Popular Science Monthly/Volume 37/August 1890/Notes

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A Correction.—By a slip of the pen which also escaped notice in the proof-reading, Prof. Weismann is made to say twice in the second paragraph of page 357 of our July number "cerebellum" where "cerebrum" was intended. Read—"if, again, we were able to remove all the other parts of the cerebrum," etc., and "with the rest of the cerebrum was taken, etc."

The meeting of the British Association for 1890 will be held at Leeds, September 3d to 10th, under the presidency of Sir Frederick Abel. The sectional presidents will be: A, Dr. J. W. L. Glaisher; B, Prof. T. E. Thorpe; C, Prof. A. H. Green; D, Prof. A. Milnes Marshall; E, Sir R. Lambert Playfair; F, Prof. Alfred Marshall; G, Captain A. Noble; H, Dr. John Evans. Evening addresses will be given by Mr. E. B. Poulton on Mimicry; Prof. C. Vernon Boys on Quartz Fibers and their Applications; and Prof. Perry will lecture to the working classes on Spinning Tops.

A new food is described in the Kew Bulletin as used by the poorer classes in northern India. It is called phog, and is made from the flowers of the plant Calligonum polygonoides. They are eaten mixed with flour, or separately with salt and condiments They are rich in nitrogenous compounds, and somewhat resemble the seeds of the edible amaranths and buckwheats, only that in them sugar replaces starch.

A visible illustration of the figures produced by sound-waves has been devised by Mrs. Watts Hughes, in what she calls "voice-figures." They are practically Chladni's figures, produced in a viscid medium. Semi-fluid paste is spread over an elastic membrane stretched over the mouth of a receiver. A single note sung into the receiver throws the paste into waves and curves. The patterns formed are photographed immediately after production, or are transferred as water-color impressions while the membrane is still vibrating. Perhaps the most interesting figures are the "daisy forms," in which "the number of petals increases as the pitch of the note that produces them rises."

Mr. Albert Koebele, who was dispatched to Australia under the direction of the Entomologist of the Agricultural Department to obtain natural enemies of the "fluted scale" of the orange (Icerya purchasi), brought home an insect, the cardinal vedalia, which has proved very efficient. It has already multiplied to such an extent as to rid several groves from Icerya, and is looked upon as promising immunity in the near future for the entire State of California. In fact, Dr. Riley fears that it will do its work so well as to leave no field for other insects which Mr. Koebele procured, and which it is desirable to cultivate for the sake of having a variety.

In a paper in the Connecticut Pharmaceutical Association, Mr. D. G. Stoughton appears to have arrived, by a way of his own, at the conception of the identity of electricity with the other physical forces, heat and light, now demonstrated by Mr. Hertz's experiments. He regards them as resultants of the obstruction of ether motion by matter. Molecular motion, intense within the sun, is supposed to be transformed at the confines of the gaseous envelope surrounding that body into ether motion, which, passing through the ninety million miles of ether to the confines of our atmosphere, is obstructed by the molecules of atmosphere, and gives rise, according to the measure of the obstruction, to electricity, light, and heat.

Holmgren's test for color-blindness is the one recommended by those who have given the subject most attention. There are three parts to the test, which consist in picking out from a lot of wools all those skeins that match given ones in color. A pale green is the test-color first used, then a dilute purple, and finally a bright red. The person is not required to name any colors, as this is a different matter from distinguishing them.

A writer in Le Monde de la Science et de l'Industrie recommends, as an excellent insoluble plastic material, a mixture of cheese or casein or albumen and lime, well worked up. It is insoluble in hot water. Artistic effects may be obtained by molding, and it is easily colored.

A mode of filling teeth that has recently been made practical in England is by inlaying porcelain. The cavity is made perfectly cylindrical, and a bit of specially manufactured porcelain is turned to the exact size to fit it. The inlay is then secured in its place with sandarac varnish or very fluid white filling. After this is set, the surface of the inlay is ground to a proper contour and polished. An oblong cavity can be filled by inserting two inlays. Of course, this method can not be used, nor is it specially desirable, for all cavities, but few will deny that a filling which matches the natural tooth in color is far less conspicuous, and more agreeable to see, than the glaring patches of yellow metal, which are only excusable as saving a worse disfiguration.

The sum of six hundred dollars has been appropriated by the National Academy of Sciences for the construction of apparatus to aid Prof. Cattell in his researches on the time of cerebral operations. With the cooperation of Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, Prof. Fullerton, Prof. Dalley, and others, researches are in progress at the University of Pennsylvania on the rate at which impulse travels in motor and sensory nerves and in the spinal cord, the time of reactions and of more purely mental processes, memory and the amount forgotten in a given time, the time of bodily and mental processes in diseases of the nervous system, and in other directions.

The effects of steam in the destruction of bacteria do not depend, according to the researches of Von Esmarch, so much upon the temperature as upon the degree of saturation of the steam. If there is air with it, the power of destroying organic germs is very much diminished.

A committee has been formed in Paris for the erection of a statue of the late M. Boussingault.

During some experiments as to the temperature of snow at different depths, it was found that very little variation occurs in the lowest layer, next the ground, while the temperature of the upper layer is considerably higher.

A novel aspect of bacterial life is suggested by A. de Barry in his Comparative Morphology of the Microfungi. Writing of Bechamp's theory of the microzymes, the author says that these minute bodies not only develop independently after the death of the parent organism, but enjoy an almost unlimited duration of vitality, since they may lie during entire geologic periods in such a rock as chalk, and yet retain the power of development.

Dr. R. Assmann, in a communication to Das Wetter, names, with especial reference to influenza, as the climatic conditions favorable to the dispersion of organisms in the air: Dryness of the ground and absence of snow; infrequent rain and that light; presence of fogs or low clouds; and predominance of high barometric pressures, with imperfect intermingling between the strata of the air.

Celluloid artificial eyes are cheaper than those of glass and have a good appearance; but Dr. Meurer, of Lyons, states that after three or four months they are liable to cause serious irritation, probably as a result of some chemical change. He has repeatedly seen this inflammation allayed by simple antiseptic treatment after the removal of the celluloid, reappearing, however, as soon as the old eye was put in again, but remaining absent if a glass eye was substituted.

The Scientific Publishing Company, New York, announce as in preparation Systematic Mineralogy, based on a Natural Classification, by Dr. T. Sterry Hunt.

The French Association for the Advancement of Science will hold its nineteenth annual meeting at Limoges, from August 7th to 14th. A number of English scientists have been invited, who will be guests of the municipality of Limoges.

In a recent article on cyclones, Mr. H. Habernicht shows that, if the globe were covered with water, the general circulation of the air would be very regular. He states as the primary cause of cyclones the obstruction offered to the wind by the continents to the east and west of the Atlantic; and, secondly, the constant high barometric pressure over the continent and in the arctic regions during the winter.

Dr. Fitch, former State Entomologist of New York, gives a remarkable instance of the long imprisonment of insects without loss of life. In 1786 a son of General Putnam, residing in Williamstown, Mass., had a table made from one of his apple-trees. Many years afterward the gnawing of an insect was heard in one of the leaves of this table. The noise continued for a year or two, when a large, long-horned beetle made its exit therefrom. Subsequently two more beetles issued from the same table-leaf, the first one coming out twenty and the last one twenty-eight years after the tree was cut down.

Some recent explorations in the famous Adelsberg cave, Carniola, Austria, show that the Ottaker cave discovered last year is a continuation of the larger one. The exploration was made by a party of Adelsberg citizens and occupied six hours. It was necessary to use a boat several times. The explorers think the cave very much larger than was formerly supposed.

It is proposed in Paris to name a new street after Darwin.

At a recent meeting held at Madrid, to consider the celebration of the four-hundredth anniversary of the discovery of America by Columbus, a grand committee was elected which will act in concert with the Spanish Government, and a committee previously appointed, and presided over by the Duke of Veragua, a lineal descendant of Columbus, and the present Minister of Public Works. It is proposed that the centenary shall be celebrated, if possible, at Madrid. Genoa is also making preparations to celebrate the same event.

The annual address of Mr. Charles F. Cox, as President of the New York Microscopical Society, is published in the Journal of the Society for April, 1890. The subject is Protoplasm and the Cell Doctrine, and the essay is a historical account of the development of scientific views in this field.

A bill has been introduced by Sir Henry Roscoe in the British House of Commons authorizing the Board of Managers of any public elementary school to provide technical instruction for its pupils at any suitable place, attendance at which shall be deemed to be attendance at the public elementary school.

The influence of ground-water and shallow wells in relation to public health is discussed in a recent paper by Dr. W. B. Featherstone. A considerable number of diseases are shown to be associated with defects in ground-water and its impurities, as well as of shallow well water; but the exact amount of influence exercised by these properties on the production and spread of disease has yet to be measured.

Wood-stone is the name of a new compound material composed of sawdust and calcined magnesia. The mixture, having been well worked up with water, is put into molds and pressed into whatever shape may be desired. It is incombustible and impermeable to water, is susceptible of a fine polish, and is adaptable to numerous uses.