Popular Science Monthly/Volume 26/December 1884/Notes


From papers read in the British Association, it appears that the most important coal-fields in the Acadian or St. Lawrence basin are those of Cumberland, Pictou, and Cape Breton. The other coal-regions of the Dominion are one extending from the ninety-seventh parallel to the base of the Rocky Mountains, and one on Vancouver's Island. Of the three fields, the first is in the carboniferous, while the other two belong to the secondary or tertiary formations.

M. V. Magniant writes to the "Revue Scientifique" that he has a cat which shows signs of intelligent reflection. Not only does it look behind the mirror for the cat which it sees reflected in the glass, but it has been caught several times attentively regarding a sculptured cat's head that hangs on the wall. It would get upon the back of a chair, and then stand up and stretch out its paw to touch the image of itself. It has outgrown the sports of kittenhood, but when it is asked in the morning if it is hungry it emits two sounds, that clearly mean yes, with an articulation that is never heard under any other circumstances. It loves flowers, not eating them, but inhaling their perfume with a visible satisfaction.

Mining-Engineer Wenzel Poech, of Austria, has discovered a simple, cheap, and practicable means of preserving mineral coal from deterioration in the open air, where it is liable to crumbling, and oftentimes to spontaneous combustion. It consists principally in treating the coal-pile with steam for the exclusion of the air, and securing a permanent retention of moisture by the coal. The theory of the process is that the deterioration of coal is caused by its absorption of oxygen and other gases, for which the way is opened by the evaporation of the hygroscopic moisture. If the coal is kept full of water, this can not happen.

Professor Archibald stated, in the British Association, that the "Krakatoa committee" had succeeded in collecting much information concerning the red sunsets and the diffusion of volcanic dust, which liad not yet been examined; and he could only say that nothing had yet appeared which was inconsistent with the Krakatoa theory.

Dr. Lenz, of St. Petersburg, has devised a telephone for measuring temperatures at a distance. Suppose two stations, A and B, joined by two wires of iron and silver which are soldered at both ends. If the solderings differ in temperature, a thermo-electric current will circulate through the wires, and may be made to express itself by means of a telephonic apparatus; but if the observer, say at A, raises or reduces the temperature of the soldering at his end, till it is identical with the temperatui'e at the end B, the telephone will cease to speak.


M. J. A. Barral, a distinguished French chemist and agronomist, died in September, in the sixty-sixth year of his age. He was Professor of Physics in the College of Sainte-Barbe. In 1850 he made an experimental balloon ascension with M. Bixio, to test the temperature and moisture of the air at different elevations. He founded the "Journal de l'Agriculture," and was commissioned by Arago editor of his works, which were published in seventeen volumes.

Professor J. C. Schioedte, a prominent Danish entomologist and editor of the "Naturhistorisk Tidskrift," of Copenhagen, is dead, at the age of sixty-nine years.

Mr. Charles Manby, engineer, who recently died in England, was for seventeen years paid secretary and for twenty-eight years honorary secretary of the Institution for Civil Engineers. lie was the son of Aaron Slanby, an eminent iron-manufacturer, and was engaged in the construction of the first pair of marine engines with oscillating cylinders and upon the building of the Aaron Manby, the first iron steamship that ever made a sea-voyage.

Baron Paul Thénard, the eminent French agricultural chemist, has recently died, in the sixty-fifth year of his age. He was a man of immense wealth, and employed it in the service of science. He was the author of investigations on phosphureted hydrogen, the action of the electric spark in chemical combinations, and on numerous questions in agricultural chemistry; and he possessed extensive laboratories at Talmay and in Paris.

Mr. George Bentham, F. R. S., an eminent English botanist, died on the 10th of September last, in the eighty-fourth year of his age. He was a son of General Samuel (afterward Sir Samuel) Bentham, and a nephew of Jeremy Bentham, the famous economist. His attention was attracted to botany, while the family were living in France, by the perusal of De Candolle's "Flore Française," and he immediately took to the study of the flowers in the back yard. His studies were afterward of a more diversified character, while botany still led, till 1829, when he gave up the profession of the law for his favorite science. He studied the enormous collections of the East India Company which had been brought home by Wallich from India; worked out the flora of Hong-Kong and Australia, the latter in seven volumes, containing seven thousand species, for the Royal Gardens at Kew; revised the orders of the Labiate, Scrophularinæ, Polygoncæ, etc.; and composed, in association with Hooker, the "Genera Plantarum," a complete general work on the phanerogamic plants, which was completed in the spring of 1883. "He has left no equal," says "Nature," "except Asa Gray."

Dr. Joseph Anton Maximilian Perty, Professor of Zoölogy, Psychology, and Anthropology in the University of Berne, died on the 8th of August last, aged eighty years. He was a man of great literary activity in the fields of natural history and metaphysics. Among his works in the latter field were "A Universal Natural History," in four volumes, a treatise on the smallest forms of life, an introduction to the natural sciences, a text-book of zoölogy, outlines of ethnology, and books on anthropology and psychology.

The death of Dr. Heinrich Schellen, author of two well-known works on the electro-magnetic telegiaph and spectrum analysis, is reported. Dr. Schellen was formerly director of the Cologne Realschule, and, besides the works named above, published an arithmetic, a German version of Padre Secchi's book on the sun, and other works on physical subjects. He was sixty-six years old.

M. Eugène Bourdon, inventor of the metallic barometer and manometer which are largely used, died in Paris on the 29th of September, aged seventy-six years.

Dr. Settari, an eminent entomologist (particularly in the department of Lepidoptera), has recently died at Meran, Tyrol.

Professor Jakob Natanson, a Polish chemist, died in Warsaw, September 16th. He wrote many scientific books in the Polish language, the most valuable of which were a text-book on chemistry and a treatise on organic chemistry; prepared carbamide synthetically in 1856; and improved the methods for determining the density of vapors.