Popular Science Monthly/Volume 44/December 1893/Notes


The Primitive Woman as a Poet was the subject of a paper at the American Association by Prof. A. F. Chamberlain. Lullabies, the author said, are known in every land, and the folk poetry of all people is rich in songs whose text and whose melodies the tender mother has herself imagined and composed. But not alone cradle-songs are the product of the genius of the woman. As in modern so in primitive times maidens inspired by love have vented their feelings in song. We find such poetesses among the Arabs and Bedouins of the desert, in Polynesia and Australia, Madagascar, etc. Women improvisators are known among the American Indians, among the African tribes, etc. The share of woman in the transmission of song and story from generation to generation is very great. Indeed, among some of the tribes of Guiana the bards of ancient times are represented as old women. Among the Bedouins as elsewhere, women and girls have special songs which are never imparted to the men, and it is very difficult, often impossible, for a traveler to obtain the text of such songs.

In a paper on Indian Migration, read at the American Association, C. S. Wake endeavored to trace the migrations of the tribes from their traditions. An examination of these traditions, the author said, showed that besides the Algonkins, Iroquois, and the Cherokees, the people of the Sioux-Dakota stock also dwelt at an early date near the St. Lawrence. Probably all the people thus brought together in the neighborhood of the Eastern lakes had a common origin, the place of which may have been north of the St. Lawrence. The primitive long-headed Indians of North America spread originally over the continent from some part of the northwest coast, or the foreign element to which they owe their special characteristics was introduced there. This element has its nearest representative on the American continent in the Eskimo. The Eskimo skull approximates the type found among the Caroline islanders, the Fijians, and the aborigines of Australia. The long-headed tribes of North America may thus find their oldest allies among the islanders of the Pacific.

M. Marey has found, from his continued studies of animal locomotion by means of instantaneous photography, that the modes of progression of the viper and the eel are much alike; that the postures of batrachians in water (after they have acquired their limbs) are much like those of men swimming, and that lizards trot like horses.

A pair of catbirds having built a nest in a honeysuckle vine on the house of Dr. R. W. Shufeldt, he took the pains to observe their nesting habits. The first egg was laid twenty-four hours after the nest was built, and three others on three succeeding days, all very nearly at the same hour in the morning (between 9.15 and 10.35). For the first few days the mother bird sat on the eggs at irregular intervals, leaving them often for an hour or more, but finally gave them her undivided attention. On the fourteenth day from the first laying there were no birds hatched at dark, but on the next morning there were three; and the fourth egg was hatched during the next night. On the twenty-fifth day all the birds left the nest together; but not going away, the young were easily caught. They were put in a cage and hung under the roof close to the nest. Here the parents faithfully fed them through the cage wires for three days, when they were let loose in some dense underbrush, to the great joy of the parents.

The report of the managers of the Observatory of Yale University says that while only a small percentage of the thermometers sold are sent there for certification, it is presumably true that those which are sent by the manufacturers are carefully selected and therefore far more reliable than the average of those sold without certification. Nevertheless, the testers are obliged to reject twenty-five, fifty, and even seventy-five per cent of those sent them. As a rule, these are not rejected without receiving double the time and care required by the large majority of those to which certificates are granted.

The course of instruction in naval architecture recently established at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology provides for a thorough training in the theory and methods of devising and building ships, together with a study of the properties requisite for safety and good behavior at sea. It is arranged to occupy four years, and leads to the degree of Bachelor of Science. It is intended to cover the same ground and accomplish the same results as the English and French Government schools for training naval constructors, and to give, in addition to professional and technical training and equipment, a good scientific and liberal education.

Hitherto disorders observed among workmen in hemp have been regarded as originating wholly in mechanical causes, as in the inhalation of vegetable dusts. Dr. L. Salomon, of Savigné l'Evêque, France, who has studied two cases of such disorders, attributes them to intoxication by the active principles of hemp, similar to those produced by hashish.

The Laboratory of the Psychological Institute at the University of Göttingen—described by Prof. W. O. Krohn as in many respects the best for research work in Germany owes its excellent equipment to a liberal gift from a private person, the state contributing only a pittance to its support. This person is a former student of Prof. Müller.

The Report of the Division of Entomology (Bulletin No. 29) on the Boll Worm of Cotton (Heliothis armiger) covers in the first part observations made by Mr. F. W. Mally upon the parasites and natural enemies of the insect, and presents in the second part bacteriological experiments made by the same observer with certain insect diseases affecting it. The paper also contains observations of the depredations of the larva upon corn, and upon the use of com as a trap for it.

The courses of instruction in the Department of Geology of Colgate University, while designed to give such knowledge of the several subjects as a scheme of general education requires, are so arranged as to provide two years of continuous work to those who may wish to teach geology or pursue it as a profession. The instruction is given by lectures, with text-books for supplementary reading, oral and written reviews, and laboratory and field work. Besides the general collections of minerals, and in geology a dynamical collection, illustrating weathering, glacial action, the work of springs, underground waters and the ocean, the results of volcanic and mountain-building forces, the work of organisms, and various structures, with specimens illustrating lithology, and a systematic collection of fossil remains have been begun. In economic geology sample blocks of building stone have been acquired.