Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 47.djvu/736

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

was extremely fine, and seemed more like a fog, so that it was difficult to believe one's eyes, and that even a few moments in a thin fog sufficed to thoroughly wet one's outer garments. He also speaks of the absence of that bluish haze which so softens and beautifies a distant view in lower latitudes. Unfortunately, Dr. Brewer was not equipped for accurate meteorological research, or we should doubtless have had from him valuable data on this very important and interesting subject.

A curious attempt to combine color impressions with musical sounds was recently made in London, by Mr. Wallace Rimington. The instrument used, called a "color organ," was so arranged that each organ note had a corresponding colored disk; pressure on the key threw this disk in front of a powerful arc or lime light by which an image was projected on a screen, and at the same time a musical tone was produced by the organ. Extracts from Chopin and Wagner were rendered; the effects are said to have been in the main pleasing, and were certainly novel.

The Royal Academy of Sciences of the Institute of Bologna offers a gold medal of one thousand francs' value for a memoir on a practical system for the prevention or extinction of fire. Italian, French, or Latin may be used; if in another language, it must be accompanied by an Italian translation. The essays should be signed by a nom de plume and accompanied by an envelope containing the author's real name. All essays must be in before May 29, 1896, and should be addressed to "Al segretario della R. Accademia delle Scienze dell' Institute di Bologna."

An examination of teas grown at various altitudes was recently conducted in the Lancet Laboratory, and seems to show that while the content of caffeine, the refreshing and important constituent of the tea leaf, is not materially affected by an increase of altitude, the tannin, the astringent principle, which gives to the stronger teas their harsh, disagreeable flavor, is quite markedly decreased. The essential oils, on which the agreeable flavor and odor depend, are increased by growth in higher altitudes. Unfortunately, the higher the altitude the less the yield—as, for instance, at seven thousand feet above sea level at Darjeeling, the yield is only two hundred to three hundred pounds per acre, while on the plains of Assam, at an elevation of from only one hundred to five hundred feet, the yield averages one thousand pounds per acre.

The report of the British Opium Commission is supplemented in a special memorandum by Sir William Roberts, who gives opium a position as to its effects on the system intermediate between alcohol and tobacco. But the habitual and excessive use of alcohol is followed by special organic changes that can be traced both during life and after death, while this is not the case with either opium or tobacco. Sir William thinks that the number of opium-eaters in India is likely to be underestimated rather than overestimated. He dwells upon the greater tolerance for opium among the natives of India as compared with Europeans, and cites the evidence of Surgeon-Lieutenant Colonel Crombie as to the very different effect of opium on native and English infants in support of the view that this enhanced tolerance on the part of the natives of India is apparently congenital.

A unique specimen of the great auk's egg was sold recently in London. It is a perfect egg, which was obtained sixty or seventy years ago in Iceland. It sold for $866.25.

In a paper read before the Geographical Club of Philadelphia, Mr. T. W. Balch relates several incidents observed by him in a journey through Alsace and Lorraine illustrative of the people's concealing French hearts under their Germanized exteriors. Among them was the evasion of the law forbidding the display of French flags, perceived in a show window in Strasburg. The storekeeper, with a thoroughly German name on his sign, had put in a conspicuous place some white candles between two packages of red ones, wrapped at the bottom in blue paper. "It was indeed a dull man who did not see at once the tricolor."

 


OBITUARY NOTES.

Prof. Franz Neumann, of the chair of Physics and Mineralogy at the University of Königsberg, died on May 23d at Königsberg, at the advanced age of ninety-seven. The work which placed him in the front ranks of science was a Mémoire sur la Théorie des Ondulations, presented to the Berlin Academy in 1835.

Prof. Valentine Ball, of Dublin, died on June 17th, aged fifty-two years. He was Director of the Museum of Science and Art of Dublin. He occupied the chair of Geology and Mineralogy in the University of Dublin from 1881 to 1883, and was the author of several works oh geology.

Theodore Brorsen, best known from his discovery of five comets, has recently died, in the seventy-seventh year of his age. He discovered the comet that bears his name in 1846, and found its period to be five years and a half. It has since been seen at four returns, but not since 1879. He discovered a second comet in 1846, a third in 1847, and two others in 1851.