Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 17.djvu/732

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Several other earthquakes of the year were accompanied by the phenomena of fountains, as in Bessarabia in May, and one on the lower Danube in October. Earthquakes occurred at nine different points in the German Empire on thirteen days. The days on which the most earthquakes were noticed were the 14th of February and the 2d of July.

 

Relation of the Algæ to the Phanerogams.—Dr. Ernst Krause in a late number of "Kosmos" has a discussion of the relationship between the algæ and the phanerogams, taking the Podosiemaceæ as the special subject of his dissertation. The species of this family, he believes, combine characteristics of the algæ and phanerogams, and show a direct transition between them, as in the opinion of many botanists the Cytineæ and Balanophoreæ do between the fungi and the phanerogams. The resemblance between the two families is so striking, and the forms of both so variable, that one would be excusable for inferring that the podostemes are algæ with phanerogamous flowers; their flowers are, moreover, either apetalous or imperfect, and very simple. They are described by H. A. Weddel as very small plants, which cling to rocks overflowed by running water in the tropical regions of Asia, Africa, and America. The lower forms are composed of little else than parenchyma, while only the larger ones have vascular organs. The stem is either wanting or assumes an extreme diversity of shapes; sometimes it is upright and dichotomous, branched and leafy; sometimes it is like certain mosses; often it is spread on the ground, or attached with a cushion-like foot; sometimes it creeps like a rhizoma or is leaflike, like the thallus of some liverworts or lichens, and clinging to the stone in the same manner as they do. It has hardly any true roots. Leaves are for the most part absent in the thallus-like species, but are highly diversified in the stemmed species, departing at the same time widely from the ordinary forms; they are seldom square on the stalk, are entire or unequally divided, often forked. The nerves, when they exist, are dichotomous, seldom parallel. The buds, both of the stem and the flowers, are folded convolutely. The cushion-like organs of attachment are elsewwhere found only among the algæ; the absence of vascular organs is common to algae and mosses among green plants, and also to a few phanerogams, as the Naiadeæ, Ceratophylleæ, and Lemnaceæ. As the lower plants of these orders show no differentiation of stem and leaf, at least no more than the algae, they might be placed, with the Podostemaceæ in a group representing a direct transition between the algae and the phanerogams, for which the provisional name of Anthophycæ is suggested. If we also regard the Cytineæ, which have no cotyledon, and the Balanophoreæ, which have only a simple undivided embryo, as higher forms rising out of the fungi, we may join them as Anthomycetæ with the Anthophycæ representing the lowest phanerogams, as Anthothalloidæ.

 

Chimborazo and its Climbers.—Referring to the successful attempt of Mr. Whymper to ascend to the summit of Chimborazo, Dr. Nachtigal stated, at a recent meeting of the Berlin Geographical Society, that a Frenchman, Jules Remy, professed to have accomplished the feat in 1856, but it is very doubtful if he did. He gave the height at 7,328 metres (23,816 feet), whereas it is 1,000 metres, or 3,250 feet less. Humboldt observed the height trigonometrically to be 6,530 metres (or 21,222 feet), and Reiss, as the result of three measurements, found the highest of the two peaks to be 6,310 metres (20,507 feet) and the other 6,269 metres (20,374 feet). Humboldt, in 1802, attempted the ascent, but only reached a height of 5,878 metres (19,103 feet), while Boussingault, with Hall, in 1831, reached a height of 6,004 metres (19,513 feet); they attempted the ascent from the south side, while Dr. Stuhel, from the north side, reached a height of 5,810 metres (18,882 feet). After an inspection of ten days, Mr. Whymper made three attempts, and on the third day succeeded in mounting both peaks. The night before the final ascent he spent at a height of 5,227 metres (16,988 feet).

 

The Comets of 1843 and 1880.—It seems to be well established that the comet which recently appeared in the southern hemisphere is identical with the great comet of March, 1843. This comet, one of the most remarkable in history, appears to have been