Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/267

This page has been validated.

certain proportions with the coal, and the Gas Company of the Crystal Palace uses this material only, to produce a rich gas. The pitch is solid and glistening, and distills very rapidly in the common gas-retorts, leaving scarcely any residue. In case a large amount of gas is required to be furnished in a very short time, this property of rapid distillation is of high importance. Its yield of gas is said to be very considerable, being 765 to 850 cubic metres (830 to 930 cubic yards) to the ton. The illuminating power of this gas is equal to that of 33 sperm-candles, 5 to the pound. It is too rich to be used with the ordinary burner. It is best employed to enrich gas made from inferior coals. It contains scarcely any sulphur0.87 per cent. The analysis of the pitch is as follows: Volatile matter, 74.40; fixed carbon, 21.72; ashes, 3.88.


Antiquity of Man.—The following letter from Sir John Lubbock appeared in "Nature" for the 27th of March: "I have received a letter from Mr. Edmund Calvert, in which he informs me that his brother, Mr. Frank Calvert, has recently discovered, near the Dardanelles, what he regards as conclusive evidence of the existence of man during the Miocene period. Mr. Calvert had previously sent me some drawings of bones and shells from the strata in question, which Mr. Busk and Mr. Gwyn Jeffreys were good enough to examine for me. He has now met with a fragment of a bone, probably belonging either to the dinotherium or a mastodon, on the convex side of which is engraved a representation of a horned quadruped 'with arched neck, lozenge-shaped chest, long body, straight fore-legs, and broad feet.' There are also, he says, traces of seven or eight other figures, which, however, are nearly obliterated. He informs me that in the same stratum he has also found a flint flake, and several bones broken as if for the extraction of marrow. This discovery would not only prove the existence of man in Miocene times, but of men who had already made some progress, at least, in art. Mr. Calvert assures me that he feels no doubt whatever as to the geological age of the stratum from which these specimens are obtained. Of course I am not in a position myself to express any opinion on the subject, but I am sure that the statements of so competent an observer as Mr. Calvert will interest your readers."



The population of France, as shown by the census, was 38,067,064 in the year 1866. The official estimate of annual increase is 130,078––or, for the seven years ending January 1, 1873, 910,546. Total, 38,977,610. But the actual census gave only 36,102,921, showing a loss of 2,874,689. Deduct the official estimate of Alsace-Lorraine, 1,595,238, and the remainder, 1,279,451, represents the decline of population during seven years. The excess of females over males is now 100 per cent, greater than ever before.

The epileptiform convulsions excited by the internal administration of essence of wormwood, and Japan camphor, may, according to recent experiments in France, be effectually prevented by the use of bromide of potassium. This is regarded as additional evidence of the value of the bromide in the treatment of epilepsy.

The medical officer having under supervision the schools for pauper children in three of the parishes of London reports that, among those admitted, from thirty to forty per cent, are afflicted with ophthalmia in some of its stages, and that bringing the children together in this way concentrates and favors the spread of the disease. The immediate cause of the affection in most of these cases is held to be the dirt and dust of the streets which is allowed to accumulate at the inner corner of the eye, where it forms a semi-solid mass which irritates and inflames the lids.

Died, in Jersey City, on Sunday, March 9th, Charles F. Durant, aged 68 years. Deceased was a diligent student of science, and some years since published a valuable work on the "Shells and Sea-Weeds of the Harbor of New York." He was also the author of a work on astronomy, which was printed for circulation among scientific men. In 1833 Mr. Durant made the first balloon ascension ever made in this country. His aërial voyages numbered in all fifteen.

Petroleum has been found in large quantities in Ecuador. Wells have been sunk at various points between the sulphurous springs of San Vicente and the sea-shore. In some of these the petroleum is fluid, like whale-oil, but in others it has the consistence of butter. In the upper part of some of the wells it can be seen in hard, compact masses, which probably have been formed by the evaporation of the more liquid portions.