Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/788

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of the Deluge. The clean of the cathedral stoutly defended Moses, but he was badly defeated by the geologists. The next Sunday he preached a sermon on the Deluge, and proved, to his own satisfaction at least, the absolute accuracy of the story in "Genesis." He thus had the last word, for, as he remarked afterward, "none of those fellows could answer him there!"

According to Mr. A. C. Ranyard, of the British Astronomical Society, maxima of sun-spots, though their average periods are 11.11 years, occasionally occur at intervals of 13 or 14 years. In one instance, in comparatively recent times, viz., 1788.1 and 1804.2—16.1 years elapsed, while between the maxima years 1829.9 and 1837.2 there was an interval of only 7.3 years. An examination of the records of sun-spots proves the irregularity in their appearance to be so great that only vague prognostications can be made as to the time of an approaching maximum; and what is true of periods of maxima is also true of periods of minima. M. Faye, too, in a communication to the Paris Academy of Sciences, shows that the two phenomena of sun-spots and magnetism are not related, as they have not the same period. According to Wolf, the sun-spot period is 11.11 years, while the declination period of the magnetic needle is, according to Lamont and others, 10.45 years.

While exploring the desert region east of the Lob-Nor, the Russian traveler, Colonel Prejevalsky, made inquiries of the natives concerning the existence of wild camels in that country, and learned from them that those animals were still to be found in the Kum-Tag Desert, which extends over three degrees of longitude from east to west (91° -94° east), and is bounded north and south by latitude 39° and 40° north. The wild camels in summer seek the upper valleys of the Altyn-Tag, a mountain-chain on the southern edge of the Kum-Tag, and retire into the most inaccessible deserts in winter. Their sight, hearing, and smell, are exceedingly quick, in striking contrast to the domesticated camel, in which these senses are very dull. Colonel Prejevalsky employed hunters to procure the skins of these animals, and three skins were brought to him, representing a male, a female, and a colt.

In Germany, according to the Polytechnic Review, sawdust is employed in the production of sundry articles both useful and ornamental. A plastic mass is prepared, composed two-thirds of hard-wood sawdust and one-third glue, resin, or other binding material. This is compressed in brass moulds, and the moisture driven out by heat. The articles made are bass-reliefs, piano-keys, door-knobs, brush handles and backs, etc.

The excessive "militancy" of the people of Montenegro is well illustrated by their estimate of the comparative values of male and female infants. If a man has a daughter born to him, he regards the event almost as a misfortune—at least as a sore disappointment; he goes and sits on his threshold with downcast eyes, as though begging pardon of his neighbors and friends! But if several daughters are born in unbroken succession, the mother must call in seven priests, who bless oil and sprinkle it about the house, remove the old threshold and put in a new one, thus purifying the house which was bewitched on the wedding-day. On the other hand, if a boy is born, the entire household is almost crazy with joy; a feast is spread, and friends and acquaintances come thronging in to offer their congratulations and to express the wish—so characteristic of the national spirit—that the new-born babe may never die abed!

Workmen employed in nail-manufactories are liable to contract a grave lung-disease known as "nailers' consumption," caused by the deposit of iron particles in the cells of the lungs. The best preventive of nailers' consumption is no doubt the use of a respirator, such as that contrived by Prof. Tyndall for the use of firemen. The respirator would exclude from the respiratory organs the minutest particles of solid matter; it is far more effectual than any of the other devices which have been proposed, such as moist sponges or false mustaches.

The exorbitant price demanded by the patentees of the Bell telephone for their instruments causes no little discontent in England, where that form of the telephone has the field to itself, so far as the law is concerned. It does seem rather extortionate to levy from twenty-five to thirty-five pounds sterling on the purchase of an instrument that could be sold with a profit for half as many shillings. The result is, that the patent is boldly infringed: the separate parts of the telephone are for sale everywhere at a low price, and so people are enabled to make telephones for themselves. It is not probable that the decrees of courts which seek to uphold so odious a monopoly can be enforced.

William Laidlaw, native of Congo, now a freedman living in the island of Dominica, was born with six fingers on each hand. He is the father of four children, two boys and two girls, each born with six fingers on the hands, one of the girls having also six toes on each foot. One of the sons is the father of two boys who have six fingers on each hand; and the five children of the other son were born with the same peculiarity. This family well illustrates the wonderful persistence of sedigitism.