Popular Science Monthly/Volume 13/October 1878/Notes


Complaint is made in the newspapers that fish and fowl are dying by millions in different parts of the country, poisoned, it is supposed, by Paris-green. In the valley of the Connecticut Paris-green is freely used to destroy the potato-beetle, and the recent heavy rains have washed it into the rivers, together with untold millions of poisoned beetles. It may be doubtful whether the Paris-green suspended in the stream could destroy many fish, but there is little doubt that eating the poisoned beetles would prove fatal both to fish and fowl. "There is no reason advanced," says the Hartford Courant, "to explain the wide-spread destruction of fish more plausible than this, and it is a singular fact that sportsmen on land have complained of a fatality among birds, the same as fishermen do of the fatal effects upon fish. Quail have been found dead in various parts of the State, and there is no doubt that the death of the birds is due to agricultural poisoning."

According to a Pittsburg newspaper, Messrs. Gemill and Wampler, of McKeesport, at 10 p. m. of July 11th, while observing the planet Jupiter with a five-inch telescope, noticed on the eastern limb a dark round spot, just above the northern belt of the planet. Soon it moved rapidly westward, just touching the belt and passing off the face of the planet at 1.24 a. m. of the 12th. It had the appearance of a perfect sphere much larger than any of Jupiter's satellites, sharply defined, and intensely black. It could not have been a spot on the disk of Jupiter, for it passed over the face of the planet in three hours and nineteen minutes, while a spot would have taken five hours. Neither was it a satellite, or the shadow of one, for all the four Jovian satellites were in full view the whole time.

Dr. Hermann J. Klein, of Cologne, has discovered a new crater on the moon's surface, situated in the Mare Vaporum, a little to the northwest of the crater Hyginus. The new crater is nearly as large as Hyginus, and is a conspicuous object. Klein, though he had previously again and again observed the same region, had never seen this crater; neither had it been noticed by other selenographers. The inference would appear to be that volcanic action is still going on in the moon.

During a session of an educational committee, the Bishop of Gloucester in the chair, one of the members lamented the very imperfect education given to girls under the present system. "The fact cannot be denied, I fear," said the chairman, "but there is one consolation—the boys will never find it out."

A numerously-attended meeting, of persons of both sexes, was recently held in Indianapolis, Indiana, for the purpose of forming a cremation society. A committee was appointed to draft a constitution and by-laws.

It is a pleasing picture that Sir David Wedderburn draws of the social usages of the people of Japan—"a country where men never lose their temper, where women and children are always treated with gentleness, where common laborers bow and beg pardon of each other if they happen to jostle accidentally, where popular sports do not inflict suffering on the lower animals, and where cleanliness takes such a high rank among social virtues as to be carried almost to a ludicrous excess;" and their courtesy is "singularly free from servile or mercenary considerations."

Some twenty-five years ago the British Association for the Advancement of Science met in a certain cathedral town, and in the Geological Section a rather warm debate arose about the truth of the Mosaic account of the Deluge. The clean of the cathedral stoutly defended Moses, but he was badly defeated by the geologists. The next Sunday he preached a sermon on the Deluge, and proved, to his own satisfaction at least, the absolute accuracy of the story in "Genesis." He thus had the last word, for, as he remarked afterward, "none of those fellows could answer him there!"

According to Mr. A. C. Ranyard, of the British Astronomical Society, maxima of sun-spots, though their average periods are 11.11 years, occasionally occur at intervals of 13 or 14 years. In one instance, in comparatively recent times, viz., 1788.1 and 1804.2—16.1 years elapsed, while between the maxima years 1829.9 and 1837.2 there was an interval of only 7.3 years. An examination of the records of sun-spots proves the irregularity in their appearance to be so great that only vague prognostications can be made as to the time of an approaching maximum; and what is true of periods of maxima is also true of periods of minima. M. Faye, too, in a communication to the Paris Academy of Sciences, shows that the two phenomena of sun-spots and magnetism are not related, as they have not the same period. According to Wolf, the sun-spot period is 11.11 years, while the declination period of the magnetic needle is, according to Lamont and others, 10.45 years.

While exploring the desert region east of the Lob-Nor, the Russian traveler, Colonel Prejevalsky, made inquiries of the natives concerning the existence of wild camels in that country, and learned from them that those animals were still to be found in the Kum-Tag Desert, which extends over three degrees of longitude from east to west (91° -94° east), and is bounded north and south by latitude 39° and 40° north. The wild camels in summer seek the upper valleys of the Altyn-Tag, a mountain-chain on the southern edge of the Kum-Tag, and retire into the most inaccessible deserts in winter. Their sight, hearing, and smell, are exceedingly quick, in striking contrast to the domesticated camel, in which these senses are very dull. Colonel Prejevalsky employed hunters to procure the skins of these animals, and three skins were brought to him, representing a male, a female, and a colt.

In Germany, according to the Polytechnic Review, sawdust is employed in the production of sundry articles both useful and ornamental. A plastic mass is prepared, composed two-thirds of hard-wood sawdust and one-third glue, resin, or other binding material. This is compressed in brass moulds, and the moisture driven out by heat. The articles made are bass-reliefs, piano-keys, door-knobs, brush handles and backs, etc.

The excessive "militancy" of the people of Montenegro is well illustrated by their estimate of the comparative values of male and female infants. If a man has a daughter born to him, he regards the event almost as a misfortune—at least as a sore disappointment; he goes and sits on his threshold with downcast eyes, as though begging pardon of his neighbors and friends! But if several daughters are born in unbroken succession, the mother must call in seven priests, who bless oil and sprinkle it about the house, remove the old threshold and put in a new one, thus purifying the house which was bewitched on the wedding-day. On the other hand, if a boy is born, the entire household is almost crazy with joy; a feast is spread, and friends and acquaintances come thronging in to offer their congratulations and to express the wish—so characteristic of the national spirit—that the new-born babe may never die abed!

Workmen employed in nail-manufactories are liable to contract a grave lung-disease known as "nailers' consumption," caused by the deposit of iron particles in the cells of the lungs. The best preventive of nailers' consumption is no doubt the use of a respirator, such as that contrived by Prof. Tyndall for the use of firemen. The respirator would exclude from the respiratory organs the minutest particles of solid matter; it is far more effectual than any of the other devices which have been proposed, such as moist sponges or false mustaches.

The exorbitant price demanded by the patentees of the Bell telephone for their instruments causes no little discontent in England, where that form of the telephone has the field to itself, so far as the law is concerned. It does seem rather extortionate to levy from twenty-five to thirty-five pounds sterling on the purchase of an instrument that could be sold with a profit for half as many shillings. The result is, that the patent is boldly infringed: the separate parts of the telephone are for sale everywhere at a low price, and so people are enabled to make telephones for themselves. It is not probable that the decrees of courts which seek to uphold so odious a monopoly can be enforced.

William Laidlaw, native of Congo, now a freedman living in the island of Dominica, was born with six fingers on each hand. He is the father of four children, two boys and two girls, each born with six fingers on the hands, one of the girls having also six toes on each foot. One of the sons is the father of two boys who have six fingers on each hand; and the five children of the other son were born with the same peculiarity. This family well illustrates the wonderful persistence of sedigitism.