Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/443

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
431
NOTES.

tained that their development is much retarded and often results in the production of monstrosities. In some instances alcoholized eggs of nearly a hundred hours were hardly as far developed as normal eggs of twenty hours. These facts may be regarded as having a bearing on the frequency of sterility and premature abortions in human beings afflicted with alcoholism. They show, further, that alcohol may have an effect on the embryo, even when the progenitors have not been subject to chronic alcoholism.

The character of the writing found in the Maya codices and inscriptions has been a topic of discussion among students of the subject, and three theories have been sustained: one that the symbols are ideographic; another, that they are chiefly phonetic; and a third, or middle theory, by Dr. Brinton, that they are in the nature of rebus-writing, or "iconomatic." The personal statements of certain old Spanish writers—particularly of Bishop Landa,—who assumed to publish the alphabet are in favor of their phonetic character. This is also maintained in a recent paper—Are the Maya Hieroglyphics Phonetic?—by Dr. Cyrus Thomas, who presents interpretations which, he believes, if they are accepted, will settle the question.

At the last annual meeting of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, the president, Mr. Samuel Colgate, spoke of the encouragements that existed for the continuance of the work. The money receipts for the year 1892 had been equal to those of any previous year. The large proportion of prisoners convicted to the number brought to trial is cited as showing that the society is careful in instituting prosecutions. Several evidences were cited to show that the society had been brought into closer touch with public sympathy than ever before; among them was the fact that the year had been exceptionally free from newspaper assaults and adverse criticisms. Yet defects in the law needing amendment, and even legislation in favor of vice, and frequent laxity in the administration of existing laws, were complained of.

A university course of thirty lectures on Celestial Mechanics, by G. W. Hill, is now in progress, beginning October 14, 1893, at Hamilton Hall, Columbia College. The lectures are given every Saturday except the last two in December, at 10.30 a. m. A full presentation of the subject is given, rather than a rapid summary.

M. Janssen has telegraphed the fact that the observatory on the summit of Mont Blanc is completed, and nothing now remains to be done but carry out the interior arrangements. The machinery adopted for hauling materials up over the snow worked to perfection and contributed greatly to the success and comfort of the workmen. M. Janssen used it to assist in his own getting up, and it was "curious, extraordinary," he says, "to see materials moved by these engines climbing over the icy slopes of the peak by ways of a new sort, which science only was able to contrive and realize."

In an interference experiment described by Lord Rayleigh the light from a single slit, illuminated either by sunlight or a lamp flame, passes down a tube about a foot long and is received on two very fine and very close slits. An eye placed at the back of these sees a beautiful set of interference bands. No lens is required, because the eye itself acts as such. The two slits are really swatches made by a knife on an evenly silvered microscope cover-glass.

The consultative committee appointed in Italy to study the question of alcoholism has recently presented its report to the Government. It appears from the document that the yearly mortality ascribed to alcoholism for the whole kingdom is 1·62 per hundred thousand inhabitants. It was greatest in Liguria (3·46) and the March (3·11), and least in Campania (0·53) and the Abruzzi (0·75). Under the application of the new penal code, which makes intoxication a crime, 16,504 offenses were reported in 1890 and 16,382 in 1891.

In a paper on the wearing of rings in ancient Rome, M. Maximin Deloche shows that in the early days of the republic the iron ring was reserved for persons who had distinguished themselves by some splendid act in war or had rendered the state some important service. Afterward, patricians, knights, and magistrates had the privilege of wearing it. When the wearing of rings became general the metal used became the distinctive sign of the several classes of citizens, and the metal worn was determined by birth. The most precious metals were worn by the ingenui; senators and knights alone had golden rings; while the plebeians' rings were of iron. The freedmen in time made claims to the privilege of wearing gold, and it was given to them by a constitution of Justinian.

Noticing the fact that the Smithsonian Institution has obtained a table in the Zoological Laboratory at Naples, the Revue Scientifique remarks that it is curious that Americans should go to Europe to seek subjects for study when they have so abundant and varied a fauna at home.

A manufactory of flints for guns and tinder boxes still exists at Brandon, England, in which, according to Mr. Edward Lovett, the methods supposed to have been used in the stone age are employed without much change at the present time. The flint is broken into conveniently sized fragments by placing it on the knees and striking with a hammer. The pieces are then split into flakes, and these into squares, which are trimmed into