Mr. C. B. Atwell says, in the American Microscopical Journal, that amœbas for laboratory purposes are obtained at the North-western University from the algæ of Lake Michigan. A quantity of the common alga (Cladophora canalicularis) is put into a tumbler of water and allowed to stand for six or eight days, when a white film or ooze appears upon it which teems with amœbas and other protozoa. It is sometimes possible, in the rich supply thus obtained, to observe six, eight, or ten amœbas in the field at once.
Most people are probably not aware that there is one at least of the well-known stars compared to which the sun is a mere pygmy. Sirius, the dog-star, which is also a sun, is believed to have nearly five thousand times the volume of our sun. Its immense distance, probably a hundred million millions of miles, makes such measurement as is applied to the planets impossible. Hence the above estimate is based on a comparison of the light of Sirius with that received from the sun. It is the most brilliant star in the heavens, being far brighter than the first magnitude, and its light has a greenish tinge. During the winter months the place to look for Sirius is in the southern heavens.
Prof. Alexander Winchell, of the University of Michigan, died at Ann Arbor, February 19th, in the sixty-first year of his age. He was born in North East, Dutchess County, N. Y.; was graduated from Wesleyan University in 1847, and taught natural science in several academies till 1854, when he became Professor of Physics and Civil Engineering in the University of Michigan. In the next year he was transferred to the chair of Geology, Zoölogy, and Botany in the same institution. He was made Director of the Geological Survey of Michigan in 1859, and again, when the work was resumed after the interruption by the war in 1869, but resigned from the position in 1871. He was made Chancellor of Syracuse University in 1878, but gave up the office in the next year to be Professor of Geology, Zoölogy, and Botany there. In 1879 he returned to the professorship in the University of Michigan. Without giving up his regular duties, he also served as Professor or Lecturer of Geology, etc., in the University of Kentucky from 1866 to 1869, and in Vanderbilt University from 1875 till 1879. His office in the latter institution was abolished when he was found to be an advocate of the doctrines of evolution and of pre-adamites. He lectured much, and wrote numerous papers on geology. Fourteen new fossil species were named after him. He established the Marshall Group in American geology. The list of his books and papers includes about two hundred titles. His most important scientific works were Sketches of Creation, 1870; a Geological Chart, 1870; Michigan, 1873; The Doctrine of Evolution, 1874; Reconciliation of Science and Religion, 1877; Pre-adamites, or a Demonstration of the Existence of Man before Adam, 1880; Sparks from a Geologist's Hammer, 1881; World Life, or Comparative Geology, 1883; Geological Excursions, or the Rudiments of Geology for Young Learners, 1884; Geological Studies, or Elements of Geology, 1886; and Walks and Talks in the Geological Field, 1886.
Prof. Felipe Poet y Aloy, the distinguished Cuban naturalist, died in Havana, January 28th, aged ninety-one years. For more than sixty years he had contributed papers on natural history to the French, Spanish, and Cuban scientific press, to the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, the Annals of the New York Lyceum, and to other American scientific publications. His chief work was his Cuban Ichthyology, in twelve folio volumes, containing descriptions of about a thousand species of fish, many of them noticed for the first time. His papers are said by Prof. Jordan to be the most valuable contributions yet made to our knowledge of the fishes of the West Indies. Other works are a Geography of Cuba, which reached nineteen editions; a general geography, and an elementary work on mineralogy. A sketch of his life and an account of his works, by Prof. D. S. Jordan, who knew him well, and a portrait, were published in The Popular Science Monthly for August, 1884.
Gottlieb Studer, one of the founders of the Swiss Alpine Club and its honorary president, died at Berne on the 14th of December, in his eighty-seventh year. He was a zealous mountaineer before Alpine clubs existed, was famous for his exhaustive topographical knowledge of Switzerland, was a draughts-man as well as a writer, and was the author of a Panorama von Bern and of Ueber Eis und Schnee, in four volumes.
Dr. , who died in Paris last fall, had made, before visiting Europe in 1860, a valuable collection of five thousand species of plants of New Granada. His chief object in visiting Europe was to determine his plants and prepare a Flora of New Granada, and this he began publishing, with the late Prof. J. E. Planchon, as a Prodromus Floræ Novæ Gratensis. Being insufficiently provided with funds, he became engaged in consular and medical work, and his Flora was suspended. He also published a monograph on the Melastomaceæ, and studies on the Quinquinas.
Mr. Lant Carpenter, eldest son of the late Dr. William B. Carpenter, and himself a lecturer on scientific subjects, died about the 1st of January.