Popular Science Monthly/Volume 20/April 1882/Notes


The city of Charleston, South Carolina, according to the annual review of Mayor Courtenay, is paying a much higher relative rate for school purposes than Northern cities which have secured for themselves greater educational advantages. Compared with Boston, it gives, in proportion, nearly one half as much again for its primary public schools alone as that city for all its schools, and gives, besides, annual appropriations to the High School and Charleston College. The grievous burden has been thrown upon the city by the extraordinary needs of the colored population, and gives it, the city officers believe, a right to call upon the Government for help.

The largest trees known are probably a Eucalyptus amygdalina, or "peppermint-tree," growing in the Dandenong district of Victoria, Australia, which is said to measure 370 feet to the starting-point of the crown, and 417 feet to the top, and a specimen of the same species, mentioned by Baron Ferdinand von Müller as having reached the incredible height of 480 feet. A tree was cut near Ballarat in 1869 which was 96 feet in circumference at the ground, 34 feet at 12 feet above the ground, 8 feet at the height of 144 feet, and at 210 feet was still five feet in circumference. Another tree measured three feet in circumference at the extreme point of its height, 385 feet, while its real top seemed to be missing.

The death is announced of Theodor Schwann, the distinguished physiologist, whose name is inseparably connected with the history of the "cell theory." He was born in 1810 near Düsseldorf, but spent most of his active life as Professor of Anatomy in the Catholic Universities of Louvain and Liege, Belgium. Three important pieces of work, each of which has been the starting-point of endless researches, are due to him. The first consists in his observations a:d reflections relative to the cell-structure of organisms; the second, his discovery of the organic nature of yeast, of the yeast-plant as the cause of alcoholic fermentation, and of organisms as the cause of putrefaction in general; and the third, his investigation of the laws of muscular contraction.

Dr. W. J. Hoffman observes, in his "Annotated List of the Birds of Nevada," that the absence of birds in large areas in that State, and their abundance in certain localities, "can mainly be attributed to the peculiar distribution of the vegetation. ' With the birds, as with insects, particularly the Coleopterœ, if an area of vegetation, composed of a certain class, be found, we generally know what may be expected as typical of that area. The greater altitudes attained in the Rocky Mountains have furnished additional facts regarding the breeding of certain species, which may truly be considered sub-Alpine when compared with their northward range."

The statements in reference to the education estimates for England, made by Mr. Mundella, in the House of Commons, indicate that it is the intention of those having the matter in hand to make elementary education more efficient and better adapted to convey to the pupils a knowledge of those things that will be really useful to them in after-life. Among the amended provisions of the code -laid before the House was one for giving in infant schools a systematic course of simple lessons on objects and on the phenomena of nature and common life. Among the "class-subject" in boys' and girls' schools are physical geography and elementary science, and among the specific subjects are mechanics, animal physiology, botany, the principles of agriculture, and domestic economy.

Dr. Edward T. Carswell, in his address as president before the American Academy of Medicine, takes strong grounds in favor of requiring evidence of graduation from a college as a condition of admission to the medical school, and of the abolition of the fee system, as essential elements of reform in medical education.

The recent International Medical Congress in London recommended as tests for sight, to be enforced on signal-men and look-out men at sea, that in all ocean-going vessels there should always be in actual control of the helm a person possessing with both eyes, without glasses, normal sight both as to acuity and colors, and that in addition one of the persons on the lookout should be similarly qualified; that in vessels engaged in the coasting-trade, every person liable to take charge of the helm should possess sight under similar conditions, equal to at least two thirds of the normal; that all persons engaged in marine signaling and all pilots should have normal sight; and that hypermetropic (over-sighted) persons should not be admitted. The congress also advised the constitution of an international commission to consider the means of improving the system of signals, and to fix upon the standard colors and upon the sizes of the signals to be employed.

The death of Dr. Christian Gottfried Andreas Giebel, Professor of Zoology in the University of Halle, was recently announced. He was born in 1820, and had occupied his professorate at Halle since 1860. He was the author of numerous works in his branch of science, among which were the "Fauna of the Primitive World" (1856), "The Mammalia in their Zoological, Anatomical, and Paleontological Relations" (1855), "A Natural History of the Animal Kingdom" (1864), "Agricultural Zoology" (1869), a "Thesaurus Ornithologiæ" (1877), and a work on "Parasitic Insects," besides numerous smaller works.

Dr. J. Bouillaud, a French physician distinguished for his researches in heart disease, died in Paris last October, in the eightysixth year of bis age. He discovered the relations between organic affections of the heart and acute articular rheumatism, and recognized and partially defined the anatomical lesion which produces aphasia. He published his first work, a "Treatise on Diseases of the Heart," in 1824.

Dr. D. W. Prentiss, of Washington, D. C, has described a remarkable change in the color of the hair which followed the use of pilocarpine in the case of a young woman treated by him. The hair, which was at first light blonde, with a yellow tinge, became chestnut brown in the course of a month and almost a pure black in six months, and acquired a more vigorous and thicker growth. A microscopic examination showed that the change in color was due to an increase of the normal pigment, and not to a dye. The eyes also became darker. The hair of an infant, treated for croup, showed a distinct change to a darker color after ten days' use of pilocarpine.

The death is announced of M. Bussy, the eminent French chemist. He was the first person that succeeded in obtaining metallic magnesium.

Mr. M. E. Wadsworth has called attention to a confusion in which the term Laurentian as the name of a geological formation has become involved by its having been appropriated to two different sets of rocks. Mr. Edward Desor first used the name in 1850, and applied it to some marine deposits in Maine, on the St. Lawrence River, and on Lakes Champlain and Ontario. He employed it afterward in several papers published in scientific journals and transactions, and it seems to have passed into current use among geologists between 1850 and 1857. Sir William Logan in 1854 applied the same name to the Canadian rocks, which he had heretofore called the "metamorphic series," and which are the equivalents of the Azoic rocks of Foster and Whitney. Mr. Wadsworth maintains that the later appropriation should give way to the earlier application.

Professor E. D. Cope describes the remains of a large mosasauroid reptile, to which he gives the name of Clidastes conodon, of which a part of a skeleton has been discovered by Professor Samuel Lockwood near Freehold, New Jersey. The parts found include numerous vertebræ; the greater part of the lower jaw, with some teeth; a humerus and ulna nearly perfect; a nearly entire coracoid, and parts of both scapulas; and indicate an animal larger than any Clidastes hitherto known.

Hermann von Schlagintweit, the eldest of the three brothers who became distinguished by their explorations of the highlands and mountain-regions of India, died in Munich on the 19th of January. He was born in 182(5, published works on the physical geography of the Alps in 1850 and 1851, and in the three years following 1844 traveled with his brothers Adolph and Robert through the East Himalaya region and Assam, Cashmere, Ladakh, and Balti, and over the Karakorum and Kuen-Lun Mountains to Chinese Turkistan. The results of their explorations have been embodied in two works of high scientific value, which, unfortunately, are not yet completed.

The crayon-pencils now much used by children have been found to be colored with poisonous dyes. The Dublin "Journal of Medicine" has an account of a child who was taken with all the symptoms of poisoning, for which he was treated with emetics and purgatives. The vomited matter was marked by particles of a green substance containing copper, and the discharges from the bowels bright-green fragments. The child was sick for a month. It was found, on examination, that he had eaten a part of a green crayon, colored with arsenite of copper.

The deaths of Dr. Karl Peters, Professor of Mineralogy and Geology at Grätz University, and author of numerous papers, and of Dr. Karl Fortlage, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Jena, are announced. Dr. Peters was fifty-seven and Dr. Fortlage seventy-five years of age.

A report has been published by the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales on museums for technology, science, and art, and upon scientific, professional, and technical instruction in the colony, which is full of information in connection with the extension of scientific instruction in its relations to technology.

Dr. Pellegrino Manteucci, who died in London on the 8th of August last, in the thirty-first year of his age, had just accomplished the hitherto unachieved task of crossing Africa from the Red Sea to the Gulf of Guinea. He left Suakim on the Red Sea, with two companions, in March, 1880, with the intention of crossing the continent. Prince Borghese left him at Darfoor, and he and Lieutenant Massari went on alone. Reaching the Niger, they embarked on that river and arrived at Egga, where they found the agent of a European company on the 8th of June, and set sail for Europe on the 1st of July. The two travelers entered the Mersey on the 5th of August, only three days before Manteucci's death.

The first discovery of fossil human remains in the caverns of Brazil has been made by Dr. Lund near Agua Santa, province of Minas Geraes, where an osseous breccia has been found, containing human débris, closely associated with the remains of extinct species.

Dr. Javal has recently declared, in a communication to the Société de Médecine Publique el d'Hygiène Professionelle, that the electric light, in the degree of division to which it has been brought, is absolutely harmless, and without danger to the sight.