Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/135

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

The Late Eruption of Mauna Loa.—The Rev. Titus Coan gives, in the American Journal of Science, a vivid description of the latest eruption of Mokua-weo-weo, the terminal crater of Mauna Loa, Hawaii. The eruption commenced between nine and ten in the evening of February 14, 1877, with great splendor. The summit of the mountain appeared as though melted, and the heavens seemed on fire. Vast masses of illumined steam, like columns of flaming gas, were shot upward to a height of 14,000 to 17,000 feet, and then spread out into a great fiery cloud. This continued through the night. In the morning the mountain was hidden by thick clouds, and the only symptoms of volcanic action were an occasional thud and a smoky atmosphere. Mokua-weo-weo had entered into a state of inactivity, but soon "a remarkable bubbling was seen in the sea about three miles south of Kealakekua, and a mile from the shore. Approaching the boiling pot, it was found emitting steam, and throwing up pumice and light scoria. This boiling," continues Mr. Coan, whose communication is dated Hilo, March 17th, "was active when we last heard. It is in deep water. On the island new fissures have been opened in the pahoihoi, which extend up to the higher lands, indicating the course of a subterranean lava-stream, that terminated in a submarine eruption—a new feature in our modern volcanic phenomena. About the time of this eruption beneath the sea, a tidal or earthquake wave of considerable force was observed along the coast of Kona."

 

Extraordinary Development of the Sense of Smell.—Dr. Maudsley, in his "Physiology of Mind," noticed elsewhere, speaking of the loss of one sense being followed by a notable increase in the functions of those which remain, in consequence of the greater attention given to them, cites the following instances as related by Dr. Howe in the "Forty-third Report of the Massachusetts Asylum for the Blind: "Julia Brace, a deaf and blind mute, a pupil of the American Asylum, had a fine physical organization ami highly-nervous temperament. In her blindness and stillness her main occupation was the exercise of her remaining senses of smell, touch, and taste, so that through them she might get knowledge of all that was going on around her. Smell, however, seemed to be the sense on which she most relied. She smelled at everything which she could bring within range of the sense; and she came to perceive odors utterly insensible to other persons. When she met a person whom she had met before she instantly recognized him by the smell of his hand or glove. If it were a stranger she smelled his hand, and the impression was so strong that she could recognize him long after by again smelling his hand, or even his glove, if just taken off. She knew all her acquaintances by the odor of their hands. She was employed in sorting the clothes of the pupils after they came from the wash, and could distinguish those of each friend. If half a dozen strangers should throw each one his glove into a hat, and they were shaken up, she would take one glove, smell it, then smell the hand of each person, and unerringly assign each glove to its owner. If among the visitors there were a brother and sister, she could pick out the gloves by a similarity of smell, but could not distinguish the one from the other. This case furnishes a strong argument in support of the conjecture that a dog removed to a distant place finds its way home by following backward a train of smells which he has experienced.

 

Mr. Boyd Dawkins on Museum Reform.—Writing, in Nature, of the need of museum reform, Mr. Boyd Dawkins recognizes the existence of a "collecting instinct"—a desire to accumulate whatever strikes the fancy—and this instinct he declares to be almost universal among mankind, whatever their stage of intellectual development. The collections which result from this instinct bear the stamp of the individual who makes them. They are "museum units" which, like molecules, have a tendency to coalesce into bodies of greater or less size, and thus constitute museums. The organization of the latter is of high or low type, according as the units keep or lose the stamp of the individual, and have been moulded into one living whole, or are dissociated. They are highly organized and valuable if the parts are duly subordinated to each other and brought into a living relationship; they are