Popular Science Monthly/Volume 11/June 1877/Notes

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Dr. Elliott Coues, U.S. Army, the distinguished naturalist of the Hayden Surveys, and one of the most eminent ornithologists in the country, has just been elected Professor of Anatomy in the National Medical College in Washington, fie entered upon its duties in April, and chose for the subject of his inaugural lecture, "Anatomical Science in its Bearings on the Origin of Species and Man's Place in Nature." He took strong grounds for the truth of evolution, and claimed the right to seek and state "the truth of Nature as existing in matter, with no heed to possible results, and without regard to the dictation of dogma, the sensibilities of prejudice, or the fears of ignorance."

The Summer School of Science, inaugurated last year at Bowdoin College, is to be continued this season, the term to commence July 16th and last six weeks. The studies this year will be chemistry, mineralogy, and zoölogy, practical instruction to be given in each, books being employed solely for purposes of reference. The fee for a full course, consisting of any two studies, is $20; for a single study, $12. Neither entrance examination nor recitations will be required.

J. Scott Bowerbank, well known for, his studies of the lower forms of marine life, especially the sponges, died at Hastings (England) on the 9th of March, in his eightieth year.

An observed increase of temperature at the Greenwich Observatory during recent years is attributed, by Mr. H. S. Eaton, President of the London Meteorological Society, to the heat imparted to the air by the city of London. He estimates that the heat developed from the present annual consumption of 5,000,000 tons of coal, on the 118 square miles covered by the city, and from all other artificial sources, would suffice to raise the temperature of a stratum of air 100 feet in depth, resting on that area, 2.5° every hour. On account of this influence, he considers the location a bad one for a first-class observatory.

Johann C. Poggendorff, for Upward of fifty years editor of the Annalen der Physik und Chemie, died in Berlin, January 24th, aged eighty years. His scientific studies were mostly concerned with the phenomena of electricity and magnetism. In 1834 he was appointed Professor Extraordinary of Physics in the University of Berlin, which position he held till his death. His contributions to science are chiefly to be found in the "Transactions" of the Berlin Royal Academy of Sciences.

We learn from the Milwaukee Sentinel that the theologians of that locality have arranged a concerted assault upon the conclusions of the biologists, and that paper remarks concerning it, that "the systematic attack arranged by the orthodox preachers of this city on the modern scientific theory of life indicates alarm, and is the first evidence that the evolution theory has met, or is likely to meet, with popular favor." It admonishes them to beware lest they create an interest in the subject, and set people to reading and thinking about it, who, if let alone, would probably pay little attention to it. The chances are that these gentlemen, who have combined to fight biological doctrines from their pulpits, will be the loudest to protest that there is no possible conflict between religion and science.

According to an obituary notice in the Bulletin, of Baltimore, the late Boss Winans was the first to prove the feasibility of using anthracite coal as fuel on locomotive-engines. He was also the inventor of the eight-wheel railroad-car.

Mr. John Y. Culyer, in a recent paper read at a meeting of the Association of School Commissioners and City Superintendents held in Albany, advocates the study of industrial and inventive drawing in our public schools, on the ground that, as a large majority of the pupils in these schools are destined for industrial occupations, their studies should be adapted to improvement in this direction. "Upon what," he asks, "does a man's advancement as a workman depend? Upon three things: his readiness in reading the designs of others, his skill with his tools in fashioning the designs of others, and his skill with his tools in fashioning designs of his own. His greatest advancement comes when he is able to do the latter."

A committee of the Ohio College Association has reported in favor of a State Board of Examiners, whose duty it shall be to examine all candidates for college degrees and have the exclusive power of granting the same. This is an important step, and nowhere is such a system more needed than in connection with our medical schools.

The Scientific Farmer states that a factory—the first in this country—for making sugar from corn is now in operation at Davenport, Iowa. The product is known as grape or starch sugar, or glucose, and differs from common or cane sugar in containing more oxygen and hydrogen, and in being less sweet and less crystallizable. It is consumed in large quantities by confectioners, who have hitherto been supplied mainly from France and Germany, where it is manufactured from potatoes.

The low-lying coast country of the African Continent bears an evil reputation for unhealthiness, and this reputation is, no doubt, in part well deserved. But the habits of the European residents and traders are to blame for no small portion of the excessive mortality. There is a great deal of truth and good sense in the observation of a recent traveler, that even in the deadly atmosphere of the western coast the chances of ill health might be materially reduced, if Europeans would make only a judicious use of stimulants, eat good, well-cooked food, avoid undue exposure to the weather, and shun idleness.

Dr. Edward Rae, a veteran arctic explorer, complains that the pemmican prepared for the sled-parties of the British Polar Expedition was salted, and that their stores included salt bacon; while the stock of preserved potatoes was insufficient, and condensed milk, an excellent antiscorbutic, was not even thought of. The experience of this expedition goes to show that alcohol furnishes no protection against the effects of excessive cold, but, on the contrary, increases the liability to frost-bite.

From interesting statistics concerning suicide in London and New York, given in a late number of the Lancet, we learn that self-murder is more frequent in winter than in summer; that, in proportion to population, nearly twice as many kill themselves in New York as in London, the excess being mainly due to the large number of suicides among the Germans; and that drowning, hanging, and cut-throat, are the favorite methods of taking off in London, while poison and the pistol are preferred in New York.

The Fish Commissioners of Pennsylvania state in their report that the Susquehanna River, from its mouth to the head-waters of both the Juniatas, is now full of black bass. The same may be said of both the West and North Branches for considerable distances above their confluences. The Delaware, too, along the entire State border, is equally supplied, while several of its Pennsylvania branches are filling by degrees.

The Commission appointed to inquire into the workings of the English Meteorological Department have recommended an increase of nearly one-third in the annual grant for meteorological purposes, and the appointment of a Meteorological Council, to administer the grant in place of the committee of the Royal Society that has heretofore had it in charge.

The common article beeswax, according to the American Journal of Pharmacy, is frequently much adulterated; paraffine, resin, stearine, Japan wax, or mixtures of two or more of these, being the substances usually employed.

According to the "Seventh Annual Report of the Fish Commissioners of New Jersey," the yield of fish from the waters of the State was last year much below the average of previous years. This was notably the case with shad-fishing in the Delaware. One of the causes given for this decrease is the introduction of black bass into the river, where they have multiplied immensely, and are believed to devour large numbers of the young shad.

Dr. C. W. Siemens, President of the Iron and Steel Institute of Great Britain, in his recent inaugural address, strongly urged the necessity for a more extended system of technical education, as the only true basis for national prosperity in the industrial arts. The nations of the Continent of Europe, he declared, were ahead of England in this respect; what little the latter had done having been more a measure of self-defense made necessary by the increasing competition from abroad, rather than the growth of an enlightened public policy, of which the country stands greatly in need.

An interesting discovery of animal remains was recently made in a cave near Santander, in Northern Spain. The discoverers, Messrs. O'Reilly and Sullivan, describe the cavern as an enlarged joint or rock-fissure, into which the entire carcasses, or else the living animals, had been precipitated. Prof A. Leith Adams has identified among these remains numerous portions, including teeth, of Elephas primigenius, which is important as furnishing the first instance of the occurrence of that animal in Spain.

If the mirror of a laryngoscope be moistened with glycerine, the water-vapor in the air expired by the subject under examination will not dim its surface, being dissolved in the glycerine. The Polytechnic Review points out the benefit to be derived from a similar application of glycerine to the lenses of astronomical telescopes, by preventing the formation on them of dew, which often disturbs observations.