Popular Science Monthly/Volume 8/January 1876/Notes

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NOTES.

We have received from Prof. W. S. Barnard the following correction of a statement in his article on "Opossums and their Young," published in the December Monthly: "In your December number I stated that the delivery of young opossums had never been witnessed. To the contrary see observations of Mr. J. G. Shute, in the 'Proceedings of the Essex Institute,' vol. iii., page 288, to which my attention has just been called. The female curves her body until the sexual orifice is opposite the pouch, which opens by muscular contraction to receive the young, without any assistance from the paws or lips."

The largest telescope ever yet attempted is now in course of construction in Dublin by Mr. Grubb. It is intended for the new Observatory of Vienna. The object-glass will have an aperture of over twenty-six inches, and the focal length is to be about thirty-two feet.

In the American Journal of Science and Arts for November Prof. Marsh has a short illustrated paper describing the remains of several fossil birds obtained from the Cretaceous of Kansas, and possessing teeth.

We learn from the Scientific American that the excavations at Hell-Gate were completed about the end of July. The work now in progress consists in the boring of holes for the charges of nitro-glycerine. This was to have been completed before the end of the year 1875, and then two or three months more would be occupied in inserting the charges.

A curious race of sheep, living on an island in Englishman's Bay, coast of Maine, are described in Forest and Stream. They are nearly as wild as deer. Their principal winter food is sea-weed, chiefly dulse; they also eat the branches of nearly all the trees which grow on the island.

In very early times the pine appears to have been the principal forest-tree of Denmark. At present the beech occupies this position, and the pine is no longer indigenous in the country. Next after the beech comes the birch, then the alder, the aspen, the hazel, etc. An examination of the vegetable débris of the bogs of Denmark shows that the pine was followed immediately by the sessile-fruited variety of the oak, and this in turn by the beech.

In illustration of the influence of nutrition on the habits of plants, Mr. Meehan, of Philadelphia, cites the case of two species of Euphorbia, which, though usually prostrate, he found assuming an erect growth when their nutrition was interfered with by a small fungoid parasite. A similar fact was observed in connection with the common purslane, one of the most prostrate of all procumbent plants, which, under similar conditions, also became erect.

Dr. Nicolas von Konkoly finds in the train of meteors the spectrum-lines of sodium, magnesium, carbon, strontium, and possibly lithium, while the nucleus invariably gives a continuous spectrum, in which the yellow, the green, or the red predominates, according to the color, blue being very rare, and violet never seen.

At the trial of the 81-ton gun, at Woolwich Arsenal, a 1,250-pound ball was fired with a charge of 170 pounds of powder. This shot penetrated 45 feet of sand, and the recoil of the gun was 23 1/2 feet. A second shot was fired with a charge of 190 pounds. The penetration-distance was now over 50 feet, and the recoil 32 feet. It is intended gradually to increase the charge to 300 pounds.

A State Archæological Association has been formed in Ohio to promote investigation of the mounds and earthworks of the State, to collect facts, descriptions, relics, and other evidences of the prehistoric races, and to awaken an interest in the general subject of archæology. The library and cabinet of the Association will be established in the State-House, at Columbus, provided the State furnish suitable accommodations free of cost. The meetings will be held annually in the various cities of Ohio, and a yearly bulletin will be published. The first annual meeting will be held at Newark, Licking County, on Tuesday, September 5, 1876.

A quarter of a million of young salmon, according to a writer in Forest and Stream, have been placed in the Truckee River, which flows into Lake Tahoe, Nevada, and they are doing well.

A vein of nickel has been discovered in New Caledonia, extending across the entire island, from east to west. There are also in New Caledonia copper-mines of great richness. The gold-mines, of which much was expected a few years ago, have so far yielded insignificant results.

The death-rate of some English towns is very high. Thus, while the death-rate for England and Wales generally is 22.2 per 1,000, in Bristol it is 26.9, in Leeds, 28.7, in Manchester, 32.1, and in Liverpool, 35.9. Of children under five years of age, 39 per 1,000 die annually in country districts, while in towns the ratio is 103 per 1,000.

A commission has been appointed by the British Government, to investigate the subject of the spontaneous combustion of coal on shipboard. Persons having any facts on the subject of the spontaneous combustion of coal, under any circumstances, are requested to communicate the same to H. S. Poole, Charlottetown, Nova Scotia, Inspector of Mines.

Microscopic examination of the muscular tissue of a wild-boar lately shot in the forests of Saxony showed it to be full of trichinæ. This is the first case in which this parasite has been found in the wild-boar, it having been the general belief that only domesticated swine were affected.

By substituting atomized water or spray for steam in sulphuric-acid manufacture, Sprengel not only effects a saving of fuel, but also saves 6 1/2 per cent. of pyrites and 15 per cent. of nitre.

An adequate punishment for those human brutes who vent their despicable passions in murderous assaults on women and children is suggested by the authors of "The Unseen Universe." "It is probable," they write, "that, before many years have passed, electricity will be called upon by an enlightened legislature to produce absolutely indescribable torture, thrilling through every fibre of such miscreants."

A process for brightening iron is described as follows in a German periodical: The articles to be brightened are, when taken from the forge, placed in dilute sulphuric acid (1 to 20), and then washed with water and dried with sawdust. They are then dipped for a second or so in nitrous acid, washed carefully, and rubbed clean. Iron thus treated acquires a bright surface, having a white glance.

They are trying to introduce bumblebees into New Zealand, for the purpose of aiding in the fertilization of the common clover. This office the common bee is unable to discharge, its proboscis being too short to reach down to the pollen of the flower.

A university, to be founded at Tomsk, Siberia, by the Russian Government, will at first consist of only two Faculties, law and medicine. Siberia at present is very ill supplied with doctors, there being only 55 for a population of 6,000,000, inhabiting a territory as large as all Europe.

Hofmann's process for preparing vanilla from the wood of the pine has been patented, and will be generally applied in paper-mills which use wood-pulp for the purposes of their manufacture.

It is stated in the Lancet that female medical missionaries are now laboring very successfully in various parts of India. The Maharajah of Vezianagram has engaged an American lady to open a dispensary for women at Benares, and Sir Salar Jung has done the same thing in Hyderabad.

Bath bricks are made from the deposits of the river Barrett, at Bridgewater, Somersetshire. Nowhere else is a similar deposit found, so that Bridgewater supplies the world. The annual import into the United States is about 240,000 bricks.

The State of Minnesota produced last year 28,000,000 bushels of wheat, 15,000,000 of oats, and 12,000,000 of Indian-corn.