Popular Science Monthly/Volume 53/October 1898/Notes

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The United States Life-Saving Service at the close of the fiscal year covered by its latest report, June 30, 1897, embraced 259 stations—189 on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, 55 on the coasts of the Great Lakes, 14 on the Pacific coast, and one at the Falls of the Ohio. Three hundred and ninety-four disasters were reported as having occurred during the year to documented vessels, in which 3,737 persons were exposed, 42 lives were lost, and $1,998,930 of property out of $7,107,825 was lost. There were also 305 casualties to undocumented craft—sail boats, rowboats, etc.—carrying 706 persons, 11 of whom perished, and in which $39,405 of property was lost. Five hundred and eighty-seven shipwrecked persons received 1,082 days' relief at the stations. The number of disasters is the largest reported in the history of the service, yet the number of vessels totally lost is the smallest since 1879, when the scope of the service was much less extended.

The feat was accomplished on the first day of June, and has now become a part of the daily routine of the shops, of shipping molten iron by the ton on the railway from the blast furnaces at Duquesne to the Homestead Steel Works, near Pittsburg. The molten iron, as it is tapped from the furnaces, runs into an immense mixing ladle having a capacity of two hundred and fifty tons, and from this is poured into the twenty ton ladle cars; and the cars are then hauled by a locomotive to the steel works, where the direct conversion of the fluid iron into open-hearth steel is made. Between seven hundred and eight hundred tons of iron are thus dealt with every day.

The Laboratory Fresenius at Wiesbaden, Germany, has recently passed the fiftieth year of its existence and its hundredth term, it having been founded on the first day of May, 1848. Since the death of its founder. Prof. C. Remigius Fresenius, June 11, 1898, it has been carried on by his sons. Dr. Heinrich Fresenius and Dr. Wilhelm Fresenius, and his son-in-law. Dr. Ernst Hintz, and is to be continued as before. The attendance at the winter session, 1897-'98, was equal to that of former years.

Several theories have been proposed iu the attempt to explain the apparent enlargement of the sun and moon when near the horizon. M. D. Eginites, having compared the principal of them, finds none satisfactory, and that the phenomenon is not produced by any of the causes they assign. Any or all of these causes may contribute more or less to it, but not in any great degree, and the real cause is still to be sought.

Prof. O. C. Marsh, of Yale University, has recently been elected a foreign member of the London Geological Society.

Mr. A. Lawrence Rotch, of the Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory, Massachusetts, has been elected a foreign corresponding member of the German Meteorological Society.

Dead Man's IslandMa de los Muertos—at San Pedro, in southern California, a place of historical and scientific interest, is described by Mrs. M. Burton Williamson as "a vanishing island," the whole facies of which has been changed within a few years by the erosive power of waves and tides and winter rains. A few years ago the west side of it could not be reached except by way of the inner harbor or by climbing to the top of the island and descending a precipitous trail. Now the sea has cut an arch through the solid rock, and one can go all round the island at low tide. Within the recollection of persons now living it has diminished in area one half or more. In science it is famous for its fossil shells (Pliocene and Quaternary), of which three hundred species have been found. Some of these have been identified with species still living in the coast waters farther north.

The tender shoots of ferns may be sporadically eaten among us, but nowhere that we know of dj they form a regular article of diet in E trope or America. In Japan it is different, according to the Bulletin of the French Jardin d'Acclimatation, and some of the mountain people derive a large proportion of their food in some seasons from ferns. In the spring they eat the young leaves; later in the season, the starch which they extract from the roots. For this extraction they beat the washed roots with a mallet, stir the fragments in water, and precipitate the starch, using for reservoirs in the operation hollowed tree trunks. The starch obtained is equivalent to fifteen per cent of the root stuff used.

The buffalo tree hopper is a little grass-green insect of triangular shape which is frequently found upon vegetation, and displays considerable agility in leaping when discovered. It gets its peculiar name from a supposed similarity in shape to the male buffalo. Its thorax is very wide in front, projecting in two strong horns at the sides, and is triangular, leaving the insect relatively very narrow in the rear. The hopper does great damage in orchards and gardens, through the cutting up of the limbs by the female in depositing her eggs. C. L. Marlatt, of the Department of Agriculture, has published a circular relating to it.

The list of recent deaths includes, among men known to science, the names of Dr. Allen P. Smith, a distinguished Baltimore surgeon, and one of the original trustees of Johns Hopkins University, July 18th; A. H. B. Beale, professor of philosophy and education in the University of Washington, Killed by a fall, July 18th; Dr. William Pepper, provost of the University of Pennsylvania from 1881 till 1894, and afterward professor in it of the theory and practice of medicine, and author of many works on medical and other subjects, at San Francisco, July 28th, aged fifty-five years; Dr. E. L. Sturtevant, an eminent scientific agriculturist, at Framingham, Mass., July 30th, aged fifty-six years; Prof, John Caird, an eminent philosophical writer, at Glasgow, Scotland, July 30th, aged seventy-eight years; Prof. James Hall, the oldest of American geologists, near Bethlehem, N. H., August 7th, in his eighty-seventh year; Georg Maurice Ebers, an eminent Egyptologist and author of numerous historical novels, near Munich, Bavaria, aged sixty one years; Adolph Sutro, constructor of the Sutro Tunnel and deviser of a tidal water power, who made many gifts to education, at San Francisco; M. Emile Roger, retired inspector of mines in France and author of studies concerning the respective distances of the planets and their satellites; Prof. J. C. Fillmore, of Pomona College, California, ethnologist, at Taftville, Conn., on his way to the meeting of the American Association, where he was to read a paper on The Harmonic Structure of Indian Music, August 14th; Dr. Axel Blytt, professor of botany at Christiania, Norway, aged fifty-four years; Dr. Carlo Giacomini, professor of anatomy at Turin, July 15th; and Dr. Ernest Candez, student of coleoptera, near Lüttich, June 20th.