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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 22/November 1882/Notes

< Popular Science Monthly‎ | Volume 22‎ | November 1882

NOTES.

Mr. Leonard Waldo, of the Thermometric Bureau of the Observatory of Yale College, reports that more than twice as many thermometers were examined in 1881-'82~as in 1880-'81, and that 4,552 certificates were issued during the year covered by the last report. The attention of the bureau has been directed to the study of a test for the sensitiveness of thermometers, or for the time required for each instrument to reach its maximum. A sufficiently delicate, simple test to meet the conditions of medical practice has not yet been devised.

President Charles E. Fay, of the Appalachian Mountain Club, considered the nomenclature of mountains and rivers in his last annual address. A good name, he suggested, should be individual, and suggestive of no other object than the one to which it is applied. The Indian names are excellent for that reason, and because in the nature of things they can have no other meaning for us than their special one. Personal surnames are not so objectionable as they may seem to be, for, unless they are derived from very conspicuous persons, they may in time lose their associations with individuals and become merged in the identity of the mountain. The names of the "Presidential Range" are among the most objectionable of this class, because of the difficulty of shaking off their associations with the Presidents. Artificially formed names are apt to be awkward and hard to naturalize; and descriptive names, unless they are rarely well chosen, are liable to degenerate toward the commonplace and irrelevant.

Mr. W. A. Hazen, in a paper on "Air Pressures west of the Mississippi River," published by the Signal Service, suggests that the position and extent of areas of high pressure in the region of Montana during the winter months may have a very important bearing upon the meteorological condition of the whole United States. His view is based upon the fact that in November and December, 1880, a permanent area of high pressure existed in Montana, and extended over an immense territory, and the winter was extremely cold over the entire country; while in November and December, 1881, the area of high pressure was less marked and was to the west of the Rocky Mountains, and the cold of the winter was likewise very much less marked. Many more years of observation will, however, he concedes, be necessary before any fixed law can be established.

The death is announced of Professor Leith Adams, of Queen's College, Cork. As a surgeon-major in the army, he received much praise for his report on the epidemic cholera in Malta, in 1865. Having retired from the army in 1873, he was appointed Professor of Zoölogy in the College of Science, in Dublin, and afterward, in 1878, Professor of Natural History, at Cork. He was author of "Wanderings of a Naturalist in India," "The Western Himalayas and Cashmere," "Notes of a Naturalist in the Nile Valley and Malta," and works on the "Natural History of Eastern Canada," and on "British Fossil Elephants."

The "Gazette Maritime et Commerciale" relates, in its column of marine accidents, a curious instance of the formidable power of molecular forces. The Italian ship Francesca, loaded with rice, had put in at East London, leaking badly. A squad of workmen was put on board to pump the vessel out and unload it; but, in spite of all their diligence, the rice absorbed the water more rapidly than they could discharge it, and swelled until it forcibly burst the vessel to pieces.

A telegraphic despatch from Göttingen, Germany, September 25th, announces the death of the chemist Friedrich Woehler, Director of the Chemical Institute at that place. Professor Woehler was born in 1 800, and was appointed to his position in the Institute at Göttingen in 1836. Among the important chemical discoveries with which he is credited are those of a new method of obtaining nickel pure, and the isolation of the metal aluminium, for which he was elected a chevalier of the Legion of Honor. His text-books on organic and inorganic chemistry are much used in German schools. He contributed many original papers to the German chemical journals.

Our readers will remember our account of the experiments of Mr. Bjerknes, of Christiania, Norway, in the production of phenomena similar to those of electrical and magnetic attraction and repulsion by means of hydro-dynamic, mechanical action. Mr. Stroh has performed a series of similar experiments, and has produced phenomena similar to those obtained by Mr. Bjerknes, by means of sonorous vibrations in the air. He uses a melodeon reed, the sound of which goes into a brass tube in which the reed is inclosed, and from this into a larger tube, to which is attached a bifurcating India-rubber pipe, each branch of which ends in a tambour. The vibrations may be made consonant or dissonant by adjustment of the lengths of the India-rubber tube branches. When the vibrations are consonant, the tambours are attracted toward each other; when the vibrations are dissonant, they are repelled. If a tambour in a state of vibration be presented to a disk which is not vibrating, attraction takes place. Thus, the phenomena of attraction and repulsion are imitated in air as Mr. Bjerknes has imitated them in water, except that they present themselves in an inverse sense from that in which they are exhibited under electric and magnetic influences.

Dr. Stephen D. Peet maintains, in a paper on the "Prehistoric Architectures of America," that they differ from those of any other continent, in that they exhibit architecture in its lowest stages, and at the same time give a clew to its development throughout all its stages. They may thus be used to aid in the study of the early stages of historic architecture in other lands. They, in fact, illustrate the transition between the prehistoric and the historic states. In Europe, only the highest class of prehistoric works can be called architectural; in America, the lowest class are worthy of that name. The American works, therefore, begin where the European ones leave off. Beginning at a point where architecture is presented in an undifferentiated state, the prehistoric works of America show a connected line of progress, especially observable in the gradation which is apparent in the works of the different sections of the continent as we go from the east to the west.

Mr. Luctan J. Blake, of Boston, who is studying at Berlin, on the Tyndall Scholarship, communicated to the Prussian Royal Academy of Sciences, on the 15th of June, through Professor Helmholtz, a paper on the "Electrical Neutrality of Steam rising from Still Surfaces of Electrified Water." He describes a series of experiments from which he draws the conclusion, contrary to the theories of Becquerel and Sir William Thomson, that in steam arising without ebullition, when no spray is thrown up, no convection of electricity takes place. He is continuing his experiments to confirm this law.

Dr. D. G. Brinton, of Philadelphia, is about to begin the publication of a series of works to constitute a "Library of Aboriginal American Literature." Each work will be the production of a native, and will have some intrinsic importance in addition to its value as a linguistic monument. The books will be printed in the original tongue, with an English translation and notes. The first volume, "The Chronicles of the Mayas," will contain five works, written in the Maya language, shortly after the Spanish conquest of Yucatan, and carrying the history back several centuries, four of which have never been published or before translated into any European tongue, with a history of the conquest written by a Maya chief, in 1562, also from an unpublished manuscript, and a history of the Mayas. It will be published before the end of the year, and will be furnished to subscribers at three dollars a copy.

The annual congress of the German Anthropological Society met at Frankfort, August 14th. About five hundred members were present. The president, Professor Lucae, delivered the opening address on the development of anthropology during the last ten years, and was followed by Dr. Schliemann, on his latest excavations at Troy; and Professor Virchow, on Mr. Darwin's relations to anthropology.

A famous rose-bush at Hildesheim, in Hanover, which is said to be a thousand years old, and is reputed to have been planted by Charlemagne, has this year been covered with an extraordinary profusion of blossoms—more, it is declared, than it was ever known to bear before. New shoots have been grafted on its stems within a few years, and have grown finely. The bush stands on the outer wall of the crypt of the cathedral, with branches reaching to more than thirty feet in breadth and nearly thirty-five feet in height.