Popular Science Monthly/Volume 19/July 1881/Notes


Professor Farlow has, at the request of the United States Fish Commission, investigated the cause of the red color which sometimes appears on dried codfish during hot weather, in connection with which it has been noticed that the fish affected by it decayed with comparative quickness. He has found that the redness is owing to a minute plant, the Clathrocystis roseo-persicina, which is known in America and Europe, and may sometimes be found tingeing the surface of damp ground with a purplish hue, and in the macerating-tubs of anatomists. It does not appear to flourish or increase very rapidly at a temperature below 65°. It could have been derived from many sources, but Professor Farlow has traced its origin particularly to the salt with which the fish are cured.

George B. Emerson, LL.D., author of the "Report on the Trees and Shrubs growing naturally in the Forests of Massachusetts," died last March, in Boston. He was born in Kennebunk, Maine, in 1797, became known as a teacher, and a writer on educational topics, and has been president of the Boston Society of Natural History.

"Nature" notices a curious confusion in the different senses in which the term trawling is used by British and American fishermen. A trawl in England is a large purse-net attached to a heavy beam raised upon trawl-heads, or irons at either end, and dragged along the bottom of the sea. In Scotland it is simply a drift or seine-net. In! America it is a long line baited with hooks, and left on the bottom of the sea. Each of the three modes of fishing is objected to in the different countries in which they are employed by men who use one of the others. In Scotland the drift-net fishermen object to the trawl or seine-nets; in England the drift-net and the line fishermen object to the beam-trawlers; in America the hand-line fishermen object to the set-line fishermen, whom they call "trawlers." The complaints are all due to the jealousy usually felt at the introduction of new machinery in any industry; and the Governments of both countries may safely disregard them, since they are the most effective answers to one another.

The fifty-first annual meeting of the British Association will be opened at York, on the 31st of August. The address will be delivered by Sir John Lubbock, President-elect. The presidents of the several sections are: A, Sir W. Thomson; B, Professor A. W. Williamson; C, Professor A. C. Ramsay; D, Professor Owen, in the department of Zoölogy; Professor W. H. Flower, in the department of Anthropology; Professor J. S. Burdon-Sanderson, in the department of Anatomy; E, Sir J. D. Hooker; F, the Right Honorable Grant Duff; G, Sir W. G. Armstrong. Evening addresses will be delivered by Professor Huxley and Sir W. Spottiswoode.

The third meeting of the International Geographical Congress is to be held at Venice, September 15th to 22d. Representatives from all geographical societies are invited to attend, and they will be permitted to speak in any language. The discussions will be held in the eight sections of mathematical geography, geology, and topography; hydrography; physical, geological, meteorological, botanical, and zoölogical geography; anthropological, ethnological, and philological geography; historical geography; economical, commercial, and statistical geography; the study, teaching, and diffusion of geography; explorations and travels. An international geographical exhibition, the schedule of which is very full, and is divided into sections corresponding with those of the Congress, will be held in connection with it, and will be open during September.

Experiments were recently made at the Grand Opéra in Paris in the transmission through the microphone of the musical part of the representation, with results that are described as marvelous. The modulations of the voice and the concerted pieces were distinct] V heard and distinguished, to the admiration of the distant audience. A demonstration of this character is expected to form a regular feature at the coming Electrical Exposition, where a special hall will be provided, whence visitors will be able to enjoy the representations at the Opera-House without leaving the place. "La Nature" foresees the day when music will be sent around by the wires to assembly-rooms, and we will be able to "turn it on" by adjusting a commutator, as we now get water by turning a faucet.

Under the head of "Birds out of Place," Mr. Charles Aldrich, of Webster City, Iowa, records, in "The American Naturalist," that a robin remained last winter on his farm, frequenting a sheltered spot where a little spring of water flowed out of a bank below a mill-dam. He also tells of some crows that were found, during the severe weather, roosting with the chickens, which, for the want of a better shelter, were accustomed to roost in the low branches of a thicket near the house of one of his neighbors. A comparison of many similar observations to those of the robin, which might be recorded if those who made them would take the pains, would probably show that many so-called birds of passage elect to spend the winter in their northern homes, when suitable shelter from violent storms and cold is provided for them, and a supply of food is made accessible.

A Field Club, composed of specialists in various branches of science, and working naturalists, has lately been organized at Des Moines, Iowa. It will publish any results reached which may prove of sufficient value, in the form of occasional bulletins, and proposes, ultimately, to work up the natural history of the entire State, in which little has been done except by individuals, in the shape of local contributions made at their own expense. Geological surveys have been instituted twice, to be abruptly closed by the Legislature before anything of moment could be accomplished. A society like this one can do much to promote a better knowledge of the State, and to awaken a spirit of thorough investigation.

M. Dr. Lemoine has discovered in the lower tertiary beds near Rheims—which were considered nearly if not quite Azoic—fossil remains of an extremely interesting fauna, comprising numerous new species, and even some new genera, of mammals, birds, and reptiles. Many of these species exhibit characters intermediate between those of types which have been heretofore described.

M. G. Trouvé has applied two of his electric motors to an English tricycle, with a gratifying success in making it go. The machines were each fed by three of the accumulators which he uses in his polyscope. The tricycle ran for an hour and a half at the speed of a good carriage. M. Trouvé intends to construct another motor, with which he expects to attain a speed of twelve or sixteen miles an hour.

The Appalachian Mountain Club is enjoying an encouraging prosperity. Eighty-five members were added to its list last year, making the whole present number three hundred and twenty. Its position in the community is regarded as established and recognized, and its sphere of usefulness and plans of work as having become in great part well defined and settled. Its library is increasing considerably, by the exchange of its publications for those of other similar societies, which has been undertaken with forty-one societies in Europe, as well as with American organizations. Nine regular meetings were held during 1880, and field meetings at Plymouth and the Fabyan House, New Hampshire, and several excursions were made. The last number of its journal, "Appalachia," contains, besides the reports, the annual, address of President Charles R. Cross on "Barometric Measurement of Heights"; and papers on "Mount Cardigan," by Harold Murdock, and "A Sojourn in Andover, Maine," by Gaetano Lanza.

On the 5th of March last, the main seam of coal in the Ashton Moss Colliery, in Lancashire, England, was cut at the depth of 2,691 feet, or 231 feet lower than the deepest sinking heretofore worked in England. The temperature in the colliery, at the depth of 860 yards, was 78°.

M. de Quatrefages reports that fossil remains of men, well preserved, have been discovered in the quaternary limestones of Nice. M. Desor has determined their geological age, which, it is said, can not be contested; and M. de Quatrefages has determined the race to which they belong as that which has been long known as the Cromagnon race.

Some experiments described by Mr. A. Vogt, in the "Zeitschrift für Biologic," indicate that the southern walls of houses absorb less heat from solar radiation during the day than the eastern and western walls, notwithstanding they are exposed for a considerable longer time to the direct rays of the sun. On a day when the highest temperature of the air was observed at four o'clock in the afternoon, and the maximum of solar radiation at one o'clock, the thermometer behind the eastern wall was highest at eleven o'clock in the morning, behind the southern wall at three, and behind the western at six o'clock in the afternoon.

The Central Meteorological Bureau of France is in telegraphic communication with one hundred and twenty stations in Europe and Northern Africa, over a territory extending from Bodo, in northern Norway, toi Laghore, in southern Algeria, and from the island of Madeira to Moscow.