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FRIDAY, AUGUST 13, 1886.
COMMENT AND CRITICISM. CONSIDERABLE INTEREST has of late been taken in the study of the etiology of pneumonia. Some believe it to be due, in the majority of cases, to microbes, and base this opinion upon the discovery of four varieties of micro-organisms in lungs affected with the disease; others find a marked relation between its prevalence and the increased amount of ozone in the air, either just at the time or immediately preceding. Dr. Seibert has made" a study of 768 cases of primary pneumonia, which were reported to him by the members of the New York medical society, and which occurred in their practice during twelve months. These cases were distributed as follows: January, 71; February, 140; March, 103; April, 73; May, 55; June, 37; July, 26; August, 25; September. 43; October, 62; November, 65; December, 78. The results of Dr. Seibert's investigations are, 1°, that the varying prevalence of pneumonia may be explained by changes in temperature, humidity, and velocity of the winds; and, 2°, that, whenever there exists a low or falling temperature with excessive and increasing humidity and high winds, pneumonia prevails to its greatest extent. If two of these conditions exist without the third, the disease will be markedly prevalent, but not so much so as in the preceding instance. Catarrhal troubles are also favored by the same conditions.
THERE HAS RECENTLY BEEN PUBLISHED a biography of Se-Quo-Yah, styled the American Cadmus. Born in 1770, of a Cherokee mother whose European husband had deserted her, he grew up as the pride of his people, both in games and war. One day (so the story goes) a white captive produced a letter, and everybody wondered at the 'talking leaf.' Se-Quo-Yah (which translates suspiciously into 'he guessed it') pondered over the mystery, and with the use of an English spelling-book which had fallen into his hands (but which of course he could not read), invented a written alphabet for his people, making the English characters, with modifications and additions of his own, stand for
the eighty-two syllables of which the Cherokee language is composed. He analyzed the spoken speech, and had each distinct syllable represented by a sign. His tribe at first considered him as weak-minded, but eventually recognized the utility of his invention. Five years after the invention he had a school with many scholars, and a printing press was publishing a Cherokee paper, part of which was printed in the Se-Quo-Yah alphabet. This invention is referred to as the means of civilizing the Cherokee nation. The story is unfortunately not sufficiently clear to enable one to appreciate just how much of the idea was original with Se-Quo-Yah, or to claim for him the honor of doing by a flash of genius what in other races had been slowly worked out before history began.
IT IS A PREVALENT popular impression that some special providence surrounds the physician with protective agencies, and that, although daily exposed to disease in its most malignant forms, he escapes when others are attacked. Dr. Ogle of England finds that while the lawyers die at the rate of 20, the clergy at the rate of 16, the doctors' mortality is 25 per 1,000. In a million adults other than physicians, 16 died of scarlet-fever, 14 of diphtheria, and 238 of typhoid-fever; while, of an equal number of physicians, 59 succumbed to scarlet-fever, 59 to diphtheria, and 311 to typhoidfever. Smallpox, on the other hand, claims more victims among the laity than in the medical profession; due, doubtless, to the fact that physicians have sufficient confidence in the protective influence of vaccination to keep themselves insusceptible to the attacks of small-pox.
DR. LINCOLN, in the Report of the Massachusetts state board of health for 1884,' says that a child who enters a public school has become a fractional part of a machine. He has been well understood by persons who have watched him from birth, and who are deeply interested in him. He is now transferred to the care of strangers, who meet with him only five hours in the day, and whose interest in him is restricted by the fact that he forms but a portion-say, from one and one-tenth to two and one-half per cent of the
total group of children that is intrusted to the care of the teacher. He is held by the teacher, and then passed on to another again as a fraction, and not as an integer. Does he not lose much, as well as gain, by this system? As regards his health, he loses that defence which the sympathy of the community always extends to that individual who is suffering conspicuously. Taken generally, all children in school are suffering from discomfort. Average this discomfort among ten thousand, and it may not be very great for each one; but a class of fifty children is not made up of fifty averages.
THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION AS A MISSIONARY BODY.
Two years ago we published some statistics concerning the membership of the American association which were somewhat curious. The figures then given dealt simply with the geographical distribution of the members; and they showed, among other things, that one-third of the association came from the states of New York and Massachusetts. If the north-eastern states, that is, New England and the Atlantic states to the Virginia line, had been counted, it would have been found that these included fully three-fifths of the association.
It could also be shown that during the last ten years, when only four of the ten meetings have been held in the north-eastern states, the average attendance of members from this section has been 53 per cent of the whole attendance, increased to 76 per cent when the meetings have been held within its own territory. It has even been larger than the territorial representation in two instances, as at the St. Louis meeting of 1878, when it was larger than the representation of all the states west of the Mississippi; and at the Montreal meeting of 1882, when it was five times as large as the entire Canadian membership present. At the other extra-territorial meetings, where its proportion of the total attendance has varied from 24 per cent to 37 per cent, it has easily held the second place, though falling below the local representation of large areas. Indeed, the representation of no other section, excepting of the northern states lying east of the Mississippi and west of the Atlantic states, ever has more than a passing importance, viz., when the meeting is held in that section. Thus Canada's representation has never been more than 3 per cent of the whole in any meetings of the last ten years, excepting in 1882, when it was held in Montreal and the percentage rose to 14 per cent; the next year however it fell
to 2 per cent, and, omitting 1882. the average has been less than 2 per cent. In this same period the states west of the Mississippi have averaged a little more than 4 per cent, and have never reached 6 per cent, excepting when the meeting was held at St. Louis in 1878, when it rose to 31 per cent, and at Minneapolis in 1883, when it was 15 per cent. The southern states have done better than this, for at the Nashville meeting in 1877 their average was 57 per cent of the whole, and though at no other time (even at St. Louis) have they exceeded 12 per cent, their general average, apart from the Nashville meeting, has been over 6 per cent.
It is, however, a matter of practical importance, in deciding where a meeting shall be held, to know how large a general attendance of members to expect, and here the statistics show some further significant facts. The general proportion of members in attendance to total membership during the past ten years has been 30 per cent, but the proportion has varied enormously, as may be seen by the following serial figures, from 1876 down: Buffalo 25 per cent; Nashville 17 per cent; St. Louis 14 per cent; Saratoga 25 per cent"; Boston 63 per cent; Cincinnati 27 per cent; Montreal 48; Minneapolis 20 per cent; Philadelphia 49 per cent; Ann Arbor 17 per cent. While it should not be forgotten that it is one part of the association's work to look upon the meetings as in some sort a missionary enterprise, neither should it be overlooked, when it is asked to hold an undue proportion of its meetings away from the centres where it gains its main financial and moral support, that such assemblies are held in partibus infidelium.
It might be sagacious to institute an inquiry as to the length of time for which new members, gathered in from the district immediately surrounding a place of meeting, are held. That membership changes largely from year to year is a well known fact that it is largely recruited from the places where the meetings are held is sufficiently obvious to any constant attendant. But what shall we say when we discover that Buffalo, which a month hence can point to itself with pride as the only city which has harbored the association for a third time; that Buffalo, situated in the region which these statistics have shown is most favorable for science, where two or three local societies for the cultivation of the natural sciences have sprung up, where scientific periodicals have found a home and a patronage; that Buffalo, renowned for its hospitality to science, literature, and art, where ten short years ago the association was enlarged by nearly one hundred and fifty members, twenty-five of them its own citizens,
has at present only seven members on the association's rolls, three of them the sole survivors of the twenty-five. Was it for missionary service that Buffalo called the association to its open doors? Does Buffalo look upon itself as in partibus infidelium?
THE TRANSCASPIAN RAILWAY. THE Transcaspian railway was opened for traffic on the 14th of July as far as Merv. The operations must already be far advanced on the MervBokhara-Samarcand branches, for the names of railway stations, the distances, and other details over the whole length of the railway, from the Caspian to the Turkestan frontier, are already known. The following are fresh particulars of this important central Asian strategical railway:
There are altogether 63 stations from Michailovsk, on the bay of that name on the Caspian, right through the deserts and oases of the Transcaspian, across the Amu Darya and Bokhara to Samarcand. These do not include the new branch of 25 versts, made from Michailovsk along the Caspian coast to Ousun Ada, in order to have deep water for the connecting sea service, and to avoid the reshipment formerly necessary between Krasnovodsk and Michailovsk. The distances between these stations vary from 15 to 33 versts, being in most cases from 22 to 25 versts.
The whole distance of the line when completed as far as Samarcand will be 1,335 versts. distances in Central Asia have become so exaggerated in most minds that few persons would imagine that they might travel by this new railway right through the Transcaspian Steppes, over the Oxus, and from one side of Bokhara to the other, coming out at Samarcand, in something like a day and a half, or less.
The first, or western, portion of the railway runs through a desert, crossing now and then an oasis, then traverses the cultivated territory of Bokhara, and ends at Samarcand in Russian Turkestan. The desert stretches along the line 148 versts between the sea-coast and Kazandjik, and 69 versts from the latter station to Kizil Arvat. The Akhal Tekee oasis extends as far as Gheours, 237 versts. The furthest point south, Doujak, is distant from the sea 581 versts, from Askabad 159 versts, Merv 167 versts, and Samarcand 754 versts. The railway traverses 300 versts of Bokharan territory. Were the line made from Merv over Burdalisk and Korti, instead of Charjui, 100 versts would be saved, and the distance between Michailovsk and Samarcand would be only 1,200 versts, or 800 miles, instead of 890 miles; but the Bokharan government, for some reason
or other, did not consider that this shorter route would so well serve the interests of their country.
The principal stations are those of Askabad and Samarcand. Besides post and telegraph offices, lodging houses have been already partly built at several stations for travellers, though nothing in the way of luxury will be provided, as may be imagined. According to the time-table, the trains will run 20 versts an hour. In the event of war, the number of trains departing may be increased to 12 per day.
The railway at present is only a single line. Although many of the stations are situated in waterless deserts, they are all furnished with water in one way or another. At Michailovsk there is Nöbel's machinery for converting the sea water into fresh water, and at several stations large cisterns are to be regularly supplied, either through pipe lines or by water trains. Artesian wells have also been dug, and good water has been found between Michailovsk and Molla Kary, and at other points. Not far from Bala Isshem, the railway also has its own petroleum sources, connected by a branch line.
THE RECENT ERUPTION IN NEW ZEALAND.
A STEAMER which recently arrived at San Francisco from Australia brings further details of the great volcanic disturbances in New Zealand. Heavy earthquakes were still felt in the Tarawera and Sulphur Springs districts, and severe shocks continued in the Rotoli district. A relief party that was sent out reported that Lake Tarawera had fallen considerably. The oil bath at Whakarewarewa was throwing up stones and mud to the height of twenty feet, and the great boiling lagoon of Papatangi would suddenly rise as much as two feet, and then as quickly fall. A similar phenomenon was observed at the Kuirrau caldron, which would rise two feet in half an hour, and then as quickly return to its normal level. Mr. Dinsey, the telegraph officer in charge of the Rotonea station, near where the eruptions and earthquakes were heaviest, reported on June 25 that volcano No. 1 was dead, and that Nos. 2 and 3 were steaming. No. 4 was still throwing up mud. Lake Rotomahana was comparatively quiet, with only one geyser in the centre playing. The Pink Terrace geysers were still blowing up clouds of steam, but were less active than they had been. The immense crevasse created between Tarawera and White Terrace continued to steam, and the cone on top of Tarawera Mountain was throwing out volumes of black smoke and steam. The New Zealand Herald says: "On Galatea Plains the
volcanic showers of mud at times took very eccentric courses, overleaping one section of land and then striking another further on, in the same line. Dr. Hector, who is making a scientific examination of the volcanic districts, said he expected that the volcanic cone which was thrown up in Lake Rotomahana during the disturbances had already on July 1 attained a height of six hundred feet, and was daily adding to its stature. He has named it Mount Hazard, after the gentleman of that name who lost his life on the first night of the great eruption. A chemical examination of the volcanic ashes shows that they are mostly composed of fine basaltic soil. Every human being has abandoned the entire portion of country situated within the limits of the volcanic system. Photographers were busily engaged taking views of the region."
NUMBERS two and three of the publications of the American economic association are covered by a monograph, entitled "The relation of the modern municipality to the gas supply," prepared by Edmund J. James, Ph.D. The pamphlet contains a thoroughgoing investigation of the various systems of gas supply, and for that reason should commend itself to all interested in municipal administration and economic phenomena. The author, as is well known to readers of Science, is disposed to widen the sphere of state activity, basing his reasoning on philosophic conceptions. The present discussion, however, is not limited to a scholastic treatment, but assumes an intensely practical form. It is viewed from two standpoints: that of the individual, who is interested in obtaining a good quality of gas at a low price; and that of the municipality, which is interested in acquiring a revenue by legitimate economic methods. On both these points, Dr. James supplies abundant data. He shows how many European, and especially English, cities have been able to save large sums for the taxpayers by managing gas trusts on a business basis; while on the other hand, the general opinion in England seems to be that the gas furnished by the public companies is better than that made by private companies." The experience of city upon city is adduced to support the belief that a transfer of ownership from private parties to municipal authorities would be of immense benefit. In the United States, there are at least three city corporations, Philadelphia, Richmond, and Wheeling, which undertake the manufacture and sale of gas. In each of these the results, upon the whole, have been favorable. The monograph is enriched by statistical information which makes it exceedingly
serviceable; and the thoroughness of the work augurs well for the series of publications which the Economic association has undertaken.
SEVERAL weeks ago, attention was drawn in this correspondence to a remarkable outbreak of scarlatina in a London district, in which the hypothesis that the disease had spread from the milk drawn from one particular farm, seemed to be suggested and supported by the facts of the case. The proof, then wanting, that the disease of the animals could really produce scarlatina in man, has now been supplied by the investigations of Dr. Klein (conducted mainly at the 'Brown institution'), whose report has just been issued by the local government board. Four calves were inoculated with the matter from sores on the udders of the diseased cows, and similar sores were produced in them. Dr. Klein states that this disease, thus artificially produced in the calf, 'bears a close resemblance to human scarlatina,' and he specially quotes the appearances found in the kidney of the animal as indicative of the scarlatina attack. It is remarkable, however, that the milk of the affected cows is harmless, and does not contain, per se, the germs of the disease, but that it is contaminated after it has passed from the udder of the cow. Dr. Klein says that the fingers of the milker must of necessity bring down into the milk diseased particles from the ulcerations on the teats of the animal, and he points out that in the milk the disease germs find a good medium in which to multiply.'
As the last important act of his present official existence, Mr. Mundella, the president of the board of trade, has just announced that a Fishery department' is to be forthwith created, with an assistant secretary of state at its head. Mr. Berrington, who is to be the chief inspector, will be recognized as the right man in the right place, since he has already won his spurs as the successor in that post of Professor Huxley. The new department promises to be strong in practical knowledge.
The latest large engineering scheme which has been broached is that for a tunnel between Scotland and Ireland, at two points (Port Patrick and Donaghadee) where the distance from land to land does not exceed twenty miles. A shaft is to be sunk at once to test the strata. The cost of the tunnel has been estimated by competent authorities at $25,000,000, and that of the land approaches on either side, $5,000,000 more. The distance from Moville, in Lough Foyle (where the Allan line steamers now call), to London will be
four hundred and fifty miles, or eleven hours' rail. No American lines would land mails and passengers at Queenstown, when they could be delivered by the new route much earlier in Scotland, Lancashire, and London.
It is on many accounts to be regretted that the necessary capital for the Manchester ship-canal has not been subscribed within the time-limit allowed by the act of parliament authorizing its construction. Another opportunity will be afforded next year. It is to be 35 miles long, and a contract for its construction had been taken for $28,750,000. The depth is to be 26 feet, and the bottom width 120 feet. There will therefore be ample room for the largest ocean steamers to pass each other, and such delays as on the Suez canal cannot take place. The 60 feet difference of level between the two ends will be surmounted by four sets of locks. It is estimated that the labor of 20,000 men will be required for four years to complete it.
Science will be represented in the new house of commons by Sir John Lubbock, Sir Henry Roscoe, Mr. Nevil Story Maskelyne, and Sir Lyon Playfair, who, now that he is released from the cares of office by the resignation of the Gladstone ministry, is intending to make his usual autumnal visit to the United States with Lady Playfair.
The following telegram from Paris on electrical transmission of force, appeared in the Times of July 26:
"During the last ten years M. Marcel Deprez has been engaged in experiments connected with the transmission of force by means of electricity. The Rothschilds some time since provided him with an unlimited credit to prosecute his researches at Creil, under the inspection of a commission of thirty-eight men of science. On Friday the commission met to hear a report on the results at present obtained, drawn up at their request by M. Maurice Lévy. This report was unanimously approved. It appears from it that we can now, with only one generator and only one receptor, transport to a distance of about 35 miles a force capable of being used for industrial purposes of 52-horse power, with a yield of 45 per cent, without exceeding a current of 10 ampères. When the amount of force absorbed by the apparatus used to facilitate the recent experiment, but not required in the applications to industrial purposes, is added, the yield will be nearly 50 per
"The commission certifies that the machines now work regularly and continuously. The maximum electro-motive force is 6,290 volts. Before the construction of the Marcel Deprez apparatus the maximum force did not exceed 2,000 volts.
The report states that this high tension does not give rise to any danger, and that no accident has occurred during the past six months. The commission is of opinion that the transmitting wire may be left uncovered on poles, provided it be placed beyond the reach of the hand. It estimates at nearly £5,000 the probable cost of the transmission of 50-horse power round a circular line of about 70 miles. This price would, however, be much diminished if the machines were frequently constructed.
"The commission, in the name of science and industry, warmly congratulated M. Deprez on the admirable results which he had obtained, and expressed thanks to the Rothschilds for the generous aid extended to the undertaking."
In connection with this, attention may well be drawn to an admirable little book on this whole subject of the electrical transmission and distribution of power, just published, from the pen of Mr. Gisbert Kapp, in Whitaker's 'specialist' series. It contains a clear and concise summary of principles, and a detailed account of what has actually been accomplished.
The forest fires which have been desolating an important section of Algeria seem at last to have burnt out. During the Roman occupation, Tunis probably contained twenty millions of people; now the most favorable estimates do not place the population at more than one million and a half. At one time the regions at present so barren were wealthy with crops, as shown, for example, by the frequent ruins of Roman oil mills. In those days the country was covered with luxuriant forests. In Bruce's day, one hundred and twenty years ago, allusion is made to forests where now not a single tree is visible. Yet the soil is still there, only waiting to be stirred into life by rain. Every country off which timber has been cut or burnt without discretion is feeling more or less the same inconvenience. Let the United States and Canada take warning!
The institute of naval architects is now holding its summer session at Liverpool, under the presidency of the Earl of Ravensworth. Chief-engineer Parker, surveyor to Lloyds, read a paper on the progress and development of marine engineering, in which he illustrated by tables and diagrams the improvements effected during the past few years. Mr. William John, the manager of the Barrow ship-building company, then read a paper upon The construction of Atlantic passenger steamers,' in which he pointed out that none of the English transatlantic liners had yet been fitted with the latest modern improvements for economy of fuel or quick combustion, such as triple-expansion engines or forced draught, which some of the