Popular Science Monthly/Volume 7/May 1875/Notes

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S. Augusto Guattari, of Castellamare, Italy, has devised an improvement in pneumatic telegraphs, consisting of an instrument which will serve either as a transmitter or receiver. By means of two such instruments, placed at different stations and connected by a single air-conducting tube, messages may be transmitted in either direction. There is but one dial, which serves to indicate both the signals sent and received, so that the same instrument is made to answer both purposes, thereby dispensing with one of the two required in all other pneumatic telegraphs, and lessening the cost of apparatus. The invention has been patented here.

Dr. John Edward Gray, F.R.S., naturalist of the British Museum, died March 6th, in the seventy-fifth year of his age. He was a voluminous writer on zoological and botanical subjects. He was connected with the Natural History Department of the British Museum for over fifty years. In addition to his strictly scientific work, he took part in the discussion of various questions of social importance, such as public education, prison discipline, the postage system, and the organization of museums and galleries of art.

Died at Bonn, on the 17th of February, Prof. Friedrich Wilhelm August Argelander, the celebrated astronomer. Deceased was born in 1790, and in 1820 became the official assistant of Bessel at the Königsberg Observatory. From 1845 till his death, he was in charge of the observatory of the Bonn University. His "Celestial Atlas," lately published, ranks among the best works of its kind.

"The isolated study of any thing in natural history is a fruitful source of error. .... No single experiment in physiology is worth any thing."—Dr. Jeffries Wyman.

A manual is to be prepared for the use of the British Arctic Expedition of next summer, consisting of reprints of papers in the transactions of learned societies not otherwise accessible, and other materials, the object being to furnish an exact view of the state of existing knowledge of Greenland and the surrounding seas.

In Osage County, Kansas, the fruit-trees which had been stripped by the grasshoppers all put forth leaves again, and many of them bloomed with double flowers; most of the embryo fruit was double.

From the researches of Charles Violette on the distribution of the saccharine and saline principles in the beet, it appears that the former increase considerably by arithmetical progression from the collar to the point of the root. The saline constituents do not show a regular variation in quantity from one end of the beet to the other, still the chlorides are more abundant at the collar than at the point.

The Agassiz Memorial Fund has been accepted by the President and Fellows of Harvard College, for the use of the Museum of Comparative Zoology founded in that university by Agassiz. The continuous growth of the museum is thus assured.

"Mumbo Jumbo" is commonly supposed to be the proper name of an African god; in reality he is a sort of policeman, an institution peculiar to the Mandingoes on the river Gambia. A traveler in Africa informs us that he is the terror of the Mandingo women, for whose special benefit and discipline he has been established. A strong, athletic man, dressed from head to foot in dry plantain-leaves, appears when invoked by an injured husband. He goes through all sorts of antics and pantomime among the assembled villagers, all of whom are there under pain of suspicion. Suddenly he pounces like a tiger upon the offending wife, and thrashes her severely with a long rod with which he is armed. The crowd, especially the women in it, drown her cries with jeers and laughs. In other parts of Africa a similar domestic policeman exists.

M. d'Ommalius d'Halloy, the distinguished Belgian geologist, died at Liege, January 15th, at the age of ninety-two years. He was the author of several text-books on geology, as also of numerous memoirs contributed to learned societies and scientific periodicals.

An aquarium-car containing 300,000 fishes for California waters was wrecked last year en route, and its living freight precipitated into the Elkhorn River. Another attempt at introducing into the streams of the Pacific slope some of the valuable food-fishes of the Atlantic coast was more successful. Mr. Livingston Stone, of the United States Fish Commission, started from Albany on the 25th of June with about 40,000 young shad. Of these, 5,000 were placed in the Jordan River, a tributary of the Great Salt Lake, and the remainder in the Sacramento.

The monthly report of the Department of Agriculture states that last year the "chinch-bug," which usually restricts its ravages to growing Indian-corn, in Johnson County, Missouri, attacked potato-vines, and even the tobacco-plant.

In the peat-bogs of Northwestern Germany a peat-cutting machine is employed, consisting of a large, flat-bottomed steam-vessel, which, when set to work, is able to cut a canal 20 ft. in breadth and 6 ft. in depth, while proceeding at the rate of from 10 to 12 ft. per hour. The soil thus cut out is lifted into the vessel by steam-power, there thoroughly ground, and deposited, by means of a pipe running out of the side of the vessel, on the bank of the canal, where it is subsequently cut into bricks and dried. By this method about 55 tons of very good peat may be manufactured per day. A similar machine is also in use in Canada.

A medical officer of the British Navy recommends that each member of the projected Polar Expedition have fitted to his sacrum a flat spirit-lamp, from which a tube should pass up the spine beneath the clothes to the occiput, so as to maintain the heat of the trunk and vital organs!

By invitation of the Senatus Academicus of the University of Edinburgh, Prof. Huxley will perform the duties of the chair of Natural History in the coming summer session, in the place of Prof. Wyville Thomson, who is absent with the Challenger Expedition.

A quarterly review of scientific psychology and philosophy will be issued in London in the course of the present year. It will discuss many subjects at present but little attended to in psychological journals, such as language, primitive culture, comparative psychology, etc. The title of the new periodical will be Mind.

A monument is about to be erected in Stockholm to Scheele, the great Swedish chemist, who discovered tartaric acid, chlorine, baryta, and glycerine; he also discovered oxygen in 1777 in the course of his own independent researches, though the honor of prior discovery belongs to Priestley. A monument is also to be erected in Brussels, to Quetelet, the illustrious statistician.

In the Freedmen's Mission Chapel at Green Cove Spring, Florida, a circular saw, about three feet in diameter, serves as a bell to call the people to prayers. The saw is suspended from a rafter, and it is sounded by means of a wooden mallet. This "bell" is heard, in calm weather, at the distance of a mile and a half.