Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 51.djvu/734

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

culiar vocabulary, a variety of singular terms comprising inarticulate sounds and musical calls, whistling, chirping, clicking, and other sounds not easily represented by any combination of letters of the English alphabet, or by musical notation. Prof. Bolton has collected these words from a considerably large number of languages, ancient and modern, describes them, and analyzes them so far as they are susceptible of analysis. He reaches the general conclusion that the terms are mostly corruptions of the ancient names of the animals, sometimes with a prefix signifying "come," with expressions that have become otherwise obsolete. They are all subject to the same influences that lead to the development of dialects, and, the language being unwritten, the changes are quite radical. An important feature mentioned, but not dwelt upon at length, is the musical intonation giving a special character often associated with the call. We are surprised that while the author says much about "puss" as a call for the cat, he does not even mention "kitty," which is used a hundred times as often.

 

Plants and their Insect Inhabitants.—Plants have a special interest to the entomologist according to the number of insect species they harbor, and the invasion which causes dismay to the gardener brings him joy—qualified, we are glad to say, if the plant is a valuable one, by sorrow for his neighbor's trouble. Miss Mary E. Murtefeldt, of Kirkwood, Mo., has found no better way of making the acquaintance of the insect fauna of a locality than to take up, one after another, its native or introduced plants and, keeping them under close observation from spring till fall, and perhaps for several successive years, note the species that visit them and the larvae that subsist upon them, either exclusively or in common with other plants. Many weeds afford abundant harvests of this kind; one of the most productive of them is the cut-leaved ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiæfolia) of roadsides and fallow fields, every part of which—foliage, flower, leafstalk, stem, and root—sustains its own peculiar species, the majority of which do not occur on other plants. This plant is especially a mine of wealth to the micro-lepidopterist in the number, beauty, and variety of the species that are partially or wholly dependent upon it. Miss Murtefeldt names between forty-five and fifty species of five orders which she has found on this one plant. Perhaps one fourth of these are limited to the genus Ambrosia, and six or seven have been found only on artemisiæ folia.


MINOR PARAGRAPHS.

It is reported that an important advance in color photography has been made by M. Villedieu Chassagne and Dr. Adrien Michel Dausac. The process is simple and inexpensive. A negative is taken on a gelatin plate, which has been treated with a solution of certain salts (the nature of the solution is kept secret). The negative is developed and fixed in the ordinary way. From it a positive is printed on a sensitized paper which has previously been treated with the unknown solution. This positive is then washed over with three colored solutions—blue, green, and red—and it takes up in succession the colors in their appropriate parts, and the combinations of the colors giving all varieties of tints.

Berthelot and Vieille have recently been experimenting with acetylene, in reference to its explosiveness. They found that when acetylene at ordinary pressure is exposed to the action of the electric spark, a red-hot wire, or a fulminate shock, the gas is decomposed only in the immediate vicinity; when the gas is under pressure, however, the result is quite different, the acetylene acting as do the ordinary explosive mixtures when the pressure exceeds two atmospheres—the explosion rapidly spreading through the entire mass which, decomposes into hydrogen and finely divided bulky carbon. Liquid acetylene behaves in the same way. Using eighteen grammes in a bomb of 48·96 c. c. capacity, the final pressure was 5,564 kilogrammes per square centimetres—almost the equal of gun cotton.

Stress is laid by M. Albert Gaudry, in his study of Philosophical Paleontology, on