Saturday, 12 May 2012


The Youth's Companion magazine; Apr 13 1899; Nature and Science Department, pg. 195. Researched by Pat Pflieger, digitized by Doug Frizzle, May 2012.

American Flax.—The hope is held out by the Department of Agriculture that the raising of flax of a fine quality may become an important industry in the United States. Experiments in this direction have proved most successful around Puget Sound in the State of Washington. The soil and climate there are said to be equal for flax-raising to those of the best flax-producing regions of Europe. Puget Sound flax has been experimented with at one of the great linen factories in Ireland and found to be of excellent quality.
China's Wild Hens.—An English naturalist, Dr. Augustus Henry, now travelling in China, sends to the director of the Kew Gardens in London a lively account of the wild inhabitants found in some of the forests of the interior. No large or dangerous animals are met with. The songs of the birds are exquisite in showery weather, but as soon as the sun shines the cicadas make a racket that drowns all other sounds. Most interesting are the jungle fowl, which are very common in the woods, and are gorgeous in their plumage. "They are glorified bantams," says Doctor Henry, "the colors having a brilliancy that seems abated in the domesticated kind. They crow and cackle and behave in the forest just as farmyard fowl would do, only they are a little shyer of man."
The Plague and Geology.—The Director of the Geological Survey of India says there is abundant evidence that the tenacity with which epidemics of the plague cling to particular localities, such as Bombay, is influenced by the geological formation of the underlying soil and rock. Areas where trap and crystalline rocks exist seem to be especially adapted to the spread of the disease. The agency of rats in disseminating the plague is also regarded as proved. After the granaries at Bombay have been emptied, in the grain export season, the plague immediately spreads, because then the rats are compelled to scatter through the town in search of food.
Trinidad's Wonderful Lake.—Recent descriptions of the great lake of liquid asphaltum, or bitumen, in the island of Trinidad, show that notwithstanding the enormous quantity of the substance removed every year, the supply is undiminished. The lake covers about 100 acres, and is higher in the middle than at the edges. Near the centre the black pitch is semi-liquid, but toward the sides a crust, intersected with fissures, covers the surface, and on this crust a man can walk, although when he stands for a time the crust gradually sinks around him, forming a kind of basin some yards across. Between 80,000 and 110,000 tons of asphaltum are removed from the lake annually.
Billions in Gold.—American engineers estimate that the ore in sight in the South African gold district called the Rand, contains about $4,000,000,000 worth of the precious metal. But unless more rapid methods of production are employed, it will require 50 years to put this gold into circulation and use.
Deceived by a Cloud.—The instinct of animals is sometimes supposed to be more infallible than human reason, but Mr. A. H. Verrill's observations of the katydid rather contradict that opinion. The katydid, with its musical membranes, produces two distinct "songs," one peculiar to the night and familiar to everybody, the other a daytime tune, which is rather a rasp than a melody. "But," says Mr. Verrill, "it is sometimes quite comical to hear the singers suddenly change their tune when a dark cloud obscures the sun, immediately resuming their daytime song when it has passed." This recalls the hens that go to roost during a solar eclipse.
Progress of the Telephone.—Mr. W. H. Preece, president of the British Institution of Civil Engineers, in a recent address, said that speech is now practically possible between any two post-offices in the United Kingdom. Theoretically it is possible to talk between London and every capital in Europe, and the British post-office authorities are considering the submersion of special telephone cables to Belgium, Holland and Germany.
Fighting Consumption in Germany. —An organized effort is being made to stamp out consumption in Germany by scientific methods of treatment. Already 20 sanatoria for patients have been opened, and others are to be provided. A congress is to be held in Berlin for the purpose of making the war against consumption a national movement throughout the German Empire.

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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.