Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 25.djvu/590

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Dr. Lee, of England, asserts that carbolic acid is the best substance for disinfecting the air, because, when combined with water and boiled, it evaporates with the steam in a constant ratio, so that the steam contains the same relative quantity of the acid as the water from which it is evaporated. Consequently, the acid can be evenly distributed to the air in a constant and exactly regulated proportion, a property which no other equally efficient disinfectant possesses in so perfect a degree.

Mr. Charles Watkins Merrifield, F.R.S., whose especial field was in mathematics and the exact sciences, died at Hove, England, January 1st, aged fifty-six years. He was for many years Honorary Secretary of the Royal Institute of Naval Architects. He became Vice-Principal of the South Kensington School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering in 1867, and was afterward made principal of that institution; and was Vice-President of the Mechanical Section of the British Association in 1875, and President of the same in the following year. He made the report of the Association on the stability and propulsion of sea-going ships in 1869; was President and Treasurer of the London Mathematical Society; and was an author and editor of mathematical text-books.

According to the estimates of botanists, trees are capable of very long life. De Candolle gave the age of an elm at 335 years. The age of some palms has been set down at from 600 to 700 years; that of an olive-tree, at 700 years; of a plane-tree, at 720; of a cedar, at 800; of an oak, at 1,500; of a yew, at 2,880; of a taxodium, at 4,000; and of a baobab-tree, at 5,000 years.

An electric light has been put in the lighthouse on Razza Island, at the entrance to the harbor of Rio de Janeiro. It has an intensity of 120,000 carcels, or sixty times that of the best oil-lamp. It is visible by its reflection in the sky, so visible as to attract the attention of those who were not aware of its existence, for a distance of thirty-five miles, or three miles and a half beyond the farthest point at which it can be seen by direct vision, and for a mile farther out to those who know where to look for it.

Travelers have sometimes told of swarms of lepidopterous insects appearing on vessels at sea at certain distances from the coast of South America, and have supposed that they were brought from the pampas by the south-west wind, called the pampero. Dr. Fromont, of Brussels, has given an account of a swarm consisting of several varieties of insects that made their appearance when the wind was blowing against the coast, and had to be accounted for in some other way. On looking into the hold, there were found, among the bananas and other fruits with which the vessel was loaded, many remains of chrysalises and chrysalises ready to burst; and it was obvious that the insects had been developed in the cargo. Larvæ of coleopterous insects are also believed to be packed with the dried meat that is shipped from Buenos Ayres, and to give rise, in due time, to other unpleasant appearances.

M. Nefedot has received a gold medal from the Natural Science Society of Moscow, for his account of a flint-implement factory found by him in the Vetlouga district, government of Kostroma, the first establishment of the kind of which remains have been discovered in Russia. He has collected six thousand specimens of cut flints and other objects of the stone age, including articles in bone and clay. They are all remarkably primitive in character and form, and none polished.

Specimens of paper and pasteboard made from the old moss of the Scandinavian bogs have been offered in the markets. The pasteboard is as hard as wood, and is easily painted and polished; and it is believed to have, for certain purposes, advantages over wood, of which it has the best qualities without the faults. It does not split or warp. Under the hydraulic press it acquires a consistency and a resisting power much superior to what can be given to pasteboard of straw.

Sir Joseph Fayrer, President of the British Medical Society, is authority for the story that in nearly every Himalayan village the native baby is placed in a trough into which a stream of water is constantly trickling. This falling upon the vertex of the cranium induces sleep, in which children will lie in their troughs for hours, while their mothers are at their work.

An Assyrian record of a transit of Venus in the sixteenth century b. a has been deciphered by Professor A. H. Sayce.

The Harvard students have now had the direction of Dr. D. H. Sargent in their physical training, and the use of the Hemenway Gymnasium, over four years. The averages of the relative development and strength of the ten strongest students using the gymnasium each year, computed from Dr. Sargent's elaborate tests and measurements, show a rapid advance during this period:

Age. Weight. Develop-
1880 21·6 72·2 528·7 655·2
1881 21·1 78·9 533·7 676·9
1882 20·9 69·4 526·9 854·8
1883 21·1 71·8 583·2 898·4
1884 21·6 70·8 541·4 1018·0