Popular Science Monthly/Volume 5/May 1874/Notes

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About 800 miles west of Omaha, says the Scientific American, the line of the Union Pacific Railroad crosses Green River, and the approach to the river is for a considerable distance through a cutting of from twenty to forty feet in depth, made in rock. During the construction of the road, some workmen piled together a few pieces of this rock for a fireplace, and soon observed that the stone itself ignited. It has been shown by analysis that the rock, which is a shale. yields by distillation some thirty-five gallons of oil per ton. The oil so obtained is of excellent quality, and comes over in two or three grades, one suitable for burning and the others for lubrication. The deposits of this rock are supposed to cover an area 150 miles long and 50 broad. They overlie the immense coal-beds of that region, and consist of sandstone impregnated with oil.

Thompson's article "On Cremation" has been twice translated into German, and published once at Cologne and once at Grätz, an Austrian city. The Grätz edition had an introduction by Dr. Kopl, at one time physician to the King of the Belgians. The Communal Council of Vienna has by a large majority adopted a proposal to establish in one of the public cemeteries the necessary apparatus for burning bodies, the use of which will be optional and open to all. The Council of Grätz has passed a resolution to the same effect.

Mr. J. L. A. Warren, author of a valuable treatise on "Silk Culture," is now in Europe, with the intention of visiting the different departments of silk culture and manufacture in France and Italy, and of collecting information for use in his new work on "Silk Culture in Europe and America," which is now in course of preparation.

The Cowles process for the preservation of clothing from moth and mildew, of which much has lately been said in Congress and in the press, is stated by the Scientific American to be based on the preservative action of sulphate of copper on vegetable fibres. By the addition of alum, the preserving qualities of the sulphate are, it is claimed, greatly enhanced; and, when gelatine is also combined, the fibres are said to be not only proof against decay, but also impervious to water. The ingredients are proportioned as follows: Alum, 2 lbs. dissolved in 60 lbs. water; blue-vitriol, 2 lbs. dissolved in 8 lbs. water, to which is added gelatine 1 lb. in 30 lbs. water. A still further improvement is said to made by the addition of acetate of lead, 12 lb. dissolved in 30 lbs. water. The solutions are all hot and separately mixed, with the exception of the vitriol, which is added cold.

Prof. H. Alleyne Nicholson, Professor of Natural History and Botany in University College, Toronto, has been appointed to the professorship of Zoology in the Royal College of Science, Dublin. Dr. Nicholson is the author of several well-known works on zoology, the most recent being a "Manual on Paleontology," for the use of students.

For the year closing January 1, 1874, the precious metals expressed by Wells, Fargo & Co., produced in North America, made the immense aggregate of $72,258,693. This is in excess of the production of 1872 to the amount of $10,000,000. Nevada alone transmits $35,254,507.

Prof. Gray mentions, in the American Journal of Science and Art, the discovery by Mr. E. J. Hill, on an island in the Kankakee River, in the northeastern part of Illinois, of the Sphæralcea acerifolia. This mallow was supposed to exist only in the Rocky-Mountain region and Oregon. Dr. Gray says of this plant, it "is one which probably came so long ago as when Lake Michigan discharged into the Mississippi, the lower part of the Kankakee River being in the direct course of the discharge. The present plants may more probably be regarded, not as chance stragglers, but as lingering remnants indicating an ancient habitat."

Prof. C. V. Riley, Missouri State Entomologist, has received the high compliment of a gold medal from the Minister of Agriculture and Commerce of France, in recognition of his discoveries in economic entomology, and in particular for services rendered to French grape-culture. It will be remembered that Prof. Riley discovered the American origin of the grape-vine louse, or Phylloxera vastatrix, an insect which threatens the utter destruction of the great vineyards of France. The medal is about an inch and a half in diameter, and bears on its face the figure of "Liberty" in bass-relief, with the words "French Republic." On the reverse is, "To Mr. Riley, of St. Louis, Mo., for services rendered to French viticulture, 1873," encircled by "Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce."

We note with pleasure the organization of the School and College Association of Natural History, of the State of Illinois. The objects of the Association are: first, to collect, study, and exchange specimens in natural history, and to contribute to a natural history survey of the State; second, to form a State museum; third, to obtain for the schools, with which its members are connected, suitable cabinets of specimens for study and reference; fourth, to encourage and assist the rational study of Nature by the pupils of our schools. An election of officers, on December 31, 1873, resulted in the choice of Dr. Richard Edwards, Normal School, Normal, III., for president; S. A. Forbes, curator; and Aaron Gove, secretary. The State Museum at Normal was designated as the centre of exchange and distribution.

A rich discovery of emery is reported to have been lately made in the northern portion of Pettis County, Missouri.