Popular Science Monthly/Volume 39/September 1891/Notes

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The second report of the Committee of the American Association on the spelling and pronunciation of chemical terms, as presented to the Indianapolis meeting, includes all the rules and categories of words given in the report to the Toronto meeting, but with the pronunciations of words as enumerated in that report usually omitted, unless they have evoked opinions at variance with the recommendations of the committee from more than one correspondent. As the list is limited, brief summaries of the reasons for divergent views are frequently appended, with indications of the authorities referred to. It is desirable that the next report of the committee should be thoroughly representative. The co-operation of all American chemists is therefore sought, and every chemist is requested to examine the list and note all variations from the spelling recommended that seem to him desirable.

Prof. H. W. Conn, in a paper on the Fermentations of Milk and their Prevention, notices, as an advantage arising from pasteurization that adds greatly to its value, that nearly all the pathogenic disease germs which are likely to occur in milk are killed by it. It is recognized that some of our dangerous epidemics are transmitted from house to house by means of milk, which furnishes a good medium for their growth. If pasteurization is sufficient to kill the disease-germs, and if at the same time it delays the souring from twenty to forty hours, and if the milk thus treated retains the taste of fresh milk, and permits the cream to rise on it in the natural way, it is plain that it is a process highly to be recommended. It consists in heating the milk to a temperature of about 155, or a little higher, and then rapidly cooling it.

A telephone line has been laid between London and Paris, and is working successfully.

According to a paragraph in La Nature, the people of Brazil have domesticated a species of snake for the purpose of keeping down rats. It is the giboia, a kind of boa, which attains about thirteen feet in length, but is no thicker than one's arm. These snakes are sold for about a dollar apiece in the markets of Rio Janeiro, Pernambuco, and Bahia, They arc inoffensive and graceful, and pass the day asleep. At night they begin their hunt, penetrating everywhere, even between the ceilings and the floors, and doing extensive execution on vermin. They learn to know their home, so that, when carried off, they are able to find their way back. They are said to be fixed in every house in the regions infested by rats, and to have especial individual qualities which the proprietor can boast of when he wishes to sell or let his place.

The Société d'Encouragement pour l'Industrie National, of Paris, France, has awarded Mr. Henry Marion Howe a prize of twenty-five hundred francs for his magnificent work on the metallurgy of steel. The first edition of this work was exhausted within a few weeks after its appearance. The second edition, just published, contains a few revisions by the author, and additions describing some recent advances in the processes of making steel directly from the ore. The work is published by the Scientific Publishing Company, New York.

Experiments recently made in a Prussian battalion have shown that dogs may be trained to hunt up the wounded after a battle, and call the attendants to take care of them. In training the dogs, certain soldiers pretend to be wounded, and lie upon the ground as they would do if that were the case. The dogs are sent out to hunt them; and when a dog finds a prostrate man he stands by him and barks till some of the ambulance-men come up. Every company of the battalion has twelve dogs trained in this way. Shepherds' dogs and wolf-dogs seem best adapted for this purpose, while very little can be made out of hunting-dogs.

The French Academy of Sciences has received a legacy of one hundred thousand francs from the late M. Cahours, the interest of which is to be distributed every year by way of encouragement to any young men who have made themselves known by some interesting works, and more particularly by chemical researches. A preference is expressed by the testator for young men without fortune not having salaried offices, and who, from the want of a sufficient income, would find themselves without the possibility of following up their researches. He also recommends that the money be given to the same young men doing satisfactory work, for several years—to cease, however, when they obtain sufficiently remunerative positions to make the aid unnecessary.

M. Charles Brongniart has communicated to the French Academy some observations on the peregrine locusts in Algeria, which passed continuously for several days over Mustapha and Algiers, and were so thick that one could not go into the street with out being hit by them. To deposit her eggs, the female bores into the hardest ground, even in the trodden roads, sometimes trying the soil first, to the depth of from five to eight centimetres. She lines the bottom of the hole with a light whitish substance like beaten egg, and covers her eggs, after she has deposited them, with the same substance. In some places an average of thirty-five deposits per square decimetre was counted, each containing eighty or ninety eggs. The insects succumb immediately after laying, and shortly die; and the bodies lie scattered around at the rate of thirty per square metre, food for birds and predatory insects. The ground where the eggs have been deposited is easily recognizable from a distance.

A collection of Eskimo works of art, made by Assistant Superintendent Edwards of the cryolite mines at Arsuk Fiord, Greenland, is described by John R. Spears, in Nature. It includes candlesticks, cigar-holders, ash-receivers, anchors, paper-weights, etc , made of green-stone. The articles were all made to sell to the Danish rulers, for the Eskimo themselves have no use for ornamental art; but they show considerable skill in sculpture.

The Andaman Islands, constituting a small isolated territory, furnish rare opportunities for the study of the introduction and growth of new plants. They have been under scientific observation since 1858. Dr. Prain, of Silpur, records that in 1866, when there were six hundred known indigenous species, fifteen intentionally introduced plants and "sixty-one weeds of cultivation" had become established as an integral portion of the flora, and that by 1890 twenty-three more of the first class and fifty-six more of the second kind had been added, while four of the naturalized plants noted in 1866 had disappeared. A common Indian butterfly has made its appearance since the plant on which its larva feeds became naturalized.

A committee of London municipal officials has been ordered to report upon the advisability of erecting a crematorium in the cemetery at Ilford. Mr. Malthouse, one of the sanitary officials of the city, has called attention to the fact that 91/243 bodies were buried last year in the London cemeteries, and that in many places they lay fourteen deep. High medical authority had declared already that the state of the cemeteries demanded the intervention of the Government. Cremation, he said, was the only practical alternative of burial, and would soon be adopted, if the costs were reduced, as the prejudice against it was disappearing very rapidly.

An experiment has been made by Dr. Pringsheim, of Berlin, to determine the position of the accent in French words by a physical method. A phonautograph was used, into which a number of Frenchmen spoke, and the record was afterward measured by means of a tuning-fork curve running parallel to it. It was possible thus to determine the duration, pitch, and intensity of each syllable. As the results related to French words only, it may merely be mentioned here that the shortest syllable, é, in été, with rather a slow pronunciation, consisted of twenty-two vibrations; yet the ear, besides hearing the tone, is capable of detecting fine shades and differences in the mode of pronunciation.