Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/151

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wind. The populace thought that fire was falling from the sun. More intelligent persons believed that snow had been actually formed in consequence of the cooling of the atmosphere, some of which had fallen without melting till it came in sight, and this view was currently accepted. It was finally shown; however, that the particles were floating seeds, and every one was enabled to satisfy himself of the fact by grasping a handful of them.


The tertiary lake-basin at Florissant, between South and Hayden Parks, Colorado, furnishes one of the richest deposits of fossil insects that have been found anywhere. According to Mr. S. H. Scudder, who examined it in connection with the Hayden Survey, it has yielded in a single summer more than double the number of specimens which the famous localities at Œningen, in Bavaria, furnished Heer in thirty years. The Œningen specimens are, however, as a rule, better preserved, but a larger number of satisfactory specimens are found at Florissant than at Œningen. Sixteen species of insects have been published, and, besides these, a planorbis-shell, eight species of fishes, several birds' feathers, and a single tolerably perfect sparrow. Also several thousand specimens of thirty-seven species of plants, have been found.

Professor Nordenskiöld has had occasion during his Arctic voyages to ask the question, which must have often occurred to many, What becomes of the "self dead" animals, or those that die a natural death? During his nine expeditions in regions where animal life is abundant, he has found only a very few remains of recent vertebrate animals which could be proved to have died a natural death. We have at present no idea of what becomes of the bodies of such animals, "and yet we have here a problem of immense importance for the answering of a large number of questions concerning the formation of fossiliferous strata. It is strange, in any case, that on Spitzbergen it is easier to find the vertebræ of a gigantic lizard of the Trias than bones of a self-dead seal, walrus, or bird, and the same also holds good of more southerly inhabited lands."

Mr. A. S. Packard, Jr., has given, in a contribution to the Boston Society of Natural History, the descriptions of twenty-two new species of ichneumon, microgaster, tricogramma, and other genera of parasites infesting North American butterflies, typical specimens of most of which may be seen in the collection of Mr. S. H. Scudder, and of a few in the Harris collection of the museum of the society.

Professor Otis T. Mason is not satisfied I with the existing classifications of the and the Topological sciences, and has adopted a J classification of his own, as follows: 1. Anthropogeny; 2. Prehistoric Anthropology; 3. Biological Anthropology; 4. Psychological Anthropology; 5. Ethnology; 6. Linguistic Anthropology; 7. Industrial Anthropology; 8. Sociology proper; 9. The Science! of Religion; to which he adds a tenth class of works on the instrumentalities of research. In his bibliographical contributions to the Smithsonian Report and the "American Naturalist," Professor Mason states that a larger number of papers have been published on prehistoric anthropology than on any other branch of the science. He enumerates one hundred and forty-six memoirs in this branch as published in 1879, and twenty-eight as published in America alone in 1880.

The deaths in the Peabody Buildings, London, during sixteen years, have been at the rate of sixteen and seven tenths per thousand per annum, while the general death-rate of the metropolis during the same period has been twenty-three and four tenths. The death-rate in the crowded districts surrounding the Peabody Buildings has been stated to be thirty or forty to the thousand.

A committee of the British Association is investigating the question of the existence of earth-tides, or of oscillations in the crust of the earth similar to those which are produced in the ocean by the attraction of the moon. A pendulum is so suspended that its slightest motion turns a mirror, and causes a perceptible movement in the spot of light reflected by it upon a distant screen. The pendulum is proved to be continually changing its position, for the reflected light is in incessant motion, and so irregularly that it is hardly possible to localize its mean position on the screen within five or six inches. Mr. W. Mattieu Williams has suggested that the constant movements of the microscopic bubbles imprisoned within the cavities of gems and minerals are due to the same cause.

The death is announced of the Rev. Dr. Thomas R. Robinson, Director of the Observatory at Armagh, Ireland. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1856, and was one of. the oldest Fellows on the list, being nearly ninety when he died. His latest contribution to science, "On the Constants of the Cup Anemometer," was published in the "Philosophical Transactions" in 1880.