Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 25.djvu/151

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

a microscope of five hundred diameters revealed hosts of living microscopic organisms. Among them were micrococci, one-celled algæ and their spores, amibes, and ciliæ, moving with extreme rapidity, and some of the organisms in the process of budding. Deductions and lessons of considerable value and of quite wide extension may follow from this discovery.

Prevention of Floods in Mountain-Valleys,—Herr Carl Sonklar, of Innsbruck, has published a paper on the means of preventing the floods to which the valleys of the Tyrolese Alps are subject. The remedy he proposes consists chiefly in the restoration and preservation of the forests that formerly clothed the mountains; and he suggests a set of very minute regulations and practical measures to promote that end, which, as well as all that is done about the forests, by private owners as well as by the public and the communes, are to be closely watched by the Government. To the plantation and cultivation of trees he would add barriers or dams across the ravines, to detain the water of the freshets temporarily so that the washed-down mineral matter and gravel shall settle there and not be carried into the cultivated valleys below.

Storage-Batteries in Electric Lighting.—The composing-room of the Aberdeen (Scotland) "Journal" is lighted with perfect satisfaction by means of incandescent lamps supplied by accumulators. The electricity is stored by one of the engines used for the printing machinery during the intervals between issuing the different editions of the daily paper; and the accumulators, so charged, keep the lamps burning brightly all night, without needing to be replenished. Illumination through accumulators is wholly free from the unsteadiness which is complained of in using lights directly dependent on machinery, and is free from the risk of a sudden excess in the current destroying the carbon-filament of the lamp. The accumulators recommend themselves more-over, as possessing "the enormous advantage of only yielding up the quantity of electricity actually consumed by the lamps alight at the moment, whereas, when the lighting is done directly from a dynamo, if part of the lamps are put out, an equivalent resistance must be inserted in order to prevent the breakage of the remaining lamps."


At the recent annual dinner of the Yale alumni resident in Boston and vicinity, opinions in regard to the classics, of the same tenor as those with which the Yale students have been so sedulously dosed all winter, were expressed by several speakers, including General F. A. Walker, President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But we learn, from the report in the "Boston Transcript," that there was one dissenting voice: "Mr. Starr H. Nichols, of New York, of the class of '54, spoke next. He criticised the training of the colleges in the classics and mathematics as not developing the judgment of the students. They live in a Greek and Roman atmosphere, and can not distinguish between the ideal and the practical. They should have something to make them athletes in the business of life. Men should come out from college not feeling like strangers and pilgrims in the world, but at home. Classic learning does everything for a man except one thing, but that is the greatest thing of all, which is, to maintain one's self like a man in the world."

M. Nordenskiöld Reports that he noticed that the snow falling in Stockholm toward the end of December was soiled with a black dust. Analyzing the dust, he found that it contained considerable carbonaceous matter, which burned with a flame, and left a residue containing oxide of iron, silica, phosphorus, and cobalt. He regards the observation as confirmatory of his theory of a regular accession of cosmic dust to the earth.

Dr, George Englemann, a distinguished American botanist, died February 4th, in St. Louis, Missouri, where he had lived since 1835. He was for many years a successful and honored physician in St. Louis, but was best known—to the whole world—by his scientific achievements. He was born and schooled in Germany, and, removing to Belleville, Illinois, began his botanical work by publishing a monograph in Latin on the habits of a creeper on the hazel-bush. This at once attracted attention in his native land. He made several excursions with Dr. Asa Gray through the West. He was especially well informed on the cactus; and was largely influential in introducing the present method of classification of plants, based on microscopical examinations and investigations.