Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/743

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Hydrographer Dyer, of the Navy Departmeut, reports that testimonials are constantly received of the efficiency and usefulness of the pilot charts and supplements. The record of floating vessels affords an excellent opportunity for studying the various phases of ocean currents. The supplement is issued whenever subjects of special interest demand it. Such supplements have been sent out descriptive of West Indian hurricanes and the law of storms; on the best transatlantic routes and the winter storm belt of the Atlantic; and on water-spouts off the Atlantic coast. Reports of marine meteorology are received regularly from forty-six Government vessels and five hundred and forty-four of the mercantile marine. Many favorable reports have been received on the efficacy of oil in smoothing the waves.

A remark is made by Dr. A. G. Auld upon the strange fact that the effects of tobacco are so commonly overlooked in computing the causes of disease—for it is one of the most virulent poisons known, continually at work in the systems of those who use it, and a poison whose physical reactions have never been accurately determined. Dr. Auld is impressed that it is responsible for a variety of functional derangements which there is no reason to aver can not terminate in organic disease. Among these are albuminuria of which he has traced cases to the tobacco habit; and certain fibrillary twitchings, often excessive, that occur most frequently about the trunk and upper arms. When such symptoms are found in association with tobacco-smoking, it will not suffice merely to indulge less in the practice, but tobacco must be dispensed with entirely.

Concerning flamingoes straddling their nests, which Mr. Henry A. Blake has disputed ("Popular Science Monthly," March, 1888), Mr. E. J. Dunn, of Melbourne, has written in "Nature" that he has seen in Bushmanland numbers of the tall nests that are described and pictured in the books. They are conical, about eighteen inches high and six inches in diameter at the top, with a shallow, basin-like cavity for the eggs, were built in the water where it was a few inches deep, and could not have been sat upon unless they were straddled over.

The London Diocesan Conference has suggested legal measures to meet the evil of too early marriages, and Dr. Matthews Duncan asserts that the age at which marriage takes place is one of the most important factors in the matter of defects of the reproductive function. He believes that fertility is surest and safest, and most happy in its results, at between twenty and twenty-five years in women, and twenty-five and thirty years in men; and regards the conditions as more precarious at an earlier than at a later age. The social and economical conditions are also not to be overlooked.

Dr. Batty Tuke insists upon the importance of giving more attention to efforts to cure insanity. This thought has been subordinated under the operation of the asylum system, which was begun for protection rather than cure, and of the theory of the psychological nature of insanity. The London County Council has now before it a proposition to appoint a committee to inquire concerning the expediency of complementing the existing system of treatment with a hospital and medical staff having a curative course in view.

A remark in the report of Principal Bliss, of the Detroit High School, on overwork, touches what is incontestably one of the weak points of the public schools. It should be remembered, he says, "that overwork is a continued rush. Our classes are large and our recitation periods short. The good of a class can not be sacrificed for that of an individual. In the hurry of our daily work, some boy or girl who is not strong enough to do our work may be overlooked. Have the public schools so far assumed the duties of parents that parents can be excused for not calling our attention to such a case?"

After twelve years of experimental work at Rothamsted, Dr. Gilbert has found the old views confirmed respecting the value of a due apportionment of nitrogenous and mineral substance in the cultivation of potatoes. The present practices of good farmers with barn-yard manures are sustained, while mineral manures alone are of little effect. Although liberal manuring increases the tendency to disease, the effect is thought to be offset by the advantage of a heavy crop. The continuous growth of potatoes in the same land does not appear to render the crop more liable to disease, but rather the reverse. Thus, during three periods, of four years each, the percentage of disease in the various plots was reduced successively from 5·14-12·82 to 1·63-4·95, and 1·43-1·73.

A biological survey of Kansas is in progress, under the direction of members of Washburn College, the eighth report of which is given in the Bulletin of the Laboratory of Natural History. It includes a fourth series of notes on fishes, by Dr. C. H. Gilbert, and Mr. B. B. Smyth's catalogue of flowering plants and ferns, in which 1,602 species and varieties are named.

Porous rebaked porcelain has been found by Dr. C. G. Currier to be the best substance for domestic filters. If thick and strong enough to allow the use of a large surface, and the substance remains perfect, it may yield a fair flow of clear water, free from all bacteria; yet under the ordinary Croton pressure, the yield is only in rapid drops, unless the apparatus be complex. The filter should be occasionally sterilized throughout, by steaming or other means.