Popular Science Monthly/Volume 32/March 1888/Notes

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The second ten days of January were extraordinarily cold all through the North-west, and temperatures were registered at some places much below what had ever before been observed in the United States. At Iowa City, according to Professor Hinrichs, the mercury was at or below zero every night from the 11th to the 20th. During the twenty-eight years that weather observations have been taken, there have been only five decades having a mean temperature of zero or below; only one of these was during the first eighteen years, while the other four were during the last ten years. This shows that extreme cold has been seven times more frequent during the latter than during the former years, and is another indication of what the author has often held, that the later winters in Iowa have been colder than the former ones.

A "cable anchor" has been successfully tried in the Seine for stopping boats. The apparatus is a cable, having on it a series of canvas cones, which open out by the action of the water, and close again when drawn the usual way. A steamer running thirteen knots was stopped each time by the apparatus in thirteen seconds, and in a space of from twenty to thirty feet. Professor Mcshketoff describes the ef- fects of the operations of the marmots in modifying the surface of the Siberian steppes as important. Their heaps of earth cover hundreds of square miles, and each one of them represents at least two cubic metres of earth removed, or about 30,000 cubic metres brought to the surface on each square kilometre.

The survey and last census of India show that the area of the peninsula of Hin- dostan is 1,382,624 square miles, and the population 253,891,821. Although immense tracts of country are annually cultivated, ten million acres of land suitable for cultivation hare not as yet been plowed; and one hun- dred and twenty million acres arc returned as waste lands.

M. JoTis, Director of the Aeronautic Union of France, has found a satisfactory varnish for textile materials. It is described as being of great flexibility, as containing no oleaginous base, and, while adding little to the weight, as conferring great imperme- ability. It is well adapted for balloons, marine cordage, sails, tents, and similar structures; is suitable for paintings and wainscotings; is exempt from moldiness; can be exposed to very varied temperatures without alteration; and furnishes sub-prod- ucts which can be utilized for coating walls, railway-sleepers, etc.

Professor W. Mattieu WiLMA>fS offers as a better explanation than the old one of the zigzag course of lightning, that owing to variations of moisture the conducting power of different portions of air is variable, and the electric discharge follows the course of least resistance.

Experience at the Winter Palace of the Czar at St. Petersburg indicates that the electric light injures the exotic plants used for the decoration of the rooms by causing the leaves to turn yellow, dry up, and fall off. The experiments of Dr. Siemens led him to a ditferent conclusion, but his greenhouse was heated by the waste steam from the engine driving his dynamo, and this perhaps was of beneficial effect sufficient to counter- act the mischief done by the light.

An effective composition for a "hand- grenade" tire-extinguisher is, common salt, 19-46; sal ammoniac, 8-88; water, 7r66; or 20 pounds of salt, 10 pounds of sal ammo- niac, and 7 gallons of water. The flask should be of thin glass, so that when thrown with force against any object, it wiil fall to pieces. The grenades, costing but little, can be distributed freely all over the prem ises to be protected; and, should a fire oc- cur, break a bottle or several bottles over it, and the disaster will probably be averted.

M. BoxNAL has observed, by experiment, that hot baths induce a loss of weight caused by the sweating, which lasts for about twen- ty-four hours. It is compensated for by in- creased drinking and diminished urinary secretion. Baths of dry hot air provoke a sweat that ceases on coming out of the bath, while the perspiration provoked by warm-water baths and warm moist-air baths lasts frequently for an hour after the bath is over. The nervous incidents of the bath, such as the acceleration of the pulse and of respiration, make their appearance before the central temperature exhibits any eleva- tion.

J. Chalmers Robertson, M. B., relates in "The Lancet" the case of a family whom he had attended, who were poisoned from eating bread in which mold had developed itself. Every member who had partaken of the loaf inordinary quantity had been made ill; one member who had merely eaten a small piece, felt uncomfortable; those who did not eat any remained well. The s}'mp- toms were diarrhoea and pain in the epi- gastrium. The author suggests from this experience, that it is possible that we may have in undetected diseased bread an im- portant factor in the causation of diarrhosa which we would not readily suspect.

Persons whose plants mysteriously sick. en and die out, may learn from the expe- rience of Dr. J. W. L. Thudicum, as related by him to the London Society of Arts. He watered a frame of flourishing young wall- flowers, the ordinary tap being dry, with water of at least suspicious purity from another tap. The plants were soon infected with a fungus, and in a short time the frame did not contain a healthy, hardly a living plant. For two summers the mignon- ettes in a conservatory were destroyed by a root-fungus which distorted the plants and made them sickly and short-lived. The only way in which this parasite could be got rid of was by destroying the earth and all wood- en boxes by fire, and growing no mignonette in the conservatory for two years.

Mr. Maignen made last year a success- ful and satisfactory exhibition of his process for softening water by means of the mate- rial called "anti-calcaire." Steam-boilers which had already become slightly incrusted with lime, were worked for two years with water softened by anti-calcaire without at- tention. When opened, they were wholly free from incrustation, showing that the material had not only prevented the effect taking place, but had also destroyed what incrustations had already accrued.

A COLLECTION of Specimens of poisonous fishes is shown in connection with the ex- hibition recently opened in Havre, France.


Some are poi.<onous when eaten; others are merely venomous. Among the first arc many spheroids, a tetrodon, and many Clupca, which are abundant near the Cape of Good Uope. In the Japan Sea is found a very peculiar tetrodon, which is sometimes used as a means of suicide. It brings on sensa- tions lilie those produced by morphia, and then death.

The nervous irritation produced by tin- nitus, or noises in the car, from which many persons suffer much, has been mentioned as a possible cause of mental disorder. The coarser diseases of the ear are subject to surgical treatment from without; but nerv- ous affections provoked by obscure dis- orders are not so amenable, because their causes are more subtle, although none the less real. Sometimes an obstruction of the eustachian tube may be the chief cause of tinnitus.


Dr. Asa Gray, the eminent botanist, died at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, January 30th, in the seventy-eighth year of his age, after an illness of about a month. He was born in Paris, Oneida County, New York, in 1810; studied medicine, and received the degree of M. D. in 1831, but never engaged in practice; became an assistant in the chemical laboratory of Dr. John Torrcy in 1833; and a little later was appointed cura- tor in the Lyceum of Natural History. His first botanical writings were descriptions of sedges and of certain plants of northern and western New York. In the "Elements of Botany," published in 1836, he showed that he had already views of his own, which he was not afraid to utter, even though they might be different from those of the then recognized authorities in science. From that time till the end of his life he worked with unceasing activity and growing fame, and for many years he has been recognized as one of the leading botanists of the wond. His numerous works are well known to all readers and students, and can not be cata- logued in a note. It is enough to say of them that whichever class of them we re- gard, they have never been excelled.

Professor T. S. Humpidge, chemist of the University College of Wales at Aberyst- with, died November 30th, aged thirty-four years. He prosecuted his earlier scientific studies while serving as a clerk in a corn- merchant's office, at the evening classes of the Science and Art Department, and after- ward studied under Professors Frankland and Bunsen. His first publication was on "The Coal-Gas of the Metropolis." He in- vestigated the atomic weight of beryllium, made redeterminations of the specific heats

of various metals, and translated and edit- ed Kobbc's "Inorganic Chemistry."

Professor Bonamy Price, Professor of Political Economy in the University of Ox- ford, died in London, January 8th. He was born in Guernsey in 1807; was one of the masters in Dr. Arnold's school at Rugby from 1830 to 1850; and was one of the recognized authorities in his special branch of research. His lectures, in their pub- lished form, have had an important eco- nomic Influence. They include "The Prin- ciples of Currency" (1809), and '"Chapters on Political Economy" (1878). In 1876 Professor Price published another woik, "On Currency and Banking."

Dr. Carl Passavant, the African trav- eler, died recently at Honolulu, in the thirty- fourth year of his age.

Dr. Ferdinand Yandeveer Hatden, a geologist whose name is inseparably associ- ated with the Government explorations of the Rocky Mountain region, died in Phila- delphia, December 22d, after an illness of many months. He was born in Westfield, Massachusetts, in 1829, and was graduated from Oberlin College in 1850, and from the Albany Medical College in 1850. He wa? con- nected for more than twenty years, a great part of the time as chief, with the explora- tions of the Western Territories, including Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico, Dakota, Montana, Idaho, and Utah. Be- sides the official reports of his exploring work, he was the author of the books, "The Great West; its Attractions and Resources" (1880), and "North America" (1883). He was a member of most of the American scientific societies, and an honorary and corresponding member of many foreign so- cieties.

M. F. J. Raynaud, an eminent Freneh electrician and director of the Higher School of Telegraphy, died early in January, from the results of a murderous attack. He was associated with the laying of several tele- graphic cables, one of which, crossing the Seine, having been broken, he repaired in 1870, in the face of the enemy's tire. He was the first person to call the attention of French men of science to the labors of Eng- lishmen in electric unities; and he trans- lated Gordon's Treatise on Physics " into French.

The recent death is announced of Pro- fessor Arthur Christiani, of the Physiologi- cal Institute of Berlin, who was a great au- thority on the physiological action of elec- tricity, and on the physiology of the nervous system and of the sense of hearing.

Dr. Max Schuster, an eminent petrolo- gist, of the University of Vienna, died last November.