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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/146

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

which the Hudson River palisades are being mutilated, and the constant raids upon our city parks for speedways, parade grounds, etc. The great value of a parliamentary or congressional committee of this sort lies in the fact that its opinions are not only based upon expert knowledge, but that they can be to an extent enforced; whereas such a body of men with no official position may go on making suggestions and protesting, as have numerous such bodies for years, without producing any practical results. The matter is, with us perhaps, one of more importance to future generations; but as all Nature seems ordered primarily with reference to the future welfare of the race, rather than for the comfort of its present members, the necessity for such an official body, whose specific business should be to look after the preservation of objects of historical interest to the succeeding centuries, ought to be inculcated in us as a part of the general evolutionary scheme.

 

Physical Measurements of Asylum Children.—Dr. Ales Hrdlicka has published an account of anthropological investigations and measurements which he has made upon one thousand white and colored children in the New York Juvenile Asylum and one hundred colored children in the Colored Orphan Asylum, for information about the physical state of the children who are admitted and kept in juvenile asylums, and particularly to learn whether there is anything physically abnormal about them. Some abnormality in the social or moral condition of such children being assumed, if they are also physically inferior to other children, they would have to be considered generally handicapped in the struggle for life; but if they do not differ greatly in strength and constitution from the average ordinary children, then their state would be much more hopeful. Among general facts concerning the condition of the children in the Juvenile Asylum, Dr. Hrdlicka learned that when admitted to the institution they are almost always in some way morally and physically inferior to healthy children from good social classes at large—the result, usually, of neglect or improper nutrition or both. Within a month, or even a week, decided changes for the better are observed, and after their admission the individuals of the same sex and age seem gradually, while preserving the fundamental differences of their nature, to show less of their former diversity and grow more alike. In learning, the newcomers are more or less retarded when put into the school, but in a great majority of cases they begin to acquire rapidly, and the child usually reaches the average standing of the class. Inveterate backwardness in learning is rare. Physically, about one seventh of all the inmates of the asylum were without a blemish on their bodies—a proportion which will not seem small to persons well versed in analyses of the kind. The differences in the physical standing of the boys and the girls were not so great or so general as to permit building a hypothesis upon them, though the girls came out a little the better. The colored boys seemed to be physically somewhat inferior to the white ones, but the number of them was not large enough to justify a conclusion. Of the children not found perfect, two hundred presented only a single abnormality, and this usually so small as hardly to justify excluding them from the class of perfect. Regarding as decidedly abnormal only those in whom one half the parts of the body showed defects, the number was eighty-seven. "Should we, for the sake of illustration, express the physical condition of the children by such terms as fine, medium, and bad, the fine and bad would embrace in all 192 individuals, while 808 would remain as medium." All the classes of abnormalities—congenital, pathological, and acquired—seemed more numerous in the boys than in the girls. The colored children showed fewer inborn abnormalities than the white, but more pathological and acquired. No child was found who could be termed a thorough physical degenerate, and the author concludes that the majority of the class of children dealt with are physically fairly average individuals.

 

Busy Birds.—A close observation of a day's work of busy activity, of a day's work of the chipping sparrow hunting and catching insects to feed its young, is recorded by Clarence M. Weed in a Bulletin of the New Hampshire College Agricultural Experiment Station. Mr.