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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/729

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

voted exclusively to mental disorders. The subject is sometimes introduced under the head of theory and practice of medicine, but is more often remanded to the lectures on medical jurisprudence; and hardly ever is a book on this subject included among the standard works of study and reference proposed for students.

 

The Albert Medal.—The Albert Medal of the British Society of Arts has been awarded, beginning in 1864, to Sir Rowland Hill, for postal reforms; to Napoleon III, for his promotion of art; to Professor Faraday, for discoveries in electricity, magnetism, and chemistry; to Mr. W. Fothergill Cook and Professor Wheatstone, for establishing the first electric telegraph; to Mr. Joseph Whitworth, for his instruments of measurement and uniform standards; to Baron von Liebig, for chemical and other researches; to Ferdinand de Lesseps, on account of the Suez Canal; to Mr. Henry Cole, C. B., for activity in international exhibitions and the South Kensington Museum; to Mr. Bessemer, for developing the manufacture of steel; to M. Chevreul, for chemical researches; to C. W. Siemens, for a variety of researches; to Michael Chevalier, for general economical activity; to Sir George B. Airy, for researches in nautical astronomy and magnetism, etc.; to M. Dumas, for chemical researches; to Sir William Armstrong, for distinguished engineering work and development of mechanical power; to Sir William Thomson, for electrical researches and the development of ocean cables; to J. P. Joule, for establishing the relations between heat, light, and electricity; and to A. W. Hoffmann, of Berlin, for investigations in organic chemistry and his promotion of chemical education and research in England. The award of the medal for 1881 was to be made in May.

 

Tree Meteorology.—Mr. Robert E. C. Stearns, Ph. D., at the close of a paper on the estimation of the annual growths of certain trees in California, suggests the possibility of making valuable investigations into the periodicity of climates and the direction and effects of prevailing winds by the systematic study of the year-rings of trees. "We might," he says, "find so close a parallelism between rings of maximum thickness and seasons of maximum rain-fall, that we should be justified in regarding this parallelism as something more than a series of coincidences merely, by finding these coincidences so persistent as to prove a correlation; and we could, perhaps, base our weather prognostications on something more than a guess, and learn whether or not there is a periodicity or cyclical term of wet and dry years, having the data before us according to the trees selected and examined—reaching back with the pines from seventy-five to one hundred and fifty years, with the redwoods from five hundred to seven hundred years, and with the sequoias of the Sierra from twelve to fourteen centuries, to say nothing of the testimony of other trees, the madronas and oaks especially. Differences in the diameters of trees," Dr. Stearns adds, "may be traced, perhaps, to a difference in the amount of heat and light which one side of a tree receives as compared with the other; to the influence of prevailing winds according to the station, position, or exposure, or to local or general magnetic influences—local as peculiar to small areas, or general as pertaining to larger or extensive regions. An accumulation of data might show a marked and constant character in the relation of diameters to such factors of the environment; and also a marked character in the diameters of one region, as a whole, when compared with another region, where modified or different climatic conditions exist."

 

Habits of Wood-Ducks.—The experiments of Mr. George Irvin, of Mayville, New York, upon the capacity for domestication of different species of wild ducks, gave him the means of gaining much knowledge of the habits of the wood-ducks, which, although they would not be domesticated, bred freely within the inclosure in which he confined them. They generally begin to nest about the middle of April, and always choose trees with suitable holes and hollows in which to build, preferring for this purpose rather high elevations, and lay from nine to fourteen eggs, of a yellowish-white color, the period of incubation of which is four weeks. When the young