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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/292

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

near Quedlinburg belonged to the unicorn of the Bible. Because the Bible assigned extremely long terms of life to the antediluvian patriarchs, popular belief ascribed a gigantic size to the ancestors of the present human race; and parts of huge fossil skeletons were occasionally preserved in the churches as relics. Such a belief was already so extensive, even in the time of Empedocles, n. c. 450, that a mass of hippopotamus-bones found in Sicily was declared by the learned of the day to be the remains of the giants who fought against the gods. The Mohammedans believed that Adam was as tall as a palm-tree, or about sixty feet, and found a mound of corresponding size in Syria to answer for his grave. The academician, Henrien, in 1718, described Adam as thirty-eight and a half metres and Eve as thirty-seven metres high, and herein did not greatly disagree with St. Augustine. The former world was long believed to have been constructed on a much more gigantic scale than the present; and the opinion that the old order of things and organisms was vastly different from the existing one, and was subverted by a tremendous revolution, prevailed quite generally, till Lamarck and Cuvier pointed out the way to a more consistent theory.

 

Defective Hearing in School-Children.—Dr. Gellé, a French physician, has recently published an important paper on defects of hearing among school-children. Dr. Weil, of Stuttgart, a year or two ago expressed the opinion that about thirty per cent of the children in commercial schools, and ten per cent of well-to-do school children, hear but imperfectly. Dr. Gellé, from the examination of fourteen hundred cases of deafness in schools, fixes the proportion of children thus affected at about twenty or twenty-five per cent of the whole number. The deficiency is most obvious in the case of the consonant-sounds, the very ones most essential to the understanding of what is said. Dr. Gellé observes that the range of hearing for a given sound diminishes outside the class-room, or even in a covered yard; that mistakes cease or diminish as the distance of the teacher from the pupil is lessened; and that deafness increases with age. To make the conditions convenient for the hearing of the pupil, the teacher should take pains to place himself in the most favorable position and to articulate distinctly, and the size of the class-room should be adjusted according to the laws which limit the range of the most distinct hearing to about twenty-three or twenty-seven feet. The scholars, having been previously examined with reference to their hearing, should be arranged so as to place those most deficient in this respect nearest to the teacher.

 

Significance of the Aboriginal Mounds.—In the discussions of the Anthropological Section of the American Association, respecting the mounds, Dr. S. D. Peet divided those structures into five classes, as follows: 1. Emblematic mounds, built by hunters who worshiped animals. 2. Burial-mounds, a class mostly represented in Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota. 3. Mounds which are probably the remains of the stockades of an agricultural people. 4. Village mounds the remains of villages, and their high places for worship. 5. The peculiar mounds of the Pueblos and Aztecs. The emblematic mounds, having the forms of animals hunted, served a useful as well as a religious purpose, and were used as screens from behind which to shoot the animals that would pass along the game-drives between them. Of their religious significance, Dr. Peet's theory is, that the animals were supposed to be scattered about to guard the central sacrifice or altar mound. He has been led to this belief by observing that the altar-mounds are nearly always situated on high ground, overlooking a river, while the emblematic mounds are so disposed around the altar-mounds as to suggest the notion of guarding the latter.

 

The Singing-Sands of Manchester, Massachusetts.—A. A. Julien and Dr. H. C. Bolton presented a paper to the American Association, on the sands of the singing-beach, at Manchester, Massachusetts. On the beach, feldspathic rocks are intersected by numerous dikes of igneous rocks. The sonorous phenomenon is confined to particular parts of the sand, and is exhibited in areas to which closely contiguous ones are silent. The sound is produced by pressure, and may be likened to a subdued