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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/153

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Mr. H. Stuart Wortley, of the South Kensington Museum, has been led, by long and careful attention given to the observation of animals, to consider that they have true reasoning powers, and says on this subject: "I have frequently seen reasoning power exercised after obvious thought over the best course to pursue. Then, are animals speechless among themselves? I think not, and believe they speak freely to one another at needed times, in their own language. And I certainly with my own domestic animals can understand in a certain sense their language. I clearly know what they ask for, or what they wish to call my attention to, from the tone of the voice and its modulations, and this is, I assume, language as regards them."

Professor Helmholtz has been appointed President of the Kuratorium of the Physical and Technical Imperial Institution which is to be opened at Berlin in 1888, Dr. Werner Siemens, the founder of the Institution, and Dr. Förster, the Director of the Berlin Observatory, will also be curators.

According to Mr. John Ball's "Notes of a Naturalist in South America," the various ports along the arid coast of Peru, destitute of verdure, reveal upon close examination the presence of plant-life. At Coquimbo veritable bushes and a greenish gray tint on the surface of the soil were visible, and specimens were obtained of some curious and rare plants in flower peculiar to the vicinity, among them a dwarf cactus only three or four inches in height, with comparatively large crimson flowers.

An appearance as of being hollowed out has been remarked in the surface of the hard, green sandstone rocks, near Lima, Peru, and was ascribed by Sir Charles Lyell to the result of water-action on ancient and subsequently elevated sea-beaches. Mr. Nation, of Lima, however, who has been observing the rocks for twenty-five years, is satisfied that the hollows are increasing in size and in number. He believes that they are the work of a cryptogamic plant, a lichen, which is in active vegetation during the foggy season, the swelling of whose cells causes a scaling of the rock.

A new telephonic apparatus, called the "Micro-telephone Push-button," has been successfully experimented with in Paris. It has the form of an ordinary electric pushbutton, and is so sensitive that in speaking at short distances there is no need to come close to the instrument. Persons using it may speak in their ordinary tone, walk about, and act as if they were conversing with some person in the room. The paragraph from which we derive this item intimates that the perfection of the instrument is due to the inventor having resided in America, where his inventive talent was stimulated.

Mr. Clement Reed, of Oneglia, believes that the destructive effects of the earthquake in the Riviera may have been more owing to the method of building than to the violence of the shocks. The walls of the houses at Oneglia and at Diano Marina are built of rounded stones or rubble, filled in with stucco, and the floors with brick arches, without sufficient care being given to lateral support; and the houses are usually three or four stories high. It is evident that even a slight shaking would be fatal to buildings thus constructed.

Mr. Chamberlain, in his monograph on the Ainos, asserts, on the authority of the Rev. Mr. Batcheler, who has lived among that people for many years, that intermarriages between them and the Japanese are not fruitful, and conduce to weakly offspring and a short-lived stock. There seems, therefore, to be a kind of reproductive incompatibility between the two races. The occupation of the northern islands by the Japanese in place of the Ainos, who are diminishing, or of a half-breed race which is not found, may be accounted for by the unfruitfulness of the half breeds, and by the superior vigor of the Japanese race to the Ainos.

Mrs. Hardwicke, widow of the founder of "Science Gossip," preserves eggs fresh by carefully oiling them with a soft brush all over, and packing them in a jar with plenty of bran between each layer. A thick brown paper should be tied over the jar when it is full. "When eaten at three months old," she says, "you could not tell them from fresh eggs."

The announcement is provocative of thought that the invitation which the Government of New South Wales gave last year to the British Association to meet in Sydney in January, 1888, has had to be withdrawn, because the matter had been made a party question in the New South Wales Parliament. The fact illustrates anew the truth that science and current politics will not mix.

According to the observations of M. Cazeneuve, the aniline dyes—fuchsine, Bordeaux red, red, purple-red, etc.—employed in coloring wines, may persist for many years in certain wines, and be obtained intact therefrom by analysis. The chemical changes that wine undergoes, especially in the "stripping" of new wines, lead to the precipitation of a greater or less amount of the artificial coloring agent. The diseases produced by microphytes also cause a disappearance of color.