Popular Science Monthly/Volume 50/December 1896/Notes

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The experiment of planting and raising Eastern oysters in the waters of Los Angeles County, California, was tried in 1892, when three hundred pounds of spat or seed oysters were planted at Alamitos Bay, near Long Beach Park, and at the mouth of New River. At the end of 1894 the oysters of this plantation were as large as those of the same age raised in the East. The oyster ground embraced the whole of Alamitos and Anaheim Bays. The outlook for the industry was hopeful, and no starfish or carnivorous shellfish had been detected among the beds. Mrs. M. Burton Williamson, who has published an account of this plantation in the Annual of the Historical Society, suggests that the shipment of Eastern oysters may also result in planting the fry of other shellfish from the East in the bay. Mya arenaria and Urosalpinx cinerea are now propagated in San Francisco Bay from seed brought with Eastern oysters.

Topazes are found in the tin-bearing alluvions of the river Tjenderiang in the kingdom of Perak, Malacca, absolutely colorless and perfectly transparent, measuring from one centimetre to three centimetres and a half. Sometimes they are rolled, when their faces are dull, but the number of intact crystals is large enough to justify the supposition that their original site is not far away.

The recent conference held in London, for considering the question of forming an international catalogue of scientific literature, should have very important results. Men of science recognize, as Prof. Mach, of Germany, said, no distinction of race or nationality, and they were glad, he added, to co-operate with Englishmen in a work in which all men of science were interested. The cataloguing of general scientific work, as it at present stands, is not at all satisfactory, and the adoption of a general system, by the scientists of all countries, which seems likely to follow the conference, will undoubtedly be a long step in advance.


The excessive cost of the rare earths used in the composition of the Welsbach and other incandescent gas mantles has led to the formulation of a process by which the residues of the old mantles can be reduced, separated, and used again repeatedly in new mantles. The process consists in reducing the mantles with ten times their weight of bisulphate of sodium, taking up the product in water, and adding excess of oxalate of ammonia to re-dissolve oxalates of thorium and zirconium, while the oxalates of cerium, lanthanium, erbium, and yttrium remain insoluble. The liquor is then filtered, the undissolved oxalates remaining on the filter. The residue is then treated with concentrated hydrochloric acid to obtain the oxalates of thorium and zirconium.


The supposition that by comparing numerous elements in different myths, and thus discovering that many are identical, a common origin is proved, was treated as a fallacy by Dr. Brinton in a paper read before the American Association. The method in question. Dr. Brinton held, does not take into account the essential unity of the human mind, wherever it may be, and the laws that govern its activity. Because of the tendency of the mind, everywhere and in all conditions, to act in the same manner, we find myths of similar character in all parts of the world. They may therefore be very similar, and yet very diverse in origin.


A series of fifteen terminal moraines was described by Mr. F. B. Taylor, in a paper read in the American Association, as lying between Cincinnati and the Straits of Mackinaw.


The cultivation of flowers for export and for the perfumery factories at Grasse is an important industry on the Riviera. It is officially estimated that the value of flowers annually exported from Nice, Cannes, Beaulien, and Mentone is six hundred thousand dollars.


Prof. Josiah Dwight Whitney, of Harvard University, one of the most eminent of American geologists, died at Lake Sunapee, N. H., August 19th, in his seventy-seventh year. He was born in Northampton, Mass.; was graduated at Yale in 1839, and, after spending about twenty years in various geological surveys, was appointed Professor of Geology at Harvard in 1864. His geological work began in service as assistant geologist in New Hampshire, subsequent to his graduation, after which he traveled and studied in Europe. In 1847 he engaged, in connection with John W. Foster, in the Government survey of the Lake Superior region, the published result of which, Foster and Whitney's Report, was a famous book in its day and long the chief authority. He next spent two years in the examination of the mining and mineral resources of the States east of the Mississippi, and published The Metallic Wealth of the United States in 1854. He next became State Chemist and professor in the State University of Iowa; made a geological survey of that State; surveyed the lead region of the upper Missouri, in connection with the official surveys of Wisconsin and Illinois; and from 1860 till 1874 conducted the topographical, geological, and natural-history survey of California, publishing the results in more than six volumes. He translated the Use of the Blowpipe of Berzelius, published a Yosemite Guidebook, and contributed much to scientific and other periodicals. Mount Whitney was named after him. He was a brother to William Dwight Whitney, the philologist.


Among the results of the measurements of the velocity of rotation of the planets by the spectroscopic method reported by Prof. J. E. Keeler to the British Association is the observation that the inside of Saturn's ring moves more quickly than the outside, and consequently that the constituents of the ring do not obey Kepler's third law. These constituents are therefore not solid particles, a fact which has been previously established by other methods.


Mr. William Crawford Winlock, assistant in charge of the office of the Smithsonian Institution, died at Bay Head, N. J., September 20th, in his thirty-seventh year. He was a son of Prof. Joseph Winlock, first Director of the Harvard Observatory and Superintendent of the American Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac, and inherited a fondness for astronomy from him. He was appointed curator of international exchanges and afterward assistant in charge of the office of the Smithsonian Institution; prepared the Annual Reports on the Progress of Astronomy from 1885 to 1892; contributed articles on astronomy to various periodicals; and represented the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution at various scientific meetings, including the centennial anniversary of the American Philosophical Society.


Dr. H. Newell Martin, ex-Professor of Biology in Johns Hopkins University, died in Burley, England, October 29th, in the forty-ninth year of his age. He was born in Newry, Ireland; was a fellow of Christ College, Cambridge, where he received the degree of A. B. in 1879, and that of A. M. in 1877; and was appointed to the professorship in Johns Hopkins on the recommendation of Prof. Huxley. He retired from that position in 1893 on account of ill health.