Popular Science Monthly/Volume 50/November 1896/Notes

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Hon. David A. Wells's chapters on The Principles of Taxation, the publication of which has been unavoidably suspended in the October and November numbers of the Monthly, will be renewed in the December number, and regularly continued thereafter.

The British Association has resolved to invite the president, vice-presidents, and officers of the American Association to attend its meeting next year at Toronto as honorary members; also to admit all fellows and members of the American Association as members of the British Association on the same terms as old annual members—namely, on payment of £1 (or $5), without requiring an admission fee.

In regard to the proper designation of its vice-presidents, the American Association directed that that term be used in official publications in expressing the relation of the presiding officer of any section to the association, and the term chairman in expressing his relation to the section; and that the term vice president precede the name of the officer and chairman follow it when both relations are to be expressed. When referred to, these officers are to be termed vice-presidents for, not of, the sections.

Prof. Wolcott Gibbs, the new President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Rumford Professor and Lecturer on the Application of Science to the Useful Arts, is the oldest living professor in Harvard University, though not now in active service.

A very satisfactory dressing for wounds, consisting of bags of straw charcoal, is used by the Japanese. It fits perfectly to the wounds, and has considerable absorbing power and antiseptic properties. The charcoal is prepared by burning straw in a covered vessel.

A shrub in Madagascar, called the vonimperono, bears a seed, the feathery tuft of which possesses some of the qualities of silk, and may be found useful in the arts. The flower and the pod, as pictured in La Nature, suggest affiliation with the Asclepiads; and the tuft does not contradict the suggestion. It is a little more than an inch and a half long; its fibers have considerable strength; and, according to M. Georges Chapin, they form a veritable vegetable silk. The people of the western coast of Madagascar collect it, and, often without taking the trouble to remove the seed, make soft cushions and pillows of it; and the Hova ladies use it for stuffing the seats of their filanzanes or sedan chairs.

The term roches moutonnés, used by geologists to describe a peculiar topographic appearance resulting from glacial action, is usually interpreted as meaning resembling a flock of sheep asleep, and that is the explanation given by M de Lapperent in his geological treatise. The dictionaries, however, define moutonné as meaning frizzled like sheep's wool. The term was first used by De Saussure in his Voyages dans les Alpes; but the passage had escaped recent observation till Mr. Whymper found it. It reads, translated, "These contiguous and repeated roundnesses produce as a whole the effect of a well-grown fleece, of the wigs which are called moutonnées." Mr. Grenville A. J. Cole in Nature cites this passage to justify his comparison of these shapes to the mammillations upon an antique wig.

A paper read some time ago in the Linnæan Society by Mr. R. Morton Middleton, recording the observation of Mr. Miltiades Isigonis of the use of ants by the Greek barber surgeons of Asia Minor for holding together the edges of a cut, brought out the fact that the same custom exists in Brazil as among these Greeks. The Eastern barbers hold the ant—a large-headed Camponotus—in a forceps, when it opens its mandibles wide, and, being permitted to seize the edges of the cut, which are held together for the purpose, its head is cut off as soon as a firm grip is obtained. A similar practice was observed in Brazil several years ago by M. Mocquerys, of Rouen, and is cited by Sir John Lubbock, but it is not mentioned by either Bates or Wallace.


Judgment was recently given in an English court, in the suit of an actress against the Nottingham Theater company for damages for injuries by falling through a dilapidated stairway, on the evidence of an X-ray picture of the injured foot.


The third volume of Poggendorff's Biographical and Literary Dictionary, now in publication, will contain notices of scientific men in various fields who lived between 1858 and 1883. A fourth volume will cover the years from 1883 to 1900. Full lists of contributions to scientific literature will accompany the notices. The dictionary will contain many names not often heard of, among them those of Arabian philosophers.


Experiments are in order to protect letters against exposure by the Röntgen rays. MM. Thayer and Hardtmuth, of Vienna, bronze the inside of their envelopes or ornament them with designs in bronze. It is found that the X rays have only a feeble action through the bronzed envelopes, while in those ornamented with bronze pastes only the spots that are left white are exposed; and in both cases the written characters are not revealed in intelligible shape.


In an experiment recently made at an Austrian wood-pulp factory to determine how quickly it was possible to make a newspaper from a tree, three trees were felled in the presence of a notary and witnesses at 7.35 a. m. The trees were taken to the factory and cut up into short pieces, which were stripped of their bark and converted into mechanical pulp. This was placed in a vat and mixed with the materials necessary to form paper, and the first leaf of paper came out at 9.34 a. m. Some of the sheets were taken, the notary still watching the proceedings, to a printing office about three miles away; and the printed newspaper was issued at ten o'clock. It thus took two hours and twenty-five minutes to convert a tree into a newspaper.


American science has suffered a serious loss in the death, September 6th, of Dr. George Brown Goode, Assistant Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Dr. Goode was born at New Albany, Ind., February 13, 1851; was interested in natural history from an early age; was graduated from Wesleyan University in 1870; and made a collecting trip to the West Indies in 1872 and 1873. In the latter year he became connected, on the invitation of Prof. Baird, with the Smithsonian Institution, where he spent the rest of his life. He performed many special services, especially in connection with the interests of fisheries; as director of the Natural History division in the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876; United States Commissioner to the International Fisheries Exhibitions in London and Berlin in 1880 and 1883; statistical expert with the Halifax Fisheries Commission in 1877; representative of the Smithsonian Institution at the Chicago Exhibition of 1893; and member of the Board of Awards at the Atlanta Cotton States Exhibition of 1895. Among his published reports and works are those on the Game Fishes of the United States. The Fishes and Fishing Industries of the United States, American Fishes and Oceanic Ichthyology, the Plan of Classification for the World's Columbian Exhibition, and the Museums of the Future.


Prof. Hubert A. Newton, of Yale University, mathematician, and one of the most distinguished investigators of meteors and meteoric showers, died in New Haven, Conn., August 12th. A sketch of his life and his work on the problem of the meteors was published, with a portrait, in the Popular Science Monthly for October, 1885 (vol. xxvii, p. 840). His address as President of the American Association, at the Buffalo meeting in 1886, on Meteorites, Meteors, and Shooting Stars, was published in the Monthly for October, 1886 (vol. xxix, p. 733). Subsequently to these dates. Prof. Newton continued his studies of meteors by the aid of stellar photography, with many interesting and valuable results; and through his exertions a battery of cameras was placed in Yale Observatory for more extensive meteoric photography. His work in mathematics was also of the highest order.


We announce with regret the death of Prof. J. L. Delbœuf, of the University of Liege, at Bonn, August 13th. Prof. Delbœuf was a student and scientific writer of more than ordinary power to interest, original and genial, and possessing considerable humor. We have published several articles and extracts from his writings; among them are Dwarfs and Giants in the twenty-second and What may Animals be taught? in the twenty-ninth volume of the Monthly; and more recently, Observations on the Psychology of Lizards.

Herr Otto Lilienthal, the inventor of a flying machine with which he had achieved some small successes, was killed during an experiment with his apparatus at Rhinow, near Berlin, August 12th. The machinery became deranged, and the whole concern fell, with Herr Lilienthal, to the ground.