Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/705

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THE GRANULE OF STARCH.

were made with skillfully drawn lines, and impressed with stone, clay, and straw. Garcilasso de Vega, in his "General History of Peru," composed at the beginning of the seventeenth century, gives a well-drawn plan of the city of Cuzco, with representations of the streets, squares, and brooks, which was made at Muyna; and he tells also of representations of entire districts. The beauty of these works is attested by several Spanish authorities. Balboa speaks of a plan of the besieged fortress, Pomacocha, which was sent to the war council at the capital. Bastian had made for the Royal Museum in Berlin a copy of the plan of an ancient Inca city which he saw at Cuenca, a picture of which was published in the "Zeitschrift für Ethnologie," in 1877. The squares and public places and the royal palaces were indicated by the arrangement of blocks of wood.

The Polynesians, the Esquimaux, and the Indians, have all thus given us the marks of the different degrees of advancement they have independently made in the use of this, the most important of geographical aids. In their ignorance of the art of writing, and their want of suitable writing materials, they have made use of the same primitive methods as the people of the German coasts still employ. When the progress from tribal communism to a formulated state-life and the transition from trivial, groping essays to a public provision for a system of written records are consummated, well-executed maps appear among the evidences of the degree of civilization that has been reached.—Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from Das Ausland.

 

THE GRANULE OF STARCH.
BY AN ANALYST.

THERE may not seem much in a grain of starch, and in point of bulk there is very little; but we shall endeavor to show that there is a good deal of interesting and valuable information to be derived from a careful study of the little granule.

We are all familiar with such commodities as flour, potatoes, Indian corn, sago, peas, and arrowroot, and are consequently to some extent acquainted with what starch is; for all these substances consist essentially of starch, along with water and some minor admixtures. If we take a slice of a potato, for instance, and rub it on a grater of any sort in a basin of cold water, the water will soon become turbid; and a drop of it examined with a microscope will be found to contain a number of minute oval granules, which would in time sink to the bottom of the basin, forming a white deposit. These are grains of starch; and so minute are some varieties that three thousand of them laid end to end would barely make an inch.