Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/438

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

consisting of a blade and a handle, or grip, with or without some form of lashing. The blade is either a thin piece of slate ground to an edge, a bit of cherty or flinty rock chipped to an edge, a scrap of steel or iron from wrecks of whaling vessels, or good blades made and sold to Eskimos by traders who visit their country. The handle of this common implement varies greatly in material, form, and finish. In form alone the specimens from each typical area are unique. Many of the blades are tightly fitted into a socket or groove of the handle. The woman's knife is found throughout the Eskimo region, from Labrador to Kadiak, of materials in the handles and the blades dependent most largely on what are furnished by the locality. Some of the specimens in the National Museum are as coarse as savagery could make them; others are very beautiful. The same locality furnishes both and intervening kinds; but some areas furnish only coarse work, while others supply the most beautiful. The problem is a complex one, and white influence has crept in to embarrass the question.

 

Dirt and Cholera.—"Boil your ice," the pithy counsel given by Dr. Daremberg to the people of Paris, in view of the danger of cholera, is made a text by The Lancet for an exhortation to cleanliness. The saying refers to the ascertained fact that the cholera germ is not destroyed by freezing, and there may therefore be danger in ice, but there are lessons in it of much wider application. We have made great advances in sanitary practice, or cleanliness, which is the same thing, but are still guilty of a great many faults; as The Lancet says, speaking of England, but with apt applicability to our own country: "There are spots in abundance that seem almost to be waiting their opportunity to impress more emphatically the lesson that epidemic cholera and filth go hand in hand. There is the barbarous and revolting midden-stead system of our northern counties, polluting air and soil by its emanations and soakage; there are similar systems in the south and elsewhere under which it has become a custom to dig two holes in every man's garden and then to pour all liquid filth into one which is called a cesspool, while the drinking-water is drawn from the other one which goes by the name of a well. There are houses by the thousand in which the drinking-water is drawn from a cistern which also serves a water-closet, and which is also placed in direct communication with the house-drain by means of its overflow pipe; and there are houses in every town by the score, and even by the hundred, in which there is no such proper disconnection of house-drain and waste-pipes from the public sewer as to free them from risk of the ingress of that sewer air from public culverts, which may at any moment be a means of conveying the contagium of imported cholera. . . . There are communities who deliberately elect opponents of sanitary reform because they prefer a risk which seems somewhat remote to a certainty of increased rates; there are public bodies who leave individual inhabitants to perform works of cleanliness and scavenging which they are aware they can not properly carry out; and there are householders who live on year after year in dwellings into which they know sewer air can make its way by one channel or another—indeed, such people can be everywhere found in abundance."

 

Curious Lightning Phenomena.—A curious story is cited in Chambers's Journal of a specimen of the kind of lightning called the fireball, which came down a tailor's chimney in Paris, showing itself the size of a child's head, and moved slowly about the room, at a small height above the floor, looking, as the tailor described it, "like a good-sized kitten rolled up into a ball and moving without showing its paws." It was bright and shining, yet did not seem to give out any heat. After making several excursions in different directions, it rose vertically to the height of a man's head, steered toward a hole in the chimney above the mantel-piece, and made its way into the flue. Shortly afterward there was a violent explosion, which destroyed the upper part of the chimney and threw the fragments on to the roofs of some adjoining buildings. The phenomenon of lightning prints is one of which little is yet known, but which deserves attention. Prof. Poey mentions twenty-four cases of impressions like photographs made by lightning on the bodies of men and animals. Of these, eight were impressions of trees or parts of