Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/527

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.



Are the Salts of Copper poisonous?—Dr. Bureq, M. Galippe, and others, having in communications addressed to the Paris Academy of Sciences asserted that copper is not poisonous after the manner of lead, and that it may be absorbed for a long time without injurious consequences, Dr. E. Decaisne has submitted to the same Academy the results of observations made by himself, from which it would appear that the reverse is the fact. We present a synopsis of Dr. Decaisne's paper, which we find in La Nature. He states that in 1864 he published a memoir entitled "A Medical Study on Absinthe-Drinkers," in which it was shown that a great many of the cheaper qualities of absinthe contain sulphate of copper, and that, of a hundred and fifty absinthe-drinkers observed by him, a certain number gave clear evidence of copper-poisoning. Fifteen samples of absinthe, purchased at wine-shops in Paris, all contained sulphate of copper in varying proportions: three of the samples contained it in the proportion of twenty-five centigrammes to the litre. Indeed, some of the distillers frankly admitted that they used sulphate of copper to color the absinthe. M. Decaisne cited a recent case of poisoning by acetate of copper, that of a young man of twenty-three, who showed all the symptoms of acute poisoning by copper salts, after having drunk some "eau de vie de marc," an inferior quality of brandy. Analysis of a sample of this brandy showed it to contain 1.164 gramme of acetate of copper to the litre. The liquor had been distilled in an apparatus that had lain unused for a year, and which had become filled with acetate of copper. French statistics show that sulphate and acetate of lead rank third among substances employed in criminal poisoning.


Mr. Jabez Hogg, the eminent English microscopist, in a recent paper calls attention to certain "errors of interpretation" to which microscopists are liable in examining the scales of insects and other minute objects. Some such "errors of interpretation" were pointed out by Mr. John Michels in the Monthly two years ago, but his statements were at the time called in question by microscopists in various portions of this country. Mr. Hogg himself, when these errors were first pointed out in the London Microscopical Society by Dr. Piggott, expressed the opinion that the latter was laboring under a mistake. Later, however, he was convinced of the correctness of Piggott's views, and now confirms them with his own observations.

A pressure of forty to one hundred and twenty atmospheres has been found by Quincke to be incapable of forcing a perceptible quantity of carbonic-acid or hydrogen gas through a glass wall 1.5 millimetre in thickness, during a period of fifteen years.

A monument to Liebig was unveiled at Darmstadt, his native town, on May 12th, the seventy-fourth anniversary of his birth.

Died, in Berlin, on March 29th, Alexander Braun, Professor of Botany in the University of Berlin, aged seventy-two years. In a brief notice of his life Professor Asa Gray says: "His influence as a teacher is said to have been great; as an investigator, he stood in the first rank among the botanists of our time; as a man, his simple, earnest, and transparently truthful character won the admiration and love of all who knew him." With Braun's memoirs on the "Arrangement of the Scales of Pine-Cones, etc." (1830), began the present knowledge of phyllotaxis. Other noteworthy memoirs by this author are that on "Rejuvenescence in Nature," and "The Vegetable Individual in its Relation to Species," both of which have been translated into English.

The residual charcoal, after lixiviation of destructively distilled seaweed, possesses an extraordinary power of absorption and deodorization. According to Mr. E. C. C. Stanford, its composition is about midway between that from wood and that from bone, in the proportion of carbon; but it is more nearly like the latter, from which it differs in containing more carbon and carbonates of calcium and magnesium, and less phosphates. It can be obtained at one-fourth the price of any other charcoal.

Mention is made, in Land and Water, of a singular hybrid, the progeny of a barn-yard cock and a common duck. The body of the hybrid is like that of a duck, but the feet, which have three front claws and a rudimentary back one, are not webbed, and the upper mandible is that of a fowl, extending only half the length of the lower, which is that of a duck, the singular formation causing great difficulty in feeding.

A writer in the American Naturalist cites the following instance of carnivorous habits in the red-headed woodpecker: In the summer of 1876 a man in Humboldt County, Iowa, raised a large number of black