Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/446

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Concerning certain philological and ethnological discussions that are going on with considerable warmth, Mr. John Evans said, in his address in the British Association, that it will be for the benefit of science for speculations as to the origin and home of the Aryan family to be rife; but it will still more effectually conduce to our eventual knowledge of this most interesting question if it be consistently borne in mind that they are but speculations.

An important manufacture of butter from cocoanut-milk is growing up in Germany. Cocoanuts for the purpose are imported in large numbers from India.

Recent investigations by Prof. Geddes, of Edinburgh, have led him to reject the commonly accepted views of the origin of thorns. He has found that there is a more or less developed general contrast in vegetative habit between thornless and thorny varieties. The thorny varieties or species show a more diminishing vegetativeness than their thornless congeners; in fact, they frequently develop their thorns by the actual death of their germ points.

The presidential address of Prof. T. E. Thorpe, in the Chemical Section of the British Association, was largely devoted to the vindication of the claims of Priestley to be the discoverer of oxygen and of the non-elementary nature of water, against the attempt of M. Berthelot, in his Revolution Chimique, to appropriate a principal share in the discoveries to Lavoisier.

A notion has been put forth by the editor of a leading dairy paper that neither dipping out milk nor drawing it through a faucet from large cans gives portions of equal quality to every customer. The dipping method was tested, at Cornell, on three milk routes—the conclusion reached being that by this practice "substantial justice is done all the patrons so far as the amount of fat apportioned to each is concerned."


Sir Richard F. Burton, who died at Trieste, Austria, October 30th, was one of the most venturesome travelers and explorers and voluminous authors of modern times. He was born in Hertfordshire, England, in 1821. Having no taste for the university, he entered the East India and afterward the British diplomatic service, he visited the holy places of Arabia and won fame by the book he wrote about them; was the first European to visit Herat; discovered Lake Tanganyika; traveled to Salt Lake City and California; spent three or four years in western Africa; explored the Brazilian highlands and Paraguay; spent two vacations in "unexplored Syria"; visited Iceland; explored the land of Midian; and accompanied Cameron to the Gold Coast. His published works approach eighty volumes, of which thirty-nine are accounts of travel and exploration. Of these the Lake Region of Equatorial Africa is one of the best books on Africa. Burton also published grammars of three Oriental languages, five volumes of folk-lore, three books on fencing, and translations of the Portuguese poet Camoëns, and of the Arabian Nights.

Mr. John Hancock, an English ornithologist, died at his home in Newcastle-on-Tyne, October 11th, at the age of eighty-nine years.

The death is announced of Dr. Wenzel Leopold Gruber, Professor of Anatomy in the University of St. Petersburg. He was seventy-six years old.

Prof. Thorold Rogers, the eminent English economist, has recently died at Oxford. He was educated at King's College, London, and at Oxford, and began life as a clergyman of the Puseyite school. He afterward became a "coach" at Oxford, where he wrote a hand-book on Education and a pamphlet on the Law of Settlement. He was made Professor of Political Economy at Oxford in 1862, after which he devoted himself mainly to economical subjects, and entered Parliament in 1880. He published two volumes of Historical Sketches; Cobden and Modern Political Opinion; Agriculture and Prices in England (his most important work); Six Centuries of Work and Labor; The Economical Interpretation of History; and the History of Holland in the Story of the Nations series.

Mr. Robert Brough Smyth, of Victoria, Australia, who died in August last, had an important part in the scientific work of the colonies. He was from 1855 to 1858 Director of Meteorological Observations for the Colony of Victoria; was for some years member and Secretary of the Board of Science; honorary secretary and member of the Board for the Protection of Aborigines; Director of the Geological Survey of the Colony; and author of many works and papers on geology, ethnology, and philology.

Captain John Page, of the Argentine Navy, a summary of whose lecture on the Gran Chaco and its rivers has been published in the Monthly, died in June or July while making an attempt to explore the Pilcomayo River at about one hundred and fifty leagues from its mouth. The expedition reached the mouth of the river in the small steamer General Paz in April last, and Captain Page attempted the ascent thence in a vessel built especially for the service, drawing only eight inches of water; but even then the ascent was found impracticable, and the steamer could often be kept afloat only by damming up the stream.