Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/738

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

M. Charles Brongniart has communicated to the French Academy some observations on the peregrine locusts in Algeria, which passed continuously for several days over Mustapha and Algiers, and were so thick that one could not go into the street with out being hit by them. To deposit her eggs, the female bores into the hardest ground, even in the trodden roads, sometimes trying the soil first, to the depth of from five to eight centimetres. She lines the bottom of the hole with a light whitish substance like beaten egg, and covers her eggs, after she has deposited them, with the same substance. In some places an average of thirty-five deposits per square decimetre was counted, each containing eighty or ninety eggs. The insects succumb immediately after laying, and shortly die; and the bodies lie scattered around at the rate of thirty per square metre, food for birds and predatory insects. The ground where the eggs have been deposited is easily recognizable from a distance.

A collection of Eskimo works of art, made by Assistant Superintendent Edwards of the cryolite mines at Arsuk Fiord, Greenland, is described by John R. Spears, in Nature. It includes candlesticks, cigar-holders, ash-receivers, anchors, paper-weights, etc , made of green-stone. The articles were all made to sell to the Danish rulers, for the Eskimo themselves have no use for ornamental art; but they show considerable skill in sculpture.

The Andaman Islands, constituting a small isolated territory, furnish rare opportunities for the study of the introduction and growth of new plants. They have been under scientific observation since 1858. Dr. Prain, of Silpur, records that in 1866, when there were six hundred known indigenous species, fifteen intentionally introduced plants and "sixty-one weeds of cultivation" had become established as an integral portion of the flora, and that by 1890 twenty-three more of the first class and fifty-six more of the second kind had been added, while four of the naturalized plants noted in 1866 had disappeared. A common Indian butterfly has made its appearance since the plant on which its larva feeds became naturalized.

A committee of London municipal officials has been ordered to report upon the advisability of erecting a crematorium in the cemetery at Ilford. Mr. Malthouse, one of the sanitary officials of the city, has called attention to the fact that 91/243 bodies were buried last year in the London cemeteries, and that in many places they lay fourteen deep. High medical authority had declared already that the state of the cemeteries demanded the intervention of the Government. Cremation, he said, was the only practical alternative of burial, and would soon be adopted, if the costs were reduced, as the prejudice against it was disappearing very rapidly.

An experiment has been made by Dr. Pringsheim, of Berlin, to determine the position of the accent in French words by a physical method. A phonautograph was used, into which a number of Frenchmen spoke, and the record was afterward measured by means of a tuning-fork curve running parallel to it. It was possible thus to determine the duration, pitch, and intensity of each syllable. As the results related to French words only, it may merely be mentioned here that the shortest syllable, é, in été, with rather a slow pronunciation, consisted of twenty-two vibrations; yet the ear, besides hearing the tone, is capable of detecting fine shades and differences in the mode of pronunciation.

 


OBITUARY NOTES.

Dr. Richard Schomburgk, Director of the Botanic Gardens at Adelaide, South Australia, has recently died there. He was associated with his brother, the late Sir Robert Schomburgk, in the Boundary Demarkation of British Guiana in 1840; some years later settled in South Australia as a farmer and wine-grower; became Director of the Botanic Garden in 1866; founded the Museum of Economic Botany, and was an eminent horticulturist. He was author of a hook in German of travels in British Guiana, in which were embodied a flora and fauna of the country; of Botanical Reminiscences of British Guiana; and of papers on the agricultural and horticultural capabilities of South Australia and the Botanic Garden.

The death is announced of Prof. Weber, of Göttingen, the celebrated physicist. He was born in 1802. His first scientific publication was the Theory of Modulations (Leipsic, 1825). Being a liberal in politics, he was turned out of his professorship by King Ernest of Saxony. lie soon afterward began to devote himself to magnetism, gave a new impulse to the study of electricity in Germany, and became one of the first authorities on the subject in Europe. He was restored to his chair at Göttingen in 1849, and resided there for the rest of his life.

Prof. Carl Wilhelm von Nagelli, an eminent German botanist, died at Munich, May 10th, in the seventy-fourth year of his age.

Sir John Hawkshaw, an eminent English engineer, died in London, June 2d, in his eighty-first year. He was President of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1862-1863, and of the British Association at its Bristol meeting in 1875. his greatest engineering feat was the construction of the Severn Tunnel.