Popular Science Monthly/Volume 51/August 1897/Minor Paragraphs


Experiments on the influence of music upon respiration recorded by MM. Alfred Binet and J. Courtier in the Année Psychologique for 1897 indicate that musical sounds, chords, and music in general as a sensorial excitation, independent of all suggested feelings, provoke acceleration of respiration, increasing as the movement is more lively, without disturbing the regularity of the breathing or augmenting its amplitude. The major mode is more exciting than the minor. The heart is similarly affected. The distinction between sad or solemn and lively music appears to be for the most part wholly theoretical, and hardly squares with the complexity of the musical emotions produced by the melodies with the infinite shadings suggested by the ideas of the libretto. The authors, however, infer from their researches that the acceleration of the heart and of respiration was not so marked during the hearing of sad pieces as in those in which joy and high excitation of musical emotions prevail.

A novel use is proposed for the pith of cornstalks as a packing between the inner and outer shell of war vessels. When pierced with a projectile it will absorb water and swell so rapidly as to close the opening before the vessel has leaked to a dangerous extent. This quality is under investigation by official commissions of some of the European nations. The by-product of the process of preparation seems to be equally valuable. The outer rim of the stalk ground up is found to make a fine and palatable food for cattle and horses. It is said to compare favorably too with the corn blades, timothy hay, and wheat bran. It also keeps well, and can be uniformly mixed with any ground grain.

Marked preferences for different kinds and altitudes of perching places are shown by different birds. The domesticated pigeon perches almost exclusively on buildings; in fact, the seldom flying domestic fowl takes oftener to trees. Wild pigeons, of course, must needs perch in trees. The Spectator calls attention to the fact that some species are never satisfied unless they occupy the absolutely highest point in the neighborhood. Thus, while the jackdaw will sit on any part from the buttresses to the vane of a cathedral, the stork, the gull, the cormorant, and the falcon always seem uneasy unless perched upon the summit of the building or crag which they choose for a resting place. The Rev. A. Morres writes to The Field giving some observations on the falcons that for many years have made Salisbury spire their haunt. The first year that he saw them one of four peregrines settled on the weathercock, four hundred feet high. On crags and cliffs along the coast seafowl always occupy the highest points. One evening in the autumn of 1893 a cormorant, probably driven inland by a storm, alighted on the arrow of the weathercock on the summit of the parish church spire in Newark-on-Trent, where it remained until morning. For nearly eight weeks it returned each night to its perch upon the arrow, finally disappearing in a November gale. In India the adjutant storks always prefer to stand on the topmost pinnacles of high buildings. Once, when a brick had been left on the highest part of the roof of a house during some repairs, an adjutant was seen to take his stand upon the brick, thus gaining an extra two inches of altitude.