Popular Science Monthly/Volume 50/March 1897/Notes

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Mr. W. Baxter, Jr., writing in Cassier's Magazine, gives the total amount of capital invested in electric lighting in the United States as $500,000,000, and the number of plants, public and private, as more than 10,000. About 500,000 motors are in use, and they are valued at $100,000,000. The electrical apparatus used in mining is estimated to be worth $100,000,000. The value of the electric elevator industry is supposed to be about $15,000,000. The electric railways are believed to represent a capital of more than $700,000,000, and the aggregate of capital invested in electric railways and lighting, exclusive of the value of the establishments that manufacture the machinery and apparatus, is about $1,500,000,000.

A new railway between the Russian Asiatic towns of Nertchinsk and Vladivostock, crossing Manchuria to unite the two branches of the Trans-Siberian Railway, is to be constructed with French capital and by French engineers, under the control and with the guarantee of the Russian Government—to be, nevertheless, a Chinese line, administered by Chinese.

A Swiss society of popular traditions has been formed at Zurich for the collection of anthropological and ethnological notes relative to the several cantons, documents on the manners, dwellings, costumes, festivals, working tools, musical instruments, industrial arts, family celebrations, religious solemnities, weather lore, popular literature, games, names of places and persons, and other items in folklore. A special review will be published, to embody the results of the inquiries made under the society's auspices.

Mr. H. Harries has shown, in the Royal Meteorological Society, that hail and thunderstorms are not, as has been supposed, extremely rare in the arctic regions. He has examined one hundred logs of vessels which have visited those quarters, and seventy-five of them gave records of hail having been encountered at some time or other. Thunderstorms were not so frequently mentioned as hail, but they were observed in seven months out of the twelve, most frequently in August.

Leo Brenner, of the Manora Observatory, Istria, has acknowledged a gift of $1,650 from Miss Catherine W. Bruce, of New York, for the use of the observatory and additions to its equipment. Herr Brenner is engaged in the study of Mars, and reports the discovery of several interesting features, including twenty new canals, "very broad, and consequently probably double," and a new "oasis" or "lake."

An American locomotive works is in course of erection at Nijni Novgorod, Russia, to have capacity for turning out one hundred and fifty locomotives a year, and employ about one thousand men.

Proof regarded by him as abundantly satisfactory has been collected by Mr. N. T. Bonner, of Cincinnati, from study of Pompeiian boilers, that the principle of the watertube boiler was fully understood and appreciated by the people of Pompeii two thousand years ago. The Pompeiian boilers, being used principally for heating water and wine, the shells and covers were only such as would offer a slight resistance to the escape of the steam.

Formalin, a solution of formic aldehyde, has been recommended to the London Entomological Society as a preventive of mold. An object once sprayed with it never becomes moldy afterward. It is much used in the color industry, and is therefore produced on a large scale.

Besides the common early belief in spirits of the forest, sea, and mountain usually needing propitiation, Mr. Henry Ling Roth finds among the natives of Sarawak and British North Borneo a conception of a well-disposed beneficent Petara. A system of omens exists for the regulation of life, and with it is combined a sort of worship of the birds with whose movements the omens are associated. The medicine men or medicine women pretend to extract disease in the form of bits of stick or stones, and rags are hung on bushes by the roadside to turn away or carry off disease. Cairns are built up by passersby, each adding a stone, and tabu prevails, as in the Pacific Islands.

Messrs. Petermann and Graftian, of the Belgian Academy of Sciences, find that hoarfrost is peculiarly rich in nitrogenous compounds, and therefore plays an important part in increasing nitrogenous matter in the forest and in purifying the air.