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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/598

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

In a paper in the British Association on "Tattooing," Miss A. W. Buckland said that in Africa, Australia, and the islands of the Indian Ocean, tattooing consists of a series of short cuts which heal, leaving cicatrices. In New Zealand, America, the Pacific islands, among the tribes of India, and in Burmah, Borneo, and New Guinea, patterns are first drawn upon the skin, and then punctured with thorns, needles, or splinters of human bones. Color is then rubbed in. The process is very painful and can only be carried on at intervals, several years being sometimes required for its completion. Among men tattooing is valued as a mark of bravery. In the case of women devices are worked upon the chin to signify marriage.

After his ethnological researches in Egypt, Prof. Virchow has concluded that the fellaheen do not exactly represent the ancient inhabitants in their physical aspect. The evidence afforded by the oldest sculpture and the earliest skulls shows that the primitive type was brachycephalic, whereas the types of the present time and of many centuries past are dolichocephalic and mesocephalic. It is uncertain whether the change was produced by the environment or by the influx of new races; but Prof. Virchow inclines to the latter view.

The principal and most useful wood in Borneo is bilian, or iron-wood. Its characteristics, as mentioned by Mr. R. T. Pritchet, are hardness, density, and being ant-proof. It is the best shingle wood, and, being large and plentiful, the most valuable timber. Other sinking woods are russock, grealing, mirabou, the last of which, a heavy, dark-yellow wood, is valuable for furniture and takes a fine polish; camphor-wood, and a red wood, and sirayah, which gives logs five feet in diameter and forty feet long.

Observations made by M. Janssen on Mont Blanc for the purpose of deciding whether certain lines in the solar spectrum are due to oxygen in our air or in the solar atmosphere, showing the lines weaker than at lower levels, seem to prove that they are due to our atmosphere.

The nipa is a palm-tree of Borneo which grows in the swamps above the mangrove, where the water begins to be brackish. It revels where the swamps are more fresh than salt, its leaves growing boldly and imposingly to a height of twenty feet and upward. House-thatching is principally made of these leaves stitched together, which form roofs well adapted to turn away the heat. The kadjan mats, which travelers find very useful, and will fold up into very small compass, are also made from them.

The pest of locusts has been fought vigorously and successfully in Cyprus by gathering the eggs and catching the developed insects in systems of screens. The number of eggs collected increased from 37½ tons in 1879 to 236 tons in 1880, and 1,330 tons in 1881. More than 6,000 screens were employed in 1882, and 195,000,000,000 insects were destroyed. The system was steadily made more effective, and in 1886 there were available for use more than 11,000 screens and 13,000 traps, the screens representing an aggregate length of about 315 miles, or nearly the whole coast-line of the island.

It sounds odd to read in a paper by Robert Wallace, on Indian agriculture, that the Manchester Chamber of Commerce is cooperating in an attempt to "reduce the amount of refraction" or impurities to be recognized as a "trade custom" in the sale of wheat from six or seven to two per cent. Regarding the present custom, it has been estimated, according to Mr. Wallace, that the direct loss to the community is equivalent to the sum of fifty thousand pounds a year, "spent upon the absolutely unremunerative work of shipping or carrying sand or clay which had been added to the cleaner samples of wheat with the deliberate object of netting an unjust gain."

 


OBITUARY NOTES.

Maria Mitchell, a distinguished astronomer and professor in Vassar College, died in Lynn, Mass., June 28th, of disease of the brain, from which she had been suffering for about eighteen months. She was born in Nantucket, in 1818, the daughter of an amateur astronomer, and studied under her father and Charles Pierce. At eleven years of age she recorded the time of the beginning and ending of an eclipse of the moon. In 1847 she discovered the first of her eight comets. She was the first woman to be elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; was a member and fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; an LL.D. of Hanover and Columbia Colleges; and was actively interested in measures to elevate woman's work. She resigned her professorship at Vassar College in January, 1888, but no action was taken on her resignation, so that she still remained the titular incumbent.

Reichenbach, the eminent botanist, has recently died in Hamburg, aged sixty-seven years. He was best known from his investigations of orchids and hybrids.

Dr. George Owen Rees, F.R.S., died in Mayfield, England, May 27th.

Dr. Paul Du Bois-Reymond, a brother of Dr. Emil Du Bois-Reymond, died in Freiburg, Baden, April 7th, in his fifty-ninth year. He was Professor of Mathematics at the Technical High School of Berlin; was formerly at the Universities of Freiburg and Tübingen; and was the author of two well-known mathematical works.