ALTHOUGHthe railroad companies take every possible precaution to avoid wrecks, the newspapers constantly report more or less serious accidents. Few of us realize what a money loss almost every one of these entails. Some fgures on the wreck of the Brewster Express on the Harlem division of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, published in a recent number of the Railway Employees' Magazine and Journal, prove that any expense for prevention is economy. That wreck occurred near Woodlawn, February 16th, 1907. Without including damages to equipment, loss owing to delayed traffic, and other things, the damage claims and other expenses paid and in process of settlement cost the road $1,214,000. Of this, $659,000 was paid in claims, and the balance was for lawyers' fees, fees to agents who settled claims out of court. physicians, investigators, and experts, and for trial suits. The largest amount paid for a single death was $75,000; the smallest $5,000. The average was $13,-324. Eighteen of the twenty-two victims were women, eleven of them unmarried, which reduced materially the damages the company had to pay, though several of the Single women were bread-winners. Among the injured, the highest damages awarded were $32,500 to a young woman whose left leg was amputated. This verdict has been appealed by the company. Settlements for injuries 'have ranged from $1,000 upward. The History of the Present Cholera Epidemic THE following data, taken from the French publication Larou8se M ensuel, regarding the cholera epidemic, of which we have recently felt some of the distant manifestations, may be of seasonable interest: The epidemic took its origin in India in 1902, and was carried to Hebjaz by the Hindoo pilgrims on their way to the rituals at Mecca. The disease wag thus carried to Egypt, and in 1903 to Damascus, in 1904 to Bagdad, whence it crossed Persia and the Caspian Sea, reaching Baku and the mouth of the Volga. The cholera then spread in the Caucasus ((,hree thousand cases in Russia), and in 1905 appeared in Poland (six hundred cases), whence it entered eastern Prussia and appeared in a number of places in Germany (three hundred cases). In 1906 little was heard of the epidemic, 'but in 1907 . carried off thirteen thousand victims, starting from southern RusHia and ascending up to St. Petersburg in 1908 (thirty thousand cases). The plague continued its ravages in the domain of the Czar, and put forth a finger as far as Constantinople. In 1909 a number of foci of infection appeared in Russia (twenty-two thousand cases) and the disease made its appearance in several towns of Holland (sixty case5, mainly at Rotterdam) and of Belgium (nine cas.s) , whither it was carried by ships. Forty cases were also recorded in eastern Prussia. Every winter the epidemic appears to die out, then it gradually resumes activity. In 1910 there were 281,259 cases (131,433 deaths) in Russia, especially in the southern provinces. This great outburst resulted in a number of isolated cases in Germany and Austria, and in numerous cases observed since the month of August in southern Italy. The disease was carried there by a number of Russian emigrants who left ship at Brindisi. In this way 137 localities were infected. The balance sheet for the epidemic shows 11,700 cases, with 768 deaths. In Turkey also the disease made great mvages, of which, 'o wever, no statistical records are available. Mode o t Propagation .—I nasmuch as the period of incubation of the disease lasts only six d'ays, any healthy individual who has been out of contad with any infected person for a period exceeding six days, used to be considered innocuous, and incap3ble of carrYing contagion. It has, however, been observed that a person may very well carry microbes in his body, and disseminate the same without being himself affected. Hence arises the necessity of examining the dejecta not only of diseased but of healthy persons, as far as they may have been exposed to contagion. In Hothind the rigorous application of this principle has reduced the number of fatal cases to four. WhHle cholera may be generally contracted by contaminated drinking water, it may also be acquired through the ingestion of fruit and vegetables grown near the surrace of the soil and watered with contaminated water. We may “arry on our shoes and garments from the street into the houses portions of mud containing microbes, and upon brushing off such stains we distribute through the air dust and microbes which may fall upon food materials and thus enter the body. Preventive Measures.—Of these the first and the chief is naturally the strict supervision of immigrants, sailors, and similar persons. That these are the carriers of the disease, and not the river water itself, is shown beyond question by the fact that the epidemic ,proceeds up the streams, against the current. The second precaution consists in eareful attention to the proper disposal of waste matter and disinfection of the same, so far as persons afflictej with the disease are concerned, and the exclusjon of fies. The food and drink and medicine for the sick person should be kept carefully covered. Water and milk should be boiled before drinking, and in fact only cooked products should be eaten, whIch moreover should be carefully protected from access of flies. Vegetables and raw fruit should be allowed to stand for half an hour in a three per cent solution of tartaric acid, and then w3shed with boiled water. Care should be taken not to partake of any foods (melon, unripe fruit) which irritate the intestines, so that the body may not be predisposed to offer a breeding ground for microbes. The Motor Truck in the Country THE Engineering News recently expressed the opinion that one use for the motor truck to which it would be difficult to place a .Jimit is in direct haulage over considerable distances to save an intermediate railway journey. Direct deliveries may be made by automobile from a city wholesaler to his customers in towns twenty or thirty, or even forty, miles away at less cost, perhaps, than would be involved in the hauling to the railway station and hauling from station to receiver at the other end of the route, when the various rehandlings that are made necessary by the railway shipment are taken into account. The saving in cost of packing alone, where this method of de-' livery is used, may often make its adoption worth while. "There are large possibIlities also in the use of motor-propelled vehicles in industrial plants, shops and warehouses in place of the industrial railway or the overhead carrier, both of which systems are in extensiVe use,” continues the Engineering News. “With present-day shop floors of concrete or woodblock paving,' motor trucks can be run over them with little more friction than over the rails of shop tracks. A great advantage over the rail system is that the trucks can be run anywhere. There is no stoppage for turntab'es or switches, or because of cars blocking the line ahead as happens so often with industrial railways. In such a system, where current for charging is available at low cost and where the loads to be hauled are light, storage 'battery trucks appear to have great promise. The extent of this one feld alone is so great that it will tax the ability and enterprise of many engineers and many manufacturers to adequately cover it." Varieties of Whales F EW of us realize that the blue or sulphur bottom whale found in all our oceans is not only the largest animal which lives to-day, but is also, so far as is known, the largest animal which has ever existed on the earth or in its waters. A writer in the National Geographic Magazine states that specimens have been measured which reached the length of 87 feet, and in all 'probability weighed as much as 75 tons. Although the mouth is enormous, large enough, in fact, to permit ten or twelve men to stand upright in it, the throat measures only about 9 inches in diameter. "The finback, closely related to the blue whale, has been called the 'greyhound of the sea,' for its long, slender body is built on the lines of a racing yacht, and the animal can equal the speed of the fastest steamship. The back is dark gray, shading into beautiful light gray on the sides and pure white below. A noticeable characteristic about this whale is the symmetry of the throat coloring; the left side is dark slate and the right pure white like the under parts. The baleen also, on the right side, for a distance of about 2* feet, is white, in sharp distinction from the remaining dark places. "The humpback is the most interesting of all our large whales, partly because of the fact that its habits are more easily studied than are those of the other members of the family. Its maximum size is under 55 feet, but its body is thick and heavy, with enormous side fns, or flippers. These great paddles are one-quarter the length of the entire body, and a single one from a whale 49 feet long weighed on the station scales 956 pounds. The throat, breast, flukes and flippers of the humpback are almost invariably covered with masses of barnacles, or rather barnacles on barnacles, for the hard, shell-like Coronula are themselves the hosts of the soft pendant goose barnacles." In Japan, the writer of the National Geographic Magazine's article studied the Sei whale of the Norwegians, which is the “Iwashi kujira” (sardine whale) of the Japanese. It is not a large animal, seldom exceeding 54 feet, and is formed on slender, graceful lines, much like the finback. Its coloration also resembles in a general way the latter species, but it can readily be distinguished by its high, falcate dorsal fin. The Sei whale has a habit of SWimming just below the surface, sometimes ,with the dorsal fin exposed, and when feeding will travel for a considerable distance in this manner. It is a difficult whale to shoot, because the back is arcled but slightly when the animal dives, and only a comparatively small part of its body is shown above the water at one time. It is stated that the distance traversed by whales when beneath the surface of the water depends entirely upon circumstances. The longest period of submergence for finbacks, actually timed by watch, was twenty-three minutes, but there is little doubt but that most large whales can remain under water a considerably longer time. Most extraordinary of all whales is the square-nosed sperm whale. Instead of having plates of baleen, this whale carries a row of 20 to 25 heavy teeth on each side of the lower jaw. These fit into sockets in the roof of the mouth, and assist in holding the giant squid and cuttle-fish on which the enormous animal feeds. Since the squid seldom gets far out of the warm currents, the sperm does not go into the cold water, but cruises about in the tropics and in the Gulf of Japan streams. In the upper portion of the head the whale has an immense oil tank in which the valuable “spermaceti” is found in a liquid condition, and from which it may be dipped out wilh a bucket when an incision has been made. From a sperm whale 60 feet in length which was sent to the American Museum of Natural History from Japan '20 barrels of spermaceti were taken out of the “case” and the surrounding fat. This oil congeals as soon as it is 'Cooled by the air, but the natural heat of the body keeps it in a liquid condition until the case is opened. The sperm whale is the animal which yields ambergris, the valuable substance used so extensively in the manufaeiure of our best perfumes. Ambergris is only found in “sick” whales; that is, its presence is not normal, but is caused by a pathological condition of the intestines. It has been found floating upon the water, and is also taken from the intestines themselves after the whale has died or has been kiHed, It is used as a vehicle for perfumes, and not as an odor itself. Abolishilg the Postage Stamp . I N our day the mail traffic of large business concern' has swollen to gigantic proportions, and even the simple labor of affixing stamps requires a special clerical staff. “No wonder, therefore,” says the Um-schau, “if the problem has been considered how the stamp could be abolished altogether without prejudice to the interests of the post office. Proposals of this character have not been wanting, as for instance in Bavaria, since February 1st, 1910, large consignments are simply stamped with a, postmark at the post office, the operation being carried out by machinery. In this way the post office has saved the expense for paper and the printing costs for ten million stamps, while the business world has economized time and money, for affixing stamps to one thousand letters requires about an hour and a half of Ume. "This method of treatment, while fairly satisfactory, is still primitive. We can easily imagine a, mnch better system worked out somewhat along the lines of a gas or water meter, the letter being simply placBri in a machine, and stamped wHh a ,postmark which serves at the same time as receipt for the postag( and as record of the date, etc. The machine would be inspected periodically by the post office in just the lame way as the consumer's gas or water meter Is inspected, and his bill would be paid as usual."
This article was originally published with the title "Abstracts from Current Periodicals"