Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 33.djvu/153

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which in immediately contiguous areas has had a great influence in the flow of the streams. The author observes that the facts upon which his conclusion is founded throw much light upon the pre-glacial attitude of the continent. These river-valleys retain the general form which they had before the last glacial ice began to act upon them, and they pursue their present courses because their flow is mainly determined by the existence of the pre-glacial river-valleys in which they lie. It is clear that these valleys could not have been excavated by streams of their present slope; it seems, therefore, necessary to assume that the descent of the northward-flowing rivers must have been more rapid in the pre-glacial times than it is at present, or, in other words, that this part of the continent was at that time relatively less elevated in its northern parts than it is now.

Products of the Cowles Electric Furnace.—In the American Association, Professor C. F. Mayberry gave some additional information to that which he had previously communicated concerning the aluminum products from the Cowles electrical furnace. The efficacy of charcoal in promoting an intense heat (see "Monthly" for November, 1888) had been increased by coating it with lime; and the quantity of the product was augmented by modifying the direction in which the electrodes were introduced. Some erroneous statements by foreign electricians were referred to. Among them was a remark by Dr. Martins that they did not need to be informed by Americans concerning aluminum or its alloys. No direct answer was made to this, but the tenor of the facts cited by Professor Mayberry was to the effect that that was a subject on which they had still room to be informed.

Chinese Grass-Cloth.—The fabric known as Chinese grass-cloth is made from the fiber of nettles (Bochmeria nivea and other species) which are cultivated in China, and grow in India and Ceylon. They are perennial, herbaceous plants, having broad oval leaves with a white down on the under sides, and are stingless. The fiber is worked with much skill in China, but no important manufacture of it has been developed in India. The Indian Government some time ago offered a reward for an economical method of preparing the fiber, and the want has been partly filled by two French inventions, by one of which the stems of the nettles are decorticated and freed from glutinous matter by steam-treatment, and by the other the fibers are converted into a tow ready for spinning. The cloth manufactured from this fiber is glossy, has a peculiar transparency, and is of beautiful texture; and, as belting for machinery, has double the strength of leather belting.


The many American friends of Mr. Herbert Spencer have frequently been pained during the past two years by the very discouraging reports concerning the Slate of his health, and the fear has been expressed that he would be unable to do any more work. We take much pleasure in stating, on the authority of a private letter from an intimate friend of Mr. Spencer, that there has been an improvement in his condition so great that the writer characterizes it as a "wonderful restoration to health."

The most extensive forest plantations in the United States mentioned in the "Report" of the Division of Forestry are those of the Fort Scott and Gulf Railroad, and of Mr. Hunnewell, near Farlington, Kansas, of about 640 acres each, Mr. Burnett Landreth's plantation, of 300 acres, in Virginia; those of the Messrs. Fay and others, along the sea-coast of New England; and some of considerable extent in southern California. Small groves abound in the prairie States, and are found less frequently in the Eastern States, notably in New England. In the aggregate these plantations must amount to a considerable area. Forest commissions or bureaus have been instituted in New York, California, Ohio, and Colorado.

The nomenclature adopted by the International Geological Congress to express the taxonomic rank of stratigraphic or chronologic divisions is thus summarized by Mr. G. K. Gilbert in his address before Section E of the American Association: Of stratigraphic divisions, that with the highest rank is group, then system, then stage. The corresponding chronologic divisions are era, period, epoch, and age. The word formation is restricted to the special function of designating mineral masses with reference to their origin. No word having been suggested in its place to denote indefinitely an aggregate of strata, Mr. Gilbert proposes terranc, and, for the corresponding chronologic term, time.