Popular Science Monthly/Volume 31/July 1887/Notes

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A new feature in the summer courses in chemistry at the Harvard University Laboratory this year, will be a course comprising the work required in preparing for the admission examination in chemistry for the freshman class at Harvard College. It is based on Professor Cooke's recent pamphlet, and is offered to students and to teachers in preparatory schools. The usual courses in general chemistry, qualitative and quantitative analysis, and organic chemistry, will be given, and possibly a course in mineralogy. The courses will be under the direction of Arthur M. Comey, Ph.D., and will open July 11th and close August 20th. A course in practical botany, designed specially for teachers, will be given at the Harvard Botanical Garden, from July 6th to August 6th, under the direction of Professor Goodale. Further particulars will be furnished by the assistant in botany, Mr. J. E. Humphrey, No. 6 Divinity Hall, Cambridge, Massachusetts. All these courses are open to women. The total number of students in the chemical courses last summer was forty-three, and in the botanical course thirty-three.

M. Chevreul, one hundred years and eight months old, presented to the French Academy of Sciences, on the 9th of May, a memoir by M. Arnaud, recording the constant presence of the red-coloring alkaloid, carotine, in the leaves of all plants. The illustrious "dean of the students," whom M. Stanislas Meunier does not recollect to have ever seen "more alert, more enthusiastic in the exposition of natural truths, or more youthful in action," insisted on the precise character of the paper, and emphasized the association of chlorophyl with this substance of complementary color to its own. At the end he promised to revert to the subject and to discuss some other points in a future memoir.

It seems probable that for any further increase of speed in steam-vessels we must rely upon the engineer rather than upon the naval architect. The lines upon which our fastest ships are built can hardly be improved upon; but in the matter of power there is still an enormous waste. It is estimated that only one half of the total power exerted by the engines is effective in propelling the vessel. In addition to this, a very considerable portion of the heat-energy of the fuel escapes through the funnel instead of producing steam. Attention is now given to economizing in these matters as well as in the space allotted to engines, boilers, and fuel. The separation of freight from passenger traffic, after the system pursued on railroads, is destined to be an important factor in facilitating the construction of passenger-vessels of increased speed.

According to Dr. Charles H. Burnett, of Philadelphia, the use of properly constructed ear-trumpets improves the hearing permanently as well as aids it for the time. The cause of deafness being usually anchylosis produced by a catarrhal thickening of the mucous membrane of the auditory parts, passive motion overcomes the immobility that has been induced in them. The form of passive motion which acts most naturally here is that of sound. This form of passive motion, augmented as it is by means of the ear-trnmpet, acting frequently and systematically upon the ear, prevents further anchylosis, and the fatty degeneration of the auditory nerve that comes from desuetude. This, of course, tends to a permanent improvement of the hearing, and in some cases patients come to hear without the trumpet.

Preparations for the New York meeting of the American Association, to begin August 10th, are being carried vigorously forward. The President of the Local Committee of Arrangements is Dr. F. A. P. Barnard, the local treasurer is General Thomas L. James, and the local secretary is Professor H. L. Fairchild, Columbia College, New York. The Vice-Presidents are Chauncey M. Depew, Mayor Abram S. Hewitt, George William Curtis, Vice-Chancellor Henry M. MacCracken, Professor J. S. Newberry, Morris K. Jesup, and Judge Charles P. Daly. The whole committee numbers nearly five hundred. There is a large Ladies' Committee, of which Mrs. A. S. Hewitt is chairman, Mrs. Nicholas Fish, first member; Miss Winifred Edgerton, secretary; and Mrs. Sylvanus Reed, treasurer. The sessions of the Association will be held at Columbia College, where the rooms are ample for the several sections. A number of receptions and excursions have been spoken of already, but nothing definite can be said about these until the sub-committees report. The outlook is very promising, and the hope is indulged that the New York meeting will be the most successful in the history of the Association.

M. de Quatrefages and M. H. Chevalier have given their adhesion to the theory, which is taught, as to the Aryan race, in its earliest records, that the migrations of peoples in remote antiquity were provoked by the gradual increase of cold in the northern regions.

An International Conference on Celestial Photography held its meetings in Paris from April 16th to the 25th. A large number of countries were represented by eminent astronomers. Of the nearly sixty persons of whom the congress was composed, three were accredited to America. The conference was opened by M. Flourens, who said that a new era was opening for physical astronomy as well as for mathematical astronomy, and that the photographers were writing the first authentic page of the transformations and modifications of cosmic matter, or of the history of the universe. Admiral Mouchez was elected honorary president, and Mr. Struve, of Pulkowa, effective president of the body. The secretaries were M. Tisserand, of the Collége de France, and Mynheer Vande Sande Bakhuyzen, of Leyden.

The latest census of horses gives the whole number in Europe and the two Americas as 54,850,000. Of these the United States has 9,500,000, and Canada 2,624,000.

The one hundredth anniversary of the death of Père Boscovitch, a celebrated physicist of the last century, was celebrated at Ragusa, his native city, on the 13th of February. He was the author of seventy-six volumes, one for each year of his life. He is said to have been the originator of the doctrine of the centers of forces; he wrote a Latin poem on eclipses; he superintended the repairs of St. Peter's Church under Pope Benedict XIV, by which that cathedral was saved from ruin. He was appointed naval optician by King Louis XVI of France, and was intrusted by Napoleon with the measurement of the degree in Lombardy.

Dr. J. Uffelmann asserts, in the "Archiv. für Hygiene," that the proportion of nutritive material in the edible mushrooms has been overestimated, and that those plants are comparatively difficult of digestion.

An international cremation conference is to be held in Milan in September of this year. Among the questions to which its attention will be brought will be those of legislation concerning the transportation of bodies from one country to another; cremation and the preservation of ashes, with especial reference to hygiene and legal medicine; the technical, moral, hygienic, and economical aspects of different systems of cremation; and projects for international legislation with reference to liberty at funerals.

Dr. R. W. Shufeldt has recorded an interesting study of a case of the repair of the bill of a raven after it had been shot off. The ball had carried away the upper bill just forward of the nostrils. The bone had grown again so as to cover the injury, and the horny covering, following suit, had incased the stump formed by the bone. The result of Nature's surgery in the case was, that the injured part was left in such a condition that the danger of subsequent inflammation was avoided, while the form of the resulting stump was as useful a one as could possibly be expected to follow after a wound of such a character.


M. Bernard Studer, formerly professor in the University of Berne, Switzerland, died in that city May 2d, aged ninety-three years. He was called the dean of the geologists of Europe.

M. Gosselin, President of the French Academy of Sciences, died April 30th. He was born on the eve of the battle of Waterloo, and was consequently in his seventy-second year. He was distinguished as a surgeon.

Dr. E. Félix A. Vulpian, a famous French physician and Dean of the Faculty of the Academy of Medicine, died May 18th, in the sixty-first year of his age. He became Professor of Pathological Anatomy in 1867, and was the author of important works on the nervous system and its diseases.

Mr. William Cameron, explorer and geologist to the Government of the Straits Settlements (Malacca), died in the latter part of last year, aged fifty-three years. He had been engaged lately in mapping and exploring the unknown parts of the native states. He was well known through-out those states, especially among the Malays and Sakies, of whose language and customs he had an accurate knowledge, and over whom he had great influence.

On the 13th of April occurred the death of Herr J. B. Obernetter, who was well known for his researches in photographic chemistry, at the age of forty-seven years; and on the 14th was announced the death of Dr. Nathaniel Lieberkühn, Professor of Anatomy at the University of Marburg, in the sixty-sixth year of his age.

M. J. B. J. D. Boussingault, chemist and investigator in scientific agriculture, died in Paris, May 12th, aged eighty-five years. He spent several years of the earlier part of his adult life in scientific investigations in South America. Having returned to France, he was appointed Professor of Chemistry at Lyons, and afterward to the chair of Agriculture at the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers. He was the author of a book and of numerous papers on agricultural chemistry and physiology.