Popular Science Monthly/Volume 7/October 1875/Notes

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The Acclimatization Society of Cincinnati has had printed muslin handbills offering a reward of ten dollars for "any information that will convict persons of violating" in the vicinity of that city "the laws framed for the protecting of birds."

The Prussian Government offers a prize of 3,000 marks (about $700) for a method which will give plaster-casts the power of resisting periodically repeated washings, without injuring in the least the delicacy of the form, or the tint of the plaster. Also a prize of 10,000 marks (about $2,500) for a material for making plaster-casts of art-works, possessing the advantages of plaster, but which, without any special preparation, will not deteriorate by periodically-repeated washings. The conditions of competition are stated in full in the Journal of the Society of Arts, No. 1,177.

From official returns published in the Sanitarian, it appears that in the city of Boston there occurred, in the year 1874, 11,717 births, whereof 6,021 were of males and 5,696 of females. The proportion is as one to 28.27 of population. Of the whole number 54.74 per cent, were of foreign parentage by both parents; 66.35 per cent, had foreign-born fathers; 73 per cent, were of parents one or both of whom were foreign-born. Of Irish parentage there was one birth to 20.05 of the population; of native, one to 73.24.

Modoo Soodun Goopta is the name of the first Hindoo that ever dissected a human cadaver; this he did in 1836. Still not till seventeen years later did scientific medicine begin to find favor among the natives of India. At present students in great numbers attend the medical colleges of Calcutta, Madras, Bombay, Agra, and the schools of Lahore and Nagpoor.

During the whole month of June, according to the Monthly Weather Report, vessels navigating the North Atlantic were in danger from ice-drift and icebergs. The steamship Scandinavian, while off the coast of Newfoundland, on the 29th of June, sighted no less than 100 icebergs, many of them of monstrous size.

Captain Lawson, whose book, "Wanderings in New Guinea," is almost universally considered to be a work of fiction, on June 22d read a paper at the London Anthropological Institute on "The Papuans of New Guinea." Before the paper was read several members urged the chairman to require of the author some evidence of his good faith, but the motion was over-ruled, and Captain Lawson was allowed to proceed. In the discussion which followed. Dr. Busk and others expressed opinions adverse to the author's credibility, and the usual vote of thanks was not passed.

The Tribune, of Salt Lake City, announces the discovery in North Mill Creek Canon, near the line of the Utah Central Railroad, of a rich mine of mica. The belt is said to be about 1,000 feet wide and 1,000 feet long. Sheets of mica three by four inches can be obtained in abundance, and development of the mines will doubtless open beds from which sheets of any size can be taken.

A traveler in Zanzibar states that in that country ants are a great pest. They move along the roads in masses so dense that beasts of burden refuse to step among them. If a traveler should fail to see them coming in time to make his escape, he soon finds them swarming about his person. Sometimes, too, they ascend the trees and drop on the wayfarer.

The telegraphic cable between Anglesea and Ireland was recently taken up for the purpose of repairing a fault which had occurred not far from the former island. The fault was found to have been caused by a minute crustacean (Limnoria terebrans), which had pierced the gutta-percha covering of the cable. The application of creosote seems to be the only preventive of the depredations of this little creature.

A highly-improbable story is published in the English newspapers, of the discovery in Syria of a large number of villages, the names of which are unknown to the geographer, and even to the tax-gatherer. No fewer than seventy-nine of these hapless hamlets, so the story runs, have been unearthed in the single district of Damascus, besides about an equal number in other parts of the province, by Medjeddin Effendi, who has been devoting his time and energies to the exploration of old official registers. He is still, it is stated, busily employed in prosecuting his researches, and it is strongly suspected that a number of other unknown villages will be dragged to light.

Died, June 14th, Prof. Henry d'Arrest, of the University of Copenhagen, aged fifty-three years. The Royal Astronomical Society of England last February awarded to Prof. d'Arrest a gold medal for his "Catalogue of the Nebulæ." At the time of his death he had just completed and published his spectroscopic survey of the northern heavens.

We published a note in the July Popular Science Monthly, on the authority of the Sanitarian, giving the annual death-rates of several American cities, as deduced from the mortality of the month of March last. That of the city of Nashville was represented as the highest of the places mentioned, its death-rate being set down at 37.69 per thousand per annum. This was a grave mistake, which it is both a duty and a pleasure to correct. It appears from official documents sent us by the authorities of that city, and based on carefully-collected data, that the mortality in March gives a death-rate of only 26. 27 per thousand, a figure considerably below that of several of the other cities named.

At the meeting of the American Association a report was submitted by Prof. Newton on weights and measures. It is there stated that the leading powers of the world have called for a convention during the present year, to provide for the creation and maintenance, in the city of Paris, of an organization to be known as the International Bureau of Verification. This bureau will be charged with the distribution, to the governments of the powers represented, of accurate standards of measurement. The report also contains resolutions providing for a memorial to Congress requesting an appropriation to provide for the expense of commissioners from the United States. These resolutions were unanimously adopted by the Association.

M. Bérenger-Feraud, surgeon in the French naval service, notes a singular custom which he found existing among the Balances, a tribe dwelling on the banks of the Casamanca, in intertropical Africa. They make the duration of marriage responsibilities dependent on the conservation of the pagua, or festive garment given to the wife by the husband on the occasion of their wedding. The woman who wishes to be divorced from her lord has merely to wear out her pagua as fast as possible, and then present it in a tattered condition to her family, whereupon she obtains release from the power of her husband.

The Smithsonian Institution and the Indian Bureau are forming a large collection of crania, ornaments, utensils, weapons, pottery, and the like, illustrative of the ethnology and archæology of North America, which will form a department of the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia. At the late meeting of the American Association a resolution was adopted inviting the International Congress of Prehistoric Archaeologists to hold their meeting of next year in the United States. The delegates to the Congress would find, in the collection mentioned above, an abundance of material which could not fail to throw light upon many of the obscure problems of the early history of mankind.

In examining the surface-mud of a shallow rain-water pool, Prof. Leidy observed the movements of a multitude of microscopic algae, which he referred to the species Navicula radiosa. These diatoms were very active, gliding hither and thither, and knocking the quartz-sand grains about. Comparative measurements showed that the Naviculæ could move grains of sand as much as twenty-five times their own superficial area, and probably fifty times their own bulk and weight, or perhaps more.

Prof. Ramsay is of the opinion that in pre-Miocene times the Alps were probably higher than they are now, notwithstanding the fact that their present elevation is due to subsequent upheaval. That the Alps suffered very extensive denudation during the Miocene period he finds amply demonstrated by the enormous thickness of fresh-water and marine deposits of Miocene age, now spread over Switzerland, these deposits having been formed by the degradation of the pre-Miocene Alps. An elevation of upward of 5,000 feet took place after the deposition of these strata, but the Alps continued to suffer denudation during the Pliocene and post-Pliocene ages, although it is difficult to estimate the extent of this loss.

A fungus, belonging to one genus with the Peronospora infestans of the potato, is at present ravaging the opium-poppy in India. This fungus (Peronospora arborescens) is invariably found in the blighted leaves of the poppy. After the parasite has done its work, the leaves of the plant become infested with several other fungi, chiefly saprophytes.

The leaves of Eucalyptus globulus contain an ethereal oil, of which even half-dried leaves contain 6 per cent., and, according to Gimbert, this oil is a very powerful antiseptic. It will preserve blood and pus as long as carbolic acid, and far longer than oil of turpentine. It prevents also the appearance of fungi and vibrios.