Popular Science Monthly/Volume 20/December 1881/Notes


Denison's Improved Reference Index is an ingenious arrangement to give aid in making references in dictionaries and cyclopædias. It can be added to any such book at small cost and without disfiguring it, saves time and avoids perplexity at exactly the right moment when a reference is to be made. Instead of fumbling till patience is exhausted, and the mind distracted by the host of suggestions in looking over the pages—with the imminent danger of forgetting what one is after—Mr. Denison's device takes you to the letter you want instantly, by a single glance and a The invention is a godsend single motion to students.

Johann Maria Hildebrandt, a German African traveler of growing reputation, died in Antananarivo, Madagascar, while engaged in exploring the island, May 29th. Previous to going to Madagascar, he had spent several years on the eastern coast of Africa, and had had the honor of having a characteristic African moss (Hildebrandtiella) named after him. One of his later contributions to the Berlin Geographical Society's "Zeitschrift" contained an interesting description of the vernal phenomena in Madagascar, in which he said that spring arrives about the middle of November, when the cold southeastern wind which has blown throughout the winter, leaving its moisture on the eastern slopes of the forest-covered highlands and driving before it the savanna-fires, gives place to the northwestern wind, bringing warmth and moisture.

M. de Lesseps has been elected President of the French Geographical Society, "in recognition of the services he has rendered to science, and of his rank among the most illustrious men of his country and of the whole world." The enthusiasm which Frenchmen feel for their great engineer was tersely expressed by General Turr, who, asking the patronage of M. de Lesseps for his canal across the Isthmus of Corinth, styled him "General-in-Chief of Isthmuses and Canals."

John Duncan, the weaver-botanist of Alford, England, died in that place, on the 9th of August, in the eighty-seventh year of his age. Though he had been known in private to a few men of science as a man dependent on daily labor for the means of subsistence, who had become perfectly accomplished in the botany of his district, and had made valuable researches in it, he was not known to the public till about a year ago. Then, when, enfeebled by age, he was about to fall upon the parish, Mr. Jolly, inspector of schools, published an account of his work and his condition in the newspapers. A general interest was awakened in his case, and subscriptions were spontaneously offered, which enabled him to pass his few remaining days in comfortable ease. What he had—his books and the proceeds of the subscriptions he has left in trust for the promotion of the study of science in Alford and its neighborhood.

Mr. Hewett Cottrell Watson, one of the most indefatigable workers in British botany, died July 27th, in his seventy-eighth year. He was a prolific writer on the geographical distribution of British plants, and on the distinguishing characters of the more critical species, a contributor to periodicals, and editor of the "New Botanist's Guide," "Cybele Britannica," and the "London Catalogue of British Plants." In his garden were collected growing specimens of rare or little known British plants. He visited the Azores in 1847, with the result of adding much to the world's knowledge of the botany of the islands.

It was already known that music exercises a very perceptible influence upon the circulation and respiration of the human subject. Recent researches by M. Dogiel have shown that the same is the case with animals.

Dr. Ferdinand Keller, the discoverer for science of the lake villages of Switzerland, died at Zurich, May 19th, at the age of eighty-one years. His attention was first called to the lake villages in the winter of 1853-'54, when the remains of the structures at Obermeilen were made visible by an unprecedentedly low stage of the water in the Lake of Zurich. He communicated an account of what he had found to the Antiquarian Society of Zurich, and thereby awakened a lively interest in what has become one of the most engaging and instructive departments of prehistoric research.

M. Dubrunfaut, a French chemist of considerable merit, who has recently died at the age of eighty-four years, was best known by his discoveries of new processes in the manufacture of beet-sugar, which are still in use. At the time of his death he was engaged upon a treatise on human longevity.