Popular Science Monthly/Volume 38/November 1890/Notes


It appears to be the belief of some that as man in the savage state has, for the most part, been largely, if not wholly, carnivorous, he will, with the progress of civilization, become entirely vegetarian or use only the products of animals, as eggs and milk, with vegetable food. A vegetable diet has been found very successful in treating kidney troubles and indigestion. In point of economy it is an enormous saving, not only in actual cost to the consumer, but also in land; as of two equal portions of ground, one raising a cereal and the other beef or mutton, the part devoted to the cereal will support ten times as many men as the beef or mutton portion.

In a letter on compressed tea, which recently appeared in the Kew Bulletin, Colonel Alexander Montcrief says that one of the chief advantages claimed for this form of tea is that, being subjected to heavy hydraulic pressure, all the cells are broken, and the constituents of the leaf more completely and easily extracted by the boiling water, thus effecting a considerable saving in the quantity required for a given amount of the beverage. There is also a gain in its greater compactness and portability.

It is said that Iceland is gradually becoming depopulated, owing to the constant emigration of its people to the shores of Canada and the United States. These emigrants send back such favorable accounts of their new home that others quickly follow. It is estimated that twenty thousand natives, nearly one quarter of the whole population, have left the country in the last year. The emigrants are chiefly from the northern and eastern districts, where labor is only carried on under great difficulties, and recent bad harvests have caused much suffering.

The largest plant-fossil in Europe is exhibited at the Berlin Berg-Akademie. It was discovered in 1884 in the coal-mines of Piesberg, and sent to Berlin by the magistrate of Osnabrück. With great difficulty the mass was cut out of the earth in which it was imbedded and carted away. The fossil is a piece of a gigantic ancestor of the ordinary lycopodium of the present day, known as Sigillaria. It consists of a trunk about one yard in diameter, which divides at the bottom into several fork-like, strong roots. The surface of the trunk looks like wood, and shows a graining in the form of long ridges. The bark is still traceable in places in charred-looking remains. The entire fossil, with the exception of the charred pieces of bark, consists of argillite.

Daniel J. Rankin, ex-acting consul at Mozambique and a recent traveler in Africa, read a paper at the January meeting of the Royal Geographical Society on the Chinde River and Zambezi Delta. He points out the importance of cheap and rapid means of communication with civilized markets to the vast tract of country comprised by the Zambezi basin, whose only outlet is through the delta; calls attention to the difficulties attending navigation of the Quillimane and Kongoni ports, the ones now chiefly used; and shows the superiority of the Chinde River in its depth of water and comparative clearness and constancy of channel as a road for import and export.

Sir Morell Mackenzie has recently written upon The Effect of Tobacco-smoking on the Voice. He tells us that most of the leading actors suffer from a relaxed condition of the upper throat, brought on, he believes, entirely by smoking; but actresses are rarely affected in that way. He has noticed the same thing in public speakers and clergymen. He says that for a delicate throat the usual smoke-laden atmosphere of a common railway smoking-car is even worse than the actual use of tobacco. The Oriental hookah is, in Dr. Mackenzie's opinion, the least harmful apparatus, as the smoke, passing through water is cooled before entering the system; and the cigarette, so popular nowadays, is the most harmful.

The people of the island of Sangir keep time by the aid of an hour glass, formed by arranging two bottles neck to neck. The sand runs out in half an hour, when the bottles are reversed. Close by them a line is stretched on which hang twelve sticks marked with notches from one to twelve, with a hooked stick which is placed between the hour last struck and the next one. One of these djaga keeps the time for each village, for which purpose the hours are sounded on a gong by the keeper.