Popular Science Monthly/Volume 28/February 1886/Notes

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The committee of the American Association on Indexing Chemical Literature, at the last meeting of the Association reported progress, by Professor William R. Nichols, on carbon monoxides; Professor L. P. Kennicutt, on meteorites; and Professor C. E. Monroe, on explosives. Dr. H. C. Bolton has published a catalogue of chemical periodicals, and Hans Wilder, independently of the Association, a list of nearly nine hundred chemical tests known by the names of their authors. Dr. Bolton's second index of the literature of uranium has been accepted. Dr. F. E. Engelhardt has offered to undertake an index to the literature of common salt. The committee's report presents a scheme for indexing scientific literature, in both author and subject indexes, prepared by Professor William Frear.

M. Demarçay, by means of an induction-coil made of comparatively large and short wire, obtains a spark, without having; to employ strong currents, which in of sufficiently high temperature to give the spectra of all the known elements. Atmospheric lines of the second order are not obtained with it, and the nebulous bands of nitrogen and the lines of the electrodes only rarely.

Dr. Daniel G. Brinton, of Philadelphia, has been announced a laureate of the Société Américaine de France, and awarded the medal of the society, for his works on the "Aboriginal Tongues of America."

Professor Enrico Caporali, in a paper on the "Pythagoric Formula in Cosmical Evolution," published in the Italian quarterly, "La Nuova Scienza," holds, in general, in opposition to Herbert Spencer's theory of mechanical causes, that all evolution is due more to internal energy than to outward conditions.

The invention of binocular opera-glasses is generally attributed to the Bohemian Capuchin, P. Schyd. M. G. Govi, an Italian investigator, has, however, found that the first glasses of the kind were presented to King Louis XIII, by an optician of Paris named Chorez, in 1620.

Lundstrom has made investigations of the adaptations with which plants are provided for making the most of the water that comes to them in the shape of rain or dew. He has classified them as follows: Depressions in the shape of leaf-cups or of grooves in the epidermis; hair-formations, in tufts or borders; hydroscopic membranes in the shape of larger or smaller spots or stripes on the epidermis; and anatomical adaptations, such as water-absorbing textures and swelling glands. It is a noteworthy fact that all of these adaptations arc wanting in the submerged parts of plants.

M. C. André, who is connected with a light-house at Pondicherry, India, tells of a fog-cloud about six feet broad which appeared at the top of the room-wall he was facing, while simultaneously a quick, sharp, and loud report was heard under his table. It sounded as if the whole underside of the table-top had been struck a hard blow, yet the table did not appear to have been moved, nor anything upon it. After the report, his plate took to spinning around on the table without any noise, showing that, though it had been thrown up from the table, it had not ceased to be touching it. This account is a part of the proceedings of the French Academy of Sciences of November 5th, and is designated a "meteorological phenomenon."

M. Philippe Thomas has discovered some very extensive deposits of phosphate of lime in the Tertiary strata of Southwestern Tunis.

M. Ludovic Breton has propounded a now theory of the formation of coal. He believes it is produced by the sinking of floating islands like those which now occur on many lakes and rivers, and which are conspicuous on the Upper Nile. These islands are composed chiefly of turf, which, being swallowed up by the water, becomes fossilized at the bottom.

M. Trève has described to the French Academy of Sciences a phenomenon of a beautiful green ray which he has observed to follow the disappearance, for a quarter of a second after sunset, of the upper limb of the sun's disk. The flash of the ray is as quick as that of lightning, and can be seen only under unusual conditions of clearness of the sky. The author explains the appearance under M. Chevreul's theory of the simultaneous contrast of colors.

M. de Loriol announced to the French Association the completion of his work in the "Paleontologie Française," on the fossil crinoids of France. He has described and figured 209 species, 89 of which are new to science. In the same work M. Cotteau has described 523 species, belonging to 50 genera, of Echidnæ. Nearly all of these species are characteristic of the beds in which they are found.

M. Wroblewski has observed that atmospheric air in liquefying does not follow the laws of liquefaction of a simple gas, but behaves like a mixture the elements of which are subject to different laws. If air so behaves that it has been possible, on superficial observation, to speak of its own critical point, it is because the difference in the curves of tension of the vapors of oxygen and nitrogen is so slight as easily to escape notice. Air may be made to give two distinct liquids, of different appearance and composition, one above the other, and separated by a distinct meniscus; the lower liquid containing by volume about 211/2 per cent of oxygen, and the upper one, 17 or 18 per cent.

A Merovingian sepulchre has been discovered near Montceaux, France, which seems to be so far unique in its way, and is supposed to date from the fourth or fifth century. It contained a mummified Prankish warrior, with his arms and clothes. The sarcophagus was made of a soft, calcareous stone, and had lids of the same material. The mummy was wrapped in a linen shirt and a woolen robe, with a belt-buckle in perfect preservation, and an iron sword. The shoes were also in good condition, and fastened with narrow straps of leather. At the feet was a funereal vase. The discoverer had replaced the sarcophagus and covered it up, so as to have it in safe keeping for future observation; but thieves came in the night to steal it away, and, hardly had they touched the skeleton, when bones, dress, and arms all fell into dust.

M. Gaston Tissandier's "La Nature," of Paris, has just entered upon its fourteenth volume, and, in recording the fact, announces that its career has been one of growing success. It began with a circulation of 2,000 copies, and now prints 15,000. It is a beautifully printed and profusely illustrated journal, whose aim is to direct the studies of French youth, "now eminently industrious and thirsting for knowledge because it has profited by the lessons of a recent past," into the channels which will be most beneficial. Besides recording clearly and concisely what occurs in every other field of science, it gives especial attention to the exposition of new applications of electricity, and of new conceptions and experiments in aërial navigation.

Colonel B. R. Branfill, late of the Survey of India, remarks as a noticeable feature in the meteorology of the southeast coast of that country the frequent lightning storms, which occur daily, for weeks together, before the setting in of the southwest monsoon, unaccompanied by rain or by any sound of thunder. They are seen along the coast where the land and sea breezes alternate, and along the line of the Ghâts, where the surface-current is thrown up into the upper and opposite current of the atmosphere. In this region the rare phenomenon of interference fringes is very frequently to be seen.

The purpose of ventilating cellars is to make them cool and dry. They are often ventilated so as to be warm and damp. This is done when the air admitted to them from without is considerably warmer than the air within them. Coming into the cooler cellar, this air, while it raises the temperature of the cellar-air, itself is cooled, and deposits its moisture, which soon becomes evident as visible or palpable dampness. Therefore, all the ventilation of cellars in warm weather should be done at night; and the cellar should be kept closed between sunrise and sunset.

M. Truvelot, in a paper about the late "new star" in the nebula in Andromeda, discusses the question whether the star has any physical connection with the nebula. He believes that it has not, because, in proportion as the star diminished again in brightness, the nebula acquired its pristine form. Thus the impression was given that the change noticed in the appearance of the nebula during the conspicuous visibility of the new star was only apparent, and was due to the superior light of the star having overpowered for a time the surrounding portions of the nebula.

M. Ch. Tellier, in a recent experiment, raised twenty-five hundred quarts of water in an hour from a depth of twenty feet, with a power generated simply by the natural heat of the sun.

According to accounts in "Land and Water," the gradual extinction of the buffalo is being followed up by an alarming increase in the depredations of wolves upon the sheep and cattle ranches. Both the gray wolf and the coyote are fast becoming more numerous. The sheep have suffered for some time from their ravages, and now the cattle are attacked. One pack of gray wolves, within fifty miles of Fort McLeod, has been known to attack and pull down steers two years old. The coyotes follow the fiercer animals, and are satisfied with what they leave, or with the smaller calves.


M. Bouley, President of the French Academy of Sciences, died November 30th, of a disease from which he had suffered long and painfully. His special field of research was in veterinary science, from which he drew many lessons beneficial in their application to human pathology. He appreciated the value of M. Pasteur's labors from a very early stage, and gave them his earnest co-operation; and his own researches in hydrophobia, epizoötics, and their remedies and preventives, entitle him to a distinguished place in the annals of contemporary biology. He was the author of books on experimental disease and on contagion, and his lectures at the museum have been highly spoken of.

The death is reported of M. Rabuteau, author of valuable researches in experimental therapeutics and chemical physiology. He was particularly interested in the investigation of supposed relations between the chemical composition and the physiological action of various bodies. He was for twenty years one of the most active members of the French Biological Society.

Captain Mangin, the inventor of the system of optical telegraphy which has recently been introduced for use in the French army, has recently died of apoplexy, at the age of forty-five years.

Dr. Thomas Andrews, F. R. S., for many years, till 1879, Professor of Chemistry in Queen's College, Belfast, has recently died, in the seventy-first year of his age. He made early researches into the liquefaction of the gases, presided over the British Association at the Glasgow meeting in 1876, and in his address predicted the ultimate solution of the question of liquefaction, which was accomplished a year and a half afterward.