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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 41/June 1892/Popular Miscellany

< Popular Science Monthly‎ | Volume 41‎ | June 1892

POPULAR MISCELLANY.

Possibilities of Wheat-raising.—Within twenty years, according to a bulletin of the State Agricultural Experiment Station, the area annually sown to wheat in Ohio has increased from an average of 1,800,000 acres during the eighth to 2,500,000 acres during the ninth decade. This area represents twelve per cent of the area in farms within the State; but several counties are sowing annually from eighteen to twenty and even twenty-five per cent of their farm-lands to wheat. A further increase in acreage is anticipated from the clearing away of more forest and the reclamation of waste lands by drainage, so that it will be possible to devote 3,000,000 acres to wheat without interfering with any other agricultural interest. Such an increase, at the present rate of production, would represent an annual crop of 40,000,000 bushels. But it is not to be supposed that Ohio farmers will rest content with a yield of only thirteen bushels of wheat per acre. The northern third of the State has increased its average yield within forty years by nearly three bushels, and the middle third by from one to two bushels, and it is reasonable to expect a further increase within the next forty years. At the average already reached in Summit County, the whole State would produce about 60,000,000 bushels, or bread for twelve million persons. What is true of Ohio is true, to a greater or less extent, of the entire winter-wheat belt of North America. The area now sown to wheat in this region may be expanded largely without infringing upon other productions, and the rate of yield may and will be very materially increased by better husbandry, including an intelligent use of manures and fertilizers, and more thorough drainage. The profitable culture of wheat on the steep hillsides of southern Ohio appears to be hopeless. The great problem before the grower in the central belt of counties is winter-killing, but it may be partially solved by under-draining and the intelligent use of clover and manures. The influences are more generally favorable to wheat culture in the northern counties than elsewhere in the State. A general improvement in the methods of agriculture appears to have contributed more largely to the increase of the wheat crops than the use of commercial fertilizers.

 

Distribution of Diphtheria.—A paper by Dr. Samuel W. Abbott, Secretary of the State Board of Health, on the Distribution of Diphtheria in Massachusetts, brings out some curious results from an examination of the conditions in the several parts of the State in which the disease has prevailed during the past eighteen years. The town which suffered relatively most of all was Florida, a hilly town of small population, situated over the Hoosac Tunnel. Next to it was Spencer, an interior town of Worcester County, having a comparatively dense population (7,466 in 1880), mostly engaged in the shoe manufacture. The third town in the list was Freetown, with 1,329 inhabitants in 1880, adjoining Fall River, and situated on low and sandy ground. Other towns that suffered greatly were Adams, Williamstown, and Hancock, on high land; Webster, a manufacturing town on comparatively low land; Ayer, and Nantucket. Four towns had no deaths from diphtheria during the period under consideration. They are all small towns, distant from railroads, and not visited by the general public. Dividing the towns and cities according to the density of their population, the author found that the average annual death-rate from diphtheria and croup in ninety-two densely settled towns and cities was 11·39 per 10,000 of the population, while that of two hundred and fifty-four rural or sparsely settled towns was 6·53 per 10,000 for the same period. Out of the twenty-eight cities, twenty, including all of the most populous, except Fall River, had a death-rate from diphtheria and croup higher than the average of the State. Dividing the counties into three groups—those in which there were, respectively, 8/100 of an acre, 1·4 acres, and 4·8 acres to each person, the corresponding rates of mortality from diphtheria and croup were 12·7, 10·2, and 8·8 annually for every 10,000 persons. The relation of certain railway lines to the diphtheria death-rate is worthy of note. It was comparatively high in the greater number of cities and towns traversed by the Boston and Albany Railroad—a leading road for traffic, carrying large numbers of passengers, and having many stations; was less upon the line of the Fitchburg road, which is of about the same length but does less business; and still less upon the line of the more recently built Massachusetts Central road. The term diphtheria first appeared in the registration reports of the State in 1858. The number of deaths assigned to it increased rapidly till 1863, when 1,420 were registered. There was then a rapid decline to 251 in 1867, after which the annual number continued nearly uniform (about 275) for seven years, when it rose again to 2,610 in 1876 and 2,734 in 1877. The census of 1890 gave the number of deaths as 32,716. The diphtheria death-rate bore no relation to the general death-rate, except during the period from 1862 to 1867. In 1872, when the general mortality-rate was at its highest point and infectious diseases were generally very prevalent, the diphtheria death-rate was far below the mean, and in 1876 and 1877, when the general death-rate was near the mean, the diphtheria death-rate was at its highest point. The author concludes, further, that diphtheria is eminently contagious; that it is infectious by direct exposure and through indirect media, but less so than some other diseases, such as small-pox and scarlet fever; that overcrowding, faulty ventilation, and filthy conditions favor its spread; that the direct influence of plumbing and transmission through public and private water-supplies is not proved; that its propagation is favored by soil moisture, damp cellars, and general dampness of houses; and that the poison may remain dormant in houses for a long period.

 

Scientific Observation of Children.—In a paper on this subject addressed primarily to mothers, Mrs. Helen Adler has laid out a plan of work of considerable scope, and calling for the exercise of careful judgment. Mothers, the author says, "must first of all learn to appreciate the value of true scientific observation, must train themselves to observe correctly, methodically. They must humbly learn that their own powers of appreciation are worthless without the strict selection of valuable facts, the subordination of what is interesting and delightful to them to the universally interesting and profitable. . . . Method, strict, logical method, is the first desideratum; then vigilant observation, veracity, discrimination, and ingenuity in the study of the child. Baby ways are charming and irresistible; they will be no less so when an attempt is made to discover the order of progress that dwells in them." The development of language alone is mentioned as offering a fascinating field of observation; the study of the baby will and its evolution another; and the psychic life of the child will seem somewhat nearer to us, the growth of its faculties a little more clearly revealed, if we trace the record of their development day by day. Later in life comes the development of the character of the child as a social being. A practical direction is given to these observations by appending to them a classified schedule of the points to which attention may be directed.

 

Olives and Olive Oil.—The olive is cultivated on about seventy thousand acres in the department of the Alps Maritimes, France, and yields a revenue of more than two million dollars a year. Two species of the tree are described by our consul at Nice as growing in the south of France: the oleaster, or wild olive, which has a kind of thorn and very short leaves, and produces only a few small berries, which appear to be proof against insect enemies; and the sativa, or cultivated olive, which produces a large fruit, and is known in several varieties. The olive tree flowers every year; but, while some growers advocate an attempt to gain a yearly crop, the majority are content to try to get a good crop every two years. Olives to be preserved green are plucked in September; those destined for oil, from November till the following May; but the best results to crop and tree seem to follow harvesting near mid-winter when the olive is black; while oil made from olives gathered as late as February and March is preferred for its keeping properties. The mill in use at the present day to crush the olives differs but little from those which have been used for centuries. A mill has lately been invented which, as it crushes the pulp, extracts the stone and throws it out, thus allowing the pulp, the true virgin oil, to be obtained from the press without any admixture of that obtained from the stone or kernel. To prepare virgin oil, olives are taken, free from blemish, when only three quarters ripe, slightly crushed, with care that the seed be not touched by the millstone, then placed in a heap so arranged that the oil shall run out of itself and be collected. Oil thus prepared is greenish, has an exquisite perfume, and can be kept for many years. A second quality of oil is extracted by the aid of water; and after all the usual means of extracting the oil from the pulp have been employed, ten per cent of oil can still be obtained by using bisulphide of carbon. After the oil is extracted, the skins and refuse are employed in heating boilers; the muddy substance found at the bottom of the most inferior quality of oil is used as manure; and the broken stones, or grignons, make an excellent fuel.

 

The Pace of Mind.—The appearance of a new quickly calculating man, Jacques Inandi, a Piedmontese, in Paris, has suggested the inquiry, What is the nature of the power that gives men of this kind their remarkable faculty? The Spectator suggests that such cases are abnormal instances of the difference in pace which we all know exists between the working of different and even of equal minds. "Everybody who has studied his acquaintance at all," it says, "knows that this difference is very great; that one man can comprehend an interrogation in half the time taken by another; that no two children are alike in quickness of thought, as distinguished from accuracy or depth of thought; and that clever women constantly reach results, which can only be reached by their thinking more rapidly than men." The difference is especially marked in mental arithmetic; and the difference, though it can be affected by practice or neglect, is ultimately independent of both. Inandi was asked to mention the day of the week on which a given date would fall some years hence, and answered accurately, Monday. It is not to be supposed that he guessed, for he had done the like before, and there was no ground for assuming collusion; then "his mind must, say, in three seconds, have traversed a calculation which it would take the few men who could do it in their minds at all, many minutes. Such pace is almost unthinkable, even if we remember that, the date on which this day falls in this year being once ascertained, the rest of the problem is only a swift effort of memory, the days advancing in a regular sequence, accelerated by leap-years; but still, superior pace is a theory which does meet all the conditions." The existence of differences in the pace of mind being conceded, the question next arises whether speed can be cultivated. If it can, we have a way pointed out by which intelligent life may be rendered longer and fuller. Dr. Martineau is said to believe, what many other persons fancy, that the English middle class has in the last two generations gained so greatly that the gain is perceptible in mental quickness. The Brahmans of India are celebrated for their superiority in this faculty. Teachers admit that the children of the educated poor are easier to teach than children of the uneducated poor; that "they have not only more 'receptive minds,' which may mean only better memories, but that their minds move positively quicker." On the other hand, the English educated never seem as quick as the Irish uneducated.

 

The Destiny of Sea-coast Land.—Among the results of his examination of the provisions of the shore towns of Massachusetts for public places of resort, and the industries and resources of the people, Mr. J. B. Harrison says, in Garden and Forest, that he found "everywhere recent changes in the ownership of land and a movement of people of means from the cities and the interior of the country to the shore regions of the State. I found leagues and leagues together of the shore line all private holdings, without a rood of space in these long reaches to which the public has a right to go. . . . I found a great population inland hedged away from the beach, and all the conditions pointing to a time, not remote, when no man can walk by the ocean in Massachusetts without payment of a fee, as we formerly had to pay for glimpses of Niagara. I could see that the movement for open spaces for public resort has vital relations to civilization, and has been instituted in response to a pressing need." In view of the changes in industrial conditions that are likely to take place under these circumstances, Mr. Harrison finds one resource which has received comparatively little attention of late—the soil, which in most of the shore towns appears to be much better than the popular estimate of it. "It has greater capabilities than are yet recognized. This is especially true of the Cape Cod country. The soil there is better than that of southern New Jersey; and I have seen many Massachusetts men in Dakota, Montana, and Idaho, trying, in great privation, to make a living in regions more forlorn and hopeless than any part of the shore country of the Old Bay State. ... I think these towns might yet support a great population by a highly developed agriculture and horticulture, and that owners of the land might wisely keep it and cultivate it."

 

Snow Effects in the Pamirs.—The region of the Pamirs, or the roof of the world, in central Asia, where the empires of Russia, India, and China corner upon one another, consists of a succession of long, broad, open valleys, running approximately parallel to each other in a general direction from northeast to southwest, and separated by low (for that region) ranges of mountains. The climate is very severe. The lowest point of the Pamirs is 10,300 feet above sea-level, and their usual average is from 13,000 to 14,000 feet. Hence the cold must be very intense. Captain Younghusband, while he had no experience of the winter weather, found temperatures at the end of October and beginning of November of 18° Fahr. below zero. Some interesting snow phenomena were witnessed by this explorer. He has looked at a mountain-peak, and then, a few moments later, seen it gradually disappear; and only by closer observation could he make out that it had been overshadowed by an imperceptible snow-storm. "The snow, indeed, in these mountains was often very fine, and almost like dust; and a very beautiful effect is, that it nearly always falls in perfect little hexagonal flakes, like little stars of lacework, each one quite distinct, and remaining intact until it reaches the ground; then, as it has fallen, the snow of course remains white on the surface, but, digging into it, appears of a beautiful delicate pale-blue color. Another effect of the snow is seen at the mountain-tops, when the peaks seem to be fading away, and vanishing off like clouds of whitened smoke. It is produced by the high wind blowing away the fine dust-like snow at the summits. Again, another almost similar phenomenon on the mountain-tops is that of long, level clouds, like streamers, flowing away from the peaks. The moisture-laden air from the plains of India has been condensed on the icy mountain summits, and the wind has blown the mist away in a long, thin streamer." Another effect of snow-particles glittering in the air in clear sunlight is also common among us on very cold winter days.

 

The "Down-below People."—The Havesu-Pai, otherwise known as the Koxoninos, or Cochnichnos, are a dying race of Indians, their numbers being estimated at less than two hundred souls, who were visited a few years ago by Mr. Benjamin Wittick. Dr. R. W. Shufeldt, seeking for information about them, has found that very little is known concerning them, but was able to obtain two photographs taken by Mr. Wittick, illustrating their general appearance and the style of their huts. They exist in one of the grandest canons in Arizona, living along the banks of the stream that passes through it. Their name, which is given them by the Yumas, means the "down-below people," or a tribe or race that live down in the canon. They call themselves the "Ah-Supai." The canon in which they dwell is that of Cataract Creek, is forty-five hundred feet deep, and the stream tumbles by a series of cascades into the Grand Canon of the Colorado, fifteen hundred feet deeper. The Indians raise, according to Captain John G. Bourke, fine peaches and good corn and melons, and weave fine and beautiful baskets. They are great hunters, and live by trading off buckskins and sometimes mountain-lion pelts to the Moquis, Navajos, and Apaches. Mr. Frank H. Cushing describes their home as in a green, moist plain of sandy soil, nearly two miles long by half a mile at its greatest width, of which he could catch only provisional glimpses through the rank growth of willows with which the trail was lined. "These glimpses, however, revealed numerous cultivated fields of corn, beans, sunflowers, melons, peaches, apricots, and certain plants used in dyeing and basket-making, and usually carefully protected by hedges of wattled willows or fences of Cottonwood poles. Everywhere these fields were crossed and recrossed by a network of irrigating canals and trails. Here and there were little cabins, or shelters, flat-roofed, dirt-covered, and closed in on three sides by wattled flags, canes, and slender branches, while the front was protected by a hedge like those of the fields, only taller, placed a few feet before the house, and between which and the house burned smoky fires. The houses were always nestled down among the thick willows bordering the river, or perched on some convenient shelf, under the shadows of the western precipices." Little buildings of stone laid in mud plaster, somewhat like the cliff dwellings, were also seen in the horizontal cracks of the western cliffs, often high up. These Indians have medicine-men, use the sweat-house, possess many dogs, have considerable families, and are on good terms with the whites.

 

The Purposes and Arrangement of Museums.—The museums of the future in this country, says G. Brown Goode, "should be adapted to the needs of the mechanic, the factory operator, the day laborer, the salesman, and the clerk, as much as to those of the professional man and the man of leisure. It is proper that the laboratories be utilized to the fullest extent for the credit of the institution to which they belong. No museum can grow and be respected which does not each year give additional proofs of its claims to be considered a center of learning. On the other hand, the public have a right to ask that much shall be done directly in their interest. They will gladly allow the museum officer to use part of his time in study and experiment. They will take pride in the possession by the museum of tens of thousands of specimens, interesting only to the specialist, hidden away perpetually from public view, but necessary for purposes of scientific research. These are foundations of the intellectual superstructure which gives the institution its standing. Still, no pains must be spared in the presentation of the material in the exhibition halls. The specimens must be prepared in the most careful and artistic manner, and arranged attractively in well-designed cases and behind the clearest of glass. Each object must bear a label, giving its name and history so fully that all the probable questions of the visitor are answered in advance. Books of reference must be kept in convenient places. Colors of walls, cases, and labels must be restful and quiet, and comfortable seats should be everywhere accessible, for the task of the museum visitor is a weary one at best. In short, the public museum is, first of all, for the benefit of the public. When the officers are few in number, each one must of necessity devote a considerable portion of his time to the public halls. When the staff becomes larger, it is possible by specialization of work to arrange that certain men may devote their time uninterruptedly to laboratory work, while others are engaged in the increase of the collections and their installation."

 

The Technical School at St. Etienne, France.—At the technical school in St. Etienne, France, according to the United States consul in that city, three hundred students are taught weaving, dyeing, sculpture, iron-founding, cabinet-making, and other arts, free of charge. The apprenticeship course lasts four years, and after completing it a certificate of aptitude is given, under which the pupil may obtain a situation in the line of industrial labor he has chosen. In the first year the students pass through all the workshops, to be initiated into the proper handling of the different tools. After that, the boys are classed according to their tastes, desires, and aptitudes. They work at manual labor three hours daily during the second year, four hours in the third, and five hours in the first and seven in the last six months of the fourth and last year. Great attention is paid to the teaching of the theory of the different trades, the fitters being taught to trace and cut out cog-wheels, and the carpenters to design and execute a certain number of works, such as stairs of different kinds, shutters, balconies, etc., on a reduced scale. The weavers are also given special lessons in book-keeping, legislation, commercial geography, and one of the modern languages. Careful attention is paid to design.

 

Embroidering by Machinery.—The recent invention, at Arbon, of a new steam machine for making embroideries threatens, says Consul Byers, of St. Gall, to revolutionize some of the most important manufacturing interests of the Swiss Republic. Eastern Switzerland, with St. Gall as a center, has been for a hundred years the headquarters of the embroidery industry of the world. Embroidery by hand alone had been practiced when the present hand-machine was brought into use in 1827. Under the former system the technical skill and readiness of hand of the Appenzell women were marvelous, and the embroidery made by them became famous all over the world. At the present day possibly not five per cent of the embroideries are made exclusively by hand. The Schiffli steam machine, invented about fifteen years ago, produces a low class of goods of inferior quality. For the more recently invented Arbon machine its owners claim that it will at least triple the product of the hand-machine, that it can produce goods cheaper, and can turn them out of better quality than the old method, and do it without so much wear and tear to the muscles of men and women.

 

The Puma.—The puma (Felis concolor of Linnæus), known also as the panther, painter, cougar, American lion, and by several other names, is, according to Mrs. Frederick W. True, the only large, unspotted native American cat. It varies much in color, and is from five to seven feet long. The area over which it ranges extends from New England and British Columbia to the straits of Magellan. On the Atlantic coast the species has apparently not been found in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Jersey, or Delaware. No mention appears of its having been found in Michigan or Indiana. It was extirpated in Ohio before 1838, and probably more recently in Indiana and Illinois. With these exceptions, and Nevada, there are recorded instances, more or less numerous, of the occurrence of the puma, since the beginning of the century, in every State and Territory of the Union. Regarded as a species, the puma possesses in a remarkable degree the power of adapting itself to varied surroundings. It endures severe cold during the winter in the Adirondack Mountains and other parts of our northern frontier, and hunts its prey in the snow. It is equally at home in the hot swamps and canebrakes and along the river-courses in our Southern States. In South America it inhabits the treeless, grass-covered pampas, as well as the forests. In the Rocky Mountains it ascends to the great altitudes at which the mountain sheep are found; and it is also met with high up on other ranges. It selects for its abode such spots as afford some shelter, but is found in the thickets and copses rather than in the great forests. It seeks its prey chiefly at dawn and twilight and under cover of night, but sometimes also hunts by day. Deer are its principal quarry, but it also preys upon the smaller mammals and on wild turkeys. Of the larger domestic animals, such as the horse and cow, it attacks only the young, but it will carry away a full-grown sheep from the fold, and in South America often preys upon the llama. It does not ordinarily attack men, but is disposed to flee from them when surprised; but such attacks have been known. Like the cat, it scratches the bark of trees, purrs when satisfied, and has been heard to mew.

 

Influence of the Indian Trade.—As to the effect of the Indian trading post, Mr. Frederick J. Turner says, in a paper on The Character and Influence of the Indian Trade in Wisconsin, of the Johns Hopkins Historical and Political Science Series, that, giving him iron and guns and a market for furs, it tended to prolong the hunter stage; leaving the unarmed Indian at the mercy of those who had bought firearms, it caused a relocation of tribes and a demand for the trader by remote and unvisited Indians, made the savage dependent on the white man's supplies, and gave the Indians means of resistance to agricultural settlement. On the side of the white man, the Indian trade gave both French and English a footing in America, invited exploration, and fostered the advancement of settlements as long as they were in extension of trade. In Wisconsin the sites of the principal cities are the sites of the old trading posts, and those earliest fur-trading settlements furnished supplies to the farming, mining, and lumbering pioneers. Reports brought back by the individual trader guided the steps of the agricultural pioneer. The trader was the farmer's path-finder into some of the richest regions of the continent. In Wisconsin, at least, the traders' posts, located at the carrying-places around falls and rapids, pointed out the water-powers of the State. The trails became the early roads. "An old Indian trader relates that the path between Green Bay and Milwaukee was originally an Indian trail and very crooked, but the whites would straighten it by cutting across lots each winter with their jumpers, wearing bare streaks through the thin covering, to be followed in the summer by foot and horseback travel along the shortened path. The process was typical of a greater one. Along the lines that Nature had drawn, the Indians traded and warred; along their trails and in their birch canoes the trader passed, bringing a new and transforming life. These slender lines of Eastern influence stretched throughout all our vast and intricate water-system, even to the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific, and the Arctic Seas, and these lines were in turn followed by agricultural and by manufacturing civilization."

 

French Silk-weaving Centers.—According to the United States consular clerk at Lyons, the geographical position of silk-weaving in France has undergone considerable changes since the introduction of the industry. Cities in which silk-weaving was formerly of great importance, have turned their attention toward other industries, while new centers have sprung up and attained more or less prosperity. Tours was the first great silk-weaving center of France, but its industry in this line has been declining for the last sixty years. Nimes was likewise one of the early centers, and reached great prosperity in the eighteenth century; but it has now less than one sixth as many looms as it had then. About twenty-five thousand looms are employed in Paris and the adjoining districts in weaving silk and silk-mixed goods, galloons, fringes, cords, and other varieties of passementerie and trimmings. Nets, tulles, and laces constitute the specialties of Calais. Whenever the demand for silk nets is low, the manufacturers substitute cotton or wool on their looms. During the latter half of the present century Roubaix has become the center of an extensive industry, manufacturing silk and wool and silk and cotton-mixed goods. These articles, though often wanting in originality, find ready sale on account of their low price. At Saint-Chamond, silk-weaving has been established in a modest way ever since the thirteenth century; and by confining their attention to braids and similar articles, the manufacturers have advanced their specialties to a degree of excellence that has established for them a world-wide reputation. At Saint-Etienne the weaving of ribbons is carried on, with great variations in the value of the yearly manufacture. Lyons is considered the most important silk center of France, and of Europe as well. Its total production averages about $80,000,000 a year. The quantity of goods produced is now greater than ever before, and constitutes two thirds of the production of France, and one quarter of the total production of the world.

 

Swiss Watch-making.—The Swiss watch industry is chiefly situated in the west of Switzerland, where the French language is spoken, and particularly in Geneva, Vaud, the canton of Neutchâtel, and the Bernese Jura. An ingenious labor organization has sprung up there, which combines at once the advantages of principal and minor industry. Composed of small workshops, grouped in a given region, it is under the control of a manufacturer who gives orders to the workman, and supplies him with the necessary materials, and, when the watch is finished, effects a sale. Under this system the master has not the general expenses of a factory, and the diminution in production and holidays affect him but little. In his turn, the operative working at home has a particular part of the watch to construct. He is both journeyman and foreman, who combines his dwelling with his shop. Paid by the piece, he works at his leisure from early in the morning till late at night. Such a system, which allows the wife to assist in the labors of the husband, and the children to be initiated by an easy apprenticeship into the manufacture of a special part of the watch, must suit the mountaineers. They preserve their intelligence, realize often large profits, and by the intelligent practice of industrial art improve their social status. Little by little the heads of business houses have drawn into their locality a large number of families from the rural districts, and in the mountains, at one thousand metres altitude, and on the plains where only the abundant pasturage affords a means of livelihood for the native, towns have risen rapidly for instance, Chaux de Fonds, Locle, and Saint-Imier. Thus, the system of collective industry, with work at the domestic hearth, has formed several generations of watch-makers. But, for thirty years, competition, and particularly American competition, has necessitated the erection of works with mechanical appliances.

 

The Sources of Gutta Percha.—Of the various kinds of gutta-percha, only those produced by trees of the old genus Isonandra, now sunk in Dichopsis, are available for use as insulators of cables. Their natural habitat is exclusively in the Malayan region. The destruction of this zone of forests proceeds rapidly. The natives cut every available tree, and repeat the process as fast as the plants spring up again. The scanty plantations started in the East Indies are, moreover, not formed of the best species, but of those which yield an inferior product. The best species has, in fact, become excessively rare, but is still in existence. Its adult representatives were yet propagating themselves in 1887 at the Chasserian estate in the ravines of the ancient forest of Boukett Tinah, in the center of Singapore. When M. Sèrullas, of Paris, found the spot in 1887, gutta-collecting had ceased for thirty years.

 

The Kanjntis.—The Kanjutis, of Hunza, the robber tribe of the Pamir table-land, inhabit the deeply cut valley which runs from the apex of central Asia, where the Hindu-Kush and Himalaya systems meet, and the water-shed between eastern and western Asia joins that between northern and southern Asia. Captain Younghusband found them to be small, well-built, hardy, determined, though not fierce-looking men, wearing long black curls, which gave them a very wild appearance. Perhaps the most remarkable feature about them is their capacity for endurance. "They issue from their strongholds on their raiding expeditions, and cover often two hundred miles of mountainous and uninhabited country, entirely on foot, and carry their own supplies for the whole distance on their backs; and I have known cases of men carrying news of my movements to their chief in an incredibly short time. Dressed in long cloaks of thick, homemade woolen material, they sleep out in the open in the most intense cold, and yet live upon almost nothing. They are also very avaricious, although they know and care little for money; but they covet goods greedily."

 

A Stronghold of Birds.—The Bird Rocks, or Three Islands of Birds, near Newfoundland, were so resorted to by gannets in Audubon's time that their tops seemed covered with snow. The birds were then much used for bait, and Audubon's captain told him that his boat's crew had once killed six hundred and forty of them in an hour, with no better weapons than sticks. Up to 1860 they covered the tops of the rocks and many of the ledges on the sides. The erection of a lighthouse on the Great Rock, in 1870, was followed by a rapid decrease in numbers. In 1881 Mr. Brewster found the birds on the Great Rock confined to the ledges along the sides, while the Little Rock was still densely populated. In 1887 not a gannet was raised on the Little Rock, although a few were breeding on the pillar of rock adjacent to it. The murres, razor-bills, and puffins, Mr. Frederick A. Lucas believes, have probably suffered somewhat less than their more conspicuous comrades, although even among them the decrease must have been very great. Still, their smaller size, and consequent ability to breed in crevices of the rocks and on ledges too narrow to accommodate a bulky gannet, has been of great service to them; while the razor-bill also seems to be learning by experience the desirability of putting an egg out of sight whenever practicable. The puffins find safety in their burrowing habits, and breed extensively in the decomposed sandstone at the northeastern portion of the Great Rock, as well as under the overhanging inaccessible ledges of the northern side of the Little Rock. The little rocky pillar already mentioned is well occupied by birds of various species, and, owing to the difficulty of scaling the rock, the little colony is fairly secure. But, from its size, the precipitous nature of the sides, and the fact that only one landing lies contiguous to the breeding birds, the Great Bird Rock must ever remain the stronghold of this interesting colony of sea-fowl. There is no regular division of the birds into large colonies according to species, but the separation is rather by size, gannets occupying the highest and broadest ledges, and murres and razor-bills taking what is left.

 

A Buddha, and its Meaning.—A bronze Buddha in the United States National Museum, as described by Charles De Kay, is thirty-eight inches and three quarters, or including the halo, seventy inches high, has a bronze halo, and differs from the famous seated Buddha at Kamakusa in size and in the position of the forefingers. These do not touch each other along the two upper joints, but lie one within the other. A slight trait of this kind is of the greatest importance to a Buddhist. It marks the difference between figures of the greatest of all Buddhas at the moments of his ecstasy or absorption into the Nirvana, or it distinguishes the Buddha from foreign or local saints who have presumably reached Buddha-hood by meritorious pondering. The figure has the famous knob on the forehead, about which many legends revolve; also the short round curls over the head, supposed to be the snails which guarded Buddha from sunstroke, and it carries the mark on the top of the head. It has the large ears, with their lobes pierced and distended, but no ear-rings. The figure represents Buddha, after having taught his doctrine, merging himself into Nirvana. To an adept, the position of the thumbs and forefingers expresses a world of hidden meanings. The figure is luckily provided with a copious inscription which is couched in phrases anything but easy of translation. Its name is "the Buddha of the Five Wisdoms," and its motto, "All the world can share the blessings of Buddhism."

 

Biological Physiology.—The Director of the Marine Biological Laboratory (Wood's Holl, Mass.) for 1891 calls attention to the needs of physiology as one of the most important branches of biological science which, for want of room, has thus far been neglected. It is not animal or human physiology, as commonly understood, that the director has more especially in mind, but what he calls biological physiology, or the province of the biological economy of organisms. "It is in this almost new province that we meet the great problems of geographical and geological distribution, and those of the interrelations of species in both the animal and vegetable kingdoms. It is here that we study life-histories, habits, food; the influences of the physical environment, and the reciprocal relations, which are ever varying according to the issues of the universal struggle for existence. It is in this direction that experimental physiology finds one of the most inviting fields in the whole range of biology." As instances of what varied and interesting problems here await the experimenter, are mentioned the experiments of Pflüger and others to determine the influence of gravitation on the development of the egg; Boveri's experiments to determine where the formative power resides, and whether it is shared equally by both sexes; Fol's studies on fertilization; Auerbach's determination of the sexual distinction between the paternal and the maternal elements of the nucleus; Weismann's studies on the laws and causes of variation; the effects of chemical agencies on germ-cells as tested by Oscar and Richard Hertwig; the experiments of Beudant, Plateau, and Schmankewitsch in transferring animals from fresh to salt water, and vice versa; Semper's observations on the effect of the volume of water on the size of the creatures living in it; and others.

 

A Meteorological Poet.—A curious paper has been published by Naval Surgeon Grémaud, of Brest, France, on the tempest described in the first book of Virgil's Æneid. He answers some of the criticisms that have been made of it, and shows that the critics were not meteorologists. Having carefully compared the latest accounts of cyclones with Virgil's description, he has found the descriptions of the dangerous semicircle, the tractable semicircle, the plunging winds, and the columns of water rising like a wall and falling upon the ships to demolish them, correct; and establishes a complete analogy between them and the determinations of science. Hence, Virgil was not only a poet, but a good meteorologist as well—one of the scientific men of his time. M. Vice-Admiral Vignes, President of the Geographical Society of Paris, on reading the paper, remarked that he was surprised to find in Virgil the exact laws of cyclones, which sailors did not learn till a comparatively modern time.

 

British Fisheries.—The North Sea fisheries of Great Britain were reported at the meeting of the British Association to be declining. It was proposed to draw up a history of the North Sea trawling grounds, comparing their present condition with their condition some twenty or thirty years ago, when comparatively few boats were at work; to continue, verify, and extend observations as to the average size at which prime fish became sexually mature; and to collect statistics as to the size of all fish captured in the vicinity of the Dogger Bank and to the eastward, so that the number of immature fish annually captured may be estimated; also, to make experiments with beam trawl nets of various meshes with a view to determine the relation, if any, between the size of mesh and the size of fish taken.

 

The Kingfisher.—The habits of the kingfisher (Halcyon vagans) are the subject of a paper by Mr. J. W. Hall, of the Auckland (N. Z.) Institute. His observations, while not decisive, favor the opinion that kingfishers capture live birds. They are also sometimes captured by hawks; but the hawk does not always come off best. One day the author saw a hawk sailing round the bend of a hill followed by a kingfisher. Then at once arose a great outcry, and the hawk came again in sight, bearing the kingfisher in its talons. But, nothing daunted, the kingfisher with its pick-axe of a bill pegged away at the breast and abdomen of its captor to such good effect that the hawk was glad to liberate its prey, whereupon the kingfisher flew away, apparently but little the worse for the encounter, and carrying with it the full sympathy of the onlookers.