Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/265

This page has been validated.
253
MISCELLANY.

cussion with mallets or other mechanical contrivances worked either by manual or other mechanical agency.

Each bar is struck by a mallet or mallets, and motion is communicated to the arms of the mallets by cords or other suitable attachments to the outer end of the arms, and passing down the tower or other place where the bars are fitted. The inventors of the above not having perfected the patent, any one is now at liberty to carry out the design.

 

The Transmutation of Species.—A friend in Hamilton, N. Y., kindly sends us the following extract, translated from the German of Carus Sterne; the passage occurs in the course of an interesting essay by that writer on "The Radish:" "The more strict among modern botanists," says Sterne, "refuse to place the charlock (Hederich) in the same species with the radish. In general character, there is a considerable resemblance between the two; but this proves little, since most specimens of the Crucifera family show a strong habitual resemblance. In the fruit, which in this family furnishes almost the only distinguishing feature, a great difference exists. The charlock bears fruit from one and a half to two inches long, thin, necklace-like, with a decided beak, separating crosswise, at maturity, into joints, each joint containing a shining seed. The radish, on the contrary, bears a plump, coniform pod, almost without a beak; and, at maturity, it splits lengthwise. The seeds are not shining, but wrinkled. So great is this difference, that many modern botanists have departed from Linnæus's classification of these plants as two varieties of the same species—Raphanus raphanistrum and R. sativus—and have made of the former a separate species, Raphanistrum.

"But two summers ago, Prof. H. Hoffmann discovered that Linnæus was right. For four years he had cultivated charlock in the Botanic Gardens at Giessen, and at last had the joy of finding, amid many transition forms, genuine radish-fruit, upon two charlock-plants. As hybridization with radish was out of the question, this was held to be a demonstration of the specific identity of these two plants. This is a highly-important and instructive discovery: it is a sort of 'leap' which, morphologically considered, seems greater perhaps than that from man to ape.

"Those," continues the author, "who wish to know nothing of the transmutation of species, but who hold that all things have continued from eternity as they were created, will conclude that the devil himself has here stuck a pair of radish-pods in Prof. Hoffmann's charlocks, simply to lead men astray. Should the observation be verified (of which we have no doubt), and if we have not here to deal merely with a mixture of pollens, as in the supposed transformation of Ægilops into wheat, then will the radish become one of the strongest arguments for the Darwinian theory."

 

The Corrosion of Glass.—A correspondent sends the following on the corrosion of glass, by what would otherwise be considered a bland and harmless liquid:

"My daughters sometimes make a mantel ornament by half filling a glass tumbler with water, placing a little cotton on the water, and then laying some grains of wheat, oats, or flax-seed on the cotton. A small field of grain is soon the result; but invariably the glass is corroded in such a way as to look blurred and dim. In one or two cases, a bouquet of flowers cut from the stems in the yard, and placed in a glass tumbler, and accidentally left standing a few days, produced the same effect as the growing grain. After spoiling quite a number of glasses in this way—some of fine cut glass—the practice was abandoned as unprofitable in general. In one of the corroded tumblers there is now growing a fine patch of wheat. Your article on the action of mucilage brought this matter up in conversation. Whether others have noticed this fact is unknown to me; and, if not, this may be an item of news to them."

 

A Human Automaton.—The following particulars with regard to the case of the French sergeant, quoted in Prof. Huxley's Belfast letter, we find in the Lancet. During the late war between France and Germany, two and a half inches of the left parietal bone of his skull was carried off by a bullet, laying bare the brain on that side. The resulting paralysis of the members of