Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Scientific American Supplement, No. 392, July 7, 1883 by Various

Part 3 out of 3

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

_volte-face_ on all her past as those of her neighbor.

The radical difference between the two countries in this respect we take
to be this: that while Japan loves change for the sake of change, China
dislikes it, and will only adopt it when it is clearly demonstrated to
her that change is absolutely necessary. To the Japanese change appears
to be a delightful excitement, to the Chinese a distasteful necessity;
to the former whatever is must be wrong, to the latter whatever is is
right. As a consequence of this difference between the two peoples, when
China once makes a step forward it is generally after much deliberation,
and is never retraced. Japan is constantly undertaking new schemes
with little care or thought for the morrow, but with the applause of
injudicious foreign friends. In a short time she discovers that she has
underrated the expense or exaggerated the results, and her projects
are straightway abandoned as rapidly and thoughtlessly as they were
commenced. Swift suggested as a suitable subject for a philosophical
writer a history of human projects which were never carried out; the
historian of modern Japan finds these at every turn. Where, for example,
are the results of the great surveys, trigonometrical and others, which
were commenced in Yezo and the main island about ten years ago? A large,
expensive, but highly competent foreign staff was engaged, and worked
for a few years; but suddenly the whole survey department was swept
away, and the valuable instruments are, or were recently, lying rusting
in a warehouse in Tokio. The same story may be told of scores of other
scientific or educational undertakings in Japan. An able and careful
writer, Col. H.S. Palmer, R.E., who has recently, with a friendly and
sympathetic eye, examined the whole field of recent Japanese progress,
in the _British_ _Quarterly Review_ is forced to acknowledge this. "Once
having recognized," says this officer, "that progress is essential to
welfare, and having resolved, first among the nations of the East, to
throw off past traditions and mould their civilization after that of
Western countries, it was not in the nature of the lively and impulsive
Japanese to advance along the path of reform with the calmness and
circumspection that might have been possible to a people of less active
temperament. Without doubt many foreign institutions were at first
adopted rather too hastily, and the passing difficulties which now beset
Japan are to some extent the inevitable result." It would be blindness
to deny that the net result of the Japanese efforts is progress of a
very remarkable kind, but it is a progress which in many respects lacks
the firm and abiding characteristics of Chinese movements.

The proverb, _Chi va piano va sano_, which was recommended ten years ago
to Japanese attention by an eminent English official, and apparently
disregarded by them, has been adopted by their continental neighbors.
To the blandishments of pushing diplomatists or acute promoters, the
Chinese are deaf. However we may felicitate ourselves on our inventions,
scientific appliances, "the railway and the steamship and the thoughts
that shake mankind," our progress, the newspapers, the penny post, and
what not, China will not adopt them simply because _we_ have found
their value and are proud of them. But if, within the range of her own
experience, she finds the advantage of these things, she will employ
them with a rapidity and decision surpassing those of the Japanese. A
conspicuous instance of this will be found in her recent action with
respect to telegraphs. For years the Chinese steadily refused to have
anything to do with them; the small land line which connected the
foreign community of Shanghai with the outer world, was maintained
against the violent protests of the local authorities, and the cable
companies experienced some difficulty in getting permission to land
their cables. But during the winter of 1870-80, when war with Russia
was threatened, the value of telegraphs was demonstrated to the Peking
government. The Peiho at Tientsin was closed by ice against steamers,
and news could only be carried to the capital by overland couriers from
Shanghai. Before a year elapsed a land line of telegraph was being
constructed between this port and Tientsin; in a few months the line
was in working order, and the Chinese metropolis is now in telegraphic
communication with every capital in Europe.

This conservatism, respect for antiquity, conceit, prejudice, call it
what we will, has something in it that extorts our respect. Let us
imagine a dignified and cultivated Chinese official conversing with
a pushing Manchester or Birmingham manufacturer, who descants on the
benefits of our modern inventions. He would probably commune with
himself in this wise, whatever reply Oriental politeness would dictate
to his interviewer: "China has got on very well for some tens of
centuries without the curious things of which this foreigner speaks; she
has produced in this time statesmen, poets, philosophers, soldiers; her
people appear to have had their share of affliction, but not more than
those of Europe; why should we now turn round at the bidding of a
handful of strangers who know little of us or our country, and make
violent changes in our life and habits? A railway in a province will
throw thousands of coolies and boatmen out of employment and bring
on them misery and starvation. This foreigner says that railways and
telegraphs have been found beneficial in his country; good, let his
countrymen have them if they please, but let us rest as we are for the
present. Moreover, past events have not given us such faith in Europeans
that we should take all they say for wisdom and justice." A day will
undoubtedly come when China also will have her great mechanical and
scientific enterprises; but what we contend for here is that nothing
we can say or do will bring that time an hour nearer. European public
opinion is to China a dead letter; she refuses to plead before that
tribunal. Each step of her advance along our path must be the result of
her own reflection and experience; and our wisest policy would be to
leave her to herself to advance on it as she deems best. SINENSIS.

* * * * *


At a recent meeting of the Institution of Civil Engineers, the paper
read was "On the Diamond Fields and Mines of South Africa," by Mr. James
N. Paxman, Asoc. M. Inst. C.E.

The author commenced by stating that Kimberley was situated in
Griqualand West, above 700 miles northeast from Table Bay, and 450 miles
inland from Port Elizabeth and Natal on the east coast. Lines of railway
were in course of construction from Table Bay and Port Elizabeth to
Kimberley, and were about half completed. In Griqualand there were
several diamond mines, the principal of which were Kimberley, De Beer's,
Du Toit's Pan, and Bultfontein.

In the Orange Free States there were also two mines, viz., Jagersfontein
and Koffeyfontein, the first of which produced fine white stones. The
mines were all divided into claims, the greatest number of which were to
be found in the Du Toit's Pan mine. Bultfontein came next.

The deepest and most regularly worked was the Kimberley mine. The next
deepest was De Beer's, which, however, was very unevenly worked. Then
followed Du Toit's Pan and Bultfontein. The Du Toit's Pan mine ranked
next in importance to Kimberley mine. Diamonds were first discovered in
1867 by Mr. O'Reilley, a trader and hunter, who visited a colonist named
van Niekirk, residing in Griqua. The first diamond, on being sent to the
authorities, was valued at 500_l_. Considerable excitement was caused
throughout the colony, and the natives commenced to look for diamonds,
and many were found, among which was one of eighty-three and a half
carats, valued at 15,000_l_. In 1868 many enterprising colonists made
their way up the Vaal River, and were successful in finding a good
number of diamonds. The center of the river diggings on the Transvaal
side was Klipdrift, and on the opposite side Pniel. In all there were
fourteen river diggings. Du Toit's Pan and Bultfontein mines were
discovered in 1870 at a distance of twenty-four miles from the river
diggings. The diggers took possession of these places. Licenses were
granted giving the first diggers a right to work. In 1871 De Beer's
and Kimberley mines were discovered, and in 1872, Mr. Spalding's great
diamond of 2821/2 carats was found at the river diggings.

The mines were of irregular shape, and were surrounded by reef. The top
reef was a loose shale, and had given great trouble from the frequent
slips. Below this were strata of trachitic breccia and augite; the
formation was then seamy to an unknown depth.

Within the reef, the surface soil was red, and of a sandy nature. The
next stratum was of a loose, yellow, gravelly lime, and the third blue,
of a hard, slaty nature. This last was the real diamantiferous soil.
Large stones had been found in the "yellow," but the working of this
generally did not pay. Kimberley mine, however, had paid very well all
through. The method of working in deep ground was determined by roadways
running north and south. The soil was hauled up to these roadways,
and taken to the sorting tables. The roadways decaying shortly after
exposure to the atmosphere, a system of hand windlass was adopted, which
worked very well for a time until horsewhims were adopted in 1873.
The depths of the mines increasing, horsewhims had to give way to
steam-engines in 1876.

The first diggers treated on an average ten loads per day each party. At
the present time the least taken out by any engine, when fully employed,
was 250 loads per day. The cost of working, with present appliances, the
first one hundred feet in depth, was 3s. 6d. per load; the second one
hundred feet (mostly blue) 5s.; the third one hundred feet 8s.; and
the fourth one hundred feet 11s. Through scarcity of water a system
of dry-sorting had to be resorted to for several years; but it was
superseded by the introduction of washing machinery, which was now
generally employed.

At the commencement, through inexperience, many serious mistakes were
made. When the first diggers reached the bottom of the red sand, they
thought no diamonds would be found in the next stratum. When, however,
diamonds were found in the second stratum, the diggers had again to
remove the debris, and so also when the "blue" was reached. Some of the
claims in the Du Toit's Pan and Bultfontein mines were irregular in
shape. The other mines, however, had been properly and regularly laid
out. One or two shafts had been connected with the mines by underground
galleries. These galleries were convenient in the case of falls of reef.
Labor, at first, was cheap; but from 20s. per month, wages rose to 30s.
per week, and food. The yellow soil offered no difficulty in working,
being loose and broken, but the blue soil required blasting.

Several methods were adopted for extracting the soil and carrying it
from the mine before steam was introduced. The cost of wood for heating
purposes was a serious item, but good coal had now been found at 160
miles from Kimberley, costing 13l. per ton; another serious item of
expense was the transport over natural roads only, costing from 18_l_.
to 30_l_. per ton.

The machinery designed by the author for this industry was described.
A sixteen horse-power direct-acting winding engine was introduced for
hauling up loads at the rate of about one thousand feet per minute, and
a twenty-five horse-power geared engine, for hauling up heavier loads at
the rate of from six hundred feet to seven hundred feet per minute.

Water was dear, and water-heaters were fitted to each engine, by which
thirty-three per cent. of the water was again used, thus saving one
third. The boilers were of the locomotive type, mostly of steel, to save
weight, and thus reduce the cost of transit. The fire-boxes were also
made of steel of very soft and ductile quality. A semi-portable engine
was made for driving the wash mill. The engine was so arranged that it
might be removed from the boiler and placed separately. The boiler was
made to work at a pressure of 140 pounds per square inch. Automatic cut
off gear was fixed to each engine, and the governors were provided with
a spiral spring for adjusting the speed. A screen, or cylinder wash mill
and elevator, were used for dealing with the diamantiferous soil, and
were described. Standing wires were fixed at the back of the machinery,
and passed over a frame fixed at the top of the mine, the end of the
mine being secured to strong wooden posts. After the blue soil had been
blasted and collected into trucks, it was placed in tubs, which ascended
the standing wires. It was then emptied into the depositing box. The
yellow soil might be put into the wash mill direct, also that portion of
the blue which had passed through the screen fixed over the depositing
box. The remainder of the blue, which was spread out to a thickness of
four inches or six inches on the depositing ground, some distance from
the mine to dry, was delivered into the upper part of the screen. The
return water from the elevator, with a portion of fresh water, was also
discharged at this point, and operations were thus greatly facilitated,
the soil becoming thoroughly saturated, and passing more easily down the
shoots. The large pieces which would not drop through the meshes of the
screen were discharged into trucks at the lower end and carried away.
The smaller pieces with water, in the form of sludge, fell through into
a shoot, and thus were conveyed into the wash mill pan, and there kept
in constant rotating motion by agitators. The diamonds and other pieces
of high specific gravity sank to the deepest part of the pan, and the
remainder of the sludge was forced over the inner ledge to the elevator.
The sludge was then lifted and thrown upon an inclined screen and down
the shoot over the side of the bank. The residue left in the pan at the
end of the day's work was passed through a pulsator, in which, by the
force of water, the mud and lighter particles were carried away, leaving
behind the diamonds, agates, garnets, and other heavy stones. It was the
practice occasionally to put a few inferior stones in the soil, to test
the efficiency of the machinery.

In 1881 the author paid a visit to Kimberley, and found the industry a
large one. The Post Office return showed the value of diamonds passed
through the office in one year to be 3,685,000_l_. Illicit diamond
traffic had hitherto been a source of great trouble at the fields. It
was a question whether this industry would ever cease; in any case there
was no doubt but that it would last for over a century. It was believed
that the main bed of diamonds had not yet been reached, and that the
mines in operation were merely shafts leading to it. Now that the water
works were finished, with a bountiful supply of water, coupled with
the great boon of railways to the Fields, and the advantage of a law
recently passed for the prevention of illicit buying, a great and
prosperous future was in store for the Diamond Fields.

* * * * *


Within the last few decades the sponge industry of the Bahama Islands
has increased at such a rate that to-day it is the second in importance
on the island. Although the product is not of such excellent quality
as that from the Mediterranean, it sells well and is in demand both in
England and in America.

For sponge fishing little boats of ten tons burden are employed and
manned by from six to twelve men. The sponges that are washed upon the
rocks and reefs are taken with iron rakes fastened to long poles, or
are brought to the surface by divers and spread out on the deck of the
vessel. This kills their soft, slimy organisms, which are black as tar.
The sponges are then repeatedly beaten with sticks to remove this black
slime, and afterward well washed.

The sponges are then sorted and softened for several hours in lime
water, dried in the sun, and bleached. They are finally pressed by
machinery into 100 lb. balls and then packed for shipping.

A rich and very extensive "sponge field" was recently discovered near
Eleuthera, but as the water there has a considerable depth, five or six
fathoms, fishing is attended with difficulty. In fact, it is rendered
impossible wherever the "segler" or sailor fish are found, for the mud
which these tiny creatures stir up completely veils the sponges from the
eye of the fisherman.

In 1881 the export amounted to $150,000, of which three-fourths came to
America.--_Chem. Zeit_.

* * * * *


The development of the eyes of game fishes (salmonoids), as is well
known, is relatively far advanced before the fish culturist is
positively assured that embryos are developing normally in the egg.
A method, therefore, which would enable us to shorten this period of
probation would not only be desirable, but be also of value under
certain circumstances, since it is certainly annoying after having had
them in water for four or five weeks, spending time and care over them,
to eventually find, when the "eye spots" do not develop, that all our
trouble was wasted and that no development at all took place.

It is true one may, with proper preparations and with the help of the
pocket lens or microscope, follow the development while there may be no
external signs of the process evident. This method of making the
test is, however, not adapted to the purposes of the practical fish
culturist, who will have better success by the following method:

If fertilized fish ova are placed in a 50 per cent. solution of wine
vinegar [any ordinary vinegar will probably be found to answer just
as well--_Tr_.] the embryo, even during the very first stages of
development, will become apparent to the eye lying on the transparent
yelk. The acetic acid contained in the mixture, one part water to
one part wine vinegar, causes the material of the embryo proper to
coagulate, while the yelk remains clear.

A short time after the ova are laid in this mixture, and during the
first week after impregnation, a white circle at one pole of the
egg should become apparent, and in the course of the second week a
cylindrical white streak running from the edge of the circle toward its
center should be evident. If these features are not developed by the
test, the eggs have not been fertilized, and are, therefore, worthless.

We will not complicate the application of the method by describing other
details of the development, but would merely suggest that when a lot of
ova are fertilized a small portion should be left unimpregnated. These
could then be tested in comparison with the fertilized ova from day to
day, using say three eggs at a time of each lot. The observant culturist
could by this means construct for himself a scale of development
covering the period embraced by his experiments. At a lower temperature
the development is slower than at a higher one. The difference of
appearance between fertilized and unfertilized ova treated by the method
will demonstrate its utility. Whoever does not trust to the method for
the evidence of death of the eggs until after five weeks subsequent to
impregnation, must of course wait.

Director Tiefenthaler, of Koelzen, has had the kindness to test the
method practically, and finds it useful to fish culturists.--_Prof.

[A very little practice, it seems to the translator, would serve to
enable any person of ordinary intelligence to apply this method, or
several others which might be suggested. Other substances which would
answer the same purpose would be dilute solutions of picric or chromic
acid, of not more than one to one-half per cent., or one part to two
hundred of water. Vinegar or acetic acid of the shops may also be used;
the last to be diluted in the proportions of about one part in ten of
water. The acids cited will coagulate and cause the germ disk to turn
white or yellow in a few hours. Chromic is better than picric acid, as
it coagulates the yelk also, but turns the latter much darker than the
embryo or embryonic disk.--_Tr_.]

* * * * *

A catalogue, containing brief notices of many important scientific
papers heretofore published in the SUPPLEMENT, may be had gratis at this

* * * * *




Sent by mail, postage prepaid, to subscribers in any part of the United
States or Canada. Six dollars a year, sent, prepaid, to any foreign

All the back numbers of THE SUPPLEMENT, from the commencement, January
1, 1876, can be had. Price, 10 cents each.

All the back volumes of THE SUPPLEMENT can likewise be supplied. Two
volumes are issued yearly. Price of each volume, $2.50, stitched in
paper, or $3.50, bound in stiff covers.

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN SUPPLEMENT, one year, postpaid, $7.00.

A liberal discount to booksellers, news agents, and canvassers.



* * * * *


In connection with the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, Messrs. MUNN & Co. are
Solicitors of American and Foreign Patents, have had 38 years'
experience, and now have the largest establishment in the world. Patents
are obtained on the best terms.

A special notice is made in the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN of all Inventions
patented through this Agency, with the name and residence of the
Patentee. By the immense circulation thus given, public attention is
directed to the merits of the new patent, and sales or introduction
often easily effected.

Any person who has made a new discovery or invention can ascertain, free
of charge, whether a patent can probably be obtained, by writing to MUNN
& Co.

We also send free our Hand Book about the Patent Laws, Patents, Caveats.
Trade Marks, their costs, and how procured, with hints for procuring
advances on inventions. Address


Branch Office, cor. F and 7th Sts., Washington, D. C.

Book of the day: