Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 48.djvu/795

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FRAGMENTS OF SCIENCE.

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tant region. Time was measured and a rude chronology was arranged by means of strings of leather with knots of various colors, very much as in Peru. This system proved so convenient in dealing with the Indians that it was adopted for the purpose by a governor of South Carolina. At certain ceremonies reeds or straws were arranged in a particular order, and left thus in place after the ceremony, as a record of the character of the performance there enacted. They were never disturbed, as it was deemed a sacrilege to interfere with them. Their pictograph system is described as having been capable of symbolizing mental qualities as well as spiritual things. The English were symbolized under the figure of a swan, on account of their white complexion and their power of flight across the sea. Their traditional history was delivered in the form of long narratives from the fathers to the children, who were obliged to learn them by heart. Among the Saponies fire was made by rubbing together two dry sticks of prepared wood, a process that required about ten minutes. On the occasion of any religious ceremony a new fire was made from two sticks which had never been used before. A strong thread was made from the fiber of a kind of "silk grass," with which baskets were woven and the aprons that formed the chief part of a woman's dress. Spoons were made of buffalo horn, and the Indians believed that these spoons would split and fall to pieces if poison was put into them. It was believed that venison and turkey must never be cooked together, under penalty of provoking the anger of the hunting gods.

Systematic Archæologic Work in Iowa.—A definite plan of research upon the archæology of Iowa was formulated several years ago by Prof. Frederick Starr. It embraced the preparation of a bibliography and of a summary, from which those interested may learn what has been done, the organization of exploration in every part of the State, publication of a report on such exploration and of a map showing the places where relics, etc., have been found, and finally the preparation of sets of illustrations and models of specimens, mounds, etc., to be distributed to schools, colleges, and scientific and historical societies within the State. The Davenport Academy of Natural Sciences has published the bibliography and the summary, both prepared by Prof. Starr. The latter is a brief description of the finds that have been made from time to time, arranged alphabetically by counties, and accompanied by a number of small maps and other cuts. By a wide distribution of this publication through the State of Iowa it is hoped that a body of helpers and coworkers may be raised up to work under direction toward definite ends.

M. Trouve's Acetylene Lamp.—Through the accidental discovery, in the electric furnace, of carbide of calcium, there has appeared a new lighting gas, acetylene. Up to this time the gas (C2H2) had been simply a laboratory product, discovered by Davy in 1836. It was found, however, that when calcium carbide, a peculiar spongy material, was plunged into water, acetylene was given off in abundance. It burns with a steady snow-white flame of great brilliancy and high candle power. M. Trouvé, says La Nature, has recently invented a practical lamp for generating and burning acetylene. The reservoir of the lamp is of glass and contains a metallic box in which is placed the calcium carbide. This box is connected with a stopcock, leading to a small gas burner which projects from the top of the reservoir, and is so arranged that as the water in the reservoir is allowed to enter and act on the calcium carbide, acetylene is generated and passes out to the burner where it may be ignited. The admission of water to the calcium carbide has to be carefully regulated, so as not to cause a too rapid evolution of the gas. The lamp resembles an ordinary drop light in appearance, and may be made in a variety of forms, lending itself readily to decorative purposes.

Ice Saws for Opening Navigation.—It is stated in the Journal of the Society of Arts, on the authority of the United States consul at Ghent, that a successful ice-sawing apparatus, by which bodies of fresh water may be kept open for navigation in the winter, is in use on the river Scheldt at Antwerp. It consists of a strongly built boat with rounded sides, carrying a small portable steam engine. At the bow a movable framework which may