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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/141

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

Point Belcher, which had been pushed up by the ice from the bottom of the sea. The peculiar geological feature of this region is a great formation of ice which seems to have the characteristics of a regularly stratified rock. At Point Belcher, pure ice is met at two feet below the surface, and is of unknown depth. At Elephant Point, Kotzebue Sound, the clay banks gradually rising along the beach to the eastward show successively two perpendicular faces of ice, "solid and free from mixture of soil, except on the outside," one above the other. The ice-face nearest the beach is covered with a coating of soil which bears a luxuriant vegetation. The whole formation, including the talus in front of the ice, may be about thirty feet high. Above this is a second talus, on a larger scale, ascending to the foot of another ice-face, which is also covered with herbage-bearing soil. The brow of the second bluff is about eighty feet above the sea; from it the land rises gradually to a rounded ridge three or four hundred feet high. At the height of two hundred and fifty feet a frozen stratum was found containing lumps of clear ice, that indicated the existence of solid ice, at no great depth below. Hence it is inferred that the whole ridge, two miles wide and two hundred and fifty feet high, is chiefly composed of solid ice overlaid with clay and vegetable mold. The ice generally has a semi-stratified appearance, is only superficially soiled, is granular in structure for the outer inch or two, and internally solid and transparent or slightly tinged with yellow; but is never greenish or bluish, like glacier-ice. Small pinnacles of ice run up into the clay in places, while in other places the ice itself is penetrated with deep holes in which clay and vegetable matter have been deposited. Holes were seen in the clay-molds of spurs of ice that had been melted away, and cylinders of muck and clay were found on the ice-face, that had once filled holes from around which the ice had melted. A strong, peculiar smell was often noticed, apparently emanating from dark, pasty spots in the clay. It was supposed to proceed from the decomposition of the remains of soft parts of mammoths and other animals. Birches and alders seven or eight feet high, luxuriant herbage, and plants bearing delicious berries, grew with their roots less than a foot from perpetual solid ice. Observations on the water in the strait showed that it is warmest toward the American side, and becomes gradually cooler toward the Asiatic side; that the temperatures are nearly uniform from top to bottom, precluding the idea of the existence of a sub-surface current from the Arctic Ocean which carries cold water to the south; and that the northerly current through the strait and along the Arctic Ocean is probably chiefly dependent on the tide for its force and direction, and upon the warming of shallow waters for its high temperature.

 

Minnesota Academy of Sciences.—The Minnesota Academy of Sciences was organized seven years ago, and is now free from debt, and able to report its library and cabinet in creditable condition. Although it has had to encounter a lack of sympathy from part of the community, on account of an apprehension that its tendency might be toward infidelity, the retiring President, Dr. F. L. Hatch, declared at the annual meeting last January, that in none of the papers read and published under the sanction of the Academy had any dogma of any one's faith been touched, or a derogatory reflection been cast upon the Christian's sacred record. Professor N. H. Winchell, the incoming President, made an address at the annual meeting, maintaining the right and duty of the State to establish and support institutions for the higher education. He endeavored to show that the denominational colleges and universities had been backward in responding to the demand for the provision of more liberal courses of scientific instruction; and that no general movement was made by them in this direction till a system of scientific schools had been established by private enterprise and State aid, independently of them, and in the face of their indifference to the scheme.

 

Units of Electrical Measurement.—The International Congress of Electricians, to be held in Paris during the summer, will doubtless be called upon to consider the subject of a uniform standard for electrical measurements. The system of standards at present most used was adopted by the British Association after eight years of study and experi-