Popular Science Monthly/Volume 1/October 1872/Notes

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A committee of astute reformers in England, charged with the duty of devising some means for repressing drunkenness and reforming drunkards, recommend that drunkenness, and even the first offence, be severely punished. For the first conviction, a month in jail; for the third, a year's imprisonment in a reformatory. Whether public or private, attended with a breach of the peace or not, the drunkenness is to be made a crime, and dealt with accordingly; not so much for the protection of society, but avowedly as a reformatory measure. If a man degrades himself by getting drunk, degrade him still more by sending him to jail; destroy his remaining self respect, to the end that his respect for himself may be increased!

Donne and others have shown that water without air will acquire a temperature far above 212° without boiling, and that it is then liable to burst into steam with explosive violence. It is thought that many disastrous steam-boiler explosions have arisen from this cause; and a firm in Nottingham, England, have adopted a process which is said to entirely remove the difficulty. They inject heated air at a temperature of 650° Fahr., near the bottom of the water-space, into the boilers, waste-heat being utilized for the purpose. The incrustation of the boilers is thus prevented, the water is constantly aerated, and an economy of 15 per cent, secured; which in England alone, if the process were generally applied, would result in an annual saving of 16,500,000 tons of coal.

The Royal Astronomical Society are urging the English Government to erect an astronomical observatory in the highlands of India. A station in the region named, besides being of great service to science as affording an opportunity for observations within the tropics, would be of immediate utility, in observing the transit of Venus, as it is said that the egress of the planet could be better watched in these highlands than in any other part of the British dominions.

An inquiry into the foundering of the Peruvian steamer Calderon, in the bay of Biscay, has disclosed the fact that the leak resulted from corrosion caused by mercury spilled from the gauge-cocks into the bilge, where, by lodging under the boilers, and becoming oxidized with strong hot brine from the boiler-leaks, it was converted into oxychloride of mercury. In the recent investigation into the loss of the Megara, it was stated in evidence that the washing about of a copper nail, in the bilge of the iron steamer Grappler, destroyed one of her plates, and caused a dangerous leak. Both metals, when exposed to the action of salt-water, become converted into oxychlorides, which corrode iron rapidly when in contact with it.

If iron is withheld from animals, they sooner or later show signs of disease, which in man is attended with a peculiar greenish pallor of countenance, great weakness, and general disturbance of the functions. It has been observed that plants grown in a soil without iron are affected in a similar way—that is, they are less thrifty, lose color, and give other indications of disorder. It is therefore inferred that iron is quite as essential to the growth of plants as to the growth of animals.

An important discovery, which it is expected will ultimately reduce the cost of steam-power 60 per cent., has recently been made and put into practical operation in Boston. The discovery consists of a process by which the great amount of heat that now escapes into the air in the waste or exhaust steam from engines, is utilized by conducting it through the tubes of a boiler filled with bisulphide of carbon—a fluid which boils at 110° Fahr., and at the temperature of exhaust-steam gives a pressure of sixty-five pounds to the inch in the boiler. The vapor formed in this boiler is used to drive an engine, instead of steam, and after being used is condensed by cooling, pumped into the boiler again, and used continuously without loss. A number of carefully-made experiments are said to prove beyond question that, by means of this process, the same fuel now required to produce 100 horse-power, with the best engines in use, will produce 250 horse-power, showing a gain of 150 per cent, in the amount of power obtained by the consumption of coal. This is a very important discovery, and, if further experiments shall bear out the claim which is now made for it, will be of immense advantage to the entire manufacturing interests of the country.—American Manufacturer.

The coloring-matter of the blood-corpuscles is known as hæmatosin, and the red color of this substance is generally attributed to the presence of iron. This, however, appears to be a mistake, since Malder and Van Gondoever have been able to abstract the iron entirely, and yet the hæmatosin was as red as ever.

M. Gaudain states that a mixture of equal parts of cryolite and chloride of barium forms a flux superior to borax for soldering iron, or brazing copper, brass, or bronze. Cryolite is a mineral that occurs in great abundance in Greenland. It is a double fluoride of sodium and aluminium, and has been largely employed in the production of the metal aluminium.

At the recent scientific meeting in Dubuque, Miss Swain read a paper entitled "Why we differ, or the Law of Variety." In regard to the sexes, she took the ground of Luke Owen Pike, that differences are due to the different proportions of the same qualities, men and women differing not in elemental composition, but in excess or defect of common properties. She is said to be the first lady who has ever addressed this Association, but she is certainly not the first who has contributed to its proceedings. Mrs. Elisha Foote prepared a paper, the result of her experimental investigations on heat, which was read at the meeting in Albany in 1856.

It is stated by Jean that our ordinary soaps are so adulterated, under pretence of cheapness, that little of soap remains but the name. The chief adulterant is resin, which combines with the potash or soda in place of the 50 or 60 per cent, of fatty acid that should be present. These alkaline resinates impart to the soap the power of lathering copiously, and they even saponify in water containing gypsum. These good properties are, however, counterbalanced by serious disadvantages. If resinous soaps are used in fulling cloth, they produce blemishes. They also impart to worsted stuffs a peculiar greasy lustre, and wool scoured with these takes the mordants and dyes unequally.

Woodman reported at Dubuque on ancient mounds. He says that these and other old earthworks are far more abundant than is generally supposed. The city of Dubuque, he states, is full of them, although they have been extensively obliterated without being recognized. They are almost invariably fifteen paces apart from centre to centre, the smaller ones being from two to two and a half feet high, and about twenty feet in diameter, and are arranged in straight or slightly curved lines. Some mounds contain skeletons, and were probably designed for tombs, while other and larger mounds are supposed to have been residences of the ancient inhabitants of the continent.

Dr. G. W. Hough has introduced a printing-chronograph into the Dudley Observatory, which has been in operation a year and a half. Observations have been made in that time on 10,000 stars, and the number of records taken and printed amount to 150,000. The chronograph is an instrument for noting precisely the astromical time at which the observation of a heavenly body is made. The first chronograph was a Morse register. Dr. Hough has improved upon this, and says that he can do twice as much work as formerly in the laboratory, by the use of the invention.

A paper from Prof. E. W. Hilgard, State Geologist of Mississippi, was contributed on "Soil Analyses and their Utility." Prof. Mapes a few years ago made a great deal of noise about soil analysis, and was accused of "running it into the ground." Prof. Johnson, of Yale, showed that there was a good deal of humbug about so-called soil analyses, and pointed out the exaggerated value that is commonly attributed to them. But Prof. Hilgard has such faith in them that he proposes to vary the usual routine in State geological surveys by introducing them, and he thus returns to the policy of Emmons in conducting the New York State Geological Survey.

A new process, which has received the name of Helio-Autographic Printing, has recently been brought out in Paris. It is said to enable the artist to make his own designs and drawings, to print from them on photographic paper, and reproduce the same upon lithographic stone, so as to obtain impressions of his own work in the minutest detail, without the aid of the engraver, or lithographic draughtsman.

According to Schmidt, an excellent remedy against caterpillars consists in a dilute solution (1 part in 500) of sulphide of potassium, the infested tree being sprinkled with this substance by means of a small hand-syringe. This method has been used on a large scale in France, and, it is said, without any injury to vegetation.

According to the Medical Times and Gazette, the cholera is gradually making its way westward, having but recently entered Prussia. The disease is of a mild type, however, and spreads slowly. In Berlin it first appeared in one of the most fashionable streets in the city, three cases occurring nearly at the same time, in one and the same house.

Prof. Peirce exhibited at the Dubuque meeting some interesting astronomical photographs and engravings prepared by Prof. Winlock, of Harvard College. It appears, by these charts, that Jupiter changes his color even on successive nights. The representations of sun-spots were said to be very instructive, showing their connection with the solar protuberances; the drawings of the latter indicate an unmistakable atmosphere at an altitude of 100,000 miles.

A red color has sometimes been observed in white lead, and has been formerly attributed to the presence of silver. German investigations have recently shown that this is incorrect, and that the red tinge is due to defects in manufacture.