D. S. (David Samuel) Margoliouth.

The Popular science monthly (Volume 19) online

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most important works of this kind that
have attracted the attention of European


Professor 0. N. Rood, of Columbia Col-
lege, describes, in a late number of the
" American Journal of Science," a modifica-
tion of the Sprengel pump, by which he has
been able to obtain a vacuum of jjfmffurraTT
"without finding that the limit of its action
had been reached."

Ai.DE>f B. Hurt, not Huet, as it was
wrongly printed, is the name of the author
of the article " Union of the Telegraph
and Postal Service " published in the July
" Monthly."

The center of population of the United
States appears now to have reached a point
in latitude 39° 03', about five miles west of
Covington, Kentucky, ten miles east of the
boundary-line between Indiana and Ohio,
and fifty-one miles west and a few miles
south of the point it reached in 1870. It
has moved westward about four hundred
and fifty miles since 1790.

Mr. John Fergcs McLennan, an indus-
trious student in anthropology, died in June
of lung disease, from whicii he had suffered
for many years, aggravated by a fever caught
in Algeria. His investigations were directed
chiefly to the history of institutions. Their
results were given principally in his essays
on " Plant and Animal Worship," in the
" Fortnightly Review," which first drew at-
tention to the distribution and historical
importance of totemism, and in his essays
on " Primitive Marriage."

A French scientific journal relates an
incident illustrating the susceptibility of
spiders to music. A party at a country-
house had formed a quartet and were per-
forming a number of pieces, when two spi-
ders were observed to descend upon their
threads and hang near the top of the win-
dow of the room. They continued there for
an hour, and did not go back to their nests
til! the music had stopped.

Dr. Beddok and Mr. Tuckett have stated
that " British heads are smaller than Brit-
ish heads used to be," and Mr. Horsfall, in
the " Manchester Guardian," infers from
this and other facts that the English peo-
ple are physically deteriorating. The con-
ditions under which youth are brought up
iu these days, without access to play-grounds
and public gymnasia, with smoking and
drinking as their principal recreations, arc

such as to favor the stunting of the race.
The " Lancet "' takes up the thought, and
points to the mode of life of a large num-
ber of urban people as the great evil of
civilization. It urges the multiplication of
places for open-air recreation and gymna-
sia, with increased freedom of admission to

The ninth award of the Rumford medal
has been made by the American Academy
of Arts and Sciences to Professor J. Willard
Gibbs, for his researches on thermo-dynam-
ics, and the medal was formally conferred
upon that gentleman in January last. Pro-
fessor Gibbs, in entering upon his investiga-
tion on the " Equilibrium of Heterogeneous
Substances," the work for which the medal
was conferred, took his departure from the
two propositions enunciated by Clausius,
that " the energy of the world is constant,"
and " the entropy of the world " (that is,
the energy not available for work) " tends
constantly toward a maximum," and held
as his leading object to develop the parts of
energy and entropy in the theory of thermo-
dynamic equilibrium. His researches were
declared by the President of the Academy
to be " the consummate flower and fruit of
seeds planted by Rumford himself, though
in an unpromising soil, almost a century
ago," when he showed how water could be
boiled by the heat developed in boring a

Sir Josiah Mason, founder of the Ma-
son Science College, died at Birmingham,
England, in June, at the age of eighty-six
years. He rose from the humblest ranks,
having begun life as a street hawker and
Jack-at-all-trades. He became employed in
the gilt toy trade in 1814, and engaged in
the manufacture of split rings in 1822. He
afterward added the manufacture of steel
pens, and became the greatest producer of
them. lie established an orphanage at Ed-
lington in 1860, expending .€300,000 upon
it, and received the honor of knighthood in
acknowledgment of his work. He afterward
built up and endowed the Mason Science
College, the inaugural address of which
was delivered by Professor Huxley, giving
it a total sum of about a quarter of a mill-
ion pounds sterling.

M. DE BisscHOP has won a prize of one
thousand francs, or two hundred dollars, for
a small motor suited to use in families. His
engine is worked by gas, and the operation
costs, at the prices current in Paris, two
cents an hour for machines doing a work of
361 7 foot-pounds per second, five cents an
hour for machines performing at the rate of
180"8 foot-pounds per second. The smaller
machines are sold for one hundred dollars ;
the larger ones for one hundred and eighty


th:e popular science monthly.

The French Minister of Public Instruc-
tion is organizing at the Trocad^ro a mu-
seum of ethnography, to contain the collec-
tions of the exploring parties by which
France is represented, in nearly every quar-
ter of the world, which will be under the
charge of M. Armand Landrin and M.
Hamy. The American department is nearly
ready to be opened. It is arranged in geo-
graphical order, beginning with Alaska,
Labrador, and Canada, and ending with
Brazil. The departments of the states
farther south must for the present remain
empty for the want of specimens. Califor-
nia is represented by a tomb made of sand,
shells, and kitchen-midden stuff, containing
the bones of the deceased, by collections
of cut flints, dolls, toys, and idols ; Mexico
by mummies — some of which are very well
preserved, while others arc but skin and
bones — mirrors of polished pyrites, and all
kinds of divinities.

Herr IIoltz has concluded, from the
comparison of the statistics of thunder-
storms and the damage occasioned by them
in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, from
1854 to 1870, that, while the increase in
thunderstorms has been small, the risk
from lightning has been very largely aug-
mented. He believes the change to be
partly due to the destruction of forests, the
extension of railways, and the use of iron
in house-building.

Professor George Rolleston, Linacre
Professor of Anatomy and Physiology in
the University of Oxford, died in June, at
his home in Oxford, in his fifty-second year.
His life was one of scientific activity. lie
began his career, after being admitted to
practice as a physician, as assistant surgeon
in the British Civil Hospital at Smyrna
during the Crimean War. He became Lee's
Reader in Anatomy at Christ Church Col-
lege, Oxford, in 1857, and was appointed to
his professorship, as the first to occupy the
newly founded chair, in 1860. He is best
known by his work on " The Forms of Ani-
mal Life," an outline of zoological classifi-
cation based upon anatomical investigations,
by his important contributions to Canon
Greenwell's " British Barrows," and by nu-
merous contributions to the " Transactions "
of the Royal Linna;an and Archaeological
Societies, and to many scientific journals.

Professor Ira Remsen has recently re-
ported to the National Board of Health the
result of investigations he has made to as-
certain whether carbonic oxide escapes from
cast-iron stoves and furnaces in sufficient
quantities to be dangerous. French chem-
ists have asserted that it does ; experiments
made in Germany have failed to sustain
their conclusion. Professor Remsen used
Vogel's test for carbonic oxide, as improved
by Ilempcl, and was able to detect as small

a quantity as 0-04 parts of the oxide to
1,000 of air, while Vogel by his original
test could not detect a smaller proportion
than 2"5 parts per 1,000. In a careful
examination of several furnaces in Balti-
more, including some bad ones, carbonic
oxide was not detected in a single case. A
stove of peculiar construction was experi-
mented upon under various conditions, to
ascertain whether carbonic oxide actually
passes through cast-iron heated to redness,
with the result that none of the gas was
found escaping. The conclusion is there-
fore drawn that if carbonic oxide is present
in rooms it is in a smaller proportion than
0'04 parts per 1,000; and it remains to be
shown whether so small a quantity is dan-
gerous to health.

Among tlie recent entomological contri-
butions to the "American Naturalist" is
one by George Marx, of Wa.shington, D. C,
on a tube-constructing spider which he has
discovered in the grounds of grass lands.
The nests of these insects are outwardly
about three quarters of an inch high, com-
posed of grass, sticks of wood, etc., and
much resembling a bird's nest. Within
they are cylindrical, and communicate with
a shaft some eight or nine inches deep, at
the bottom of which was found (in October)
a torpid spider. The nest and tube were
strengthened by a lining resembling a very
fine tissue-paper, which showed under the
microscope no web-structure, but a hard-
ened tissue, like varnish. Several of the
nests were found, all constructed on the
same plan. Nests of a similar character,
but not identical, are described by Mr. Nich-
olas Pike, Mr. S. H. Scudder, and Mrs. M.
Treat, as having been found in the sand
near the seashore. Mr. Marx believes his
specimens to be of a different species from
the others, chiefly because the nests of the
latter appeared to be used in summer and
to contain eggs, while his nests were fresh
in the fall, dilapidated and empty in the
summer, indicating that they were used only
as winter residences.

Professor J. W. Mallet has published an
account of his determinations of the atomic
weight of aluminum by series of experi-
ments in three methods. The first method
was by the ignition of ammonia alum, the
second by the precipitation of the bromine
in aluminum bromide by silver, and the
third by the evolution of hydrogen through
the action of metallic aluminum upon so-
dium hydrate. In the last method the hy-
drogen was determined, first, by the direct
measurement of its volume, and, second, by
weighing the water produced by its oxida-
tion. The mean result of thirty experiments,
ten in the first method, eleven in the second,
and nine in the third, rejecting one of the
results as too wide of the mark, was 27"02.




OCTOBEE. 1881.



THE vicissitudes necessarily incident to an out-door and primitive
mode of life are never the first causes of any disease, though
they may sometimes betray its presence. Bronchitis, nowadays per-
haps the most frequent of all infantile diseases, makes no exception
to this rule ; a draught of cold air may reveal the latent progress
of the disorder, but its cause is long confinement in a vitiated and
overheated atmosphere, and its proper remedy ventilation and a mild,
phlegm-loosening (saccharine) diet, warm sweet milk, sweet oatmeal-
porridge, or honey -water. Select an airy bedroom and do not be afraid
to open the windows ; among the children of the Indian tribes who
brave in open tents the terrible winters of the Hudson Bay terri-
tory, bronchitis, croup, and diphtheria are wholly unknown ; and what
we call " taking cold " might often be more correctly described as
taking hot ; glowing stoves, and even open fires, in a night-nursery,
greatly aggravate the pernicious effects of an impure atmosphere. The
first paroxysm of croup can be promptly relieved by very simple reme-
dies : fresh air and a rapid forward-and-backward movement of the
arms, combined in urgent cases with the application of a flesh-brush
(or piece of flannel) to the neck and the upper part of the chest. Pare-
goric and poppy-sirup stop the cough by lethargizing the irritability
and thus preventing the discharge of the phlegm till its accumulation
produces a second and far more dangerous paroxysm. These second
attacks of croup (after the administration of palliatives) are generally
the fatal ones. When the child is convalescing, let him beware of
stimulating food and overheated rooms. Do not give aperient medi-

TOL. XIX.— 46


cines ; costiveness, as an after-effect of pleuritic affections, will soon
yield to fresh air and a vegetable diet.

Worms. — Intestinal parasites are symptoms rather than a cause of
defective digestion, and drastic medicines (calomel, Glauber's-salt, etc.)
are merely palliatives ; even a change of diet may fail to afford perma-
nent relief if the general mode of life favors a costive condition of
the bowels. Like maggots, maw-worms seem to thrive only on putres-
cent substances, on accumulated ingesta in a state of self-decomposi-
tion, and disappear as soon as exercise, cold fresh air, and a frugal diet
have reestablished the functional vigor of the digestive organs.

Biarrlicea, — An abnormal looseness of the bowels is an effort of
Nature to rid the stomach of some irritating substance, and suggests
the agency of a dietetic abuse, either in quantity or in quality. An
excessive quantum even of the healthiest food will purge the bowels
like a drastic poison, unless the alimentary wants — and consequent-
ly the assimilative abilities of the system — have been increased by
active exercise. On the hunting-grounds of the upper Alps, an Aus-
trian sportsman can assimilate a quantity of meat which the kitchen
artists of the best Vienna restaurant could not have foisted upon the
stomach of an indolent burgher. Dysentery medicines can be entirely
dispensed with if one can get the patient to try the effect of Nature's
two specifics — fasting and pedestrian exercise. Combined they will
only fail when opiates have produced an inflammatory condition of
the bowels, in which case a grape- or water-cure must precede the
more radical remedies. The languor of dysentery is always combined
with a fretful restlessness, and should not be mistaken for the exhaus-
tion that calls for repose and food : the patient is safe if we can fa-
tigue him into actual sleepiness, or anything like a genuine appetite ;
when the digestive organs announce the need of nourishment, they
can be relied upon to find ways and means to retain it.

Constipation. — A slight stringency of the bowels should never be
interfered with ; in summer-time close stools are consistent with a
good appetite and general bodily vigor. Aperient medicines provoke
a morbid activity of the bowels, followed by a costiveness that differs
from a summer constipation as insomnia differs from a transient sleep-
lessness. In England and the United States the use of laxative drugs
has repeatedly become epidemic and in its consequences a true na-
tional misfortune ;* and a sad majority of otherwise intelligent par-
ents are still afflicted with the idea that children have to " take some-
thing" — in other words, that their bowels have to be convulsed with

* " If the bowels become constipated, they are dosed with pills, with black draughts,
with brimstone and treacle, and medicines of that class, almost ad infinitum. Opening
medicines, by constant repetition, lose their effects, and therefore require to be made
stronger and stronger, until at length the strongest will scarcely act at all ; . . . the pa-
tients become dull and listless, requiring daily doses of physic until they almost live on
medicine." — (H. Chavasse, "Advice to a Mother," p. 388.)


poisons, for every trifling complaint. Constipation is often simply a
transient lassitude of the system, a functional tardiness caused by fa-
tigue and perspiration, and very apt to cure itself in the course of two
or three days, especially at a change from a higher to a lower tem-
perature. After the third day the disorder demands a change of
regimen : cold ablutions, lighter bedclothes, in summer-time removal
of the bed to the coolest and airiest available locality, and liberal
rations of the most digestible food — bran-bread, sweet cold milk,
stewed prunes, and fresh fruit in any desired quantity ; faute de
mieux, cold water and sugar, oatmeal-gruel, and diluted molasses. The
legumina, in all their combinations, are likewise very eflicient bowel
regulators, and common pea-soup is a remedial equivalent of Du
Barry's expensive "revalenta Arabica" (lentil - powder). For real
dyspepsia (rarely a chronic disease of youngsters in their teens), there
is hardly any help but rough out-door exercise, daily pedestrian exer-
cise or out-door labor, continued for hours in all kinds of weather.
The Graham starvation cure might bring relief in the course of time,
but for one person with passive heroism enough to resist the continual
cravings of an abnormal appetite, hundreds can muster the requisite
resolution for an occasional active effort, which will gradually but
perceptibly restore the vigor of the system. Drugs only change the
form of the disease by turning a confirmed surfeit-habit into a still
more obstinate and less commutable alcohol-habit ; the vile mixtures
sold under the name of " tonic " bitters have never benefited anybody
but their proprietors and the rum-sellers, to whose army of victims
the patent-medicine dispensaries serve as so many recruiting-ofiices.

Active exercise is also the only remedy for those secret vices whose
causes are as often misunderstood as their consequences. The pathol-
ogists who ascribe precocious prurience to the effects of a stimulat-
ing diet seem to overlook the fact that the most continent nations of
antiquity, the Scythians and ancient Germans, were as nearly exclu-
sively carnivorous as our Indian hunting-tribes, the apathy of whose
sexual instincts has been alleged in explanation of their gradual ex-
tinction.* For the same reason the gauchos of the tropical pampas
are an unprolific race, while the Russian mujiks and the sluggish
boyars of the Danubian principalities are as salacious as the inert
(though frugivorous) natives of southern Italy. Independent of cli-
mate and diet, the continence or incontinence of the different nations,
or different classes of any nation, bears an unmistakable proportion to
the degree of their indolence. Lazy cities and small, thickly popu-
lated islands (Lesbos, Paphos, Cythera, Otaheite) have been most con-
spicuous for the absence of those virtues which the Grecian allegory
ascribed to the goddess of the chase. The menu prescribed by the
founders of the monastic orders was rather ultra-Grahamite in quality
and quantity, yet neither barley-bread nor the frequent fasts to aid the
* Ludwig, " American Aborigines," p. 128.



minutio monachi could counteract the effects of deficient exercise ; if
we can believe the publicists of the Reformation, the chroniqiie scan-
daleuse of Lesbos and Capri was far surpassed in the record of some
mediaeval convents — and not in the flagrant latitude of Italy alone
(Robert Burton's " Anatomy of Melancholy," volume of miscellanies,
pp. 449-451, quotations, etc.). Nor can we mistake the significance of
the circumstance that sexual aberrations in the years of immaturity are
almost exclusively the vice of male children, whose potential energies,
with the same diet and the same general mode of life, find no adequate
vent in an amount of active exercise nearly suflicient for the consti-
tutional wants of the other sex. Moral lectures are sadly ineffectual
in such cases, because, as Gotthold Lessing remarks, vicious passions
pervert the constitution of the mind as effectually as they subvert that
of the body — " the evil powers blindfold the victims of their altars."
A frugal diet may subserve the work of reform, but the great specific
is competitive gymnastics, the society and example of merry, manly,
and adventurous companions. Crank- work gymnastics won't do ; en-
list the pride of the young Triraalchion, watch him at play, find out
his special/br^e, no matter what — running, jumping, or throwing stones
— and organize a sodality for the cultivation of that particular accom-
plishment. Beguile him into heroic efforts, offer prizes and champion-
badges : as soon as manful exercises become a pleasure, unmanning
indulgences will lose their attractions. The depressing after-effect of
sensual excesses, the dreary reaction, is a chief incentive to the repe-
tition of the vicious act, and the success of all reformatory measures
depends at first upon the possibility of relieving this depression by
healthful diversion, till, in the course of time, regained mental and
bodily vigor will help the remedial tendency of Nature to neutralize
the morbid inclination.

"jRickets " is a sign of general debility, owing to mal-nutrition
during the years of rapid growth. The best physic for a rickety child
is milk, bran -bread, and fruit ; the best physician, the drill-master of
the turner-hall. Rickety children are apt to be precocious, and till
their backs are straightened up their books ought to be thrown aside.
Knock-knees, bow-legs, " chicken-breasts," and round shoulders are all
amenable to treatment, if the cure be begun in time — during the first
three years of the teens, of all ages at once the most plastic and the
most retentive of deep impressions.

For the cure of young topers, smokers, and r/luitons I am persuaded
that punishments are only of temporary avail, and homilies of no use
whatever. The most glowing eloquence palls before the suasion of
a vicious penchant. Here, too, the chances of saving the tempted
depend upon the possibility of silencing the tempter — by outbidding
bis offer. Provide healthful diversions ; the victims of the poison-
habit yield to temptation when the reaction (following xipon every
morbid excitement) becomes intolerable. RelicA'c the strain of that


reaction hy diverting sports ; improvise hunting expeditions and
mountain-excursions, or Olympic games ; between exciting diversions
and sound sleep the toper will forget his tipple, and every day thus
gained will lessen the danger of a relapse.

It can not be denied that ])oison-/iabifs (the opium-habit as well as
"alcoholism") are to some degree hereditary. The children of con-
firmed inebriates should be carefully guarded, not only against objec-
tive temptations, but against the promptings of a peculiar disposition
which I have found to be a (periodical) characteristic of their mental
constitution. They lack that spontaneous gayety which constitutes
the almost misfortune-proof happiness of normal children, and, with-
out being positively peevish or melancholy, their spirits seem to be
clouded by an apathy which yields only to strong external excitants.
But healthful amusements and healthy food rarely fail to restore the
tone of the mind, and, even before the age of puberty, the manifesta-
tions of a more buoyant temper will prove that the patient has out-
grown the hereditary hebetude, and with it the need of artificial stimu-

Chlorosis, or green-sickness, is a malignant form of that dyspeptic
pallor and languor which one half of our city girls owe to their seden-
tary occupations in ill-ventilated rooms. The complaint is almost un-
known in rural districts, and the best cure is a mountain-excursion,
afoot or on horseback ; the next best a course of " calisthenics," a
plentiful and varying vegetable diet, fun, frequent baths, and plenty
of sleep. " Tonic " drugs are sure to aggravate the evil. It is only
too well known that a fit of nervous depression can be momentarily
relieved by a cup of strong green tea. The stimulus goads the weary
system into a spasm of moi'bid activity : the vital strength, sorely
needed for a reconstructive process (one of whose phases was the ner-
vous depression), has now to be used to repel a pernicious intruder ;
and this convulsion of the organism, in its effort to rid itself of the
narcotic poison, is mistaken for a sign of returning vigor — the patient
" feels so much better." But, as soon as the irritant has been elimi-
nated, the vital energy — diminished now by the expulsive effort — has to
resume the work of reconstruction under less favorable circumstances ;
the patient now " feels so much worse " — by just as much as the reac-
tion following upon the morbid excitement has since increased the
nervous depression. In the same way precisely a " tonic " medicine
operates upon the exhausted organism, and in the same way its effect
— a morbid and transient stimulation — is mistaken for a permanent

Online LibraryD. S. (David Samuel) MargoliouthThe Popular science monthly (Volume 19) → online text (page 91 of 110)