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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/150

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138
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

China, is collected by women and children who paddle about among the plants in small circular boats resembling wash-tubs. Other species are grown in Cashmere, where the lakes become so crowded with the plants that navigation is made impossible, and the Government derives £12,000 a year from the taxes on the crop of a single lake; and in India, where the cultivation is systematically carried on. The fruit abounds in starch, which has the flavor of a chestnut, and may be eaten raw or cooked. The dried nuts will keep for many years. The meal may be made into cakes or into a porridge. If the kernels are soaked overnight in cold water, they will be ready in the morning to be boiled or steamed into food. The seeds of the lotus (Nelumbo) were much used as food in ancient Egypt, but seem to be neglected now. The tuberous roots resemble the sweet potato and are starchy. The root-stalks when boiled are farinaceous and agreeable, and those of the American species are employed as food by Western Indians. The seeds of the lotus, in India, are eaten raw when green, and roasted or boiled when ripe and hard. The 'root, which is two or three feet long, is eaten, boiled, as a vegetable. The Klamath Indians live chiefly on the tookow, or seeds of the yellow water-lily (Nuphar lutea). The capsules are broken, and the seeds are separated from their husks.

 

The Philosophy of Waist-Belts and Corsets.—In the course of an investigation upon the work of the heart in health and disease certain facts were observed by Prof. Roy and Mr. J. G. Adams which throw light upon the physiological bearing of waist-belts, etc. By means of a cardiometer, they register accurately the changes in volume of the heart and the amount of blood propelled by it, under varying conditions. In the dog, even a slight compression of the abdomen caused an increase in volume of the heart, and with this a greatly increased amount of blood, passed through the heart in a given time. These phenomena can be explained without difficulty. The abdominal vessels are capable of containing all, and more than all, the blood in the organism. Slight compression of the abdomen will, without disturbing the arterial supply, drive out from the abdominal veins and venous capillaries a large amount of blood; and this blood will be of use for the other regions of the body. Now, the functional activity of any organ depends directly upon its blood-supply. Increase the arterial blood-supply of any part, and, other things being equal, the activity and power of work of that part are increased. The abdominal walls in front and at the sides are formed of soft, elastic tissues. In health, pressure is, through these, exerted upon the abdominal contents, and at the same time upon the abdominal veins and venous capillaries, by means of the muscles contained in these walls. If, however, the muscles lose their tone, the walls become flaccid, and the veins dilate, and thus holding a larger amount of blood than is necessary, act as reservoirs for this blood, and so deprive the rest of the body of an amount of fluid necessary for its due nutrition. Here, then, we have an explanation of the use of some form or other of waist-belt by all nations who have passed beyond the stage of absolute barbarism. The waist-belt is of use, and has constantly been used, in cases of sudden and great exertion, and in those cases where it becomes necessary to counteract the tendency to a useless storing up of blood in the abdomen; and by persons in health, in bringing more blood into the service of the brain and muscles to produce a condition of increased mental and muscular activity. Flaccid abdominal walls are rather the rule than the exception with women, and among men occur in those leading sedentary lives. We are, therefore, brought to conclude that among women some form of waist-belt is advantageous. Moderate constriction does no harm; extreme constriction is absurd and dangerous.

 

The Scilly Islands.—Scillonians is what the inhabitants of the Scilly Islands call themselves. Though politically attached to Cornwall, and nearer to it than to any other part of the world, they are not Cornish, but of high-blooded English stock, being to a large extent descended from the Godolphins and from royalists who had suffered from the English civil wars. There are, however, considerable local differences between the people of the several smaller islands. lu the days of sailing ships the Scilly Islands were an important naval outpost and a place