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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/409

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FRAGMENTS OF SCIENCE.

may be found by visiting the spot, where a surface extending along about four miles is covered with blocks of stone, assumed to be meteorites. A church dedicated to St. Prokopy has been built in the neighboring village of Loboff or Catoval, and near it stands a curious little wooden chapel of great antiquity, the foundation of which was made of the stones that fell. The church is decorated with pictures of St. Prokopy and of incidents of the meteoric storm, and one of the stones that fell has been mounted on a pedestal in the cathedral of Ustjug, where it is an object of devotion. Mr. Melnikoff, Conservator of the Mineralogical Collections of the Mining Institute of St. Petersburg, has examined the place and the stones, and finds that they are not meteoric and heavenly at all, but simply earthly granite and sandstone. Yet M. Stanislas Meunier suggests, in La Nature, that the story, so carefully treasured up for six hundred years, may have a foundation. That such stones as lie on the ground at Catoval may have been taken up and transplanted by a tornado of extreme violence he regards as within the possibilities. M. Meunier has himself investigated a phenomenon of the kind in France, where the ground was "mitrailled" with stones measuring one, two, and three cubic centimetres, which had been brought a distance of one hundred and fifty kilometres. Another possible explanation is that the stones were already there, so concealed by the dense growth as not to attract particular attention, but became more plainly obvious when the ground had been cleared by the tornado.


MINOR PARAGRAPHS.

While it recognizes the desirability of agreeing upon some language as a general medium of communication between nations, the London Spectator presents certain forcible reasons for not seeking to institute one universal language. "Mankind," it says, "will never adopt a universal language, nor is it to be desired that it should. The instrument for expressing thought must vary with the character, history, and mental range of those who have thoughts to express, and if all men spoke alike, ninety-nine per cent of them would be speaking stiffly—not using, that is, a natural and self-developed vehicle of expression. Arabic could not have grown up among Englishmen, or English among Arabs. The seclusion of nations, too, from one another by the want of a common tongue is by no means all loss, and we may doubt with reason why the higher races would not be degraded if they understood without effort all that the lower races say to one another. They would be bred, as it were, in the servants' hail, not to their advantage."

In a recent address on The Chemistry of the Infinitely Little, M. Grimaux referred to the fact, with which all who have thought about it have been struck, that pathogenic microbes being diffused all through the atmosphere, everybody must breathe and absorb all sorts of them, including germs of typhoid fever, scarlet fever, diphtheria, etc., and yet we are not all attacked with those diseases. "Why? Because each person has a peculiar temperament, and cells adapted, to a greater or less extent, to resist the microbe, to destroy it when it enters the organism, and thus constitutes, as the case may be, a good or a bad cultural medium. Every one, we might say, is immune against some or other of the pathogenic microbes. Like immunity belongs also to certain animal species, and if a microbe pathogenic to man or to some other species is injected into them they will resist it. The blood of refractory animals probably contains principles not yet known which oppose the development of the infectious microbe. From this fact the idea has been suggested of injecting the blood of refractory animals and communicating an artificial immunity to the individual to whom the injection is applied.

M. J. Crépin, of Paris, "an enthusiast concerning the goat," as M. de Parville calls him in La Nature, has established a model goat dairy, and is endeavoring to diffuse a taste for goat's milk and its products. As a means to this end, he has sought to procure an improved breed of goats, and has obtained a stock of very satisfactory quality by crossing the best native goats