Popular Science Monthly/Volume 25/October 1884/Notes


According to the estimates of Mr. J. C. Smock, of New Brunswick, New Jersey, made after a comparison of all the observations, the great glacier of our continent "appears to have covered the whole of New England and Northern New York, and to have filled the Hudson Valley to a depth of at least three thousand feet, as far south as the Catskills, burying the Berkshire Hills, the Shawangunk Mountain range, and the Highlands of Southern New York in its icy folds. Above it stood the higher peaks of the Catskills and the summits of the Moosic Highlands as isolated landmarks, or islands, in the great mer de glace."

Professor C. E. Bessey suggests that as the Government has efficiently encouraged the study of the insects injurious to vegetation, and given us an increased acquaintance with the habits of these pests, and hints as to the way they are to be dealt with, it might do another service quite as valuable to agriculture by promoting the investigation of the parasitic fungi which injure and often destroy farm and garden crops. The destruction they effect is almost as great as that occasioned by insects.

The International Forestry Exhibition was opened at Edinburgh on the 1st of July, by the Marquis of Lothian, who spoke of the importance of education in forestry to the British nation. The United Kingdom, he said, had more property in the world than any other nation, but in this respect it was behind the others.

Professor Gabriel de Mortillet is about to begin the publication of a new fortnightly journal of the anthropological sciences, to be called "L'Homme." He will be assisted by a body of specialists as department-editors, and will contend actively for the recognition of anthropology as a science, the peer of the other sciences.

Captain James B. Eads, the American engineer, has received the Albert medal of the British Society of Arts. He is the first American on whom this distinction has been conferred.

It is generally understood that the hair and nails grow faster in hot weather than in cold, but few probably are aware that any temperature of the weather can impart so great a stimulus to the growth as Colonel Prjevalsky, the Russian traveler, says the Central Asian heat did during his journey in those regions. In June the ground and the air became excessively hot, so that it was impossible to travel in the day-time. The hair and beards of all the party grew with astonishing rapidity, and, strangest of all, some youthful Cossacks, whose faces were perfectly smooth, all at once developed quite respectable beards.

M. Olzensky has liquefied hydrogen at a temperature of -371° Fahr. In this condition the element appears to lose the metallic affinities which it manifests in the ordinary state, and assumes qualities of mobility and transparency more like those of the hydrocarbons.

Experiments made by Dr. William McMurtrie, which are described in "Bulletin No. 3" of the Entomological Division of the Department of Agriculture, go to show that the silk fiber from worms fed exclusively upon the Osage orange is somewhat finer, and, on the average, equal in strength to that obtained from mulberry-fed individuals.

Gabriel Gustav Valentin, till 1881 Professor of Physiology in the University of Berne, died May 24th. He was an excellent teacher and a profound physiologist, and was the author of several scientific works on physiological subjects, among them two in Latin. His "Text-Book of Physiology" was translated into English by the late Dr. Brinton.

Madame de Colbert has intrusted the French Academy with some valuable manuscripts of her grandfather, Laplace, which she has recently discovered, on condition that they shall not be opened till 1930.

Mr. H. W. Eaton, of Louisville, Kentucky, has described, in "Science," a female negro child which was born in that city in March, having what appeared to be a rudimentary tail. The tail was visible as a "fleshy peduncular protuberance," about two and a quarter inches long, and measuring an inch and a quarter around at the base, closely resembling a pig's tail in shape, but showing no sign of bone or cartilage, situated about an inch above the lower end of the spinal column. It had grown about a quarter of an inch in eight weeks.

Professor James Hall has been elected a corresponding member of the French Academy of Sciences, mineralogical section, in place of the late Professor J. Lawrence Smith.

Among the important enterprises undertaken by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey are the measurement of the arc of the thirty-ninth parallel, which is nearly 50° long, and of the meridian of the ninety-ninth degree of longitude, which stretches nearly 23° through the United States, and may be extended north and south to a length of 50°. This will furnish two lines of the highest value in solving the great problem of the figure of the earth.

Grape-seeds contain about eighteen per cent, by weight, of oil, which is largely extracted at Modena and other places in Italy, and used for purposes of illumination.


Ferdinand von Hochstetter, the German mineralogist and geologist, is dead, in the fifty-fifth year of his age. His earlier scientific work was done in New Zealand, when, having left the Novara expedition, he began geological investigations about 1857. He was afterward Professor of Mineralogy and Geology in the Polytechnic Institute of Vienna, and President of the Vienna Geographical Society. Besides works relating to the topography, geology, and palæontology, and the boiling springs of New Zealand, he was the author of books on the geology of Eastern Turkey and the Ural, and of various popular publications.

The July death-list contains the names of three of the scientific men of Sweden: the geometrician, August Pasch, who was fifty-one years old; the botanist, Dr. Lar Magnus Larsson, of the high-school at Carlstad, sixty-two years old; and the chemist, Professor Sten Stenberg, who died in the sixtieth year of his age.

The death is announced of the Abbé François Napoleon Marie Moigno, at Saint-Denis, France, at the age of eighty years. The abbé was of Breton birth, and was educated for the Church. Displaying a taste for science, the Jesuits made him a teacher of mathematics in one of their seminaries. In 1861 the superior of the order directed him to suspend the publication of a work on the calculus which he was preparing, and assigned him a chair of Hebrew and History. He preferred scientific studies, and left the order rather than give them up. He became a scientific contributor to the journals, and founded the "Cosmos," which eventually gave place to the journal "Les Mondes." He was author of books on electric telegraphy, the stereoscope and the saccharimeter, modern optics, a course in popular science, analytical mechanics, several volumes of "Scientific Actualities," and "The Splendors of Faith."

Dr. Erasmus Wilson, a well-known English medical writer, died August 9th, in the seventy-sixth year of his age. His specialty was diseases of the skin, and he founded chairs of Dermatology at the College of Surgeons and at Aberdeen, as well as the Museum of Dermatology at the former institution.

Professor Karl Richard Lepsius, the oldest Egyptologist in Europe, died in Berlin in July last. He was born in 1810; having studied philology at the German universities, he gave his attention to the examination of the Semitic and other alphabets, and of the hieroglyphic alphabet; published studies of various important Egyptian tablets and inscriptions, and of the "Book of the Dead"; and went upon his scientific expedition to Egypt in the fall of 1842. He published his "Einleitung," or "Introduction to Egyptian Chronology," in 1849; his great "Denkmaler," or portfolios of all the Egyptian monuments, between 1849 and 1860; his "Königsbuch," or lists of kings, in 1858; and his "Standard Alphabets," in 1860. He began the publication of a periodical devoted to Egyptology and archaeological research in 1864; and he was the discoverer and the translator of the celebrated trilingual "Decree of Canopus."