Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/299

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

dock leaves and storing them in baskets for the cows at milking time, for they will not be milked unless they are fed. The sheep on Soa Island are plucked instead of being sheared, at the time when the wool would naturally be shed, and what wool will not come off in this way is cut off with a pocket knife. When the steamer with Mr Kearton reached the island, no one came down to meet it till the whistle had been blown two or three times. "It was not etiquette to rush down like a parcel of savages," but the people "retire to tidy themselves, and then row out and call in proper form."


The Island of Sakhalin.—Mr. Benjamin Howard, an English visitor at the recent meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, presented before Section E of that body an interesting account of the great but little-known island of Sakhalin, more generally spelled Saghalien in our geographies. Mr. Howard, however, strongly urged the former spelling, as most correctly representing the name, which is always pronounced by the Russians in three syllables, with the accent on the first. It is now used as a penal colony by the Russian Government, and a more hopelessly remote and inaccessible spot for such a purpose can hardly be found. To it are sent the hardest cases among the Siberian prisoners; and Mr. Howard spoke of becoming accustomed, during his stay there, to meeting scarcely any human beings but murderers, except, of course, the guards and officials. The island is extremely inaccessible; there is no commerce, and neither inducement nor opportunity for vessels to touch there, while much of the coast is ice-bound for a large part of the year. Mr. Howard, who was engaged in some scientific work on the island in the service of the Government, is one of the very few foreigners who have traveled or resided there at all. He predicts for Sakhalin, however, a future of considerable importance ultimately, though only after a long period of preliminary development and exploitation as a penal colony, which stage has but lately been begun. It has forest and mining resources—among the latter, coal; the deposits are near the surface, but thus far have been very little examined. He was unable to give any data as to their geological age or actual extent; but the Government will no doubt soon make investigations. The most remarkable possibilities, however, are in the line of fisheries, the coasts swarming with fish to an extent that is scarcely credible by one who has not seen them. Mr. Howard said jocosely that he would hardly dare to relate what he had personally witnessed, in view of the usual reputation of "fish stories." The climate is of course rigorous, under the influence of cold northern currents, and markedly in contrast with that of the same latitude on the American side of the Pacific, where the Japan current carries its modifying influence as the Gulf Stream does to northern Europe. Some agriculture, however, is possible during the short summer, and the penal colonists have made fair beginnings of self-support. He referred further to a remnant of native Aino population as very interesting from the fact that they have preserved their peculiarities of life and manners, and their purity of stock, much more completely through their isolation than the Ainos of the Japanese Islands, who have been modified more or less by association with the latter people.


Technical and Popular Names.—In a paper criticising the multiplication of local names in geology, Prof. C. E. Keyes distinguishes between names devised with a conscientious desire to better the condition of a science by clothing the new ideas with simple words and those which are the product of a name-making mania. "The first can not be too highly commended, nor the second too deeply deplored." Every progressive science must discard the names that have served their purpose, and must be prepared to receive all of the new ones demanded. The sciences have each two phases, for each of which a terminology is demanded, in one of which the names must be technical and special, established primarily for the investigator, and in the other general, popular, simple, and free from technical appearance; but the distinction is rarely made. Those who object to the prevalence of technical names in other sciences seldom reflect that they have them in their own art. Yet if a man of science should desire to familiarize himself with the artisan's work, "he would be, after five minutes' talk with a machinist or elec-