Popular Science Monthly/Volume 55/May 1899/Minor Paragraphs


The Bureau of Nature Study of Cornell University is making a praiseworthy effort to interest children in caring for birds, or, as its circular has it, treating them as "summer boarders." It publishes a leaflet entitled The Birds and I, which it sends free to teachers who ask for it and who will give it to their pupils. It has pictures of various styles of bird houses, which may serve as patterns for the construction of homes for the summer guests. "The kind of birds," the interesting circular of the bureau says, "that will set up housekeeping in the homes that you provide will harm no one. They are never cross, never throw stones or rob us, but are always happy and have cheerful songs. We are always kind to people having such dispositions, and why should we not be so to birds as well?" The bureau invites correspondence from boys and girls disposed to entertain birds.

The National Geographic Society offers prizes of one hundred and fifty dollars and seventy-five dollars severally for the first and second best essays relating to pre-Columbian discoveries and settlements of the Norsemen on the mainland of North America, and the location of the lands mentioned in the Icelandic Sagas, the competition to close December 31, 1899. The essays sent in should be typewritten in the English language, not exceeding six thousand words in length, and may be accompanied by maps and illustrations for explanation of the text, but not for embellishment. The committee of awards consists of Mr. Henry Gannett, Prof. Albert Bushnell Hart, Mrs. Anita Newcomb McGee, Prof. John Bach McMaster, and Coast Survey Superintendent Henry S. Pritchet.

Experiments by a German naturalist, Herr Albrecht Bethe, summarized in the Revue Scientifique, upon recognition of one another by ants, confirm the opinions of Lubbock, McCook, Forel, and others that they are guided by the sense of smell. Herr Bethe found that an ant "whitewashed" with liquid of ants of its own nest was well received by its fellows when it went among them; but when the liquid of ants of a different nest was applied it was attacked at once. An ant washed with alcohol, next with water, and then with the liquid of a strange species was well received in a nest of that species, although it was much smaller than any of the individuals composing it. Another ant washed with alcohol and water, dried, and immediately returned to its fellows of its own nest, was attacked by them; but when kept for twenty-four hours after drying, or long enough to recruit itself, was received by them.

The following tables are taken from a paper by Dr. J. Richardson Armstrong in a recent Lancet, describing his experience with diphtheria antitoxine in private practice in treating one hundred and twenty-two cases of diphtheria:

Recovered. Died.
Total number of cases treated from June 27 to Dec. 17, 1897 42 36 6
Severe cases; antitoxine injected 22 20 2
Mild cases; antitoxine not injected 20 16 4
Total number of cases treated, January 1 to December 31, 1898 80 77 3
Severe cases, injected 55 54 1
Mild cases, non-injected 25 23 2

In answer to the question, Should every case of diphtheria be treated with antitoxine, Dr. Armstrong says: "Some of the cases are sufficiently mild not to need it, so I will not go so far as to say that it is absolutly essential to inject in every case, although I would call it an excellent practice to do so, and the patients would make much more rapid recoveries. I think that injection ought to be insisted upon as early as possible in every case that is at all severe or likely to prove so, and I think that the medical man who does not employ antitoxine and who loses a large proportion of his cases is incurring a responsibility which is almost criminal. The earlier a patient is injected the greater is the chance of recovery, and the more rapid is the recovery."

Among the leading principles of forestry, as defined by the chief fire warden of Minnesota, are that the best agricultural land should not be devoted to forest while wood and timber can be profitably grown on soil that is unfit for farming purposes; that the management should be continuous, and no more timber should be taken out of the forest in one year, or in a series of ten or twenty years, than grows in the entire forest in the same period; that the cutting of timber should be in blocks or strips, so as to facilitate reproduction on the clear areas by seeds falling from the trees left standing; and that the forest, when young, must have in numbers vastly more trees than when it is mature. To make good timber, the forest, when young, must be crowded so as to secure height growth. Mixed wood, managed on forestry principles in the Black Forest of Germany, has per acre, at the age of twenty years, 3,960 trees; at the age of one hundred years, 262 trees.

A new process for the production of a textile material is thus described in Industries and Iron: "It consists of 'squirting,' in a fashion similar to that of making electric incandescent carbons, pure gelatin in threads of about one thousandth part of an inch in diameter, the thread being taken away on revolving tapes. The threads are wound upon reels and exposed to formalin vapor, which exercises a most remarkable effect on the gelatin, rendering it insoluble in any medium yet applied to it. The tensile qualities of the thread are also increased, while, in opposition to that produced under the Lehner process (which is simply forming nitrated cellulose into threads for weaving), it is capable of taking up any dye desired; and it is, of course, impervious to any hygroscopic influence.