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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

the ton of 2,000 pounds. And in order to maintain the beautiful symmetry of our system, they, of course, rarely, if ever, state what kind of a ton is used in either case. Coal is mined and miners are paid by tons of various weights, from 3,000 pounds to 2,000 pounds. It is sold by tons of 2,240 and 2,000 pounds, and by tons running all the way down to 1,500 pounds. The use of the ton less than 2,000 pounds is called cheating, but the large purchasers, those who buy from a car-load (six tons) up, may get 2,240 pounds to the ton; but, if they buy from the same company's retail yard, they find the ton weighs no more than 2,000 pounds, if it does that. Coal is sold by bushels of 76 pounds and 80 pounds, by barrels, loads, hogsheads, and other 'standards,' the weights of which depend originally on the fancy of the individual, and subsequently on 'immemorial custom.' "

 

A Kansas Gas-Well.—About three years ago a company prospecting for coal discovered at Wyandotte, Kansas, a fountain of combustible gas. This gas, as we learn from the Western Review of Science and Industry, is now used by the company for steam-making, and by the owner of the farm where it is located for cooking and illuminating purposes. The gas, whether flowing or burning, is almost odorless, and its entire freedom from sulphur adapts it very well for use in the reduction of gold and silver ores. Notwithstanding a coal-vein of considerable thickness was discovered, the company has concluded to abandon coal mining for the present, and utilize this new gas-fuel. Nor is the latter adapted for heating purposes alone; it is also very valuable for light, inasmuch as it burns with a clear, bright flame, even without purification, and is free from the disagreeable odor accompanying coal-gas. The city of Wyandotte will soon be lighted by this gas, which, as it comes from the well, is of twelve-candle power. At small cost it can be purified so as to make it sixteen-candle power. The brine ejected from the well by the escaping gas is not strong enough for the manufacture of salt; it is recommended as a medicinal agent for the treatment of sundry diseases. The company contemplate erecting an extensive establishment for mineral baths.

 

A Plague of Rats.—Shortly after the settlement of the Bermudas by the British, the colony was infested with rats, which, in the space of two years, had increased so alarmingly that none of the islands were free from them, and even fish were taken with rats in their bellies. A writer in the Academy recalls some of the horrors of this plague of rats. The rats, we are told, had nests in almost every tree, and burrowed in most places in the ground like rabbits. They devoured everything that came in their way—fruits, plants, and even trees. Where corn was sown they would come by troops in the night and scratch it out of the ground; "nay," writes a contemporary chronicler, "they so devoured the fruits of the earth that the people were destitute of bread for a year or two." Every expedient was tried to destroy them. Dogs were trained to hunt them, who would kill a score or more in an hour. Cats, both wild and tame, were employed in large numbers for the same purpose; poisons and traps—every man having to set twelve traps—were brought into requisition; and even woods were set on fire, to help to exterminate them. Every letter written at this period by the plague-stricken colonists contains some account of the dreadful scourge. "Our great enemies the rats threaten the subversion of the plantation," writes one colonist in July, 1616. "Rats are a great judgment of God upon us," wrote another a year later. "At last it pleased God, but by what means is not well known, to take them away, insomuch that the wild cats and many dogs that lived on them were famished." There was universal joy at the sudden removal of such destructive vermin; and the all but despairing planters were enabled once more to resume their neglected occupations with spirit and energy.

 

Composition of Pumpkins.—Analyses of pumpkins, made by Prof. F. H. Storer, of the Bussy Institution, show that the rind of that vegetable is nearly three and a half times as rich in albuminoids as the flesh. The weight of albuminoids in the flesh is only about one-fifth as much as that of the carbohydrates, a proportion that has sometimes been found in turnips. Again, the inside or offal portion (including the seeds)