Popular Science Monthly/Volume 40/March 1892/Notes

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The Electrical Engineer begins the new year with the publication of the first of a series of articles on the electrical and magnetic discoveries of Prof. Joseph Henry, by his daughter, Miss Mary A. Henry, of Washington, with notes by Mr. Franklin Leonard Pope. Additional interest is given to these articles by the fact that the author will endeavor in them to substantiate the claim that Prof. Henry was the original discoverer of magneto-electricity.

A German physician, Dr. Krug, claims that he has discovered how to make an eatable and nutritious cake with wood. His method consists in transforming the cellulose into grape sugar, a substance assimilable by the animal organism. The biscuit is made by adding to this about forty per cent of meal of wheat, oats, or rye. Phosphates and all the bone elements may also be introduced. This bread of wood-glucose is intended to be fed to cattle, for which it will take the place of oil-cakes and other feeds composed of industrial wastes.

The Council of the School of Mines in England has determined that the room at South Kensington containing the library of research presented by Prof. Huxley to the institution, and in which he taught for nearly twenty years, shall be entirely set apart as the Huxley Laboratory for Biological Reseach. An endowment of one thousand pounds bequeathed for the establishment of a prize or scholarship in biology, has become available, together with the scientific books and instruments, and its proceeds will be appropriated annually in aid of a student in this laboratory, which now has provision for two students.

Mr. Albert Koebele, of our Bureau of Entomology, who is studying the enemies of insect pests in the Australasian colonies, was recently introduced by Sir James Hector to the Wellington Philosophical Society, New Zealand, as a naturalist whose work in securing the Vedalia lady-bird to destroy the Iceria pest of the California orchards is "one of the grandest things in the interest of fruit and tree growers that have been effected in modern times."

A correspondent of the Geneva (Switzerland) Tribune relates that his family were disturbed one evening by a mysterious ringing of the electric bells all over the house. Investigating the cause, the writer found that a large spider had established itself at a point where the bell and the electric light wires ran close to one another, with one leg on either wire, thus establishing a connection.

A specimen of prehistoric hatchets of peculiar form was exhibited by M. Villanova, of Piera, at the meeting of the French Association. About two hundred of them had been found at Elcho. They were simple emblems or images of a hatchet, made of a thin blade of metal, ornamented on both sides from one end to the other, and without edges. At the top is a kind of cup suggesting a socket that does not exist, and representing, probably, the jet of the casting.

Java is said to be the region of the globe where it thunders oftenest, having thunderstorms on ninety-seven days in the year. After it are Sumatra, with eighty-six days; Hindustan, with fifty-six; Borneo, with fifty-four; the Gold Coast, with fifty-twe; and Rio de Janeiro, with fifty-one. In Europe Italy occupies the first place, with thirty-eight days of thunder, while France and southern Russia have sixteen days, Great Britain and Switzerland seven days, and Norway only four days. Thunder is rare at Cairo, being heard on only three days in the year; and is extremely rare in northern Turkistan and the polar regions. The northern limit of the region of thunderstorms passes by Cape Ogle, Iceland, Nova Zembla, and the coast of the Siberian Sea.

A prize of four hundred kronen is offered by the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences at Copenhagen for investigations on the exact nature and proportions of the more important carbohydrates present at different stages of maturity, in the cereals in most general use.

The use of aluminum is recommended by Mr. G. L. Addenbrooke, instead of brass, for the framing of photographic lenses and the metal parts of cameras; for the revolving tripod heads fixed in the base-boards of cameras; and for developing dishes, for which he regards it as very suitable, for the action of most of the chemicals used in photography is very slight upon it, and, when there is any, the compounds formed would not be harmful.

In the course of an account of various marriage customs. Dr. A. H. Post refers to a strange sort of symbolical marriage with plants, trees, animals, or inanimate objects, which is supposed to have originated m India. If any one proposes to enter upon a union that is not in accordance with traditional ideas, it is believed that the ill luck which is otherwise sure to follow may be averted by a marriage of this kind, when the evil consequences will pass over to the object chosen. In some regions a girl must not marry before her elder sisters, but in parts of southern India the difficulty is overcome by the eldest daughter marrying the branch of a tree. Then the wedding of the younger daughter may be safely celebrated.

Facts well known to boys who are familiar with the woods are reported by Mr. C. Fitzgerald in The Zoölogist. During many winters passed in the backwoods of North America, he has seen squirrels frisking among the trees in the coldest weather. On bright, sunny days especially, they delight in chasing one another from tree to tree among the evergreens, and cover the snow with their tracks. The chipmunks lay up in the autumn a store of provisions of grain, nuts, etc., for winter, and may be seen sunning themselves on bright days. Mr. Fitzgerald has on several occasions come across their hoards, and once saw two large bucketfuls of shelled buckwheat taken from the hollow of an old birch tree.

Fruit-trees are planted along the roadsides of several countries of Europe, but it has not been usual to attach great importance to the value of their products. Recent estimates made in Germany show that this is considerable. The roadside trees of Hanover gave a gross return in 1890 of 270,000 francs, of which 187,000 francs were derived from the fruits. The roadside fruits of the Hildersheim region returned 64,000 francs, and those of Göttingen 41,000 francs; and the district of Reutlingen, according to the Gartenflora, derived 333,000 francs from the sale of these fruits. The trees of the Monheim district, first planted in 1858, yielded 9,500 francs in 1868, 22,000 francs in 1878, and about 36,000 francs in 1888.

Old newspapers are said to make valuable anti-moth wrappers for furs and winter clothing, the ink upon them being nearly as repulsive to all kinds of vermin as camphor or coal-tar paper. They are likewise good to lay on carpets for a like purpose. Being impermeable to air, they also form excellent envelopes for vessels containing ice and fresh liquors.

Garden and Forest tells the story of two famous trees which were saved from destruction, each by the sagacity and liberality of a man who appreciated their value. One is the giant Manzanita (Arctostaphylos manzanita), of St. Helena, Cal., which a wood-chopper in the employ of the Napa Valley Wood Company had begun to cut down when Dr. C. Hitchcock, passing by, paid two dollars to have it saved. The other is the fine red oak of Dedham, Mass., which Thomas Motley, father of the historian, who owned the adjoining place, paid its owner to have spared. Both of these trees are now owned by men who will preserve them. The names of the men to whom their continued life is due deserve to be remembered.