Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/782

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are of small dimensions, and so eaten away by rust that they evidently belong to a very remote period. A writer in the Presse is of opinion that these little farms date back some 2,000 years, and that then the climate of Bavaria was very moist; for such treatment of the soil in the present comparatively dry climate of that country would lead to the destruction of the crops by drought. It is a little curious that the writer makes no mention of any agricultural or other implements being found; but perhaps closer investigation will bring such objects to light.


Recent Meteorites in France and Italy.—Several members of the French Academy of Sciences have written for that body accounts of two or three meteoric masses lately seen to fall in France and Italy. On July 23d, at about half-past five, on a still afternoon, with clear sky, and the sun shining brightly, there was heard at Lancé (Loir-et-Cher) a violent report, succeeded by a rumbling. A "fiery lance" was observed by a land-owner of Lile-Bouchard to shoot across the sky with great swiftness. En route it divided into two meteors, which continued for some time to move parallel. At Tours they were also observed, and described as bottle-shaped, and of an orange color. One of these meteorites was found near Lancé by M. de Tastes. It weighed about 103 lbs., and had penetrated into the earth to a depth of 5 feet 9 inches. It broke to pieces on removal. The other meteorite was soon after found, some 7½ miles south of the first. It was of the same character as the first, but weighed only a few ounces and had penetrated about 20 inches. The large piece is of an unequal spheroidal shape, with rounded surface, and covered with a crust as if by fusion. The fracture is black, showing globular structure, and numerous small spheroidal grains. Here and there are small metallic grains, yellow in color. Specific gravity 3.80. In water it yielded a very small quantity of chloride of sodium. There is not a trace of salts of potash, nor any sulphates or hyposulphates. Dissolved in nitric acid, a silicate was found, consisting chiefly of magnesium and protoxide of iron. Spectrum analysis seemed to indicate the presence of copper; but there was no calcium, barium, or strontium. Carbon was absent, but, as usual, cobalt and nickel accompanied the iron. On the evening of August 8th, at 8 minutes past 11, a meteorite was seen at Rome, Velletri, and other places. But a more interesting one was observed by Padre Secchi at Rome, August 31st, at 5.15 a. m., mean time. A globe of fire was observed, well marked and a little red in color. Its progress was at first slow, but it gained speed, and left behind it a luminous train like a cloud lit up by the sun. On reaching its highest point, it suddenly expanded, and finally disappeared. Three or four minutes afterward a tremendous detonation was heard. It was like a mine-explosion, and was followed by a rolling sound, as of file-firing. A fragment of this meteor was picked up and found to be very ferruginous, hard, and covered with a crust. The extreme distances at which the meteorite was seen are 93 miles apart.


An Efficacious Disinfectant.—A writer in the Chemical News offers some useful hints on disinfectants, which may be of interest. After a long-continued series of experiments, he pronounces sulphate of aluminium and hydrochlorate of alumina very powerful disinfectants and antiseptics. Their solubility and harmlessness render their use admissible under all ordinary circumstances. The chloride and sulphate of iron have the same action as the above, and, further, they absorb the sulphuretted products of decomposition. For this reason these salts are the most efficacious of disinfectants. But there is one objection to their use, viz., that the iron would injure any vegetation with which the disinfected matter might come in contact. The writer recommends, as the best of all disinfectants, for general use, a solution containing hydrochlorate of alumina, with a small quantity of chloride of iron. The hydrochlorate will do all the work of a disinfectant and antiseptic, while the chloride will absorb the sulphuretted compounds.


Atmospheric Pressure and Vegetable Growth.—M. Bert, whose observations upon atmospheric pressure and animal life we have already noted, has been making experiments upon the influence of pressure on vegetation. From these it would appear