Popular Science Monthly/Volume 14/January 1879/Notes

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A gold medal has been awarded to Mr. Edward R. Andrews, of Boston, for his exhibit of creosoted wood at the Exhibition of the Mechanics' Charitable Association in Boston. The article on the Teredo navalis, by Prof. von Baumhauer, in the August and September numbers of this journal, was translated by Mr. Andrews. This paper explains the merits of creosote-oil in protecting timber from destruction by marine worms and insects.

Concerning the manner of Mr. Thomas Belt's death, the American Journal of Science has the following information: "About two weeks previous to his death Mr. Belt had shown signs of insanity, and it was thought best to remove him to New York. Mr. Silas Lloyd, who had for a short time been associated with him, accompanied him. Just before arriving at Kansas City, Mr. Lloyd had occasion to leave him for a few minutes. On returning, he found the door locked. Mr. Belt refused to let him in and commenced a furious onslaught on furniture and car. Parties crawled through the broken windows, and succeeded in pacifying him. Getting him off the train, he was prevailed upon to drink a glass of milk, and about twenty minutes afterward he died."

A note was read in a recent meeting of the Paris Academy of Sciences, from Mr. J. Norman Lockyer, in which the author says that he believes he has succeeded in proving that many of the "elements" are in reality compound bodies.

The Iron Age reports the discovery in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, of very rich deposits of copper, occurring in the form of hydrous carbonate or malachite, containing about seventy-two per cent, of copper oxide or fifty-seven and a half per cent, of metallic copper. Some of the deposits show even a higher percentage than this.

A monkey in the Alexandra Palace, London, had a decaying tooth, and suffered from a large abscess in the lower jaw. It was decided to extract the tooth, but, as the animal was at times very vicious, it was thought that chloroform would have to be employed. He showed fight on being taken out of his cage, and struggled hard against being put into a sack, snapping and screaming at the attendants. But so soon as the dentist managed to get his hand on the abscess, and so gave a little relief, the monkey's demeanor changed entirely: he laid his head down quietly for examination, and quietly submitted to the removal of a stump and a tooth.

In a series of experiments undertaken with a view to discover an effective method of preserving animal substances, Dr. B. W. Richardson discovered that flesh which is alive in the body of an animal possesses a neutral reaction, being neither acid nor alkaline; but that after an animal is killed, and the flesh is exposed to the air, there is quickly set up an acid reaction which lasts as long as the dead structure remains "fresh." As the structure begins to change, the acid reaction becomes neutral, and from that it soon passes to become alkaline. This alkaline reaction may be considered as an evidence of putrefaction.

A select committee of the National Academy of Sciences, appointed to consider what changes are needed in the conduct of the surveys of our Western States and Territories, has made a report in which they recommend a radical change. They favor the abolition of the present surveys under Hayden, Powell, and Wheeler, respectively, and the transfer of the work to the Interior Department. It is proposed to make the Coast Survey the nucleus of a grand system of scientific exploration and survey.

The efforts of the Fish Commissioners of Maryland to stock the waters of that State with California salmon are proving eminently successful. At Havre de Grace and other points on the Susquehanna, salmon are beginning to make their appearance, and many of good size have been taken. During the season of 1878 three hundred thousand salmon have been distributed in Maryland waters.

A ludicrous miscarriage of justice has occurred in England. Judgment having been entered against a shopkeeper for selling watered milk to a food-inspector, appeal was made to the Lord Chief Justice, who reversed the original judgment. An appeal in Scotland has had a like result. The ground of this judgment of the higher courts is the fact that, in order to make the seller of an adulterated article liable, the sale must have been made "to the prejudice of the purchaser." But as the inspector is not "prejudiced," the seller must go free!

It is firmly believed by the people who inhabit the region around Mount Ararat that no man has ever ascended to its summit—indeed, that the feat is impossible. But precisely this impossible feat has been performed by an Englishman—Mr. Bryce. But the popular belief persists all the same. When Mr. Bryce told the archimandrite of the district that he had made the ascent, the old man merely smiled, and reaffirmed the impossibility of reaching the summit.

The best quality of lime-juice for antiscorbutic purposes is produced in the island of Montserrat, West Indies, where three hundred acres of orchard-ground are devoted to this culture, the number of lime trees being about a hundred and twenty thousand.

In advocating the projected astronomico-meteorological observatory of Mount Etna, Mr. G. F. Rodwell takes occasion to mention the extraordinary brilliancy of the midnight sky as observed by him during an ascension of Etna in August, 1877. Myriads of stars which he had never seen before were visible, and the whole sky was studded with stars of every magnitude, color, and brightness. The meteors were "too numerous to count;" the stars themselves shone with extraordinary scintillations. One effect in particular was noticed, for which it is not easy to account, viz., the apparent lowness of the sky, which "appeared to be almost pressing down upon one's head, while the larger stars seemed to be suspended below the sky. A good telescope," he adds, "brought to bear on such a sky would reap a harvest of results."

In the root of the strawberry-plant (Fragaria vesca) Dr. T. L. Phipson has discovered certain substances closely allied to those obtained from cinchona-bark. There exists in this root a sort of tannin of a very pale-yellow color, soluble in water and in alcohol, and which strikes a green color with iron salts. It is soluble in water slightly acidulated with hydrochloric acid; but with more hydrochloric acid it combines to an insoluble compound. This substance, called by Phipson Fragarianine, is really a sort of tannin, closely allied to quinotannic acid, but instead of yielding cinchona red like the latter, it yields a somewhat similar substance, which Phipson calls Fragarine. The process by which this substance is obtained is fully described by Phipson in a paper read before the British Association.

Iridescent glass is made by burning chloride of tin in the furnace. Fumes are thus produced for which warm glass has great affinity, and which immediately produce an iridescent surface upon it. To heighten the effect, a small quantity of the nitrates of baryta and strontia may be used.