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


A curious plant is the wild tamarind, or jumbai plant (Leucæna glauca), of the river sides and waste places of tropical America; and very strange are its effects upon the non-ruminant animals that feed upon its young shoots, leaves, pods, and seeds, as described in the British Association by Mr. D. Morris, of Kew Gardens. It causes horses to lose the hair from their manes and tails, has a similar effect upon mules and donkeys, and reduces pigs to complete nakedness. Horses are said to recover when fed exclusively on corn and grass, but the new hair is of different color and texture from the old, so that the animal is never quite the same as it was. One instance is cited in which the animal lost its hoofs too, and had to be kept in slings till they grew again and hardened. Ruminant animals are not thus affected, and the growth of the plant is actually encouraged in the Bahamas as a fodder plant for cattle, sheep, and goats. The difference in its action upon ruminants and non-ruminants is probably due to changes effected upon it in the chewing of the cud.

Among the events mentioned in the thirtieth report of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology is the completion of the arrangement of the Mary Hemenway collection in such a way that a nearly complete exhibition of the archaeology and ethnology of the Pueblo peoples of our Southwest is presented in the u[)per hall and the gallery on the floor below. Mr. Valk's explorations in New Jersey, enforced by the observations of Prof. G. F. Wright, are mentioned as confirming the opinion that stones worked by man are found in the glacial deposits of the Delaware Valley. Valuable relics have been obtained from the prehistoric sites of Mount Kineo and from the Indians of Maine. Mr. Gordon has examined deposits in Honduras attesting a mixture of several types of culture, and has obtained many objects of interest from the exploration of two caves. His general report on the ruins of Copan, already noticed in the Monthly, is a publication of very great value. Many contributions of literature and specimens, all deserving fuller notices than we can give them, are acknowledged in the report.

Physiological experiments are of various kinds, and while some are of such a character as to suggest cruelty unless performed under the most careful guards, there are probably others to which animals may be indifferent, or which may be even agreeable to them. Of the last seems to be one described by Dr. E. A. de Schweinitz in a recent address before the Chemical Society of Washington. "A fine blooded horse, not available for ordinary use on account of his propensity to run away, was converted into a subject for the cultivation of the tuberculin antitoxine. He was, of course, expected to rebel; but, on the contrary, he received the hypodermic injection of the poison of the tuberculosis germ in quietness and even seemed interested in watching the operation. As a burned child dreads the fire, it was supposed he would resist the second operation. But as soon as he observed the doctor appear with the syringe and bottle, he trotted toward him with pleasure, stood quietly looking around with intelligence while the injection was made, and ever afterward lent himself to the experiment with as much evident pleasure and interest as that of the investigators."

Experiments made by Asa S. Kinney at the Hatch Experiment Station, Massachusetts, with special reference to that question, prove that electricity exercises an appreciable influence on the germination of seeds, and that the application of certain strengths of current for short periods of time accelerates the process. The range in the strength of current which accelerates germination is exceedingly limited, and within this range there are a maximum, optimum, and minimum current. Seeds subjected to but one application of electricity show the effect only for a few hours, while, when applied hourly to germinating seeds or growing plants, electricity does not lose its effect, but acts as a constant stimulant to their growth and development.

The movement for instruction in domestic science is finding increasing favor. Provision is gradually being made for it as the demand extends in one institution after another. It is recognized in the Ohio State University in the name of the College of Agriculture and Domestic Science, where a "short course" and a four-year course in the branch are arranged for. The programme of the department, which is under the direction of Miss Perla G. Bowman, of the Toledo Manual Training School, includes cookery in its various branches, with the principles of combustion, food economics, the chemistry of the human body, comparative nutritive and money values of foods, invalid cookery, a waiting course, household economics, the properties of textile materials, sewing, millinery, costumes, dressmaking, and needlework. In connection with these last topics, the choice and treatment of various materials, line, form, color, and texture, as applied to dressmaking, are illustrated in connection with practice. In designing the courses, the need of every woman for the most liberal culture in connection with technical training has been recognized.

An exhibition at the Archæological Institute of England of prehistoric flint implements, discovered in Egypt by Mr. H. W. Seton Karr, includes articles from the mines of the Wady-el-Sheik district, in the Eastern Desert, some of the types of which are new to science, and implements from Abydos, Nagada, Nagh Hamdi, Thebes, and other places in the Western Desert. At some of the mines are shafts about two feet in diameter filled up with drifted sand and surrounded by masses of excavated earth neatly arranged. There was usually a central place where most of the objects were discovered. At some mines a number of clubs or truncheons lay distributed uniformly when the mines were abandoned. Other implements of flint and quartzite are from Somaliland, and were found on a long, low hill about a hundred miles from the coast. The country around was of limestone, in some places overflowed by lava, and the implements lay in ones, twos, and threes. Sir John Evans said, in a communication to the Royal Society, that these discoveries "have an important bearing on the question of the original home of the human race. Of their identity in form with some from the valley of the Somme there can be no doubt, and we need not hesitate in claiming them as palæolithic."