and nitrogen exist in the solid form. The doubt arises from the fact that Prof. Dewar has not yet been able by his utmost efforts to solidify pure oxygen, which, unlike other gases, resists the cold produced by its own evaporation under the air-pump. Nitrogen, on the other hand, can be frozen with comparative ease. It has already been proved that in the evaporation of liquid air nitrogen boils off first. Consequently the liquid is continually becoming richer in that constituent which has hitherto resisted solidification. It thus becomes a question whether the cold produced is sufficiently great to solidify oxygen, or whether its mixture with nitrogen raises its freezing point, or whether it is not really frozen at all, but merely entangled among the particles of solid nitrogen, like the rose-water in cold cream.

Psychology of some Words.—In his essay on The Language of the Mississaga Indians of Skūgog (a tribe remnant of less than fifty members living on Skugog Lake, opposite Port Perry, Ontario), Mr. A. F. Chamberlain touches upon some questions connected with what may be called the psychology of language. Only a few of the words appear to have an onomatopoetic origin. Neither the theory of Dr. Carl Abel of the designation by primitive man of the "A" and the "not A" by the same word—no trace of this combinatory process being perceived—nor that of Wundt, that words referring to things or actions in the immediate surrounding of the speaker were shorter than those relating to more distant objects or actions, is confirmed. A few specimen words of various classes are given to illustrate the peculiar nature of some of the names: The word for the proper name of man signifies "chief bird"; that for woman, "sun in center of sky"; those for rainbow, "he covers the rain"; for milky way, "the sturgeon stirs up the lake of heaven with his nose and makes the water roily"; eclipse is "dead sun"; moon, "night sun"; spring (the season) is "good water"; Sunday, "worship day"; the toes are "they run in rotation"; corn is "grain of mysterious origin"; cranberry, "marsh fruit"; hammer, "the striker"; shot, "little duck ball"; horse, "it has one hoof"; cat, "little glutton"; blanket, "white skin"; and shirt, "thin skin." The method of procedure in forming words by combination varies from simple juxtaposition of words to complicated agglutination or word decapitation. The language has a large number of radical suffixes and affixes, or words that have no independent existence as words, but take the place of real words in composition. Some of the animal myths and beast fables of the tribe quoted by Mr. Chamberlain remind us of Uncle Remus.

Origin of Fashions.—The question of the origin of fashions has been much discussed of late, without any fully satisfactory answer having been found for it. Perhaps as nearly correct a theory as any is that of the London Spectator, which believes that there is no ruling mind in the matter, "no system of deliberate invention or choice at all. The leading dressmakers of London and Paris find their advantage in varying their designs as frequently as possible; and wherever a novelty achieves any success, whether it be in London or in Paris, it is immediate copied by other dressmakers, and its general adoption is as rapid as that of a slang word. Equally rapid is its course toward exaggeration; its salient features are further and further enlarged until the exaggeration becomes grotesque, the reaction sets in, and fashion swings back to the other extreme. Take, for example, those peculiar sleeves which are now worn. They began quite modestly in the shape of a little puff upon the shoulder; these excrescences grew and grew until they developed into the enormous and unsightly humps which almost eclipse the wearer's head when viewed from one side. The next stage will be the gradual retreat back from this monstrosity to the perfectly plain sleeve. The plain sleeve will begin to pall again; some one will invent a swelling at the elbow, and a swollen elbow will become fashionable, until exaggeration has caused it to swell beyond all bounds, and then back it will go to its primitive simplicity, until the whole operation begins again da capo. The whole working of fashion may be divided into three separate processes—genuine improvements with an idea either to beauty or comfort, which happen to hit the popular taste; exaggeration of these improvements; reaction from the exaggeration. That, at least, is how it appears to us. As to the originators of the improvements, we believe that they may be counted by hundreds."

Excessive Schooling.—The status and prospects of education were recently discussed by Lord Justice Bowen, of England, in an address at the London Workingmen's College. The speaker's view is described as one of "subdued hope." While education has within our day undergone changes that are hardly less than revolutionary, he admits that they have not been wholly for good. "The stream of knowledge has spread far and wide beyond its accustomed banks; it does not flow everywhere at its old depth. The first result of the flood is to fill the land with what seems to be a mighty river; the next is to hide to all but practiced eyes the course of the true stream. There is a wide expanse of waters, but they are almost everywhere shallow and very often muddy." Our modern education has been too largely vulgarized. The quality of the supply is inevitably affected by the quantity of the demand. The half-trained multitude can not distinguish between the best and the second best; and prolific mediocrity is at a premium. Yet we must not be too sadly disappointed that our overwrought expectations have not been wholly fulfilled. The more prudent advocates of popular education never pretended to present it as a cure-all. They never thought that it was designed to supersede morality and religion. They never expected that it would at once remove all social distinctions or polish intellectual pewter into sterling silver. They have confined themselves to a modest trust that it may do something. It has done something already, and they humbly believe it will do more. Time is needed to measure the consequences of so great a social change. The new leaven has been spread among large classes of the nation hardly touched by it until yesterday. As one great benefit it has rendered the competitive system possible in the public service, and has saved the country from the evils of nepotism, and from the worse evils of a political scramble for the spoils. But competition is not a good thing in itself—only a "sad necessity." "The cultivation for market purposes of brute brain power" may, indeed, have its uses. It probably saves a large number of fairly able men from their innate inclination to sheer idleness, and it probably provides the public services with a regular supply of fairly competent recruits. But it can never, except by accident, breed a competent scholar. Its direct tendency is to divert the thoughts of those engaged in it from all that the real lover of learning and literature seeks with a constant love. But even the diffusion of "mediocre culture" gives the average masses a better chance of fulfilling their vocation than did the reign of general ignorance that prevailed among them not many years ago.

Paradoxes of Animal Courage.—Having mentioned a supposed hostility of wild dogs against tigers, a writer in the London Spectator goes on to remark that the fierceness of the wild dogs' attack seems to have affected the tiger—a clever and "reflecting" animal—with a kind of nervousness which extends to all dogs; and enforces his remark with the story of a tiger which ran away from the bark and spring of a domestic spaniel. "It is, of course, just possible that the tiger was 'nervous,' and that the little dog merely exhibited the impudence habitual to little dogs who know that they can worry a horse or a bullock into beating a retreat when quietly lying down in a field. Extreme nervousness is often the accompaniment of great courage in certain animals, especially of the larger kinds. Indian rhinoceroses, kept by a rajah for fighting in the arena, where they could exhibit the most obstinate courage in combats with elephant or buffalo, would tremble and lie down at the unusual .eight of a horse outside their pen; and the elephant is more liable to sudden panics and alarms than any other animal. It is strange to think of the same animal advancing boldly to face a wounded tiger and receiving its charge upon its tusks, and running away in uncontrollable panic from a piece of newspaper blown across the road. It is said that the scent or roar of a bear in the jungle will often scare elephants beyond control; and they have the same intense nervousness shown by the horse at the sight of things unusual or out of place. A big elephant which was employed to drag away the carcass of a dead bullock, and had allowed the burden to be attached by ropes without observing what it was, happened to look round, and instantly bolted, its fright increasing every moment as the unknown object jumped and bumped at its heels. After running some miles, like a dog with a tin can tied to its tail, the elephant stopped and allowed itself to be turned round, and drew the bullock back again without protest. Yet an elephant, with a good mahout, gives, perhaps, the best instance of disciplined courage—courage, that is, which persists, in the face of knowledge and disinclination—to be seen in the animal world."

A Whipping Game.—The whipping game of the Arawacks of British Guiana, as described by Mr. E. F. Im Thurn, is played by any number of persons, but generally only by men and boys, for one, two, or three days and nights—as long, that is, as the supply of pai-wari, the native beer, holds out. The players, with but brief intervals, range themselves in two lines opposite each other. Every now and then a pair of players, one from each line, separate from the rest. One of these puts forward his leg and stands firm; the other carefully measures the most effective distance with a powerful and special whip with which each player is provided, and then lashes with all his force the calf of the other. The crack is like a pistol shot, and the result is a gash across the skin of the patient's calf. Sometimes a second similar blow is given and borne. Next the position of the pair of players is reversed, and the flogged man flogs the other. Then the pair retire, drink good-temperedly together, and rejoin the line, to let another pair take their turn of activity, but presently, and again and again at intervals, to repeat their own performance. It has been said that the most active players of this extraordinary game are the men and boys. But occasionally the women take a part also. And it is noteworthy that when this is the case a wooden figure of a bird, a heron, is substituted for each of the whips, and a gentle peck with this bird is substituted for the far more serious lash of the whip. "I do not know," says Mr. Im Thurn, "that any equivalent example of the fact that the germ of the idea of courtesy to the weaker sex exists among people even in this stage of civilization is on record."

Cleansing Function of the Hair.—Dr. Henry Sewell calls attention, in Science, to an example of the subservience of form to function afforded by the arrangement of the epidermic scales constituting the outermost layer of animal hairs. The buried edges of the scales point toward the root of the hair, while the free edges project obliquely toward the tip; and a hair glides between the thumb and finger far more easily when pulled from root to tip than when pulled in the opposite direction. When rolled between the fingers it will gradually move parallel to its length in the direction of the root. It follows that foreign particles may be easily moved outward toward the tip of the hair and away from the body, while it would be hard to push them in the opposite direction. Every movement of the hair, especially frictional disturbance, must set up a current of foreign particles toward the hair tip. The value of this property as a cleansing factor is evident.

Telephotography.—Telephotography is the name of an art the purpose of which is the production of photographs of objects at considerable distances from the operator, of such quality and scale that they can be examined and interpreted in a manner that would be impossible to the naked eye. The term is parallel in meaning with telescopy, and the art has as its aim the recording on a photographic plate of a combination of a number of distinct and separate telescopic impressions that can be obtained by sweeping a telescope over a greater field than that included in its own field of view, in the same manner, but to a less degree, that ordinary photographs record a number of distinct and separate visual images or impressions obtained by passing the eyes rapidly and almost unconsciously through the "wide" and "deep" fields of view, as they are termed. The apparatus consists of a combination of the telescope and photographic apparatus, with special supplementary lenses for magnifying the image and obtaining a flat field, the descriptions of which, by Thomas R. Dallmeyer, the inventor, are too technical for available use here. By it magnified and clearly depicted views are obtained of objects that are situated at such distances from the photographer that ordinary photographic means have hitherto rendered so small and insignificant as to be useless—views that are superior beyond comparison to enlargements of ordinary negatives.