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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/152

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

civilized Africa than are found among the 'Wa-nyakyusa' people" of the district north of Lake Nyassa. Round houses are occupied by the married people, but they also build square houses and long cattle-folds. The walls are of bamboo set into the ground at an angle of about 100°. Small bricks about the size of an ostrich egg are fitted neatly, while plastic, into the framework. The whole is a huge basket of bamboo reeds and mud. The reeds on the roof are tied in wavy lines in the form of a dome, the thatch is laid with great skill, and the house is scrupulously clean. Large villages are uncommon, but on the plains one village is connected with another by banana groves which often extend for miles. Trees are planted for utility and for ornamentation, and are regarded with pride. There are no stockaded villages, but a kind of poisonous cactus is grown as a defense. All manual work in cultivation is done with giant hoes. Their fields look as if they had been deeply plowed, and every furrow is perfectly straight. They are a tall, muscular race, of few wants, desiring nothing of strangers. They appreciate cloth, but have little idea of its value. They are in what one might call the "brass-wire age." That is their medium of exchange, and anything can be bought for it. Iron is found in the King's Mountains, and is extensively wrought. They make iron, copper, and brass belts as thick as one's little finger, and wear them on the waist. Six or more of such belts may be worn on the person of one individual. Their word for riches means iron. The Nkonde spears are famed. Though not so large as those of the Masai, their spears and billhooks are cruel-looking weapons, with long barbs. The shafts are made of a dark, hard wood, and are frequently dyed black. They are ornamented, and often beautifully inlaid with a delicate tracery of brass, copper, or iron. They have fifteen varieties of spears, bearing different names.

 

The Storing of Acetylene.—In a recent letter to the Engineering News, Frederick H. Lewis gives the result of some instructive calculations. It has been claimed, it seems, by several concerns that acetylene gas may be liquefied and stored in metal "bottles," and in this form advantageously handled and transported. "The writer," says Mr. Lewis, "had occasion some time since to ascertain whether a small cylinder of about one half cubic foot capacity could possibly contain the amount of gas that the company's orator in Philadelphia had declared it to hold. A little calculation showed that if the gas was present, as stated, its density must be nearly equal to that of cast iron." Mr. Lewis calculates that a cylinder containing sufficient gas to supply a private house for a month would have to be about eight feet and a half long, and would weigh three hundred pounds. "But," he says, "even this statement of the case is entirely too favorable. The fact which the acetylene-gas people must face is this, that it is entirely unsafe to liquefy gas whose critical point is only 98° F., and subject such cylinders to the incidents of transportation and of ordinary use in dwelling houses. It has been found necessary to adopt this view in the case of nitrous oxide for dentists' use, and it will be necessary with acetylene."

 

Gout and Genius.—From an interesting little essay in the Lancet, by Mr. J. F. Thiselton Dyer, on the folklore of gout, we take the following: Many years ago one Misausus wrote a curious little book in honor of the gout, with the object of proving that it was a blessing for which mankind could not be too thankful, arguing that if Paracelsus could make men proof against death his secret consisted in inoculating them with gout. But when it was suggested that gouty people do die, he replied that men know not when they are well off, but must needs be curing the gout, and therefore deal with death's factor, the physician. It was, however, a popular notion that gout lengthened life, and statistics at the present day show that it is not answerable for more than one death in every seventeen hundred and eighty. For a long time gout had the reputation of being preeminently the rich man's disease, and Sydenham, who, it may be remembered, was the first man minutely to study the disease, remarked that, unlike any other complaint, "it kills more rich than poor; more wise than simple. Great kings, emperors, generals, admirals, and philosophers have died of gout." In one of Pitt's last letters to the Marquess Wellesley, he alludes to his slow recovery