Popular Science Monthly/Volume 24/March 1884/Notes


Near Mandan, in the neighborhood of the junction of the Hart and Missouri Rivers, are what appear to be two large cemeteries of an ancient race. One of them is composed of what are described as trenches filled with bones of man and beast, and covered with several feet of earth so as to form considerable mounds. With the bones are associated broken pottery, vases of flint, and agates. The pottery is described as being of a dark material, handsomely decorated, delicate in finish, and very light, pointing to the existence of a considerable degree of civilization.

The death has been announced of Mr. Robert B. Tolles, of Boston, the distinguished maker of American microscopes and telescopes of great powers.

Dr. Grassi is said to have made the important discovery that flies are active agents in the propagation of disease. They take the ova of parasitical worms into their mouths and discharge them unchanged in convenient places, often upon substances to be used as human food. Dr. Grassi is so deeply impressed with the magnitude and seriousness of the consequences that he hopes some effectual means may soon be found of destroying flies.—Science Monthly. Special attention is given by the British Government officers, in Cyprus, to the destruction of the locusts, with a view to their extermination. The governor reports that in 1882 he was successful in keeping the pests down, and he considers the method of screens so effectual that he proposes to rely on catching the live locusts, and not to gather their eggs. The accepted practice in China, Russia, and Turkey is based on a different view.

Brigadier-General Andrew A. Humphreys, who died in Washington on the 28th of November, in the seventy-fourth year of his age, performed many important services in the shape of scientific surveys and works of engineering. He was Superintendent of the Coast Survey from 1844 to 1849, of the Topographic and Hydrographic Survey of the Mississippi Delta from 1849 to 1851, and of surveys for railroads and geographical explorations west of the Mississippi to 1861. He was again engaged in the examination of the Mississippi levees for about a year after the war, after which he was placed in command of the Corps of Engineers and in charge of the Engineer Bureau. The report on the "Physics and Hydraulics of the Mississippi," prepared by him in conjunction with Lieutenant H. L. Abbott, has much scientific value.

M. de Sarzec, a French Oriental archæologist, suggested some time ago that the ancient Eastern stone-cutters used diamond-pointed tools in their more delicate work on diorite and other hard stones. He is corroborated by Mr. Flinders Petrie, an English Egyptologist, who has found in his minute examinations of ancient work lines of a character that could not apparently have been cut in those stones (diorites and granites) with any metallic tool, but must have been made with a gem-point.

M. Robert Haensel, of Reichenberg, Bohemia, has succeeded in accurately photographing a flash of lightning. His pictures, of which he has taken several, show the light of the flash under the form of long-continuous sparks, traversing the atmosphere. In one of them the point where the spark meets the earth is very clearly defined. With the spark, the landscape also is well produced, and a means is given for estimating the length of the luminous train, which, in one instance, is calculated to be 1,700 metres, or more than a mile.

An International Society of Electricians has been formed at Paris, under the honorary presidency of M. Cochet. It is open for admission to membership to every Frenchman or foreigner interested, whether in a general, scientific, industrial, or commercial way, in the progress of theoretical or applied electricity. The price of membership is twenty francs, or about four dollars, a year.

M. George Bontemps, a French chemist, distinguished particularly for his labors in the application of the sciences to glass-making, died at Amboise, France, November 14th, aged eighty-four years. He began his chemical studies under Gay-Lussac and Thenard, and has been connected with glass-making, in nearly every branch of which he has participated, since 1818. He introduced several improvements in the art, among them the revival of the manufacture of ruby glass in 1826, after it had ceased for two centuries, and was successful in making good optical glass. He published many papers related to glass-making, and a large work on the subject.

M. de Quatrefages recently presented to the French Academy of Sciences a report by M. E. Cartailhac on a flint-quarry that was worked during the stone age at Mur-de-Barrez, in Aveyron. It consisted of vertical pits dug through the Aquitanian limestone to the level of the flint-beds, at depths of from two to four metres. The walls of the pits bore evident marks of the pick, a tool of deer-horn, of which a considerable number of specimens were found in the bottoms of the pits. These pits are the first that have been found in France, and are very much like the ones which have been discovered at Spiennes, in Belgium, and Cisbury, in England.

M. Ivon Villarceau, a French astronomer and mathematician, died on the 23d of December, aged seventy-one years. He was educated to be an engineer, but became connected with the observatory, where he distinguished himself by his investigations of the periodicity of comets, his calculations of the motions of the stars, and his services in determining latitudes and longitudes.

The common objection among woman-kind, says the "Pall Mall Budget," to letting their ages be known is not shared by the ladies of Japan, who actually display the facts as to their age in the arrangement of their hair. Girls from nine to fifteen wear their hair interlaced with red crape, describing a half-circle round the head, the forehead being left free with a curl at each side. From fifteen to thirty the hair is dressed very high on the forehead, and put up at the back in the shape of a fan or butterfly, with interlacings of silver cord and a decoration of colored balls. Beyond thirty, a woman twists her hair round a shell-pin, placed horizontally at the back of the head. Widows also designate themselves, and whether or not they desire to marry again.

The subject fixed for the Howard medal, to be awarded next year by the English Statistical Society, is "The Preservation of Health, as it is affected by Personal Habits, such as Cleanliness, Temperance, etc."