Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/428

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
414
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

our great cities for the rescue of the perishing; who have suffered themselves to be socially ostracized by teaching the black children of the South; who have dared the Mormon monster in his den, to extirpate the curse of polygamy; who have dwelt in Indian wigwams to civilize the savage; who, for medical science or society, have breathed the infections of small-pox or yellow fever; or who, like Livingstone and Stanley, have penetrated the wildernesses of Africa for the suppression of the slave-trade? Shall it be said to all such: "Renounce your altruism and rest in your egoism; self-sacrifice is not wisdom, beneficence is not profit"? Shall it be said to all founders of hospitals, as well as asylums, of colleges like Harvard, Yale, Cornell, and Johns Hopkins, with their scholarships, "Ye are the monuments of altruistic error"? Shall it be said to benevolent and moneyed men, who can not personally work for humanity: "Hoard your money; waste it not on charities"? Is their benevolence to be smothered by the smoke of eleemosynary institutions which the egoistic torch would consume?

Truthfully yours,
C. H. A. Bulkley
Howard University, Washington, D. C.
 

 

THE WORK OF THE BURROWING RAT.

Editor Popular Science Monthly:

In your November number there appears an article, by Prof. N. S. Shaler, entitled "Habits of the Great Southern Tortoise," which is based upon premises so manifestly erroneous that it is difficult to understand how the professor could have been led to adopt them; and, therefore, in the interest of science, I take the liberty of pointing out to him, through you, the error which he has made. Having lived in Florida for several years, and having during that time closely observed the habits of the land-tortoise, or so-called "gopher," to which the professor refers, I know whereof I speak. The professor is entirely mistaken in supposing that the little mounds of sand which he describes are made or pushed up by the tortoise, or "gopher." They are the result of the industry of quite a different animal, viz., a species of burrowing, pouched rat, known in eastern Florida as the "salamander."

The land-tortoise, or gopher, never burrows into the earth beyond a distance of ten or fifteen feet, where he goes merely for concealment, not for food. He never obstructs the outlet of his burrow, but keeps it open, so that he may readily return to the surface of the soil to seek grass and other vegetable matter, upon which alone he subsists. It is true that he hibernates during the winter months. I have caught hundreds of "gophers," and have shot or caught in traps dozens of the "salamanders," and I am prepared to substantiate what I have here stated in the most indubitable manner. It is manifestly a physical impossibility for the tortoise to burrow its way thousands of feet horizontally under the ground, as the professor supposes.

I can easily imagine the amusement which Prof. Shaler's article would afford residents of Florida, should it reach their eye. Such inexcusable errors in scientific papers are not calculated to bring honor to science or to the scientist.

Very respectfully,
C. C. Byrne, M. D.
Washington, D. C., November 1, 1888.

[In a former paper, referred to at the beginning of the article on the "Southern Tortoise," Prof. Shaler mentioned the disturbance of the soil due to burrowing rodents. The second article was devoted wholly to the work of the tortoise, but does not seem to us to conflict with the statement that other animals produce effects of this sort in Florida, even exceeding in some localities those produced by the tortoise.—Editor.]

 

 

A DOG THAT COULD COUNT.

Editor Popular Science Monthly:

On page 123 of your November number Dr. A. S. Hudson relates incidents to show that animals may be able to count. In 1868 an Omaha printer, named Bolster, owned a terrier bitch that could count. On being told by her owner to climb a certain number of steps and lie down, she obeyed, never making a mistake, although the task given was varied so as to test her ability. She gave evidence of equal intelligence in other directions, and there is no doubt that she could actually count up to fifteen.

Yours, etc.,
J. D. Calhoun.
Omaha, October 24, 1888.
 

 

THE TYPE-WRITER FOR THE BLIND.

Editor Popular Science Monthly:

In an interesting article on "Writing-Machines for the Blind," published in "The Popular Science Monthly" for September, I was surprised to see no mention made of the type-writer as having been utilized for that purpose; and, as the author seemed thoroughly acquainted with his subject, he would doubtless have noticed the fact had it ever been used.

From the readiness with which the blind learn to manipulate the keys of the piano, it is to be presumed they would have no difficulty in managing those of the type-writer—a process which could be still further facilitated for them by having the letters on the keys raised. The printing type could be beset with sharp points, so as to prick out the letters on the sheet instead of printing them with ink, and, by using paper of the proper thickness, a distinct raised let-