Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 30.djvu/301

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mere impulse. "We see men and movements praised up to the skies which are full of dubious elements, half evil and half good, and other men and other movements as passionately censured which, again, are full of the same double character, half good and half evil. . . . The result undoubtedly is, that we give sympathy in the gross where only discriminating sympathy would be beneficial, and blame in the gross where only discriminating blame would be beneficial. And, as a natural consequence, we hatch all sorts of unhealthy eagerness to do what either ought not to be done at all, or else ought not to be done except by very carefully selected people, and all sorts of equally unhealthy eagerness to run down modes of action which in the right hands may be wise and good, though in the wrong hands they are pernicious in the highest degree."


Mr. A. H. Allen, in a paper on oils, read in the American Association, said that shark and fish oils are often unsaponifiable, and hence are not fatty ethers. He believed them to contain cholesterine, like cod-liver oil. The fixed oils can be separated into groups, but we know no process for separating a mixture of lard and cotton-seed oil.

Professor A. R. Leeds reported to the Chemical Section of the American Association that his most careful analyses had given as the composition of human milk: albuminoids, varying from ·5 to 4·25 per cent; lactose, from 4·1 to 7·8 per cent; and fat, from 1·7 to 7·6 per cent. The appearance and specific gravity of the milk, he said, never indicate its composition.

M. Fayal has come to the conclusion that the rise in temperature to which the spontaneous combustion of coal-dust is due, is produced by the absorption of atmospheric oxygen. He finds that lignite is ignited at 300° C., anthracite at 500°, and other varieties of coal, in powdered form, at intermediate temperatures.

Dr. Börsch reported last year to the Meteorological Society at Berlin that three observers, working respectively at Berlin, Breslau, and Königsberg, to determine the differences of longitude between the three cities, noticed at the same moment abnormal deviations in the air-bubbles of their levels, which could be attributed to nothing else than movements of the ground. They afterward learned that some of the central parts of the Asiatic continent had at that very time been shaken with violent earth-quakes. The supposition that the deviations noticed were connected with these shocks was confirmed by the fact that they were more marked at the eastward stations.

For the many millions of dollars that have been expended upon astronomy during the past two or three centuries, results have been obtained, says Professor E. C. Pickering, of Harvard College Observatory, whose value it is impossible to estimate. Apart from the knowledge it has given us of other worlds and of the laws governing the universe, it has furnished us information regarding this world which has been of enormous practical importance. It has secured safe and certain communication between distant countries, accurate maps, and the precise determination of time. The pecuniary value of these results would many times repay the total expenditure made for astronomical purposes.

A new edition of Professor Ferrier's "Functions of the Brain" is announced. The book has been nearly rewritten, and will include the results of new investigations by the author, and of investigations made by others during the last ten years.

The Rev. George Brown, missionary in the New Britain Islands, read a paper in the British Association in which he said that the results of fourteen and a half years of labor in Samoa among Polynesians, and in New Britain among Papuans, in reducing the languages and studying the manners and customs of the people, had convinced him that the Polynesian race was descended from the great Papuan stock with an Asiatic admixture. Mr. Fellows remarked upon this that if they went back far enough, a common origin would be found for all people. It was, therefore, desirable that some time of common origin should be fixed.

Mr. R. Warrington reported to the British Association that the results of his later experiments at Rothampstead showed a far deeper diffusion of the nitrifying organism in the soil than had been concluded from the earlier experiments. The power of producing nitrification was now found to exist generally down to three feet from the surface. Below this point the occurrence of the organism became less frequent, though at five and six feet about half the trials resulted in nitrification; with soil from seven and eight feet no nitrification was obtained. The considerable difference between the earlier and later results was to be attributed to the employment of gypsum in the later solutions.