Popular Science Monthly/Volume 16/December 1879/Notes


According to Professor Lintner, President of the Entomological Club, the study of entomology is making very gratifying progress in this country; collections are multiplying, and the literature of the subject is growing rapidly. The Club has compiled a list of persons engaged in the study of entomology in the United States; it already contains eight hundred and thirty-five names.

Dr. Krümmel, of Göttingen, estimates the mean depth of the sea at 1,877 fathoms, and then makes a comparison of the volume of the land above sea-level with the volume of the sea. Accepting Leipoldt's estimate of the mean height of Europe, viz., 300 metres, and estimating the mean heights of Asia and Africa, of America and Australia, to be 500, 330, 250 metres respectively. Dr. Krümmel obtains the mean of 420 metres or 0·0566 geographical mile. The surface ratio of land to water being considered as 1 to 2·75, the volume of all dry land above sea-level is inferred to be 140,086 cubic miles, and the volume of the sea 3,138,000 cubic miles. Thus the ratio of the volumes of land and water is as 1 to 22·4. That is, the continents, so far as they are above sea-level, might be contained 22·4 times in the sea-basin. But reckoning the mass of solid land from the level of the sea-bottom, the former would be contained only 2·443 times in the sea-basin.

The circulation of scientific works in Russia is so small, that native men of science find it nearly impossible to get their labors published. Kovalevsky, according to the London "Examiner," left at his death no less than thirty works in MS.; he could find no publisher for them. Professor Vasilief, the eminent Orientalist, has several volumes on "Buddhism and Philology," which he is compelled to keep in his portfolio for want of means to publish them.

The "Gazette des Hôpitaux" records an extraordinary case of loss of hair from fright. A girl seventeen years of age one day narrowly escaped death by crushing, and was much frightened. For three days she suffered headache, chills, and itching of the scalp. The symptoms were then allayed, with the exception of the itching, which continued. On combing her hair, it came out in great quantities, and soon she was quite bald. This baldness was permanent.

Of the views adopted by modern chemists concerning the structure of the carbon compounds, Professor Ira Remsen holds that they are correctly based and fairly demonstrated, but that they are steps in a path where greater progress is yet to be attained. Some of them will no doubt be disproved, yet, like the search for the philosopher's stone, they will serve to advance chemical science.

The usual average of rainfall in England, as reckoned for the first six months; of the year, is a fraction less than twelve inches. This year the fall from January to June—five months—was eighteen and a half inches. Again, in the first six months of 1878, according to observations made at Greenwich Observatory, there were six hundred and forty-three hours of sunshine. This year there were only four hundred and seventy-one hours of sunshine in the same time. June, 1878, was regarded as a gloomy month; but it had one hundred and eighty-one hours of sunshine, whereas June, 1879, had not quite one hundred and nineteen hours.

From experiments made by Arloing, it appears that chloral does not act as an anæsthetic on the sensitive-plant, while ether and chloroform have an effect upon it similar to that which they exert on animals. M. Arloing in his experiments caused the anæsthetics to be absorbed by the roots of the plant.

Near Stramberg, in Moravia, have been discovered certain caves which, in prehistoric times, were inhabited by man. The contents of these caves clearly prove the existence of man in very remote times—the age of the mammoth and the cave-bear. Thousands of bones have been found at the depth of two or three metres, representing mammoths, rhinoceroses, bears, horses, deer, reindeer, and with them well-preserved implements of stone and bone, objects in bronze, rings, needles, pottery, arrow-heads, and knives.

An exhibition was lately given in Paris of a method of employing electro-magnetism as a means of subduing vicious horses. With bits, bridles, nose-bands, and curbs specially constructed so as to apply a gentle current from a portable electro-magnet to the required place, seven particularly violent horses were reduced to obedience, and suffered themselves to be shod.

In the "Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal" is published an account of a very remarkable snowfall in Cashmere, which began in October, 1877, and continued almost uninterruptedly up to May, 1878, the general depth of the snow being then estimated at from thirty to forty feet. Houses and villages were crushed under the enormous weight, avalanches were frequent on the hillsides, and wild animals perished in great numbers.

Messrs. Martin and Tessier propose a mixture composed as follows for making uninflammable textile fabrics, paper, etc., viz.: Pure sulphate of ammonia eight parts by weight, carbonate of ammonia two and a half parts, boracic acid three parts, pure borax 1·7 part, starch two parts, water one hundred parts. The articles are to be steeped in the mixture (boiling) till they are thoroughly saturated; then they are dried and pressed.

The French Association for the Advancement of Science takes a surprising "new departure" next year by selecting Algiers as the place of its meeting in 1880. To avoid the inconveniences of the great heat of August, the meeting will be held in April.