Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/590

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

by which the Chinese silk trade passed in the middle ages, and had brought to light the leading gold fields of northern Thibet.

 

Weather and the Mind.—The psychology of the weather is suggested by Dr. T. D. Crothers as a promising subject for study. He says, in Science: "Very few persons recognize the sources of error that come directly from atmospheric conditions on experimenters and observers and others. In my own case I have been amazed at the faulty deductions and misconceptions which were made in damp, foggy weather, or on days in which the air was charged with electricity and thunderstorms were impending. What seemed clear to me at these times appeared later to be filled with error. An actuary in a large insurance company is obliged to stop work at such times, finding that he makes so many mistakes which he is only conscious of later that his work is useless. In a large factory from ten to twenty per cent less work is brought out on damp days and days of threatening storm. The superintendent, in receiving orders to be delivered at a certain time, takes this factor into calculation. There is a theory among many persons in the fire-insurance business that in states of depressing atmosphere greater carelessness exists and more fires follow. Engineers of railway locomotives have some curious theories of trouble, accidents, and increased dangers in such periods, attributing them to the machinery." Dr. Crothers adds that the conviction prevails among many active brain workers in his circle that some very powerful forces coming from what is popularly called the weather control the work and its success of each one.

 

Seeking Perfection.—The Rev. J. A. Wylie, describing his journey through central Manchuria, speaks of a charming place, the Lao Te Ling, near Ta Shin Ho, where, at the summit of a hill, "there are several fine temples, including one, a large Buddhist temple, in course of erection; and in connection with this there is an interesting story. In a little house with eight leet by six feet of accommodation, two thirds of which is occupied by a small Kang, there lives a Buddhist priest. His head is not close-shaven, as the heads of other Buddhist priests are, for since taking up his residence in these quarters, or rather in this sentry box, he has allowed his locks to grow. For four years has he already been here, and another three years at least remain for him to stay. He is seeking to attain perfection, and he must finish what he has begun. Not until the temple is finished building will he be at liberty to leave his post. The little door of this priest's domicile is sealed up, so he never even steps out into the open air; there is only a small opening in the door or window for an attendant to hand in his meals. These meals are scanty and few; only one meal a day at noon. He drinks great quantities of tea, however; he seems to put no limit to his indulgence in that beverage. In sleep he does not stretch himself out; in fact, he never lies down, he only half reclines, and, asleep or awake, he constantly keeps pulling away at a rope which connects with the temple bell, which must never cease to ring. Travelers passing at all hours may hear the bell sounding; this is part of his work of merit. While I was with him, even although we spoke in such a way that everything else might be forgotten, he did not forget to pull the rope. How, during sleep, he manages is to me the mystery. He had heard long ago of the Christian religion; some books I offered him he refused, on the ground that before he had purified himself by completing his task it would be sacrilege to touch these books. When I pressed him he accepted them, however. How earnest must this man be when he thus denies himself! Still it is merit, and merit for himself, that he is endeavoring to attain."

 

Coal-dust Explosions.—A strong confirmation of the theory that coal dust is a frequent cause of explosions in coal mines is given by the experiments made in the White Moss Colliery, Skelmersdale, and recorded by Mr. Henry Hall, inspector of mines. It appears from them that the flame from a blowing-out gunpowder shot in the presence of dry coal dust is always found to ignite more or less such dust and to increase the burning and charring effects of the shot. When a large flame, such as that of a blowing-out gunpowder shot, or the flame from the ignition of a small quantity of fire damp.