Popular Science Monthly/Volume 17/July 1880/Notes

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According to Dr. Abercrombie, a gentleman who had been a soldier dreamed that he heard a signal-gun, saw the proceedings for displaying the signals, heard the bustle of the streets, the assembling of troops, etc. Just then he was roused by his wife, who had dreamed precisely the same dream with this addition, that she saw the enemy land and a friend of her husband's killed; and she awoke in a fright. This occurred at Edinburgh, at the time when a French invasion was feared, and it had been decided to fire a signal-gun at the first approach of the foe. The dream was caused, it appears, by the fall of a pair of tongs in the room above; and the excited state of the public mind was quite sufficient to account for both dreams turning on the same subject.

The French forestry department, according to the "Polybiblion," have arrived at the conclusion that forests directly increase the supply of water in their neighborhood. From observations at Senlis and Nancy, they have decided that it rains more abundantly in wooded tracts, and that, while the leaves and branches give back the water quickly to the air, they prevent rapid evaporation from the ground, and are thus favorable to the formation of springs.

Dr. Ludwig Moser, Professor of Physics in the University of Königsberg, died in the latter part of February, aged seventy-five years. "Long," says "Nature," "before photography had become a practical art, Dr. Moser had acquired considerable reputation by his systematic and successful experiments in this department."

Specimens of the volcanic ashes which rained down upon Dominica have been analyzed by M. L. Best. The lye was found to be rich in chloride of potassium. The predominant constituents of the solid part were silicates (feldspar and pyroxene), and pyrites in perfectly defined cubic crystals.

Another severe outbreak of scarlet fever, which occurred near Manchester, England, last summer, and in which thirty-five persons belonging to eighteen different families were attacked, twenty-five within thirty-six hours, has been traced by the health authorities to the distribution of the infection through the milk-supply.

Herr Baumgaertner, a German, has invented a balloon for navigation, having three cars attached, each with ten or twelve rings, to be set in motion by a crank. He recently attempted an ascension with his machine i at Leipsic. When the balloon was rising very slowly and skimming the house-tops his two assistants, in their alarm, jumped out. Upon this the balloon shot up to a great height, then burst and fell. The inventor was not seriously hurt, and is resolved to make a second experiment.

Rev. James Clifton Ward, F.G.S., from 1865 to 1878 an active working member of the English Geological Survey, and a popular writer on geological subjects, died April 13th, at the early age of thirty-seven.

"Nature" quotes from the "Bombay Gazette" an account of a remarkable thunderstorm that occurred at Dharwar, in March last, during which "hailstones fell measuring no less than nine or ten inches in circumference." The thunder and lightning were terrific, and, after the fall of hail, there was a heavy downpour of rain. We thought the hailstones mentioned above were the largest ever heard of, but it turns out, as usual, that the West is ahead in hail-stones as well as meteors and other celestial commodities. The "Bulletin" of the Iowa Weather Service, for April, 1880, received since the above was written, tells of thunderstorms during the month, in that State, where hailstones fell measuring twelve inches in circumference.

The death is announced of Karl von Seebach, the distinguished Professor of Geology at Göttingen. Although still a young man at the time of his death, he had done a large amount of valuable work, especially in the investigation of volcanic phenomena.

A scientific association has been formed in Algeria on the plan of the British and American Associations, and has already enrolled one hundred and fifty members. Its first bulletin contains a paper on the fevers of Algeria, which affords the most satisfactory evidence that a great improvement has been made in the sanitary condition of the country, by the operation of the hygienic measures which have been carried out by the civil and military authorities, consisting of the clearing of the ground, drainage, plantations of trees, etc. During the thirty years from 1845 to 1875 the death-rate of the European population fell from 50 to 38 per thousand inhabitants. The diminution of mortality is shown in a still more striking degree in the army, where it fell from 77'8 per thousand men between 1837 and 1846, to 12·3 per thousand in 1876, and 12·5 in 1877. These proportions are very near to the rate of mortality in the interior of France itself, which was equivalent to ten deaths among a thousand effective men during 1876.

Professor Boyd Dawkins, F. R. S., of Owens College, Manchester, has engaged to deliver a course of lectures on "Primitive Man," at the Lowell Institute, Boston, in October and November of this year.

M. Raoul Pictet recently delivered a lecture in Paris on "Cold and its Applications to Science and Industry," in the course of which he struck a medal with fifteen kilogrammes (or thirty-three pounds) of solidified mercury.

The case mentioned by Dr. Coues of a breed of one-toed hogs has a parallel in that of a one-toed deer, the feet of which were recently presented to the California Academy of Sciences. The third toe is described as the only one used for progression, though there were different degrees of development in the respective feet.

Mr. Thomas Ball, F. R. S., F. L. S., died at Selborne, Hampshire, England, on March 13th, aged eighty-seven. He was for a long time Professor of Zoölogy at King's College, and the writer of several works on natural history. The last eighteen years of his life were spent at the breakers at Selborne, the former home of Gilbert White the naturalist, which he purchased, and made the repository of numerous memorials of White, that, with the house and grounds, were always kept open to visitors.

A commissioner of the London "Morning Post," who has been examining the condition of the Riviera between Cannes and San Reno, reports the existence of an interesting state of things in that famous health resort. There are no sewers; cesspools are universal, and so placed as to be sources of danger to the inmates of the houses; public water-supply there is none, and the rainwater drains, which are also conduits for the cesspools, have slight gradients, are never flushed, and are generally the sources of foul emanations; and, to cap all, the beaches and promenades near the sea are soaked with sewage which also chokes the almost tideless bays.

Arthur Jules Morin, born in Paris, October 17, 1795, died in that city on the 7th of February last, in his eighty-fifth year. Besides a brilliant military career, in which he reached the position of artillery general of division, he was distinguished as an investigator, chiefly in the field of mechanics. He also possessed executive abilities of a high order, and held for thirty years the directorship of the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers, which, under his administration, became the leading school for the artisan classes in Paris. He was president of the commission for the first Universal Exposition held in the French capital; in 1862 was elected President of the French Society of Civil Engineers, and has been a member of the French Academy of Sciences since 1843.

Mr. C. W. Siemens, pursuing his observations on the influence of the electric light on vegetation, finds that, by its use, the growth and ripening of fruit may be greatly hastened. At a recent meeting of the Royal Society of London, he exhibited two pots of strawberries which had been grown in the usual way until the fruit-buds appeared, when one was exposed to daylight during the day and the electric light at night, the other being left to the influence of ordinary daylight alone. The former, or the one exposed to continuous light, bore a bunch of large, red, fragrant berries, while on the other the berries were still green with the exception of one, that bore a slight red spot.

Dr. William Sharpey, M. D., F. R. S., the eminent physiologist, died in London, April 11th, at the age of seventy-eight. He graduated in medicine at twenty-one, practiced a short time, and then went to the Continent for the purpose of continuing his studies. Subsequently he returned to Edinburgh, and began to lecture on anatomy; and, five years later (1836) was appointed to the chair of Anatomy and Physiology of the University of London (now University College), which he occupied for thirty-eight years. During this period he became celebrated as a teacher and original investigator, and, though not a. voluminous writer, his contributions have always held a high place in the literature of these departments of science. He was for some years Secretary of the Royal Society, and, from 1840 to 1863, Examiner in Anatomy and Physiology to the University of London.