Popular Science Monthly/Volume 7/August 1875/Notes

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Errata.—In the article entitled "Absorption of Water by growing Grain," on page 380 of present volume, for "1,796 grammes," read "1.796 gramme," and for "two-fifths of an acre," read "2.5 acres."

We note the formation of three new associations for the study of natural science, viz.: the Lyceum of Natural Sciences, at San Diego, California; the Natural History Club, of Vineland, New Jersey; and the Nebraska Association for the Advancement of Science, at North Platte, Nebraska.

Admiral Sherard Osborn, of the British Navy, who died on May 6th, in the fifty-fourth year of his age, first gained disinclination in the expedition which sailed to the polar regions in search of Franklin in 1849. Again, in 1852, he commanded a vessel which took part in a second expedition on the same errand.

A virulent disease of the lungs, bearing some resemblance to the epizootic which appeared in the United States about two years ago, broke out among the horses at Hull, England, last March. The malady is described as very infectious, and as having carried off a large number of animals.

Died suddenly, on June 11th, at the age of forty-nine years, Joseph Winlock, Director of the Cambridge Observatory, and Phillips Professor of Astronomy in Harvard College. The deceased was a native of Kentucky, and from 1845 till 1852 was Professor of Mathematics in Shelby College, in that State. He then removed to Cambridge, where he was employed in making computations for the Nautical Almanac. Later he was appointed Professor of Mathematics for the United States Navy, and served as assistant in the Washington Observatory, superintendent of the Nautical Almanac, and Director of the Mathematical Department of the Annapolis Academy. From 1865 till his death he was connected with the Cambridge Observatory and Harvard College.

The fifteenth annual meeting of the National Educational Association will be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, the 3d, 4th, and 5th days of August. The officers of the Association are: President, William T. Harris, St. Louis; Secretary, William R. Abbott, Bellevue, Virginia; Treasurer, A. P. Marble, Worcester, Massachusetts.

Committee "F" of the United States Board for testing iron, steel, etc., request information as to the behavior of rails and machinery exposed to the extremes of temperature observed in northern latitudes, when subject to wear or to breakage. Specimens, photographs, results of analysis, statistics of railroads, statements from rolling-mills, published or unpublished essays—in short, information of any kind upon the subject may be sent in to the committee, R. H. Thurston, chairman, Stevens Institute, Hoboken, New Jersey.

An elaborate work by A. R. Wallace, on the "Geographical Distribution of Animals," is announced as soon to be published by Macmillan. It will be in two volumes, illustrated with many maps and woodcuts.

Mary Putnam Jacobi, M. D., of New York, has recently received from Paris, says the Tribune, the bronze medal awarded three years ago by the Academy of Medicine for her graduating thesis. In the competition Mrs. Jacobi attained the rank of from fifth to eighth in a class of 300, all men except herself. And yet Paris medical journals are complaining that "the admission of women students to the Academy has lowered its standards!"

It is stated in an Albany journal that Seth Green has succeeded in hatching a large number of sturgeon-eggs. It is intended to stock the Hudson River with sturgeon, a fish which at one time was very abundant in that stream, but which has for years been declining in numbers.

The Swedish Arctic Expedition of the present year was to have sailed in June for Nova Zembla. It will first study the botany, zoölogy, and ethnology, of the south of the island, and then advance along the west coast to the northernmost point. Thence it will advance to the northeast to explore this unknown part of the Polar Sea. It then goes south to the mouth of the Obi and the Yenisei. Here the explorers will quit the ship and go up the river in boats, returning home afterward by land. Prof. Nordenskiöld commands the expedition. A wealthy merchant, Oskar Dickson, bears all the expenses.

In excavating near Rideau Hall, Ottawa, the residence of the Governor-General of Canada, the workmen made an interesting geological discovery. They came upon a stratum of fossil-rock several feet thick, containing beautiful petrified winged insects. Some of these are like butterflies, with the delicate fibre of the wings in a perfect state of preservation.

During the last fifty years the water-level of the rivers Elbe and Oder has fallen 17 inches, that of the Rhine 24, of the Vistula 26, and that of the Danube as much as 55 inches at Orsova. And there is a similar decrease in the water-supply from springs in Germany. The cause of this decline is attributable to the present reckless cutting down of forests, as also to the artificial drainage now so generally adopted by farmers.

Dr. Paul Bert, distinguished for his researches on the physiological effects of atmospheric pressures, has been chosen President of the French Aëronautical Society. Gaston Tissandier is one of the vice-presidents.

The work of the Geological Survey of California having been suspended by the State Legislature, a vast collection of botanical observations remained in manuscript, which the State refused to have printed. Prof. Gilman has succeeded in raising a subscription of $5,000, for the purpose of publishing this valuable material. The funds were contributed by nine public-spirited citizens of San Francisco.

Spectacle-frames with fine wire gauze in place of glass are found to answer perfectly for the protection of the eyes from dust in various trades and occupations, such as stone-cutting, thrashing, etc. Such spectacles permit the necessary access of air to the eye, and produce no inconvenience to the wearer.

The best authorities consulted by the British insurance companies, as to the advisability of putting an extra premium on the policies held by the members of the Arctic Expedition, were of opinion that the risks were not so great as on the west coast of Africa, and hence no extra premium was exacted.

The extension of railways in India is gradually undermining the institution of caste. In a lecture on this subject, Mr. Framjee R. Vicajce, a native of Bombay, said that in England the only caste which the railway class-system protects from contamination is that which is based on wealth; but in India, which is a poor country, really high-caste people travel third class to save their money, while in England they travel first-class to save or assert their caste.

The mean height of Europe is estimated by Dr. G. Leitpoldt at 974 feet. Switzerland shows the maximum mean height, 4,624 feet, and the Netherlands the minimum, 31 feet. Intermediate are Spain and Portugal, 2,298 feet; Austria, 1,698; Italy, 1,696; France, 1,292; British Islands, 714; Germany, 701; Russia, 548; Denmark, 115.

According to Dr. Otto Krause, tobacco-smoke always contains a considerable quantity of carbonic oxide, and the after-effects of smoking are principally caused by this poisonous gas. Dr. Krause holds that the after-effects are all the more energetic, the more inexperienced the smoker is, and he thus explains the unpleasant results of the first attempts at smoking, which are generally ascribed to nicotine alone.

The practice of vaccination is making fair progress in India. One obstacle is the religious scruples of the people, but the medical officers state that these may now be overcome by the payment of one auna (three cents) per child.

The water of a much-esteemed mineral spring in England was, on chemical analysis, found to contain in very large proportion every known form of impurity, viz., oxidizable organic matter, ammonia, chlorides, nitrates, nitrites, living organisms, and decaying vegetable matter.

Two instances are mentioned in the Lancet of undoubted transmission of disease from human beings to domestic animals. In one case whooping-cough was communicated to a cat from children. In the other case dogs took small-pox from persons suffering from that disease.

It is announced by the Norwegian papers that the Government have voted about $25,000 toward a scheme for the prosecution of deep-sea investigations between Iceland, Spitzbergen, the Faroe Islands, and Jan Mayen Island. Operations will be conducted on the model of the Challenger's researches.

The following instance of canine sagacity and fidelity is reported in Land and Water: A man named Colville left his home near Dunfermline, accompanied by his dog. He did not return that day, but the next afternoon the dog came home, and behaved in a very eccentric manner, apparently endeavoring to attract attention. Seeing that the animal continually rushed off in the same direction, and that he evidently wanted some one to go with him, Colville's friends resolved to follow him. The dog led them to a disused coal-shaft, and there stopped. Grappling irons were procured, and the dead body of Colville was soon brought to the surface.

In the Annals and Magazine of Natural History for January, 1875, Captain F. W. Button gives a technical description of two new species of Crustacea recently discovered in New Zealand.

Three years ago an American tourist, John Blackford, lost his life in an attempt to ascend Mont Blanc without a guide. His body was recently found in a large ice-block after several days of thaw. Features and clothes were in a perfect state of preservation.

The Fish Commissioners of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, says Forest and Stream, are preparing to engage more actively than ever in shad-culture on the Delaware. Hatching-boxes have been located at three different stations, viz.. Point Pleasant, Trenton, and Howell's Fishery.

Says the Lancet: "Another case of inflammation of the feet, caused by the wearing of socks with orange-red stripes, has occurred. The victim this time is Mr. Hart Dyke, the Conservative Whip. We presume the offending dye is coralline, which gained such notoriety a year or so ago. It is impossible to avoid asking whether the sale of such dangerous articles cannot be stopped. The color is attractive, and just now is fashionable; any one, however, who has respect for his 'poor feet' would certainly be wise to avoid it."

A bill for regulating the practice of vivisection has been introduced into the British Parliament, It proposes to enact that after January, 1876, vivisection is only to be performed in places duly registered, and upon notice being given to the Secretary of State. Anæsthetics are always to be employed, except when a special license has been granted by the Secretary. The penalty for an offense against the act is not to exceed £20.

The library of the late J. J. Audubon, containing 800 volumes, was destroyed by fire at Shelbyville, Kentucky, on April 29th.