Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/787

This page has been validated.
767
NOTES.

of being poisoned, and it was when under the latter emotion that harmony seems to have been most powerful and curative. Airs (tarantelle) have been preserved which were employed in arresting or moderating the frenzied rotations and leaps of those urged on by dread of the bite of the tarantula, and by other causes; and that some interference was required is evident, for, although large numbers of those affected recovered, many resisted all coercion, and danced themselves to death."

The tunes which were regarded as remedial are said to have been of peculiar character, and to have contained transitions from a quick to a slow measure, and to have passed gradually from a high to a low key. The sensibility to music was so great that, at the very first tones of their favorite melodies, the affected sprang up, shouting for joy, and danced on without intermission until they sank to the ground exhausted and almost lifeless. Although thus excitable, no external or audible music was requisite to suggest or sustain such movements. Apparently stimulated by some internal rhythm, the performers danced, sometimes with infuriated, but always with measured steps, wheeling hand-in-hand in circles, not merely from street to street, but from town to town, dropping down when exhausted, but having their places supplied by fresh recruits. When under this inspiration, the rudest of the victims exhibited gracefulness in dancing, and manifested displeasure when false notes were introduced into the music.

 

Utilization of Sewage.—The following facts, with regard to the utilization of the sewage of the city of Paris, are taken from the official returns: At Clichy, a bend of the Seine forms a sandy, level peninsula, of some 5,000 acres. The barrenness of this peninsula is proverbial, and hence it was on this land that a portion of the city sewage was first directed, with a view to put the utility of this kind of fertilization to the severest possible test. The preliminary works were begun in 1868, and completed in May, 1869. From that time between 5,000 and 6,000 cubic yards of the sewage have been raised daily by engines of 40-horse power and centrifugal pumps, and of this two-thirds were received into tanks for chemical manipulation, the remainder being applied to a piece of land 12 or 15 acres in extent. At the end of several months the results of this experiment upon a naturally poor soil were such that the neighboring farmers asked to be included in the benefits derived from the sewage. Owing to the extreme permeability of the soil, 20,000 cubic yards of sewage could be annually absorbed per acre, and the farmers obtained crops of 70,000 lbs. of cabbages, 60,000 lbs. of carrots, and 150,000 lbs. of turnips. All land suitable for irrigation rose in value. No evil effects on the health of the inhabitants could be detected, and a village sprang up around the works. A Parisian perfumer established his manufactory on the outskirts of the irrigated land, and obtained a supply of the sewage-water for his gardens of aromatic herbs, more especially of peppermint. It is worthy of note, in this place, that the finest mignonette of Covent-Garden Market, London, has long been grown from sewage-irrigated soil.

 


NOTES.

An Honor to Prof. Henry.—Prof. Joseph Henry, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, has received from the French Government a superb porcelain vase, as a testimonial of his services as the United States representative of the commission on the international standard metre.—Journal of the Telegraph.

New Fossil Man.—In the Revue Scientifique for December, it is stated that a third skeleton of a troglodyte has been discovered by M. Rivière, in the caves of Mentone. This new skeleton, judging from the various and numerous implements by which it was surrounded, lived at an epoch far more remote than that assigned to the skeleton now in the Museum of Paris. The instruments of warfare and other objects found with it, though composed of flint and bone, are not polished. They are only sharpened, and, by their coarse execution, appear to belong to the palæolithic age. On the upper part of the skeleton was a large number of small shells, each pierced with a hole, which appeared to have formed a collar or bracelets. No pottery nor any bronze object was found.—Lancet.

In an article on "Furs and their Wearers," published in the December Popular Science Monthly, the fur-seal of Alaska and the sea-otter were inadvertently confounded. In a letter kindly calling atten-