Popular Science Monthly/Volume 13/July 1878/Notes


The American Association for the Advancement of Science will assemble in St. Louis, on August 21st. The officers are: President, Prof. O. C. Marsh; Vice-President of the Physical Section, Prof. R. H. Thurston; Vice-President of the Natural History Section, Prof. Augustus R. Grote; General Secretary, Prof. H. Carrington Bolton; Secretary of Section A, Prof. Francis E. Nipher; Secretary of Section B, George Little; Treasurer, William S. Vaux; Chairman of Chemical Sub-section, Prof. F. W. Clarke.

The British Association meets this year in Dublin, on August 14th, under the presidency of Mr. William Spottiswoode, F.R.S.

During the summer vacation, teachers of mathematics or astronomy will be admitted to the Cincinnati Observatory, there to pursue the different branches of study connected with their special departments of instruction. Applications should be made to the director of the observatory, Mr. Ormond Stone.

The French Association for the Advancement of Science will this year hold its meeting at Paris, commencing August 22d. The officers of the Association are: President, Prof. Frémy, of the Academy of Sciences; Vice-President, M. Bardoux, Minister of Public Instruction; Secretary, M. Perrier, commandant d'etat-major.

The death of Dr. Charles Pickering, of Boston, is announced. He was a grandson of Timothy Pickering, and was born in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, on November 10, 1805; graduated at Harvard College in 1823, and three years later received his medical diploma. He was a member of the scientific staff on board of the United States ship Vincennes during Commodore Wilkes's Exploring Expedition around the world from 1838 to 1842. In 1843 he went to India and Eastern Africa, to complete his ethnological researches, and on his return home two years later began the preparation of his great work, "The Races of Man and their Geographical Distribution" (1848). He later published "Geographical Distribution of Animals and Man" (1854), and "Geographical Distribution of Plants" (1861).

In the Azores, a Portuguese subscribes himself at the foot of a letter as "your watchful venerator"—an expression doubtless as sincere as "your obedient servant." He dates all letters written from his own house "S. C," meaning sua casa (your house), and he addresses them "S. I. C," i. e. Sua ilustre casa (to your illustrious house). By a fiction of politeness, he assumes that the house he lives in is one of the inferior mansions of the person he happens to be writing to, who, possessing a more illustrious habitation, allows the writer to occupy it by indulgence or sufferance.

During the discussion of hell-fire which lately swept over this country, we did not notice in any of the brethren such gracious evidence of a meek and loving spirit as in "Brother" Swigart, of Huntington, Pennsylvania; Brother Swigart is what is known as a "Pilgrim Baptist." Says the Primitive Christian: "At our last prayer-meeting Brother Swigart took the position that we have nothing to do with hell. It was not prepared for the Christian, and therefore need not concern us. Heaven is the place about which we are concerned, and not hell."

The educational authorities of Berlin maintain a vast garden for the purpose of supplying fresh botanical specimens for the public schools of the city. Over 4,000,000 plants are required for botanical instruction during the year.

The biological department of the Johns Hopkins University will this summer organize at Fort Wool, Virginia, a laboratory for the study of marine zoölogy, the sessions commencing June 15th, and continuing till August 15th. The laboratory is designed to meet the wants of advanced scientific investigators, but at the same time there will be accommodations for a few less advanced students. A fee of ten dollars will be charged for the use of laboratory and apparatus, and board will be furnished at cost. Address Dr. W. K. Brooks, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.

A short time ago we published a few specimens of the absurd anomalies of our common "systems" of weight and measure. Many others are cited in a late number of the Polytechnic Review. Among these we notice two as being specially absurd. Thus a law of the colony of Pennsylvania, about the year 1705, enjoined that all brewers "shall sell beer and ale by wine-measure to all persons as drink it in their houses, and by beer-measure to all such persons as carry the same out of their houses." The other instance is quoted from Mr. Charles Reade, who says that in Shropshire they at one time actually had different weights for different market-days!

Exact experiments made by Grehant show that a man, or one of the lower animals, compelled to breathe for half an hour an atmosphere containing only 1779 of carbonic acid, absorbs that gas in such quantity that about one-half of the red blood corpuscles combine with it and become incapable of absorbing oxygen; and that, in an atmosphere containing 11440 of carbonic oxide, about one-fourth of the red corpuscles combine with the gas.

Dr. Percy, F. R. S., at a recent meeting of the British Iron and Steel Institute, gave some particulars as to the manufacture of Japanese copper. Bars of this metal present a beautiful rose-colored tint on their surface, which is due to an extremely thin and enduring film of red oxide of copper, and which is not in the least degree affected by free exposure to the atmosphere. Dr. Percy exhibited bars of Japanese copper which had been in his possession thirty years, and which had undergone no change, though freely exposed to the action of the air. The secret of this result is that the copper is cast under water, the metal being very highly heated, and the water, too, made hot. Dr. Percy had himself succeeded in casting copper in this way, with results the same as seen in the Japanese metal.

Whitebait, a favorite fish among British epicures, has made its appearance in the bay of New York. Mr. Eugene Blackford, of Fulton Market, is satisfied of the identity of the fish caught here with the English whitebait. Only a few specimens have been found as yet, but a full supply is anticipated when the proper nets are procured, and shoals of the fish are discovered.

The sum voted by the French Chambers for the maintenance of the national museums during the present year is 762,780 francs. With this pittance have to be defrayed all the expenses of the great museums of the Louvre, the Luxembourg, of Versailles, and St.-Germain-en-Laye, with their branches. Attention is called in La Nature to the significant fact that the single Théâtre de l’Opéra receives from the state a larger bounty than all these great museums taken together. In consequence of this parsimony on the part of the Government, many of the great French collections, once justly esteemed to be the completest of their kind in the world, are now far surpassed by similar collections in other countries.

The state of the "temperance question" in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland may be inferred from the following statistics, derived from official sources: In 1877 duty was paid in the United Kingdom on 29,888,176 gallons of home-made spirits, intended for home-use. This is 62,112 gallons less than in 1876, but the decrease is due exclusively to Ireland. England shows an increase of 414,947 gallons, and Scotland an increase of 16,051, but Ireland shows a decrease of 493,110 gallons. The number of gallons destined for consumption in England was 16,853,082, in Scotland 6,987,189, and in Ireland 6,047,905. The 10,618,564 proof gallons of imported foreign spirits entered for consumption in the United Kingdom in 1877 were less by 883,176 gallons than the quantity in the preceding year.