Open main menu

Popular Science Monthly/Volume 37/August 1890/Popular Miscellany

< Popular Science Monthly‎ | Volume 37‎ | August 1890


Instruction by Experimental Methods.—As represented by Prof. J. F. Woodhull to the American Institute of Instruction, the New York College for the Training of Teachers has model classes of pupils in all grades to which apprentice teachers are assigned at stated hours to give experimental instruction in science. In the primary and grammar grades the experiments are performed by the teachers in presence of the pupils, after which the pupils are questioned concerning what they have observed. They are also allowed to examine the objects closely in hand. Familiar, every-day objects, which are convenient for manipulation are used. The purpose is not to load the children with facts, but to arouse their curiosity and beget in them inquiring habits of mind. In the high-school department, systematic scientific instruction is begun for the purpose of developing careful habits of experimenting, observing, and reasoning. Familiar objects or home-made apparatus are preferred for the experiments, both because most of the high schools are not in a position to purchase elaborate apparatus, and because they are believed to be more fit for the purpose. The apparatus in the markets is considered insufficient, "because most pupils of high-school age fail to comprehend the machines, and their minds are confused by them with reference to the principles." The pupils are taught to construct their own apparatus so far as there seems to be educational value in that kind of work; and in most cases such constructions have fulfilled their purpose better than the conventional apparatus. They are not intended to illustrate the apparatus of the markets, or to serve as a cheap substitute for it, but to illustrate scientific principles, for which imitations of "show-case" apparatus are not required. Of course, no attempt is made in this system to teach the whole of science or to cram with facts; but "to show the pupil how to study nature so that through life he may go on to acquire knowledge." Mr. Woodhull's conclusion is that "patience and a love for the work are the most essential qualifications for the teacher; with these and with freedom from unnecessary restraints, however meager other equipments may be, science may readily be taught in the common schools by experimental methods." The American Institute of Instruction substantially approved Mr. Woodhull's position, and resolved that instruction by experimental methods should be given in schools of all grades; in the primary and grammar grades it should take the form of observation lessons calculated to develop the spirit of investigation; and in the high school "it should undertake to give a thorough training in scientific methods of studying nature rather than a comprehensive knowledge of the whole realm of natural science."


Mounds of the Mississippi Basin.—The mounds of the Mississippi basin are described by Mr. T. H. Lewis, of St. Paul, as being of a magnitude and extent calculated to surprise those who have not examined them. There are thousands of them in Mississippi and Arkansas, and probably thousands in Minnesota. The author's own personal surveys in Minnesota now exceed one thousand, and the localities of at least as many more are known. The mounds in Mississippi—in the bottom-lands—are burial-mounds, and in addition to human remains usually contain earthen vessels and pipes of all sizes and shapes, with occasionally flint and stone implements and articles of copper. The clay mounds of Arkansas and of the bluffs along the Mississippi seldom contain any implements or pottery. Temple mounds are always associated with mounds of other forms, and are never isolated. They have approaches or graded roadways built to the summit, and generally have aprons or terraces on their sides. Smaller mounds having the same forms were used for burial purposes. Platform mounds are another class of temple mounds, and have from one to four approaches. Some of them are also known to contain human remains. Of a class of mounds called hearth mounds the purpose is difficult to determine. They hardly ever reach four feet in height, and the hearth is covered with earth from three inches to two feet in depth. The hearths vary in thickness from one and a half to thirteen inches. The low flat mounds of Minnesota and Dakota are often regarded as the remains of dwelling-houses of the aborigines. The theory is that poles were set up and sods were afterward placed upon the outside; and that the poles having rotted away, the structure fell to the center, and in the course of a few years the top became leveled by the accumulation of dust and vegetation, so that a mound was formed. The Indians used the mode of structure described; but it could hardly have been applied in these mounds, for such a structure, having once fallen, would have become an irregular mass with a concave top, and an opening on the side where the entrance had been—presenting a different appearance from the mounds. None of the mounds of Minnesota, in the author's opinion, were suitable for use as the base of pueblos; and he finds no evidence that the large flat mounds of the lower valley were of that character.


The Australasian Scientific Association.—The Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science met in Melbourne early in January. Baron von Mueller was president. The roll of membership included a thousand names, and more than six hundred were in actual attendance. The president's address dealt with the past and future of Australasian science; and the addresses of the presidents of sections were in many cases on subjects of particular interest in Australia. The most important of the committee reports was that on the census of the known minerals of the Australian colonies. A project for establishing and endowing a central biological station at Port Jackson was started. A report was presented on the Polynesian races and Polynesian bibliography. New special committees were appointed to investigate and report on the subjects of wheat-rust; the manner of laying out towns; the preparation of geological maps; the arrangement of museums; the fertilization of figs; Australian tides; and the present state of knowledge of Australasian paleontology. The next meeting is to be held in Christ-church, New Zealand, with Sir James Hector as president and Prof. Hutton as secretary; and the next in Hobart, Tasmania.


An Arizona Squirrel.—A rare squirrel, new to the Territory of Arizona, is described by Mr. Edgar A. Mearns as the round-tailed spermophile (Sermophilus tereticaudus, Baird). It is the most abundant and characteristic mammal of the torrid, sandy, desert region south of the Gila River, where it lives in immense colonies in chambers excavated under the greasewood-roots. Such sites seem to be selected for the sake of the support afforded by the fine roots of the greasewood for the domes of their habitations. Without some such support the light and loose soil would cave in at once. Large, low mounds are formed over the burrows in which many holes are provided for ingress and egress. In some parts of Arizona these mounds are frequently seen in open, grassy places, and are usually large and high. The animals are shy; they sit up erect at the entrance of their burrows, like prairie-dogs, and like them dodge in at the sight of a stranger. When surprised away from home they try to skulk unobserved to their holes, nervously glancing at the observer. But they become less shy when accustomed to the neighborhood of man. Mr. Mearns adds to his description in curiously learned language which becomes expressive when translated, that "although eminently fossorial, this animal is endowed with latent scansorial proclivities, which are brought out by the sight of food in elevated situations. In other words, they will climb for mesquitebeans."


The Circle of Civic Evolution.—The modern, civilized state is developed, in Mr. John A. Taylor's view, as expressed in his address on its Evolution, from the germ that lay dormant in the rude elements of government that existed in the past—as the Cologne Cathedral, completed only a few years since, has been built in exact fulfillment of the conception of its unknown architect, six hundred years ago. Our American commonwealth, based on the idea of government by the governed, expressed at its birth the highest type to which the state had then evolved. This evolution, from all the attempts at government in the past, has been inseparably accompanied and verified by the continual uplifting and expansion of manhood as a type. Now we find that evils have been developed within our system which threaten its existence, and appear to be dragging down "manhood as a type": they are most conspicuously manifested in the cities, but exist through the whole political body. They are very numerous, but may be generalized under the terms corruption and bossism. Public interests are made an affair of trade, and are openly used for private advantage; and no measure, however important and beneficial, can be secured unless it can be made profitable to the ring of practical politicians. Everything has fallen into the hands of the leaders of the great political parties, who manage the parties and the community alike at their will, while the people appear to look on helpless. If the people are competent to govern, as our Constitution supposes, why do they not right matters? Mr. Taylor's answer to this question is not wholly confident; but he suggests that the rapid advance we have gone through in wealth and invention, with our constantly changing environments, have engendered problems of which the framers of our Constitution never dreamed; and that, having delegated our right of choice to the politicians, we have reached an epoch in the evolution of the state when the art and science of government are left in abeyance, and the best thought and effort of our time are given to other pursuits. Yet he has hope for our government, and offers the suggestion that "at some time, perhaps in the far-distant future, the state will have evolved into an entity of purely delegated as distinguished from representative powers"—which will look much like a return to monarchy and lords.


Judge-made Law.—Mr. Rufus Sheldon, in his paper on the Evolution of Law, argues that so much of the law as is defined by the decisions of the courts is made by judges. "That judges make law," he says, "is not explicitly stated in the text-books. In fact, it is not generally admitted that they have any part in law-making; the theory being that there is somewhere a store of ready-made law, consisting of rules and precedents, where the judges somehow find what they want after the lawyers have searched for it in vain, and then expound and apply it with plenty of comment and obiter dicta, but no addition." But it often occurs that, if any determination of right or liability is made, it must be made by the court; as must happen in every instance where judgment is given in a case different from any to be found in the reports—and just in proportion to the difference of the circumstances from those of any previous case is the amount of new law made. So the law increases, following civilization as it advances, till at last the total becomes an enormous bulk of judgemade laws; the result of the progressive deduction of rules and principles by a process of distinguishing by small variation, variations from previous cases similar, but not identical; so that, when a decision is made, some increment is added to the body of the law, or substitution of new for old is made, even to such a degree that at last, by the slow process of disintegration, the old law is reversed. "A distinctive characteristic of legislation is that it is supreme over all other methods of law-making. Its advantage is that it can make the will of the people effective much more directly and expeditiously than the other agencies. Many are the cases in which legislation has swept away the cobwebs of legal subtlety, simplified technical laws, and cleared from the path of progress the obstacles of precedent and form."


Tests and Characteristics of Rabies.—Rabies, says Dr. Armand Ruffer, is a specific infectious disease, the first origin of which is unknown. But we know that nowadays it never occurs spontaneously, and that, wherever it appears, it may be traced to the bite of a rabid animal or the accidental introduction of rabic virus through a scratch or cut. Climate seems to have no influence, or very little, on its production. That heat has little to do with it is shown by the fact that it occurs in cold as well as in hot climates. In temperate climates, cases occurring among dogs appear to be as common in winter as in summer. Cruelty may also be excluded as a cause of rabies. Dogs may be teased and provoked to bite in anger, but, though mad dogs, they are not rabid dogs. The chief propagator of the disease is the dog; but he does not always, at first, exhibit the symptoms regarded as characteristic of it. He is not usually afraid of water, and the first symptoms, instead of signs of fury, usually simulate an increase of affectionate sentiments. Even at this stage, however, the saliva already contains the virus, and is dangerous. Later on, the victim becomes sullen and morose, with a very characteristic bark, biting every dog he comes across, and frequently runs away, snapping at animals or men as he meets them, till he dies exhausted, perhaps sixty or seventy miles from home. The dumb variety of rabies, which is characterized by the symptoms of paralysis, is equally common and dangerous with the furious form. The virus is the same, but gives rise to different symptoms. Rabies is also propagated by wolves where they are numerous; and it may be met with in foxes, horses, sheep, and cattle which have been bitten by rabid animals, but is seldom communicated from them. The cat is dangerous, but not so dangerous as the dog, because her disposition is to seclude herself. Some erroneous notions prevail as to the manifestations of the disease in man. As a matter of fact, in many cases the patient is calm and conscious, and attacks of excitement are rare. The foaming at the mouth is caused by inability to swallow the saliva. The changed voice is a result of dryness and spasms of the throat. A patient may occasionally bite the attendants during a paroxysmal attack of fury, but in the majority of cases he does not try to injure those near him, and hardly ever tries to bite. Sometimes there are no attacks of excitement, while the affectionate sentiments are often greatly exaggerated. The supposed fear of water is really only an inability to drink, the reaction of which may induce spasms of the throat. The majority of persons who die of hydrophobia die within four months, and ninety-nine per cent of them within a year, after the introduction of the poison. Cases of persons who recover after the first symptoms of the disease appear are extremely rare, if there are any. Of remedies there are none that are reliable, unless M. Pasteur's comes from the test triumphant.


Interesting Geological Formations in Kansas.—The March number of the Bulletin of the Washburn College (Kansas) Laboratory of Natural History consists of a paper by F. W. Cragin on the Cheyenne Sandstone and the Neocomian Shales of Kansas. The Cheyenne sandstone, resting unconformably on the Triassic of a few counties of southern Kansas, is so called for the present in default of precise knowledge of its stratigraphic and paleontological equivalency. It contains fossils related to those of the Purbeck dirt-beds of England. It is overlaid by the Neocomian, which extends also into other counties, and is distinguished by its horizon of dark, slate-colored shale. This formation was first remarked by Prof. Jules Marcou in the Indian Territory some thirty-five years ago, but has received little attention, and is still very imperfectly known. Its thickness is variable, but probably nowhere exceeds one hundred and fifty feet. It is the same as the formation called by some geologists Comanche; but the term Neocomian is preferred on account of its ref erability to a European chronological equivalent.


The Work of a Complete State University.—The Coming of Age of State Universities is the title of the charter-day address of President T. C. Chamberlin, on the twenty-first anniversary of the University of Nebraska, in which the work of the complete State University is delineated. Such an institution will educate all its constituents in all varieties of useful knowledge—with a view to the common rather than to the individual good; it will endeavor to develop scholarship in its highest and most refined expressions, as well as in its more material and commercial phases—not for the sake of the scholar as such, but for the ultimate refinement and elevation of the common life of the whole people; it will promote a generous spirit of inquiry, a trained habit of investigation, an attitude of impartiality toward evidence, and a supreme regard for truth; will endeavor to serve all other parts of the public educational system by furnishing fresh knowledge, amply trained teachers, and the inspiration of higher educational opportunities; and will encourage, as an inherent factor and ultimate end of its efforts, those sentiments of regard for the common interests, those patriotisms of every-day life, that constitute the soul of superior citizenship.


Four Commencement Days—In human life, says Dr. J. M. Bodine, in a valedictory address to the graduating class of the Medical Department of the University of Louisville, are four great commencement days—when we begin to be, when we begin to learn, when we begin to practice, and when we enter the existence beyond the grave. On the third of these days the author advises his students, if business does not come at once—"devote yourself to reading, and use every opportunity to do something professional. . . . See every operation, autopsy, and pathological specimen you can. Study botany in the fields, chemistry in the laboratory, and look into the invisible with your microscope. If seen thus engaged, the people will credit you with seriousness in your profession, and your employment, without patients, will be your best advertisement. . . . The route to preferment does not lie through the salons of society, the village sports, and is far away from the drink-shop. By complacency in yielding to the social and sportive, you will get the name of 'good fellow,' but when life is trembling in the parted scales sobriety and skill are at a premium. You must learn to labor and to wait. But, while waiting, work for knowledge and watch for opportunity. Win by application; woo by merit. . . . Be able to do something better than those around you, and the call to do it is certain."


Mountains of Arizona.—The region of the San Francisco and Mogollon Mountains of Arizona and New Mexico, as described by Dr. H. H. Rusby, comprises an elevated, open, somewhat barren table-land; a still more elevated forest belt; and a low, desert, mostly sandy plain. The table-land is traversed by a number of profound canons, with precipitous walls a mile or more in height, and by many others of less depth, and is a never-ceasing source of surprises to Eastern visitors. "During the greater part of the year the surface is dry and desolate, of an ashy-gray color; but immediately upon the occurrence of the annual rains it changes with marvelous rapidity. Within three days after the first important showers, a distinct tinge of green is perceptible. In a week the surface is of an almost uniform light green; and in from ten days to two weeks it presents an appearance of great luxuriance. From this time on, until the occurrence of killing frosts, it is a paradise for the collector." The San Francisco Forest consists almost wholly of the Pinus ponderosa, and is one of the most beautiful forests in existence, its effect being heightened by contrast with the neighboring deserts, from which it must be entered. It is also a very important timber resource. The San Francisco Mountains, in which it rises, have an elevation of about nine thousand feet, or some twenty-five hundred to three thousand feet above the general level, and give strikingly apparent evidence of their volcanic origin. Everywhere through the forest we encounter beautiful open parks, from a few acres to several miles in area; and in these the permanent water-supplies are usually found. The soil underlying the forest consists, for the most part, to a great depth, of loose volcanic rock, upon the surface of which no stream can form a permanent bed. The water-courses, therefore, are far beneath the surface, but reappear occasionally to form living pools of water, often a hundred yards or more in diameter. But during the heavy rains even this porous soil is not sufficient to absorb the entire fall of water, and it runs off through the hollows, washing out the loose material to form ravines and small canons.


Ancient Peruvian Cloths.—Some textile fabrics of ancient Peru, in the collection of Mr. E. A. Barber, of Philadelphia, as described by Mr. W. Holmes, attest the high standard of taste and mechanical art which that people had reached. Most of the cloths and ornamented garments were wrapped around the dead, and may now be unfolded from the mummies. Others are contained in rolls, baskets, nets, and vases. The articles were chiefly of wearing apparel, and included caps, richly colored bands, and pendent ornaments for the head; mantles, shirts, girdles, sashes, and a variety of wraps for the body; braided sandals for the feet; blankets, hangings for doors and walls, shelter-cloths, ceremonial fabrics and banners, mats, baskets, bags, slings, nets, and other articles. Elaborate ornamental figures were woven into the cloths, and many were furnished with textile appendages. Some of the articles were woven whole, but it was customary to weave a garment in parts which were afterward stitched together. There was no cutting and fitting, or "weaving by the yard." All the specimens are purely American in character, with no suggestions of Spanish or other foreign influence. Animal and vegetable forms appear in the decorations, but animal forms predominate. The colors of the figures usually bore no reference to the colors of nature, but were chosen for their effect in the decoration. Great cleverness was shown in introducing the irregular forms of nature into geometric outlines without destroying them. A human figure "decked in plumes and clothed in garments of elegant patterns and varied colors" introduced in; "a magnificent piece of gobelins," "is a triumph of skill and taste." In many pieces the figures were shown as transparencies when held up to the light. The people were exceedingly fond of fringes, "and some of their tasseled garments are marvels of elaboration." Great skill was shown in the manufacture of very attenuated articles, such as bands and cords. Animal figures were woven or knitted in the round, and colored in fair and close imitation of nature. Embroideries have been found of excellent quality and most pleasing design. Devices were used in dyeing, by means of which spots arranged in simple patterns were left uncolored; and painting on fabrics was extensively practiced.


Nursing as against Artificial Feeding.—Soxhlet remarks that, according to Lister's experiments, cow's milk, while in the udder, is free from those organisms which cause its decomposition after milking. The substances which cause fermentation of milk come from the outside, from the air or from matters with which it comes in contact. So, likewise, human milk, while in the mother's breast, contains no generators of fermentation. By suckling, the mother's milk is transmitted almost directly into the digestive organs of the child. In natural nursing, then, the child is fed germless milk; but, by the artificial method, with milk tainted by substances causing fermentation, and which frequently has already entered into a state of decomposition. The difference in the nature of this food as directly and as indirectly given is illustrated by the fact that calves fed from the pail, whether on the milk of the mother cow or on mixed milk, frequently suffer from diarrhœa during the first weeks, the best remedy against which is to allow them to suck the cow directly. We are brought to the conclusion that, within certain limits, the substance of the food is of comparatively less importance than the conditions and manner of feeding and the degree of pollution through germs of fermentation.


Requisites of a Real Education.—In an address before the Teachers' Association of the McGill Normal School, Montreal, Prof. Wesley Mills, explaining his educational creed, assumed that the need of knowledge, or realization, is infinitely greater than the needs of expression, as witness the whole creation below man. An individual may be educated, though unable to read a sentence, write a line, or add up a column of figures. As a matter of fact, many men have become eminent among their fellows who could not do any of these things. Why has this been so? The reason is plain. These men understood the forces of nature, though they could not in all cases have stated their knowledge in our conventional forms of expression. The art and science of expression should be taught in schools, but should be subordinated to the acquisition of the knowledge of things. The moral and social nature of man should receive greater attention. The teaching of religious doctrines and the observance of religious forms are not practical in the public schools, but ethics by precept and example should be prominent from the day a child enters the school. A reverence for all kinds of truth should ever be impressed. Only one system of education—the Kindergarten—has ever met the nature of the child even fairly. The laboratory of the college is only the modified Kindergarten. Why is not the public-school teaching more like one of these? Because we have mistaken forms for knowledge and words for things, to a lamentable extent. "As our schools are now constituted, I must deliberately declare it as my conviction that they tend rather to quench than to excite a love for nature and a real knowledge of things, and to disgust young minds thirsting for a contact with realities. . . . I have known children that did not go to school till seven years of age, who had prior to that period learned to be good observers of what was going on around them, lose all love for natural objects after being at school a couple of years; and I do also know to my sorrow that many of the young men that enter our colleges neither know how nor care to observe. They prefer not to look Nature directly in the face, but try to see her through the medium of books, lectures, etc., and for this our school system is largely responsible." One of the remedies proposed for this evil is the simplification of the too ambitious school programmes. Abstract subjects, like history and grammar, should be left for future years. They take up the time that might be devoted to, developing the intelligence through cultivation of observation and stirring the mind with the results of the exercise of the senses. Childhood is not the period of life for developing abstract notions, but for acquiring concrete ones. While in the abstract it is true that a knowledge of French, Latin, Greek, etc., may help to make one a better English scholar, the idea that an amount of these languages that would be of any value can be taught to the average pupil, without the neglect of other important work, is a delusion. The school should aim to enable the child to speak and write its mother-tongue readily, clearly, and elegantly. This will not be accomplished by teaching English grammar or foreign languages, but by contact with good models and practice. "Time is now frittered away on so many subjects that nothing is well done, and with the most disastrous effects on the habits of the learner. Our schools are dreadfully bookish."


Scientific Missions in the Olden Time.—The institution of missions abroad with scientific aims began in France, according to Dr. Henry, practically in the reign of Francis I. Among the earlier ventures of this class was that of the apothecary to Henri IV, who went all over the globe in search of the peculiar products of each country, especially medicinal and food plants. Earlier than he was the explorer who went to Brazil to study dyeing-woods. Among the most famous of the expeditions were those of Condamine, Dombey, Bougainville, and La Perouse. There are still in the archives of the Ministry of the Marine copies of the instructions given to travelers and navigators in past centuries—"positively models of their kind, which could not be followed too closely now." A botanical collection made by Paul Lucas, in the reign of Louis XIV, is mentioned by Prof. Bureau as still existing in the Museum of Natural History in Paris. Tournefort was sent by this king on a botanical expedition to the Levant, with very precise instructions—among others, to collect and observe the plants mentioned by the ancients. He formed a complete herbarium; and the artist Aubriet, who accompanied him, brought back a large collection of colored sketches. Both of these are preserved in the museum.


Primitive Marital Customs.—The proverbial hostility of a man or woman to a mother-in-law may be a survival from a social custom of our primitive ancestors similar to one which exists now among uncivilized peoples. This is the quaint and somewhat comic point of barbaric etiquette between husbands and their wives' relatives, and vice versa; they may not look at one another, much less speak, and they even avoid mentioning one another's names. Among the avoidance customs cited by Mr. E. B. Tylor, in a recent essay, is that described by John Tanner, the adopted Ojibwa, who tells of his being taken by a friendly Assinaboin into his lodge, and seeing how, at his companion's entrance, the old father-inlaw and mother-in-law covered their heads with their blankets till their son-in-law got into the compartment reserved for him, where his wife brought him his food. Another comes from Australia. Mr. Howitt relates that he inadvertently told a native to call his mother-in-law, who was passing at some little distance; but the black fellow sent the order round by a third party, saying reproachfully to Mr. Howitt, "You know I could not speak to that old woman." This custom is not a rare one, for Mr. Tylor finds it to be practiced by sixty-six peoples in various regions, or more than one sixth of the peoples of the world, and he points out a relation between it and the customs as to place of residence after marriage. Another odd practice of certain savages is that of naming the parent from the child. Thus when Moffat, the missionary, was in Africa, he was spoken to and of, according to native usage, as Ra-Mary—i. e., father of Mary. Among the Kasias of India, Colonel Yule found the same rule; for instance, there being a boy named Bobon, his father was known as Pabobon. There are above thirty peoples spread over the earth who thus name the father, and, though less often, the mother. Mr. Tylor finds this practice to be closely connected with the custom of the husband residing in his wife's family. The couvade, which has been a favorite subject of ridicule for centuries, consists in the father, on the birth of his child, making a ceremonial pretence of standing in a relation to it similar to that of the mother. He is nursed and taken care of, and performs such rites as fasting and abstaining from certain kinds of food or occupation, lest the newborn should suffer thereby. This custom is known in the four quarters of the globe. How sincerely it is still accepted appears in a story of Mr. Im Thurn, who on a forest journey in British Guiana noticed that one of his Indians refused to help haul the canoes, and on inquiry found that the man's objection was that a child must have been born to him at home about this time, and he must not exert himself so as to hurt the infant. In the Mediterranean district the couvade has prevailed even into modern times. In the Basque country, Zamacolo, in 1818, mentions as but a little time since that the mother used to get up and the father take the child to bed. "Knowing the tenacity of these customs," says Mr. Tylor, "I should not be surprised if traces of couvade might be found in that district still." He accepts the interpretation of Bachonan that the couvade was originally an acknowledgment of paternity.


Ancient Men of the Potomac.—Prof. Otis T. Mason's survey of the archæology of the Potomac region covers that part of the valley which is situated below the rapids of the several tributary streams that mark the limits of tide-water. In the fresh-water portion of the lower Chesapeake drainage—the region between salt water and the cataracts—stone implements are found in the greatest profusion. It is easy to account for this when it is remembered that the country furnished abundant natural fruit supply. To one accustomed to exploration among the mounds of the Ohio Valley or in the West Indies, the stone implements are in appearance disappointing. While here and there polished axes are found, the polished implement is the exception, not the rule, especially on higher ground. Again, comparing the chipped implements with those from regions abounding in flint, obsidian, and the finer varieties of the silex group, a large collection of them has a somewhat rude appearance. All this is due, however, to the material. The ancient Potomac dweller was restricted to bowlders of quartzite found in quantities inexhaustible all over his area, to veins of milky quartz outcropping here and there, and to an occasional quarry of soapstone. Types of pottery and impressions of woven fabrics contribute to our knowledge of the degree of advancement which the people had reached, and cast light on the tribal distributions. The most serious problem that faces the archaeologist in this area has been proposed by Mr. Thomas Wilson, in the evidence of the existence of two periods of occupation—the one Palæolithic and ancient, and the other Neolithic and modern. While the camp-sites along the water-courses yield abundance of finely chipped arrowheads, spear-heads, knives, polished implements, soapstone vessels, and pottery, the hills back from the river are wanting in the smaller, finer forms, but abound in coarser, flaked artefacta, mixed with broken implements and spalls.


The American Association.—The thirtyninth meeting of the American Association will be held in Indianapolis, beginning Wednesday, August 20th. The general sessions and the meetings of the sections will be held in the new and commodious State-House, where also will be the offices of the Local Committee and of the Permanent Secretary. The hotel headquarters of the Association will be at the Denison House, and the preliminary meeting of the Council will be held there on Tuesday, the 19th. Interest will be added to this meeting by the fact that it will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the organization of the Association of Geologists and Naturalists, the parent of the American Association. The sessions will continue till Tuesday evening, the 26th, and a meeting of the Council will be held Wednesday, the 27th; Saturday, the 23d, will be given to excursions; and the excursions, after the close of the meeting, will extend to August 30th.

The officers-elect for the meeting of 1890 are:

President.—George L. Goodale, Cambridge, Mass.

Vice-Presidents.—A, Mathematics and Astronomy—S. C. Chandler. B, Physics—Cleveland Abbe. C, Chemistry—R. B. Warder. D, Mechanical Science and Engineering—James E. Denton. E, Geology and Geography—John C. Branner. F, Biology—C. S. Minot. H, Anthropology—Frank Baker. I, Economic Science and Statistics—J. Richards Dodge.

Permanent Secretary.—G. W. Putnam.

General Secretary.—H. Carrington Bolton.

Secretary of the Council.—James Loudon.

Secretaries of the Sections.—A, Wooster W. Beman; B, W. Leconte Stevens; C, W. A. Noyes; D, M. E. Cooley; E, Samuel Calvin; F, John M. Coulter; H, Joseph Jastrow; I, S. Dana Horton.

Treasurer.—William Lilly.

Auditors.—Henry Wheatland, Thomas Meehan.


A Papuan Bridge.—A native suspension bridge, crossing the Yanapa River, is described by Sir William MacGregor, British Administrator of New Guinea, as being, considering its locality and the primitive situation of the inland natives of the district, a remarkable structure. Advantage is taken of the narrowing of the river by the projection of a rocky point, so that the bridge is only about seventy yards long. At one end it is chiefly supported by a large banyan-tree, whence it starts at an elevation of about fifty feet above the pool below. It descends then in mid-stream to about twelve or fifteen feet from the water, and rises to about twenty feet on the right bank. It is then suspended to a tree not strong enough to hold it firmly. The tree is, therefore, supplemented by a post put in the ground, and this is again strengthened by a cross-bar against the tree, fixed by stays extending backward to trees behind. The material of the structure is rattan cane. Fifteen canes are used to form supports, those not long enough to cross the river having been built up by knotting. The floor of the bridge is formed of four of these canes. Above the floor are two "guard lines" on each side at intervals of two feet six inches and two feet three inches, kept in position by split cane worked in a kind of basket-fashion. The whole would present, in transverse-section, nearly the shape of a somewhat rounded V about five feet high and three and a half feet wide at the top. The top strands are kept apart by a cross-stick, the ends of which are tied to the top of each strand. Suitable platform approaches have been built at the ends, and the whole structure is strong and graceful.


Fine Art in the Workshop.—In a discussion of the relation of the fine arts to the applied arts, Mr. Edward C. Robins insists that the workshop is the place for applying those principles of beauty in art which are not taught there, but may be taught in the technical school, and which are necessary to give the worker the intelligence required to enable him to profit by the opportunities which the workshop alone adequately supplies to the handicraftsman. To secure the inculcation of these principles the natural and instinctive love of children for imagery, for stones, for penciling and coloring, for deft fingering should never cease to be cultivated; and every school should teach drawing as it teaches reading, singing, or ciphering. The free use of the pencil is of incalculable value in every sphere of life. Elementary knowledge is not enough, and the process should be carried on till proficiency results; and this can not be in the arts connected with architecture unless it culminates in complete mastery of decorative design and drawing from natural forms and the living model, as well as the practice of geometry and perspective. The pre-eminence of France in art generally, and its application to industry, seems to have resulted from the recognition of this important preliminary training.


Local Magnetism and Geological Structure.—The Relation between the Geological Constitution and the Magnetic State of the United Kingdom was discussed in a paper at the British Association, by Prof. A. W. Rückes and T. E. Thorpe. Having noticed certain abnormal variations in declination depending on the geological character of the district as engendering local or regional disturbing forces, the authors outlined two principal theories which had been proposed to account for the phenomena. Many igneous rocks and wholly basaltic rocks contain magnetic oxide of iron, and the deviations of the needle may be explained by the presence of such rocks, either visible on the surface or concealed beneath it. The other explanation associates the deflections of the needle with disturbances of the earth's currents of electricity produced by irregularities in the geological constitution of the country, especially with geological faults. The authors were of the opinion that on the whole the theory of the action of magnetic rocks agrees best with the observed facts; and they showed that the United Kingdom can be divided into a number of magnetic districts, in which the directions of the disturbing forces are evidently closely connected with the geological constitution.


The Eyes and Headaches.—Headaches are usually associated with disorders of the system or of important organs. It is pointed out, however, by Dr. J. J. Chisholm, in a paper on Persistent Headaches and how to cure them, that a large number of head discomforts occur in which no acute inflammatory condition exists, and no fault can be found with the general health. In many of these cases, especially in such as are relieved by stopping work, the cause of the disorder may be traced to the eye. This may be the case even when no pain is felt in the eye itself, and where no weakness of vision has been detected. The true headache eye is known as an astigmatic one, or one in which the light, through defective change of the lenses, fails to be concentrated to a point on the retina. It is a frequent product of the schools as they are now managed. Aside from abandoning the use of the eyes, which is impossible, the only remedy for the astigmatic headaches is found in wearing suitably chosen glasses.


Musical Visions.—The story is told in Nature of a young woman who has distinct visions of various objects at the sound of different musical instruments. The playing of the oboe calls to her eye a white pyramid or obelisk running into a sharp point, the proportions of which vary with the qualities of the note. All the notes of the cello, the high notes of the bassoon, trumpet, and trombone, and the low notes of the clarionet and viola suggest a flat undulating ribbon of strong white fibers. The tone of the horn calls up a succession of white circles of graduated size, overlapping one another. The circle and the ribbon float past her horizontally, but the point of the obelisk seems to come at her. In an orchestra, when the violins strike up, after the wind band has been prominent for a time, she sees often a shower of bright white dust or sand. If she knows the scoring of a piece well, the various effects slightly precede the instrument they belong to; but the objects are vague and faint till the sound begins. Sometimes, if an oboe passage has an intense or yearning character, the white point comes so near her, and moves so rapidly, that she thinks it must wound her.


Who Should study Chemistry.—In an article in which it is shown what small remuneration is obtained for ordinary chemical work in England, the editor of The Chemical News says: "It must not, however, be supposed that we are seeking to dissuade the young from the study of chemistry altogether. To three classes, who we would fain hope are becoming more numerous, we must recommend it most strongly. In the first place, to all who aim at reaching something higher than a mere board-school grade of mental culture, we should recommend it, quite irrespective of possible material benefits, as a means of intellectual training. Chemistry teaches us the important arts of close and accurate observation, and of drawing correct inferences from the facts recognized. These important arts can never be mastered by the most prolonged study of classics and mathematics. Hence, if we regard education as intellectual discipline rather than the mere absorption of a number of facts, we shall find some one of the branches of natural and physical science absolutely essential and indispensable. And under most circumstances chemistry will prove the most appropriate subject. Another class which we should like to see largely recruited consists of men in independent circumstances who have the leisure needed for taking in hand those many scientific problems which are often neglected because they are not immediately remunerative. Such men too commonly waste their time in dissipation, in the pursuit of more wealth, or in making mischief. Now, if they possess the needful ability, we. had much rather see them at work in the laboratory. The last class to whom we would especially recommend a thorough study of chemical principles are those who are looking forward to employment in the chemical arts, whether as proprietors, managers, foremen, etc. It is a misfortune when men who occupy such positions depend merely upon rule of thumb and traditional recipes. If these three classes do what we believe is their duty, our national manufactures and our national habits of thought will alike undergo a needed improvement."


Marriage Ages in England.—For the last seventeen years the persons who have married in England have been older each year. In 1873 the men who married averaged 25·6 years of age, and the women 24·2; in 1888 the averages were respectively 26·3 and 24·7 years. The mean age at marriage in the professional and independent classes is seven years more advanced for men and four years more advanced for women than among miners—in fact, generally speaking, the higher the class the later the age at which marriage is contracted. These results were presented to the Royal Statistical Society in a recent paper by Dr. William Ogle, who said further that more persons remain permanently celibate in the upper than in the working classes. He had found that fewest men abstained altogether from matrimony among shopkeepers, to whom wives were almost a necessity. Next to them came the mechanics and laborers, while the professional and independent class had a proportion of permanent bachelors far above the rest.


Healthful Walls and Ceilings.—A requisite to the healthful condition of ceilings and walls, according to Prof. R. C. Kedzie, is the preservation of their respiratory quality, or of a degree of porosity that will permit a free transpiration of air through them. While this exists unimpaired, impurities lodging upon them are naturally consumed, and they remain clean and wholesome; whatever tends to obstruct transpiration promotes the accumulation of impurities. For this reason, even paint, though it may be intrinsically harmless, is objectionable. Paper is positively objectionable, because itself collects impurities and retains them; the substances with which it is prepared and decorated do the same; and the paste with which it is attached responds to all dampness and atmospheric influences, and readily becomes moldy. Kalsomine is faulty, because it is prepared with glue, and that, besides stopping the pores in the plastering (or "strangling the wall"), is liable to decay. No wall coating can be more healthful than a lime-wash. But, since that is inconvenient on account of its rubbing off, an excellent substitute is recommended by Mr. M. B. Church in calcined plaster of Paris, which hardens at once, forming a fixed shell of perfect porosity.