Popular Science Monthly/Volume 10/January 1877/Notes


The chemical laboratory for female students, in the new building adjoining the Massachusetts Technological Institute, has been thoroughly fitted up, and was occupied for the first time early in November.

Five specimens of ground coffee, chemically examined by C. H. Eddy, of Michigan University, were found to be adulterated to the extent of from 22 to 39 per cent, with chiccory. One package, labeled "Pure Mocha and Java," contained 23 per cent.; "Pure Rio," 25 per cent.; "Pure Java," 22 per cent.; "Royal Java," 31 per cent.; "Warranted pure government Java," 39 percent. Besides chiccory, these prepared coffees consisted chiefly of peas, oats, starch, carrots, etc. In three of the five specimens no caffeine could be discovered.

White-lead, as a pigment, is chiefly valued for its "body," and for the ease with which it is laid on; but it produces lead-poisoning, and also tends to lose its whiteness. Zinc-white is not open to these objections. Properly prepared, it has as good covering properties as white-lead, and the addition of magnesia in the manufacture makes it as easy to work; besides, it has no injurious effects on the health of those who manufacture or use it.

An extensive deposit of plumbago has been discovered in Longswamp Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania. "The deposit," says the American Manufacturer, "is between seven and eight feet in depth, and the mineral is of the best quality. Similar deposits are supposed to exist elsewhere in the same region, and persons are now engaged in prospecting, but as yet no new discoveries have been made."

The Library Table for November contains a good sketch of the life and works of Mr. Darwin, with portrait. A valuable feature of this periodical is its classified index to current periodical literature.

The death is announced of the eminent French geologist, Charles Sainte-Claire Deville, at the age of sixty-two years. He was a native of the island of St. Thomas, graduated from the Paris School of Mines, studied the geology of the Antilles, and published the results of his investigations in 1856. Later he was Professor of Geology in the Collége de France. For many years he devoted himself to the study of meteorology, and to him in great measure is due the foundation of the Montsouris Meteorological Observatory.

No publications by professors or other attachés (quære: officers, students, resident graduates?) of the Johns Hopkins University are permitted to be issued in the name of, or dated from, the university, without the consent of the professor to whose department the subject-matter belongs, or, in defect of such professor, of the head of the university.

The Engineering and Mining Journal proposes to its readers the following problem in proportion: If the German Continental Gas-Light Company is able to declare 13 per cent. dividends on its capital of nearly $3,000,000, when paying 5.75 per ton for its coal, and charging $1.01 and $1.35 per thousand feet for its 15.9 candle-gas, what are the profits of the New York gas companies, which pay $6 per ton for their coal, and charge $2.50 per thousand feet for a poorer gas?

In the School of Anthropology lately opened under the auspices of the Paris Faculty of Medicine, Prof. Paul Broca lectures ou anatomical anthropology, M. F. Topinard on biological anthropology, M. Dally on ethnology, M. de Mortillet on prehistoric anthropology, and M. Hovelacque on linguistic anthropology. The course is open to the public.

Several members of the Paris Anthropological Society have promised each to write a will directing that his brain be sent to the society, for inspection and dissection. It is thought that, by procuring the thinking organ of persons whose habits and works are perfectly known, some light might be thrown on the laws of physico-mental organization. The scheme is anathematized by the leading religious newspaper of France, the Univers.

On and about pistons and journals which have been lubricated with animal and vegetable oils, lumps of dirty matter are found, consisting of iron oxide and fatty acids. Dr. Schondorff has found that the oil is decomposed by steam into glycerine and fatty acid, and that the latter attacks the iron, causing enlargement of the cylinder. He therefore recommends the use of heavy mineral oils as lubricators.

An association has been formed and an estate purchased on the Sussex (England) coast, for building houses of a superior character, and on the most approved principles, so as to secure all the advantages depicted by Dr. Richardson as belonging to his "Hygeia," or City of Health.

The great maritime canal connecting Amsterdam with the German Ocean was opened November 1st, with imposing ceremony. The canal is sixteen miles in length, and has at the sea-end a harbor covering 250 acres, which, however, is not quite completed.

It is stated in Land and Water, as a fact beyond contradiction, that the choice English breeds of cattle have for some years not only tended to diminish in size, but also 'in robustness of constitution. The milk-yielding qualities of English cattle, too, are declining, so that the importation of cheese and butter is increasing enormously. This is strikingly the case with the Durhams, in which everything is sacrificed to form. In the finest strains of Durham cattle fecundity has been seriously affected, and the milk-secretion has become next to nothing.

The loss, in 1875, to Russia, from the ravages of wolves, amounted to about 15,000,000 rubles. The number of cattle killed was 179,000; of sheep, etc., 562,900. In the government of Kalouga alone the wolves killed 8,200 geese and 2,000 dogs. The human lives destroyed by the wolves are estimated at 200 per year.

At the fifth meeting of Russian naturalists, held at Warsaw, September 12th, proposals were favorably received to establish a zoölogical station on the Solovetzky Islands, and to request the aid of the Naval Department for dredgings in the Black Sea. Messrs. Grimm and Bogdanoff informed the meeting that they had undertaken two publications, a popular periodical, Herald of Natural Science, and a periodical in French or German, which would give to foreign readers brief notices of scientific work in Russia.

A miner at Nitshill, in Scotland, lately committed suicide by blowing himself up with dynamite. He procured a parcel of the explosive, went into the middle of the street, lighted the fuse, and leaned over the dynamite. The man was blown to atoms, and, on the spot where the dynamite had been laid, a hole was made about three feet deep by two and a half wide.

A commission appointed by the Government of Prussia to ascertain sundry anthropological data, has reported that of 4,127,776 pupils in schools, 42.97 per cent. had blue eyes, and 24.31 per cent. brown; 72 per cent. had blond hair, 26 per cent. brown, and 1.21 per cent. black. With regard to the color of the skin, only 6.53 had brunette complexion.

In a letter addressed to M. Dumas, of the Paris Academy of Sciences, M. Gachez asserts that vines may be protected from the ravages of the Phylloxera by planting "red maize" between the rows. The insect quits the vine and attacks the roots of the maize.

In 1849, out of every sixteen men, women, and children, in England and Wales, one was a pauper maintained by the charity of the remaining fifteen. In 1852 one in twenty was a pauper, and in 1875 only one in thirty.