Popular Science Monthly/Volume 11/October 1877/Notes


According to an estimate made by the Berlin Statistical Bureau, the total steam motive-power actually in use throughout the world is equal to 13,500,000 horse-power, or to the working force of 25,000,000 horses.

Some grains of wheat left in Polaris Bay (north latitude 81° 38') by Captain Hall's expedition, in the year 1872, were carried to England by Captain Nares last year. Though they had been exposed for four years to the intense cold of that high latitude, these wheat-grains germinated on being sown in a pot of earth at the Botanic Garden, Kew.

A Papier-maché coating for the bottoms of iron-ships is proposed by Captain F. Warren, who states that weeds and barnacles will not adhere to this material. The special cement by which it is secured may be applied cold, hardens under water, is unaffected by high temperature, and possesses great tenacity. A plate thus protected on one side was immersed for six months, and then the protected side was found clean, while the unprotected metal was covered with rust and shell-fish.

The schooner Florence, avant-courrier of Captain Howgate's proposed expedition to the north-polar regions, sailed from New London on the 2d of August, with the design of establishing a colony of explorers on the north shore of Cumberland Island. This island forms the western shore of Davis Strait, and lies between parallels 64 and 68 north latitude and between the meridians 62 and 78 west longitude. The party which goes out in the Florence is supplied with provisions sufficient for one year, or until the arrival of the main expedition under Captain Howgate, which is expected to sail in July of next year. The ship's officers and scientific staff of the Florence are as follows: Master, George E. Tyson, of Polaris fame; first-mate, William Sisson; second, Dennison Burrows; steward, Eleazar Cone; meteorologist, Orray T. Sherman; naturalist, Ludwig Kutnlin. Mr. Sherman is a graduate of Yale College. Mr. Kumlin is sent under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution. The vessel's crew consists of picked seamen.

The first "telephonic line" for practical use has been set up by Mr. C. Williams, of Boston, connecting his place of business in that city with his residence in Somerville, a distance of about three miles. By this line "conversation," Mr. Williams says, "can be carried on nearly as well as if those conversing were in the same room."

The "Transactions" of the American Society of Civil Engineers for June contains an interesting discussion on the subject of the preservation of timber, besides minutes of meetings and several articles of importance mainly to engineers.

A year or two ago. Prof Bolton, of Columbia College, had some combustible material in his laboratory set fire to by rays of light concentrated by a globular glass jar filled with water. A similar accident lately occurred in Paris, a number of cartridges being ignited by solar rays concentrated by an "eye" in a window-pane. A terrific explosion resulted. "Similar catastrophes," says Nature, "are more common than is generally supposed in summer, the windows of railway-carriages igniting sometimes over-dried plants, or even leaves fallen on railway embankments. It is known that fires sometimes occur in Algerian forests through drops of water suspended to the leaves and forming lenses."

The climate of Victoria and other parts of the continent of Australia has been highly commended as of benefit to consumptive patients; but the official statistics appear to prove the contrary. From an "Analysis of the Statistics of Phthisis in Victoria," it appears that the disease is as common and as constant in Melbourne and its suburbs as in England, both among the immigrants and the native-born whites.

In 1843, as we learn from a writer in the American Naturalist, a white-maple tree (Acer dasycarpum) in the town of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, measured twelve feet in circumference at three feet above the ground. In October, 1876, the tree was, at the same height from the ground, fifteen feet nine inches in circumference. Thus the average annual increase of circumference was about 1.36 inch.

The London Geographical Society has declined to coöperate with the International Association for the Exploration of Africa founded by the King of the Belgians, and favors independent work by the English. To promote the accomplishment of this work a fund is to be raised, and the Geographical Society has already made a special donation of £560. It is estimated that a well-equipped exploring expedition will cost £1 10s. for every geographical mile of country traveled in Africa.

The native trees, bushes, and shrubs, of Southern France that are most sensitive to cold during extreme winters are by Martins held to be survivors of the flora which covered the same area during the Middle Tertiary; they are exotic as to time, as other plants are exotic as to space.