Popular Science Monthly/Volume 33/May 1888/Notes

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search


The many American friends of Mr. Herbert Spencer have frequently been pained during the past two years by the very discouraging reports concerning the Slate of his health, and the fear has been expressed that he would be unable to do any more work. We take much pleasure in stating, on the authority of a private letter from an intimate friend of Mr. Spencer, that there has been an improvement in his condition so great that the writer characterizes it as a "wonderful restoration to health."

The most extensive forest plantations in the United States mentioned in the "Report" of the Division of Forestry are those of the Fort Scott and Gulf Railroad, and of Mr. Hunnewell, near Farlington, Kansas, of about 640 acres each, Mr. Burnett Landreth's plantation, of 300 acres, in Virginia; those of the Messrs. Fay and others, along the sea-coast of New England; and some of considerable extent in southern California. Small groves abound in the prairie States, and are found less frequently in the Eastern States, notably in New England. In the aggregate these plantations must amount to a considerable area. Forest commissions or bureaus have been instituted in New York, California, Ohio, and Colorado.

The nomenclature adopted by the International Geological Congress to express the taxonomic rank of stratigraphic or chronologic divisions is thus summarized by Mr. G. K. Gilbert in his address before Section E of the American Association: Of stratigraphic divisions, that with the highest rank is group, then system, then stage. The corresponding chronologic divisions are era, period, epoch, and age. The word formation is restricted to the special function of designating mineral masses with reference to their origin. No word having been suggested in its place to denote indefinitely an aggregate of strata, Mr. Gilbert proposes terranc, and, for the corresponding chronologic term, time.

Of eighty-eight species of weeds described by Mr. L. H. Pammel, of St. Louis, as growing in southwestern Wisconsin and southeastern Missouri, forty-six are of European and thirty of American origin. One third of the latter class, and nearly one fourth of the entire list, are composites.

Pathologists have believed for many years that the material cause for intermittent fever is generated in the soil, and acts through the air. The discovery by Tommasi-Crudelli and Klebs, in malarial soil, of a bacillus capable of producing febrile symptoms was competent to illustrate the agency of the soil in the matter, but did not pursue the malarious influence into the atmosphere. The last has now been done by Professor Schiavuzzi, of Pola, who has obtained a bacillus from the atmosphere, indistinguishable in structure from that of Tommasi-Crudelli, which also produces in animals the characteristic symptoms and pathological changes belonging to ague.

There is an orange-tree in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles that is more than four hundred and fifty years old. It is called the Grand Constable, and was planted at Pampeluna, about 1416, by Eleanor of Castile, Queen of Charles III of Navarre. It was transplanted to Chantilly and Fontainebleau, and finally to Versailles in 1684.

A new system of sewage works has been put into operation at Henley-on-Thames, England. Its object is to avoid the discharge of the sewage into the river—which can no longer be allowed—and lift it to a level which will permit it to be used for irrigation. Ejectors are placed in different parts of the town to receive the sewage, and from there it is forced by compressed air into tanks about a mile distant, and ISO feet higher in elevation. The method is not costly, it is proved practicable, and it may offer a successful solution of the question of the disposal of the sewage of low-lying towns.

The English Home Secretary, recognizing corporal punishment as a fact, is giving attention to means of regulating it according to the physical condition of the child, so that it shall not bear too hard upon the weak. It is proposed to make the weight of the rod bear some proportion to the age of the child, and to permit the interposition of a medical veto in case of evident weakness.

A considerable extension of long-distance telephoning was effected during 1887. At the close of the year twenty-five circuits were at work between New York and Philadelphia, the chief points in Connecticut had been connected, and lines were projected to Worcester, Boston, Albany, and Washington.

An argument against allowing children to drink milk in the summer-time is drawn by Dr. V. C. Vaughn, of the University of Michigan, from the liability of the fluid to develop the poison—tyrotoxicon—which is supposed to be the immediate cause of summer diarrhœa.

Professors Lachinof and Jerofeief have found in a meteoric stone which fell at Krasnoslobodsk, Russia, in September, 1886, corpuscles possessing the principal characteristics of the diamond, in such quantity as to compose one per cent of the stone. Taken with the facts that amorphous graphitic carbon is a known constituent of meteoric irons and stones, and that crystals of graphitic carbon have been found in the meteoric iron from Western Australia, this observation may throw some light on the manner in which diamonds are formed.

The much despised agricultural laborer, says the Earl of Derby, who has learned to watch and understand the signs of the weather, to be knowing about stock, and who can use his hands skillfully, though he might be backward in book-learning, is quite as well instructed in any worthy sense as the prize prig stuffed with scraps of miscellaneous information, but knowing little at first hand, unaccustomed to observe, ignorant of animals, trees, flowers, or country life, and unskilled in any craft or in the handling of any tool.

Dr. A. Richardson has found that at 500° C. nitrogen peroxide is decomposed into nitric oxide and oxygen, the gas becoming nearly colorless.

The theory that the increased brittleness of human bones with advancing years is the result of an increased percentage of inorganic salts, is contradicted by the experiments of Mr. Mason. From determinations of the ash in bones of fifty subjects of different ages, he has found that after reaching manhood no variation in the quantity of ash takes place with increasing age.


Prop. William D. Gunning, lecturer and writer on scientific subjects, died at Greeley, Col., March 8th, in the fifty-eighth year of his age. He was born in Bloomingburg, Ohio, in 1830, was graduated from Oberlin College, studied in comparative anatomy in New York and in biology with Prof Agassiz, held lectureships in geology at Hillsdale College, Mich., and in Pittsburg, and was the author of a "Life History of Our Planet." He was also a contributor to "The Index" and to "The Open Court," and at the time of his death had been engaged as the pastor of the Unitarian Society in Greeley.