Popular Science Monthly/Volume 17/May 1880/Notes


We ask the attention of our readers to the premiums offered to new subscribers for "The Popular Science Monthly." No such valuable list of modern scientific works has ever before been prepared for such a purpose; and no other publishing-house in this country or in the world is able to furnish from its own stock such a varied and admirable popular scientific library as that which D. Appleton & Company now present for the choice of those who will become subscribers to this periodical. It is important that its patronage and influence should be increased. We want the means of improving it. There are thousands of intelligent people who have not yet made its acquaintance; and to reach them we must rely upon the help of our friends, who know what the "Monthly" is worth. We ask each one of our present subscribers to detach the list of premiums from his number, and present it to some reading neighbor who can appreciate and ought to have "The Popular Science Monthly." There can be no better investment of money for individual improvement and sound family education than this. The magazine is worth twice what it costs to any thoughtful man, and when he can get his choice among a hundred sterling books as an extra inducement, which virtually reduces the cost of the "Monthly" to three dollars, he ought certainly to be informed of his advantage.

Dr. Phipson has proposed a new method of solving the question of a cheap household light. He has succeeded, with a comparatively feeble electric current, in perceptibly increasing the phosphorescence of certain bodies which are made faintly light by the rays of the sun. He incloses in a Geissler tube, containing a gas in a more or less rarefied condition, a phosphorescent body, the sulphuret of barium, for instance. By causing a constant current of a certain intensity to pass through the tube, he obtains a uniform and an agreeable light, at an expense which he estimates to be less than that of gaslight.

Dr. Carpenter says the entire absence of sunlight on the deep-sea bottom seems to have the same effect as the darkness of caves, in reducing to a rudimentary condition the eyes of such of their inhabitants as fish and Crustacea which ordinarily enjoy visual power; and many of these are provided with enormously long and delicate feelers or hairs, with which they feel their way about, just as a blind man does with his stick.

The use of camomile-flowers for the adulteration of smoking-tobacco has recently been discovered in England, just in time to stop an enormous swindle. The flowers are first deprived of their bitter principle by exhaustion in water, and then colored, sweetened, and dried, when they are ready for mixing with cut tobacco. A preparation sold under the name of "The New Smoking Mixture" was found on examination to be about one third tobacco and two thirds camomile-flowers.

Chintamanay Ragoonatha Charry, F. R. A. S., for thirty-five years connected with the Madras Observatory, and for the last seventeen years its head assistant, died on February 3, 1880. Besides a large amount of valuable work, the record of which is confined to the observatory, he contributed several papers to the Royal Astronomical Society of London, and was made a Fellow of that body in January, 1872. He was the first and only native of India who, up to the time of his death, had entered the lists as a discoverer of new celestial objects, having detected two new variable stars—R. Reticuli in 1877, and V. Cephei in 1878. During the later years of his life he delivered popular lectures on astronomy, explaining the principles of the science in simple and familiar terms, with a view to the removal of some of the absurd notions and ignorant superstitions concerning celestial phenomena that are propagated by the Hindoo astrologers.

The first volume of "Studies from the Biological Laboratory of the Johns Hopkins University" is announced. It is made up of original papers on physiology, animal and vegetable morphology, and embryology, contributed by members of the university, and based on investigations conducted in the biological laboratory and marine zoölogical station of the institution. The present volume contains 519 pages, with forty plates and illustrations in the text. Price, $3.50. A volume a year, issued in quarterly parts of about 100 pages, at a dollar each, is contemplated; or it can be obtained at the end of the year, bound complete, for $5. As they are doing some of the best original work in the country at Johns Hopkins, in these departments, those who wish to keep posted in the latest results of biological inquiry will do well to procure these publications as they appear.

Died, March 1 1th, at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Professor William T. Roepper, aged seventy years. Professor Roepper was born in Germany, came to America forty years ago, and in 1866 was appointed to the chair of Mineralogy and Geology in Lehigh University. He gave chief attention to the science of mineralogy, the mathematical relations of crystals and the chemical composition of minerals being subjects of special study. The practical aspects of the science were also of much interest to him, and his services as an expert were often in request.

M. G. Carlet, of France, has been studying the locomotion of insects and arachnids, and reports as the result of his observations that the walking of insects may be represented by that of three men in Indian file, the foremost and hindmost of whom keep step with each other, while the middle one walks in the alternate step. The walking of arachnids is represented by four men in file, the even-numbered ones walking in one step, while the odd-numbered ones walk in the alternate step.