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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/298

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284
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

widely spread form, the shores of the Arctic Ocean on one side and on the other passes across the one hundred and forty-first meridian of west longitude into Alaska. The orographic features of this region are very complicated in detail. No existing map yet properly represents even the principal physical outlines, and the impression gained by the traveler or explorer may well be one of confusion. There are, however, the two dominant mountain systems of the Rocky Mountains and the Coast Range. As a whole, the area of the Cordillera in Canada may be described as forest-clad, but the growth of trees is more luxuriant on the western slopes of each of the dominant mountain ranges, in correspondence with the greater precipitation occurring on these slopes. This is particularly the case in the coast region and on the seaward side of the Coast Range, where magnificent and dense forests of coniferous trees occupy almost the whole available surface. The interior plateau, however, constitutes the southern part of a notably dry belt, and includes wide stretches of open grass-covered hills and valleys, forming excellent cattle ranges. Farther north, along the same belt, similar open country appears intermittently, but the forest invades the greater part of the region. It is only toward the arctic coast, in relatively very high latitude, that the barren arctic tundra country begins, which, sweeping in wider development to the westward, occupies most of the jnterior of Alaska. With certain exceptions the farming land of British Columbia is confined to the valleys and tracts below three thousand feet, by reason of the summer frosts occurring at greater heights. There is, however, a considerable area of such land in the aggregate, with a soil generally of great fertility. In the southern valleys of the interior irrigation is necessary for the growth of crops.

 

The "Rabies" Bacillus.—Ever since the discovery of Pasteur that an attenuated virus made from the medulla or spinal cord of a dog affected by rabies was, when administered in graduated doses, a specific against the disease, bacteriologists have been eagerly seeking to isolate the rabies bacillus. A number of observers, among them Toll, Rivolta, and San Felice, have succeeded in staining a bacillus which they claimed to be that of rabies. Memno, of Rome, confirmed the observations of the preceding, and proved the virulent character of the microorganism, which he described as a blastomycete. He has quite recently succeeded in cultivating the bacillus in artificial media and producing typical rabies in dogs, rodents, and birds by inoculations. He found that the bacillus grew better in fluid than in solid media, the best being bouillon with glucose slightly acidulated with tartaric acid. The growth did not become manifest under a week, and was easily arrested by "air infection." It would thus seem that we have at last certainly established the bacterial origin of rabies.

 

The St. Kildans.—St. Kilda, the farthest out to sea of all the British Isles, is a rounded mountain with "stack rocks" and islets round it, rises twelve hundred and twenty feet in height, and contains a settlement of about seventy-five men, women, and children—almost the only representatives left on the British Islands of man in the hunting age. On one of the subsidiary islands, Boreray, is gathered the main body of the sea birds for which the island is famous; and on a third, Soa, are the diminutive descendants of Viking sheep, left by old sea rovers. Mr. R. Kearton, who has recently visited the islands for recreation among the sea birds, represents that in the little community of its people the ordinary and extraordinary operations of fife seem inverted. Sport is a serious work; sheep herding and shearing are an exciting sport. A St. Kildan qualifies for marriage by proving his courage and skill as a fowler, by standing on a dizzy precipice called Lover's Stone, and goes out bird snaring with a serious face. When he wants a sheep for the butcher, he asks his friends to a sheep hunt in the island of Soa, in which dogs and men pursue the animals from rock to rock. An offer made by a factor to supply the people with nets, so that they might catch the sheep with more humanity and less waste of life, was rejected by them. They preferred the old methods, which supplied plenty of danger and excitement. While the sheep are hunted, the cows are thoroughly.spoiled. Every day the women are seen hard at work picking