Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/786

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

with a "moderate amount of stimulants," says the Lancet. But any excess of alcohol or tobacco will produce insomnia: indeed, hundreds of cases where insomnia is charged to the account of "overwork" are best explained by excess in stimulation.


Dredging on the New-England Coast..—Prof. Verrill has a very interesting article in the January number of the American Journal of Science on the "Results of recent dredging expeditions on the coast of New England." In the summer of 1872 the headquarters of Prof. Baird, United States Fish Commissioner, were at Eastport, on the coast of Maine, and he invited the coöperation of Prof. Verrill and others in the work of making a thorough zoological survey of the waters of that region. Prof. Verrill had already devoted portions of six summers to the same work. The survey of 1872 not only carefully explored all the bays and estuaries, but also the deeper waters in their vicinity, more especially places known to be the haunts of valuable fishes; and the alcoholic collection of specimens obtained filled 2,000 bottles and jars, and several large cases.

Whenever animals were found to change in form or appearance on being preserved in alcohol, drawings were carefully made from life by Mr. J. H. Emerton, of Salem. The surveying party also studied and ascertained as far as possible the haunts and habits of such animals as form the natural food of fishes. The abundance and variety of living forms in the localities explored will be obvious from the statement that, besides Foraminifera, Entomostraca, and other minute creatures, the results of this and of previous dredgings, which have not been reported, add 350 species to the already known fauna of the region. Of these species some are undescribed, but the majority occur in the fauna of Northern Europe.

Marine plants were found growing at depths varying from shore-line to 80 fathoms: thus Ptilota serrata occurred at a depth of 75 fathoms. On St. George's Bank, in 430 fathoms water, 44 species of animals were obtained, not reckoning foraminifera. This is the deepest dredging yet done on our coasts north of Florida. The following were the temperatures here observed:

Air 66° Fahr.
Surface water 65° "
Bottom water 51° "

Prof. Verrill, however, thinks there may have been an error in the statement of the deep-sea temperature here, owing to defects in the instruments employed. He notes, at no great distance from St. George's Bank, the following temperatures for 50 fathoms water:

Surface water 62° Fahr.
Bottom water 45° "

And off Cape Sable a still greater coldness of the bottom was observed in 45 fathoms water, viz.:

Air 58° Fahr.
Surface water 56° "
Bottom water 35° "

In these cold waters the animal life found was more arctic in its character.

Between St. George's Bank and Nova Scotia the bottom was found to consist of fine soft, sandy mud. This, according to Prof. Verrill, may be owing to a depression of the area between the bank and the coast. This depression would withdraw the bottom out of the reach of the powerful currents which sweep over and outside the banks. Where these currents have full play, nothing but coarse sand and gravel is found even at a depth of 430 fathoms—nearly half a mile.

So strong are the currents, and so enormous their volume, in this part of the ocean, that to the east of St. George's Bank, where no bottom was found at 1,800 fathoms (rather more than two miles) depth, their mutual collision sufficed to produce a roar like breakers on a beach. The report is to be continued, and a complete list published of all the species of animals obtained.


Ostracism of a French Savant..—The new edition of Robin and Littré's great "Dictionary of Medicine" was lately presented to the French Academy of Sciences. Pathology is there regarded as a branch of biology, levying contributions on mathematics, chemistry, physics, and even social science and history. The Bishop of Orleans says that this dictionary lowers man to the level of the brutes; and the conservative justices of the peace of the sixth arrondissement of Paris take up the strain.