Popular Science Monthly/Volume 15/May 1879/Notes


The commonly received theory of dew is that it results from the condensation of the moisture of the air by contact with surfaces of a lower temperature. This theory is rejected by Professor Stockbridge, of the Massachusetts Agricultural College. He holds dew to be the vapor from the soil condensed by the cooler air, and states as follows the results of his experiments: 1. The vapor of the soil is much warmer at night than the air, and would be condensed by it. 2. Vapor from the soil is soon diffused and equalized in the whole atmosphere, but in the largest proportion when evaporation is taking place near the surface of the soil; and, other things being equal, plants nearest the earth have the most dew. 3. Dew under haycocks, boards, and like objects on the ground, could receive it from no other source.

Professor Baird has dissipated the cloud of mystery which from olden time has veiled the mode of propagation of the eel by his finding the ripe ovaries of the animal. It appears that what Professor Baird shows to be the ovary of the eel has been known under the name of "eel-fat." This "fat," under the microscope, is seen to consist of egg-cells, of which a single fish may contain as many as 9,000,000.

At a meeting of the Baltimore Academy of Medicine, Dr. McSherry recounted the case of a lady who took cold two years ago, from sleeping in damp sheets, and has ever since been devoid of the sense of smell. Her sense of taste is also impaired to such a degree that she can not distinguish between different sorts of meats and vegetables. Pepper she recognizes by its pungency. The hearing is acute. Another physician present cited the case of a lady who lost the sense of smell several years ago, from catarrhal trouble. She is unable to distinguish the different kinds of food and drink. Her mother met with the same loss after typhoid fever, and never recovered from it. In another case the sense of smell was lost after illness, that of taste being retained.

An examination of the blood of Cephalopoda by Frédéricq shows that in the oxidized state corresponding to that of our arterial blood, this liquid is of an intense blue color, and that as it loses its oxygen it grows pale. It contains a substance analogous to hemoglobine, in which a metal plays the same part as iron in the blood of superior animals, but in the cephalopod the metal is copper.

A Spanish technical journal, the "Gaceta Industrial," pronounces American-made cartridges to be superior to all others, the superiority being due in part to the alloys used in the manufacture, in part to the machinery, and in part also to the skill of the workmen. Foreign governments have sent experts hither to study the methods in use in our factories, but the result has been unsatisfactory.

In 1872 the population of the city of Tokio (formerly Yedo) was 595,905 souls. It has since nearly doubled, for the last census shows it to be now 1,030,771. The number of houses is 236,961, or one house per 4·37 of the inhabitants.

A woman in England having received an injury on the leg which caused a profusely bleeding wound, applied a poultice of tobacco to the injured part. Soon the patient exhibited alarming symptoms, and a physician being called, found her extremely prostrated: there were dimness of sight, dizziness and confusion of thoughts, nausea, and vomiting. The poultice was removed, an antidote (strychnia) and stimulants administered, and the patient slowly improved.

The yearly consumption of quinine in the United States is computed at 800,000 ounces; at an average price of $2.50 per ounce, this represents an annual outlay for this drug of $2,000,000. Of opium the annual consumption, whether as a medicinal agent or as an intoxicant, is 220,000 pounds, costing, at four dollars per pound, rather less than one million dollars.

The cremation method of disposing of dead bodies is not making very rapid progress toward universal acceptance either in England or the United States. The medical press of the former country appears to be opposed to the practice. The celebrated crematory at Washington, Pennsylvania, the only one in the United States, has, we learn from the "Medical and Surgical Reporter," been converted into a factory for canning fruits!

In the present year occurs the eighteenth centenary of the destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius. It is intended to commemorate this event in a becoming manner next November, and invitations have been issued to the most eminent Italian archæologists to be present on the occasion.

The honey mesquite is one of the principal forest trees of Texas. It is a short, spreading tree, attaining an average trunk diameter of eighteen inches. It belongs to the Leguminosæ, and bears pods nine to ten inches long, containing beans imbedded in a sweet pulp. Both the beans and the pulp are eaten by the Indians, and they form good fodder for horses. The wood is very hard and durable.

In the summer of 1877 some remains of an old Roman bridge—viz., a number of oak piles and beams—were found in the bed of the Neckar, at Heidelberg. Some of the piles were drawn with the iron points or shoes which had been used to drive them into the ground, and these shoes were found to be of the same shape and strength as those used at the present day for like purposes. Of the seven piers which supported the roadway of the bridge, five were found in situ at equal distances (thirty-four and a half metres) from each other.