Popular Science Monthly/Volume 38/January 1891/Notes

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search


In respect to the use of the diamond drill, or an instrument of corresponding effectiveness, by the ancient Egyptians, Mr. W. F. Durfee, having inquired through our consul-general at Cairo, received from Mr. W. Flinders Petrie the following list of objects in which marks of such an instrument may be seen: Base of tube-drill hole, cut too deep in roughing out the statue, between the feet of the diorite statue of Chafra (Kofra), in the Boulak Museum; sides of two drill-holes, showing on the inside of the sarcophagus at Gizeh; the marks are near the top, at the north end of the east side, and on the west end; saw-cut too deep into the outside of that sarcophagus, on the north end, near the top at the northeast edge; saw-cut surface beneath the sarcophagus in the second pyramid at Gizeh; drill-hole with core sticking in it, in the granite lintel of the chamber leading from the southwest corner of the great hall of the granite temple of Gizeh, the fifth hole. Mr. Petrie believes there are some small drill-holes in the Hyksos head in black granite from Bubastis, in the Boulak Museum, where the eye-sockets have been cut out.

The importance of taking care of the first teeth is insisted on by Mr. Fisher, a dentist of Dundee. While they are destined to disappear in a short time and give place to other teeth, they will cause pain and general conditions of disease if they are un-sound, the same as the permanent teeth do; and the latter can not escape being affected by the disorders they occasion. It is not safe to depend on extracting them if they cause pain, for that enfeebles the chewing power; and, if many of them are removed, the jaw does not develop properly, and the second teeth are made liable to grow irregularly. The respiration of insects has been the subject of study by M. Contejean, who has found that, contrary to what takes place in vertebrates, the movement of inspiration is passive and that of expiration active. The air is driven from the body by a contractile effort. Hence, when the insect is wounded, the flow of blood occurs at each expiration. The respiratory movement is not interrupted by cutting off the head, nor by the absorption of curare, whch produces an immediate cessation in man.

Dr. G. Meter thinks that he is able to assume, from a comparison of the records of a number of years, that the moon has an influence in lowering the height of the barometer in the months from September to January, at the time of full moon, and in raising it during the first quarter. His views are confirmed by the independent studies of Captain Seemann, of the Deutsche Seewarte. No effect has been perceived in the other months.

The property marking bacteria and bacilli of absorbing aniline and being killed by it has been put to good use by two German observers, Messrs. Stilling and Wortmann. Having demonstrated that the violet aniline dyes, without arsenic, were not poisonous to rabbits and guinea-pigs, the authors produced eye-disorders in those animals, and treated them successfully with aniline. They then tried the human subject, and cured a skin-ulcer on a scrofulous child, by daily dropping a little aniline solution on the sore. Similar good results were had with bad cases of eye disease; and it soon appeared that many surgical cases were open to treatment in this way, and that, in general, wounds and sores developing suppuration could be sterilized with aniline. It is thought that cases of internal inflammation may also be within reach of this treatment.

Pensions have been granted in the English civil list to Dr. Huggins, the widow of the Rev. J. G. Wood, and the four unmarried daughters of the late Rev. M. J. Berkeley.

Mr. G. W. Hambleton regards consumption as depending on conditions that reduce the breathing surface of the lungs below a certain proportion to the rest of the body. The conditions include sedentary overcrowding, want of exercise, defective seats, ill-fitting clothes, and whatever may impair the lungs or lead to undue compression of the chest. Remedies should be sought in free country life, well-ventilated rooms, suitable chairs, and clothing free from constriction and not too heavy The earliest physical training should aim at the full development of the thorax. Persons whose breathing capacity does not measure up to the normal should not engage in any occupation tending to constrain the chest or to expose the lungs to the inhalation of dust.

Prof. F. W. Oliver has published a paper on the floral biology of the flower Episcia maculata, a plant which, recently sent over from British Guiana, first flowered at Kew last summer. It is remarkable in that the flowers are never open, but the front lobe of the corolla is from the first folded back, so as to close the mouth like a cork. Nevertheless, all the arrangements are such as are adapted for cross-fertilization by the agency of some insect. The plant is unique in being at once closed and yet requiring the visit of an insect for its fertilization.

Advantage is to be taken of the height of the Eiffel Tower to fix in it a manometric tube in which mercury can be poured to form a column that will give a pressure of four hundred atmospheres. M. Cailletet hopes to be able to make use of this enormous pressure in continuing his experiments on the liquefaction of gases.

A deposit of floridite, or phosphate of lime, described by Prof. E. T. Cox as found in Florida, occurs in beds from a few feet to thirty-seven or more feet deep at places, over an area of 120 miles north and south, and 20 miles east and west, and consists of 80 per cent pure phosphate. The author believes that it is derived from the mineralization of an ancient guano.

The crumpled and crushed form of the human ear is accounted for by Prof. II. D. Garrison as a result of the habit of lying on the side of the head, which habit has been induced by the increasing weight of the brain. The question, says the author, in his paper on the subject, read at the American Association, had originally been whether the animals through which it had been developed would profit most by large brains or by perfect and symmetrical hearing apparatus, and had been promptly decided by natural selection in favor of large brains.

The Biological Section of the American Association has approved of a movement to establish a biological station on the Gulf of Mexico, for which subscriptions of $25,000 have been promised. The station will probably be located at Tarpon Springs, Fla., where there are fine opportunities for the study of fresh and salt water, as well as of land forms.

Dr. William Huggins has been chosen to be President of the next year's meeting of the British Association to be held in Cardiff, Wales. The meeting of the Association in 1892 will be held in Edinburgh.

Prof. A. J. Cook, speaking of the Food of Bees, remarks that the carbohydrates are sufficient for the life of the insects, but that they must have nitrogenous food to support them during the process of reproduction. The former they derive from the honey of plants, the latter from spores, grain, fungi, and bee-bread. Concerning certain philological and ethnological discussions that are going on with considerable warmth, Mr. John Evans said, in his address in the British Association, that it will be for the benefit of science for speculations as to the origin and home of the Aryan family to be rife; but it will still more effectually conduce to our eventual knowledge of this most interesting question if it be consistently borne in mind that they are but speculations.

An important manufacture of butter from cocoanut-milk is growing up in Germany. Cocoanuts for the purpose are imported in large numbers from India.

Recent investigations by Prof. Geddes, of Edinburgh, have led him to reject the commonly accepted views of the origin of thorns. He has found that there is a more or less developed general contrast in vegetative habit between thornless and thorny varieties. The thorny varieties or species show a more diminishing vegetativeness than their thornless congeners; in fact, they frequently develop their thorns by the actual death of their germ points.

The presidential address of Prof. T. E. Thorpe, in the Chemical Section of the British Association, was largely devoted to the vindication of the claims of Priestley to be the discoverer of oxygen and of the non-elementary nature of water, against the attempt of M. Berthelot, in his Revolution Chimique, to appropriate a principal share in the discoveries to Lavoisier.

A notion has been put forth by the editor of a leading dairy paper that neither dipping out milk nor drawing it through a faucet from large cans gives portions of equal quality to every customer. The dipping method was tested, at Cornell, on three milk routes — the conclusion reached being that by this practice "substantial justice is done all the patrons so far as the amount of fat apportioned to each is concerned."