Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 8.djvu/781

This page has been validated.

instances of late years of the manner in which what the Lord-Chancellor describes as a 'perpetual trust' has hampered, instead of fostering, the development of the future. It is not merely that so much money has been wasted, but obsolete rules and exploded systems have been a lasting obstacle to the growth of thought and to the intelligent adaptation of new generations to new necessities. The law of mortmain has not been sufficient to avert this danger, and great institutions like our universities and public schools have from time to time come to a dead-lock. Being established with no other dominant object in view than that of perpetuating the systems of the past, a troublesome outcry has always been raised when it has become necessary to adapt them to the present."

Diffusion of Cholera.—Pettenkofer's theory of the spread of cholera—namely, that it depends on geological and hydrological conditions—receives confirmation from the researches of Dr. Decaisne, one of the foremost hygienists of France. In a communication to the Académie des Sciences, Dr. Decaisne calls attention to the fact that the cities of Lyons and Versailles have always been in a great measure proof against this disease, though the country round about has again and again been ravaged by it. Paris, on the contrary, has often suffered severely from cholera. In 1832 Lyons entirely escaped the visitation of the epidemic, which ravaged all the rest of the country. Again, in 1835, Lyons was not attacked by the cholera in its advance up the Rhone. In 1849 it made its appearance in one of the barracks, and a few cases occurred in the neighborhood; but three weeks later it had disappeared. In the autumn of 1853 the cholera prevailed in the department of Drôme; there was an outbreak at Lyons, the number of cases being 400, with 196 deaths. In 1865 there were only a few sporadic cases.

According to Pettenkofer's theory, the immunity of Lyons is explained partly by the constitution of the soil, but this explanation applies only to those quarters of the town which overlie the granite rock, either directly, or with a bed of clay interposed. All those portions of the city which rest on the alluvium owe their immunity to peculiar conditions of the underground water. The two instances mentioned above of outbreaks of the cholera in Lyons coincide with periods of exceptional drought, when organic matter, which is usually submerged, underwent decomposition by the action of the air. But those portions of the city which owe their salubrity to the physical constitution of the soil have always enjoyed immunity. As for the city of Versailles, the conditions there are analogous to those found at Lyons. But Paris rests on Eocene Tertiary formations which are permeable and dry—conditions which are favorable to the dissemination of cholera,

Coal-Deposits in New York State.—In a recent popular lecture on the subject of coal, given under the auspices of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences, Prof. A. R. Grote speaks as follows of the prospects of finding coal within the limits of the State of New York: "Though coal exists in small quantities in the earth below the carboniferous formation, it will not pay to mine it. The Marcellus shale, for instance, is so charged with bitumen that it can be burnt. A great deal of money has been wasted in this State in searching for coal in formations where it could not be found. More money, a thousand times over, has been frittered away than would pay for a new scientific survey of the State, which is so much needed. Instead of consulting scientific men, geologists, people have dug vainly, and wasted time, labor, and money. Within the borders of our State we have no carboniferous formations, except a bare outcropping, in the southwestern part, of conglomerate belonging to the series. No coal exists in this State in any quantity."

Observations on the Migrations of Birds.—With a view to ascertain the conditions governing the migrations of birds and certain other periodical phenomena, the natural-history editor of Forest and Stream invites the attention of observers throughout the country to the subject, and suggests that each one keep a record of his observations. The points to be specially observed are the following: 1. Whether each species of birds is resident throughout the year, is a sum-