Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/586

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
572
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

peoples are not mentioned in the older Babylonian cuneiform inscriptions, and are first spoken of in the Assyrian inscriptions of the ninth century b. c. A second Aryan emigration to Asia followed across the Hellespont. After making a detailed examination of the Aryan stocks and their supposed emigrations, Dr. Fligier concludes that their linguistic unity does not by any means constitute an anthropological unity: the Asiatic Aryans have partly lost their Aryan type, and the European Aryans present two quite distinct types.

 

Observations of the Last Solar Eclipse.—The solar eclipse of May 19th has been the subject of a number of communications to the French Academy of Sciences. M. Janssen spoke in terms of admiration of the photographs of all the phases of the phenomenon which were obtained by means of the photographic revolver. A very laconic notice of the observations made during totality by Messrs. Trépied, Lockyer, Thollon, and Tacchini, was sent by telegraph. The Egyptian Government gave exceptional facilities to the observers. Photographs of the corona and its spectrum were obtained, the latter exhibiting the lines of potassium and hydrogen. The observers at the same time noticed a comet which was visible to the naked eye in the immediate vicinity of the sun. At Lyons M. André and his aids saw between the edge of the moon and the outline of the sun-spots which it was approaching, the development of the gray ligament that has been noticed between the edge of the sun and the circumference of the planets crossing its disk. The popular observatory of the Trocadéro, in Paris, on the day of the eclipse, put four telescopes, as many opera-glasses, and blackened glasses, at the service of the public. About a hundred persons were present as early as six o'clock in the morning. Each instrument was in charge of an assistant, whose duty it was to help the public to see the phenomenon. One of the assistants made a projection apparatus of his telescope, and threw an image of the eclipse and of numerous solar spots upon a screen, where it could easily be looked at by fifteen persons at once. It was thus made possible to examine with the microscope the details of a considerable number of spots, and to see the black profiles of the lunar mountains designed on the illuminated image of the sun. Several drawings of the solar spots and the eclipse were taken.

 

An Insect-lodging Flower.—M. Treub has made a study in Java of the Discidia Rafflesia, a curious plant which lives upon trees without touching the ground. It produces urns in the shape of jars open at the top, and containing within a system of branched roots. After showing that these formations are produced by the folding of a leaf upon itself in such a manner that its lower face corresponds with the interior face of the urn, M. Treub inquires what may be the office of the organs. The fact that the interior of the urn is lined with a waxy coating precludes the idea that it can directly serve a carnivorous purpose. Against this, too, are the facts alleged by M. Treub, that ants which are found in the urn are always very lively and generally very numerous; that they come out of the urn as easily as they go into it; and that they swarm in it to such an extent that the roots suffer from them, and the radicels are eaten or are very weak. These insects, then, seem rather to devour the discidia than to serve it as food. M. Treub concludes that "the urns of the discidia are of no use to it as traps for insects. The plant is not in any sense carnivorous. Instead of falling into an ambuscade, the ants that enter an urn find there a lodging that suits them marvelously. The principal, if not the sole, function of the urn is to collect, or, in a lesser degree, to save water." M. Treub shows further that the water in the urns is generally rain-water, more rarely transpired water, that may perhaps be afterward reabsorbed by the plant.

 

Calculating the Area of the United States.—Mr. F. Y. Carpenter, C. E., has explained in "Van Nostrand's Engineering Magazine" the difficulties which are encountered in making an accurate computation of the area of a large country like the United States, having irregular boundary-lines. The principal difficulty arises from the indeterminateness of the expression, "our territorial outline." The place, even, of the sea-line