Popular Science Monthly/Volume 50/February 1897/Notes

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search


M. Émile Rivière has discovered and explored for a length of one hundred and twenty-seven metres a prehistoric grotto in the department of Dordogne, France, the walls of which are covered with designs cut in the rock. As some of the figures pass under stalagmites, a great age is predicated for them.

M. Olszewski, having failed to liquefy helium, calculates that its boiling point is below -264° C, or at least 20° below that of hydrogen. Were the temperature of ebullition calculated as a function of the density, it would be much higher, the density of helium being double that of hydrogen. Both helium and argon have boiling points much lower than was supposed—a fact which may be accounted for by the monatomic structure of the two substances.

A number of neolithic axes were described in the American Association by Prof. E. W. Claypole, which were found at New London, Huron County, Ohio, by an intelligent workman while digging a well in the blue clay at twenty feet below the surface. The features of the formation were those characteristic of the glacial deposits of northern Ohio. Heretofore, numerous flying reports of the discovery of implements in the glacial till have been made, but this. Prof. Wright says, is the first instance where the evidence has seemed in itself altogether convincing and satisfactory.

Bearing in mind that an estimated average length of pupilage is frequently made an important consideration in arranging some of the points of school management. Prof. C. M. Woodward undertook to deduce, from the comparison of the school statistics of several cities, the average age at which pupils withdraw from the public schools to engage in the active duties of life, or to enter private schools. He could get full statistics only from St. Louis, Chicago, and Boston. In these cities the average age of withdrawal is, severally, 13·3, 14·5, and 15·9 years.

M. Loewy, a fully trained astronomer who has made his reputation along many lines of research, and who has for many years belonged to the staff of that institution, has been selected by the French Government to succeed M. Tisserand as Director of the French Observatory.

Recent researches by Prof. J. A. Hennig indicate that pure metals have their electrical conductivity immensely increased by intense cold, while alloys experience in the same circumstances a comparatively small increase, not more than ten per cent. Prof. Hennig lays great stress on the value of these facts, as a means of testing the purity of a metal, almost rivaling the spectroscope in delicacy.

It is said that the German Government has recently sent Prof. Koch and Dr. Kohlenstock, both bacteriological experts, to the Cape to inquire into the plague of rinderpest, and to report what measures are best to prevent its spreading to the German Southwest African colonies.

At a meeting held at St George's Hospital (London) early in December, it was resolved "That the present year, being the centenary of the first successful vaccination, is an appropriate time to inaugurate a work of national utility in honor of Edward Jenner." A second resolution to the following effect was passed: "That a subscription be set on foot with the view of founding some institution of a nature to be hereafter determined in connection with the British Institute of Preventive Medicine, to be distinguished by Jenner's name."

The forest department in India is now paying its way handsomely and more, the profits having been going up steadily since 1875. While for the five years ending with that they stood at eleven lakhs, the profits for the five years ending in 1895 were fifty-three lakhs, or just short of five times as much.

Miss M. Peacock has published a paper in the magazine Folk Lore on executed criminals and folk medicine, in which are collected instances of belief in the medical effects of the touch of the body of an executed criminal.

An account of a number of remarkable cases of psychical or hypnotic phenomena which have fallen under his own observation, or have been investigated by the Society for Psychical Research, has been prepared by Dr. R. Osgood Mason, of this city, and is to be published by Henry Holt & Co., under the title of Telepathy and Subliminal Research. It will illustrate a theory held by the author and some other investigators of a principle pervading all the phenomena in question of a second self, to which the name subliminal (under the threshold) has been given, that acts and perceives in manners entirely unknown to our ordinary everyday consciousness.


The French colony of New Caledonia is troubled by the depredations of deer, which multiply with marvelous rapidity and invade the plantations, where they do great mischief, even climbing up into the granaries. A curious feature of the trouble is that the deer are not native, but are the offspring of a present made to the colony by the Queen of England. The Revue Scientifique draws from this fact a lesson that it is well to be cautious concerning the gifts of animals we may bestow upon other countries, and not make them without advice from experts concerning the conditions and contingencies. Rabbits in Australia, the mongoose in Jamaica, and the New Caledonian deer afford instances in which such gifts, made with the best intentions, have resulted disastrously. It is said that the farmers of the State of Maine have also suffered from the incursions of deer since restrictions were placed upon the hunting of them.


Women are gradually working their way into the German universities, where a few have been admitted, not as of right, but as of favor. Five ladies have up to this time taken the doctor's degree at Heidelberg. One of them, an American, made so brilliant a success that she was at once offered an appointment at the German zoölogical station near Naples.


The curious fact is noted by Mr. C. C. Vermeule, in his forest studies of New Jersey, that less disposition to destroy and waste the forests is shown by the native population than by the immigrants from countries where the control and management of the forests are, on the whole, superior to our modern methods.


The gypsies—those of Hungary, at least—are not all wanderers. Of 274,940 representatives of that race enumerated in 1893, 243,432 were described as sedentary, 20,406 as semi-sedentary, and only 8,938 as nomads, while 2,164 were soldiers or prisoners. All of them profess one of the various forms of Christianity of the people among whom they dwell, and only 82,405 are still able to talk gypsy dialects. Seventeen thousand of them are musicians.


Prof. Emil Du Bois-Reymond, of the University of Berlin, one of the most famous and many sided German men of science, died, December 26th, aged seventy-eight, having been professor at Berlin since 1865. He had been suffering for several months from general debility, but his death, when it came, was sudden, though not unexpected. He was one of the earliest and most vigorous champions of the doctrine that biological phenomena are governed by physical and chemical laws, and ranked alongside of Tyndall and Huxley as a lecturer and popularizer of the natural sciences. Several of his ablest addresses have been published in the Monthly, including the Seven World Problems and The Limits of Our Knowledge of Nature—perhaps the two most famous of all. A sketch of his life and work to that time was published, with a portrait, in the Popular Science Monthly (vol. xiii) for July, 1878.


We have learned of the death of the Hon. Horatio Hale, of Clinton, Ontario, one of our most distinguished anthropologists, particularly in the study of aboriginal languages, but have received no details of the event. He was the author of several valuable articles in the Monthly.


Dr. Henry Tremen, formerly Director of the Botanic Garden at Peradenyia, Ceylon, who died October 10th, in his fifty-third year, was author of the Flora of the County of Middlesex, England, and, in conjunction with Prof. Bentley, of a standard work on Medical Botany; and had prepared a complete Flora of Ceylon, of which three parts have appeared.


August Trécul, who recently died in his seventy-sixth year, a distinguished plant anatomist and author of important technical studies in his specialty, spent three years in Texas, collecting material for the Paris Museum, and studying the textile plants used by the Indians.


Captain John Gregory Bourke, of the United States Cavalry, who died June 8th, besides being a gallant soldier, was an ethnologist of much repute. He had done much work in connection with the Bureau of Ethnology, and spent five years from 1886 in Washington compiling the ethnographic notes he had collected during his service in the West, and pursuing collateral studies. His most famous work was on the Snake Dance of the Moquis of Arizona, which attracted great attention all over the world and brought into prominence a branch of anthropology which had been relatively little studied. He was also author of works on the Medicine-men of the Apaches, and Scatalogic Rites of All Nations.


Hugo Gylden, Astronomer of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and Director of the Observatory of Stockholm, who died November 9th, ranked with M. Tisserand as one of the most illustrious mathematical astronomers on the European continent. He was the son of Prof. Gylden, of the University of Helsingfors, where he was born in 1841. He was best known by the work which he had carried on since the death of Leverrier on the general theory of perturbations, and by his great treatise on the absolute orbits of the eight principal planets.