Popular Science Monthly/Volume 31/May 1887/Notes

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Professor Angelo Heilprin has described, in the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, a species of cat-fish from Lake Okeechobee, Florida, which differs in several well-marked characters from other described North American species. It is most nearly related to the cat-fish of the lakes, and greatly resembles it. The largest specimen caught was about twenty inches long. The name Ictalurus Okeechobensis is proposed for it.

Dr. Daniel Wilson, of University College, Toronto, said in a paper read before the Royal Society of Canada, that he had concluded, after long research and discussion, that left-handedness is due to an exceptional development of the right hemisphere of the brain. Being left-handed himself, he hopes that when he is dead his own brain may be examined for the help it may give in settling this question.

Mr. J. H. Kerry Nichols, who is well acquainted with the ground, supposes that the volcanic outbreak of June, 1886, in New Zealand, was caused by the subsidence of the crust and the sinter accumulated upon it into the vast caverns which had been excavated beneath by the solvent action of the water that brought the deposits to the top. The whole being in a superheated condition and favorable to strong chemical action, a vast explosion was the immediate result.

Dr. Klein recently exhibited to the Royal Society under the microscope, in illustration of a paper on the etiology of scarlet fever, gelatine cultivations of the Micrococcus scarlatina, an organism which has been proved to be present in a certain disease of the cow and in human scarlatina.

The programme of the coming exposition at Ekaterinburg, Russia, promises a very interesting representation of the productions and life of Siberia and the Ural. We are informed that the best time to visit the exhibition will be during July and the first half of August. A special committee will attend at the railway-station to receive visitors and give them such information as will make their expenses as light as possible.

Mr. W. A. Carter, in a recent lecture on "Marine and Fresh-Water Fishes," said that fish have the power of influencing one another by sounds and action. He had observed a shoal of carp following the lead of a single one which conducted them to a quantity of food at a considerable distance away. He had also noticed that certain freshwater fish, such as trout, were subservient to a ruler, which might be seen swimming at the head of his tribe. The same was possibly the case with some marine forms, like the herring and bass.

A new and complete edition of the works of Galileo is to be published, in twenty quarto volumes of five hundred pages each, at the expense of the Italian Government.

The sectional presidents of the Manchester meeting of the British Association, to be held August 31st, will be: Section A, Mathematics and Physics, Sir Robert S. Ball; B, Chemistry, Dr. Edward Schunk; C, Geology, Dr. Henry Woodward; D, Biology, Professor A. Newton; E, Geography, General Sir Charles Warren; F, Economic Science, Dr. Robert Giffen; G, Chemical Science, Professor Osborne Reynolds. The President of the Anthropological Section has not been designated. Professor H. B. Dixon will deliver a public lecture on "The Rate of Explosions in Gases." The lecture to the working-classes will be given by Professor George Forbes.

The stories, once so current, that seeds taken from ancient Egyptian tombs have grown, are believed, if not demonstrably false, to lack the guarantees of truth that tales of the kind should require; and nothing as to the vitality of seeds can be built upon them. But Dr. Lindley tells of raspberries that were raised in the gardens of the Horticultural Society from seed taken from the stomach of a man who was buried in a barrow near the time of the Emperor Hadrian; and Professor Duchartre and others tell of seeds, whose identity is properly vouched for, taken from under the foundations of an old house in Paris, probably from the original soil of the island, and therefore coeval with the city, which germinated and proved to be seeds of Juncus bufonius, an indigenous plant of that soil.

In dealing with a cellar in springy ground, the first thing to be done to make it dry, says "The Sanitary Engineer," is to provide some chance for the water to run away before getting into the cellar. This may be done by laying a two-inch tile drain-pipe in a trench dug all around the foundation outside of the walls, and from one foot to two feet below the cellar floor. Put this pipe together without mortar, and cover it with cobble-stones to keep out the dirt and sand. If it is not practicable to lay the drain out-side, it may be laid inside of the cellar-walls, directly in the cellar-floor; but the operation of such a drain is less efficient. The back-filling of the cellar-walls should be porous enough to allow the water to go directly into the drain.

Mr. G. Thomann, of the United States Brewers' Association, has published a pamphlet to show that beer is a perfectly wholesome drink. In support of his assertion, he alleges that while brewers drink more beer, and drink it more constantly, than other people, the average death-rate among them is lower by forty per cent than that of corresponding urban populations; that their health is unusually good, with comparative freedom from diseases of the kidneys and liver; and that on the average they live longer and preserve their physical energies better than the average workmen of the United States. Mr. Thomann produces doctors' certificates showing a mean annual death-rate of 7·5 per 1,000 among 960 brewery-workmen, against 12·5 of urban population; and he talks of men drinking an average of ten pints of beer a day.

A new process in manufacturing iron has been tested at Pittsburg and at Southwick, Staffordshire, England, in which the metal undergoes a chemical change that is claimed to greatly improve the quality and test of the iron to whatever class it may belong. The new process is said to facilitate the running of the metal, and also increase its strength.

Mr. Ruskin, in a recent letter, has expressed his opinion of railways in a brief but most energetic manner. He says: "They are to me the loathsomest form of deviltry now extant, animated and deliberate earthquakes, destructive of all wise social habit, or possible natural beauty, carriages of damned souls on the ridges of their own graves!"

A limited edition of the first volume of a series of selected morphological monographs, by members of Johns Hopkins University, is about to be issued from the publication agency of that institution. The series will be under the editorial direction of Professor W. K. Brooks. The coming number will contain three papers by Professor Brooks, and one paper by E. B. Wilson. Only one hundred copies in all of the volume will be issued.

A bulletin of miscellaneous information has been started at the Royal Gardens, Kew, to be published occasionally, and contain notes on economic products and plants to which the attention of the staff of the gardens may have been drawn, or which may have been made the subject of particular study there.

Mr. John Murray, of the Challenger Expedition, recently said, in the Royal Society of Edinburgh, that he questioned whether any country in the world, taking its size into consideration, could show a better record of scientific work or a greater mass of scientific literature than Scotland during the past ten or twenty years.

Medals and prizes are to be given this year, by the Royal Society of New South Wales, for the best communications embodying fruits of original research on the silver-ore deposits of New South Wales; on the origin and mode of occurrence of gold-bearing veins and of the associated minerals; on the influence of the Australian climate in producing modifications of diseases; and on the infusoria peculiar to Australia.

According to a paper read by Mr. John Murray, before the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 2,243 cubic miles of rain fall annually on areas with inland drainage. Such areas extend to 11,486,350 square miles. The land draining directly to the ocean has an area of 44,211,000 square miles, of which 38,829,750 square miles have ten inches or more of rainfall. The mean discharge from this area into the ocean is 6,569 cubic miles annually. The total weight of substances carried by this means to the ocean is more than 5,000,000,000 tons each year.



Captain James B. Eads, the distinguished engineer, died of pneumonia at Nassau, New Providence, March 8th. He was widely known as the constructor of several works of great merit. Among them were the first eight ironclad gunboats owned and used by the United States, the bridge over the Mississippi River at St. Louis, and the system of jetties for deepening the channel of the mouth of the Mississippi. He had projected a plan for a marine railway across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec for carrying vessels from one ocean to the other, and was elaborating its details and seeking means for executing it at the time of his death. A sketch of his life and works, revised by himself, with a portrait, was published in "The Popular Science Monthly" for February, 1886.

Dr. Gustav Heinrich Kirchenpaucher, first Burgomaster of Hamburg, and an eminent naturalist, is dead.

Dr. Julius Lüttich, astronomer, and Professor Jean Louis Trasenster, both died on the 3d of January, 1887.

Mr. Alexander Borodin, Professor of Chemistry in the Medico-Surgical Academy at St. Petersburg, and an eminent musical composer, died February 27th.