Popular Science Monthly/Volume 11/September 1877/Notes

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A destructive tornado visited the vicinity of Elkhart, Indiana, on the afternoon of July 2d. It completely destroyed several buildings, and unroofed others, uprooted whole orchards, and distributed trees and rubbish over acres of crops. The progress of the storm was from west to east; but the buildings and trees all fell toward the south, as if they had been taken up by the northern portion of the whirling column, and thrown into the centre, which seemed south of the principal track of devastation. No one was killed outright, but one of the injured has since died. A correspondent suggests one fact connected with the work of this tornado, which he thinks seems to indicate the presence of a large amount of electricity, if, indeed, the manifestation was not chiefly electric. All the leaves on the trees, all the corn, grain, and other green things within the path of the hurricane, were seared and shriveled, as if by great heat.

It has been found by Müller, of the Berlin Chemical Society, that steam at ordinary pressure, when sent into saline solutions, raises their temperature considerably above its own. A solution of common salt, so concentrated as to have its boiling-point 127°, may be raised to 125°, by sending into it steam at 100°. The more concentrated the solution the higher the rise.

The power of resistance to the action of sea-water possessed by copper and phosphor-bronze respectively is shown by the result of an experiment made under the auspices of the Russian Government. The experiment lasted for six months, and at the end of that time it was found that the copper (which was of the best quality) had lost over three per cent, of its weight, while the loss of phosphor-bronze was but little over one per cent.

In a lecture-room experiment suggested by M. V. Meyer for showing increase of weight by combustion, a candle is attached to each pan of a balance, and above one a glass tube open at both ends is hung at nearly the height of the wick. In this tube is a piece of wire gauze holding fragments of caustic soda; after balancing the candles, one of them is lit, when the products of combustion are retained by the soda, and this end of the beam descends.

That toads will eat bees, would seem to be clearly proved by the observations of M. Brunet. As the bees of a hive were crowding in to escape from a rain-storm, some of them rested on the grass in the vicinity awaiting their turn to enter. M. Brunet saw a toad busy in devouring these bees. He carried the toad again and again to a distance of from thirty to fifty metres from the hive, but sooner or later the animal was at his post again, greedily devouring the bees.

While investigating the hygienic properties of pine and eucalyptus, Charles T. Kingzett found that by exposing a mechanical mixture of water and turpentine to a current of air at normal summer temperature, a solution containing hydrogen peroxide—a powerful disinfecting and oxidizing agent and camphoric acid may be readily obtained. This solution contains no oil of turpentine, is non-poisonous, and without harm to textile fabrics.

It is noted as a curious fact by Sir Samuel Baker that a negro has never been known to tame an elephant or any wild animal. The elephants employed by the ancient Carthaginians and Romans were trained by Arabs or Carthaginians, never by negroes. A person might travel all over Africa, and never see a wild animal trained and petted. It had often struck Sir Samuel as very distressing that the little children never had a pet animal; and, though he had often offered rewards for young elephants, he had never succeeded in getting one alive.

At the meeting of the American Medical Association, at Chicago, on June 5th, the subject of the revision of the American Pharmacopoeia, the proposed rejection of the one in use, and the substitution therefor of an entirely new, more modern and complete work on that subject, was postponed indefinitely.

The long-talked-of plan of heating a city by steam, generated at one or more points, and distributed by pipes, is at length about to be practically tried at Lockport, New York, where boilers and boiler-houses are now erected. The working of this new system will be watched with interest. The inventor estimates that the saving to each householder will be from thirty-three to fifty per cent, of the present expense for stoves, coal, etc.

Remains of an enormous dinosaur have been discovered in Colorado, and received at Yale College, which, according to Prof. Marsh, would indicate the length of the entire animal to have been about fifty or sixty feet! Portions of the sacrum and of the posterior limbs have been preserved; the last two vertebræ are nearly complete. From all the indications. Prof Marsh concludes that it was an herbivorous reptile, and perfectly distinct from any species known. He names it Titanosaurus montanus.

From a study of no less than a hundred and six epidemics of typhoid fever, Jaccoud reaches the conclusion that the disease is engendered by fecal matter; but that this matter is not typhogenic, that is, does not of itself produce the typhoid symptoms, unless it incloses the specific poison of the disease. There are, however, he admits, circumstances under which such matter is poisonous, without having had any previous admixture of typhoid substances. In such cases the poison is, he says, elaborated in the fecal matter, which itself, as before, is merely an agent of transmission.

In 1861, 1,500,000 pounds of Indian tea was consumed in the British Isles; three years later the amount of this tea consumed was 2,500,000 pounds; in 1867, 6,000,000 pounds; in 1870, 13,500,000 pounds; in 1874, 21,000,000 pounds; in 1875, 17,500,000 pounds; and in 1876, 19,000,000 pounds. It is expected that the consumption for the present year will be not less than 32,000,000 pounds, or one-fourth of all the tea consumed in the United Kingdom. Indian tea has always commanded the highest price in the London market.

In testing the comparative explosiveness of nitro-glycerine, in the crystallized and the liquid state, Beckerhinn used a drop-block of wrought-iron weighing 2.130 kilogrammes, having at its lower end a hardened steel point of 7.068 square millimetres. The nitro-glycerine was spread in a thin layer on a flat anvil of Bessemer steel, and the weight was dropped from different heights. The liquor exploded at a fall of 0.78 metre, but the crystallized or frozen nitro-glycerine only at 2.13 metres.