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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 19/June 1881/Notes


The annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences was held in Washington, D.C., beginning April 19th, under the presidency of Professor W. B. Rogers, of Boston, The sessions continued through four days, and were marked by the reading of a large number of papers, of general as well as special interest. None of the papers received more attention than that of Professor Bell concerning his later experiments in the production of sound by radiant energy, which we publish. Professor Barker, in his paper on "Incandescent Lighting," also touched a subject which engages general interest. The papers of Professor Pumpelly, on the relation of soils to health, of Professor Morse, on the utilization of the sun's rays in heating and ventilating, and others, show that the Academy does not neglect practical subjects. Mr. W. H. Ball gave an account of the "Land Ice in Kotzebue Sound," of which mention has already been made in the "Monthly"; and Professor T. Sterry Hunt described the "Auriferous Gravels of California." President Garfield visited the Academy, and was warmly welcomed. The meeting was more than ordinarily interesting.

The Boston Society of Natural History announces that a seaside laboratory, capable of accommodating only a limited number of students, will be open under the direction of its curator, Alpheus Hyatt, at Annisquam, near Gloucester, Massachusetts, from June 5th to September 15th. As the purpose is simply to afford opportunities for the study and observation of common types of marine animals under suitable direction and advice, no attempt will be made to give any stated course of instruction or lectures. The work will be adapted to meet the wants of those who have already made a beginning in the study of natural history. The apparatus will consist of the simplest laboratory furniture, collecting instruments, and row-boats, and a yacht for dredging excursions after the latter part of July.

Achille Delesse, an eminent French geologist, died March 24th. He was engaged through most of his life as a mining engineer, and was at one time Professor of Geology and Mineralogy at Besançon, and at another Professor of Agriculture, Drainage, and Irrigation in the École des Mines. He was author of works on some of the mineralogical features of the Vosges, of "Researches on the Origin of the Rocks," geological and hydrological maps of the city of Paris, and the rainfall of Paris, and, in conjunction with MM. Langel and De Lapparent, issued for twenty years the annual "Revue de Géologie." He was for two years President of the Geological Society of France.

"Nature" doubts whether our Fish Commissioners will be able greatly to increase the yield of sea-fish, like shad, herring, and cod. The arguments of Malthus respecting the relations between food-supply and the increase of population are thought in England to be applicable to fish. "Sea-fish, like all other animals," it says, "are undoubtedly increasing in greater proportion than their food; and it is obvious, therefore, that, unless man can increase their food, it is only lost labor to increase their number."

Fanny, a very aged carp in the ponds at Fontainebleau, well known to the people of Paris, has just died. She is said to have been hatched during the reign of King Francis I, and had become very gray.

The sixth session of the Summer School of Biology of the Peabody Academy of Science, Salem, Massachusetts, will commence July 12th, and continue for four weeks. Instruction designed especially for teachers. Further information may be obtained from Professor Edward S. Morse, of Salem.

Mr. William Pearce, of the Clyde ship-building firm of John Elder & Co., has stated, in a lecture on recent improvements in marine navigation, that the first steamers of the Cunard Company, in 1840, were under contract to go 812 knots an hour; were of 740 horse-power; and consumed 4710 pounds of coal per horse-power. The Persia, built in 1856, had side-lever engines, indicating 3,600 horse power, and consumed 3710 pounds of coal per horse-power. The Gallia, built in 1879, was fitted with compound engines of 5,000 horse-power, and sailed with a speed of 1512 knots an hour. The Persia burned 618 tons of coal for every ton of cargo it carried; while the Gallia burned less than half a ton, although it carried the cargo 212 knots an hour faster than the Persia. The Arizona, with 6,000 horse-power, consumed 134 pound of coal per indicated horsepower, and carried 3,400 tons of cargo at an average speed of 1614 knots, burning less than four hundred-weight per ton of cargo at a speed across the Atlantic faster than any previously recorded.

Dr. Hiram A. Cutting, of Vermont, has made a series of examinations into the durability under heat of different kinds of granite, sandstone, limestone, marble, conglomerate, slate, soapstone, and artificial stone. Granite began to yield at a temperature of between 700° and 800°; it became cracked between 800° and 900°; generally cracked between 800° and 950°; and was made worthless by or before reaching a temperature of 1,000°. Sandstones showed a greater power of endurance, massive limestones still greater, and marbles the greatest, while conglomerates seem to have been among the weakest stones. The least absorbent and the most absorbent of the granites were equally the granites most destructible by heat.

The annual meeting of the Society for the Promotion of Agricultural Science will be held at Cincinnati, August 16th, the day before the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Papers will be presented by Professor W. J. Beal, on "Testing Seeds"; by Professor R. C. Kedzie, on "The Ripening of Wheat"; and other essays, the subjects of which have not been announced, will be read by Professor S. W, Johnson, Patrick Barry, Professors J. H. Comstock, E. W. Hilgard, and A. J. Cook, Messrs. J. J. Thomas, L. B. Arnold, and E. Lewis Sturtevant, M. D.

The meeting of the French Association for the Advancement of Science at Algiers was successful in point of numbers, at least, notwithstanding the troubles with Tunis. A great many members had arrived on the 11th of April, fresh ones were coming in every boat, and it was thought that the attendance would exceed a thousand.

Professor James Tennant, F. G. S., a well-known mineralogist, has recently died in London, at the age of seventy-three years. He was the possessor of one of the largest and most valuable collections of minerals, was for many years Professor of Geology and Mineralogy, afterward Professor of Mineralogy in King's College, London; he held the office of "Mineralogist to the Queen," and was consulted by the Government, as one of the best authorities on gems, with respect to the cutting of the Koh-i-noor diamond. He did useful work in preparing collections of minerals and fossils suitable for educational purposes and as a lecturer, and was author, in connection with the late Professor Ansted and the Rev. W. O. Mitchell, of the treatise on "Geology, Mineralogy, and Crystallography" in Orr's "Circle of the Sciences."

The death is reported of Mr. F. A. Nobert, the celebrated producer of test-plates for miscroscopists. He had been engaged for many years in ruling micrometers and diffraction plates, and produced one set of lines—his nineteenth band—equivalent to about 112,000 lines to the inch, which he believed could never be seen resolved in the microscope. Dr. Woodward eventually produced photographs of the finest of these lines; when Mr. Nobert ruled a new plate, the finest band of which—the twentieth—was of a fineness equivalent to about 224,000 lines to the inch.

The New York Electrical Society was formed in this city on the 8th of February last, with the purpose of bringing persons engaged in operations connected with electricity into closer connection and association with each other for improvement in knowledge of electric art and science, and for social intercourse. The first regular meeting of the society was held on the 2d of March, when the organization was completed. Its real work was begun at the meeting of March 16th, when a paper was read by Mr. F. W. Gushing on the "Harmonic Telegraph" of Professor Elisha Gray. The preliminary meeting was participated in by between thirty and forty electricians and telegraphists: more than two hundred members had been enrolled at the meeting of March 16th.

Sir Philip Egerton, Bart., M. P., one of the Vice-Presidents of the Geological Society, died in London, April 5th, in the seventy-fifth year of his age. He was chosen a Fellow of the Geological Society in 1829, and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1831, and was also a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, antiquary to the Royal Academy, trustee of the British Museum, and one of the senate of London University. He was the author of fifty-one scientific papers, chiefly devoted to studies of fossil fishes, and generally published in the journal of the Geological Society, besides several papers in which he was joint author with other persons. He was owner of a collection of fossil fishes of remarkable value, it being but little inferior to that of the Earl of Enniskillen, which is, perhaps, the finest in the world.