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work. The position of the bow propellers fitted in some of these vessels looked most extraordinary. On the face of it they appeared to be placed in a position in which they would suffer serious injury in attempting to force their way through ice. Perhaps Mr. Gulston would tell the meeting something more about the propellers and the effect of the ice upon them in their apparently very exposed position. He (the Chairman) supposed that while a bow propeller might be very effectual and safe in dealing with ice of moderate thickness, the question might be very different if the propeller had to deal with ice of anything like the thickness which had been mentioned in connection with the performances of the Ermack. The importance of ice-breakers in keeping up communication for commerce in the frozen ports of the world was inestimable. Although there was no practical use for such instruments in this country, it was most interesting to hear what had been done under the conditions where they were required. He was sure they would all agree that they owed their very hearty thanks to Mr. Gulston for giving them a paper on a subject of such great and growing practical importance.
Mr. F. J. TREWENT concurred with the Chairman in regard to their indebtedness to Mr Gulston for his very valuable paper. He believed that Mr. Gulston was the only Englishman who had had much experience of ice-breakers in Polar ice. He might, therefore, have given them a little more description of his adventures in the Arctic. The meeting would be delighted to hear a few words from him with regard to his experiences during his journeys in the Ermack. Mr. Gulston had stated in the paper that the bow propeller of the Ermack had been removed. The meeting would probably like to know the reason why such an alteration had been carried out, and whether the removal had anything to do with the propeller being in danger when the ship ran up on the ice. They would also like to have a little of Mr. Gulston's experience with regard to the extra strength which propellers in vessels of the ice-breaking class required. No doubt there were several engineers present who would like to be enlightened on that point.
Mr. GULSTON, in reply, dealt first with the Chairman's remark with regard to the strength of the machinery. They preferred shafts of about 60 per cent. of strength over Lloyd's usual requirements. With reference to the propellers it was found that in designing them it was necessary to cut them practically square across the tips, so that there was no round at all. Naturally, they were made very thick, of cast-iron, bronze, or nickel steel. Nickel steel was the best. Bronze was hardly desirable, being too soft and liable to turn up at the edge in consequence of the continual hammering across the
ice. With regard to the strength of the ship it was got by bolting the frames together. The change at the bow of the Ermack was due to the fact that the vessel was designed to go into Polar ice as well as one-year-old ice. There was a great desire to go to the North Pole with that vessel; but in the Polar ice the bow propeller was found useless and so it was taken off. After all, the bow propeller was only used in field ice. If they went into a big pack of ice the bow propeller became choked and was unable to move. The engines were made of enormous strength, over 100 per cent. above the ordinary strength required for engines in vessels of the same size. He could not say from his practical knowledge that the bow propeller was a very useful thing, although there were people who were ready to swear by it, and would not do without it. It was certainly useful to a ship when she was backing out from a railway landing and it cleared the ice away under such circumstances. As to his personal experiences in the Polar ice, he should be very glad to give them but they would afford material enough for another paper, and would have to be illustrated by another set of slides.
A unanimous vote of thanks was passed to the author of the paper.
THE MINES AND FORESTS OF SYRIA. So far as is known, bitumen is the principal mineral product found in Syria, and this is mined chiefly at Hasbeya to the west of Mount Hermon, where it has been more or less continuously extracted for the last seventy years. Originally this mine belonged to the well-known old Moslem family of Shehab, on whose land it is situated, and it was worked by them spasmodically, whenever on special occasions (e.g., the marriage of a son) they were in need of money, being subsequently closed when the passing need was satisfied. Bitumen is also found close to the village of Ain-et-Tineh, near Mázloula, about twenty-five miles north-north-east of Damascus. Its quality is said to be good, but it seems very doubtful, according to Consul Richards, of Damascus, whether it exists in sufficiently large quantities to make its extraction remunerative. Bitumen has also been found at Submur, but of so poor a quality that no attempt to extract it has been made for some years. Gum copal is found at K'feyr, near Hasbeya, for the extraction of which a certain Dr. Daoud Abu Sha'ar, of Damascus, took out a license, about three or four years ago, and succeeded in collecting some four hundredweight, of which he sent samples to be analysed in Antwerp and Hamburg, but they proved to be mostly of an
inferior description. Gypsum is found at Jerud, some thirty miles north east of Damascus, where it is farmed out to certain natives for a yearly payment, but it is said that the introduction of British and German cement, which is being employed in Damascus more and more every year, is gradually bringing about the exclusion of this mineral from the market. Gypsum is also found at Ma'arouneh and Tel Mesken, in the Caza of Douma, to the north-east of Damascus, where it is extracted surreptitiously by the natives and smuggled into the city of Damascus. Lignite is said to exist in various parts of the vilayet, e.g., in the Jebel Ralamoun, a range of hills running northeast and south-west to the immediate north-east of Damascus, in the village of Rasheya, and in Jerud, already mentioned as the site of gypsum deposits. No attempt has ever been made to extract this mineral. Iron is said to have been found at Meshgara, and in a village near Rasheya, where, it is stated, attempts have been made to smelt the ore. Phosphate of lime is known to exist in large quantities in the Balka district, at various points along the Barada Valley, and probably elsewhere in the vilayet, judging from the all-pervading limestone formation. Traces of carbonate of lime have een discovered at different points along the Hejaz Railway line. Consul Richards states that he has been informed that silver has been found at a place named Mussyaf, near Homs. It is also reported that when the country was administered by Ibrahim Pasha (of Egypt) silver was found at Ajlun. Chiome is said to have been found at Catana in the immediate neighbourhood of Damascus. Mercury exists in the Caza of Baalbek, and coal is said to exist in the Caza of Ajlun. Millstones, hewn out of basalt, are made in the villages of Habab, Eyraà and Shaàra, whence they are all brought to Damascus and exported thence to all parts of Syria, as they are of a remarkably good quality. A handsome pink marble known as "Mezzi" is found in the village of Mezzeh, on the outskirts of Damascus, and in Salhizeh, a suburb lying to the north of the city. It is highly valued locally being used for flooring in the houses of all wealthy Damascenes. A black volcanic stone known as " Hajar Aswad," which is universally used for building purposes in this city, is found at Borieda and Haja, in the Wady el Ajam district. A white stone known as 66 Bessimi," also used largely for building purposes, is found at Bessimeh, beyond Ain Hijeh, up the Barada valley. "Riddan," another white stone, soft and friable, also used for building purposes is found at Dummar, the first station on the line to Beirut. "Ma'aderi," a dark red stone, somewhat resembling porphyry, is found at Ma'ader, near Zibdane. It is used for paving purposes in the courtyards and rooms of well-to-do Damascenes. Consul Richards says that although the existence of the majority of the minerals mentioned in the various localities to which they are assigned, is frequently based upon hearsay, it is impossible to travel through the country with one's eyes
open without realising that the mountains and hills bear every evidence of being highly metalliferous. The whole of the district is practically a terra incognita from a mineralogical point of view. As regards forestry in Syria, the only forests, worthy of the name, are in the Caza of Ajun, in the neighbourhood of Koneitra, near Báalbek, and in the Cazas of Hasbeya and Kasheya. The principal trees are the prickly oak, the poplar, plane, elm, Persian lilac, willow, carob or locust bean, terebinth, wild almond, arbutus, sycamore, wild olive, beech, lime, &c. Forests in Syria, as in other parts of Turkey, are looked upon merely as sources of revenue, and yet it would be safe to affirm that no attempt whatever at re-afforestation had ever been made in order to make good the waste of centuries of charcoal burning. Damascus itself is surrounded by a remarkably dense and luxuriant belt of vegetation extending in some directions for many miles, and consisting of orchards. containing most of the best known fruit trees, such as the apricot, peach, nectarine, plum, damson, olive, pomegranate, walnut, quince, mulberry, and others, while, for building purposes, the Lombardy poplar is most extensively cultivated in Syria.
The fig forms an important article of the diet of the poorer classes in Italy, in fact the total failure of the crop would be a grave national disaster, and although we cannot expect that it will ever become an article ot popular consumption in the United Kingdom, its use may be further extended than it is at the present day. Figs are susceptible of various kinds of treatment. They are perhaps the most nourishing of all fruits. They can be canned, stewed, preserved, candied, made into puddings, and used in a variety of ways which, according to Consul-General NevilleRolfe, of Naples, seem at present unknown to British cookery. Of the fig-growing districts of the world, South Italy is one of the most important, for although the tree grows all over the country, it is only south of the Tiber that the fruit can be dried for export, the most northern district being Pozzuoli, which includes the Island of Ischia, where the cultivation of the plant is very extensive, and whence many of the best varieties grown in the United Kingdom have been imported. Going further south, we find centres of cultivation at Reggio, Bari, and Catanzaro, not to mention Sicily and the Lipari Islands, where a large business is done. As a fresh fruit it forms an important article of food, as the different varieties last through the months of June to September. Soon after this, the dried figs come in, and these are sent all over Northern Italy, and are also a large item of Italian export to France. The Italian fig is smaller and less sweet than the Smyrna variety, hence the latter has the command of the British market, and the export of Italian dried figs to the United Kingdom is a negligeable quantity, The figs grown on
the volcanic alluvium of Ischia and Pozzuoli are well flavoured, have a fine white skin, and are particularly sweet. They are besides, grown quite near the coast and this is always a beneficial condition, probably owing to the climate being damper than it is inland. The trees require very little water, in fact the growers never resort to irrigation, the natural rainfall in Italy being quite sufficient for them. Dry weather is essential at the time of the fig harvest, as the fruit should be sun dried, and when the weather is wet the fruit is either spoiled, or el: e artificially dried in primitive ovens, and in order to do this it is so often split up. The Italian fig is preferable to that of Spain, Portugal, or France, but in size and quality is inferior to that of Smyrna. In the important question of albuminoids, upon the presence of which the nutriment contained in the fruit depends, Italy again takes the second place, and Smyrna the first, but in fatty qualities there is no appreciable difference. The methods of packing and curing in Italy are very primitive. As the fruit is grown so largely for home consumption, the packing is done as cheaply as possible. Moreover, those figs which are exported are not very largely used as human food, but for distillation, and for the adulteration of coffee and similar substances, and consequently neatness of packing and general appearance are not studied as they deserve to be. There are three principal ways of curing in Italy, adopted promiscuously throughout the country. The usual way is to pick the fruit at daybreak, and split it up as far as the stalk. The fig, thus split, is laid in the sun. This plan has many advantages, because bad or sour fruit can be readily detected, the sun has more power, and the labour of turning the figs, which is necessary when the fruit is dried whole, is avoided. When picked and split, the fruit is laid on wicker frames, or straw mats, with the interior part upward; otherwise the contents would run to waste. They are left thus for eight or ten days, according to the weather, and are then put in baskets, and immersed for a minute in boiling water. As soon as they are dry again they are ready for packing. Another method is to split and dry the figs as above, and to insert into the pulp an almond or a piece of citron, or simply sprinkle the whole pulp with aniseed. Figs so treated are largely used in Italy, and find a certain amount of favour in the foreign markets. The third way of drying, is to dry the fruit whole. This is effected by spreading it out on mats made of cane, upon low beds of earth to ensure greater warmth, and turning the figs every day or oftener if labour is procurable. The most careful curing in the district of Naples is done at Catanzaro, whence some 800,000 lbs. of figs are exported annually. Owing to the scarcity of wood, very primitive methods of packing are used in Italy. Mats containing about 40 lbs. of fruit are made of esparto grass, and are the most common packages for all figs destined for distillation and kindred purposes. Table figs are generally exported in round drums made of thin wood, containing about 15 lbs. of fruit. For home use, the figs are
generally strung on split canes or esparto straw. Two canes are thrust through the figs, till a flat mass of figs is formed, four inches wide by twenty inches long. The best of the many varieties grown in the district of Naples is the "Fico Trojano," or Trojan fig, its name clearly indicating its Asiatic origin. The interesting process of caprification of figs has been practised from time immemorial in South Italy, and some other figgrowing countries. The contest of experts on its utility may be explained by the fact that many kinds of figs do not require it, while to other kinds it is absolutely essential. The caprifig is the wild fig, and is not edible, and caprification is attained by suspending the fruit of the caprifig upon the trees of the edible fig. The fruit of the caprifig contains a special fig wasp, which hatch in the wild fig, cut their way out with their antennæ, which have teeth like a saw, and search for other caprifigs to lay their eggs in. Not finding any, they enter the edible fig blossom. The effect of this visit is the pollination of the edible fig flowers with the caprifig pollen brought by the wasps, which causes the edible fig to mature, seed, and set its fruit. Hence a supply of these wasps is essential to the fig grower, and if spring frosts or an unfavourable season has destroyed the supply of wasps, he must obtain some caprifigs from a more favoured locality to fertilise his trees. Thus when caprifigs fail in Asia Minor. shiploads are imported from Greece, and in every fig-growing country they may be purchased, in their season, in the open market.
ARTIFICIAL PUMICE STONE.
While emery is used for sharpening tools, sand for polishing stones and glass, oxide of iron for fine glass, and chalk and felt for metal ware, pumice is most frequently used for sharpening soft materials. Pumice stone is said to be unreliable both in grain and hardVariations have been noted even in the same piece, and this has suggested the idea of replacing it with artificial means. There is a factory at Bietigheim in Germany, in the valley of the Enz, which according to Consul General Huges of Coburg, has for some time been manufacturing an artificial pumice stone out of ground sandstone and clay, and it is interesting to note to what extent the manufacturers have tried to adapt their products to the various purposes for which they are required. There are several kinds, differing from each other in regard to hardness and grain. For example there is (1) a hard and a soft kind with coarse grain, particularly useful in the leather, waxcloth, felt and wood industries; (2) a hard and a soft kind with medium coarse grain, suited to stucco workers and sculptors, and particularly useful for polishing wood before it is painted; (3) a soft, fine grained stone for the white and dry polish of wood and for tin goods; (4) one of medium hardness with fine grain for giving the wood a surface for an oil polish; (5) a hard fine grained one for working metals and stones, es
pecially lithographic stones, and finally pumice stones with a very fine grain. These artificial stones are used in pretty much the same way as those of volcanic origin. For giving a smooth surface to wood a dry stone is applied, but to give it a fine polish the stone is dipped in oil. For fine work no coarse grained, and for coarse work no fine grained
stones are used.
THE SUNFLOWER AS A PREVENTIVE OF MALARIA.
Mr. H. S. Lawrence (Poona) writes:-"In your Journal dated 20th March, 1903 (vol. 51, p. 418), you published an article on the Sunflower as a preventive of malaria. I requested the Secretary of Agriculture of the United States to furnish me with such information on the subject as might be available, and in particular on the legal measures which had been taken in the Mississippi valley to encourage the cultivation of Sunflowers. I have the pleasure to forward to you the accompanying extract from a letter which I received from the United States Department of Agriculture. You will observe that it fails to corroborate Mr. Gould in some of the most picturesque details of his account of the benefits of the Sunflower cultivation."
U.S.A. Department of Agriculture,
Your favour of July 6th to the Secretary of Agriculture has been referred to me for reply.
I have delayed answering your letter waiting result of some enquiries which I have set on foot in order to secure more perfect information for you.
I find that the Sunflower is not planted in this country as a preventive of malaria, the Director of the Mississsippi station advising me that he has never heard of its use in that connection. A limited quantity of the Sunflower seed is raised principally in Indiana and Ohio, the seed being largely sold as food for fowls. The acreage in cultivation in the State of Mississippi is insignificant, and there are no statistics available concerning the acreage in any of the States. So far as we are informed no oil is manufactured from the seed in this country. (Signed) A. J. Pieters,
Botanist in charge.
MEETINGS OF THE SOCIETY. ORDINARY MEETINGS. Wednesday Evenings, at 8 o'clock:
FEBRUARY 3.—"Steam Cars for Public Service." By THOMAS CLARKSON, M.I.Mech.E. LIEUT.COL. H. C. L. HOLDEN, R.A., F.R.S., will preside.
MEETINGS FOR THE ENSUING WEEK.
Chemical Industry (London Section), Burlington-
British Architects, 9, Conduit-street, W. 8 p.m. President's Address to Students.
Camera Club, Charing-cross-road, W.C., 8 p.m. Mr. N. K. Cherrill, "A New Departure in Connection with Control Printing." London Institution, Finsbury-circus, E.C., 5 p.m. Dr. J. D. McClure, "The Measurement of the Heavens." TUESDAY, FEB. 2...Royal Institution,
5 p.m. Prof. L. C. Miall, Animals." (Lecture IV.) Civil Engineers, 25, Great George-street, S.W., 8 p.m. I. Discussion on Mr. Alfred Edward Carey's paper, "The Sanding-up of Tidal Harbours." 2. Mr. Henry H. West, "Tonnage Laws, and the Assessment of Harbour Dues and Charges."
Albemarle-street, W., "The Development of
Pathological, 20, Hanover-square, W., 8 p.m.
1. Mr. R. Lydekker, "The Subspecies of Giraffa came lopardalis." 2. Mr. Oldfield Thomas, "A Collection of Mammals from Namaqualand." 3. Mr. F. E. Beddard, "The Arteries of the Base of the Brain in certain Mammals." Faraday Society, 82, Victoria-street, S.W., p.m. 1. Mr. Sherard Cowper - Coles, Aluminium Welding" (illustrated). 2. Mr. A. Holland, Some Applications of the Theory of Electrolysis to the Separation of Metals from one another."
WEDNESDAY, FER. 3...SOCIETY OF ARTS, John-street, Adelphi, W.C., 8 p.m. Mr. Thomas Clarkson, "Steam Cars for Public Service." Geological, Burlington house, W., 8 p.m. Sanitary Engineers, 19, Bloomsbury-square, W.C., 7 p.m. Mr. S. L. Bartholomew, "Underground
Royal Archæological Institution, 20, Hanover-
THURSDAY, FEB. 4...Royal, Burlington-house, W., 4 p.m.
R. E. Doran, "The tautomeric character of the acidic thiocyanates." Preliminary note. 2. Messrs. R. S. Morrell and E. K. Hanson, "The resolution of a ß dihydroxybutric acid into its optically active consrituents." London Institution, Finsbury-circus, E.C., 6 p.m.. Mr. Percy Fitzgerald, "Charles Dickens-His Novels and Methods."
Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts, 63,
Civil and Mechanical Engineers, Caxton-hall, Westminster, S.W., 8 p.m. Mr. J. F. J. Reynolds, "General Notes on the London Traffic Problem." Camera Club, Charing-cross-road, W.C., 8 p.m. Rev. T. Perkins, "Amiens and its Cathedral." FRIDAY, FEB 5...Royal Institution, Albemarle-street, W. Weekly Meeting, 9 p.m. Mr. Alfred Austin. "The Growing Distaste for the higher kinds of Poetry." Architectural Association, 9, Conduit-street, W., 7 p.m. Mr. W. A. Harvey, "Cottage Homes," Geologists' Association, University College, W.C., 7 p.m. Mr. H. W. Monckton (President), "Some examples of the different types of Geological Formations, with special reference to recent excursions of the Association Lagoon, and Marine Deposits). Philological, University College, W.C., 8 p.m. Quekett Microscopical Club, 20, Hanover-square, W.C., 8 p.m. SATURDAY, FEB. 6 ..Royal Institution, Albemarle-street, W.,
3 p.m. Mr. C. Waldstein, "The Study of Style in Greek Sculpture." (Lecture I.)