Popular Science Monthly/Volume 21/August 1882/Popular Miscellany

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Popular Science Monthly Volume 21 August 1882  (1882) 
Popular Miscellany
 

POPULAR MISCELLANY.

The Great Telescope at Princeton.—The new telescope for the Halsted Observatory at Princeton has been mounted within the past few weeks, and is now ready for work. In magnitude it ranks at present as fourth among the great refracting telescopes of the world, and second in the United States. Its only superiors in size are the Vienna refractor, of twenty-seven inches diameter, the telescope of the Naval Observatory at Washington, twenty-six inches in diameter, and the telescope of Mr. Newhall, at Newcastle, in England, which has an aperture of twenty-five inches. A number of still larger instruments are indeed under construction, but it will be some time before any of them are actually in place. The object-glass of the Princeton telescope is twenty-three inches in diameter, and has a focal length of thirty feet. The glass disks were cast by Feil, in Paris, but the telescope was made by Alvan Clark & Sons, of Cambridge. Though the telescope is a little smaller than the Washington equatorial, its mounting is considerably heavier and firmer, and is improved in many respects. The regulator of the driving-clock is unusually-powerful, and, to prevent friction and wear of its pivots, its shaft is floated in mercury. The clamps and slow-motions are all managed without removing the eye from the eye-piece, and the declination circle is also read from the eye-end by a new and ingenious arrangement of the makers. The object-glass is peculiar in having its two lenses separated by a space of about seven inches, so as to allow a free circulation of air between them, thus greatly diminishing the disturbing effect of changes of temperature. This construction secures also freedom from the "ghosts" (formed by reflection between the lenses) which are so troublesome in many large instruments. The curves of the lenses are not those usually employed, but are somewhat like those of the Gaussian system, though not so deep. The color and spherical aberration are very perfectly corrected, and the performance of the glass, so far as can be judged from a few nights' work, is extremely fine. The instrument is, of course, provided with all the usual micrometers, eye-pieces, and other accessories, but as its chief occupation, for the present at least, is to be in the line of stellar spectroscopy, special attention has been given to the spectroscope, which is the most powerful ever made for star-work. It is a direct-vision instrument, on the plan of that used for some years back at Greenwich, though much larger. It was constructed by Hilger, of London, under the kind supervision of Mr. Christie (the present Astronomer Royal), in accordance with his own designs. It has three of his so-called half-prisms, of such size as to take a beam two and one quarter inches in diameter, and is nearly six feet long. The whole cost of the telescope and spectroscope was $26,000, which was provided by the generosity of Robert Bonner, R. L. Stuart, and other friends of science and the college. The observatory itself, of which the corner-stone was laid sixteen years ago, has been newly fitted up for its occupant. A gas-engine furnishes the power for moving the dome and working the shutters, and it also drives an Edison dynamo electric machine which provides a powerful current to be used for lighting purposes, or to supply the spectra of gases and metals to be compared with the spectra of the stars.

 

American Archæological Researches.—The third annual report of the Archæological Institute of America reviews the work that has been pursued by the agents of the institute in archæological explorations in New Mexico and Mexico, and in the excavations at the ancient Greek city of Assos, and includes the first report of the committee on the American school of classical studies at Athens. Mr. Bandelier, who had been exploring in New Mexico in the service of the institute, spent some time in Mexico, first at Cholula, where he studied the history of the city and the manners and customs, the habits and superstitions, and the domestic architecture of the present native Indian inhabitants. He inquired into the origin and character of the ancient Mexican deity Quetzal-Chohuatl, and the significance of the myth attached to his name, and made a study of the great pyramid of Cholula. The latter, he declares, is not entitled to be called a pyramid, but is only a huge mound, some two hundred feet high, which originally covered an area of about sixty acres, and now presents the appearance of three distinct terraces, surrounding and supporting a conical hill, very wide, and much overgrown with shrubbery. It is constructed of materials precisely similar to those which make up the plain on which it stands, and appears not to have been all erected at one time, but to be the accumulation of successive periods of labor. Mr. Bandelier believes that the structure was designed to hold immense communal buildings, like those at Pecos, in New Mexico, but in size approaching the great edifices at Palenque and Uxmal, and all built around a vast court, in the center of which stood an enormous "worship-mound," and that it was built by the Toltecs, or Mayas. Mr. Bandelier also visited Mitla, where he secured accurate plans and measurements of the most important buildings, thirty-nine in number. The so-called palaces are not greatly different from the pueblos of New Mexico, and are described as built and ornamented without any knowledge of mechanical contrivances, dark and imperfectly ventilated, and only a "barbaric effort of a barbarous people." His conclusion, drawn from the shape and size of the single apartments, is that they were not intended for every-day abodes, but only as shelters at night and in bad weather, and retreats for the women and children during a hostile attack—communal structures, differing from the similar constructions of other Indian tribes "only in so far as the exigencies of a different climate or of varying resources demanded." M. Louis H. Aymé, United States consul at Merida, has entered into a contract to explore, as agent of the institute, such places in Yucatan as have not recently been examined by Dr. Le Plongeon or M. Charnay. The ruins of Yucatan have suffered great destruction during the forty years since they were visited by Stephens.

 

The American Association.—The thirtyfirst annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science will be held at Montreal, beginning August 23d, under the presidency of Principal J. W. Dawson, LL. D., F. R, S., of McGill University. The headquarters of the association will be at McGill University, where members will register as soon as possible after their arrival. The hotel headquarters will be at the Windsor Hotel. The offices of the local committee and of the permanent secretary will be at the university. The general sessions and the meetings of the sections and committees will all be held in the university buildings. The permanent secretary, Professor F. W. Putnam, may be addressed at Salem, Massachusetts, till August 17th, after which his address will be at the Windsor Hotel, Montreal, Canada.

 

The British Association.—The fifty-second meeting of the British Association will be held at Southampton, beginning August 28d, when the chair will be resigned by Sir John Lubbock and assumed by Dr. C. W. Siemens, F. R. S., president-elect, with the usual address appropriate to the occasion. The addresses at the evening general meetings will be, "On the Tides," by Sir William Thomson, F. R. S., August 25th, and on "Pelagic Life," by Professor H. N. Moseley, August 28th. The presidents of the sections will be: A, Mathematical and Physical Science, Lord Rayleigh; B, Chemical Science, Professor D. Liveing; C, Geology, R. Etheridge, F. R. S.; D, Biology, Professor A. Gamgee, with Professors Gamgee, M. A. Lawson, and W. Boyd Dawkins as presidents in the Departments of Anatomy and Physiology, Zoölogy and Botany, and Anthropology; E, Geography, Sir R. Temple, Bart.; F, Economical Science and Statistics, the Right Hon. G. Sclater-Booth; and G, Mechanical Science, John Fowler, F. G. S. Excursions to places of interest in the neighborhood of Southampton will be made on the afternoon of Saturday, August 26th, and on Thursday, August 31st.

 

Forests and Climate.—Dr. J. M. Anders, in the "American Naturalist," has carefully examined the influence of forests upon climate and rain-fall. The principal influence exerted by woods upon climate is as windbreaks, in which capacity the service they render is familiar enough. The experiment has been tried extensively in France of planting trees in belts one hundred metres apart, with marked benefit to the climate. Forests may slightly promote the condensation of moisture by inducing an upward movement of the air, as mountains are known to do on an extensive scale; but their action in this respect, on account of their low height, is not important enough to be made account of. Woods play a more important part in furnishing the air with moisture by transpiration of water through their leaves. It is computed from experimental tests that they give off in this way twelve times as much water as is evaporated directly from the soil on which they stand, twice as much as goes up from a free soil, and more than is emitted from an equal body of water. They are able to do this, and keep it up, because they are at all times supplied with an abundant store of moisture for transpiration. This is given them partly by the power which their roots have to attract moisture from every direction; partly by the retention of the rain-fall in their net-work; and partly by the property possessed by vegetable mold of absorbing moisture and holding it. This power of evaporation is shared by the humbler vegetation, and it operates nearly constantly, even during long droughts. Climate is also materially affected by this quality, for moist air during winter tends to moderate extreme cold and during summer produces a refreshing coolness. Now, since it is established that forests moisten the air over, in, and to some extent around themselves, "may we not be pardoned for concluding that warm currents sweeping over a country and striking the cool moist air in and above the forests, and mingling with it, would have a portion, at least, of the contained moisture condensed into gentle showers, extending their beneficent influence to neighboring fields? Again, let some stray current come along, of a lower temperature than the air of the forest, and the moist air of the forest would readily be condensed, since it is a well-known fact that a moist air discharges its vapor more readily in the form of rain than a drier atmosphere. We have now seen how trees can cause local rains; it will also be observed that the rain is formed chiefly above the forest, though it may be through the influence of winds that it falls to the earth for some distance around. By increasing the frequency of light rains, forests tend to obviate drought, which is of ultimate importance to the farmer's crops and vegetation in general. It will be seen that all our deductions have been drawn largely from the known facts from observations." Forests also produce abundant dews, an office not to be despised, for heavy dews are often very refreshing to vegetation.

 

Atmospheric Pressure and the Sea-Level.—One of the most interesting phenomena of the recent winter in Europe was a remarkable depression of the level of the Mediterranean Sea under the influence of the high barometric pressures of December and January. At Antibes, in particular, the water-level sunk considerably, falling about a foot during the first fortnight in January, and laying bare bottoms over which small boats had previously sailed with ease. A similar depression was noticed on the coasts of Italy, particularly at Fiumicino. A French savant, M. Daussy, has estimated the amount of this influence, and calculated that it is equal to the product of the excess of height over the normal by the density of mercury. The action of atmospheric pressure is so manifest at other points in the Mediterranean, according to Dr. Niepce, of Nice, that it almost alone constitutes the tidal force. The fact is confirmed in a paper on the climate of Venice, which has recently been published by M. Tono, of the Meteorological Observatory in that city, which shows the closest correspondence between the changes in atmospheric pressure and the rise and fall of the waters.

 

The Mound-Builders and the Southern Indians.—Dr. Daniel G. Brinton has sought to answer the question, Who were the mound-builders? by inquiring whether and to what extent the tribes who inhabited the Mississippi Valley and the Atlantic slope were accustomed to make works similar to the mounds. It is clear, from several accounts, that the Iroquois were accustomed to construct burial-mounds, and their neighbors, the various Algonquin tribes, occasionally raised heaps of soil. The Cherokees do not appear to have been real mound-builders, but they appreciated the convenience of mounds, and put their more important buildings upon them when they had them at hand. The tribes among whom we can look for the descendants of the mound-builders with the greatest probability of success are the tribes of the great Chahta-Muskokee family, which includes the Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks, Seminoles, and Natchez. They "seem to have been a building race, and to have reared tumuli not contemptible in comparison even with the mightiest of the Ohio Valley." Cabeza de Vaca, who accompanied the expedition of Pamfilo de Narvaez in 1527, mentions a place where the natives were accustomed to erect their dwellings on a steep hill, and dig a ditch around its base, as a means of defense. All the accounts of those who participated in Hernando de Soto's expedition describe the Southern tribes as constructing artificial mounds, using earthworks for defense, excavating ditches and canals, etc. Thus, La Vega tells how the caciques in Florida formed earth into a kind of platform "two or three pikes in height, the summit of which is large enough to give room for twelve, fifteen, or twenty houses, to lodge the cacique and his attendants. At the foot of this elevation they mark oat a square place, according to the size of the village, around which the leading men have their houses." Biedma says that the caciques of a certain region "were accustomed to erect near the house very high mounds (tertres tres-élevées), and there were some who placed their houses on the top of these mounds." The Huguenots who attempted to settle in Florida described similar structures as marking the sites of the houses of the chief. William Bartram, the botanist, who visited the Creeks in the last century, found that they had "chunk-yards" surrounded by low mounds of earth, at one end of which, sometimes on a moderate artificial elevation, was the chief's dwelling, and at the other end the public council-house. Large burial-mounds are also often spoken of as being made by these tribes. Many of the mounds in the Gulf States are very large. One in the Etowah Valley, Georgia, has a capacity of one million cubic feet. The Messier mound, near the Chattahoochee River, contains about seven hundred thousand cubic feet, and is twice as large as the great mound near Miamisburg, Ohio. Dr. Brinton's views are parallel, if not identical, with those worked out by the late Mr. Lewis H. Morgan, in his "Houses and House-Life of the American Aborigines."

 

The Microbe of Malaria.—M. Richard, a French pathologist, announces that he has discovered the parasite of malaria in a microbe which makes its special habitat in the red globule of the blood, where it is developed in a similar manner with the weevil in the bean, and whence it issues as soon as it has reached the perfect state. When the blood of a patient suffering from an attack of fever is examined, red globules will be found, having a little round, clear spot in their depth, but which otherwise preserve all the appearance and elasticity of the normal red globules; they are simply, if the expression may be allowed, stung. Besides these globules, others exist in which the evolution of the microbe is more advanced; the clear spot has become larger, and is surrounded as if by a setting of fine black granulations; all around, the hemoglobine, plainly distinguishable by its greenish-yellow tint, forms a ring, which grows narrower as the parasite increases in volume. At last, nothing is left of it but a perfectly colorless, narrow marginal zone, the hemoglobine having entirely disappeared, and the substance of the red globule having been taken possession of by the microbe till it has been reduced to a shell. We now have a. circular element having nearly the dimensions of the red globule, and inclosing the microbe, which has reached its perfect condition, and is provided with one or more very slender prolongations, which are, however, not visible in this condition. At this moment the parasite is about to pierce the membrane that contains it, and escape into the plasma of the blood. This microbe can be found in every patient about to be attacked with fever, except those suffering from marsh-cachexy, concerning whom M. Richard can not speak decidedly, because he has not made sufficient examinations of them.

 

Geological Influences in English History.—Professor Archibald Geikie has an article in "Macmillan's Magazine" illustrating how the history of the English people has been affected by the geological structure of their island. That the relation thus assumed is real may be proved by viewing the contrast between the heart of England and the heart of Scotland. The former is inhabited by a rich agricultural or busy mining English-speaking population, is dotted with large cities, and teems in every clement with the bustle of enterprise; the latter, a region of rugged mountains and narrow glens, is tenanted by a Celtic race that clings to its old tongue and habits, has never built towns and hardly villages, abounds in pastures and game-lands, but has no industrial centers, no manufactures of any kind, and only a feeble agriculture struggling for existence along the bottoms of the valleys. These differences prove, upon examination, to have arisen fundamentally from the utterly distinct geological structure of the two regions, by which diversities in human characteristics were initiated in far prehistoric times, and have been continued, in spite of the blending influences of modern civilization, down to the present day. Passing by the conjectures as to what may have happened in prehistoric times and between the Cymric and Gaelic branches of the Celtic race, we come to the Roman conquest, which was extended over the lowland regions of the Old Red Sandstone and Carboniferous strata of England and Scotland, and was stopped at the crystalline rocks of the Highlands. The same geological influences which guided the progress of the Roman armies may be traced in the subsequent Teutonic invasions of Angles, Saxons, Jutes, and Norwegians. It was on the former platforms of undisturbed strata "that invaders could most successfully establish themselves. So dominant has been this geological influence, that the line of boundary between the crystalline rocks and the Old Red Sandstone, from the north of Caithness to the coast of Kincardineshire, was almost precisely that of the frontier established between the old Celtic natives and the later hordes of Danes and Northmen. To this day, in spite of the inevitable commingling of the races, it still serves to define the respective areas of the Gaelic-speaking and English-speaking populations." On the northwestern coasts of the island there are none of the fringes of more recent formations which have had so marked an influence on the eastern side. Hence, though the Norsemen possessed themselves of every available bay and inlet, driving the Celts into the more barren interior, the natural contours made it impossible that their hold on the ground should be so firm as that of their kinsmen on the east. Hence the Gaels eventually came down upon them, and all obvious trace of the Norse occupation disappeared, save in the names given by the sea-rovers to the islands, promontories, and inlets. The difference in the character of the Irish and the Highlanders—both Celts—may be traced to differences in geological structure and scenery. The Irishman is light-hearted and impulsive, because he lives in an easy country, with a soft climate and rich soil. The Highlander is rugged and stern, because his country, where "he has to fight with the elements a never-ending battle, wherein he is often the loser," is so. The apportionment of lands into cultivated, pasture, and feral lands, rests upon geological causes, which determine that each tract shall be used for the purposes by which the most can be made out of it. The sites of towns and villages may often be traced to a similar influence. Formerly they were built around heights that could be fortified; now they are built where the geological features afford the most scope for industrial and commercial development; and the latter towns are the ones that are growing, and to which the population is being transferred at the expense of the others. The style of architecture, which is largely determined by the presence or absence of building-stone, and the kind of the stone or clay, is obviously related to geological features. Lastly, "the history of the development of our system of railways, our steam machinery, our manufactures, is unintelligible except when taken together with the opening up of our resources in coal and iron," and these are traceable wholly to geological features.

 

A New Weighing of the Earth.—Professor von Jolly, of Munich, has recently employed a new process for the determination of the mean density of the earth. He placed a pair of scales in the top of a tower, and attached to each plate of the instrument a wire which reached, passing through a zinc tube, to twenty-one metres below. To the lower ends of the wires other scale plates were suspended, which thus hung within a little more than a metre of the ground. Under one of the lower plates he put a ball of lead, a metre in diameter. The fact that a body at a certain elevation gains in weight as it is brought nearer to the ground was verified by weighing bodies first in one of the upper balances and then in one of the lower ones. Furthermore these bodies varied in weight in the lower plates according as the mass of lead remained under them or was taken away. The differences in these weights showed the degree of attraction exercised by the mass. The value thus obtained, compared with the attraction exerted by the earth alone, furnished a means of ascertaining, according to the laws of gravitation, the ratio between the density of the earth and that of lead, and, the latter being known, of determining the mean density of the globe. M. von Jolly's experiments give this density as 5·692, with a probable error of ±0·068, a figure that agrees quite well with other determinations, particularly with Bailey's of 5·67.

 

Recent Applications of Science to Machinery.—Sir Frederick Bramwell took as the subject of his chairman's address at the recent opening of the 128th session of the Society of Arts, the later applications of science to the promotion of arts, manufactures, and commerce. It could not be said, he remarked, that any new scientific discovery or principle has been applied to the steam-engine, which is still our pre-eminent motor, but the principles on which its economical action depends have been advanced by the application of jacketing for saving steam and the use of higher pressures, with a consequent economy of coal. Available pressures have increased during the last half-century from three and a half pounds to one hundred pounds; and Mr. Loftus Perkins has engines running with four hundred pounds of pressure above that of the atmosphere, demanding a consumption of one and two thirds of a pound of coal per indicated horse-power per hour against two and a half pounds required by engines using a pressure of one hundred pounds. The saving, five sixths of a pound, seems small when expressed in simple figures, but it represents a considerable percentage, and the difference between running a vessel fourteen days and twenty-one days with the same stock of coal. ^Nevertheless, unless some wholly new and at present undreamed-of discovery is made, the steam engine will have to yield its place to other means of obtaining motive power. The average of British engines do not give forth one twenty-fifth of the energy that may be considered as residing in the fuel they consume; and even if we should obtain a horsepower per hour for as little as one pound of coal, we should still utilize only about a sixth or a fifth of that energy. The operation of railways has been improved by the introduction of steel rails, the extension of the block and interlocking systems, the application of continuous brakes, and the better adaptation of rolling-stock to turning curves; and the use of steel for crossties is anticipated. Arrangements are in use by which the signal-man can cause the whistle of the engine to sound at the same time he gives the danger-signal; and a device to enable him also to turn off the steam, apply the brakes, and stop the train is desirable and not impracticable; but this should be accompanied with a registering apparatus to reveal the negligence of the engineer that may have made it necessary to apply it. So much has been gained in our knowledge of the theory of resistance and the best dimensions and shapes of ships, that we are now able to build vessels approaching the size of the Great Eastern, and run them with a profit at a greater speed than was ever attained before. Gas engines are made, the workings of which are nearly as steady as those of the steam-engine, and with Mr, Dowson's process for making fuel-gas, power can now be obtained from gas-fuel for less cost than in the ordinary steam-engine. A curious application of shifting ballast, which was once thought to be one of the most dangerous agents to equilibrium, has been made in the British war-vessel Inflexible to check the rolling of the vessel. Water, in a tank extending across the vessel, by being on the lower side at the moment the vessel turns to roll upon the other side, and remaining there till the position of equilibrium is reached, restrains the violence of the oscillation, diminishes its extent, and tends to bring the vessel sooner to rest.

 

Scientific Societies in Japan.—Besides having several bodies in the nature of learned societies which have enjoyed a time honored existence, the Japanese have been prompted, under the impulse given by the introduction of European culture, to found several new scientific associations. The most important of these bodies is the Geographical Society of Tokio, with two hundred members, among whom are included several of the chief personages of the empire. Its "Transactions" are neatly printed in pamphlets of about one hundred pages each, and contain much matter, especially the papers relating to Corea, that is valuable to European geographers. A biological society was established while Professor Morse, of Salem, Massachusetts, was connected with the University of-Tokio, and is now conducted by Professor Yatahe, a scholar educated in the United States. The Kojunsha, or Society for the Circulation of Knowledge, has branches in nearly every town of importance in the empire. A member desiring information on any subject applies to the secretary, who finds on his books the names of any persons who are likely to satisfy the applicant, and transmits his questions to him. The answers are forwarded to the inquirer, and, if important enough, are printed in the weekly "Journal" of the society. This association has nearly three thousand members, some of them in Europe and America. The Seismological Society has been instituted for the study of earthquakes, for which Japan offers rare facilities. It is given the use of the telegraphs by the Government for the instantaneous transmission of news of phenomena happening in any part of the country. The Numismatic Society, one of the old native societies, is very active, and publishes a periodical describing the new and strange coins that are exhibited at its meetings. The Antiquarian Society and the Society of Go-players are also ancient native organizations that still flourish.

 

A New Race in Course of Development.—M. Gustave Le Bon has called attention to a peculiar race living in the Tatras Mountains, the process of whose formation out of the neighboring peoples, from whom it is now isolated, he believes can be traced quite clearly. It is the people called the Podolians. They are surrounded on different sides by Ruthenians, Slovacks, Magyars, Germans, and other races, yet are distinct from them in many of the most essential characteristics. Their land is walled by a circle of mountains difficult to traverse, which interpose an effectual physical separation between them and the races dwelling on the other side; the climate is rigorous, the soil poor, and adapted to the production of so limited a number of crops that their food is almost entirely confined to oatmeal, and milk, or its products. Under such conditions only the most vigorous children can survive; consequently a natural selection has been going on for centuries, by the operation of which the people have acquired a superior stature and cranial capacity. The legends and traditions go back to a period when the people's ancestors were all brigands, and were at the same time very religious, and when their moral and religious sentiments were wholly independent of each other, or, we might say, contradictory. They were accustomed never to start off on a predatory expedition without invoking God and the saints for. the success of the enterprise, and the legends are full of testimonies of the protection that Heaven accorded to the robbers. The Church of St. Anne, at Nowy Targ, it is said, was built by thieves as a thank-offering for the care the Lord took of them in one of their expeditions! The population appears to have been produced from crosses of the neighboring races, which ceased after it became considerable enough to take care of itself, and it has consolidated its traits under the immediate influences of its environment. The Podolian territory, protected by its inclosure of steep mountains, was in the old times the refuge of the outlaws of the neighboring country, who met there and laid the foundations of the present race. The chief element in the composition was probably furnished by Poles, whom the Podolians resemble in psychological traits and language more than they do their other neighbors. Next in importance, perhaps, were the Slovacks, with whom linguistic affinities are traceable. The mental traits, tastes, and culture of the Podolians are peculiar, and in some respects incongruous with the conditions of their life. They are addicted to letters, music, and poetry, and are very religious. The only one of the races around them that share these tastes is the Ruthenians, but they are at the same time capricious in disposition, and lacking in energy, activity, and perseverance, while the Podolians are the opposite. We must infer, then, that the Podolians derive their refined tastes by inheritance from Ruthenian ancestors, while their more vigorous qualities have been developed under the influence of the struggles which they have had to maintain with the physical conditions of their country. The superior cranial capacity of the Podolians, which is remarkable, is likewise probably owing to the constant draft which circumstances have made upon their resources and the activity of their intelligence.

 

Fossil Insects.—Mr. H. Goss has recently concluded a series of papers reviewing the studies of several paleontologists in fossil insects. The hexapod insects constitute, after the crustaceans, the most numerous class of ancient articulates with which we are acquainted. Remains of their wings, quite distinguishable, are found in the Devonian formations of America and the Carboniferous of Europe. Myriapods appear first in the Trias; and Arachnids had not, until scorpions were recently discovered in the Carboniferous of Scotland, been found below the Jurassic. The two most ancient insects known are two which Mr. Scudder has described from the fern-marked Devonian strata of New Brunswick, one of which is allied with the Neuroptera, or dragon-flies, the other with the Orthoptera. These classes seem to have the field to themselves till the Carboniferous period, when the Hemiptera and Coleoptera (and our Scottish scorpion) first appear. The most common insects of the Palæozoic and Mesozoic epochs appear to be of the family of the cockroaches, which are very abundant in both continents, and which Mr. Scudder has made the subject of a special monograph. Insect remains become more abundant in the Jurassic epoch. A certain limestone of the English Lias is so full of them that it is called the insect limestone. The Coleoptera are most numerous, probably because their horny elytræ better resist decay, but Hymenoptera and Diptera also are found at Solenhofen and Purbeck. The cretaceous and tertiary beds, however, have furnished the largest number of specimens that have been studied by paleontologists, the multiplication of insects having, it seems, been greatly favored by the prevalence of angiospermous vegetation. The Lepidoptera appear last, and are rare, not more than ten authentic types of them having been recognized. Certain beds, such as those of Solenhofen, Aix in Provence, Œningen in Switzerland, Radoboj in Hungary, Monte Balca in Italy, and the Florissant basin in Colorado, are celebrated for the rich harvests of insects they afford. The nature of the deposits seems to have exercised some influence upon the greater or less frequency of certain types, for each of these beds is distinguished by the prevalence of particular types. Elytræ are found in quaternary beds, which have largely preserved their metallic luster. A curculio-form found in England has a tropical grandeur of size. Most of the later fossil species on the Continent are identical with those now living in Europe. Fossil insects present but few of those strange gigantic forms that astonish us among the other classes of animal remains. The largest and most curious forms found are still surpassed in tropical countries. The insects which occur in the Lias, among the remains of monstrous pterodactyls and extinct saurians, are all of families that are still represented in life; and the oldest insects of the Devonian could be inserted among living Orthoptera without disturbing the symmetry of the order.

 

Sewage-Irrigation in German Cities.—M. Durand-Claye, a sanitary engineer of Paris, has published a report on the systems which are employed in the German cities of Dantzic, Berlin, and Breslau, for the final disposal of sewer-water. The systems of filtering and of precipitation by chemical agents were tried, but were found not to effect a sufficient purification; and irrigation was finally chosen as furnishing on the whole the most economical and satisfactory method. The water is cleansed of its grosser solids before being pumped up from the sewers; it is afterward conducted to the irrigated tracts. At Dantzic, the sewage is turned upon a tract of about twelve hundred and fifty acres of a sandy, arid soil, and is led around beds devoted to the culture of garden vegetables. The surplus water, which is drained off to the Vistula, has been proved to have lost seven eighths of its organic matter, five sixths of its ammonia, and one half of its mineral impurities. The ground has an excessive absorbing power, and it has been necessary to box the main conduits to have any water left for the smaller irrigating channels. Thus far, four hundred and seventeen acres have been enough to absorb all the sewage of the city, indicating an absorbing power of thirty-two thousand cubic metres a year for each acre. The works have been made and are kept up without cost to the city, for the use of the irrigated lands for thirty years; and the land is sublet to gardeners for from twenty to twenty-eight dollars an acre. The mortality of the city—one of about one hundred thousand inhabitants—has been reduced twenty-one per cent under the operation of this system. At Berlin, after some unsatisfactory experiments with chemical agents, irrigation was tried on about fifteen acres of land. The tract took in and purified 231·618 cubic metres of water in a year and nine months, and returned good crops. The municipality determined to treat all of its sewer-waters in the same way, and bought two tracts, one of seventeen hundred and forty acres, the other, at Osdorf and Friederickenhof, of two thousand and sixty acres. One thousand and eighty acres of the latter tract only have been used. In addition to the cultivated plats, drained basins are provided for the water that is not needed on the crops, in which, after a deposit about a foot thick has accumulated, the ground is dried, dug up, and made ready for cultivation in the next year. The waters thus treated cease to give off odors and lose all unhygienic properties; the health of the workmen and the comfortable occupation of the neighboring country seats are not affected by them. The cost of managing the lands is defrayed by the sale of products, so that the city is only at the expense of pumping up the water, while it is able to let the lands at from twenty-four to thirty-four dollars an acre. The city of Breslau uses a tract of about twelve hundred acres, of such a character that extra drainage is necessary. The irrigated lands are let to the engineer who constructed the works at a scale of rents which is to rise in four years to eighteen dollars an acre.

 

The Salt Deposits of the Persian Gulf.—On the eastern side of the Persian Gulf is an extensive area containing a large deposit of salt which crops out at various places and rise of rocks of considerable magnitude. The salt-bearing rocks are of a reddish color, receiving their tint from red ochre, which, associated to a small extent with specular iron, covers the salt deposit and is more or less mixed with it imparting to it also a red tint. The association of ochre with salt is so constant in the district that the existence of the former is almost a sure indication of the presence of the latter. Hear the village of Kowim on the Island of Kishm, the salt and ochre are so mingled in a part of the range as to give it the appearance of a structure made of red bricks and mortar. Years ago, the salt was gathered from hollows in the ground where briny water issuing from the rocks could be collected and the mineral would be left after evaporation in beautiful crystalline masses. More recently, the salt has been quarried; and the works conducted for this purpose have become large caverns in

which stalactites have been formed from the trickling of the brine, yielding snow-white masses of saccharoid salt. Besides these masses, the salt is found here in pure white lumps, easily reduced to granules, the most valuable form, red, stony masses which are used chiefly for salting fish, and translucent and transparent masses of cubical forms, and is dug out with crow-bars. At Hameran, four miles from the sea-shore, the salt is found in beds about four feet thick with intervening layers of earthly material, and is sometimes of a pale-greenish color from contact with an earth containing manganese. The masses in these beds are broken with gunpowder and granulated with mallets. Warm springs charged with salt are found close by the village of Salakh, near Henjam, yielding a reddish naphtha which the natives use for purposes of light and for rheumatic complaints.

 

The Great Arctic Forest.—Professor Nordenskiold, in his "Voyage of the Vega," describes what he calls the greatest forest the earth has to show. It exists in the country of the Yenisei River, and extends from the fifty-eighth or fifty-ninth degree of latitude to far north of the Arctic Circle, in the neighborhood of the sixty-ninth degree of latitude, covering an extent of about one thousand kilometres from north to south, and perhaps four limes as much from east to west. "It is," he says, "a primeval forest of enormous extent, nearly untouched by the axe of the cultivator, but at many places devastated by forest-fires. On the high eastern bank of the Yenisei the forest begins immediately at the riverbank. It consists principally of pines. . . . Most of these already north of the Arctic Circle [the traveler is supposed to be going from north to south] reach a colossal size, but in such a case are often here, far from all forestry, gray and half-dried up with age." The ground is covered with fallen branches and stems in all stages of rottenness, which are covered, often concealed, by an exceedingly luxuriant bed of mosses, while tree lichens occur sparingly. "The pines, therefore, want the shaggy covering common in Sweden, and the bark of the birches which are seen here and there among the pines is distinguished by an uncommon blinding whiteness." Evidence was collected to show that the limit of trees in the Yenisei region has extended, even during our geological period, farther north than now.

 

Mud-Volcanoes in Sicily.—Two eruptions of mud in places remote from each other, and offering different and remarkable characteristics, are under observation in Sicily. One is taking place in the interior of the island, about eight miles north of Girgenti. It proceeds from a mountain about three hundred feet high, called Macaluba, the flattened summit of which is dotted with small cones, each containing a tunnel shaped crater, from the bottom of which a bubble of mud rises and bursts every minute. The other eruption is near Paterno, on the western side of the lower region of Etna, nearly forty miles west of Macaluba, and takes place in openings and small cones on the level of the surface. It is considerably more violent than that of Macaluba. The mud spurts out in jets several yards high, and forms a large fuming lake, which rims into the bed of the river Sinet. The eruption has been renewed three times within a year, and is at present accompanied with deep subterranean rumblings and strong tremors of the earth, some of which are perceptible several miles away. The mud that issues from these volcanoes is saline and petroleum-bearing. A kind of scum of petroleum may be seen on the edges of the craters of Macaluba. The gases escaping from them contain from thirty-four to thirty-six per cent of carburetted hydrogen, with sulphuretted hydrogen and carbonic acid. The soil around Paterno, in which the center of the second eruption is situated, is calcareous, and abounds in springs containing carbonic acid. The waters, infiltrating the soil, raise its temperature and form a kind of veined alabaster, which is much esteemed. The eruptions are occasioned by the passage of carburetted hydrogen, which is formed by the decomposition of organic matters within the earth, in seeking its way to the surface through beds of clay which have been washed down into the crevices. Mud-volcanoes of another kind, of which those of New Zealand and Iceland afford examples, are formed by vapors of water proceeding from ordinary volcanoes, and are distinguished by the high temperature of the mud and the absence of carburetted hydrogen.

 

The Oldest Flowering Plant.—MM. G. de Saporta and A. F. Marion have been studying the genera Williamsonia and Goniolina, the most ancient angiospermous plants of which the fructiferous organs have been preserved. The stem bears at its extremity reproductive apparatus in which two different modes of structure, indicating a dioecious plant, may be distinguished. A many-leaved involucre, having its bracts so curved as to give it a globular appearance, is observed in every case. The parts of the male involucre are disposed in a single row, connivent, elongated, and attenuated at the end. The organ represents a conical axis, the base of which is surrounded with a circular zone marked with radiating striæ. The outer edge of this zone, when it is exposed, is occupied with a collection of very small compartments of irregular hexagonal contour, that seem to represent as many pollen-boxes. This basilar zone corresponded with a sterile and persistent portion of the androphore, which in its integrity probably covered the whole conical receptacle with a matted layer of staminal appendages, recalling by their disposition and office the male organs of the Typhas. The female organs of the Williamsonia are provided with the globose involucre of the male flower, except that the bracts are a little shorter. The organ contained within this involucre, which was certainly caducous at maturity, consisted of a receptacle or spadix in the form of a more or less globose solid cushion. The central leaves of the involucre, which remain in place, testify by their thickness to a particularly tough primitive condition. The spadix in the midst of them is covered on its upper part with carpellary compartments, while the fibro-ligneous tissue which composed the axis of the receptacle is recognizable in the lower part.

 

French Exploring Expeditions.—Since 1874 the French Government has authorized the organization of three hundred and thirty scientific missions, of which one hundred and sixty-eight were to operate in Europe, fifty-four in Africa, forty-eight in Asia, thirty-six in America, and twenty-four in Oceania. Most of these missions are still at work, and generally report to a commission appointed by the Minister of Public Instruction. The "Revue Scientifique" reviews the condition of the most important of the missions, particularly of those which relate especially to geography. M. Lantz is in Madagascar, studying the natural history of the less accessible parts of the island; M. Pélagaud is exploring the Mascarene Islands; M. Montano, Malaysia; and M. Marché, the Philippine Islands. In Africa, M. Matheis is exploring the region between the Niger and the Bénoué; M. Revoil is examining the Somauli country from Cape Guardafui to the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb; Messrs. Savorgnan de Brazza and Ballay are supplementing Stanley's work on the Congo; Messrs. Roux, Cagnat, and Gosselin are studying the geography and archaeology of Tunisia; M. Galliéni has concluded a treaty for the navigation of the Niger to Timbuctoo; and several expeditions are engaged in the eastern part of the continent. In Asia, M. Haas is pursuing artistic and historical investigations in Hindostan; M. Chantre has started from Bagdad to look into the anthropology and zoölogy of the region of the Caspian Sea and Mount Ararat; M. Clermont-Ganneau is engaged in archæological work in the east of Egypt, in Philistia, and Phœnicia; M. Cotteau is making his way through Russia and Siberia to Japan. M. Wiener is traveling through South America; M. Pinard, having done some work in Alaska, is engaged in California, New Mexico, and Arizona; and M. Charnay is digging in the ruins of the ancient cities of Mexico. In Europe, M. Georges Pouchet is studying the glacial fauna of Norway; M. Dieulafait is investigating the formation of rock-salts and gypsums in Switzerland; M. Milne-Edwards, as the head of a commission, is about to engage in deep-sea researches in the Mediterranean; and several parties are exploring the Alps and the Pyrenees.

 

Is the Moon red-hot?—Mr. W. Mattieu Williams believes that the surface of the moon has an intrinsic brilliancy of its own, and a temperature much greater than is usually supposed. He expresses the opinion, in effect, that the surface of the moon is, as it appears to be in eclipses, "of a dull red heat, and that this high temperature is due to the action of the sun's rays striking it directly, without any intervening shield of aqueous vapor or other atmospheric matter. If the volcanic tufa, of which the moon's surface is evidently composed, resembles the corresponding material on our earth, it is one of the best absorbers of heat and the worst of conductors. This being the case, the uninterrupted glare of the sun's rays would produce its maximum possible effect on a thin film of the moon's surface. . . . We must remember that a dull copperred heat, just visible in the dark, is considerably below the temperature of red heat visible in daylight. Supposing the color of the moon to be due to such heat, I should estimate its surface temperature at a little above 600º." Lord Rosse, estimating the surface temperature of the moon, concluded it was about 500º. Mr. Williams was led to his conclusion by watching the appearance of the moon during the totality of an eclipse. When the partially eclipsed moon rose, the shaded part displayed a full copper-red color; as the eclipse progressed, this advanced to a darker or more obscure copper-color; then the redness gradually faded, and the shaded portion of the moon grew darker and grayer, until at last it became of a dark slate-color; and its outline or limb was barely traceable toward the end of the eclipse. In some elementary treatises this copper-color is attributed to "the refraction of the sun's light by the action of the earth." Mr. Williams fails to see how this can operate in the middle of the shadow, where the color is the most decided, and why it should fade as the eclipse progresses, and finally be lost just at the outer edge of the shadow. The fading is easily accounted for on Mr. Williams's hypothesis, as the result of the rapid cooling of the lunar surface on the withdrawal of the sun's rays. The reasoning that ascribes so high a temperature to the side of the moon presented to the sun must lead to the conclusion that the dark, or night side, is intensely cold.

 

The Original Home of the Aryans.— Dr. Fligier argues in "Kosmos" that the theory of the Asiatic origin of the Aryan race is not yet as firmly settled as has been supposed. Latham disputes it on geographical grounds in his "Native Races of the Russian Empire." Pictet believes, on the evidence of the names of animals and plants that were known to them, that they originated farther north than the Asiatic theory supposes, and fixes their birthplace in Southern Russia. Benfey and Professor Tomaschek, of Grätz, agree with him, and indicate the region of the southern Volga as their primary home, whence they may have spread to the Carpathian Mountains on the west, and to the marshes of the interior and the Ural on the east. Bogdanoff has found dolichocephalous skulls of the recognized type of the German giant-graves in the Kurgans of Moscow. Resemblances between Finnish and Aryan and between Magyar and Iranian words indicate that those people were respectively neighbors to each other in their old times, as might have been the case if the theory of the European origin of the Aryans is true. Dr. Fligier believes that the results of linguistic, anthropological, and archaeological researches indicate that the Indians and the Iranians lived near each other for a long time in Eastern Europe or Northwestern Asia, and that the Indians followed the Iranians into Asia. That this happened at a comparatively late period is presumed to be shown by the fact that these peoples are not mentioned in the older Babylonian cuneiform inscriptions, and are first spoken of in the Assyrian inscriptions of the ninth century b. c. A second Aryan emigration to Asia followed across the Hellespont. After making a detailed examination of the Aryan stocks and their supposed emigrations, Dr. Fligier concludes that their linguistic unity does not by any means constitute an anthropological unity: the Asiatic Aryans have partly lost their Aryan type, and the European Aryans present two quite distinct types.

 

Observations of the Last Solar Eclipse.—The solar eclipse of May 19th has been the subject of a number of communications to the French Academy of Sciences. M. Janssen spoke in terms of admiration of the photographs of all the phases of the phenomenon which were obtained by means of the photographic revolver. A very laconic notice of the observations made during totality by Messrs. Trépied, Lockyer, Thollon, and Tacchini, was sent by telegraph. The Egyptian Government gave exceptional facilities to the observers. Photographs of the corona and its spectrum were obtained, the latter exhibiting the lines of potassium and hydrogen. The observers at the same time noticed a comet which was visible to the naked eye in the immediate vicinity of the sun. At Lyons M. André and his aids saw between the edge of the moon and the outline of the sun-spots which it was approaching, the development of the gray ligament that has been noticed between the edge of the sun and the circumference of the planets crossing its disk. The popular observatory of the Trocadéro, in Paris, on the day of the eclipse, put four telescopes, as many opera-glasses, and blackened glasses, at the service of the public. About a hundred persons were present as early as six o'clock in the morning. Each instrument was in charge of an assistant, whose duty it was to help the public to see the phenomenon. One of the assistants made a projection apparatus of his telescope, and threw an image of the eclipse and of numerous solar spots upon a screen, where it could easily be looked at by fifteen persons at once. It was thus made possible to examine with the microscope the details of a considerable number of spots, and to see the black profiles of the lunar mountains designed on the illuminated image of the sun. Several drawings of the solar spots and the eclipse were taken.

 

An Insect-lodging Flower.—M. Treub has made a study in Java of the Discidia Rafflesia, a curious plant which lives upon trees without touching the ground. It produces urns in the shape of jars open at the top, and containing within a system of branched roots. After showing that these formations are produced by the folding of a leaf upon itself in such a manner that its lower face corresponds with the interior face of the urn, M. Treub inquires what may be the office of the organs. The fact that the interior of the urn is lined with a waxy coating precludes the idea that it can directly serve a carnivorous purpose. Against this, too, are the facts alleged by M. Treub, that ants which are found in the urn are always very lively and generally very numerous; that they come out of the urn as easily as they go into it; and that they swarm in it to such an extent that the roots suffer from them, and the radicels are eaten or are very weak. These insects, then, seem rather to devour the discidia than to serve it as food. M. Treub concludes that "the urns of the discidia are of no use to it as traps for insects. The plant is not in any sense carnivorous. Instead of falling into an ambuscade, the ants that enter an urn find there a lodging that suits them marvelously. The principal, if not the sole, function of the urn is to collect, or, in a lesser degree, to save water." M. Treub shows further that the water in the urns is generally rain-water, more rarely transpired water, that may perhaps be afterward reabsorbed by the plant.

 

Calculating the Area of the United States.—Mr. F. Y. Carpenter, C. E., has explained in "Van Nostrand's Engineering Magazine" the difficulties which are encountered in making an accurate computation of the area of a large country like the United States, having irregular boundary-lines. The principal difficulty arises from the indeterminateness of the expression, "our territorial outline." The place, even, of the sea-line is not fixed. Tradition, not law, sets it at three miles out from shore, but the Spaniards in Cuba have claimed six miles, and most nations now have guns capable of enforcing their jurisdiction over that distance. It is impossible to determine by a fixed rule what waters between headlands shall be included as a part of the territory. It seems obviously proper to include landlocked bodies of water; but should Lake Michigan be admitted to this category? Mr. Carpenter decides that it should. A convention between France and England made in 1839 defined the coast-line as one that should cross the mouths of all bays and channels not more than ten miles in width. This would exclude Chesapeake Bay, which is fifteen miles wide at its mouth, but is evidently as much a part of the United States as Seneca Lake. Lords Hale and Hawkins would have had the ocean boundary cross such inlets as are so narrow that "a man may reasonably discern from shore to shore"; and Justice Story thought the vision should be required to be distinct and with the naked eye; Wheaton would include the ports, harbors, bays, mouths of rivers, and adjacent parts of the sea inclosed by headlands; and Willcock, saying that it may be regarded as generally accepted that bays or channels within the horns of promontories, however large, are subject to the sovereign of the neighboring land, has given a definition under which our Atlantic coast might be considered to extend in a straight line from Maine to Florida. The effect of elevation over the sea upon the area of a tract is also considered by Mr. Carpenter. All tracts the measurement of which is taken in degrees and minutes, gain in extent as their height above the sea is increased, for they are there a part of a larger sphere than one whose perimeter is defined at the normal level. Colorado, having a mean elevation of 7,050 feet, is estimated to gain in consequence 44,800 acres, or seventy square miles. Estimating the mean altitude of the whole United States at 2,600 feet, the country is 800 square miles larger than it would be if it were all down at the level of the sea. A district or country otherwise gains in superficial area of land if it is mountainous, by reason of the slope of its hills. It is impracticable as yet to determine the actual gain from this source for any State; but if Colorado is supposed to have an average slope of ten degrees, it gains an additional area of 1,600 square miles; if its slope is five degrees, its gain is 400 square miles. Taking a mean of these figures, it seems safe to say that Colorado is indebted to its mountains for at least one thousand square miles of area, which has never yet been included in any statement of its geographical extent.

 

Tastes and Smells in Water.—Dr. William Ripley Nichols, in a paper on "The Tastes and Odors of Surface Waters," calls attention to the desirability of competent persons trained to scientific observation undertaking systematic daily examinations of the water in reservoirs for long periods of time—say for five years—to watch the changes that take place in its condition and the causes of them. He also notices that the means by which water may be made unpleasant are numerous and complicated, and are not always animal in their origin. The worst smell that he ever obtained was from allowing the seed parts of a species of Potamogeton to decay in water. Professor Brewer has obtained a fishy odor from the decay in water of the leaf-stalks of a pickerel-weed. Sometimes the odors and tastes from various plants differing from each other seem to blend into a more or less marshy or pond flavor. The water of ponds and lakes that are surrrounded by woods acquires more of a bitter or astringent taste, that may be referred to the dead leaves. When a recently felled tree is exposed to the action of water, or when bushes or grass and weeds are killed by being flooded, the sap and more soluble matters are leached out and putrefy or undergo other forms of decomposition. If the matter is alternately flooded and left bare, decay takes place fast. As the level is lowered, those aquatic plants which grow in shallow water die, and if the water rises after a short interval it becomes impregnated with the products of their decay. If a considerable interval elapses, land-plants grow upon the exposed surface, and, being drowned by the rising waters, tend to its contamination in the same manner. The substances which form the most offensive part of the soluble vegetable matter are albuminous in character, and the chemical effect on the water is to increase the amount of what is called "albuminoid ammonia." No doubt dead fishes and animalcules and their excrement add to the nitrogenous organic matter in surface-waters, but their presence is not necessary to account for bad odors. As a rule, in waters not contaminated with sewage, the animal matter forms only a trifling proportion of the entire organic matter, but the recent investigation of Professor Remsen shows that in some instances the animal matter, as from sponges, may be appreciable and of practical importance.

 

Old and New Latitudes on the Atlantic Coast.—The Rev. Edmund F. Slafter, of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, has published an inquiry into the history and causes of the incorrect latitudes as recorded in the journals of the early writers, navigators, and explorers relating to the Atlantic coast of North America. After giving comparisons of the old with the new and corrected latitudes of a considerable number of places, he sums up bis conclusions that the early latitudes are generally trustworthy to within a single degree; that the minutes or fractions of degrees as set down by writers anterior to the middle of the eighteenth century are never to be relied upon, and are never correct, except by accident; and that the annotations of commentators upon the latitudes recorded in the journals of our early navigators and explorers, in all cases in which they attempt to identify places within the limit of one degree by the latitude alone, can not properly be cited as authority. The sources of the errors of latitude to which attention is thus directed are not far to seek. The instruments possessed by the earlier navigators were of the rudest and coarsest character. They were graduated in degrees only, of which each degree occupied but about one tenth of an inch of space, and the attempt to subdivide this space into sixty parts, for minutes, would have been impossible if it had been made. So, putting down the fractions of degrees, or minutes^ was an absolute and sheer guess. In the old journals the minutes are usually written in fractions of a degree, as one fourth, one third, one half, two thirds, or three fourths, and sometimes translated into minutes, and given as fifteen, twenty, thirty, forty, or forty-five minutes, but very rarely in any number of minutes not represented by these general fractions. The zodiacal ephemeris, moreover, was not graduated in minutes, and consequently inaccuracy existed as to the exact point of the sun in the zodiac at the time of taking the latitude. The tables used in connection with this instrument, moreover, were not calculated oftener than once in thirty years, so that they became obsolete long before they were put away, by reason of the precession of the equinoxes. Several other sources of error of minor importance, now always allowed for, were neglected in those days. "If the latitudes of the early navigators," the writer adds, "had been determined with as much accuracy as is attained by the observations of the present day, some interesting historical questions might have been settled, and some not very decisive controversies might have been avoided."

 

Word-Blindness.—M. Armaignac has described a curious case of persistent "word-blindness." The sufferer is and always has been in the full enjoyment of his intellectual faculties; he has never had any trouble in his speech or from paralysis; and he writes correctly, in a regular and elegant hand, whatever is dictated to him or whatever is his own thought; but, although his vision is perfect and normal, he can not see a single printed word or a written one, whether it be written by himself or another. He recognizes the names of the letters and figures, but can not join them objectively to form words or numbers; yet he can form words and numbers mentally if the letters or ciphers are dictated to him. M. Armaignac has advised his patient to learn to read again, beginning with the alphabet; but he finds the intellectual strain of joining the letters into words and syllables very severe.

 

Harvest-Time.—Every season is a harvest-time in some country on the globe. In Australia, New Zealand, Chili, and some other countries in South America, the harvest takes place in January. In India, it begins in February and is completed in March. In Mexico, Persia, and Syria, it takes place in April; in Asia Minor, Algeria, Morocco, and parts of China and Japan, in May, and after this in California, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Sicily, and some of the southern departments of France. In July it begins in France, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Russia, and the Middle United States. The turn of Germany, Belgium, Denmark, and Holland comes in August, and of Scotland, Northern America, Sweden, and Northern Russia in September.

 

Obituary.—Mr. Thomas Potts James, who died in February last, was one of our oldest botanists, and was one of four—Sullivant, Austin, James, and Lesquereux—who have distinguished themselves as specialists in the mosses. He was born at Radnor, Pennsylvania, in 1803. Having been prevented by circumstances from acquiring a collegiate education, as he had intended, he settled down in Philadelphia as a druggist, pursuing science as a by-occupation. He was an active member of the leading scientific societies of the city, and an officer of many of them. He made himself familiar with the phænogamous vegetation of the neighborhood of Philadelphia, and then devoted himself to the special study of the mosses, on which he contributed several papers, including the bryological department of the report of Clarence King's exploration of the fortieth parallel. He was associated with Mr. Lesquereux in the preparation of the "Manual of North American Mosses" which Sullivant was about to prepare in connection with Lesquereux when he died. Mr. James's death leaves Mr. Lesquereux the only survivor of the four American bryologists, and imposes upon him the task of completing the "Manual."

 

Mr. John Scott Russell, the constructor of the steamship Great Eastern, died at Ventnor, Isle of Wight, June 8th, in the seventy-fifth year of his age. He was the son of a Scotch clergyman, and was destined for the Church, but his taste for mechanics and science led him in another direction. He was graduated from Glasgow University when sixteen years old; was appointed temporary Professor of Natural Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh in 1832; communicated to the British Association his first paper on the nature of waves and the best form of vessels in 1835; and received the gold medal of the Royal Society of Edinburgh for another paper bearing on that subject two years later. As manager of a ship-building establishment at Greenock, he built several vessels after the ideas he had worked out, and constructed the Great Eastern in 184.6. He became a Secretary of the Society of Arts in 1845. In 1850 he was appointed a joint Secretary of the Commission for the promotion of the Great Exhibition of 1851, and was one of the three chiefs in the furtherance of that enterprise. His greatest engineering work was the construction of the dome of the Exhibition Building at Vienna in 1873, the largest dome in the world. His last work was the design for a high level bridge with a span of one thousand feet, to cross the Thames below London Bridge. He also built the steamer that carries railway-trains across the Lake of Constance; and he contributed many valuable papers to the literature of his profession.