Popular Science Monthly/Volume 25/September 1884/Notes

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Dr. Austin Flint is quoted in the seventeenth report of the Peabody Museum as authority for the statement that the metates or grinding-stones, used in Nicaragua, are obtained from the old burial-mounds. Dr. Flint informs us that this is true, so far as the northwestern departments of Costa Rica are concerned, but that the idea of the same being the case in Nicaragua is an error, arising from an inaccuracy of his own expression incidentally committed in writing hurriedly on another subject. The metates in universal use in Nicaragua are made there now, and are much inferior to those found in the mounds; and, being of much less value, they are gradually being bought in Costa Rica.

The biological class at the University of Cambridge has outgrown the capacity of any lecture-room to accommodate it, and at the last term numbered two hundred in the elementary department alone. A considerable number of graduates remain at the university engaged in biological research, and the museums are continually being enriched with specimens presented by recent graduates who are traveling on scientific expeditions.

General Sir Edward Sabine, for ten years President of the Royal Society, and for twenty years General Secretary of the British Association, recently died at Richmond, England, aged ninety-four years. After serving on the English side in the war which we call the War of 1812, he became officially engaged in scientific work, and served his government and the scientific associations for twenty years in astronomical and magnetic investigations, in the course of which he was connected with several Arctic and marine expeditions. He was elected General Secretary of the British Association in 1839, Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society in 1846, and Vice-President and Treasurer of the same in 1850; and was President of the Royal Society from 1861 to 1871. Our present conception of the exact figure of the earth is said to be mainly due to his investigations. A portrait and sketch of General Sabine were published in the second number of Vol. II of "The Popular Science Monthly."

M. Pasteur, in consideration of his researches in hydrophobia, has been awarded a gold medal by the French Société Centrale pour l'Amélioration des Races des Chiens. The London Sanitary Protective Association, at the close of its second year, had five hundred and thirty-three members. During the year it had secured the inspection of three hundred and sixty-two houses, with the discovery and correction of many serious errors in sanitary arrangements. Six per cent of these houses had their drains choked up so that the foul water from the sinks simply soaked into the ground; in thirty-two per cent of them the soil-pipes were leaking, and sewer-gas could escape into the house; in thirty-seven per cent the overflow-pipes from cisterns passed direct into the drains or soil-pipes, admitting sewer-gas into the water of the cistern and into the house; and in three fourths of the houses waste-pipes from baths and sinks led direct into the drainor soil pipes instead of, as they should, direct into the open air. Professor Huxley resigned the presidency of this society, and was succeeded by the Duke of Argyll.

Mr. Harold Palmer, an English health inspector, has reported an infectious form of pneumonia in his district. A man was attacked with symptoms suggesting that septic poison and bad sanitary conditions might be around, and examination confirmed the opinion. Three other persons were seized with the disease, and two of the patients, including the medical attendant, died. Other similar cases have been observed, in one of which inflammation of the lungs and death followed a single visit to a house where the disease was prevailing.

Dr. a. J. C. Geerts, Professor of Natural Sciences, etc., in Japan, died recently at Yokohama, aged forty years. He was invited by the Japanese Government, in 1868, from a professorship at Utrecht, to fill a similar position in the new medical school at Nagasaki. He afterward became a member of the health department at Tokio, and established chemical laboratories at Kioto and Yokohama. He contributed to the two learned societies of Japan, published a Japanese pharmacopœia, and began a colossal work on the "Products of Nature in Japan and China."

Railroad-cars are indicated by Judge Lawrence Johnson, of Holly Springs, Mississippi, as vehicles by which destructive moths are carried from one part of the country to another. In traveling last year he was often struck by the numbers of Aletiœ on the trains; and he observes that there was a sort of coincidence last season between lines of railroad and abundance of cotton-worms.

Mr. W. A. Forbes, Prosector of the London Zoölogical Society, died on an expedition up the Niger, January 11th, of dysentery at less than thirty years of age. He was a well-known writer on zoölogical subjects. He contributed a memoir on the petrels to the reports of the Challenger Expedition, and edited the collected papers of Professor Garrod, his predecessor as prosector.

The Board of Trustees of Johns Hopkins University announce, as a special feature of the university course of instruction in physics for 1884-'85, a series of eighteen lectures, to be delivered by Sir William Thomson, in October, on "Molecular Dynamics." The programme also includes lectures by Professor Kowland, on "Electricity and Magnetism"; by Associate Professor Craig, on "Analytic Mechanics," "Hydrodynamics," and "Partial Differential Equations"; and by Dr. Franklin, on "Problems in Mechanics," with general lectures by Dr. Kimball.

Henry Watts, F. R. S., editor of the "Dictionary of Chemistry," died of syncope, from failure of the heart's action, June 30th, in the seventieth year of his age. He was graduated Bachelor of Arts in the University of London in 1841, and was Demonstrator of Anatomy in University College, London, under Professors Fownes and Williamson, from 1846 to 1857. He translated and supplemented Gmelin's "Handbook of Chemistry," composing a work of eighteen volumes. Having begun a new edition of Ure's "Dictionary of Chemistry and Mineralogy" in 1858, he soon found that, to bring it up with the times, the book would have to be rewritten. Calling in the aid of other students, he produced his great work in five volumes, in 1868. Three supplements were added to it, in 1872, 1876, and 1879-'81. He also brought out three editions of Fownes's "Manual of Chemistry," and had a fourth ready.

Alphonse Lavallée, a distinguished French student of trees, and writer upon them, died at his home in Segrez, on the 3d of May, in the fiftieth year of his age. His collection of trees and shrubs is the richest and most complete arboretum ever established. In preparing the catalogue of it some years ago, he introduced considerable reforms in nomenclature and synonymy, which he elaborated in the second edition of the work. Among his works was the "Arboretum Segrezianum," intended to furnish descriptions of the rarest plants of his collections, richly illustrated with steelplate engravings, and an illustrated folio on large-flowered clematises. He was about to publish a similar work on Cratœgus, or the thorn. He was President of the Central Horticultural Society of France.

M. E. Bergman has observed that formic and acetic acid occur in the protoplasm of all the plants he examined for them, being found in the colorless cells and in the green tissues; and he considers it probable that several other acids of the fatty series are equally diffused in the vegetable kingdom.