Popular Science Monthly/Volume 6/March 1875/Notes

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To determine the real value of the "disease-proof potatoes" advertised by seeds-men, the Royal Agricultural Society of England, some time since, offered a prize of £100 for a really disease-proof potato. The conditions were that the potatoes should be tried in twenty different parts of the kingdom for three years. But the committee did not need to continue the experiment for three years; the results obtained in one season were decisive. None of the potatoes resisted the disease. During the period of vigorous growth, in five localities out of the twenty, the disease was virulent in all the varieties, and by the end of the season it had appeared in all the plots.

The collection of anatomical and physiological preparations made by the late Prof. Jeffries Wyman was in his will bequeathed to the Boston Society of Natural History, on condition that they paid to his heirs the sum of three thousand dollars. The Society promptly accepted the bequest; but, instead of the sum named in the will, of their own accord they paid to the heirs five thousand dollars.

From the investigations of Prof. Buckley, State Geologist of Texas, it appears that that State has vast deposits of iron and coal, of much greater extent than had been anticipated. Both are of excellent quality, and, in some cases, they occur near together. He has also found an abundance of salt, gypsum, and a wide range of copper-ores. Other valuable minerals are roofing-slate, marble, soapstone, etc.

Dr. Kosch, of Vienna, has discovered a method of making certain colors fire-proof, so that they may be used for painting on china in precisely the tones required. The inventor also employs a special enamel, which he spreads over the surface to be painted on, thus doing away with the irregularities and porosities of the porcelain; the irregular and undue absorption of color is thus prevented. Another invention of Dr. Kosch's is the fusion of gold, silver, and platinum, with bronze, by which the most gorgeous effects are produced.

A new method of casting statues in bronze has been discovered by a Venetian founder named Giordani. The advantage of the method consists in the cast being effected in a single operation, no matter how large the model, or how complicated in its form.

During the Paleolithic period horses were numerous all over Europe, and formed the basis of human food. In every "find" of that epoch, horses' bones constitute a considerable portion of the animal remains. But in the next age, the age of polished stone, we find no indications of horse-flesh having been consumed as food. The question is, whether the horse disappeared from Europe just as it did from this continent, and was imported again from abroad.

A new mineral, Rivotite (so called in honor of the memory of M. Rivot, late of the Paris School of Mines) has been discovered by X. Ducloux. It occurs in small, irregular masses, dispersed in a yellowish-white chalk, upon the western slope of the Sierra del Cadi, in the Spanish province of Lerida.

Sugar, now almost one of the necessaries of life, was nearly unknown to Europe before the Crusades. At present, England consumes as much sugar as all the rest of Europe together—more than one pound per week for every man, woman, and child in the United Kingdom. In 1870, the refined cane-sugar, molasses, and syrup, manufactured in the United States was: Sugar, 754,000,000 pounds; molasses, 839,000 gallons; and syrup, 18,000,000 gallons.

A characteristic effect of snake-poison is rapid decomposition of muscular tissue. From Dr. Weir Mitchell's experiments it appears that, after a few hours, the wounded muscle becomes almost diffluent, and assumes a dark color and somewhat jelly-like appearance; under the microscope it has the appearance of a mass of minute granules.

The "Copley Medal" of the London Royal Society for the year 1874 has been awarded to M. Louis Pasteur for his researches on fermentation and on Pebrine (a disease of the silk-worm); the "Rumford Medal" to J. Norman Lockyer, for his spectroscopic researches on the sun and on the chemical elements; a "Royal Medal" to Prof. William C. Williamson, for his contributions to zoology and paleontology; and a "Royal Medal" to Henry Clifton Sorby, for his researches on slaty cleavage, and on the minute structure of minerals.

The British Government has decided to send out next spring an expedition to explore the region of the north-pole. The chief command of this expedition is to be intrusted to Captain Nares, at present in command of the Challenger and already a distinguished arctic navigator. It is intended to make the expedition a purely naval one, no person being permitted to join it in any capacity save officers and men of the Royal Navy.

Two German physiologists, Weiske and Wildt, in a series of investigations on goats, have shown that, although the withdrawal of lime or of phosphoric acid from the food of adult animals leads to fatal consequences, yet it has little or no influence on the composition of the bones, and in particular does not make them friable. To determine the same point with regard to young animals, they selected Southdown lambs about ten weeks old. One of these was fed upon food poor in phosphoric acid, a second on food poor in lime, and a third on normal diet. After the lapse of 55 days various bones were analyzed, and the general result was that, just as in adults, so in young animals: no remarkable change was produced in the composition of the several bones by the difference of diet; or, in other words, that the composition of the bones is independent of the nature of the food. The bones were, however, stunted in their growth.

From the researches of Schöne on the conduct of ozone and water toward each other, it appears that ozone does not oxidize water; that ozone is absorbed by water in considerable quantity, even at the ordinary temperature; that when ozonized oxygen is conducted through water, the amount of ozone contained in the mixture is diminished; and that ozone in contact with water is slowly changed to ordinary oxygen.

A patent has been granted for an India-rubber shoe, or rather overshoe, for horses, as it is called by the Scientific American. The shoe is made and lined precisely in the same way as the "arctic overshoe," and in fact presents no difference, save in its shape and in its manufacture, from the bast quality of India-rubber. Horses suffering from cracked or contracted hoof are soon cured by the use of these elastic shoes. The cost of rubber shoes, as compared with those of iron, is about one-third more, and their weight is about 40 per cent. less.

A correspondent of the Department of Agriculture, writing from Stanley County, North Carolina, notes a curious fact observed in growing turnips on land previously sown with the opium-poppy: the turnips came up, but never got beyond the seed-leaf. Repeated sowings on the same lot had the same result. On the other hand, turnips sowed in spots not far removed from the poppies, did very well, and were less annoyed by insect enemies than ever before. "Can it be," asks the correspondent, "that the opium-poppy leaves in the ground elements incompatible with the life of the turnip?"

At the instance of the German Anthropological Society, statistical information is to be collected from schools and military depots throughout the German Empire, with a view to the solution of the vexed question, whether there are two distinct types of Germans, one tall and fair, the other short and dark.