Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 27.djvu/739

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like a mosquito-bite where the skin was probed. The wild ganja—to which the hasheesh-plant corresponds as a cultivated species—has similar intoxicating effects, except that it is less injurious to the system. The natives chiefly use it spiced for the hookah, or as an infusion for drinking. From long continuance or excess it is a frequent cause of insanity; and this may pass away on discontinuing the use, or result in more or less permanent imbecility. It is used sometimes as a medicine for cattle. The number of herbs considered medicinal by the natives is endless. Hardly a weed grows but they find some virtue in it for some ailment or another. The large leaf of the castor-oil plant, heated and applied externally, is used for allaying local inflammation and pain. The leaf and bark of the neem-tree are similarly applied. A small weed like clover, gathered among the grass, is applied to the temples to allay headaches, or otherwise as a counter-irritant, as we use mustard. The cherita is a well-known tonic and fever preventive; and the milk of the chutwan-tree is used for stuffing what few Hindoo teeth come to be in need of that process.



Professor John S. Newberry has described, in the "Annals" of the New York Academy of Sciences, some peculiar screw-like fossils from the Chemung rocks of Northern Pennsylvania and Southern New York, which at first sight suggest a resemblance that is not real to the fossil fruit Spirangium. Two species are identified, of one of which only one specimen has been found. They consist of a cylindrical or fusiform body traversed by double spiral revolving ridges, which make them look very much like common screws. The generic name of Spiraxis has a been given to them, with the specific names of major and Randalli. Professor Newberry regards them as casts of sea-weed stems.

In a paper on "The First Notice of the Pine-Grove or Forest River Shell-heap," Mr. F. W. Putnam reprints the report made by John Lewis Russell in 1840 to the Essex County Natural History Society. Up to this time it had hardly been doubted that these heaps were of natural origin, and Mr. Russell does not appear to have suggested any other view.

Helen C. De S. Abbott has published an analysis of the bark of Fouquieria splendens, or the ocotilla-tree, a thorny plant, of the order Tamariscineæ, native to the region of the Mexican boundary-line, which grows in the shape of a low fan, from eight to twelve feet high, bearing foot-long scarlet, trumpet-shaped flowers, and which the people find useful for making fences. The bark supplies a wax which differs generally in its properties from known vegetable waxes, and is evidently a new wax peculiar to this plant. The name ocotilla-wax is proposed for it.

Dr. Giles, of the Indian Government's surveying steamer Investigator, has obtained some animals from the Bay of Bengal which appear to be new, and has proved that "the Swatch," at the mouth of the Hoogly, is a deep, submerged valley, forming part of the original depression of the bay.

An interesting new feature of this year's May-day celebrations in London was a procession of cart-horses, similar to those which have been regularly held in some of the towns of the United Kingdom. About a hundred teams participated. No prizes were offered, but each driver received an illuminated card commemorative of the occasion, and acknowledging the evidences afforded of "care, attention, and kindness to animals." A regular observance of this kind might be made the means of greatly encouraging proper treatment of beasts of burden.

M. Witz states, as the result of observations he has been making for some time on atmospheric ozone, that the proportion of ozone in the air of Paris last year was inverse to the mortality from cholera.

According to a Moscow paper, only 21 per cent of the children attending school in Russia are girls. The proportion varies with the religion, being greatest among Protestants, 45·4 per cent; next among Jews, 34·1 per cent; next among Roman Catholics, 14·4 per cent; and lowest among Greek Catholics, 12·3 per cent.

M. Stanislas Meunier has described some silicious pebbles which are quite numerous in the quaternary gravels of the valley of the Loing, France, that are remarkable for being hollow and inclosing, together frequently with a loose stony nucleus, liquid water. They are about forty-five millimetres in diameter, and the water may be heard to strike against the walls of the cavity when the stones are shaken. The only way M. Meunier can account for the water getting into the pebbles is by its seeping through the pores, for not a sign of a crack can be seen with the eye or by the aid of a strong glass.