Popular Science Monthly/Volume 42/April 1893/Notes


The ethnographic exhibit at the Chicago Fair will be partly within the main building and partly outdoors—the collections being within and other features without. The American department will include specimens of native tribes living their usual life and engaged in their usual occupations; relief maps of the most famous earthworks of the Mississippi Valley; models of the mysterious structures of Yucatan and Central America, with casts of the hieroglyphics; Peruvian mummies; palæolithic implements and relics of the mound-builders; photographs of mounds and ruins from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego; illustrations of primitive religions, games, and folk lore; and numismatic, zoological, geographical, and natural history collections in general. Arrangements are being made to have the State historical exhibits placed in this department.

Since noticing Mr. Edward Atkinson's book on The Science of Nutrition, we have received a good many letters asking where the work can be obtained, information that we were unable to give when the notice was printed. We can now state that Messrs. Damrell & Upham, 283 Washington Street, Boston, are the publishers, and the price of the book is fifty cents.

An address on The Railroad in Education, delivered by Prof. Alexander Hogg, of Fort Worth, at the Texas Teachers' Association, in 1883, attracted attention at once by the breadth of its views and the novel suggestions it embodied. It was delivered again—rewritten—by request of the Commissioner of Education before the Congress of Educators at the New Orleans Fair in 1885, and has been published in various editions since. The author is now preparing a new edition for the Chicago World's Fair, in which several of the chapters will be rewritten and other chapters added on Fast Running and The World's Fair itself.

The Eleventh International Congress of Medicine will meet in Rome, September 24 to October 1, 1893, and will be divided into nineteen sections. The price of membership for physicians and men of other professions interested in the labors of the Congress will be five dollars. The official languages of the Congress will be Italian, French, English, and German, and official bulletins of proceedings will be published daily in those languages. Papers and communications for the Congress must be announced by June 30th, and abstracts must be sent to the committee by July 31st. Dr. A. Jacobi, 110 West Thirty-fourth Street, New York, is chairman of the American Committee of the Congress.

A paper read before the Society of Arts by F. Seymour Haden, in a temper decidedly not judicial, is devoted to the vindication of earth burial as the best method of disposing of the dead, and to the condemnation of cremation as involving the possibility of criminal poisoning passing often undetected by the destruction of all the evidences of it; while they would be preserved and accessible for a substantially unlimited time under any method of burial. Much of the paper is devoted to showing that burial in destructible casings instead of practically indestructible ones, as under the present system, insures the speedy, harmless restoration of all the elements of the body to their normal condition, and is free from all the objections that may be urged against the present system or against cremation.

An incident related recently in the Trinidad Field Naturalists' club goes to indicate that the bite of the tarantula is not especially poisonous. A laborer was badly bitten in the foot, and was much frightened. He was taken to the infirmary, hopping all the way on the other foot; a fomentation of water and spirits of ammonia was applied, and he was given a dose of ether mixture. He ate his dinner heartily about two hours later, and slept well at night. In the morning he complained of no pain, and went to work as usual. No local swelling or inflammation was observed, and but little pain at any time. Fright was the only ill effect.

Prof. Cahn, of Breslau, claims to have found the immediate cause of the spontaneous combustion of hay in the heat-producing action of a parasitic fungus called Aspergillus fumigatus, a plant already known to be destructive to the germination of barley by the heat it produces. A heat of 95° Fahr. having been already induced by the natural chemical changes, the aspergillus steps in and raises the temperature to 140° Fahr., after which combustion is almost inevitable.

A theory, founded on the earlier analyses, that peach yellows was caused by a deficiency of phosphorus and potash, prevailed several years ago, and a treatment with bone phosphate, muriate of potash, and kieserite, based upon it, was in vogue for several years. Analyses made during the last four years, under the direction of the Department of Agriculture, while they agree among themselves, are contradictory of this theory. Experimental evidence, derived from opposite modes of treatment of peach trees, presented by Dr. Erwin F. Smith, in a paper on The Chemistry of Peach Yellows, is likewise contradictory of and depreciatory of the value of the treatment based upon it; and the conclusion is declared by Dr. Smith that we are to look for the cause of peach yellows and the means of prevention in a different direction.

Yawning, which is regarded by most persons as merely a sign of weariness or sleepiness, is considered by M. Naegeli as a therapeutic agency. He believes that a series of yawns, with the stretching that accompanies them, would make an excellent morning and evening exercise. The lungs can not fail to be benefited by the inflation they get.

According to Mr. George A. Allen, the Mohaves believe that the spirits of their dead go up in smoke to the "White Mountain" when their bodies are cremated, and that property which is thrown into the flames goes up with them. They also have a belief that all the Mohaves who die and are not cremated turn into owls, and when they hear an owl hooting at night they think it is the spirit of some dead Mohave returned.

The Smithsonian Institution has printed a paper by Dr. J. F. Snyder describing an urn containing incinerated human bones, which was dug out of an ancient mound in Georgia. The urn or vase is nearly conical, eleven inches and a half high, and was covered by an inverted bell-shaped vessel fifteen inches and three quarters in height. The ashes nearly half filled the vase, and mingled with them were calcined human teeth and fragments of bones. Lying on the surface of these remains were a quantity of wampum and several small pearls that had been pierced for stringing.

Many farmers in cutting potatoes for planting take care to follow some rule in regard to the number of eyes to a piece. Experiments made last summer at Purdue University Experiment Station show that the number of eyes is immaterial, even eyes that are cut in two sending up plenty of good stalks, but that the weight of the pieces is the important matter.