Popular Science Monthly/Volume 8/November 1875/Notes

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A correspondent of the Scientific American states that in Minneapolis a supply of water for extinguishing fires is obtained in localities beyond the reach of the city water-works by sinking four drive-wells at distances thirty feet apart, or fifteen feet from a centre. The pipes (2 1/2 inches) of the four wells are brought together at the top, where the suction-hose of the fire-engine is attached. On trial an engine threw a continuous stream from a 1-1/8 inch nozzle for one hour. The water in the tubes was then at the same height as at the beginning.

The chaparral-hen is described by a sportsman in Texas as a very pretty bird. The female lays one egg, and then commences sitting. While sitting she lays four more, the first being the largest and the fifth the smallest. The birds, when grown, seem to be of the same size. By the time the fifth egg is hatched the first is nearly a full-fledged bird. The first egg is about the size of a pheasant's; the others range in size between the pheasant's and the quail's egg.

A mass of native copper, in weight 6,000 pounds, and taken from an ancient mine on Isle Royal, Lake Superior, is now on exhibition in St. Louis. The mass had evidently been detached from its bed by the ancient miners.

From calculations made by Dr. J. T. Luck, of St. Louis, it appears that the death-rate, among officers of the United States Navy is astonishingly high, being last year 25.45 per thousand. Assuming the average age of naval officers to be thirty, the death-i-ate is three times as high as that of civilians.

The growing appreciation of American scientific work in France is evidenced by the action of the Minister of Public Works authorizing an exchange of the Annales des Mines with sundry American journals and publications of scientific bodies.

To encourage local collectors and amateurs of science in the work of determining the ichthyology of Indiana, Prof. D. S. Jordan, of the State Geological Survey, has published a preliminary list of the fishes which he has himself found, and adds a list of those likely to occur in Indiana waters.

At the initial meeting of the Khedival Society of Geography, held June 2d, the Khedive was represented by his second son, Hussein Pasha, and there were present most of the prominent representatives of the foreign colony in Cairo. The president. Dr. Schweinfurth, addressed the meeting in French. "Science," said he, "which had been carried from Egypt into Greece and Italy, and thence into Central Europe, was now returning to its birthplace. By the munificence of the Khedive, a society had now been established whose object it would be to advance the oldest, the most universal, and the most popular of the sciences. Unlike its sister associations in Europe and America, which have their field of research in distant lands, the Khedival Society had all its work to do at home, so to speak."

In a lecture at Edinburgh on carnivorous plants, Dr. Balfour stated that voting plants of Dionæa muscipula under bell-glasses do not thrive so well as those left free, and that while a piece of beef wrapped in another leaf becomes putrid, a piece inclosed by the Dionæa remains perfectly inodorous, but soon loses its red color, and is gradually disintegrated more and more till it is reduced to a pulp.

Palladium, when coated with palladium-black, becomes saturated with hydrogen much more rapidly than the clean metal. If, when thus saturated, it be wrapped in gun-cotton, an explosion ensues after a few seconds, and the platinum plate burns for a short time with a feeble flame.

Experiments made by Pfaff show ice to be by no means a bad conductor of heat. Taking the conductivity of gold as 1,000, platinum is 981, silver 973, iron 374, ice 314, and tin 303. Dr. Pfaff suggests that his results will modify our views of the physical condition of the interior of a mass of ice.

From the observations of Ebermeyer it appears that, in a given species of tree, the size of the leaves differs in proportion to the elevation. With equal strength of soil, the leaves decrease with height. Again, the entire amount of ash in the leaves decreases with the height; and the proportion of phosphoric acid in the ash is much less in high positions than on low ground.

Statuettes and other artistic forms in plaster are made very closely to resemble silver in appearance by being covered with a thin coat of powdered mica. This powder is mixed with collodion and then applied to the objects in plaster with a brush, after the manner of paint. The mica can be easily tinted in various colors. It can be washed in water, and, unlike silver, is not liable to become tarnished by sulphuretted gases.

In Great Britain and Ireland, the excise duties on liquors for the year ending March, 1875, amounted to £31,917,849, being an increase of £600,000 over the previous financial year.

"So popular are Mr. Darwin's books," says the English Mechanic, "and so widely read, that a countryman with a basket of round-leaved sundews (Drosera rotundifolia) has stationed himself near the Royal Exchange in London, and there daily drives a very good trade."

The excellent Abbé Moigno, editor of Les Mondes, and general manager of the Catholic enterprise for diffusing a knowledge of science among the laboring-classes in France, has issued a work entitled "Explosions of Freethinking in August and September, 1874," containing the discourses of Tyndall, Du Bois-Reymond, R. Owen, Huxley, Hooker, and Sir John Lubbock. The abbé appends annotations of his own. This is as it should be: poison and antidote!

It is asserted by E. Heckel, as the result of experiments made upon certain rodents and marsupials, that these animals, when fed on the leaves of poisonous solanaceous plants, are not subject to any injurious, effects.

A committee appointed for the purpose of investigating the working of the government telegraph system in England reports that the present rate, one shilling per message, is too low, and recommends that it be increased fifty per cent. The Examiner, on the contrary, asserts that only by a reduction of fifty per cent. can the telegraph service be made self-sustaining. Such reduction, it is claimed, would have the same result as cheap postal rates.

From experiments made on a large number of animals belonging to different orders, Rudolph Pott concludes that, of all animals, birds exhale the greatest amount, proportionately, of carbonic acid; after birds rank the mammalia, and then insects. Worms, amphibia, fishes, and snails, exhale much less carbonic acid than birds, mammals, or insects. The influence of age on carbonic-acid excretion is very marked: thus, for example, an old mouse exhaled in a given! time 3.873 grammes, a young one 4.349. But with insects the case is different, old individuals exhaling more carbonic acid than young.

In Turkey, Russia, and Peru, the number of pupils receiving primary instruction in schools forms from 1/4 to 1/2 per cent, of the population; in Spain, 1 per cent.; in Italy, 6; in Hungary, 7 1/2; in Austria, 9; in England and in Norway, 12; in France, 13; in Prussia, 15; in the United States; 17.

On subjecting fishes to a pressure often atmospheres, Moreau found that the operation produced no injurious effects whatever. He then suddenly withdrew the pressure, and the fishes succumbed quickly from hæmorrhage, the blood having a frothy appearance. This phenomenon is due to the disengagement of the gases which, under the high pressure, had been taken up by the blood in great quantities.

It is stated in Iron that De la Bastie's glass loses its molecular cohesion under a repetition of blows, and then breaks like common glass. Tempered glass, submitted to hammering, presents an appearance on fracture similar to that of fatigué steel, a molecular disintegration having taken place. It is feared that this alteration of structure and loss of temper may not only follow from shock, but may happen spontaneously from interior change in the lapse of time.

A recent examination of the hull of the steamship Great Eastern showed a comparative absence of barnacles, though the stern-post, rudder, and screw were covered with them. The rest of that portion of the hull, which as a rule is below water, was clad with an enormous number of mussels, a surface of 52,000 feet being coated in parts to a depth of six inches. The total weight of the mussels is estimated at about 300 tons.

The income of the French Association last year was 37,126 francs, and its capital fund now amounts to 174,731 francs. The Association gained 500 new members at its last meeting. Though the strictest economy must needs have been practised to accumulate so considerable a fund as 175,000 francs, nevertheless the material encouragement of scientific investigators is not neglected. Last year 12,350 francs were distributed for purposes of research.

Hitherto batrachians of existing types have been regarded as of recent geological date—not earlier than the Tertiary epoch. Recently, however, batrachian remains were discovered in palæozoic rocks at Igornay (Saône-et-Loire), France. These remains have been described by A. Gaudry, who discovers in them affinities with the salamanders. Though the specimens appear to be adult, they are very small—a little over one inch in length. They occur in bituminous schists of the Permian age.

As a substitute for the dredge in removing sand-banks and other deposits from rivers, a French engineer proposes to employ metal pipes pierced with holes; these pipes are inserted into the mass of the sand-bank and water driven through them at considerable pressure. In this way the sand and mud would be raised and agitated, and carried away by the current of the river or by the ebb-tide, if the operation were conducted at the ebb.

According to Boillot, a French chemist, the bleaching effects usually attributed to chlorine are in reality due to ozone. Ozone employed directly acts as an oxidizing agent, laying hold of the hydrogen of the substance with which it is in contact, whence results bleaching if the body is colored. On allowing chlorine to act upon any animal or vegetable matter, it decomposes a certain quantity of water and seizes its hydrogen, forming hydrochloric acid. The oxygen set free by this reaction is transformed into ozone, which in its turn lays hold of hydrogen present in organic matter.

Actual experiment in England has demonstrated the great advantages of the hammock system of conveying invalids by railway. The invalid suffers neither jar nor jolt. It is proposed to extend the benefits of the hammock system to the general traveling public, thus reducing the discomfort of railway-travel to the minimum.

The cultivation of tea is making rapid progress in Ceylon, and extensive clearings of forest-land were made during the past year for forming new plantations. The seed is generally imported from India, though the Assam hybrid and China teas are also cultivated extensively.