Popular Science Monthly/Volume 21/September 1882/Notes


In our notice, in the July number, of the death of Professor W. B. Rogers, we ascribed it, following the newspaper reports, to apoplexy. We now learn from his brother, Professor R. E. Rogers, that the deceased died from heart-disease. Professor Rogers's physicians pronounced the cause of his death to be "an attack of the heart, in which life was extinct before his body reached the floor."

Antoine Breguet, co-editor with Dr. Charles Richet of the "Revue Scientifique," in Paris, died of a disease of the heart on the 8th of July, in the thirty-second year of his age. He was distinguished in science chiefly as an electrician, and took a conspicuous part in the management of the International Exposition of Electricity of last year. Among his earlier writings was a paper on the theory of the Gramme machine, which was published in the "Annales de Chimie et de Physique." He contributed many articles to "La Nature" between 1875 and 1878; and became co-editor of the "Revue Scientifique" on the retirement of M. Alglave from that journal in 1880.

Mr. Albert S. Gatschett, in a study of the Indian languages of the Pacific States and Territories, and of the Pueblos of New Mexico, disputes the affinities which are supposed by many to exist between the Aztecs and the Pueblos. The oldest and most important characteristics of race and language, he alleges, are far from being common to both races, and even secondary and more recent characteristics, as implements, manners, customs, laws, government, religions, beliefs, worship, and traditions, have not been shown to be identical in them. A comparison of all of the four languages of the Pueblos of New Mexico and Arizona results in showing that none of them have sufficient affinity with Aztec to justify a classification with it.

The French Department of Public Works reports that of the 39,938,126 metres representing the total length of the national highways of the country, 23,731,928 metres may be bordered with trees. Of this distance, 14,335,311 metres have already been planted with 2,691,698 trees, leaving 9,396,617 metres yet to be planted.

The editor of the "Medical Press" has visited a canary-bird, in the possession of Dr. J. MacGrigor Croft, that can talk. He says he found that the bird could pronounce a good number of sentences, "clearly imitative of the voice of the lady who had care of it since its early youth," and that "the effect produced by the clear, sweetly uttered sentences pronounced by the bird is almost weird at first; but the feeling of wonder thus created quickly gives rise to a sensation of exquisite pleasure, which is deepened as the little creature suddenly, at the end of a sentence, rushes off into an ecstasy of song."

Mr. Craig, of Montreal, has produced a novel effect in the electric light by the device of placing his reflectors under the light and throwing the rays upward to the ceiling. It is found that by using this method the light, as reflected back from the ceiling, falls upon the persons below much softened, and far more agreeable in tone than when reflected directly downward in the usual way. The glaring center of light is hidden by the reflector below it, and no longer offends the eyes. Objects not exposed to direct light are not in shadow, as in cases of ordinary reflection, but the whole effect is described as like that of the sun in the zenith.

Mount Etna has been in a half-active condition ever since the great eruption of 18*79. Hardly a month has passed in which it has not ejected smoke and sand with greater or less violence and persistency. The outbursts have been accompanied by the strong tremblings of the ground, and the intense subterranean noises which commonly precede the great eruptions, but there has been no emission of lava. Such frequency of eruptive paroxysms, ending in simple jets of dust, is unprecedented in the long history of Etna.

The "Echo of Japan" says that a cave near Beppo-Moura, Japan, had not been entered by any one for several generations. According to popular belief, a god made his abode there, and was ready to punish with death any one who violated his privacy. One of the tribe of doubters recently ventured in, and found there the veritable god whom the mass of mankind worship. The ground was strewed with nuggets of gold. A preliminary examination of the spot has been made, and shows that it is extraordinarily rich in the precious metal.

It is estimated that twenty-nine per cent of the acreage of Europe is still in timber. Forty per cent of the enormous territory of Russia is in forests, and of this two hundred million acres are in pine-woods. Thirty-four per cent of the territory of Sweden and Norway is occupied with woods of useful timbers, twenty-six per cent of Austria, twenty-seven per cent of Germany, seventeen per cent of France, seven per cent of Spain, the timber being cork, oak, and chestnut, five per cent of Portugal, and four per cent of Great Britain. Scotland is the only part of the British Empire (including the colonies) in which the planting of timber is going on to any considerable extent. Sweden is now the country from which the world's supply of fir timber and deals chiefly comes.

Dr. J. R. Black of Newark, Ohio, in a lecture delivered at Columbus, makes a well conceived plea for giving more attention to physical education, saying: "To impart a knowledge of the three R's is well, but is it not as well to impart a knowledge of how to live healthy lives? Is not a strong, healthy, self-made man better than a highly cultured weakling? Let the State, as educator, attend to this point, earnestly and thoroughly, and the results would be that, besides gaining for itself a better soldiery in times of peril, there would also be an increased immunity from crimes against the State, a diminution of the conditions which produce disease and pauperism, and the rendering of the life of each more joyful and serene."

In a paper on the aurora of April 16 and 17, 1882, which was read before the American Philosophical Society, Mr. H. Carvill Lewis points to the occurrence of remarkable auroral displays at this time, as affording a striking confirmation of the periodicity of these phenomena. "It is just ten years," he says, "since the last auroras of importance occurred, and the period often to twelve years between maximum auroral displays may be regained as firmly established. The coincidence of this period with that of most numerous sun-spots shows a direct connection between the electrical condition of the earth and sun. At the present time the sun is exhibiting remarkable disturbances."

News has been received in Paris of the death of Dr. Crevaux, who had started from Buenos Ayres on a second exploring expedition in South America, designing this time to ascend the Paraguay River and its tributaries and thence pass to the valley of the Amazon, whence he would descend the Tapayos. His company appears to have been murdered by a horde of cannibals. On his previous expedition, in 1879, he determined with the compass the course of six rivers, two of which belong to Guiana, and four are tributaries of the Amazon. While a little was known of three of these rivers, the Maroni, Oyapok, and Issa, two of them, the Parou and the Yari were virgin to all exploration, and of the Japura, which is fifteen hundred miles long, four fifths of its course were unknown.