Popular Science Monthly/Volume 25/May 1884/Notes

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At the recent annual dinner of the Yale alumni resident in Boston and vicinity, opinions in regard to the classics, of the same tenor as those with which the Yale students have been so sedulously dosed all winter, were expressed by several speakers, including General F. A. Walker, President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But we learn, from the report in the "Boston Transcript," that there was one dissenting voice: "Mr. Starr H. Nichols, of New York, of the class of '54, spoke next. He criticised the training of the colleges in the classics and mathematics as not developing the judgment of the students. They live in a Greek and Roman atmosphere, and can not distinguish between the ideal and the practical. They should have something to make them athletes in the business of life. Men should come out from college not feeling like strangers and pilgrims in the world, but at home. Classic learning does everything for a man except one thing, but that is the greatest thing of all, which is, to maintain one's self like a man in the world."

M. Nordenskiöld Reports that he noticed that the snow falling in Stockholm toward the end of December was soiled with a black dust. Analyzing the dust, he found that it contained considerable carbonaceous matter, which burned with a flame, and left a residue containing oxide of iron, silica, phosphorus, and cobalt. He regards the observation as confirmatory of his theory of a regular accession of cosmic dust to the earth.

Dr, George Englemann, a distinguished American botanist, died February 4th, in St. Louis, Missouri, where he had lived since 1835. He was for many years a successful and honored physician in St. Louis, but was best known—to the whole world—by his scientific achievements. He was born and schooled in Germany, and, removing to Belleville, Illinois, began his botanical work by publishing a monograph in Latin on the habits of a creeper on the hazel-bush. This at once attracted attention in his native land. He made several excursions with Dr. Asa Gray through the West. He was especially well informed on the cactus; and was largely influential in introducing the present method of classification of plants, based on microscopical examinations and investigations.

Dr. Edward Davy, who is now living in Australia at the age of seventy-seven years, appears to have anticipated all other claimants in suggesting the use of electricity for telegraphing. He published a paper on the subject in the "Mechanics' Magazine" in 1838; but there has recently been found, among his old manuscripts, an outline, dated in 1836, "of a new plan of telegraphic communication, by which intelligence may be conveyed with precision to unlimited distances in an instant of time, independent of fog and darkness." His first idea was to use static electricity, but he afterward adopted electro-magnetism, with deflections of the galvanometer. He used half as many wires as there are letters of the alphabet, making each wire, according as it worked a deflection to the right or to the left, answer for two letters.

Dr. Henry Macauley, of Belfast, Ireland, has suggested a plan for making the sun do direct service in cooling the air it heats, by using Mochot's solar-engine to pump cold air into dwellings, factories, etc. The drawback to his proposition is, that it depends upon ice to furnish the cooling influence, and this is not always on hand in tropical countries.

The great collection of fungi of Baron Felix von Thümen, of Vienna, was offered for sale a few months ago. It includes, in two hundred and twenty-one portfolios, more than thirty-five thousand specimens, representing one thousand genera, and fifteen thousand species and varieties, besides forty portfolios more recently acquired, containing fifteen thousand specimens of five thousand species and varieties, still unarranged. It furnished the material by the aid of which Dr. A. Minks's "Symbolæ Licheno-mycologicæ" was prepared.

Dr. Crosskey writes: "It is a wonderful thing to see the power of experimental science over the roughest lads. My own belief is that, in our young blackguards, we have a most amazing reserve power of scientific research; they are alive in every sense, and I have watched them at the science-lessons as keenly interested as if they were up to mischief in the streets."

It appears from a recent observation by Dr. Fleitman, that much less time than has been generally supposed is required for the formation of mineral veins. About two years ago. Dr. Fleitman filled up a ditch with common clay containing iron. Having had occasion to dig out the ditch anew, he was surprised to find that the character of the clay had been changed, and it had turned white. It was also permeated in various directions by cracks from a twenty-fifth to a sixth of an inch in section, which were filled with compact iron pyrites.

The death is announced of François Lenormant, one of the most distinguished scholars of the age in Oriental archæology. While he was at home in all branches of this subject, his work was more especially concerned with the Asiatic civilizations and the cuneiform inscriptions. His book on the "Beginnings of History" is a real storehouse of the results of the latest researches in this field, and is one of the most satisfactory compendiums of extremely ancient history. He was a devoted Roman Catholic, but did not shrink from the boldest conclusions which the students of the ancient records have reached; and he had no trouble in satisfying himself of their complete harmony with the biblical record and Jewish traditions rightly interpreted.

Mr. D. E. Salmon has shown, in a communication to "Science," that the micrococcus which is the cause of typhoid in hogs was discovered by Dr. Detmers of our Department of Agriculture, and was described by him, with additional knowledge each time, in the reports giving the results of his investigations from 1878 to 1882. Mr. Salmon, co-operating also with the Department of Agriculture, demonstrated that this micrococcus exists in the blood during the life of the animal, that it can be cultivated in flasks, and that the sixth successive cultivation is still competent to produce the disease. Thuillier, working with Pasteur, made an independent discovery of the same organism, without knowledge of the American work, in 1882. Before either of these discoveries, Klein, in 1876, encountered the organism, but failed to connect it with the virus of the disease, and afterward assigned the malady to a different schizophyte.

Dr. D. J. Macgowan, in his "Notes on Earthquakes in China for 1882," mentions three classes of earthquakes as distinguishable in that country—insular, littoral, and interior. Earthquakes in Formosa and Hainan are frequently felt on the mainland to the coast-mountains, but not above tide-water, except in the basin of the lower Yangtse. They are sometimes accompanied by marine disturbances, and are often followed by increased action in the solfatara and complaints of malaise, consequent, doubtless, upon the emission of hydrosulphuric gases. Of the three principal interior seismic foci, Szechuen, Shansi, and Kansuh, the two former are situated far from volcanoes, and their shocks are often reported as continuous for considerable periods.

A movement has been started in Bradford, England, to test the legality of the imposition of home-lessons on the children in

the elementary schools.