Friday, 11 May 2012


The Youth's Companion; Dec 15, 1898; 72, 50, pg. 637. Nature and Science Department. Researched by Pat Pflieger (; Digitized by Doug Frizzle, May 2012.

Singing-Schools for Birds.—The Hartz Mountains in Germany are the centre of the canary-bird industry. The birds raised there have schools for the training of their voices. The best voices are carefully selected, and their owners set apart in a class by themselves. A canary with a faultless voice and long experience in singing is chosen for a teacher. When the time comes to train the young birds they are suffered to hear and imitate only the pure notes of the leader of the school. The St. Andreasberg canaries are reckoned the finest singers in the world. Singing-schools for birds also exist in New York, where imported German bullfinches are trained with the aid of a flute, a reed organ and the human voice. The trainers are marvellously expert whistlers. Bullfinches can be taught to pipe the tunes of popular songs and operas.
Has the Sea Deserts?—An expedition has been organized in England for a new exploration of the Atlantic depths, with a view to settling the question whether life in the ocean is confined to belts near the surface and the bottom, or whether the intermediate zones are also inhabited. The steamship Oceana, fitted with new apparatus, including self-closing nets, is to carry the explorers.
A Vegetable Lizard.—Mr. A. H. Verrill describes in Popular Science News a curious inhabitant of tropical forests called the lizard-tree, but which, as he remarks, might well be named the centipede plant. This singular growth consists of a stem jointed like a bamboo, with green leaves growing directly from the bark, and slender white roots springing from the joints, with which it maintains its hold upon the bark of the tree whereon it grows. When it has attained a length of three or four feet, the lower sections of the lizard plant drop off, and fastening upon any convenient object, begin their independent growth. When thus growing upon the ground, if the plant encounters a tree it immediately begins to ascend the trunk.
Tivoli Lighting Rome.—Electric power derived from the waterfalls of Tivoli, which constitute one of the most famous gems of Italian scenery, is now transmitted about fifteen miles across the Campagna to illuminate Rome and to drive the tram-cars, whose presence in the streets of the Eternal City is so striking a reminder of the universality of modern practical science.
Flying-Machines for War.—The Ordnance and Fortification Board at Washington has appropriated $25,000 to be expended in experiments on the use of air-ships in war, both for purposes of reconnoissance and for dealing blows at the enemy. Professor Langley, whose recent experiments with flying-machines have commanded the interest of the scientific world, advised the board to undertake the work, and he will assist General Greely in conducting it.
The Blow of a Sea-Wave.—An instrument has been made in England to be sent to Japan. Its use is to measure the blow of a wave, A similar apparatus was used to measure the wave-blow off the Skerryvore Rock, Scotland. There the waves sweep in from the wide Atlantic. In summer a force of over 600 pounds to the square foot was recorded. In winter as high as a ton to the square foot was attained. This gives an idea with what ships, lighthouses and other similar structures have to contend.
The Mirrors of Antiquity.—Monsieur Berthelot has lately interested the French Academy of Sciences in his researches concerning the glass mirrors which were used in ancient times in Thrace and Egypt. They were backed with a highly polished metal, the nature of which has been in question. Monsieur Berthelot has discovered that the metal was almost pure lead, and he believes that the method of manufacture was to pour the molten lead on the concave surface of disks cut from balloons of blown glass. In consequence of their shape, the mirrors minimized the images of objects looked at in them.
The Work of a Sunspot.—On the 9th of last September an immense sunspot which, with its attendant smaller spots, had unexpectedly made its appearance more than a week before, crossed the central meridian of the sun's disk, and that same night magnificent displays of the aurora borealis were seen. At the same time magnetic needles were disturbed. This is one of the most striking instances in recent years of the connection between spots on the sun and magnetic disturbances on the earth. While the great spot was crossing the sun, uncommonly warm weather for the season was experienced on both sides of the Atlantic, and some have suggested that this, too, was a phenomenon connected directly with the solar disturbance.

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As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.