Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/583

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

ings taken in that neighborhood, the greatest measured being 4,655 fathoms. At 4,340 fathoms a Miller Casella thermometer came up wrecked from the resultant pressure. The time occupied in making a cast of 4,356 fathoms and getting back a specimen of the bottom was two hours twenty-six minutes and fifty-seven seconds. Good specimens were brought up from four of the depths, and in one other the specimen-cup struck rock. At the deepest of the casts the wire parted. In view of the remarkable depths found, the conclusion was irresistible that the great-circle route would have to be abandoned, and a new line of less depth adopted if it could be found. This series of depths, ranging from 3,500 fathoms to 4,600 fathoms and upward south and east of the ridge between Cape Lopatka and the Aleutian Islands, indicates that a trough or basin of extraordinary depth and extent exists along the east coast of Japan and the Kurile Islands and under the Black Stream (Kuro Siwo), exceeding any similar depression yet found in any other region of the great oceans. The depth of the deepest cast—five miles and a quarter, the deepest water yet found—is sufficient to hold two mountains as high as Japan's great Fusijama, and leave them nearly two thirds of a mile under water. This region of the Pacific has been named by the German geographer Petermann the "Tuscarora Deep."

 

Improvement of Printing-machines.—The first automatic printing-machines, according to Messrs. Southward and Wilson's woik on the subject, were invented for calico-printing in 1*750. About a hundred years ago, Nicholson took out a patent for a machine applicable to the printing-press. It did not come into use, on account of Nicholson's poverty, and the first practical machine was made by Koenig in 1810, when the Annual Register was printed on his press. This machine was capable of printing a thousand copies in an hour, while no other press then existing could print more than a fourth of that number. Curved stereotype plates were made by Cowper in 1816. Inking by rollers had already been invented. For the last sixty years progress has been very rapid, and every year brings some new machine to save time and trouble, and increase the speed of production. Much attention is now given to type-setting machines, of which six are described by Southward and Wilson as in use. The great difficulty in the use of these machines, which has only now been solved, is in the distribution of the type. It is evaded in the London Times office by taking a cast of the matter, then melting the type and refounding it. One of the latest machines, it is said, however, effects the distribution as rapidly as the setting.

 

The Aye-aye.—A curious creature is the aye-aye (Cheiromys madagascariensis), which was long a puzzle to naturalists on account of its many peculiarities of form and structure. It was named by the French traveler Sonnerat, after an exclamation made by the Malagasy natives on seeing it. It is classified by Prof. Owen as the sole representative of the last of the three families into which the lemuroids are divided. It has eighteen teeth, of which the four front ones—two upper and two lower—are much like those of a rat. Cuvier compared the lower teeth to plowshares. They are powerful cutting instruments, and available for removing wood, making holes in branches, and gnawing through the stems of sugar-canes and other similar plants. The ears are large, round, and open, and have been compared to those of a bat; the eyes are wide and staring; and the upper lip is perfect, or uncleft. The whole body, except the ears, nose, soles, and palms, is covered with thick, dark fur. The most curious peculiarity of the animal lies in the structure of the third and fourth fingers, which are very long, the fourth being the largest and longest, while the third is so extraordinarily thin and wasted in appearance that, as Prof. Owen-says, it seems as if it was paralyze d. The use of this finger is described by Prof. Sandwith, who gave his pet aye-aye some sticks to gnaw which were bored by grubs: "Presently he came to one of the worm-eaten branches, which he began to examine most attentively, and, bending forward his ears and applying his nose more closely to the bark, he rapidly tapped the surface with the curious second digit as a woodpecker taps a tree, though with much less noise,