Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/421

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

These little fishes are, I believe, only known in some parts of Siam and Burmah; they are small, not more than six or seven inches, and in shape like a smelt. I am not aware that I have ever seen any description of them."

"Are the Elements elementary?"—Mr. Norman Lockyer has realized the alchemist's dream, the transmutation of metals. In the presence of a small party of scientific men, Mr. Lockyer, by the aid of a powerful voltaic current, volatilized copper within a glass tube, dissolved the deposit formed within the tube in hydrochloric acid, and then showed, by means of the spectroscope, that the solution contained no longer copper, but another metal, calcium, the base of ordinary lime. The experiment was repeated with other metals and with corresponding results. Nickel was thus changed into cobalt, and calcium into strontium. All these bodies, as is well known, have ever been regarded as elementary—that is, as incapable of being resolved into any components, or of being changed one into another. It is on this basis that all modern chemistry is founded, and, should Mr. Lockyer's discovery bear the test of further trial, our entire system of chemistry will require revision. The future possibilities of the discovery it is difficult to limit. The great object of the old alchemists was, of course, to transmute base metals into gold, and so far as our knowledge goes there is no reason why copper should not be changed into gold as well as into calcium. The means at present employed are obviously such as to render the process far more costly than any possible results can be worth; but this is necessarily the case with most scientific discoveries before they are turned into commercial facts. Mr. Lockyer is one of our best living spectroscopists, and no man with a reputation such as his would risk the publication of so startling a fact as he has just announced to the scientific world without the very surest grounds. He is known by his friends as somewhat sanguine, and he does not pretend to be an accomplished chemist, but he was supported yesterday by some of our leading chemists, all of whom admitted that the results of his experiments were inexplicable on any other grounds but those admitting of the change of one element into another, unless indeed our whole system of spectrum analysis is to be upset, the other horn of a very awkward dilemma. Since a hundred years ago Priestley discovered oxygen and founded modern chemistry there has been—there could be—no discovery made which would have such an effect on modern science as that the so-called elements were no longer to be considered elementary.—London Daily News.


A gold medal has been awarded to Mr. Edward R. Andrews, of Boston, for his exhibit of creosoted wood at the Exhibition of the Mechanics' Charitable Association in Boston. The article on the Teredo navalis, by Prof. von Baumhauer, in the August and September numbers of this journal, was translated by Mr. Andrews. This paper explains the merits of creosote-oil in protecting timber from destruction by marine worms and insects.

Concerning the manner of Mr. Thomas Belt's death, the American Journal of Science has the following information: "About two weeks previous to his death Mr. Belt had shown signs of insanity, and it was thought best to remove him to New York. Mr. Silas Lloyd, who had for a short time been associated with him, accompanied him. Just before arriving at Kansas City, Mr. Lloyd had occasion to leave him for a few minutes. On returning, he found the door locked. Mr. Belt refused to let him in and commenced a furious onslaught on furniture and car. Parties crawled through the broken windows, and succeeded in pacifying him. Getting him off the train, he was prevailed upon to drink a glass of milk, and about twenty minutes afterward he died."

A note was read in a recent meeting of the Paris Academy of Sciences, from Mr. J. Norman Lockyer, in which the author says that he believes he has succeeded in proving that many of the "elements" are in reality compound bodies.

The Iron Age reports the discovery in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, of very rich deposits of copper, occurring in the form of hydrous carbonate or malachite, containing about seventy-two per cent, of copper oxide or fifty-seven and a half per cent, of metallic copper. Some of the deposits show even a higher percentage than this.

A monkey in the Alexandra Palace, London, had a decaying tooth, and suffered from a large abscess in the lower jaw. It