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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/750

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ests is not to be classed with the stories which threw a strange glamour about those inaccessible regions in the early days of the discovery. There were many of these, for I am speaking of the part of the map where was located the El Dorado, the golden city of Manoa, the home of the warlike Amazons; where dwelt the men with tails and the mysterious Oyacoulets, warriors with white skin, blue eyes, and long, blond beards. All have vanished from history but the pygmies, and their turn will probably soon come."


Relief and Pension Funds of Railroad Men.—In instituting a pension fund for the men in its employ the Pennsylvania Railroad established, in addition and supplementary to the relief fund of which they enjoy the privilege, a special fund for those who are retired or superannuated, which is adjusted according to their length of service and the pay they have been receiving. The relief fund affords every man employed an opportunity to provide for himself in case of sickness or disability. It is co-operative, and is supported jointly by the employed men, its members, and the company, the expenses of operation and the deficiencies in it being met by the company. The additional pension is the company's own undertaking. Besides the manifestly humane purpose of this arrangement—to care for the present and future interests of its men—it promises to work to increase and improve the effectiveness of the company's service. Its tendency will be to give the men greater heart in their work, and to cause them to identify themselves more fully with it. Decent provision being made for the retirement of old hands, the service can be kept manned by a younger and more robust class. The new fund will effect the entire force on the lines of the Pennsylvania system east of Pittsburg and Erie, extending over a trackage of more than forty-one hundred miles.


The Broom as a Spreader of Disease.—Dust being now generally recognized as one of the most efficient vehicles of the germs of disease, Dr. Max Girsdansky finds the broom to be one of the most active agents in sending them into air, where it is diffused by whatever breezes may be blowing there. The housewife digs the dust out of her carpets and stirs it out of the quiet corners where it has accumulated, wearing an old dress and covering her head while she leaves her lungs exposed, then shakes her rugs in the yard, and the street sweeper transfers the dust he has charge of from the pavement to the atmosphere, where we can breathe our fill of consumption from day to day. Therefore, the author holds, the broom, "far from serving any hygienic purpose, is the cause of the maintenance of organic dust in the atmosphere of the large cities of the world, and as such is the most important cause of the existence and spread of tuberculosis." Further, the carpet is pronounced "an unhygienic article, serving as a fine breeding ground for vegetable parasites, necessitating the use of the broom and the duster, and thereby becoming a reason for the existence of organic dust." As the only proper and safe way of procuring the cleanliness of the floors and streets of our large cities, Dr. Girsdansky advises the free use of water in the shape of showers, or with sprinkling wagons, hoes, mops, etc., and that all floors and floor coverings of the house and the street be so constructed as to facilitate the free use of water in these ways.


Alkali Soils in Montana.—Mr. F. W. Traphagen, of the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station, ascribes the origin of the alkali soil in the arid regions to the failure of the elements to remove the soda salts set free on the disintegration of the rocks, which in humid regions are taken up and washed away by the rains. The soluble salts are dissolved by the water that falls on the surface, and are carried down when it soaks through the ground, to form an element in the ground water. They return thence to the soil when water is brought up by capillary action to supply the place of that lost by surface evaporation, and accumulate there. Then, as the water evaporates they are left on the surface, forming, when in sufficient quantity, the white crusts seen in badly alkalied places. The most effective remedy for alkali might probably be found in underdrainage, which would prevent the ground water rising