Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 26.djvu/875

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him as the most feasible way for securing a provision of heavy ordnance is, for the Government to make arrangements for obtaining a supply of tempered steel from private industries, and provide for the fabrication of the guns—that is, for the machining and assembling of the parts, and the sighting of the guns—in its own factories, of which there should be two, one for the army and one for the navy. For this purpose appropriations should be made immediately for the purchase of steel, so that manufacturers may prepare to furnish it.


Scorpion-Lore verified.—A correspondent of "Land and Water," who has lived in Jamaica, has verified some of the curious stories that are told about scorpions. Having found one of these creatures among some old papers, he tried the experiment of blowing upon it, to test the verity of the tradition that a scorpion will not move under such circumstances. Somewhat to the experimenter's astonishment, the animal stopped at once, and flattened himself close to the paper on which he had been running, and would not move even when he was prodded with a pencil, or the paper to which he clung was shaken. As soon as the blowing was discontinued, the scorpion advanced cautiously, only to stop again at the slightest breath. Another experiment was made with regard to the readiness of scorpions to sting themselves to death. A circle of burning sticks was laid three yards in diameter, and the scorpion was placed in the center of it. The fire was not so hot but that the temperature was endurable within a few inches of it, and the center of the circle was cool. The scorpion made several desperate efforts to escape, and finding it could not, "retired almost into the exact center of the circle, and there in a tragic manner raised his tail till the sting or spur was close to his head, gave himself two deliberate prods in the back of his neck, and thus miserably perished by his own hand." An accidental observation enabled the writer to verify the story that the young of scorpions live upon the back of their mother. While he was playing billiards, something fell from the roof of the building upon the table. It proved to be a female scorpion, and from it ran away in every direction a number of perfectly formed scorpions, about a quarter of an inch long, of which thirty-eight were killed. The mother was in the throes of death, her body having been entirely eaten away by the brood. The negro attendant of the billiard-room said that the young scorpions always lived thus at the expense of their mother's life.


Local Variations in Thermometers.—Mr. H. A. Paul has called attention to discrepancies in the observations of temperatures which can not be covered by the ordinary precautions in the exposure and reading of thermometers, nor even by those more carefully devised ones recommended by Mr. n. A. Hazen, of the Signal-Service Office, in his recent paper on "Thermometer Exposure." According to Professor T. C. Mendenhall, of the Ohio State Weather Service, "the means of the thermometrical readings of the twenty State Service stations on the nights of the 21st and 25th of January, 1884, differed by respectively 12·4° and 14·7° Fahr. from those of the four Signal-Service stations. At Columbus a difference of 27° appeared between the reading of a thermometer on the north side of a stone building, and that of the State Service instrument in an open lot three miles distant. This circumstance indicates that the true minimum can not be got in a city or to the leeward of it when a moderate breeze is blowing. It may be questioned also whether exposure near the ground, where the conditions must vary with the local character of the surface, can be relied upon as a measure of the average state of the atmosphere for a few hundred or a few thousand feet overhead. Hence a plan of exposure on high, open scaffoldings would be highly desirable. At any rate, meteorological stations, especially those of the Signal Service, which is engaged in predicting the weather conditions for large areas, will have to be moved into the country, and probably to moderately elevated points, before the best results can be obtained."


The Great Bore of the Amazon.—Mr. John C. Branner, formerly of the Imperial Geological Commission of Brazil, has published a paper on the pororóca, or bore, of the Amazon, a manifestation of force peculiar to the northern division of the mouth of