Popular Science Monthly/Volume 16/February 1880/Popular Miscellany

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Popular Science Monthly Volume 16 February 1880  (1880) 
Popular Miscellany


Geology of the Far West.—Last summer Professor Geikie, of the University of Edinburgh, came over here to study the geology of our Western Territories, the remarkable peculiarities of which have excited much interest abroad; and he has recently made his explorations the subject of a very interesting lecture before his class. From a summary of the discourse, published in "Nature," we gather the following instructive particulars: Professor Geikie had three objects in view in the expedition: 1. To study the effects of atmospheric and river erosion upon the surface of the land; 2. To mark the relation which the structure of the rocks underneath bore to the form of the surface; and, 3. To watch some of the last phases of volcanic action. In crossing the prairies toward the Rocky Mountains he noted the singular fact that their surface was "veneered" with a thin coating of pinkish, fine-grained sand, its color being due to small pieces of fresh feldspar. It was clear that this mineral, as well as fragments of quartz and topaz found with it, did not belong to the strata on which they lay. In going west, the grains of sand, getting coarser, assumed the form of distinct pebbles, and on reaching the mountains became huge blocks and bowlders, evidently derived from the heights beyond. The name, "Rocky Mountains," the Professor regards as singularly misapplied. On most maps of North America a continuous line of lofty ridge is represented as extending down the axis of the continent, and marked "Rocky Mountains." No such ridge, however, is to be found. The great plateau had been wrinkled by numberless meridional folds, which, dying out, have been replaced by others. Some of these folds form mountain-ranges with wide basins between them. It is, however, possible to cross the axis of the continent without climbing over mountains of any kind, and the Union Pacific Railroad follows one of these natural routes. So little did the landscape suggest great altitudes that at an elevation of eight thousand feet a wooden placard had been erected, bearing the title "Summit of the Rocky Mountains." Going westward to Denver, the Professor halted on the borders of the great mountain-range that forms the bulwarks of the parks of Colorado. These crests of crystalline rock have been forced up like a great wedge through the cretaceous and tertiary strata of the prairies, carrying the latter up with them in a grandly picturesque curve along their flanks. An excursion into some of the mountain gorges or cañons brought to light the source of the pink feldspar sand of the prairie; great masses of pink granite, gray gneiss, and feldspar form the core of the mountains; these are visibly crumbling into the same kind of pink sand and gravel. The mountains have been covered with glaciers which have flowed out into the plains, and there shed their huge horseshoe-shaped moraines. Having crossed the watershed of the continent. Professor Geikie struck westward into the Uintah Mountains, one of the few ranges in that region that has an east and west direction. It forms one of the most remarkable elevations in North America. Unlike the other mountainous high grounds it possesses no great central core of crystalline azoic rocks, but consists of a vast flattened dome of red sandstones, dipping steeply down beneath mesozoic rocks on either flank. One feature of surpassing interest in the Uintah Mountains is the evidence of enormous denudation, continued through a protracted cycle of geological time. The horizontality of the strata along the central parts of the range is such that terrace above terrace can be traced by the eye for miles around any commanding peak. The rocks there have escaped crumbling and fracture to a remarkable degree. It can therefore be seen that the deep gullies and clefts, the yawning precipices and cañons, the wide corries and vast amphitheatres by which the surface is so broken up have been produced not by underground disturbances but by erosion at the surface. Most of this tremendous denudation has doubtless been effected by ordinary atmospheric action. One of the valleys in this section he describes as crossed by beautiful horseshoe moraines that had once formed a succession of lakes, the sites of which are now occupied by meadows. In these and other high grounds, the beaver, by its dams, has converted the small streams into a succession of shallow lakes, and hundreds of acres of bog-land have been thus produced. The grand canon of the Yellowstone, gouged out of volcanic formations, Professor Geikie described as exhibiting, perhaps, the most marvelous piece of mineral color to be seen anywhere in the world. It has been cut out of tuffs and lavas, showing sulphur-yellow, verdigris, or emerald-green, vermilion, crimson, and orange tints, so remarkable that, if transferred to paper or canvas, they would be pronounced incredible and impossible. In the Yellowstone Valley abundant evidence of extensive glacial action was found. On entering the second cañon in their ascent of the valley, it was seen to be most exquisitely glaciated from bottom to top, thus making it clear that the cañon was older than the glacial period; it had supplied a channel through which the glacier had ground its way out from the mountains. According to the indications on the sides of the valley, this glacier must have had a thickness of sixteen or seventeen hundred feet. The Professor next described the famous geyser region. The ground was honeycombed with holes, filled with boiling water. One geyser, known as "Old Faithful," went off with wonderful regularity every sixty-three minutes; the others were more variable. The "Devil's Paint-Pot," a mud-geyser, boiled like a great vat of thick porridge, throwing out white and brilliantly colored mud. Professor Geikie acknowledges with admiration the labors of the explorers who first made known the wonders of this remote and inaccessible region. The reports of Hayden and his associates were found to be most trustworthy and useful. Nor could one forget the sagacity with which Hayden proposed, and the enlightened liberality with which Congress enacted, that for all time the Yellowstone region should be a tract set apart as a national park for the instruction and recreation of the people. On reaching the basin of the Great Salt Lake, our traveler was impressed, by the evidences on every hand of the former vast extent of this inland sea. Lines of terrace ran along the sides of the mountains, the highest standing a thousand feet above the present level of the water. The rocks in some of the cañons descending from the Wahsatch Mountains, in the Salt Lake Basin, were found smoothed, polished, and striated by the glaciers that had come down from the heights above, bringing with them great quantities of moraine matter. Mounds of rubbish blocked up the valleys here and there, and some of them were observed to descend to the highest terrace. Hence, when the Salt Lake extended far beyond its present area, and was about one thousand feet deeper than now, the glaciers from the Wahsatch Mountains reached its edge, and shed their bergs into its waters. Bones of the musk-ox had been found in one of the terraces, showing that Arctic animals lived in this region during these cold ages.


Death of Professor B. F. Mudge.—We have to record the death, at his home in Manhattan, Kansas, on the 21st of November last, of Professor B. F. Mudge, whose geological and paleontological researches and writings had gained for him a high place among Western men of science. Professor Sludge began his working life at the age of fourteen as a shoemaker, but at twenty fitted himself for college, and entered Wesleyan University, where he graduated in 1840. He then studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1842, and for the next seventeen years practiced his profession in Lynn, Massachusetts, of which city he was elected the second Mayor. In 1859 he went West, and tools the position of chemist for the Breckenridge Oil and Iron Company in Kentucky. When the war broke out he removed to Kansas, and in 1863 received the appointment of State Geologist. In 1865 he was elected Professor of Geology and Associated Sciences in the State Agricultural College, a position he continued to fill for eight years. Since 1874 Professor Mudge has thoroughly explored the geology of Kansas, describing for Professor Hayden the Tertiary and Cretaceous formations of the State, and making extensive collections for Professor Cope, including among other interesting fossils the discovery of one of the earlier if not the earliest specimen of toothed birds found in this country. More recently he was employed by Professor Marsh as field geologist of Yale College> and has since made large collections in the West for the Peabody Museum. Professor Mudge was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; and was one of the founders of the Kansas Academy of Sciences, and its first President. He also took a deep interest in the cause of general education, and was offered the position of State Superintendent of Schools in Kansas; this, however, he felt obliged to decline, in obedience to his preference for active scientific work. Indefatigable as an observer. Professor Mudge was also a clear and interesting writer; and it is to be hoped that his numerous scientific papers will yet be brought together for permanent preservation in book-form.


Zoölogical Work at the Chesapeake Laboratory.—In a brief report to the President of Johns Hopkins University, Professor W. K. Brooks, of that institution, gives an interesting outline of the investigations carried on during the past summer in the Chesapeake Zoölogical Laboratory of which he was in charge. The laboratory opened at Crisfield, on the eastern shore of the bay, June 25th, having its quarters in three barges belonging to the Maryland Fish Commission. There were a dozen gentlemen in attendance, most of them trained observers, and the amount of work accomplished during the session Professor Brooks describes as very satisfactory. Later in the season the mosquitoes made the barges uninhabitable, and the party was obliged to move to Fort Wool, where its work was continued until September 15th, making the length of the session eleven weeks. Dr. S. F. Clarke, assistant in the Zoölogical Laboratory of Johns Hopkins, devoted most of the season to the study of hydroids, and found that many of the species which occur in the bay are new to science. Besides describing a number of these, he was able to make important observations on their structure, manner of growth, and other points of interest. Professor E. A. Birge, of the University of Wisconsin, made a very complete series of observations on the larval stages of two genera of crabs, tracing them from the egg to the adult form; and prepared a full set of drawings showing each appendage at each stage of development. A careful study of the development of the edible crab was attempted, but stormy weather prevented a completion of this work, which it is suggested should be taken up again another season. Concerning his own investigations, which were mainly directed to the development and artificial propagation of the oyster. Professor Brooks states that he obtained information on a number of obscure points in molluscan development, and also reached very unexpected conclusions regarding the breeding habits of the American oyster which he believes will prove to be of great economic importance. Owing to the difficulties attending such investigations at the ocean, much of the work begun was left incomplete; several of the researches, however, were carried far enough to warrant publication, and a number of papers have been prepared that are now ready for the press.


Progress of the Electric Light.—Mr. Edison has been vigorously prosecuting his investigations in relation to this subject, in the laboratory at Menlo Park, and has lately announced an important step forward. His task has been to get an electric lamp that would work satisfactorily in giving out only the light of a common gas-burner. The carbon-points and arc would not answer. He labored a long time to make platinum in some form serve as the wick of his lamp, to be made luminous by the current. But, this failing to meet his requirements, he cast about for other materials. He tried carbon in various shapes, and at length hit upon one form of it which he thinks promises to solve his problem successfully, he cuts out a slender piece of paper from cardboard, in the shape of a horseshoe, about one inch and a half long, and not thicker than a knitting-needle. This is then carbonized by pressing it between metal plates, which are raised to a high temperature. This little slender carbon loop, which preserves its fibrous character, so as to make it somewhat elastic, is clamped to the conducting wires, at each end, and is then introduced into a little glass globe, two or three inches in diameter, which is exhausted of air, and immediately sealed up. By improvements in the Sprengel pump, Mr. Edison claims to get a vacuum so perfect that but one millionth of the air remains in it. As the current passes through the carbon it heats it to a glowing whiteness, so that it gives out a very pleasant, moderate light. These lamps, it is said, can be made very cheaply, and it is claimed that thus far the carbon filaments withstand the influence of the current and promise to be permanent. It would, of course, be premature to pass judgment upon that which time alone can determine.


About Snakes.—The question how snakes progress is answered by the books in a way satisfactory to many minds, but Mr. H. F. Hutchinson, who writes about them in a recent number of "Nature," takes some exceptions to the usual explanation. He seems to have been a careful observer of their habits, and concludes that terrestrial snakes move in one or the other of the following ways: "1. On smooth, plane surfaces, by means of their rib-legs; e. g., the boa. 2. Through high grass, by a rapid, almost invisible, sinuous onward movement, as the hydrophidæ in water; e. g., the rat snake. 3. Climbing trees, or ascending smooth surfaces by erecting their abdominal scales, or using them to produce a vacuum, as lizards do their foot-scales for ascending smooth surfaces; e. g., tree-snakes and cobras." Mr. Hutchinson captured a snake nine inches long, with a head less than half an inch broad, and presented it with a frog two inches long and one broad. The snake saluted the frog by seizing it by the nose. The animal made desperate attempts to shake it off, but in vain, and all the while the process of deglutition (?) was going on, or rather the snake was slowly but surely getting outside the frog. This was accomplished by a sort of vermicular process. The sharp little teeth were seen to advance slightly, and then the whole body wriggled up to a new hold on the frog. In this way it very gradually disappeared, the whole process lasting half an hour. The so-called snake-charming Mr. Hutchinson is confident is only clever legerdemain. He describes the operation of skin-shedding as follows: "The skin ready to be cast yields round the snake's mouth only, and remains adherent to the extremity of the tail. As the animal advances, the caudal extremity of the skin is inverted—that is, pulled inward—and so the process goes on, and is completed by the tail passing through the mouth of the skin; and thus the direction of the abandoned skin is directly opposite to the direction taken by the skin-casting snake—that is, if the mouth of the skin lies east, the snake went out to the west."


Improvements in Butter-making.—English farmers of late years have been giving more and more attention to the improvement of their dairy products, and in the business of butter-making, especially, have made some very considerable advances on the old-time practice. One of the most recent and one of the most important of these is the discovery of an odorless, tasteless, and quite innocuous antiseptic that proves to be an effectual preservative of butter, without the use of salt, and without the usual precaution of excluding it from the air. To test its efficacy, the patent was submitted to Mr. G. M. Allender, a disinterested expert in London, for trial. On the 24th of July last he treated a churning of butter in accordance with the directions specified, and, inclosing the butter in a muslin cloth, placed it in a firkin without a particle of salt—every precaution being taken that there should be no tampering with the experiment. The firkin remained on the premises at St. Petersburg Place, Bayswater, for three months, and when examined on October 24th the butter was as sound and sweet as when first put in, although during the whole time it had practically been exposed to the air, nothing having been done to exclude the latter from the firkin. Without treatment it would undoubtedly have become wholly putrid in that length of time; nothing, however, could be detected by either smell or taste to indicate that the sample had suffered the slightest deterioration, as it possessed all the qualities of flavor and firmness of butter churned the day before. Experts in different parts of the country were furnished samples, and all pronounced the preservation wonderful; they were of the opinion, however, that the best, newly-made butter has a peculiar aroma that is not quite equaled in the preserved butter, while the latter was considered a little "dead," a defect that is removed by the addition of one per cent, of salt. The cost of the preservative does not exceed one halfpenny per pound of butter; it is worked in directly after churning, and requires no further care or attention, except that, like other butter, it should be kept in a moderately cool place.


Are Bacteria found in Healthy Animals?—In the "Journal of Anatomy and Physiology" for April, 1878, Messrs. Chiene and Ewart asserted that bacteria did not exist in the organs of healthy living animals. In the August number of the "Journal für Praktische Chemie" Messrs. Neucki and Gracosa urge the affirmative side of the question. The chief points of the latter's argument we abstract from a recent copy of "Nature": Dr. Burdon-Sanderson plunged an organ from a newly-killed animal into paraffine heated to 110°, it was allowed to cool and then covered with Venetian turpentine to still further protect it from outside infection. Two days after, the organ was found in a clotted and slightly cooked condition on the outside, but bacteria were present in the center. To this, Messrs. Chiene and Ewart replied that the bacteria-germs fell upon the organ in the interval between its extraction and the moment of plunging it into paraffine. This was accordingly guarded against by an antiseptic method, and three days afterward, when the specimens were examined, no bacteria were discovered. The conclusion, therefore, of Messrs. Chiene and Ewart was that, if the organs were treated antiseptically after death, neither bacteria nor their germs will be found; and hence that no bacteria-germs exist in living healthy organs. Messrs. Neucki and Gracosa, in order to prove the contrary, filled a large glass test-tube with mercury, closed it with a slip of glass, and inverted it in a vessel containing mercury. The vessel was then heated until the tube was one third filled with vapor of mercury. It was then allowed to cool; the quicksilver in the tube again condensed; and when that in the outer jar was heated to 120° it was covered with a five per cent, solution of carbolic acid. A portion of an internal organ from an animal recently killed was brought by means of a pair of tweezers under the mouth of the tube, up which it ascended. The apparatus was kept for several days at a temperature of 40°; and bacteria were subsequently found in the specimen. All experiments of this kind led to the conclusion that bacteria exist in the organs of living healthy animals.


Antiquity of Man.—Professor Boyd Dawkins, in a paper on the antiquity of man, read before the Sheffield meeting of the British Association, said that when he examined the great divisions of the Tertiary period in their relation to the highest forms of life, he was confronted by the following important facts: In the Eocene age there was not a single species of placental mammal. There is not a single well-authenticated case of any mammalian species, now living on the earth, having lived in the Miocene age, although the French archæologists claim that man lived then. In the Pliocene age one or two living species make their appearance. Passing to the Pleistocene or Glacial period, living species are very abundant, extinct species are rare. It is in this period that man appears, over an extended area. He is a mere hunter, not a farmer or possessor of wild animals. The prehistoric period which succeeded the Pleistocene was characterized by the absence of the extinct species of mammalia, with the single exception of the Irish elk. At this time, the domestic animals, the dog, sheep, horse, and various breeds of cattle appear, and are subject to man; and along with them there was the cultivation of the arts of agriculture. In conclusion, he claimed that hopes of fixing the exact antiquity of man would be vain, as there were intervals of the length of which we have no record; but he was certainly an inhabitant of the earth during the Glacial period.


Does Sargassum vegetate in the Open Sea?—In reply to the questions of a correspondent in "Nature," regarding sargassum, Mr. J. J. Wild gives the following information: While on board the Challenger, during her cruise in the North Atlantic in the year 1873, he had frequent opportunity for observing this alga, and more than once saw large patches of it extending from the vicinity of the vessel to a great distance. As regards the appearance of these sargassum patches, he quotes Sir C. Wyville Thomson, who says: "They consist of a single layer of feathery branches of the weed (Sargassum bacciferum), not matted, but floating nearly free of one another, only sufficiently entangled for the mass to keep together. Each tuft has a central brown, thread-like, branching stem, studded with round air-vesicles on short stalks, most of those near the center dead and coated with a beautiful netted white polyzoön. After a time vesicles so incrusted break off, and, when there is much gulf-weed, the sea is studded with these little separate white balls. A short way from the center toward the ends of the branches, the serrated, willow-like leaves of the plant begin, at first brown and rigid, but becoming further on. in the branch paler, more delicate, and more active in their vitality. The young fresh leaves and air-vesicles are usually ornamented with the stalked vases of a campanularia. The general color of the mass of weed is thus olive in all its shades, but the golden olive of the young and growing branches greatly predominates." Mr. Wild still further quotes from the same author to the effect that sargassum is the "one notable exception" to the rule that the higher algæ do not live on the surface of the sea. Mr. H. N. Moseley, in "Notes by a Naturalist," refers to the pelagic habits of sargassum and other sea-weeds when he says, "They grow attached to rocks, as well as free, but they all produce spores only when attached."


The Salmon Industries of Oregon.—It is well known that the salmon, which is esteemed a luxury, and at certain seasons of the year is found only on the tables of the rich, is a prolific fish. A female will yield about a thousand eggs for every pound of her weight, but, of the millions of eggs deposited in spawning-beds, only a few develop to adult salmon. Numberless ova escape fertilization, floods carry them from their places of deposit, and enemies destroy both eggs and fish. Enthusiasts in fishery economy assert that in the near future salmon will be as cheap as other fish. At present,, however, it is very dear, and, notwithstanding that artificial spawning is resorted to, the fish does not increase in proportion to the increasing demand. This keeps up the price, and has given rise to an important industry in the preparation of canned salmon. We glean the following concerning this industry from "Chambers's Journal": A surprising trade in this commodity has developed in Oregon, and large quantities of canned fish are exported from this source to Great Britain and Europe. Scotland and Ireland yield excellent salmon, but the canned fish may be obtained even in remote towns of the United Kingdom for half the price of the fresh. There are flourishing canneries on the Umpqua, Eraser, Royal, and Columbia Rivers. In some of these a capital of fifty thousand dollars has been invested, and twice that outlay will be required for some newly projected establishments. The fish taken from the Columbia River are nearly all 'canned,' and as many as twelve million pounds of salmon have been taken from this source in a single season. The Columbia is a river of vast extent, with an enormous body of water. Salmon run up to a distance of four hundred miles from the sea, and thus obtain ample living and spawning room in shallow places of the main stream and its tributaries. The fish selected for canning is locally known as the 'chinook salmon.' Its average size is twenty-two pounds. When taken only for local consumption, clubs and spears, or hook and line, serve the purpose; but, in order to supply the now enormously increased demand, drift-nets are used. These are three quarters of a mile in length, twenty feet in depth, and hare a mesh sufficient to allow the head of a fish to enter as far as the gills. The fishing-season lasts from April to July, and during this time the work is prosecuted with vigor. Everything required in the business is manufactured on the premises. Foreigners are employed to do the work; Italians capture the fish and Chinamen prepare it for consumption. The fish, placed in racks in quantities, at the entrance of the cannery, are readily accessible. A flexible water-pipe directs its searching flow of water on to the salmon to cleanse them, after which they are sorted and placed within reach of the first operator. He takes off head, fins, and tail; making an incision into the back, the intestinal matter is removed, and the fish thrown into a tub half filled with water. The second operator scrapes and washes it, and passes it on to man number three for inspection. The fourth person ranges the bodies in a trough, where by means of blades driven by a crank they are cut to pieces. These are now neatly packed in cans, a spoonful of salt is put into each one, the lid is soldered down, and the cans are then ready for the cooking-house. Here immersed in a huge steamer they cook an hour. Removed from the steam-bath, they have each a small hole bored in them, to admit of their quickly cooling. The tins are next placed in boiling salt water, where they remain two hours. They are again examined, now to see that the ends have assumed a concave shape. Such tins as have not taken this shape are condemned, while all others are passed forward to be varnished and labeled. Before being sent to market they are again examined, and imperfect cans are rejected.


Voice in Fishes.—Sir. S. E. Pool, in a late number of "Nature," gives an account of an interesting observation of his own in support of the claim that fishes possess a faculty of voice. He states that, when engaged in a survey of the "Disang River in eastern Assam" some six years ago, he had occasion to sound the depth of a pool. When seated in a small canoe and slowly nearing it, he suddenly became aware of the presence of a number of fish called "mahsir." They were evidently attracted by the canoe, and Mr. Pool surmised that they might possibly think it a huge dead fish. While watching their movements, he became "aware of a peculiar 'cluck' or percussive sound—frequently repeated, on all sides, and coming from below," but near by. This was soon traced to the mahsir, and one of them made distinct sounds which were answered by others. He further states that in some parts of eastern Assam a large bivalve sings in concert with others.


Expansion of Bodies by Electrification.—In a communication to the Paris Academy of Sciences, E. Duter describes some experiments which have led him to the conclusion that bodies are increased in bulk by electrification. A large thermometer-tube is filled with water and coated externally with tin-foil, forming a Leyden-jar or condenser, with the water for the interior conductor, the foil for the exterior conductor, and the tube for the insulator—a platinum wire dipping into the water as a charging rod or electrode. As soon as the jar is electrified the water sinks to a lower level, and so remains till the jar is discharged. The inference is, that the glass is dilated by electrification, and this inference is strengthened by the fact that the same effects are produced whatever be the nature of the armatures, whether tin-foil, water, saline or mercury solutions. To remove all doubts, M. Duter modified the apparatus by placing the tube (or Leyden-jar) in a closed envelope of glass, terminated also by a thermometer-stem and filled equally with a liquid conductor. In this arrangement the liquid of the internal reservoir formed the interior armature of the condenser, and the liquid of the envelope formed the exterior armature, the glass tube being, as before, the insulator. On electrification, while the inner liquid sank, the outer liquid rose to an equal amount, thus proving the accuracy of the inference. On discharge of the electricity, the original levels were restored. The conclusion is, that the internal capacity of a Leyden-jar and its external volume are increased by charging it with static electricity. Temperature can not cause this change, since the effect is immediate in charging and discharging. Neither can electric pressure cause it, because that must be the same on both sides of the dielectric, and a diminution of volume would be the result. Again, it is not due to the polarity of the armature, for on reversing the poles the effect is the same.


Sheep poisoned at Pasture.—If we regard the masses of its bloom, and the exceptionally exquisite form of its blossoms, probably no flower can equal the kalmia, or American laurel. All this is appreciated in Europe, and the plant holds a distinguished place in its gardens. But at home this fine shrub bears the execration of all shepherds and herdsmen, as it is poisonous to the sheep. Next to Australia, if not equal, in sheep-raising, is Colorado. Unhappily, a poisonous mallow (Malvasirum coccineum) is found growing from Iowa across the great Plains westward. Last October a sheep-raiser named Ruble, in Pueblo, Colorado, had the ill luck to have a flock get into a patch of this terrible weed, and twelve hundred sheep perished in four hours! Another plant in Colorado, the dreaded "loco" of the stock-men—the Oxytropia Lamberti—is also noted for its poisonous qualities.


A Precocious Century-Plant.—There is now (January) a fine century-plant (Agave Americana) in full bloom, in the conservatory of John Hoey, Esq., at Hollywood, Long Branch, New Jersey. This plant is only twelve years old. The notion of this aloe only blooming when a hundred years old is simply a tradition of the elders. It all depends on the environment and chiefly temperature. Blooming at the age of fifty years is common. To get the plant into bloom at twenty-five years is considered quite satisfactory by the gardeners, but this instance of one flowering at twelve years, in a conservatory, must be accounted as unique.


The Proportion of Oxygen in the Upper Air.—Though oxygen is heavier than nitrogen, and therefore ought to fall to a lower level in the atmosphere than the latter gas, still, no difference has ever been found to exist in the relative proportions of the two, even at the greatest attainable altitudes. Up to such elevations the agitation of the air suffices to keep its components uniformly mixed. Whether there is any want of uniformity at still greater elevations is an open question, the solution of which has been attempted by Professor Edward W Morley, of Hudson, Ohio. Accepting as provisionally correct the theory proposed a few years ago by Professor Loomis, that great and sudden depressions of temperature are sometimes owing to the vertical descent of cold air from elevated regions of the atmosphere, Professor Morley inferred that samples of air taken at the earth's surface during a great and sudden lowering of temperature might have come from altitudes where the proportion of oxygen had been lessened by the action of gravity. He has therefore made numerous analyses of air during "cold waves," and the result has been invariably to show deficiencies in the proportion of oxygen in the air at such times.


New Coloring Matters.—The chemists Savigny and Colineau have discovered a method of obtaining innocuous coloring matters from the red cabbage. This substance is known as cauline, and is useful in painting, for printing fabrics, and for dyeing. The process is as follows: Cut the interior of the cabbage and the stalks of the leaves in small pieces and place them in boiling water in the proportion of one and a half kilogramme of leaves to three litres of water. The infusion is left about twenty-four hours to macerate, then the leaves are taken out and submitted to pressure to squeeze out the water, which is added to the liquid infusion; this cauline is of a violet-blue color. It forms the base of a series of derivatives which constitute the precipitates of various colors. For instance, to obtain barucauline, two grammes of baryta are added to five hundred grammes of cauline cold; this produces a clear green dye. To obtain chlorocalcicauline, which is a bluish green, one hundred grammes of anhydrous chloride of calcium are added to half a kilogramme of cauline. A false bronze color is obtained by adding one hundred to five hundred grammes chloride manganese and five grammes baryta to five hundred grammes cauline; this is called mangocau-line. Zincocarbocauline, which is an ultra-marine blue, is obtained by introducing forty grammes chloride zinc and twenty-five grammes carbonate soda to five hundred grammes cauline.