Popular Science Monthly/Volume 50/November 1896/Minor Paragraphs

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A recent number of the American Medical and Surgical Bulletin contains an article on the artificial generation of ozone for purifying the air in our public schools. In many cases the schoolroom air is so stale and depressing that before the children have been in it half an hour all their brightness and vim has disappeared, they become listless and sleepy, and are in the worst possible condition for study. This alone would be bad enough, but breathing this vitiated air renders them more vulnerable to the attacks of pathogenic germs, some of which are sure to be present in such a favorable location. Ozone is markedly germicidal and stimulating, and the suggestion, although not a new one, seems worthy of attention.


It has been decided to erect in one of the squares of Paris a monument to Pasteur, and to make the enterprise an international one. Consequently, the people of all countries will be given an opportunity to participate in the subscriptions. The Paris committee is under the presidency of M. J. Bertrand, Perpetual Secretary of the Academy of Sciences, and has among its honorary members the President of the Republic and his Cabinet, and about one hundred and sixty prominent men of the French nation in all walks. A committee has been formed in the United States, at Washington, with Dr. D. E. Salmon as chairman and Dr. A. E. de Schweinitz as secretary, which gladly accepts the privilege of organizing the subscription and of receiving and transmitting the funds which are raised. "We believe it is unnecessary," the committee says in its circular, "to urge any one to subscribe. The contributions of Pasteur to science and to the cause of humanity were so extraordinary and are so well known and so thoroughly appreciated in America that our people only need the opportunity in order to demonstrate their deep interest." Subscription blanks will be supplied by the committee, and no one who can not give a large sum need be deterred from giving a small sum. The committee's address is at the Cosmos Club, Washington, D. C.


The Biologisches Centralblatt, conducted by Drs. J. Rosenthal, M. Rees, and E. Seleuka, and published semimonthly at Leipsic by Eduard Besald, aims to keep its readers in current with the progress of the biological sciences, and to inform the students of single branches of what is going on in the other and related branches. With a view to that object it presents original communications, particularly those embodying the results of investigation which are of general interest outside of the bounds of their several specialties, and summaries; comprehensive reviews of the more important events in the progress of investigation, weeding out what is temporary or subsidiary, and presenting only that which is of lasting value and a literary record.


Consul Merritt, of Barmen, is authority for the following statements regarding mineral wool, or silicate cotton, as it is sometimes called. The wool appears on the market in a variety of colors, and is coming to be used very extensively as a non-conductor of heat and also as a protection against fire. It is made by blowing molten rock into a fibrous woolly state by means of a jet of steam. The furnace slag or the rock, as the case may be, is melted in a large cupola, and as it trickles out at the taphole in a somewhat sluggish stream it meets a high-pressure steam jet which blows it into a woolly, fibrous condition, in which state it settles in fleecy clouds on the floor, the heavier wool coming down first, while the lighter portions are blown farther along by the force of the steam. The material thus naturally grades itself.


For an inquiry whether fishes have a sense of hearing, Herr A. Kreidt experimented upon goldfish—normal, fish poisoned with strychnine, and fish deprived of their labyrinths. Sounds were made by sonorous rods plunged in the aquarium, to which tuning forks or bows were applied out of the water. Whistling and the ringing of bells outside of the water produced no impression on either of the three classes experimented upon. But all responded whenever the apparatus within the aquarium was struck with the production of an audible sound. The conclusion was drawn that fish do not hear as in ordinary hearing with the ears, but that they are sensitive to sonorous waves which they can perceive through some skin-sense.


A Mr. Chaplin, in introducing a bill in the English House of Commons, which was intended to ameliorate the widespread agricultural depression, gave some striking facts regarding the present unjust methods of taxing land. One instance, of two men living side by side, each of whom started in life with $100,000. A invested his money in various securities, and now has an income of $2,800 a year. He lives in a house rated at $200 a year, and his rates come to about $22. B invested his capital in a farm, for which be paid $75,000, and afterward put $25,000 in as tenants' capital. His farm is rated at about $2,585, and his rates amount to about $335. Another striking case was that of a factory employing 2,000 hands, rated for local purposes at $2,000. A farm of 200 acres in the same parish is assessed at $2,300, and pays more to the local rates than the factory. Another case cited was that of a farm of 265 acres in Essex, where the rent was only about $76 and the rates $90.


An International Atlas of Clouds has been published under the direction of a committee consisting of M. Hildebransson, of Upsala; Riggenbach, of Basle; and Tesserenc de Bort, of Paris. It contains fourteen plates, each including two or three figures, the several classes of clouds in the classification adopted being represented by from one figure for the "fracto-nimbus" to ten for the cumulus, while some transitional forms are also delineated. The figures have been selected from more than three hundred representations of clouds from all quarters of the earth. The plates have been approved by eminent meteorologists, and their accuracy is guaranteed. In the text are given the definitions and official instructions adopted by the International Meteorological Committee at its meeting in Upsala in 1894.


It is proposed to explore the island or rock of Rockall, which is situated in the open Atlantic, in 57° 36′ north latitude, about two hundred miles west of the Hebrides, with no other land nearer. It is about two hundred and thirty feet in circumference at the base and sixty feet at the top, and looks at a distance like a ship under sail, being whitened by the guano that has been deposited upon it. It appears to be the emerged point of an extensive mountainous submarine table land, stretching from the southwest to the northeast, and giving rise to a number of dangerous rocks and reefs in the neighborhood. It offers advantages of great promise as a meteorological station, situated as it is in the zone of the most extensive area of cyclones in the northern hemisphere, but it is not easy to land upon when the sea is at all rough. It is but little visited. It bears a few plants which have not been collected and studied, and is the resort of numerous sea birds. The curious peak is situated at a greater distance from any mainland than any other isolated rock of like dimensions in any part of the world.


Old shoes are not lost by any means. In this country they are dissected and subjected to a course of manipulations by which they are converted into a kind of artificial leather, which is made to look very fine, and may be elegantly ornamented. In France they go through a less elaborate transformation. At the military prison in Montpellier the shoes, the majority of which come from Spain, are ripped apart; the nails are drawn out. The parts are softened in water, and are then cut up by a machine into vamps for children's or little girls' shoes. The soles are likewise utilized. The smallest pieces are used to make the Louis XIV toes which were in fashion a few years ago. Pieces a little larger and thinner are made into the soles of babies' shoes. The nails of iron are separated by means of a magnet from copper nails, and the latter are sold for a higher price than the others. The manager of the prison represents that the returns from this manufacture nearly equal the cost of the old shoes.