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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 56/January 1900/Fragments of Science

< Popular Science Monthly‎ | Volume 56‎ | January 1900

Fragments of Science.

Zola's Anthropological Traits.—Mr. Arthur MacDonald has published, originally in the Open Court, a minute anthropological study of the personality of Émile Zola. Passing all the physical points noted, we select a few only of the most peculiar mental traits mentioned by the author. Fear is spoken of as Zola's principal emotion, connected in him with the instinct of self-preservation. He is not much afraid of the bicycle, but shrinks from a ride through a forest at night. He has no fear of being buried alive, yet sometimes when in a tunnel on a railroad train he has been beset with the idea of the two ends of the tunnel falling in and burying him. Some morbid ideas have developed in him, but they do not cause him pain when not satisfied. He lets them run into their "manias," and is then contented. The idea of doubt is one. He is always in fear of not being able to do his daily task, or of being incapable of completing a book. He never rereads his novels, for fear of making bad discoveries. He has an arithmetical mania, and when in the street he counts the gas jets, the number of doors, and especially the number of hacks. In his home he counts the steps of the staircases, the different things on his bureau. He must touch the same pieces of furniture a certain number of times before he goes to sleep. Some numbers have a bad influence for him, and there are good numbers. In the night he opens his eyes seven times, to prove that he is not going to die. He is regarded by the author as a neuropath, or a man whose nervous system is painful but does not seem to affect the soundness of his mind. "In brief, the qualities of Zola are fineness and exactitude of perception, clearness of conception, power of attention, sureness in judgment, sense of order, power of co-ordination, extraordinary tenacity of effort, and, above all, a great practical utilitarian sense."


The Simplon Tunnel.—The following facts are taken from a brief account of this great engineering feat in the Engineering Magazine: There is at present no direct rail connection between western Switzerland and Italy, and to reach Milan it has been necessary to go around to Lucerne and so on through by the St. Gothard route. The distance by rail from Milan to Calais by the Mont Cenis is 665 miles, and by the St. Gothard 680 miles. The distance by way of the Simplon Tunnel will be only 585 miles. The Jura-Simplon Railway from Geneva around the lake and up the Rhone Valley ascends to Brieg at an altitude of about 2,300 feet, while on the Italian side the railway from Milan stops at Domodossola, at an altitude of 900 feet. Between the two, which are 41 miles apart and over an elevation of 6,590 feet, lies the famous Simplon Pass. Connection is now made by diligence, the trip occupying a whole day. The plan of the new railway includes the prolongation of the present line on the Italian side to Iselle, at an altitude of about 2,100 feet, where the Italian entrance to the tunnel was begun in August, 1898. On the Swiss side the entrance is at Brieg, and the tunnel will connect these two towns, being 12.26 miles long. This is nearly three miles longer than the St. Gothard, but the altitude is only 2,300 feet above the sea, instead of 3,800 feet, as at the St. Gothard. The tunnel is to be straight laterally, but higher in the middle than at either end, the grade being 1 in 143 on the Italian and 1 in 500 on the Swiss side. The principal difference between the Simplon Tunnel and those previously pierced through the Alps is that, instead of one single tunnel, two separate tunnels, fifty-five feet apart, are to be constructed, connected by lateral passageways every 650 feet. At first but one of these is to be completed to the full dimensions, the other being carried through at only about a quarter of the ultimate cross-section, and not enlarged and put into use until the traffic demands it. Both tunnels are now being bored by the use of the Brandt hydraulic rotary drills, water being supplied at a pressure of 70 to 100 atmospheres. The borings are through gneiss, stone, and slate. Holes two inches and three quarters in diameter and four or five feet deep are bored and the rock dislodged by means of dynamite. A narrow-gauge railway is used to remove the dèbris. It is expected that the tunnel will be completed in five years and a half. At the close of 1898, 300 feet had been penetrated on the south side and 1,300 on the north. The estimated cost of the complete double-track tunnels is 69,000,000 francs. This does not include the construction of the permanent way. The Mont Cenis Tunnel cost 75,000,000 francs, and the St. Gothard 59,750,000 francs. The work is practically controlled by the Jura-Simplon Railway.


Grant Allen.—The death of our contributor, Mr. Grant Allen, was mentioned in the last number of the Popular Science Monthly. Mr. Allen was born in February, 1848, the son of the Rev. J. A. Allen, of Wolfe Island, Canada. He attended schools in the United States, in France, and in Birmingham, England, and entered Merton College, Oxford, whence he took his degree of B. A. in 1870. He afterward spent a few years in Jamaica as principal of a college for the higher education of the negro, which had only a brief career. He returned to England and settled down in London for literary work, writing rather on social and scientific than political subjects, for various journals. While he loved and appreciated scientific truth, he rather regarded his subject from the æsthetic side, and this gave a peculiar charm to his articles. He published books on Physiological Æsthetics and The Color Sense, which did not prove profitable. Finding it hard to gain a livelihood from his scientific work, he turned to fiction, and soon found, as the London Times has it, "that his worst fiction was more profitable than his best science." His love of science, however, "approached enthusiasm," and he contributed frequent popular scientific articles to the magazines, so that "for years past hardly one of those publications has been reckoned complete "without contribution of this character from him. He removed from London to Dorking, and afterward went to southern France and Italy for his health. Then, having so far recovered that he could spend his winters in England, he made himself a home at Hindhead, Surrey. Here he died, October 25th, after several weeks' suffering from a painful internal malady. Among his scientific works, his books on Physiological ÆEsthetics, The Color Sense, and the Evolution of the Idea of God deserve special mention.


Japanese Paper.—The peculiar qualities of Japanese paper, most of them excellent ones, and the great variety of uses to which it is applied, are known everywhere. It is a wood or bark paper, and derives its properties from the substances of which it is made and the method of its manufacture. Several plants are cultivated for the manufacture, which, in the absence of English names, must be called by their Japanese or scientific ones, of which the principal are "mitsumata" (Edgeworthia papyrifera), the "sozo" (Brossonia papyrifera), and the "gampiju" (Wiekstroannia canecensis). Bamboo bark also furnishes a good paper, but is not much used. The mitsumata ramifies into three branches, and is cultivated in plantations, being propagated from seeds and by cuttings. It is fit for use in the second year if the soil is good. Its cultivation and exportation have reached an enormous importance, largely because the Imperial Printing Office uses it for bank notes and official documents. The sozo is propagated by seeds, and somewhat resembles the mulberry. The gampiju is a small shrub which is cut in its third year. To make paper, the bark is steeped in a kettle with buckwheat ashes to extract the resin in it. When it is reduced to a pulp, a sieve-bottomed frame with silk or hempen threads is plunged within, very much as in Western paper-making. This, letting out the water, holds the pulp, which, felting, is to form the future sheet of paper. This is pressed, to squeeze all the water out, and is left to dry. The uses made of paper in Japan are innumerable, particularly in old Japan, which treasures up its past. The papers, though all made in a similar way, are called by different names, according to the uses to which they are applied and their origin. Window lights are made of paper, and partitions between rooms, when it is stretched on frames, which work as sliding doors. The celebrated lanterns, called gifu, are made of it at Tokio and Osaka. Under the name of shibuganni it is applied to the covering of umbrellas which are sold in China and Korea. As zedogawa shi bank notes are printed on it. Oiled it is kappa, impermeable and suitable for covering packages and for making waterproof garments. Handkerchiefs are made from it, cords by twisting. For light, solid articles it is mixed and compressed very much as our papier-maché. Covered with thick paste and pounded, it forms tapestries. Imitations of Cordova leather are made of it by spreading it and pressing it with hard brushes upon boards in which suitable designs have been cut. It is then covered with oil and varnish. Japan produced nearly five million dollars' worth of paper in 1892. Unfortunately, European methods of manufacture have been introduced, and there is danger of the paper losing its distinctive qualities.


The Deeps of the Ocean.—In his geographical address at the British Association, Sir John Murray showed that the deep oceanic soundings are scattered over the different ocean basins in varying proportions, that they are now most numerous in the North Atlantic and Southwest Pacific, and in these two regions the contour lines of depth may be drawn with greater confidence than in the other divisions of the great ocean basins. On the whole, it may be said that the general tendency of recent soundings is to extend the area with depths greater than one thousand fathoms, and to show that numerous volcanic cones rise from the general level of the floor of the ocean basins up to various levels beneath the sea surface. Considerably more than half of the sea floor lies at a depth exceeding two thousand fathoms, or more than two geographical miles. On the Challenger charts all areas where the depth exceeds three thousand fathoms have been called "deeps," and distinctive names have been conferred upon them. Forty-two such depressions are now known—twenty-four in the Pacific Ocean, three in the Indian Ocean, fifteen in the Atlantic Ocean, and one in the Southern and Antarctic Oceans. The area occupied by these deeps is estimated at 7,152,000 geographical square miles, or about seven per cent of the total water surface of the globe. Within these deeps more than 250 soundings have been recorded, of which twenty-four exceed 2,000 fathoms, including three exceeding 5,000 fathoms. Depths exceeding 4,000 fathoms, or four geographical miles, have been recorded in eight of the deeps. Depths exceeding 5,000 fathoms have been hitherto recorded only within the Aldrich Deep of the South Pacific, to the east of the Kermadecs and Friendly Islands, where the greatest depth is 5,155 fathoms, or 530 feet more than five geographical miles. This is about 2,000 feet more below the level of the sea than the summit of Mount Everest, in the Himalayas, is above it.


Death of Sir William Dawson.—By the death of Sir J. William Dawson, at Montreal, November 19th, America loses one of its most highly distinguished geologists. Sir William was born at Pictou, Nova Scotia, in October, 1820, and was deeply interested in the study of Nature from his early college days, when he made extensive collections of various kinds. When he was twenty-two years old a happy fortune brought him in contact with Sir Charles Lyell, then visiting America, and he was that eminent geologist's traveling companion during his scientific tour of Nova Scotia. He studied chemistry at the University of Edinburgh. Returning to Nova Scotia in 1850, he engaged in teaching, and was associated with the first normal school in the province. He was afterward connected with the new University of New Brunswick, and from 1855 to 1893 was Principal of McGill College and University. Although his duties in the college were very exacting. Professor Dawson's industry in scientific research was never relaxed, and he was the author of contributions of very great value to the geology and paleontology of Canada. Among these were the discoveries of the Dendrepeton acadianum—the first reptile found in the American coal formations—and the Pupa vetusta—the first-known Paleozoic land shell. His discovery and exposition of the Eozoon canadense attracted great attention, and was much discussed, but his views of its importance do not seem to have been justified, for some doubts now exist among geologists whether it represents any organic structure. He was the first President of the Royal Society of Canada, which was organized in 1882; was one of the sectional presidents of the British Association at its Montreal meeting (1884), and was president of that body at its Birmingham meeting, 1886. Among his published works are the Description of the Devonian and Carboniferous Flora of Eastern North America, constituting two volumes of the Reports of the Geological Survey of Canada; Air-Breathers of the Coal Formation; Acadian Geology; The Story of the Earth and Man; Origin of Animal Life; Fossil Men; the Canadian Ice Age; the Meeting Place of Geology and History; the Geological History of Plants (in the International Scientific Series); Relics of Primeval Life (Lowell Lectures); The Chain of Life in Geological Times; Modern Science in Bible Lands; the Dawn of Life; Modern Ideas of Evolution; a book of travels in Egypt and Syria; and many contributions to scientific periodicals. He received numerous degrees and honors from learned bodies and institutions, among them the Lyell medal of the Geological Society of London, in 1882. A sketch of Principal Dawson, as he was then called, was published, with a portrait, in the Popular Science Monthly for December, 1875 (vol. viii, p. 132).


Glacial Lakes in New York.—A glacial lake is defined by H. P. Fairchild, in his paper on Glacial Waters in the Finger Lake Region of New York (Geological Society of America, Rochester, N. Y.), as a body of static water existing by virtue of a barrier of ice. Such impounded waters may exist where a glacier blocks a stream, or where the general land surface inclines toward the glacier foot. The lakes described in Mr. Fairehild's paper belongs to the second class, and were formed in the southern part of the Ontario basin, where the land slopes northward from a plateau of two thousand feet elevation down to Lake Ontario, two hundred and forty-six feet. The high plateau was deeply gashed by the preglacial stream erosion, and in these trenches along the northern border of the plateau lie the present "Finger Lakes." The topography was peculiarly favorable to the production against the bold ice front of a series of distinct valley lakes, in many respects unequaled elsewhere. Between twenty and thirty of these lakes are described in Professor Fairehild's paper, which occupied sites now partly represented by nineteen streams and lakes, beginning with Tonawanda Creek on the west and extending to Butternut Creek (Jamesburg and Apulia) on the east. The local lakes were not of long duration, and their surface level was unstable, changing with the down-cutting of the outlets and with the greatly increased volume of the summer melting of the ice sheet. Consequently, true beaches are usually wanting. The conspicuous evidences are the deltas of land streams, with their terraces, embankments, bars and spits, and the outlet channels. The records of these extinct waters are the very latest phenomena connected with the ice invasion, and are the connecting link between the glacial condition and the present hydrography. They are of lively interest, perhaps, to only a few persons, but the details are necessary to the more general study of the Pleistocene. No economic or practical result from the knowledge is foreseen, "but as pure science the study of these waterless lakes, waveless shores, and streamless channels has a fascination and romance."


The Environment in Education.—"Two considerations of equal and fundamental importance," says Mr. Wilbur S. Jackman, "are included in teaching—the choice of the subject-matter and its presentation, and the reaction of the pupil as the result of the presentation. No presentation ever reaches consciousness without a reaction, however feeble, from which results an immediate and inevitable corresponding mental construction. Certain instincts called primitive, it may be generally agreed, exist in children, and, by taking intelligent advantage of these, definite educative presentation may be begun at a much earlier age than was once supposed. Under the theory that the child repeats the racial history in its growth, a practice has arisen of meeting the early instincts of childhood with presentations from the adult lives of primitive peoples. Presentations are made to stimulate the idea of hunting and fishing, of building wigwams and the like." But it is a fundamental error, Mr. Jackman believes, to suppose that while the child may be Indianlike in his instincts he is to be considered or treated as an Indian. Another factor of which evolution makes a great deal—the nature of the environment—must be considered, and it is very powerful. The material for satisfying the cravings of the early instincts should therefore be chosen from the immediate environment, to which the pupil's reaction is at once positive and definite. "It is scarcely possible to overmagnify the benefits of an education that seeks first to make the most out of the immediate things of life. Its results and its ideals are about us everywhere. The ability to use in the most intelligent and skillful way the materials of our environment is the necessary condition for the highest purposes and the most glorified ideals. One must have a profound respect for the education that proposes to give us clean cities and hygienic homes."


An Athabascan Indian Lodge.—The caribou-skin lodge of the northern Athabascan Indians is described by Mr. Frank Russell, in his Explorations in the Far North, as supported by a framework of from twelve to thirty poles. In pitching camp in winter, sticks are thrust through the snow in order to find solid earth for a floor. If the stick enters soft moss the place is avoided, as the camp fire would spread and undermine the lodge. When a suitable site is found, the men clear away the snow with their snowshoes, and perhaps assist the women in cutting and carrying the lodge poles. It is the women's duty to carry bundles of spruce boughs with which to cover the floor of the lodge. The brush is carefully laid, branch by branch, so that the stems are under the tops and point away from the center. This floor is renewed every Saturday afternoon. The fireplace is surrounded by a pole of green wood, three or four inches in diameter, cut so as to be bent in the form of a polygon. Above the doorway a pole eight feet long is lashed to the lodge-poles in a horizontal position, six feet from the ground; this, and a similar pole on the opposite side, support from six to twelve poles, crossing above the fire, making a stage on which to thaw and dry meat. Each hunter's powder-horn and shot-pouch are suspended from a lodge-pole or his back, while his gun stands in its cover against a pole or lies on a stage outside. Near the door flap are several hungry and watchful dogs, which, by constantly running in and out, make an opening for the cold wind to enter. The dogs are tied at night. The side of the fire next to the entrance is allotted to the children and visiting women. On either side sit the wives, for there are usually two families in one lodge. Behind them are muskimoots and an inextricable confusion of rags, blankets, bones, meat, etc. If a crooked knife, a tea bag, or anything that is in the heap is needed, everything is tumbled about until it is found. The sled-wrapper is extended behind the lodge-poles and serves as a catch-all for stores of meat, bones to be pounded and boiled to extract the grease, and odds and ends not in constant use. The next space is occupied by the men of the house; that farthest from the door is reserved for the young men and the men guests. At night each adult rolls up in a single three-point blanket or a caribou-skin robe, and sleeps on an undressed caribou skin. A piece of an old blanket generally covers the small children in a bunch.


The Sand Grouse.—Pallas's sand grouse is a native of the Kirghiz steppes of central Asia, and occasionally, driven by some pressure of circumstances of which we can only conjecture the nature, makes visits to England. Its presence in that country has never been recorded till this century—more, perhaps, for lack of observers than of migrating birds—but it has appeared in 1863, 1872, 1873, 1888, 1889, and 1899. The principal migration in recent years was in 1888, when many examples were seen and shot in different parts of the country. In the same year it was seen "far and wide" in western Europe, and as far north as Trondhjem, in western Norway. A writer in the Saturday Review remarks on the resemblance of this sand grouse, as described by Prjevalski in central Asia, to the various sand grouse he has seen in South Africa. At the drinking places they circle round the water. Presently they alight and, Prjevalski says, "hastily drink and rise again, and, in cases where the flocks are large, the birds in front get up before those at the back have time to alight. They know their drinking places very well, and very often go to them from distances of tens of miles, especially in the mornings, between nine and ten o'clock, but after twelve at noon they seldom visit these spots." In the Kalahari country, at the scant desert waters, the Saturday Review writer says, three kinds of sand grouse "are to be seen flocking in from all parts of the country from eight to ten o'clock a.m. for their day's drink. Circling swiftly round the pool with sharp cries, they suddenly stoop together toward the water. The noisy rustle of their wings as they alight and ascend is most remarkable. We noticed that the birds nearest the water drank quickly and moved off, allowing those in the rear to take their places and slake their thirst, the whole process being accomplished with unfailing order and regularity.… The spectacle of these punctual creatures, streaming in from all points of the compass with unfailing regularity between eight and ten o'clock was always most fascinating. After drinking they circled once or twice round the water pool, and then flew off with amazing swiftness for their day of feeding in the dry, sun-scorched desert. The seeds of grass and other desert plants seem to constitute their principal food. The sand grouse has some characteristics of the pigeon and some of the grouse, which suggest a 'singular blending' of the two orders."


Plantations for Rural School Grounds.—A paper on the Laying out and Adornment of Rural School Grounds, by Prof. L. H. Bailey, published as a Bulletin of Cornell University Experiment Station, lays down as a general principle in plantation that it should be in the main for foliage effects. "Select those trees and shrubs which are the commonest, because they are the cheapest, hardiest, and likeliest to grow. There is no district so poor and bare that enough plants can not be secured without money for the school yard. You will find them in the woods, in old yards, along the fences.… Scatter in a few trees along the fences and about the buildings. Maples, basswood, elms, ashes, buttonwood, pepperidge, oaks, beeches, birches, hickories, poplars, a few trees of pine or spruce or hemlock—any of these are excellent. If the country is bleak, a rather heavy planting of evergreens about the border, in the place of so much shrubbery, is very good. For shrubs, use the common things to be found in the woods and swales, together with the roots which can be found in every old yard. Willows, osiers, witch-hazel, dogwood, wild roses, thorn apples, haws, elders, sumac, wild honeysuckles—these and others can be found in every school district. From the farmyards can be secured snowballs, spireas, lilacs, forsythias, mock-oranges, roses, snowberries, barberries, flowering currants, honeysuckles, and the like. Vines can be used to excellent purpose on the outbuildings or on the schoolhouse itself. The common wild Virginia creeper is the most serviceable on brick or stone schoolhouses. The Boston ivy or the Japanese ampelopsis may be used, unless the location is very bleak. Honeysuckle, clematis, and bittersweet are also attractive." Flowers may be used for decorations.


Destruction of the Birds.—A circular sent us by the New York Zoölogical Society opens with the declaration which is only a moderate expression of the truth, that "the annihilation of the finest birds and quadrupeds of the United States is a crime against civiliation which should call forth the disapproval of every intelligent American." The second annual report of the society (for 1897) contains an article on this subject by Mr. William T. Hornaday, which sets forth some remarkable facta concerning the rate at which the destruction of Nature's fair creatures is proceeding. It is not creditable to American science or American manhood that most of the measures that have been adopted for the protection of animal life in this country have been taken in the interest and at the urgency of sportsmen; or, to prevent killing the poor creatures in an irregular way, in order that they may be more conveniently killed in the regular way. Mr. Hornaday has a fairly satisfactory number of reports in answer to his inquiries concerning the rate at which birds are disappearing from thirty-six States. From these he has compiled a graphic table for thirty States, taking care to keep within the conservative limit in every particular, which shows that forty-six per cent of the birds of the country have been destroyed within the last fifteen years—the State averages ranging from ten per cent in Nebraska and twenty-seven per cent in Massachusetts to seventy-five per cent in Connecticut, Indian Territory, and Montana, and seventy-seven per cent in Florida. In North Carolina, Oregon, and California the balance of bird life has been maintained; and in Kansas, Wyoming, Washington, and Utah it has increased—Kansas, with its law absolutely forbidding traffic in certain birds, being the "banner State." "The western part of the State of Washington reveals the uncommon paradox of a locality being filled up with bird forms because of the clearing away of the timber." The agencies bringing about the destruction of our animal life are many and various. There are the "sportsmen," of whom Mr. Hornaday registers five kinds, all eager to "kill something," hunting for one hundred and fifty-four species of "game birds," and when these fail, taking the song birds in their place. If the reports are true, the boys of America are the chief destroyers of our passerine birds and other small non-edible birds generally. "The majority of them shoot the birds, a great many devote their energies to gathering eggs, and some do both." Then there are the women wearing birds or feathers in their hats. Egg collecting, which was fostered at one time as encouraging interest in natural history, has increased till it has become an abuse as dangerous and destructive as any of the others, and even genuine scientific collectors are advised to call a halt. Mr. Hornaday concludes that "under present conditions, and excepting in a few localities, the practical annihilation of all our birds, except the smallest species, and within a comparatively short period, may be regarded as absolutely certain to occur."


Annual Flowers.—In a Cornell University Agricultural Experiment bulletin on Annual Flowers the authors, G. N. Lauman and Prof. L. H. Bailey, teach that the main planting of any place should be trees and shrubs. The flowers may then be used as decorations. They may be thrown in freely about the borders of the place, but not in beds in the center of the lawn. They show off better when seen against a background, which may be foliage, a building, a rock, or a fence. Where to plant flowers is really more important than what to plant. "In front of bushes, in the corner of the steps, against the foundation of the residence or outhouse, along a fence or a walk—these are places for flowers. A single petunia plant against a background of foliage is worth a dozen similar plants in the center of the lawn.… The open-centered yard may be a picture; the promiscuously planted yard may be a nursery or a forest. A little color scattered here and there puts the finish to the picture." If the person wants a flower garden, the primary question is one not of decoration of the yard, but of growing flowers for flowers' sake. The flower garden, therefore, should be at one side of the residence or at the rear, for it is not allowable to spoil a good lawn even with flowers. A good small garden is much more satisfactory than a poor large garden. Many annual plants make effective screens and covers for unsightly places. Wild cucumber, cobœa, and sweet peas may be used to decorate the tennis screen or the chicken-yard fence. Efficient screens can be made of many strong-growing and large-leaved plants, such as cannas, castor-beans, sunflowers, or tobacco.


A Thirteenth-Century Miracle.—The legend of St. Prokopy relates that on the 25th of June, 1290, the city of Wilikij Ustjug, government of Vologda, southern Piussia, was imminently threatened by a violent storm. The populace appealed to the saint, and, by virtue of his prayers, the storm changed its direction, and, passing on one side of the city, spent its fury upon a desert spot about fifteen miles away, where it left, with hail, a mass of fire-marked stones, the fall of which wrought great havoc with the undergrowth. The incident made a deep impression upon the minds of the people, so that the story is still current and alive after the lapse of six hundred years. A testimony to what the people believe is its truth may be found by visiting the spot, where a surface extending along about four miles is covered with blocks of stone, assumed to be meteorites. A church dedicated to St. Prokopy has been built in the neighboring village of Loboff or Catoval, and near it stands a curious little wooden chapel of great antiquity, the foundation of which was made of the stones that fell. The church is decorated with pictures of St. Prokopy and of incidents of the meteoric storm, and one of the stones that fell has been mounted on a pedestal in the cathedral of Ustjug, where it is an object of devotion. Mr. Melnikoff, Conservator of the Mineralogical Collections of the Mining Institute of St. Petersburg, has examined the place and the stones, and finds that they are not meteoric and heavenly at all, but simply earthly granite and sandstone. Yet M. Stanislas Meunier suggests, in La Nature, that the story, so carefully treasured up for six hundred years, may have a foundation. That such stones as lie on the ground at Catoval may have been taken up and transplanted by a tornado of extreme violence he regards as within the possibilities. M. Meunier has himself investigated a phenomenon of the kind in France, where the ground was "mitrailled" with stones measuring one, two, and three cubic centimetres, which had been brought a distance of one hundred and fifty kilometres. Another possible explanation is that the stones were already there, so concealed by the dense growth as not to attract particular attention, but became more plainly obvious when the ground had been cleared by the tornado.