Popular Science Monthly/Volume 24/January 1884/Notes


The Franklin Institute will open an International Exhibition of Electricity and Electrical Appliances in Philadelphia, on the 2d day of September next. By a special act of Congress, all articles "imported solely for exhibition" on this occasion will be admitted free of duty; but, if they are sold or withdrawn for consumption, the regular duties must be paid upon them.

Victor-Alexandre Puiseux, a French astronomer, died in September last. He was the author of numerous memoirs on astronomical subjects to the Academy of Sciences, and had been occupied very industriously with calculations based upon the transits of Venus of 1874 and 1882.

Dr. J. B. Sutton, of Middlesex Hospital, in a communication to the "Lancet," disproves the current opinion that monkeys die chiefly from tubercle. Having been permitted to attend the post-mortem examinations of animals dying in the Zoölogical Gardens, Regent's Park, he personally inspected the remains of ninety-three monkeys. Of this number, three were found to have died of tubercle, twenty-two of bronchitis, three of lobar pneumonia, seven of lobular pneumonia, one of septic pneumonia, twenty-three of other diseases, including three of scrofula and four of typhoid fever, while in thirty-four cases no lesion was met with sufficient to explain the deaths of the creatures.

Dr. Conrad Bursian, a distinguished German philologist, died on the 21st of September, having just a few days before finished his great work on the "History of Philology." He had been a professor successively in the Universities of Leipsic, Tübingen, Zurich, and Munich, and was a member of several learned societies.

M. Chevreul, the "dean" of the French Academy of Sciences, reached his ninety-eighth year on the last day of August, and was still physically vigorous and fresh of heart. The President of the Academy, in taking notice of the fact, remarked: "M. Chevreul has belonged to the Academy which he has so much honored by his labors for fifty-seven years; and he would, in fact, have counted it sixty-seven years, if by an extremely rare sentiment of generosity he had not allowed himself to be passed over in 1816, to give place to a chemist (M. Proust) whom he called his master."

Statisticians have pronounced the United States to be not only potentially but actually richer than the United Kingdom. Counting the houses, furniture, manufactures, railways, shipping, bullion, lands, cattle, crops, investments, and roads, it is estimated that there is a grand total in the United States of $49,770,000,000. Great Britain is credited with something less than $40,000,000,000, or nearly $10,000,000,000 less than the United States. The wealth per inhabitant in Great Britain is estimated at $1,160, and in the United States at $995. With regard to the remuneration of labor, assuming the produce of labor to be 100, in Great Britain 56 parts go to the laborer, 21 to capital, and 23 to government. In France 41 parts go to labor, 36 to capital, and 23 to government. In the United States 72 parts go to labor, 23 to capital, and five to government.—London Times.

M. Joseph-Antoine-Ferdinand Plateau, an eminent physicist and emeritus professor at the University of Ghent, died September 15th, in his eighty-second year.

M. A. Milne Edwards reports that he met with great success near Teneriffe on his deep-sea expedition in the steamer Talisman. The dredging apparatus is strong enough to bring up rocks weighing a hundred kilogrammes from the depth of a thousand metres. The collections promise to be immense, greater than it will be possible to bring home. Among the species gathered are crustaceans of forms resembling those of the Antilles, curious fishes with luminous organs, crinoids, asterias, strange holuthurians, numerous sponges, and mollusks, exhibiting a novel mingling of African with Mediterranean and Polar forms. On the Island of Branco, which had never been scientifically visited before, the expedition found large lizards, such as are not known to occur anywhere else, and which appear to have a good living of herbaceous food, although the island is nearly destitute of vegetation.

Dr. J. Lawrence Smith, of Louisville, Kentucky, died on the 12th of October last, in the sixty-fifth year of his age. He had distinguished himself by many valuable chemical researches and publications respecting them, particularly by his investigations into the composition and nature of meteoric stones. A portrait and sketch of Dr. Smith were given in "The Popular Science Monthly" for December, 1874.

Mr. Morgan J. Roberts tells in "Nature" of a collie-dog owned by him which was accustomed to go with him fishing, and took great interest in the business. She learned that there existed a close connection between the bobbing and final disappearance of the float and the pulling up of a fish, and would become very much excited whenever she saw the float in agitation. On one occasion when her master was away from the rods, observing a float disappearing, she uttered one or two sharp yelps, and, her master failing to come, herself seized the rod, and, "backing" with it, attempted to pull the line from the water. The hook held "a goodly eel."

Professor Oswald Heer, the distinguished Swiss paleontologist and botanist, died at Lausanne, September 27th. He was director of the Botanical Garden at Zurich, and editor of the Swiss "Journal of Agriculture and Horticulture"; and was the author of the "Urwelt der Schweitz" ("Primitive World of Switzerland"), which has been translated into many foreign languages; of a work on Swiss Coleoptera; and, in connection with Hegetschweiler, of the "Flora of Switzerland."

Millemaine is the name of a new cereal which has been introduced into South Carolina, from Colombia, South America. It is allied to sorghum and Guinea corn, and has the merit of an almost unlimited capacity to endure drought. Cakes made from the meal have been described as better than corn-cakes, and the grain has been pronounced by the chemist of the Savannah Guano Company superior in food qualities to wheat.

M. Alfred Niaudet, who died in October last, is pronounced by "La Nature" to have been the person who, more than any other one, contributed to the development in France of the industries dependent on electricity. He did valuable service to the country in his special line during the Franco-Prussian War, and, besides numerous papers on dynamo-electric machines, telephony, and telegraphy, was the author of two works that are authorities on electric piles and dynamo-electric motors.

The death is reported of M. F. S. Cloëz, an industrious French chemist, who assisted M. Chevreul some thirty-six years ago, and was afterward Professor of Physics in the School of the Fine Arts. He was author of several memoirs of considerable value.

According to Dr. Sach, of Buenos Ayres, there is no danger of an exhaustion of the quinine-supply. The experimental plantations in Java and the Island of Reunion have been very successful; and, besides these nurseries, the trees have been cultivated in Bolivia by the million for ten years. At three places in the last-named country, taken as they come, the number of trees growing is given, severally, at 70,000, 200,000, and 3,500,000.

Dr. Charles William Siemens, the distinguished engineer and electrician, died in London, November 20th, of rupture of the heart. He was born in Lenthe, Hanover, in 1823, and has given the world the regenerative gas-furnace, with an improved process for making steel; has been greatly instrumental in the extension of telegraphic cables, and has produced a series of valuable improvements in the saving and utilization of heat and in applications of electricity.

M. Jules Carret has found, by comparing the statistics of conscripts furnished from a certain region of France during ten years of the first empire with those for 1872-'79, that in every commune an increase is apparent in the average height of the inhabitants. If this is established, the fact will tend to contradict Broca's view that stature is almost wholly a matter of ethnic heredity, and to show that improvement in the conditions of life has something to do with it.

With the death of M. Louis Breguet, which took place suddenly on the 27th of October, is "effaced for the moment," says M. Blanchard, President of the French Academy of Sciences, "a name celebrated in the mechanic arts from the eighteenth century." He was the grandson and business successor of Abraham Breguet, who founded the watch-making house of that name in 1780, and was the father of the late Antoine Breguet, of the "Revue Scientifique." He was himself distinguished for services in the applications of electricity and in the advancement of telegraphy, and was a member of several learned societies. He was sixty-nine years old.

A way has been found for utilizing the bodies of animals that have died of anthrax. They are treated with sulphuric acid, and then converted into superphosphates. The germs are destroyed during the process.

Dr. John L. Le Conte, one of the most eminent American entomologists, died at his home in Philadelphia, November 15th. He presided at the Hartford meeting of the American Association in 1874. A portrait and sketch of him were given in "The Popular Science Monthly" for September, 1874.