Popular Science Monthly/Volume 11/May 1877/Notes


It is proposed to occasionally issue from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology a "Circular," containing notes and queries on physical and chemical apparatus, processes, etc. It will be printed by the papyrographic process, and will be sent free to chemists and physicists, on condition that they from time to time communicate to the editors descriptions of apparatus and processes which they may have found convenient, and which are not in general use in laboratories. Applications for the "Circular" must be addressed to Chas. H. Weng, at the Institute of Technology, Boston.

A committee of the New York Medico-Legal Society, appointed to investigate the subject of "School Hygiene," recommend that the minimum age of admission to the public schools be six years; that the maximum attendance at school, for children under eight years, be three hours; that the schools be under medical supervision; and that schoolhouses should be surrounded on all sides with adequate open space, to secure light, ventilation, and play-grounds.

Since 1821 twelve ships have been abandoned in the arctic regions by exploring expeditions. Of these, but a single one, the Resolute, sent out with others under Sir Edward Belcher, in 1852, has been recovered.

There were three hundred competitors for the Boylston prize of the Medical Faculty of Harvard University for the best essay on the question of "Rest for Women." Dr. Mary Putnam-Jacobi, of New York, was the successful competitor. Her essay is said to possess extraordinary merit, and is to be published.

The medium of light-vibrations in the Torricellian vacuum is, according to Julius R. Mayer, extremely rarefied air. Air adheres to the glass and the mercury, and, on production of the vacuum, expands, and fills the space with a medium which conducts light like the ether in cosmical space.

A bronze statue of Livingstone, the missionary and explorer of Central Africa, will be erected in Glasgow during the present year.

In San Pete County, Utah, the hills abutting on Huntington Creek contain several valuable veins of coal. Seven mines have already been opened by drifts run from the faces of the hills. The coal yields a very fair quality of coke. These coal-fields appear to be of very considerable extent.

A piece of coral five inches in height, six inches in diameter at the top, and two inches at the base, was taken off a submarine cable at Port Darwin, North Australia. As the cable had been laid only four years, the coral must have grown to its present height in that time.

Prof. Huxley, in a recent lecture at the Royal Institution, on "The History of Birds," said that, as they now exist, birds constitute a perfectly well-defined group, nobody mistaking the forms included therein. But, when we turn to the geological record, the case is different. Fossil forms are found that present definitions do not embrace, indicating a wider range of structure, and the existence of types intermediate between birds and reptiles.

According to the Gardener's Monthly, the Eucalyptus globulus can hardly thrive in any of our States on the Atlantic sea-board, with the possible exception of Florida; there it is barely possible that a few Australian trees may live.

A correspondent of the Lancet writes that, when traveling in the upper Sikkim Himalaya, at elevations above 12,000 feet, he took whiskey in small quantities, to counteract the effects of strong exertion in a cold, rare atmosphere. The consequence was the reverse of what was expected, being drowsiness and lassitude, lasting an hour or more. Cold tea, on the contrary, was found to produce a feeling of exhilaration and capacity for renewed efforts.

In Calcutta the general death-rate of infants under one year among all classes of the population—Hindoo, Mohammedan, mixed race, and non-Asiatic—reaches the annual average of 480 per 1,000, the rate ranging from 184 among the non-Asiatics to 598 among the Mohammedans. Of every thousand Hindoo children born in 1875 there died 596 within the year, and of the Mohammedans no less than 735. Thus, a native child born in Calcutta has a chance of life considerably less than that of a person attacked by cholera.

Dr. a. McL. Hamilton recommends the use of nitro-glycerine as a medicinal agent in epilepsy. One-tenth of a drop on the tongue at once produces cerebral hyperæmia. The face is flushed, the eyes become bright, and the temporal vessels throb, and there are marked sensations of fullness. Diluted in alcohol in the proportion of 1 to 100, nitro-glycerine can be kept safely.

Some years ago a large tract of peat-bog was drained at Grangemouth, Scotland, the loose mud and moss being carried down the drains to the estuary. The consequence was, that the oyster-beds in the estuary were covered over with mud, and the bivalves entirely destroyed. "Nothing," writes Frank Buckland, "is so fatal to oysters as a mud-storm, except it be a sandstorm. The mud and sand accumulate in the oyster's delicate breathing-organs and suffocate it."

The telephone appears to be well adapted for transmitting signals in mines; indeed, according to the Mining Review, telephones are already employed with great advantage in many of the deep workings of this country.

From soundings made by the U. S. sloop Gettysburg, the Challenger, and the German frigate Gazelle, a writer in Nature infers the probable existence of a submarine ridge or plateau connecting the island of Madeira with the coast of Portugal, and the possible subaërial connection, in prehistoric times, of that island with the southwestern extremity of Europe. A similar plateau connects the Canary Islands with the African Continent.

The electric light has been under trial in English lighthouses nearly eighteen years. It was first tried at the South Foreland Lighthouse in 1858. An electric revolving light has been exhibited at the Souter Point Lighthouse, on the coast of Durham, for the last five years. The flash of this light has an intensity of about 392,000 candles. With the improved electric machines of Gramme or Siemens this enormous intensity of light could probably be increased five or six times.

Sideraphthite is the name of a new iron-alloy, composed of 65 parts iron, 23 nickel, 4 tungsten, 5 aluminum, and 5 copper. It is said to resist sulphnreted hydrogen, is not attacked by vegetable acids, and only slightly by mineral acids. It is really more useful than standard silver, while it can be produced at a cost not exceeding that of german-silver. For alloys that have to be silver-plated to prevent oxidation, this material is a perfectly successful substitute.

The two islands of New Britain and New Ireland, lying east of New Guinea, have been visited by a Wesleyan missionary. Rev. George Brown, who has explored 150 miles of the coast of the former, and 100 miles of the latter. Mr. Brown also crossed the latter island and made large natural-history collections. No white man had ever been seen inland before, but no opposition was offered to the explorers. Abundant evidences of cannibalism were found, but the natives live chiefly on bananas, cocoanuts, and pork, and have large plantations.

Intelligence has been received of the death of two eminent German travelers in Africa: Dr. Edward Mohr, author of "The Victoria Falls of the Zambesi," and the Baron Dr. Hermann von Barth-Harmanting. The latter died by his own hand at São Paolo de Loanda, while suffering from an attack of fever, in the thirty-first year of his age; the former died at Malange, in the same Portuguese colony of Angola. Barth was, at the time of his death, engaged in making a botanical and geological survey of the Portuguese African possessions, under government auspices; Mohr had but recently returned to Africa, sent out by the German African Society to explore the country west of the great lakes.

Profs. C. V. Riley, Cyrus Thomas, and A. S. Packard, have been appointed United States Entomological Commissioners, with headquarters at Washington. It is understood that the main object of this commission is to thoroughly investigate the haunts and habits of the Rocky Mountain locust, and to devise means of exterminating that plague, or limiting its ravages. Prof. Riley will occupy himself especially with the whole country east of the mountains and south of latitude 48°, together with the west half of Iowa and the whole of the British possessions. Minnesota, Nebraska, Southern Dakota, and Eastern Wyoming, have been assigned to Prof. Thomas; and Montana, Idaho, Western Wyoming, and the Pacific slope, to Prof. Packard.

A Remarkable appearance on the planet Saturn was observed by Prof. Hall, of the Naval Observatory, Washington, on December 7th. A bright spot suddenly appeared near the equator of the planet, spreading gradually till it resembled a band extending over 90°. The phenomenon continued to be visible for a month, but then the approach of the planet to the sun made further accurate observation impossible.