Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 50.djvu/439

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FRAGMENTS OF SCIENCE

economy is upon the side of mechanical propulsion. Horseless vehicles were believed to compare favorably in point of cost and depreciation with horse vehicles.

 

The Work of Physical Chemistry.—Prof. William A. Noyes, as Vice-President for the Chemical Section of the American Association, opened his section with a very interesting and suggestive review and forecast of the achievements of physical chemistry. Though the progress of this branch seems slow in comparison with what we may conceive as ultimately possible, notable advance has been made through the efforts of the numerous investigators who have been industriously working in it. Light has been cast upon many problems, and it is now possible to predict phenomena of which the operator could formerly have knowledge only by experiment. The older methods have given place to mathematical determinations, and new regions of investigation have been opened to chemists. We have still before us, however, the vast task of learning how to save and utilize the immense proportion of the power—far exceeding that which is saved—which now goes to waste in all our operations. To make good as large a part as possible of that which Is now lost should be the object of future work in physical chemistry.

 

A Woman among African Cannibals.—Miss Kingsley, who returned to England in the fall of 1895, after a journey of nearly a year in the Cameroons, collecting fishes, relates stories of thrilling adventures, particularly among the Fangwe cannibals living between the Ogowe and Rembwe Rivers. These people are always at war with one another, and are one of the few tribes in Africa that eat their own dead. As her little band of three Fangwe "elephant men" and four Djuma men approached each Fangwe town, it was found to be in a state of defense, and the leader of the band invariably fell into some trap which the inhabitants had laid outside the town for the enemy. At almost every town the Fangwe stopped the expedition and wanted to eat the Fangwe elephant men, who were of a hostile section. Miss Kingsley had guaranteed the elephant men safety, and sometimes by persuasion, sometimes by threats of punishment, and sometimes by a little present, they were saved. Not one burial place was found in the country, but pieces of human bodies are kept in most of the native mud huts just as civilized people keep eatables in their larders. The Adjumas, on the other hand, bury their dead in the forest. Miss Kingsley climbed the Cameroons Peak, 13,700 feet high. At an altitude near 10,000 feet, she came across the great crater. There are about seventy craters in the Cameroons Mountains, and from the largest of these the peak shoots up almost perpendicularly on the sea side; hence it has to be reached from the other side. Inland from the Cameroons the Rumbi Mountains are inhabited up to about 7,000 feet, and Miss Kingsley found shelter in native huts. In the higher ascent she had to sleep on the ground in the open air, and was frequently drenched by the heavy rains, but suffered no injury to health thereby. In the canoe journey up the Ogowe, the craft was upset and its occupants thrown into the water nearly a dozen times. Miss Kingsley had several narrow escapes, and was saved more than once by clutching the rocks in the rapids and holding on to them till the natives righted the canoe.

 

Drifting Fruits.—For nearly three hundred years a curious fruit has been found drifting along the coasts of the West Indies, concerning the origin and nature of which nothing could be determined. It was first noticed, described, and pictured by Clusius in the Exoticorum libri decem in 1605. The next reference to it was by Johannes Jonston, in his Latin history of trees and fruits, in 1662. It was noticed again in 1680, and thence down to 1764, after which it does not seem to have been mentioned till 1884, when Mr. D. Morris collected specimens of it near Kingston, Jamaica; and in 1887 a specimen was picked up on the shore of Bigborough Bay, in the south of England. In March, 1889, it was identified by Mr. J. H. Hart, Superintendent of the Botanic Gardens at Trinidad, as the fruit of Sacoglottis amazonica, or, locally, cojon de burro, a tree very rare in Trinidad, but more abundant in the delta of the Amazon. From one or both of these localities, says Mr. Morris, who describes the fruit and gives its history in Na-