Popular Science Monthly/Volume 23/July 1883/Notes


A step toward fixing a system of uniform standards of time was made by the convention of railroad managers which was held at St. Louis, April 11th. Hour-lines were agreed upon at fifteen degrees of longitude apart, to which the clocks in the districts respectively appertaining to them shall be made to conform. Four standards were made: Eastern time, to agree with that of the 75th meridian; central time, one hour slower, to be regulated by the 90th meridian; and two other standards, two and three hours slower than Eastern time, to be fixed by the 105th and 120th meridians. All changes in time will be made at the termini of roads or at the ends of divisions.

The Cockeville Iron and Steel Company at Seraing, Belgium, employing about ten thousand workmen of all kinds, maintains free night-schools, which are attended by about two thousand boys and adults from the works; an industrial or technical school, which is attended by about eighty fitters and boiler-makers, and by the clever young men in all the departments; and a mining-school, with two hundred students. In the steel department all the young men under eighteen are required to attend the night-school, and those who willfully absent themselves are liable to expulsion. At the great zinc-works near Liège, also, the apprentices are required to attend evening-schools.

The Davenport (Iowa) Academy of Sciences has recently received from the Rev. J. Gass a number of the peculiar "curved base" mound-builders' pipes. One of them is a finely carved stag's head, representing the antlers bent around the bowl, in relief; another is an eagle, perched and holding some small animal in its claws; two others are neatly carved birds; another is a finely sculptured black bear; a sixth is supposed to represent a fox, with the face turned backward; a seventh is a nondescript animal. Others are plain. The bear is cut from a black stone; the other pipes are in ash-colored pipestone or red catlinite.

Up to the present date, we understand, there have been received in answer to the official letter of inquiry to the members of the British Association, as to whether they intended to go to Montreal or not, replies in the affirmative from three hundred and forty. Among these are a good many who may be said to be really representative of English science, but, as might be expected, the younger men are present in a larger proportion than the older.—Nature.

Pierre Carbonnier, the distinguished French pisciculturist, has recently died. He was the author of several monographs on the natural history and cultivation of fishes, and contributed many papers to scientific journals. He was also director of the Aquarium of the Trocadéro at the French Exhibition of 1878.

Mr. W. S. Barnard, of the Department of Agriculture, observes that ants may do valuable service as destroyers of larvae and insects, particularly of the cotton-worm, which appears to be fiercely attacked by all the species. Even the smallest ant all alone will assault and worry the worm, and the insects appear plentiful in all the fields. They dispatch the younger worms very quickly, but the older ones more often escape. Ants are, however, detrimental, though indirectly, to vegetation, in that they protect aphides or plant-lice by keeping off the insects that would prey upon them. This they do for the sake of the honey-dew which the lice excrete while sucking the juices of the plants on which they live. It may be noticed that plants suffer most from aphides where ants are most numerous.

The agricultural interests of the south of France have been nearly ruined by the substitution of the artificial alizarine for madder in dyeing, the silk-worm disease, and the phylloxera. The cultivation of madder will have to be given up, for it can not again be made profitable. The disasters wrought by the silk-worm disease and the phylloxera, now that remedies have been discovered, may be repaired in time. To expedite the recovery of the depressed agriculture, an extensive scheme of irrigation has been arranged, by which water will be drawn from the river Rhône in canals, and distributed to all the country within reach.

Mr. George Sutton, of Aurora, Indiana, traces the causes of the floods in the Western rivers to the great aërial currents which bring on extensive storms independently of local influences, now in the Missouri, now in the Mississippi, now in the Ohio Valley, in summer or winter as the storms may occur. Whenever four inches of water fall suddenly over the seventy-seven thousand square miles of the Ohio Valley, a rise of sixty-three feet will be produced in the river at Cincinnati; and if the ground be deeply frozen and heavily covered with snow, the flood will be much higher. What the people of the river valleys need to enable them to avoid disaster from floods is to know beforehand the height to which the water will rise, and this may be determined by ascertaining how much rain is falling. The Signal-Service Office could provide this information by systematically collecting and publishing measurements of the rain-fall at points in all parts of the water-sheds of the large rivers.

An Association of American Naturalists was organized at Springfield, Massachusetts, in April last, of which Professor A. Hyatt was chosen president, Professors H. N. Martin and A. S. Packard, Jr., vice-presidents, and Professor S. F. Clarke, of Williams College, secretary. Twenty-seven members were enrolled. The Association adopted the name of the "Society of Naturalists of the Eastern United States."

A noteworthy feature of the recent third annual meeting of the German Geographical Society, at Frankfort, was the presence, as the hero of the occasion, of the youthful African explorer, Lieutenant Wissmann, and by his side Dr. Rüppell, now eighty-nine years old, who explored Egypt and' Nubia seventy years ago, and Abyssinia and the other Red Sea countries twenty years later.