Popular Science Monthly/Volume 16/January 1880/Notes
"Nature" records the death of Mr. Henry Negretti at the age of sixty-two years. He was the well-known optician, and the inventor of the deep-sea thermometer which bears his name.
On the authority of a fish-dealer at Sackett's Harbor, Mr. Seth Green states that shad in considerable numbers, and from two to four pounds' weight, were caught in the nets set for whitefish near Sackett's Harbor, in Lake Ontario, last summer. He thinks the fish have never visited salt-water, but are landlocked, and may form a permanent addition to the fauna of the lake. If this is confirmed, we have in it an interesting example of the adaptation of an organism to new conditions, the shad being a salt-water fish, frequenting fresh-water only at the spawning-season. It will also be interesting to observe the extent of the modifications likely to follow such a change of habit.
Languishing scientific organizations and lukewarm members of the same have, in the career of the Portland (Maine) Natural History Society, an example that should awaken their interest and arouse their activity. This society was incorporated in 1850, has been burned out several times, losing almost everything; but has nevertheless maintained its organization, and, largely through the interest and personal effort of Mr. C. B. Fuller, present curator of its museum, a very creditable collection of natural history objects has been got together again. Last winter the society purchased a site and have since erected a twelve-thousand dollar building on it, which will, when all completed, furnish ample accommodations.
The public will be interested to know that there are signs of renewed activity on the part of the trustees of the Lick Observatory fund. Mr. S. W. Burnham, the observer of double stars, spent the month of August on Mount Hamilton with his telescope, in order to test this site for the proposed observatory. He reports the atmospheric conditions excellent, and it is hoped that this favorable result will lead to a new interest in the project.
The death of Br. Eduard Fenzl. of Vienna, at the age of seventy-two years, is announced. He was Professor of Botany and Director of the Imperial Botanical Cabinet, a member of the Vienna Academy of Sciences, and Vice-President of the Vienna Horticultural Society.
In a recent pamphlet on the history of language. Dr. Samuel Wilks aims to prove that, in its larger sense, language has its basis in the lower animals. As to the parrot's faculty of acquiring the power of speech, his observations show that "it has a vocal apparatus of a most perfect kind, that it can gather through its ear the most delicate intonations of the human voice, that it can imitate these perfectly by continued labor, and finally hold them in the memory; also, that it associates these words with certain persons who have uttered them; also, that it can invent sounds corresponding to those which have emanated from certain objects."
Professor Nordenskjöld has announced his intention of starting soon on another journey of exploration to the Siberian Polar Sea. He will make the New Siberian Islands, visited in 1809-'10 by Hedenstroem, his base of operations.
The Russian monthly review, "Svet," announces a translation of Spencer's "Data of Ethics," to be published in its successive issues. As Spencer is a great favorite in Russia, the translation is being widely advertised, and a large demand for the numbers containing it is anticipated.
In 1877 twenty-two hundred persons were injured by passing vehicles in the streets of London, most of the accidents occurring at crossings in crowded thorough-fares. In 1878 the number of such accidents rose to thirty-three hundred, or an increase of one third. On account of this large increase, measures for the further protection of pedestrians at dangerous crossings were proposed in the House of Lords, but were objected to on constitutional grounds, and subsequently withdrawn. The recent narrow escape from being run over, of a prominent official and former Lord Mayor of London, has again called attention to the danger, and now the city authorities are about to take the matter in hand.
A striking example of the effect of bad conditions in increasing the fatality of epidemics is afforded by the recent outbreak of measles on the Island of Cape Clear, at the southern extremity of Ireland. This island is some three or four miles from the main-land, and contains between five and six hundred inhabitants, who live in small, low, dark, poorly-ventilated cabins, and pick up a scanty subsistence by farming and fishing. The contagion was introduced by a young girl, returning to her home from the mainland, where measles were prevalent. Of the first forty cases reported sixteen died, a mortality of forty per cent. This enormous death-rate arrested the attention of their neighbors on the mainland, and measures were at once taken for their relief. A temporary hospital with adequate sanitary provisions was established, and with this, aided by a corps of good nurses, they expected soon to arrest the epidemic.