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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/738

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

feet in circumference at its thickest part, and a lower jaw and other bones of a younger mammoth. The seeds of about twenty species of contemporary marsh-growing plants have been found in the soil in which the remains were imbedded.

The American Metrological Society has prepared a petition asking Congress to order the metric system to be used exclusively in the customs service in the United States. The Geographical International Congress at Berne, Switzerland, last year, entreated English men of science in future to use only the units of the metric system in scientific and technical publications. The new Decimal Association in London has petitioned the proper authorities to prepare alternative questions, based on the metric system, to be used at the option of the candidate in the May examinations of the Science and Art Department.

A novel and interesting feature of the first United States Food Exhibition to be held in Madison Square Garden, New York, in October, will be a national exhibit of dairy products. It will be in charge of Prof. James Cheeseman, a recognized dairy expert and authority in all matters pertaining to dairy interests, who represented the United States in that department at the late Paris Exposition. He is also known to our older readers by his suggestive article on Selection in Grain-growing, in The Popular Science Monthly for July, 1883.

We are informed by the Rev. Stephen D. Peet of the existence of three considerable collections of cave-dwellers' relics in the West—one in Denver, one in Chicago, and one in the far West. The relics in the collection of the Rev. Mr. Green in Chicago were carried two hundred miles on horseback, from Grand Gulch in Utah, a distant and retired branch of the San Juan Valley.

Dr. Cyrus Thomas announces in Science that he has at last discovered the key to the reading of the Maya Codices, and probably of the Central American inscriptions. The progress of decipherment will be slow, but, the clew having been obtained, it will ultimately be accomplished. The author has already determined the signification of some dozens of characters, and has in several instances ascertained the general sense of a group forming a sentence.

A remarkable ice-cave or well, at Creux Percé, near the village of Pasques, department of Côte d'Or, France, is described in La Nature by M. E. L. Martel. It opens horizontally in the field, is fifty-five metres deep, with a mouth forty metres by twenty, and about two thirds of the way down narrows abruptly like a funnel to ten metres by five. The ice in the bottom is plainly visible from the top. On descending, which M. Martel did very easily with a ladder, the cave is found fringed with stalactites and stalagmites of ice from ten to fifteen metres long, and six or eight by two or three metres thick. The light at the bottom is sufficient to permit the ice to be photographed.

Carnaba wax is a substance which has been used lately for hardening paraffin and making it less fusible, for improving the quality of the inferior kinds of beeswax, and in making candles, varnishes, encaustics, etc. It is derived from the palm tree known as Copernica cerifera, of Brazil, and is therefore sometimes called Brazil wax. It is very hard, breaks up into sharp-angled pieces under the hammer, and is yellow, gray, red, or maroon in color.

 


OBITUARY NOTES.

Admiral Ernest A. B. Mouchez, a distinguished French naval officer and astronomer, has recently died, in the seventy-first year of his age. His scientific career began with hydrographic and coast-survey work. He had charge of the French expedition to the island of St. Paul to observe the transit of Venus in 1874, concerning which he read a report before the five academies in 1875. In 1878 he succeeded Le Verrier as Director of the Paris Observatory. Having already organized at Montsouris a school of astronomy for officers of the marine and travelers, he carried out the same idea on a more extensive scale at Paris; and for eight years past his school has been a nursery of young astronomers for the French observatories. He also organized a curious and varied astronomical museum at Paris. He was honorary President of the Astronomical Congress which has met three times at Paris; and he is credited with having conceived the idea of the map of the sky in the making of which all civilized countries are now co-operating.

The death is announced, at Buenos Ayres, May 2d, of Hermann Burmeister, the dean of South American naturalists, aged eighty-five years. He was of German birth, was Professor of Zoölogy at the University of Halle, and took up his residence in South America after having made several voyages there. Since 1861 he had been Professor and Director of the Museum of Natural History of Buenos Ayres, and Curator of the University of Cordova. Besides several works of natural history published in Europe, he was author of many important studies on the fauna and paleontology of South America, the most considerable of which were published in the Anales of the Public Museum of Buenos Ayres, a periodical founded by him, and of a Physical Description of the Argentine Republic. He is credited with having given an "enormous impulse" to science in South America, particularly in the La Plata countries.