Popular Science Monthly/Volume 18/March 1881/Notes


Fleuss's diving apparatus, which we described several months ago, has been used with success at the Severn Tunnel by a professional diver, who with it reached the bottom of the shaft under thirty-five feet of water, and walked more than a thousand feet up a heading to close some sluices and shut an iron door. He was cut off from all communication for an hour and a half. The ordinary diving gear had been tried for this work without success, for the great length of tubing required in connection with it rendered its use impracticable.

The suffocation of infants by overlying in the night has recently been investigated by a London coroner, who found that the abuse of alcohol was the principal cause of this form of mortality. Most of the cases occur on Saturday nights following the weekly debauch of the poorer classes among which they happen. The mother goes to bed in a state of semi-intoxication, nurses the baby with alcohol-poisoned milk, and both sink into a sort of drunken stupor, of which the infant becomes the victim.

The death is announced of Francis Trevelyan Buckland, best known as Frank Buckland, a popular writer on subjects of natural history, and a constant contributor to "Land and Water." He was a son of Dean Buckland, author of the work on geology in the "Bridgewater Treatises," which he edited in 1858, was himself a writer "who could seize with alacrity the popular side of a scientific question, but seldom went deeper," and was an authority on subjects relating to fish and fish-culture.

Thomas Rymer Jones, Professor of Comparative Anatomy at King's College, London, has recently died. He was author of a "General Outline of the Animal Kingdom," which was forty years ago considered the best book of its kind in England.

The apparatus invented by Mouchat for utilizing the direct rays of the sun as a source of power has been so improved by M. Pifre, a French engineer, that he claims to be able to make available eighty per cent, of the received heat of the sun.

The organization of an entomological club has recently been completed in this city by the election of Professor A. R. Grote as President, M. Berthold Neumoegen as Treasurer, and Mr. Harry Edwards as Secretary. Its object is the promotion of entomological science, and the formation of a metropolitan collection of entomological objects. The constitution provides for the publication of a journal devoted to the different branches of entomology, the first number of which is issued for January of this year.

Professor Huxley, in a recent paper before the London Zoölogical Society, said he was not aware of any zoölogist who now maintains the independent creation hypothesis.

Signor Serrano Fatigati has made researches into the influence of different colors on the development and respiration of the infusoriæ, which lead to the following conclusions: L Violet light promotes, green light retards, the development of these lower existences; 2. If a number of these organisms are put in distilled water, they will die quicker in a violet light than in a light of any other color; 3. The production of carbonic acid is greater in violet, less in green light, than in any other color; 4. All of these circumstances indicate that the respiration of the infusoriæ is faster in violet, and slower in green light, than in any other color.

Dr. Henry Draper having reported to the French Academy of Sciences that he had succeeded in taking distinct photographs of the nebula in Orion, which would be useful in the future to show if any change should take place in that object, M. Janssen has proposed that systematic stellar photography be undertaken at as great a number of observatories as possible. He is preparing to begin such a work at the observatory at Meudon, with which he is connected.

The experimental electric railway proposed about a year ago by Siemens has been built between the Anhalter Station, in Berlin, and a suburb called Lichtenfeld. It was to be opened to the public about the first of February.

The Boston Free Library contains three hundred and sixty thousand books, and last year there were taken out eleven hundred and sixty thousand volumes.

The phylloxera has appeared in the Crimea, imported, it is supposed, with vines from France. It has extended very slowly hitherto; but fears are expressed that it may invade the wild vineyards of the country, when it might destroy all the vines in the valleys of the Rion and Kura Rivers.

The sinking of the base of the French entrance to the Mont Cenis Tunnel has obliged the railway company to bore a new entrance, which has been begun a little over half a mile to one side of the present opening, and will join the old tunnel at a point about two thousand feet from its mouth.

In Siberia, a country so rich in gigantic fossils, the body of a colossal rhinoceros has been discovered in the Werchojanski district. It was found on the bank of a small tributary to the Jana River, and was laid bare by the action of the water. Similar to the mammoth washed ashore by the Lena River in 1799, it is remarkably well preserved, the skin being unbroken and covered with long hair. Unfortunately, only the skull of this rare fossil has reached St. Petersburg, and a foot is said to be at Irkutsk, while the remainder was allowed to be washed away by the river soon after it had been discovered. The investigation of the skull gave the interesting result that this rhinoceros (R. Merckii) is a connecting form between. the species now existing and the so-called Rhinoceros tichorrhinus, remains of which are not unfrequently found in the gravel strata of eastern Prussia. It is supposed that R. Merckii is the now extinct inhabitant of the eastern part of Siberia.—Nature.

Dr. B. A. Gould, Director of the Observatory at Cordoba, in the Argentine Republic, has been elected correspondent of the French Academy of Science, in the place of the late Professor C. A. F. Peters.

Died in Liverpool, January 3, 1881, Mr. John T. Towson, aged seventy-seven years. Mr. Towson was well known for valuable investigations relative to the subject of navigation, especially the determination of quickest routes to trans-oceanic ports, and the deviation of the compasses on board of iron ships. In 1863 he prepared a manual entitled "Practical Information on the Deviation of the Compass, for the Use of Masters and Mates of Iron Ships," which was subsequently published by the English Board of Trade.

Professor Huxley has been appointed to the inspectorship of fisheries, a position made vacant by the death of Mr. Frank Buckland.