Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/299

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is, the descendant of early English settlers—as displaying physically (I do not say intellectually and morally) a notable degree of reversion—or rather deviation—toward the aboriginal type displayed in the best examples of red Indians—i. e., the old fighting chiefs."


Publication of Astronomical News.—The supervision of the announcement of astronomical discoveries, which has hitherto rested with the Smithsonian Institution, has been transferred by it to the Harvard University Observatory. The first scheme for publishing news of this class in the United States was started by Professor Peters, who arranged with European astronomers for an exchange of reports with the Smithsonian Institution. The orbits of comets were published only in the German "Astronomische Nachrichten" till 1878, when their publication was begun by the Boston Scientific Society, through Mr. S. C. Chandler, in its "Science Observer." Mr. Chandler devised a new and improved code of signals for the transmission of announcements by the Atlantic cable, and engaged the co-operation of the Harvard Observatory in computing the cometary orbits. His publications in the "Science Observer" attracted attention in Europe, so that when the "Centralstelle für Astronomische Telegramme" was formed at Kiel, Prussia, in 1882, Mr. Chandler and his colleagues were made its agents for the distribution of astronomical intelligence in this country. Wishing to provide for their trust a more solid responsibility than their personalities could give it, they offered it to the Harvard Observatory, which accepted it. This act has now been ratified by the Smithsonian Institution.


Influence of Vapor on Radiation.—Professor Tyndall has published an account of some interesting experiments he has made on the variations in the radiation of heat from the earth's surface. On an elevated plateau he hung a thermometer four feet from the ground, and placed another on cotton-wool at the surface. The difference in the registry of the two instruments, that of the surface thermometer being always lowest, varied from four degrees to seventeen degrees, even when no difference was apparent in the clearness of the atmosphere. A careful review of the hygrometric conditions under which the different observations were made established the fact that the variations were dependent upon the existence or withdrawal of the check to radiation which is imposed by the presence of aqueous vapor. As a general conclusion, it may be said that, "with atmospheric conditions sensibly alike, the waste of heat from the earth varies from day to day; a result due to the action of a body which escapes the sense of vision." Similar conclusions, or the basis for forming them, are derived from the observations of Professor Soret, of Geneva, and General Strachey.




NOTES.

The Annisquam Laboratory of the Boston Society of Natural History, which has been in operation for two summers, will be open for the reception of students during the coming summer from July 1st to September 1st. It is situated on an inlet of Ipswich Bay, on the north side of Cape Ann, about three miles and a half by coach from the Eastern Railroad station at Gloucester. It is intended for persons who have already made some progress in the study; and no lectures or stated courses of instruction will be given, but suitable direction and advice. Collecting implements and row-boats are provided, and a yacht will be at hand for dredging parties. Applications may be made to Alpheus Hyatt, curator, Boston.

Professor Edmond Perrier has identified a new crinoid, the Blastocrinus, among the animals brought up by the Travailleur from the deep seas off the coast of Morocco. This raises the number of known living species of these most ancient animals of the sea to thirteen. The Blastocrinus is marked by a stem of large size supporting a calyx which is composed of five pieces, to which are fixed articulate and very mobile arms. The stem is also composed of a succession of circular articulations, placed one upon another. The radical system of this animal is very interesting. Instead of being concentrated into a single stem, it branches out into a kind of tuft, and the animal seems to have the faculty of putting out a sort of runners, like those of the strawberry.

Professor Frederic Augustus Abel, the eminent English chemist, is to receive from the Queen the honor of knighthood for his services in the War Department in relation to the chemistry of explosives, etc. Professor Lyon Playfair, F.R.S., has also received from her Majesty the honor of Knight Commandership of the Bath.