Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 26.djvu/877

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

a student of the institution, "an exceptionally intelligent American of one-and-twenty years," without much experience in that work, to do the sowing, and who moved as rapidly as the other man had moved deliberately. He scattered nitrate of soda at the rate of 194 pounds to the acre, and muriate of potash at the rate of 116 pounds. The laborer's work may be regarded as a useful indication of what would actually happen in case the specified fertilizers, says Professor Storer, were sown by hand. It will be noticed that the figures of the table agree very well with certain rules or statements current in agricultural journals, concerning the amounts of saline manures proper to be applied in practice; and it may well be true that some of these rules were originally based upon observations of the amounts of material that a man could conveniently scatter.

 

Suicide a Product of Fast Modern Life.—The "Lancet," noticing the increased prominence which suicides have appeared to assume in recent years, and believing that a large proportion of those crimes are the deliberate, conscious acts of persons overburdened with the cares of life or dreading some terror, attributes the increase to the fast rate of modern life. Boys and girls, it says, "are men and women in their acquaintance with and experiences of life and its so-called pleasures and sorrows, at an age when our grandparents were innocent children in the nursery. . . . Life is played out before its meridian is reached, or the burden of responsibility is thrust upon the consciousness at a period when the mind can not in the nature of things be competent to cope with its weight and attendant difficulties. . . . Forced education, commenced too early in life and pressed too fast, is helping to make existence increasingly difficult. . . . Hasty and too early marriages, too anxious struggles for success in life, too hazardous adventures in business enterprise, the rush of undisciplined and untrained minds into the arena of intellectual strife, and, above all, that swinging of the self-consciousness, pendulum-like, between excess in rigor of self-control and untempered license, which constitutes the inner experience of too many, arc proximate causes of the break-down or agony of distress which ends in suicide. The underlying cause is impatience, social, domestic, and personal, of the period of preparation which Nature has ordained to stand on the threshold of life, but which the haste of progress treats as delay."

 

Oil and Earths as Food for Mice.—Professor Storer, of the Bussey Institution, has discovered that mice, when short of food, are capable of eating putty and of living upon the oil which they assimilate from it. Their capacity for feeding upon oil was demonstrated to him when one morning he found the wicks of the lamps which his workmen had left overnight in the cellar drawn and combed out, and the oil all sucked from them. Some months later he had several panes of glass set in the windows with new putty; a few days afterward he found the putty all eaten off. After making these observations, he began experimenting. He caged some mice, and, having fed them oats till they became accustomed to their new quarters, he cut down the supply of oats to just enough to keep them in good case, and gave fresh putty—ten or twelve balls, large enough to just pass through a three-eighth inch hole to three mice. This putty, weighing twenty grammes (16·7 grammes of whiting and 3·3 grammes of oil), furnished five and a half grammes of whiting, or one third of its weight, to each animal. The whiting was passed off as an oilless dung, which became very large, white, and friable. It was relatively the same as if a man of about one hundred and fifty pounds weight were to eat and pass off fifty pounds of chalk a day! The mice would eat no more than the quantity named. If their allowance was increased, the surplus was left. To prove that it was for the sake of the oil that the putty was eaten, balls of whiting mixed with water, and of gypsum and water, were tried. They were not eaten; only a few of them were scratched enough to satisfy the mice that there was no oil in them. Red ochre when substituted for the whiting was eaten the first day, with the production of red dung, but was not eaten on the second day. It was better relished when mixed with whiting, but the mice soon tired of it in that shape. Yellow ochre was hardly more ac-