What French Walking-sticks Contain SOME time ago we illustrated a number of French walking-sticks which were fitted with weapons of various kinds ranging from daggers to rifles. The ingenuity of the Frenchman has not been confined to the making of weapons out of apparently harmless canes. In fact there is quite a variety of uses which the cane is made to serve. In the accompanying series of photographs,. some of these are shown. In the figure to the right is a cane fitted with a coin box and a match box, these being container! in the head, which is provided with a carefully concealed lid. The coin box is arranged to permit of depositing and easily removing the coin by a slight pressure of the thumb, thus obviating the necessity of fishing for coins in the pocket. The upper one of the two central figures shows a cane handle containing a complete outfit of the game known as “Petits Chevaux.” When the lid is open, betting can begin, and the horse crossing the wire first wins the stakes. One of the latest Parisian novelties consists in a ladies' parasol handle containing a roulette wheel which can be used for gambling at any place or moment. These handles have become very popular. They are of fine workmanship and generally of gold or silver. The last of the series shows a handle containing almost everything that one would be likely to need. A long sheet of paper is wound around the rod from which pieces may be torn off for taking notes. When the lid is opened penknife, pencil, nail file, combs and looking glass are disclosed. These objects are small, but large enough' for practical use. Edible Birds' Nests THE uninitiated are apt to think of birds' nest soup as a most disgusting stew of twigs, feathers and what not. As a matter of fact, the nest used by the Chinese is a very delicate, semi-transparent, gelatinous substance, built by the swallow-like birds known as the Salangane. The nests are found in the islands about Siam and the Malay Archipelago, and the harvest in the year 1909 was 18,000 pounds, valued at over $100,000. It used to be thought that the nest was formed of inspissated saliva secreted by the highly developed glands of the bird. Now it is known that the nest is made of a species of alga, gathered by the bird. The season for harvesting the nests lasts from April until September, It takes three months to build the first nest, and just before the eggs are laid the nest is stolen by the collector. The bird immediately sets about the building of a second nest, taking thirty days for the work. This is also stolen before the eggs are laid. The third nest, however, is unmolested and the birds are permitted to raise their young, after which the nest is taken and sold. The nests are built in most inaccessible spots, among the cliffs along the coast, and the natives must risk their lives to reach them. In preparing birds' nest goup the nest is washed in cold water and then cooked for eight hours in a closed vessel, after which it is mixed with chicken broth, seasoned and boiled for a quarter of an hour. This dish is considered a great delicacy among the Chinese, and Occidentals who have tried the soup find it very palatable and much resembling chicken soup. The Old Man of the Sea PROBABLY one of the most curious of all the marine creatures that have been brought to light in recent times is the fish head here shown possessing a startlingly human-like appearance. "The old man of the sea,” as the fish has been dubbed, was picked up in the waters around Cape Town, Africa. The realistic photographs shown were made at the New York Aquarium. The head was not manipulated in any way. The ragged outline at the back of the head shows where it was severed from the body. The lines on the lower part of the face are natural and are the outlines of the maxillary and other bones of the jaws. The nose has. shrunk somewhat in drying. In life the resemblance to the human face was even more striking. The conical front teeth are shown in the photograph. The lateral teeth are ver:! strong and molar-like, evidently for the purpose of crushing shells and, like the famous king of the Cannibal Islands, “he has two rows in hisj lower jaw.” Photographs of the head have been sent to a number of well known authorities on Ichthyology in America Europe, and Africa for' the identification of the species. Fatalities to Trespassers on American Railroads THE number of lives lost in wars today, with fighting continually going on in some corner of the world, is nothing as compared with the annual record of fatalities due to trespassing on American railroads. Ignorance or carelessness on the part of the trespasser is responsible for most of this. The railroads are bending every effort to cut down the awful toll of death hy posting signs and .maintaining police patrol, but they will never be completely successful without the cooperation of the general public. Every densely populated industrial center near a railroad is a death center. The working classes in crowded districts, and tramps, furnish the majority of victims. Railroads say people must be taught to have more respect for their lives and safety. With education of this kind in view, th , Pennsylvania Railroad is preparing pamphlets in eight or nine languages. These will be distributed in schools with instructions to the pupils to take them into their homes. The Board of Education of the State of Pennsylvania has promised its aid. The assistance of clergymen has been solicited, and from hundreds of pulpits the danger of 'trespassing has been preached. From the good roads trains run through rural districts, and in the farmers' granges the warning has been sounded. As a result of the education movement and a vigorous campaign against tramps, the number of persons killed while trespassing on the Pennsylvania Railroad's property in violation of the law, has been gradually reduced from 887 in 1905 to 585 in 1910, and the number of injured has fallen from 794 to 582 in the same time. To put these figures in another way; in 1905 the railroad was killing trespassers at the rate of three a day for five months of the year, and two a day for the remaining seven months, while in 1910 the number sacrificed had decreased to two a day for seven months, and one a day for the other five. Railroads are perhaps the greatest sufferers from the trajnp evil, and they are willing to do all in their power to stamp it out, but this cannot be accomplished until the citizen realizes the seriousness of the matter and takes, his part in the campaign. Until this country follows the lead of Europe in the matter of legislation to check vagrancy there can be no satisfactory cure for the evil, but if the small communities will punish offenders, instead of passing them along, it will be greatly ameliorated. By doing this. and by aiding the railroads in their campaign to educate the public against trespassing. more loss of life will be averted than by establishing world peace. Engineering A Record Cargo on the Pacific. —The carrying power of the large freight steamer is well illustrated in the case of the steamship “Minnesota,” which will sail from Seattle next December with a cargo which establishes a record in the Pacific trade. She will carry 14,000 tons of flour and 2,000 tons of general merchandise, every cubic foot of her tonnage space being appropriated. Towing Locomotives for the Panama Canal.—The Isthmian Canal Commission will shortly advertise for bids for an experimental towing locomotive for towing steamers through the locks of the Panama Canal. Should this maehine be successful, bids will be asked for thirty-nine more. Four locomotives will be used for each vessel, one on each bow and one on each quarter. The locomotives will run on rack railways, and they will be sufficiently powerful to hold the largest vessel in absolute control. The Ram a Terribly Destructive Weapon. —Although it is considered that the ram will rarely be used as a weapon of attack in future naval conflicts, there can be no denying its destructive power. A recent survey of the “Olympic” in the dry dock of Harland&Wolf shows that there is a triangular hole in the ship's side reaching from a point 14 feet above to 30 feet below the water line, which will take from six weeks to two months to repair, and will cost about half a million dollars. Slides at Gatun Locks. —The excavations for the Gatun Locks have caused slides of some magnitude to occur, and the removal of the material will cause a delay of some four months' time. As usual, the occurrence of a slide has provoked alarming rumors, and, as usual, the trouble has been greatly exaggerated. As in the Culebra Cut, so here, the material is of an unstable nature; but when the difficulty has been met, as it will be, the construction of the locks will proceed, and once the concrete work is in, all trouble from earth movements will have ceased. The Reconstructed Battleship “ Oregon."—None of the older battleships of our navy is better known or has a more sentimental interest for the American people than the battleship “Oregon,” whose voyage around the world, terminating in her active participation in the battle of Santiago, will long be remembered. This ship has been undergoing a thorough reconstruction, and she is now being given exhaustive tests to ascertain her effectiveness' for modern war duty. Particular attention will be given to her new fire control system, to the wireless apparatus, and to other modern equipment. Navy Yard Reforms.—As the result of Secretary Meyer's recent visit of inspection among the European navy yards, he has decided to make a tentative adoption at the Norfolk yard of the system of yard management which is in force at the yards of Vickers, Ltd., Barrow-in-Furness, England. This system ha.8 been worked out by the Vickers firm along the general lines of scientific management of which we have heard so much lately in this country. In the opinion of the Secretary, it is better adapted to conditions in our yards than the admirable but elaborate method known as the Taylor system, which has tended to provoke rather serious opposition on the part of the labor unions. Russian Naval Activity.—The dreadnought “Gangut,” the fourth of the powerful dreadnoughts which Russia is building in the Baltic, was recently launched. This vessel is one of a class of four ships, including the “Gangut,” the “Petropavlovsk,” the “Sevastopol,” and the “Poltava.” These vessels are of 22,300 tons displacement, and their distinctive feature is the method of carrying the main battery of twelve 50-caliber, 12-inch rifles. These will be mounted in four three-gun turrets, one forward and one aft on the center line, and one on each beam, the two beam turrets being placed diagonally. This will give a theoretical concentration of fire greater than that of any other ship, namely, nine 12-inch ahead, nine astern, and twelve on each broadside. Fender Chains at the Gatun Locks. —The character of the bids which are being asked for work on the Panama Canal indicates how nearly this great work is approaching its final stage. Proposals have been asked for materials for the heavy chain fenders for preventing ships from running into the lock gates with which all the locks will be provided. Ships will not be allowed to navigate the locks under their own steam; but should they escape from the control of the towing locomotives, they will be prevented from running into the gates by massive chains stretched across the lock, and controlled by powerful hydraulic cylinders, which will exert a resistance represented by 750 pounds to the square inch on the pistons. A 10,000-ton ship running at four knots an hour, striking the fender chain, would be stopped in a distance of 73 feet 6 inches, Science Lamps for Lighthouses.—The use of electric lamps for lighthouses presents certain disadvantages. It is therefore with some interest that we follow the course of some experiments in France on the use of a new kind of incandescent light for lighthouse purposes. The lamp in question has, a number of filaments mounted somewhat after the fashion of the fibers of an incandescent gas mantle. In this way a very strong light is secured, which, moreover, has the desirable property of being very uniform in all parts of the circumference. According to recent trials the new type of lamp gave twenty times as much light as a Welsbach burner and required very little attention. The lamp is particularly adapted for shore lighthouses which are easily placed in communication with electric light mains. Improvement in Incandescent Gas Lighting. —Experiments are at present in progress in Paris as the result of which it is hoped to secure an increased light efficiency from incandescent gas burners. Under present conditions, the gas pressure in the mains is sufficient to draw a certain amount of air into the burner, where it becomes mixed with the gas, causing the characteristic blue flame. But the amount of air thus drawn into the flame is only about three times that of the gas, whereas, for the best effect, the ratio should be five to one. It has been found that by compressing the gas in the mains the desirable ratio of air can be caused to enter the flame. One of the boulevards in Paris has lamps working on this system, and the results are exceedingly satisfactory. Electric Light for Sterilizing Milk. —We read in a Daily Consular Report a note from Consul Mahin, of Amsterdam, according to which a local periodical refers to the effect of ultra-violet beams on bacteria and to the fact that such beams are abundantly eveloped by mercury incandescent lamps, and relates that through this medium milk may now be sterilized in a few minutes. An apparatus has been constructed, it is explained, whereby the milk flows in a thin stream along an electric light. Demonstrations were first 'made with water infected with different kinds of bacteria, and it is said that the water was purified in a few minutes, without appreciably increasing its temperature. The result is attributed to the ozone formed under the in'-aence of the light, but the demonstrations must be conducted where there is sufficient room for the light to burn freely. This method of sterilization, without heating or adding preservatives, is believed to have great hygienic value in respect to nursing children. The Influence of Dust on Mortality.—Out of every thousand of those whose occupation calls for constant work in dusty quarters, five die of consumption, according to German official figures; whereas among those who are not exposed to the action of dust, only two out of a thousand die of the disease named. As regards the comparative danger of the different sorts of dust, the following figures will prove instructive: KInD OF DUST. Metallic. Iron ................................ 6 Lead ................................ 8 Mineral. Stone .....................,......... 35 Porcelain ........................... 14 Organic. Leather, fur and feathers............ 5 Wool and cotton .................... 5 Wool and paper .................... 6 Tobacco ............................. 7 Total ...............'............ 86 Influence of Room, Light and Fresh Air on the Growth of Children.—To show: the influence of room, light and fresh air on health and growth, the following figures are given, concerning the height and weight of boys in Bourne Village, England, as compared with those in Birmingham slums. Bourne Village has 840 houses, distributed at the rate of only nine to the acre; at the time of making up this table, the population was 4,000. Weight of Boys (pounds). Age, years ....... 6 8 10 12 Bourne Village .. 45 52.9 61.6 71.8 Birmingham slums 39 47.8 56.1 63.2 Height of Boys (inches). Age, years ....... 6 8 10 12 Bourne 'Village .. 44.1 48.3 51.9 54.8 Birmingham slums 41.9 46.2 49.6 52.3 The death rate (average of five years) is for Bourne Village 5.5 and for England and Wales 14.9, per 1.000. The infant mortality (average of fiye years) is for Bourne Village 68 and for England and Wales 121.8, per 1,000 live-born children. Electricity Royal. Experiments in Wireless Telegraphy*—King Albert of Belgium is keenly interested in wireless telegraphy. He has a complete radio-telegraph equipment in his palace at Laeken where he is fond of conducting experiments. Hydro-electric Power for Constantinople.—Constan-tinople is soon to be supplied with electricity from a hydraulic power station on the Sakania River, 80 miles away. Here two turbine stations will be built, one of 15,000 horse-power, using a 180-foot head of water, and the other of 8,000 horse-power, employing a head of 120 feet. Electric Railroads in the Pyrenees.—About 300 miles of railroads are being built in the Pyrenees. These railroads are to be operated by electricity which will b' furnished from water power stations in the mountains. Power will be supplied at a voltage of 55,000 volts, which will be stepped down to 12,000 volts for the trolley wires. The locomotives wjll be provided with transformers for further reduction to 285 volts. Novel German Transmission Poles. —A novel type of reinforced concrete pole is now being used in Germany for transmission lines. The pole is perforated from the top to a point near the base. The perforations are large enough to permit of inserting the foot, so that the lineman does not require climbers to reach the wire brackets at the top. The poles are thus virtually given the form of narrow ladders. Wireless - Controlled Submarine.—According to a recent press report, some interesting experiments hav./il. been conducted by the British navy in the control of submarine boats from cruisers. These experiments have been kept very secret, but it is known that a submarine boat in the waters off Selsey was controlled by wireless telegraph apparatus aboard the cruiser “Furious.” Experiments were also conducted with torpedoes, controlled by Hertzian waves. Electric Power from Water Supply. —The Wachusett reservoir, which supplies Boston with water, has a capacity of 68,000,000 gallons. The reservoir is located 395 feet above the level of Boston, and as a 300-foot head is considered ample for the city, the balance is to be used for the generation of power. A hydro-ele 'ric plant comprising four turbines of 1,000 kilo-wat capacity, has been installed. The plant has cost $125,OOU, but the current it will supply should bring in a revenue of $25,000 per annum. Overhead Alternating Current on Swiss Railways.— After seven years of study, a commission appointed by the Swiss Republic to investigate various 'methods of electrification has decided to recommend the overhead rather than the third rail system for the Swisa National Railways. There will be 1,830 miles of railroad in the Swiss system, and it recommends that a single-phase alternating current be used at a pressure of 15,000 volts. The cost of the entire system will be about thirteen million dollars. Electric Trucking.—In his presidential address before theElectrical Vehicle Association of America, Mr. W. H. Blood, Jr., referred to the fact that the average amount of freight handled on the streets of Boston per day amounts to 25,000 tons and that the total freight carried by wagons in the United States is more than ten times as much as that carried by railroads. He pointed to these facts .as indicating a large field for motor trucks in this country and stated that were this freight handled by electric power, it would require three million power wagons. Battery Truck Crane.—There has been a demand at great railway and marine terminals and in manufacturing plants for a device for handling freight and materials over moderate distances. To meet this demand an electric motor truck, fitted with a swinging crane, has been designed by the General Electric Company. The crane's hook is raised and lowered by a one-ton hoist, driven by a motor, which, together with the motor that operates the vehicle, is supplied with current from a battery. The motor truck: crane is mounted on traction wheels, and has a short wheel 'base so that it may make sharp turns about shop aisles and among piles of material in congested piers and storage yards. Storage and Primary Batteries. —According to 'a preliminary report issued by the Census Bureau, the value of the storage and primary batteries manufactured increased from $3,679,000 in 1899 to $4,244,000 in 1904 and $10,612,000 in 1909, or 188 per cent during the decade. Both storage and primary batteries consist of various elements which are not always combined and sold together as a unit by the same manufacturers, and yet it is not until these are brought together that a complete cell is constituted. Many t;>f the parts and supplies used are manufactured outside of the electrical- field, and therefore the statistics shown in this report do not convey a correct idea of the Importance, of this branch of the industry.
This article was originally published with the title "Curiosities of Science and Invention"