Popular Science Monthly/Volume 18/February 1881/Notes

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The next meeting of the French Association for the Advancement of the Sciences is to be held in the city of Algiers, on the 14th of April. The people and authorities of the city are busily making preparations to give the Association a worthy reception and welcome. Liberal appropriations have been made by the council for the material organization of the meeting, and a large committee of citizens, under the presidency of M. Pomell. Senator and Director of the Superior School of Sciences, is preparing a programme of excursions, which will be well filled out. M. Chauveau, Director of the Veterinary School at Lyons, will be president, M. Janssen, the astronomer, vice-president, and M. Maunoir, of the Geographical Society, secretary, of the meeting.

We have news of the recent death of Michel Chasles, the eminent French mathematician. M. Chasles was the author of an historical memoir on the origin and development of methods in geometry, and of numerous works in pure mathematics, and in 1865 received, in recognition of his discoveries, the Copley medal of the Royal Society.

The name of the author of the useful little work noticed in our last number, under the title "What to do first in Accidents or Poisoning," is Charles W. Dulles, not Dallas, as it was there erroneously printed.

The death is announced of Dr. John Stenhouse, F. R. S., a distinguished Scotch chemist, at the age of seventy-one. He was a pupil of Graham, Thomson, and Liebig, held the chemical lectureship at the Medical School of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, for six years, and was subsequently appointed non-resident Assayer of the Royal Mint. He wrote a large number of papers on chemical subjects, and was the recipient of a medal from the Royal Society, of which he was long a member.

According to the researches of Gustav Hausen, the antennæ of insects are organs of smell. He found that, on their removal or when coated with paraffine, the insects became quite indifferent to the most odorous substances—flies, for example, when thus treated, taking no further notice of tainted meat.

Professor Ernst Hampe, the distinguished German bryologist, died at Helmstedt, November 23d, at the age of eighty-five.

The "Revue Scientifique" acknowledges that the meetings of the French Association and the British Association will have to yield place, for 1880, to that of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which excelled on account of the importance of the subjects discussed, and was also marked by a numerous attendance and the manifestation of a great interest in its proceedings.

An International Congress of Electricians has been called by the French Government, to meet in Paris on the 15th of September, 1881; and an International Exposition of Electricity is to be opened on the 1st of August and to be closed on the 15th of November. The Government leaves the expenses of the Exposition to be paid by those who participate in it, but it is believed that the whole financial responsibility of the affair will be assumed by a French capitalist. The preparations for the Congress and the Exposition will he under the direction of M. Georges Berger.

The notion that the blood-capillaries receive material support from the tissues in which they are imbedded is contradicted by the researches of Ray and Brown, an account of which is published in a late number of the "Journal of Physiology." According to their experiments, the extra-vascular pressure is but slightly, if any, greater than that of the atmosphere; that is, if the surrounding tissues were all removed, the capillary walls would be no more likely to give way from internal blood-pressure than they are under normal conditions.

Professor J. C. Watson, Director of the Observatory at the University of Wisconsin, died on the 23d of November of last year. He had acquired a high reputation as an astronomer, both here and at the University of Michigan, where he was formerly engaged, and was best known, perhaps, by his discoveries of twenty-one of the asteroids, by his work in the observation of the transit of Venus, and the solar eclipse of 1878, and by the interest he took in the search for the supposed planet Vulcan.

The equipment of the observatory now in course of construction at Nice will comprise two equatorials, one meridian, and several accessory instruments. One of the equatorials will probably be the largest astronomical apparatus in the world. Its focal distance will be about sixty feet, and its aperture thirty inches. The cupola will have a diameter of seventy-two feet. The object-glass is to be constructed by MM. Paul and Prosper Henry, of the Paris Observatory. The instrument alone will cost 250,000 francs, and the entire observatory at least 2,000,000 francs.

Professor Alphonso Wood, author of several works on botany, died at West Farms, New York, January 4th, aged seventy-one years. He was a graduate of Dartmouth College and Andover Theological Seminary, and spent much of his life as a teacher, having had the charge of schools at Meriden, Connecticut; College Hill, Ohio; Terre Haute, Indiana; and Brooklyn, New York. For the last two years he was Professor of Botany in the College of Pharmacy in this city. He began the publication of his botanical writings in 1860. His best-known works were: "The Class-Book of Botany," "Object-Lessons in Botany," "The Botanist and Florist" "The Plaut Record," and "Flora Atlantica."

A new process of tanning, in which bark is wholly dispensed with, and inorganic compounds are used in its place, is coming into use in Germany. The special feature of the process is the action of chromic acid, for the generation of which a number of substances, all soluble in water, are brought together in the mixture so as to effect the decomposition of bichromate of potash. The new process requires only from four to six weeks for its completion, against the several months needed in the bark-process. It has been tried at an experimental tannery in Glasgow, Scotland, with favorable results.

Benjamin Collins Brodie the younger, F. R. S., died on the 24th of November last. After taking his master's degree at Oxford in 1842, he went to Giessen to pursue original chemical work under Liebig and first distinguished himself by the publication of his analyses of wax. He became an industrious investigator of the changes undergone by the molecules of different substances, and of the modes of combination, and had an important part in the development of the present theories of chemistry.

Père Antoine Horner, the founder of the French Roman Catholic mission and agricultural establishment at Bagamoyo on the Zanzibar coast, has recently died at Cannes. He made long journeys of exploration in the interior of Eastern Africa, in recognition of the scientific results of which he was elected an honorary corresponding member of the Royal and several other geographical societies.