Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/446

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430
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

made chiefly of alum and sugar, which, on being broken, gave an instantaneous light. Another "promethean" was composed of equal parts of chlorate of potash and sugar mixed with a solution of gum, while the sulphuric acid was contained in a glass bead imbedded in the paste and rolled up in gummed paper. Chemical contact and flame were produced by crushing with a pair of pliers. The "Döbereiner," named after the German inventor, was an apparatus of some complexity for bringing hydrogen to impinge upon spongy platinum. It was extensively used in Germany and other countries, and is still found in laboratories and can be purchased from instrument-makers. The invention of friction matches is variously assigned to an Englishman and to a German, and to the years 1829, 1830, and 1832. The first United States patent for a friction match was issued in 1832 for a chlorate match.

 

Silicified Wood in Arkansas.—The occurrence of silicified wood in the sands and gravels of the Tertiary of the lower Mississippi Valley has long been known, but the mentions and studies of it have for the most part been only incidental. No attempt has hitherto been made, according to Mr. R. Ellsworth Call, to recognize the species and fix their value for classification. The fossil woods occur throughout the area covered by Tertiary sands and gravels in Arkansas. When in large masses, they are apparently rarely far removed from beds of Tertiary lignite; if in small masses or in small fragments, they occur in the gravels of nearly all the region and in the beds of the streams and brooks of the area covered by the Tertiary. Occasionally, whole trunks of trees are found, often partially buried in the sands or deeply imbedded in the gravels which cover the flood plains of the creeks and ravines. The microscopic studies of Prof. F. H. Knowlton have shown that the woods belong to both dicotyledonous and coniferous types, the former constituting the first known dicotyledonous wood found in this country in rocks older than Pleistocene, and the first dicotyledonous forms determined by internal structure. The forms described by Prof. Knowlton are new, and therefore of no use for purposes of classification, but otherwise valuable results have been reached by the studies. The specimens found indicate comparatively few species, but these few must have existed in great numbers. Mr. Call's attention has been directed to tracing the connection between these silicified woods and the lignite beds; and he concludes that they are silicified lignite, the silicification of which occurred either while they were still in the clays, or, most often, after they were removed and buried in the sands and gravels.

 

NOTES.

Mr. T. C. Stearns records, in the Popular Science News, as a result of his observations of many snakes of every usual size, that he finds them lying in the spring on hill slopes in their torpid state. He never saw them lying straight, but they were all in the form of the letter S. He has also noticed that the first movement they make when aroused is toward the tail, and that indifferently whether he is standing at the head or the tail.

A mask in the National Museum which was found in a grave in southeastern Alaska, is described in a special paper by Lieutenant T. Dix Bolles, U. S. N. It is skillfully carved from cedar wood and painted in the usual grotesque manner with native colors, and is marked by the unique peculiarity of having for its eyes two large bronze Chinese temple coins. The grave in which it was found is more than two hundred years old. Lieutenant Bolles regards it as proof that a Chinese junk was, at some time in the past, driven upon the Alaskan coast.

The British Association for the Advancement of Science has been invited to meet in Toronto in 1895 or 1896. Its first visit to Canada took place in 1884, when it assembled in Montreal. Since that year the scientific interests of the city have made rapid strides, the impulse thereto being in large measure due to the interest evoked by the Association's work. In its new technical departments, established through the bequest of the late Mr. Thomas Workman, and by the princely gifts of Mr. William C. McDonald, McGill University is as thoroughly equipped as any university in America. Mr. Peter Redpath, who gave the beautiful building for its Natural History Museum, has given a handsome building, fast approaching completion, for its library. The muster-roll of McGill is now 650.

At a meeting held in October the trustees of Columbian University, Washington, D. C, elected three chemists to as many chairs in the faculty: Dr. E. A. de Schweinitz, lately of the United States Agricultural Department, Washington, was elected Professor