Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 53.djvu/589

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FRAGMENTS OF SCIENCE.

as its effects were assumed to be more lasting than they really are; but we have now to deal with altogether changed conditions. Where infant vaccination is fairly well maintained, as it has been in Middlesbrough, it is the adults who have not been revaccinated who are now the chief source of danger—a danger which can only be avoided by investing every young person with the same degree of protection which we have for the last half century conferred upon the greater portion of our infant population."

 

The Eskimo Lamp.—Mr. Walter Hough, in The American Anthropologist for April, gives an interesting account of the Eskimo lamp, which is, it seems, the most important utensil of the latter's household. There are many drawbacks to the spread of a people into arctic regions—the cold, the long nights, the hardships of travel, scarcity of wood, and, paradoxical as it may seem, the difficulty of obtaining drinking water. This latter drawback is the most serious of all, and were it not for the Eskimo's lamp would have effectually prevented his settlement in arctic regions. The typical Eskimo lamp is a shallow dish of soapstone with the outline of the gibbous moon. It has hollowed out on the upper surface a reservoir to contain oil. The rear is curved and bounded by a low wall. The reservoir slopes gradually up to the edge upon which the wick is laid. This edge is straight. The wick is of moss, rubbed to powder between the hands, and carefully laid in a thin line along the wick edge of the lamp. The oil in the reservoir stands just at the lower margin of the wick. The flame is about two inches high, and is clear and smokeless if the wick is properly cared for. The oil is supplied by blubber melted by the heat of the lamp. With this contrivance the Eskimo lights and heats his house, cooks his food, and melts snow for his drinking water. The lamp is peculiarly the possession of the women. Each head of a family must have a lamp, though two or more families may live in the same hut. The Eskimos have no phrase expressing a greater degree of misery than "a woman without a lamp." After the death of a woman her lamp is placed upon her grave. The lamp is only useful with fats of high fuel value, such as are furnished by fish and seals. The wick line is found to increase in length toward the north, in southern Alaska this edge is about two inches long, while at Point Barrow, the most northerly point of Alaska, it is from seventeen to thirty-six inches in width. In fact, this variation is so uniform that by examining the wick edge a fairly close estimate of the latitude in which a lamp originated can be made.

 

Popocatepetl.—Popocatepetl, "the smoking mountain," and Ixtaccihuatl, "the white woman," are the highest peaks of a mountain range or sierra about sixty miles in length and eighteen in breadth, called the Sierra Nevada, or Snowy Sierra of Ahualco, which constitutes a barrier separating the valley of Puebla from the valley of Mexico. Communication is had between the valleys by a saddle-shaped pass, the lowest point of which is twelve thousand one hundred and eighteen feet high. Popocatepetl, the fourth highest mountain in North America, is a volcano with a snow-capped lava cone, which is now in the solfatara state, emitting only steam and sulphur. It is frequently ascended, although it is between seventeen thousand and eighteen thousand feet high, and rises about five thousand feet above the snow line. One of the grandest mountains of the continent and presenting a magnificent aspect from every point of view, its pride has been sadly mortified by its having been reduced to be a sulphur mine. The sulphur, which is obtained from the crater, is mined in June and July, those months being chosen with reference to the quantity of snow, which is then sufficient to allow of making a smooth trough on which the sulphur can be slid from the crater to the ranch of Tlamacas, five thousand feet below. The general features of the ascent, as Dr. O. C. Farrington describes his achievement of it in February, 1896, in the Bulletin of the Field Columbian Museum, are not strikingly different from those presented in the ascent of other not extremely difficult snow mountains. The lower slopes of the snow are broken up by long tongues of exposed sand on which the climbing was comparatively easy, but in the last stages every step had to be cut in the ice. The ice and ashes are very destructive to leather, so that a single