Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/885

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The largest trees known are probably a Eucalyptus amygdalina, or "peppermint-tree," growing in the Dandenong district of Victoria, Australia, which is said to measure 370 feet to the starting-point of the crown, and 417 feet to the top, and a specimen of the same species, mentioned by Baron Ferdinand von Müller as having reached the incredible height of 480 feet. A tree was cut near Ballarat in 1869 which was 96 feet in circumference at the ground, 34 feet at 12 feet above the ground, 8 feet at the height of 144 feet, and at 210 feet was still five feet in circumference. Another tree measured three feet in circumference at the extreme point of its height, 385 feet, while its real top seemed to be missing.

The death is announced of Theodor Schwann, the distinguished physiologist, whose name is inseparably connected with the history of the "cell theory." He was born in 1810 near Düsseldorf, but spent most of his active life as Professor of Anatomy in the Catholic Universities of Louvain and Liege, Belgium. Three important pieces of work, each of which has been the starting-point of endless researches, are due to him. The first consists in his observations a:d reflections relative to the cell-structure of organisms; the second, his discovery of the organic nature of yeast, of the yeast-plant as the cause of alcoholic fermentation, and of organisms as the cause of putrefaction in general; and the third, his investigation of the laws of muscular contraction.

Dr. W. J. Hoffman observes, in his "Annotated List of the Birds of Nevada," that the absence of birds in large areas in that State, and their abundance in certain localities, "can mainly be attributed to the peculiar distribution of the vegetation. ' With the birds, as with insects, particularly the Coleopterœ, if an area of vegetation, composed of a certain class, be found, we generally know what may be expected as typical of that area. The greater altitudes attained in the Rocky Mountains have furnished additional facts regarding the breeding of certain species, which may truly be considered sub-Alpine when compared with their northward range."

The statements in reference to the education estimates for England, made by Mr. Mundella, in the House of Commons, indicate that it is the intention of those having the matter in hand to make elementary education more efficient and better adapted to convey to the pupils a knowledge of those things that will be really useful to them in after-life. Among the amended provisions of the code -laid before the House was one for giving in infant schools a systematic course of simple lessons on objects and on the phenomena of nature and common life. Among the "class-subject" in boys' and girls' schools are physical geography and elementary science, and among the specific subjects are mechanics, animal physiology, botany, the principles of agriculture, and domestic economy.

Dr. Edward T. Carswell, in his address as president before the American Academy of Medicine, takes strong grounds in favor of requiring evidence of graduation from a college as a condition of admission to the medical school, and of the abolition of the fee system, as essential elements of reform in medical education.

The recent International Medical Congress in London recommended as tests for sight, to be enforced on signal-men and look-out men at sea, that in all ocean-going vessels there should always be in actual control of the helm a person possessing with both eyes, without glasses, normal sight both as to acuity and colors, and that in addition one of the persons on the lookout should be similarly qualified; that in vessels engaged in the coasting-trade, every person liable to take charge of the helm should possess sight under similar conditions, equal to at least two thirds of the normal; that all persons engaged in marine signaling and all pilots should have normal sight; and that hypermetropic (over-sighted) persons should not be admitted. The congress also advised the constitution of an international commission to consider the means of improving the system of signals, and to fix upon the standard colors and upon the sizes of the signals to be employed.

The death of Dr. Christian Gottfried Andreas Giebel, Professor of Zoology in the University of Halle, was recently announced. He was born in 1820, and had occupied his professorate at Halle since 1860. He was the author of numerous works in his branch of science, among which were the "Fauna of the Primitive World" (1856), "The Mammalia in their Zoological, Anatomical, and Paleontological Relations" (1855), "A Natural History of the Animal Kingdom" (1864), "Agricultural Zoology" (1869), a "Thesaurus Ornithologiæ" (1877), and a work on "Parasitic Insects," besides numerous smaller works.

Dr. J. Bouillaud, a French physician distinguished for his researches in heart disease, died in Paris last October, in the eightysixth year of bis age. He discovered the relations between organic affections of the heart and acute articular rheumatism, and recognized and partially defined the anatomical lesion which produces aphasia. He published his first work, a "Treatise on Diseases of the Heart," in 1824.