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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/153

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Steps were taken at the recent meeting of the American Association for the formation of an American Geological Society. A constitution was adopted, under which the society will consist of not less than a hundred Fellows, and will meet annually during the Christmas holidays, with a second meeting in connection with that of the American Association. The committee under whose charge this action was taken, of which President Alexander Winchell is chairman, was continued as a committee to secure members.

From examinations of certain waters—one of them being a "mineral" water free from all possible sources of contamination—in which free ammonia was present—Prof. E. H. S. Bailey remarked, in the American Association, that he was inclined to consider that that substance may be sometimes a natural constituent, and not indicative of any pollution, of the water.

Australian experiences prove it bad policy to offer scalp-bounties for the destruction of animal pests. Such bounties have been offered for the rabbit pest, and, encouraged by them, a class of professional rabbit-hunters has sprung up, who carefully nourish the supply of their profitable game, and see that the natural enemies of the rabbits, which might do a great deal to limit their increase, are kept down.

A study has been made by Prof. T. G. Bonney of the rounding of pebbles by the Alpine torrents and rivers. From this it appears that pebbles are rounded with comparative rapidity when the descent of the stream is rapid, and they are dashed down rocky slopes by a roaring torrent capable of sweeping along blocks of much greater volume; while the rounding takes place with comparative slowness when the descent is gentle and the average fall of the river is about adequate to push them along in its bed.

The International Congress of Americanists, which meets in Berlin October 2d to 5th, will discuss, on the first day, questions relating to the discovery of the New World, to the history of America before the time of Columbus, and to American geology; the second day, subjects of archæology; the third day, those of anthropology and ethnology; and the fourth day, philology and palseography.

Comparatively little attention was given by the medical profession to the treatment of sprains till in 1870 or 1871, when Sir James Paget urged the investigation of the subject and the institution of scientific methods in the matter. Dr. Wharton Hood afterward published in the "Lancet" an account of the methods followed by the professional bone-setters of the public, which, with some blunders, were attended with considerable success. A full treatise on the subject has recently been published in London by Dr. G. W. Mansell Moulin. This author recommends a treatment chiefly hydropathic, with the avoidance of such lotions and liniments as arnica and rhus toxicodendron; an accurately measured rest, followed by moderate and careful movements, and suitably adapted massage.

Parasitic fishes—extremely small beings, shaped like an eel—have been recognized only for a relatively short time. Ten species have been distinguished in different seas and oceans. They usually attach themselves to some hollow part of the bodies of marine animals, preferably entering the respiratory cavities of star-fish. They have even been found in the interior of the shells of pearloysters. They do not injure the animals with which they associate themselves, for they do not live upon them, but upon the minute organisms which the sea-water brings to their cavities, so that they are really commensalsrather than parasites.

The property which platinum and palladium display of throwing off flakes of their substance when under the influence of a strong electric current is due to the gases which they have occluded. Gold exhibits it in a less degree, and it may be that the old experiment of exploding wires by the discharge from Leyden-jar batteries depends upon the outbursts of occluded gases. The same property of occlusion exists in carbon, and has to be taken account of in the manufacture of incandescent lamps, from the wicks of which the gases must be driven out previous to using, else there will be no durability to them.

Mr. Maries, superintendent of the gardens of the Maharajah of Durbunga, India, has succeeded in reclaiming a tract of waste saline soil, in which not even weeds would grow, by digging down to the depth of two feet and planting thickly at the beginning of the rainy season with trees that had been grown in pots. In three years the ground was filled with roots, and to all appearances the salt had gone. When the trees were thinned out in 1887, the soil was found to be in good condition. Similar experiments have been successfully carried out in other places. Various kinds of trees were employed in the reclaiming operations, but the best were the Inga saman, or rain-tree, and the Albizzia procera.

Last year's coroners' inquests in England furnished two examples of death resulting from tight-lacing. The last case was of a young lady suffering from fatty infiltration of the heart, who died suddenly while dressing hastily after a hearty meal. The corset was proved to have had a close agency in determining the fatal result.