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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 19/June 1881/Popular Miscellany

POPULAR MISCELLANY.

Diseases and the Weather.—A paper read by Dr. Henry B. Baker, Secretary of the Michigan State Board of Health, before the Sanitary Convention of that State, furnishes some interesting; facts concerning the relation of meteorological conditions and particular diseases. Meteorological reports are received from about thirty observers in different parts of the State, who record the facts of the state of the weather three times a day, and reports of health are received regularly. The reports, as a whole, show how certain diseases vary with the season, and indicate that relations exist, for instance, between the great heat of summer and the amount of sickness from diarrhœa, cholera-morbus, cholera-infantum, etc., and between the cold, dry air in winter and spring and the increase of sickness from pneumonia and similar diseases, which nearly disappear during the warm months. In several years the sickness from pneumonia increased slightly in September, decreased slightly in October, about the time of the Indian summer, and then gradually rose as cold weather set in. When the facts are represented in diagrams, a correspondence appears to be shown between the changes in certain features of the weather and the progress of particular diseases. Thus, the line representing the amount of ozone at night for IS'/S nearly agrees with the line representing the prevalence of pneumonia. The bronchitis line is nearly parallel with these, while the lines representing zymotic diseases run in an opposite direction. It is unsafe, however, to lay too much stress on these coincidences, for it is not probable that the amount of ozone was accurately measured. Intermittent fever was at its highest from July to September, remittent fever in August, typho-malarial fever in September, typhoid fever in November, and cerebro-spinal meningitis was irregular, prevailing most from January to March.

 

Skull-Worship.—"Skull-Worship in the Pacific Ocean" was the title of an address recently made by Herr J. D. C. Schmeltz before a scientific society in Hamburg. The Museum Godefroy in Hamburg has several skulls which have been adorned with stripes over the eyebrows; on some a triangle has been traced in red, from the apex of which another red stripe has been drawn down the nose, with black stripes on either side of it. In other specimens a red line has also been drawn from the apex of the triangle to the roof of the skull, ending there in a spiral on either side. It was already known that the under jaws, if not the whole skulls, of dead relatives were often peculiarly adorned and highly honored in New Guinea. Herr Schmeltz, observing similarly painted skulls in the New Britain Islands, has concluded that a like cultus exists there. Herr Kleinschmidt, of the Museum Godefroy, relates that at stated times a kind of priestly person, called at Pall-Pall the Duk-Duk, or religion-man, collects the skulls of the dead and commits them to the care of their relatives; and he has sent to the museum a skull from there, in which the fleshy parts are represented by plaster and the eyes by a snail-shell, and the whole is painted. On one of the New Hebrides Islands whole skeletons of deceased persons have been exhumed, endowed with a flesh prepared from vegetable matters, and installed in the temples. A traveler on the German man-of-war Ariadne sent the museum at Hamburg a skull from the Island of Isabel (Solomon Islands) which had been browned with smoke, and with it the statement that, "when prominent men, who have distinguished themselves in war or by superior power, die, they enjoy after death a particular reverence, which appears to originate in the belief that the spirit of the dead man passes over to his worshiper and makes him fit for similar deeds. After the body has remained for a half-year in the earth, the grave is opened and the skull taken out. It is then subjected to a course of various processes, especially to a protracted smoking, after which it is deposited in the temple as an object of worship."

 

Chesapeake Zoölogical Laboratory.—The fourth annual session of the Chesapeake Zoölogical Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University was to begin at Beaufort, North Carolina, May 2d, and will continue till the end of August. Dr. W. K. Brooks, Associate in Biology and Assistant Professor of Comparative Anatomy, has charge as director. The laboratory is designed for advanced students, and for persons who are qualified to carry on original investigations. No definite courses of instruction are given, as the persons who are received as students are presumed to have sufficient knowledge to carry on their studies without such. aid. An elementary class will also be conducted in connection with the laboratory, during about six weeks of the summer, at which daily lectures will be given, and arrangements made for systematic work in the laboratory, and a part of the class will be allowed to join each day in the dredging and collecting expeditions. Dr. Brooks will exercise personal supervision of the work of this class, and will give a course of lectures on general zoölogy, but the students will be under the more immediate guidance of Dr. S. F. Clarke, who will lecture daily on the structure and habits of marine animals. Beaufort, on account of its diversified fauna, and of its mild and uniform climate, is described as a desirable place for study during the hot months of summer.

 

Trees and Lightning.—Professor Colladon, of Geneva, published the conclusion several years ago that, when lightning strikes a tree, it is received on the ends of the branches, which, being excellent conductors, lead it, without suffering disturbance, down to the larger limbs. Thence it descends to the main limbs and the trunk, whose conducting power, intrinsically inferior to that of the smaller and younger shoots of the top, is insufficient to sustain the concentrated force of the currents which have united here from the thousand channels by which they have so far descended. Here, then, generally appear the first marks of the shock, not because the lightning has struck the tree at that place, as might be superficially supposed, but because the conducting powers of the tree begin to fail at this point-This view was satisfactorily confirmed by the effect of the lightning upon a poplar-tree, which was struck at Geneva on the 5th of May, 1880. The young, tender leaves of the main topmost branch of this tree and of the branches immediately below it were torn up into small fragments, which strewed the ground below them, as if they had undergone a violent shock of air, such as would be produced by an explosion of dynamite. Many trees may be compared, in respect to their power to conduct electricity, to structures of wood or masonry, which are well furnished with conductors on their upper part, but with which no conducting connection with the ground is given. If such a building were struck with lightning, its upper part would not be hurt, while its lower part would suffer badly. The danger of being struck by lightning, to which persons standing under a tree are exposed, is thus accounted for. The top of the tree, bristling with conducting twigs, attracts the lightning; the current, meeting with non-conducting obstacles at the trunk, jumps from it to the surrounding bodies, whether they be bushes or men and animals. Of two persons, one standing under the tree, the other sitting among the limbs at the top, the latter would be in a vastly safer position. Birds having nests in trees are rarely struck by lightning, and their nests are hardly ever damaged. Large trees growing near a house will protect it from lightning, provided there is no pond or well or stream beyond the house to attract the current across it. If the water is on the same side of the house as the tree, or the tree is between it and the house, or has a rod attached to it, the protection is almost perfect. When a vineyard is struck by lightning, the leaves over a large circuit will, a few hours or days afterward, appear discolored, showing that the electrical action has taken place in a diffused manner, and not in a concentrated attack. In such cases hundreds or even thousands of vines may be affected, showing palpably that it is the property of lightning to manifest itself upon the whole top of a tree or a plot of vegetation. In his memoir on this subject, M. Colladon mentions a single stroke of lightning which left its traces on more than two thousand things.

 

Progress of Cremation.—Cremation is growing in favor throughout Europe. The first furnace for the purpose was erected at Milan, in 1875; the second, built at Gotha, in 1878, has been recognized by the authorities of the city, so that there the choice between burial and cremation is free to every citizen. Several societies for the advancement of the rite have been formed, some of them even in states where no preparations have been made for performing it. The International Hygienic Congress which met at Milan in September, 1880, adopted a resolution in favor of compelling the bodies of all animals dying of contagious diseases to be incinerated, and of the provision of facilities for that purpose in every parish. It also appointed a special international committee to draft and present to the several governments within a year a series of propositions for expediting the adoption of cremation. A third furnace for cremation has been built at Woking, England, but has not been used. The society having charge of it, although it is assured by the Government that the execution of its purposes will not be interfered with by the law, is seeking to obtain an express sanction of them from the Government, with the expectation that a measure recognizing cremations properly performed with an efficient apparatus will impose restrictions against the irregularities of indiscriminate cremations, and against the use of defective apparatus.

 

Glacial Action in the Yellowstone Valley.—Mr. William H. Holmes has furnished the "American Naturalist," from the unpublished report of the Government survey, an account of the glacial phenomena in the Yellowstone Park, which are manifested in a variety of forms, chiefly in erratic rocks scattered everywhere, and in the glaciation of rocks in situ in the narrow gorges. It is not always safe to assume that the presence of a bowlder in a particular spot indicates the former existence of a glacier there, for the rock may have been carried to a considerable distance by a force torrent or by a gradual, creeping movement caused by the undermining of the soil underneath; nevertheless, we have every reason to believe that glaciers formerly existed in the park on a very extensive scale. Glacial moraines are curiously absent from the region; and the tens of thousands of bowlders that dot both sides of the Yellowstone Valley generally lie on the smooth surface of the flood-planes of the river, or on low ridges of alluvial drift. "The significance of this fact may be that the transporting glaciers existed in the earlier stages of the erosion of the valley, and that the morainal ridges have been destroyed by the river, as it oscillated from side to side in the succeeding stages of its descent from the plateau-level to its present bed. These great bowlders would, in such a case, be the more durable masses of the moraines stranded on the various flood-planes for want of waterpower to transport them." In seeking for the source of the granite bowlders, it is observed that they occur to a great extent on the south side of the valley, and at all elevations, while the only bodies of similar rock within the valley are found either on the north side or on the bottom at no considerable elevation above the level of the river. Either, then, the bowlders must have been transported to their present positions before the valley existed, or the ice-streams must have been so deep as to fill the valley to the brim and thus carry and strand them. In the latter case, if the glacier followed the course of the valley, the bowlders must have crossed the whole width of it after the manner of a ferry. "This could really occur only in case there should be such an increase in the masses of ice descending from the highlands to the north as to completely fill the valley, sweep across its course and overspread the broad table-land to the south." This table-land, the park plateau, is wholly volcanic, extends for a hundred miles to the south, and is separated from the base of the granite highlands on the north by the valley of the Yellowstone proper and by the East Fork. A great bowlder more than two thousand cubic feet in size which was noticed near the brink of the cañon, and a mile and a half below the great falls, must have come either from the granite highland north of the valley, in which case it must have crossed the valley of the East Fork and the third cañon, and ascended the river for twenty miles, avoiding Amethyst Mountain and the Washburn I range by a circuitous route, or, less probably, from the Gallatin Mountains, also twenty miles away, when it must have had to cross the valley of the Upper Gardiner River and the spurs of the Washburn Mountain. If it be admitted, as all the evidence seems to indicate, that the ice-rivers bringing down the erratic blocks of granite came from the north, "it becomes at once clear that the erosion of the grand cañon has been accomplished since the close of the glacial period, or at least that a second erosion has taken place if a cañon existed prior to the glacial epoch."

 

Refrigeration and Animal Heat.—Dr. Paul Delmas, of Bordeaux, has published the results of some experiments in refrigerating a healthy person by exposing him, during from a quarter of a minute to five minutes, to a bath of water at 50°, in which he took notice of the temperature of the subject during the exposure and every five minutes in succeeding hours. During the application of the cold, while the subject showed every sign of very intense sensations, the temperature of the body hardly varied at all, or, at most, less than half a degree from that recorded in the beginning. It still varies but little after the application is over, if, having been dried and dressed, the subject remains perfectly still; but if he exert himself actively, either immediately or after a time of immobility, so as to bring on the external phenomena of cold reaction, the temperature suddenly falls. The reduction persists for several hours, and is more pronounced as the sensation of heat in the subject is stronger. On the other hand, if chill continue or reappear, the animal temperature either does not fall or begins to rise again. The pulse suddenly becomes very quick at the beginning of the cold application; its velocity diminishes after a few seconds, and by the end of the experiment returns to the original rate, or falls below it. The retardation stops or progresses slowly if the subject keeps quiet, but becomes more pronounced and persistent as he gives signs of energetic reaction and of a general sensation of heat.

 

The Reality of Hypnotic Phenomena.—The "Lancet" publishes an article of Dr. Charles Richet, considering the reality of the phenomena of hypnotism. It is impossible to fix upon a decisive test in this matter. We know that a fact is scientifically certain when the phenomenon, which is the evidence of it, can be reproduced at will by all persons who will use the same processes, as in the case of any chemical or physical manipulation. The phenomena of hypnotism are uncertain, intangible, and variable; different persons, even though employing identical processes, are liable to obtain very different results. The only absolute sign possible is one's own experience, and that is applicable only to himself. There are, however, certain arguments which bear upon the ease with almost, if not quite, the force of a demonstration. First, it is absurd to suppose that all hypnotized persons have simulated sleep. Friends, in whom we have absolute confidence, may be among them; it is not possible to believe that they have conspired all at once to deceive us. Second, a close agreement has prevailed among certain of the phenomena of the manifestations for sixty years. "That would be a very strange simulation to be reproduced so often, in so long a time, with the same appearances—closed eyelids, fibrillar movements in the muscles of the face, hallucinations of vision and hearing, catalepsy, contracture"—and this among persons strangers to each other and who may be wholly ignorant of hypnotism. Third, many of the phenomena can not be simulated without a profound knowledge of anatomy and physiology, which hardly any hypnotics possess. When the nerves of the hypnotized person are pressed, the muscles supplied by them contract. Who among them knows what muscles should act under the influence of a particular nerve? Yet no mistake is made. "With somnambulists one can, by direct incitation, cause contraction of the muscles (rudimentary in man) moving the auricle of the ear. Now, this contraction is impossible in the individual when awake." With a certain hysteric, who came under Dr. Richet's observation, "by opening the right eye aphasia was produced; while, by opening the left eye, no such effect was obtained. Certainly, if this be simulation, one must assume that the patient knows that speech is affected by the left cerebral hemisphere, and that the retina of the right eye is in relation with this hemisphere, while the right hemisphere is useless for speech." The hysterical contractures afford equally convincing evidence. "There is no individual strong enough to preserve voluntarily the contraction of a muscle during a quarter of an hour without one perceiving in it the slightest tendency to weakness or relaxation. Now, somnambulists maintain their contractures for many hours, and on waking they have no recollection of, no fatigue from, this prolonged and improbable effort." Again, insensibility may be feigned; "but how many persons are there who would have the courage to bear, without serious reason, pricks in the face, on the nostrils, or bands; to allow their hair to be plucked out, and the conjunctiva, the nose, and the ears to be tickled; to have pins thrust into the arms; to drink nauseous liquids; to breathe with delight ammonia or sulphurous acid?" Somnambulists oppose no resistance to tests like these, "Must we suppose that they exhibit heroism (and a very misplaced heroism) or anæsthesia?" It is objected that the phenomena of somnambulism are incompatible with the facts of science. But, if they are themselves facts, they can not be overthrown by a priori reasoning. Another objection has been made: that everything observed in hypnotism is inconstant, irregular, 'mobile, and that the phenomena vary with every observer and with each subject. The same is the case with other psychological phenomena, and the diversities may, in all cases, be perfectly explained by the prodigious complexity of the mind. "We ought to be really struck by the resemblances rather than the differences, for the latter are of small account relatively to what they might be."

 

Gradual Disappearance of the Larger Animals.—The species among the different classes of animals which exceed their congeners in size are now more than ever threatened with extermination. The progressive diminution in their numbers has been more rapid during the recent geological period because they have had man as their competitor; and the present age may be destined to witness their entire disappearance. In consequence of the new competition opposed by man, more formidable than any other that the large animals have had to meet, many species have already become extinct, and many of those which are still represented among living beings are daily diminishing in numbers. The animals comprising these species, being those which are hunted with profit, or those the destruction of which is important for human security, are for these reasons inevitably the most exposed to be driven from every region in which the privileged being has established his abode. In the struggle which they have to sustain against the new rivalry they labor under the two marked disadvantages, as compared with smaller animals, that they require a more abundant supply of food and that their reproduction is less frequent and more limited, so that the losses they endure are hardly repaired. The smaller species keep up their numbers, and even increase, in consequence of their extreme fertility, in spite of the most persistent efforts of man to exterminate them. The larger animals would be totally destroyed in a very short time if they had to suffer the same proportion of losses. It is hardly rash to assert that the whales, the cachalots, the Sirenidæ, the morses, certain species of seals and otaries, the great white bear of the Arctic coasts, and the other bears, the large carnivorous cats (lions, tigers, etc.), the gorillas, the great armadillo, the great ant-eater, the giraffes, the elan, the aurochs, the bison, the elephants, the hippopotamuses, the rhinoceroses, the great kangaroo, the elephantine turtles, the crocodiles, the birds of the ostrich group, the great penguin of the frozen sea, etc., are threatened with the fate that has within a few centuries befallen the enormous epiornis of Madagascar, the gigantic moas of New Zealand, and within less than two centuries the dodo and the giant bird of the Island of Mauritius, the two latter species representing the largest columbid and the tallest waterfowl that have ever existed. The great carnivora are already fast disappearing before the bullets of emulous lion and tiger hunters; the whales and other larger mammalia are becoming scarce. The largest of the deer, the elan, is less widely distributed than formerly; the largest of wild cattle, the aurochs, which formerly ranged over all Europe, is now found only in the forests of Lithuania and Moldavia; the bison no longer covers the prairies with boundless herds; the great armadillo is disappearing from South America, and the great kangaroo from Australia; and the numbers of the other animals we have named are gradually diminishing. It is time for science to be busy in completing the study of these animals before some of their species go to join the ranks of those which are represented only in fossils.—La Nature.

 

Mechanical Vibrations as a Remedy in Neuralgia.—M. Boudet de Paris and Dr. J. Mortimer-Granville have published observations upon the application of mechanical vibrations as a remedy for neuralgia. The publication of M. Boudet de Paris was earliest in time; but Dr. Mortimer-Granville has been prosecuting researches on the subject for several years, while he intended to withhold the results from the public until the efficacy of the new remedy could be fully established. The publication of M. Boudet de Paris has, however, made it necessary for him to describe his own views and experiments, so far as he has gone, though he still considers them unperfected. His attention was drawn to the subject by the success of applications of ice in alleviating neuralgic pains in labor. Having persuaded himself that if the nerve affected in such pains could be strongly impressed, so as to change its state of irritation, the pain would cease, he tried the effect of tapping over the fifth nerve in ordinary facial neuralgia. The results were "very remarkable." He then devised an instrument, a percuteur, which would give a known number of blows in a second. The operations of this instrument were remarkable, although they are not yet considered decisive as to its efficacy. In numerous instances, pain was arrested by its application, and did not return. When applied over a healthy nerve, which was so situated as to be thrown readily into mechanical vibration, it produced a sensation like that caused by the passage of a weak, interrupted current of electricity, changing, when the action was prolonged, into a sensation of tingling, then of numbness, and finally to some twitching of the superficial muscles. A nervous headache, or migraine, could be produced by an application to the frontal ridges or the margins of the orbit. In some instances, when pain existed, the sensation was aggravated by the augmented state of vibration into which the nerve was thrown through the shaking of the adjacent tissues. It is noteworthy that a comparatively high number of vibrations per second seems to relieve a dull, aching, or grinding pain, while an acutely pitched and quick pain is most frequently arrested by a slower movement of the instrument. This is in harmony with the theory that the pain is the result of abnormal nervous vibration, and that the operation of the percuteur is to arrest those motions by opposing counter and interfering vibrations to them. M. Boudet de Paris relates in his paper that, by the aid of a large tuning-fork and sounding board, he caused hemianæsthesia to disappear; provoked contractions in hysterical patients at the Sâlpetrière as rapidly as with the magnet or electricity; and subdued the pains of an ataxic. With a modified apparatus he was able to produce local analgesia, often anæsthesia, in a healthy man, or a sensation of approaching vertigo, with a desire for sleep. An attack of migraine could be cut short by the application. Neuralgia, especially of the fifth nerve, disappeared after a few minutes' application of the instrument; but it was more difficult to get good results with the deeper-seated nerves. Both gentlemen suggest that the action of metallo-therapy, or of metallic applications, is best explained on the theory of vibrations.

 

Some Facts about Explosions.—Mr. Cornelius Walford has lately attempted to collate the statistics of explosions, as a help to ascertaining their causes and the means of avoiding them. A large increase in such disasters, which has been remarked in modern times, is easily accounted for when we remember that we deal with explosive materials and machinery vastly more than our ancestors did. The returns of the deaths from explosions in England and Wales, during twenty-two of the years between 1852 and 1879, give a total of 6,814, or 309 a year, of which 187 a year were ascribed to explosions of fire-damp, 37 to those of boilers, and 70 to those of chemicals, including gunpowder. Assuming, as the insurance companies do, that one hundred persons are hurt by such accidents where one is killed, a proportion which is not confirmed by the figures that follow, we have an annual average of 30,900 persons injured by explosions in England and Wales. No means exist of ascertaining the amount of property destroyed. Explosions of chemicals are increasing in frequency and variety of character as new processes are introduced in the arts. Remarkable instances of these occurred at Gateshead in 1854, when, during a fire, nitrate of soda and sulphur, neither of which would explode alone or in simple combinations, exploded terribly when water was brought to bear upon them; in the explosion of bisulphide of carbon in a shoddy-oil factory in 1867; and in a celluloid-factory at Newark, New Jersey, in 1879. An explosion, believed to be of carbonic acid, which occurred in a French coal-mine, is supposed to have been caused by the formation, from the decomposition of pyrites, of sulphuric acid, which, finding its way to the limestone, suddenly generated large quantities of gas. M. Kuhlmann has shown that sulphuric acid mixing with ten equivalents of water may cause a very violent explosion. Of 156 colliery explosions, recorded in the United Kingdom during the present reign, the largest numbers occurred in February, March, and December, and the smallest number in May. Help in the study of disasters of this class is expected from meteorological investigations. Dust has recently been found to be a formidable explosive, and is now believed to have nearly as much to do with coal-mine accidents as firedamp. The charred appearance of the wood-work in coal-mines after explosions is ascribed to the deposition of a crust of scorched or melted coal-dust upon it. The fine dust generated in some of the processes employed in flouring-mills has been recognized lately as a very dangerous source of explosions, and attention has been directed to the contrivance of improvements in machinery to mitigate the perils to which the workers in tens of thousands of mills are exposed from it. The dangers arising from the liability of illuminating-gas to explode are great enough, but they would be much increased if a process should be adopted for depriving the gas of its odor. The explosive properties of gunpowder and petroleum in all the ways in which they are used are familiar enough and dreaded. The frequent damage to powder-mills by lightning may be ascribed not so much to the attractive power of the substances stored in them as to their isolated situation on marsh-lands near rivers. Insurance-tables show that 1,536 explosions of steam-boilers have taken place in the United Kingdom during the present century, killing 2,293 persons and injuring 3,259. In the United States, 1,299 explosions, killing 2,506 persons and injuring 2,612, are recorded as having taken place between October 1, 1867, and January 1, 1880. The largest number of these were in saw, planing, and wood-working mills, the next largest in steam-vessels, and the next largest of railroad locomotives. The greatest number killed and injured were on steam-vessels. The causes of explosions, according to English tables, appear to be about evenly divided between bad design, workmanship, and material, and ignorance or carelessness of attendants. A smaller number were attributed to defects arising in course of use. The most frequent and most destructive explosions in England appear to have been in iron-works and mines.

 

Earthquakes in England.—The earliest earthquake in England of which a record has been made took place in 1101, when, according to William of Malmesbury, the whole country was terrified "with a horrid spectacle, for all the buildings were lifted up, and then again set down as before." The next was in 1133, when houses were overthrown and flames were said to have issued from rifts in the earth. A third shock occurred in 1185, when, according to Holinshed, "stones that lay couched fast in the earth were removed out of their places, houses were overthrown, and the great church of Lincoln rent from the top downward." An earthquake in 1247, by which much property in London was damaged, was preceded for three months by a suspension of tidal movements on the English coast. On April 6, 1580, two shocks occurred, the second of which caused the church-bells to ring, threw some stones from St. Paul's Cathedral, leveled a part of the Temple Church, caused the death of two worshipers in Christ Church, by the falling of a stone from the roof, and threw a part of the cliff of Dover into the sea. Excitement prevailed for weeks afterward, business was seriously affected, riots were frequent, and prayers were prepared to bo offered night and morning for protection against further convulsions. Two undulatory movements of the earth, lasting together about four seconds, took place at noon on September 8, 1692, causing a great panic, but not inflicting very serious damage on property. A slight but evident shock, accompanied with a "great roaring," took plack on February 8, 1750, when bells were rung, "dogs howled, and fish jumped high out of the water." A month later, the people were awakened between one and two o'clock in the morning by a series of shocks. A frantic terror, causing neglect of domestic concerns, riot, and a suspension of business enterprise, possessed all classes for several weeks afterward. It was heightened by a prediction that a third earthquake would occur in April, and all who could left the city; others spent their nights out of doors. A quack made his fortune during the panic by selling pills which he warranted to be a sure preservative against injury by earthquakes. Only slight shocks have since been felt in the metropolis.

 

Impure Air and Disease.—Dr. J. Ward, health-officer of an English sanitary district of considerable extent and population, has given in the "Sanitary Record" an account of a large number of instances which have come under his immediate observation, in which impure air, arising either from defective ventilation or noxious surroundings, has appeared to be directly associated with the production of diseases of the lungs and other organs. Of eight fatal cases of pneumonia occurring within a year among children and persons in middle life, in all but one the air was defiled from some neighboring source of filth. In about ninety fatal cases of diseases of the respiratory organs, other than pulmonary consumption, most of which were acute or subacute, undoubted defects of ventilation existed. In some cases there was no fireplace or air exit in the room; in some, such opening, where it had existed, had been closed tight; in some the bed, with many in it, was in a close corner; in others the air was defiled by some neighboring household or farm nuisance. Similar defects were observed in nearly all of thirty cases of disorders of the lungs following measles; in forty cases following whooping-cough—in sixteen of which last, "filth influence from immediately contiguous byre, pig-styes, stable, water-closet, or sewer, was noticed." The sanitary investigation of the interior and surroundings of houses where inflammatory affections of the brain have occurred has forced upon Dr. Ward the conclusion that diseases of this class are also frequently, and, it may be inferred, causatively, associated with similar insanitary conditions. In twenty-eight fatal cases of this nature, seventeen cases of tubercular meningitis, and twenty-two cases of convulsions in children, the air was either confined or polluted. Dr. Ward draws from these observations the obvious lesson that it should be the aim of sanitary administration to secure for each habitable room, especially in the crowded cottages of the poorer classes, some suitable provision for a constant change of air. Particularly should care be taken in fixing the position of the bed so that it shall not be in a close corner remote from the influence of the door, window, and fireplace, but should be near some opening through which a constant circulation may be relied upon. In transforming old houses, the provision of fresh air, now neglected and too often prevented in the arrangement of the partitions, should be carefully looked after—else the sanitary condition of the house may be made worse than it was before.

 

An Improved Filtering Apparatus.—Some experiments that have lately been made in France on the working of the Farquhar apparatus for filtering sewage have been attended with quite satisfactory results. One of the chief obstacles to the purification of foul waters by filtration has arisen from the accumulation of an impervious, slimy deposit on the matter which prevents the liquid from reaching the filtering surface. The Farquhar apparatus is designed to obviate this difficulty by means of a provision for the continuous removal of the slime. The filter-bed, which may be composed of any suitable material, is contained in a closed cylinder in which is worked a cutter-plate continually scraping off the top of the deposit. The liquid to be filtered is forced in through a hollow in the screw-spindle by which the cutter plate is worked, direct to the underside of that instrument, where it is uniformly distributed over the surface of the filter-bed. The cutter-plate is caused, by suitable machinery, to revolve during the process of filtration, and may also be made to descend if that is desired. The accumulating deposit is scraped off, and forced up the inclined plane of the knife, as shavings are forced up through a carpenter's plane, to the upper surface of the cutter-plate. By this operation a new clean surface is constantly produced on the filter-bed, practically starting a new filter, at each revolution of the cutter-plate. A model machine, when tried with common sewer-waters at Asnières, near Paris, having a filter-bed of 978 inches in diameter, filtered eight litres, or 1·761 gallons, in a minute under a pressure of one atmosphere and a half. In the same proportion the rate of filtration with a bed one foot in diameter would be 3·31 gallons a minute, and with a bed ten feet in diameter 260 gallons a minute, or 374,400 gallons a day of twenty-four hours. Applied to the water-supply of towns, a machine having a filter-bed ten feet in diameter should filter, under a pressure of one atmosphere, 466,560 gallons in twenty-four hours.

 

Origin of Diphtheria.—The observations of Mr. G. H. Fosbrooke, medical health-officer of Birmingham, England, have led him to form conclusions respecting the etiology of diphtheria which differ in some points from those which have been urged by other authorities. He regards it as a well-established fact, confirmed by his experience, that the disease is more common in rural than in urban districts, and has observed that even when it has prevailed extensively in a rural district, and has thence been conveyed into a neighboring town, it has not spread in the town. In one town of five thousand inhabitants, diphtheria, when it occurred, prevailed concurrently with typhoid fever or scarlatina, giving rise to the suggestion that all those diseases might originate in a common poison. Mr. Fosbrooke does not agree with other authorities as to the conditions of soil most favorable to the propagation of diphtheria. Generally the disease has been thought to flourish most in damp situations and in connection with damp subsoils. All of his attempts to associate its origin and distribution with any peculiar soil or situation have failed, for he has met it both in villages occupying elevated and airy situations and in low places. The most serious epidemics and the larger number of cases of which he has had personal knowledge have appeared on soils that were "rather gravelly and well drained." With one exception, his experience opposes the idea that houses shut in by trees are more liable to harbor the disease than those which are not surrounded by an abundant vegetation. The fluctuations of diphtheria, when it prevails for any considerable length of time, do not appear to be influenced by changes of season or by variations of weather. Meteorological observations, made with reference to this point, differ widely, and furnish no guide to an opinion. The disease is generally found first to break out in October, and to prevail as an epidemic, when it does so prevail, in the winter months, increasing, as is natural with epidemics, during the earlier months of its course, but without regard to the regularity or irregularity of the season.

 

Anthropology in Russia.—Anthropology has made much progress in Russia. The Imperial Society of the Friends of Natural Science, Anthropology, and Ethnography, founded in 1863, of which Bogdanof is the master-spirit, has done good service in assuming the patronage of investigations among the numerous diverse stocks of whom the Russian nationality is composed, and in encouraging measures to bring the interests of anthropology before the public. The Anthropological Exhibition, which was held at Moscow last summer, had this object prominently in view, and was further intended to promote the establishment of a professorship of anthropology, and of an anthropological museum. The collections exhibited and reported upon embraced skulls, skeletons, relics, prehistoric and modern, and articles of various kinds, illustrating the character, condition, and customs of the ancient and modern inhabitants of the empire. Among the neolithic stone implements from Kazan were hatchets, crossed by a groove in which to fasten the handle, precisely as in the North American hatchets, and arrow-heads, both with and without shafts. Fragments of urns bearing the well-known pack-thread ornament and bronzes of the so-called Tschudic type were shown from the Volga. Filimonof brought from the Caucasus, where he has been digging under the auspices of the society, great bronze whorls, of similar form to those which are met in the Baltic provinces, but larger, fibulæ, precisely like those of the terra mare of Italy, but to which nothing similar has been found between the two places, and Etruscan potteries. These articles are probably of the sixth century b. c., and relics of Italian colonists. A splendidly ornamented bronze hatchet, from the same region, also deserves mention. Filimonof has concluded, from the researches he has made, that the transition from bronze to iron took place in the Caucasus about five hundred years before Christ. Bronze buckles from near Kertch, like those of the Merovingian period in France, were probably Roman. Craniology was fully represented by more than five hundred Kurgan skulls, and by a host of skulls representing about twenty races of Europe and Asia. Among the numerous skeletons were two of Ainos. A skull of the stone age from the government of Vladimir and pieces of other skulls and skeletons found with it are the oldest remains of man yet found in Russia, and the first of the stone age. Professor Inostranzof, of St. Petersburg, has recently found other human remains of that age. The ethnographic department was not so fully represented as the others, but included collections illustrating the various modes of caring for infants, embroideries, articles of household manufacture, models of houses and farm-buildings, musical instruments, hunting, fishing, and farming implements, and rare articles representing the diversified populations of Siberia, the last being contributed by the Imperial Russian Geographical Society of St. Petersburg. This department is richly illustrated in the collection of the Rumyanzof Museum, of Moscow.

 

The Phæodaria.—Professor Ernst Haeckel, at a recent meeting of the Natural History Society of Jena, read a note on the phæodaria, a new group of marine siliceous rhizopods, rich in specific forms and remarkable in many respects, which have hitherto been included in the typical radiolaria, from which, however, they present considerable points of difference. A new light has been thrown upon these beings by the Challenger Expedition, which, besides discovering forms of typical radiolaria corresponding to two thousand species, brought to light a number of deep-sea phæodaria, hitherto entirely unknown. John Murray, in 18*76, described some of the forms of these new species, drawing attention to the extremely delicate and finely fenestrated structure of the large siliceous shells, and to the constant appearance of masses of black-brown pigment which are scattered through the sarcode, outside the central capsule. These animals are usually considerably larger than the other radiolaria, and many of them are visible to the naked eye. They bear a peculiar mass of dark pigment-granules, called pheodium, outside the central capsule, and have, with few exceptions, a well-developed, always extra-capsular, siliceous skeleton, which forms very varied and delicate structures, usually radiating outward in hollow siliceous tubes.

 

Industrial Accidents, etc.—Mr. T. A. Brocklebank suggests that the amount of sickness and death incurred in industrial operations in England, as a direct result of the conditions under which they are carried on, is a subject that demands investigation. In ISTY he compiled tables for use before the House of Lords, which gave returns of deaths and injuries by boilers in mines, on railways, and at factories, with totals for 1873, 1874, 1875, and 1876, of 107,000 men, women, and children; and he estimates, on the basis of the facts contained in these tables, that 500,000 workmen will be killed during the ten years, 1877 to 1886, as follows: in mines, 300,000; on railways, 70,000; in factories, 180,000. Sir Edward Watkin also has made a statement in the House of Commons to the effect that 100,000 persons are killed annually in industrial occupations in England. Facts are cited to show that the accidents that are reported compose only a part of those which take place, and to make it appear probable that Mr. Brocklebank's estimate is a very moderate one.

 

Sewage-Farming.—The Royal Agricultural Society has recently awarded two prizes of one hundred pounds sterling each for the best managed sewage-farm, the one utilizing the sewage of not more, the other that of more than twenty thousand people. Nine farmers competed for the two prizes. The judges stated in their report that there was a very considerable difference, both in the amount of capital engaged upon the several farms, and in the gross returns per acre. The gross returns and the amount of wages paid per acre were greatest in cases where market-gardening was in vogue. It was remarked that a large area of ordinary agricultural land attached to a sewage-farm does not always add to the profit of the undertaking. Statistical tables showing the number of persons living or working on the farms, and the number of children on them, make it appear that the average annual mortality upon them does not exceed three per thousand, and that "sewage-farming is not detrimental to life or health." About one hundred sewage-farms are in operation in England.

 

Habits of the Green Lizard.—Sarah P. Monks has contributed to "The American Naturalist" an interesting study of the habits of two green lizards, or American chameleons, which she has kept in her rooms. The first, a female, came from South Carolina in November, and was kept in a room warmed with a furnace. It was very lively and ran about a great deal during the winter, but paid no attention to the flies till the warm spring-days came, when it greedily devoured them and eagerly lapped water with its tongue. When a male lizard was put in the cage in May, a curious ceremonial courtship took place between the pair, each animal raising itself to the full extent of its forelegs and bowing its head and the forepart of the body in a regular and dignified manner as if it had a hinged joint at the shoulder. Both lizards would scamper off when they found that their actions were observed; and, if a fly came near them, they would dart after it "like a flash of green light." The changes of color in the creatures were frequent and marked, but the observations upon them were contradictory and unsatisfactory. The changes were different in the two specimens: the same causes did not affect them both alike; and the changes came on without regard to the object on which they were placed, or to the amount of light and darkness. They would become green or light-brown when placed in sunlight, but would also assume the same colors in the darkest room. When disturbed they would sometimes become darker, but at other times would not change. The changes were rapid, taking place in from two to eight minutes; and at one time one of the lizards changed from green to light-brown, then back to green again, in five minutes. They would go to sleep as soon as it became dark, and in the gloom of a storm, and would wake again on the appearance of the sun, although they were not exposed to its direct rays. They assumed various positions in sleeping—sometimes, when it was cool, lying close up under a bit of loose bark, sometimes curled in a corner behind a small jar, sometimes stretched out on a limb or along the twigs. When in a crevice or hole, they took any shape that was convenient, but on sticks and twigs they arranged themselves so as to imitate the general form of the branches. The changes of the skin do not appear to depend upon any particular time or season, but upon the general health and growth of the animal. One of the lizards changed twice in seventeen days, the other only four times in fire months. The skin split along the back and the upper sides of the legs, and came off in large fragments. The lizard would seize a bit in his mouth and pull it off as if it were an inverted glove, and would then eat it. The bits of skin that remained around the jaws and eyes seemed to annoy the animal very much. When the tail had been broken off and renewed, as was the case with one of the lizards, the exuviation of that part took place independently of the rest of the body.

 

The Safe Manufacture of Dynamite.—The French Academy of Sciences has recently awarded a prize of twenty-five hundred francs to Messrs. Boutmy and Foucher for introducing new modes of producing nitro-glycerine in quantity, by means of which the manufacture of dynamite has been rendered much safer than it has heretofore been. The old method, in which fuming nitric acid, or a mixture of that substance and sulphuric acid, was made to act on glycerine, and the mass was suddenly immersed in water, often resulted in the production of enough heat to decompose a part of the nitro-glycerine, and occasion a violent explosion in spite of the best refrigerating processes that could be employed. The principle of the new process consists in obviating the greater part of the heat by first engaging the glycerine in a combination with sulphuric acid, which forms a sulpho-glyceric acid, and then destroying this compound slowly by means of nitric acid. Two liquors are prepared in advance—a sulpho-glyceric and a sulpho-nitric liquor (the latter with equal weights of sulphuric and nitric acids). These disengage a considerable amount of heat; they are allowed to cool, and are then combined in such proportions that the reaction takes place slowly. In the old method the nitro-glycerine is separated almost instantaneously, and rises in part to the surface, rendering washing difficult; in the new method it forms in about twenty hours, with a regularity which prevents danger, and goes to the bottom of the vessel, so that it can be washed rapidly. In the works of Messrs. Boutmy and Toucher at Vouges, where the new process has been employed, no life has been lost for six years, and the general health has been excellent.