Popular Science Monthly/Volume 6/April 1875/Notes

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Monsieur N. Rauïs, connected with the secrétariat of the Brussels Royal Academy of the Sciences, proposes to publish a "Universal Dictionary of Academies, Learned Societies, Observatories, Universities, Museums, Libraries, Botanic Gardens," etc.—a systematic catalogue of all institutions concerned with the progress of science, letters, and the arts. He requests of the officials of such institutions everywhere to send him information about their establishments under the following heads: 1. Title; 2. Date of foundation; 3. Aims; 4. List of officials (titles only); 5. Location, with the exact address; 6. Prizes, etc., offered; 7. Property owned such as library, archives, museum, laboratories, etc.; 8. Publications—number and class—number of volumes published since foundation how these publications may be obtained; 9. Any other useful information. M. Rauïs's address is "Académie Royale des Sciences, Place du Musée, No. 1, à Bruxelles."

The World's Production and Consumption of Paper.—The following statistics of paper-making are given on the authority of Rudel, of Vienna, Austria: It appears that there are 3,960 paper-manufacturers in the world, employing 80,000 men and 180,000 women, besides the 100,000 employed in the rag-trade; 1,809,000,000 pounds of paper are produced annually. One-half is used in printing, a sixth for writing, and the remainder for packing and for other purposes. The United States averages 17 pounds per head; an Englishman consumes 11½ pounds; a German, 8 pounds; a Frenchman, 7 pounds; an Italian, 3½ pounds; a Spaniard, 1½ pound; and a Russian only 1 pound annually, on an average.

According to Worsæ, the civilization of the Age of Bronze originated in Asia Minor, and was first adopted in Greece. From Greece and Hungary it spread over the rest of Europe. From Greece it spread into Italy, Gaul, and Britain; from Hungary, into Northern Germany and Scandinavia.

E. Monsen, C. E., has written a pamphlet entitled "The Sewage Difficulty exploded." "The author," says Iron, "cuts the knot of sewage utilization, by regarding sewage as practically useless for agricultural purposes, thus restricting the question to the easiest and most economical method of rendering it innocuous. He puts his opinion in epigrammatic form when he observes that sludge and sewage require a deal of leaving alone. Having removed the insoluble matter or sludge by deposition, and brought the liquid portion into a condition sufficiently innocuous, he proposes to pass it into the rivers; the sludge he would bury or store in trenches. It will thus, he says, be put out of the way, and cease to be a nuisance."

It is proposed to make the tidal movements in the British Channel available for compressing air to drive the engines used in excavating the Anglo-French Tunnel under the Straits of Dover.

Experiments made by Fleck, of Dresden, on the disinfecting power of chloride of lime, caustic lime, alum, sulphate of iron, and chloralum, show that the last is by far less efficacious than the others. Alum and sulphate of iron are quite as inoffensive and innocuous as chloralum, while at the same time they are more powerful and considerably cheaper.

A new tonic medicine, stimulant to digestion, and having a marked action on the liver, is mentioned in the Medical Press. It is called boldo, and is obtained from the boldu, a tree which grows in Chili. One gramme of the tincture excites appetite, increases the circulation, and acts on the urine, which gives out the peculiar odor of boldo.

The mode of fertilization of the closed gentian, the flowers of which never open, has long puzzled botanists. The corolla is twisted up so as to leave no opening at the top. The flowers are all nearly erect, with two stigmas considerably above the five anthers. An English observer has seen humble-bees entering these flowers; they pry or untwist the opening with their mouth-organs and legs, and then pop into the barrel-shaped cavity, which they just fill.

Sir Charles Lyell, author of "Principles of Geology," died February 23d. Deceased was born in 1797. At Oxford University he attended Buckland's lectures on geology. The first volume of his "Principles" was published in 1830. The work has reached its twelfth edition in England, and is the principal text-book of geology in that country. Lyell's "Elements" was originally a part of the "Principles." He also wrote "Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man." We gave a portrait of Lyell and a sketch of his life in No. II. of the Monthly.

Died, December 31, 1874, Francis Kiernan, F. R. S., author of "Anatomical Researches on the Structure of the Liver." He was a native of Ireland, but had lived in England from boyhood. His researches earned for him his Fellowship in the Royal Society, and also the Copley Medal. He took an active part in promoting the establishment of the London University.

It is in contemplation to send out from Germany during the present year an expedition to explore the north-polar region. The expedition is to consist of two steamships, one to explore the east coast of Greenland, the other to advance to the pole. The funds are to be raised by private subscription.

The Highland Agricultural Society of Scotland lately resolved to memorialize the Government in behalf of agricultural education for the working -classes, that the grants of the department shall be declared to cover instruction in chemistry, mechanics, physiology, botany, morphology, and other scientific subjects, when taught in the abstract, in so far as necessary for agriculture; and also to cover instruction given in the principles of agriculture as an applied science, and to place it in the same position as machine-construction, applied mechanics, the principles of mining, and navigation, which are already included in the list of scientific arts toward instruction in which aid is given, and in which examinations are carried out by the department.

The use of aniline colors for tinting candies, syrups, and the like, is condemned by the Laboratory on account of their liability to contain arsenic. In twenty-five samples of aniline red or fuchsine, lately analyzed by Dr. Springmühl, only one was found wholly free from this poison, some of the samples containing as much as 6½ per cent, of arsenic. Cases of poisoning by these colors, as thus used, are numerous and well authenticated, and should warn consumers against brightly-colored syrups and confectionery.

According to the Mining and Scientific Press, several vessels laden with coal for California were destroyed by fire last year. The cause was undoubtedly spontaneous combustion, heat being generated by the pressure and friction in the hold of the vessel. The "fire-damp" which escapes from coal-mines arises from slow decomposition of the coal at a temperature but little above that of the atmosphere.

The Berlin Academy of Sciences has voted money for the purpose of maintaining in that city a certain number of scientific men, whose only occupation will be the investigation of science, and who will have no other duties to attend to, such as teaching, lecturing, and the like. Prof. Kirchhoff has received and accepted a "call" from the Academy.

On the 18th of January of the present year, there died at Tring, Herts, England, a woman who had attained the extraordinary age of one hundred and eleven years and nine months. She was of pure gipsy descent, and was born in 1763 at Chinnor, Oxfordshire. Her name was Hearne, by marriage Leatherlund. The parish register of Chinnor shows that she was baptized on the 24th of April, 1763.

From July 25, 1775, when Benjamin Franklin was appointed Postmaster-General, until 1799, only letters and newspapers were conveyed by the United States mails. In the latter year it was provided that pamphlets and magazines also might be transported when convenient; and not till 1845 was mailable matter strictly defined as including letters, newspapers, and periodicals. The regulations for 1852 admitted bound books not weighing over thirty-two ounces. The act of 1861 admitted maps, engravings, seeds, and cuttings, not weighing over eight ounces, and books not over four pounds. In 1863 a number of miscellaneous articles were declared mailable, and in 1872 it was enacted that this miscellaneous matter should embrace all articles within the prescribed weight (four pounds) which were not liable to injure the mail-bag or the person of any post-office employé. Down to 1852 the post-office was self-sustaining; since that time there has always been an annual deficit, with the exception of the year 1865.

Prof. J. N. Benedict, who has studied the topography of the Adirondack plateau, with a view to determine the probable cost of storing up the surplus waters of that region for the use of the Hudson and other streams, reports that—1. Immense quantities of water can be safely stored at a comparatively low cost on the Upper Hudson, much of which is now worse than lost, as it runs to waste in spring freshets, which in various ways are the cause of much damage; 2. That this excess alone is sufficient to maintain a good depth of water in the main river for one hundred days in the summer. The lakes of the Racquette basin alone are stated to have a capacity more than six times that of the Black River reservoirs, which supply the eastern division of the Erie Canal.

The "Central Ohio Scientific Association" was organized last November, at Urbana, with the following officers: President, Rev. Theodore N. Glover; Vice-President, P. R. Bennett, Jr.; Corresponding Secretary and Curator, Thomas F. Moses, M. D.,; Recording Secretary, William F. Leahy; Treasurer, J. F. Meyer. The Association holds its meetings once a month at Urbana, the county-seat of Champaign County.

The chief of the Manchester Fire Department gives, in a late number of Science Gossip, several instances where leaden water-pipes were gnawed through by rats. Two cases are also cited where the rats evidently mistook a gas for a water-pipe, and gnawed through it; on both these occasions damage was done by fire, by the accidental ignition of the escaping gas. Fires have occurred through rats and mice conveying under the flooring oily and fatty rags which have afterward ignited spontaneously. This is supposed to be a common cause of fire in cotton-mills.

At the Vienna Exposition there were exhibited specimens of paper from the bark of the mulberry, from the stinging-nettle, and from potato-stalks. The mulberry-bark used for paper is the bark stripped from twigs after the leaves have been fed to silkworms. In Hungary the nettle is used with rags for making fine sketching and copying paper, and in Bohemia wrapping-paper is made from potato-stalks.

At the beginning of the present year the amount contributed toward the Agassiz monument was $9,000.