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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 26/February 1885/Notes

< Popular Science Monthly‎ | Volume 26‎ | February 1885


The Italian Alpine Club is laboring to reafforest the mountains of the peninsula, and is having a measurable degree of success. In 1882 it had made plantations of greater or less extent, which were thriving, on the Piano del Re, near the sources of the Po; on Lake Como and Lago Maggiore. Plantations had been made in twenty-eight communes by twenty-one private persons, one of whom alone had set out 15,000 trees. Large plantations were laid out near Sondrio to resist the ravages of the wild mountain brooks. In the Apennines, Professor Magni, rector of the University at Bologna, had planted out 50,000 fir-trees near Spedaletto. These are only beginnings. The club is supported in its work by the people of the north, but the people in the southern part of the peninsula oppose it.

M. De Lacerda has presented to the French Academy through M. de Quatrefages a paper relative to an organism—a fungoid—which he has found abundantly in the organs of persons who have died from yellow fever, and which his experiments have 1 led him to regard as the active agent in the production of that disease. He fortifies his 'opinion by showing that several peculiarities of coloration displayed by this plant during its growth agree exactly in appearance with the vomited matters and with the color of the liver and the skin. He proposes to make experiments in cultivating the organism and in inoculations with it.

MM. Henry, of the Paris Observatory, have discovered two narrow and parallel bands on Uranus located in a symmetrical relation to the center of the planet's disk. Between them is a bright zone probably corresponding with the equatorial region. The poles are comparatively dark, but the southern pole is lighter than the northern arc. M. Perrotin, of Nice, has been able with his equatorial to follow at intervals the movement of a spot on the planet, and has deduced from it a period of rotation of about ten hours. This agrees well with M. Flammarion's theoretical computation of the period of rotation of Uranus.

Professor Leidy recently called the attention of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia to the evidence of the presence of living organisms in ice. What appeared to be living worms had been observed in the sediment taken from a water-cooler. Upon melting some of the ice, Professor Leidy was surprised to find a number of worms among some flocculent sediment, consisting mainly of vegetal hairs and other débris, that settled from it. Besides the worms, there were also immature Anguillulas and a number of Rotifer vulgaris, all living. It appeared that these animals had all been contained in the ice, and had been liberated on its melting. The worms belonged to the family of Lumbricidæ. Dead worms and infusorians were also found.

M. Balbiani has reported, agreeably to a commission given him, to the French Minister of Agriculture, on the best means of destroying the winter eggs of the phylloxera. The three methods in use were all found objectionable; that of rubbing the bark of the vines with steel-chain gloves, because it can only be applied to the old wood; the application of boiling water, because it is likely to be used carelessly; and that of washing the vines with a mixture of oil and coal-tar, because the mixture was too thick in cold weather to be used. M. Balbiani has tried with much success a wash of oil, naphtha, quicklime, and water; and it has the advantage of being cheap.

The story is published, respecting the origin of balloons, that Madame Montgolfier had washed her petticoat to wear to a great festival on the next day, and hung it over a chafing-dish to dry. The hot air, swelling out the folds of the garment lifted it up, and floated it. The lady was astonished and called her husband's attention to the sight. It did not take Montgolfier long to grasp the idea of the hot-air balloon.

Dr. Unna, of Hamburg, has introduced a new medicament which he calls ichthyol. It is distilled from a bituminous rock of the Tyrol, the bitumen of which, it is evident from the fossils, is derived from the remains of marine fauna. Ichthyol differs from the coal-tars in its peculiar color and physical properties. It forms an emulsion in water, is partially soluble in ether and in alcohol, and wholly soluble in a mixture of the two liquids. It is very rich in sulphur, containing about ten per cent of that substance, and this makes it very useful in skin-diseases; for, while just as effective, it does not irritate the skin as do other preparations of sulphur. It also contains oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and traces of phosphorus.

M. Perrotin, director of the observatory at Nice, France, has been enabled by a happy accident, to make an astronomical observation of an earthquake. Being engaged at the moment of the shock in an observation of Hyperion, he observed the Saturnian satellite to make an oscillation of some fifteen or twenty seconds to the right of his spider-line. It was really, of course, his telescope that moved under the force of a sharp earth-tremor which was duly recorded on the curves of the magnetometer.

The French have formed a society called Scientia, for the cultivation of the social qualities among scientific men. Its first banquet was held on the 11th of December, in honor of the ninety-ninth birthday of M. Chevreuil, when M. Jamin, presiding, delivered an appropriate address to the hero of the hour, and M. Chevreuil replied.

Correction.—For Düring read Düsing m the article entitled "Influences determining Sex," published in the January "Monthly."



Arthur Henninger, a French chemist of German birth, died October 4th, in the thirty-fifth year of his age. He studied and labored with Wurtz, and was distinguished for his experiments in the reduction of the polyatomic alcohols, and particularly of erythrite, by formic acid. One of the results of these experiments was the definition of a general method for the reduction of one alcohol to another of less atomicity. He was one of the editors of "Science et Nature."

Dr. Alfred Brehm, author of the "Thierleben," whose death was recently announced, was the son of a Thuringian ornithologist, and devoted his life to the study of all animal nature, but particularly of birds. He spent several years in the northeastern districts of Africa during his younger days, and later made scientific tours in distant lands, including Siberia, Turkistan, and Abyssinia. He was for some years Director of the Zoölogical Gardens at Hamburg.

Mr. R. A. C. Godwin-Austen, F. R. S., an English geological author of well-earned fame, died November 25th. His first geological paper was published in 1835. His favorite topic of study was the changes going on in the present day, especially along the coast. His best-known paper was "On the Possible Extension of the Coal-Measures beneath the Southeastern Part of England." The Geological Society gave him its Wollaston medal in 1862.

The death is announced of Mr. J. Buckman, formerly Professor of Geology and Botany at the Cirencester College, England.

Dr. Bodinus, Director of the Zoölogical Gardens in Berlin, recently died suddenly. He was distinguished, previous to going to Berlin in 1809, in connection with the garden at Cologne.

Dr. Thomas Wright, F. G. S., an English paleontologist, died November 17th. His specialty was fossil echinoderms, concerning the classification and structure of which, and their distribution in the secondary rocks, he contributed much that is important. He was President of the Geological Section of the British Association in 1875.

The death is announced of Henri Lartigue, a French practical electrician. He was born in 1830; served for several years as Professor of Physics, Chemistry, and Natural History in the lycée at Auch, south of France; joined Leverrier at Paris in 1855 to assist him in meteorological observations; and after 1859 was associated with the railroad, telegraphic, and telephonic service, in connection with which he made some valuable inventions. In his youth he made a botanical and entomological exploration of the Pyrenees.

Dr. Augustus Voelcker, the distinguished agricultural chemist, died at Kensington, England, December 5th. He was born at Frankfort-on-the-Main, Germany, in 1823, studied at Göttingen, and became assistant to Professor Johnson, of Edinburgh, in 1849. He was Professor of Chemistry in the Royal Agricultural College at Cirencester from 1852 to 1862, when he became consulting chemist and professor in the Royal Agricultural Society of England. He contributed much to the Agricultural Society's "Journal" and ninety papers to the Royal Society, and he published books on the chemistry of food and the chemistry of manures, and lectures on agricultural chemistry.

Professor Kolbe, author of the "Lehrbuch der organischen Chemie," died November 26th. He was born in Göttingen in 1818, assumed a chair in the London Museum of Economic Geology in 1845, succeeded Bunsen at Marburg in 1851, and accepted a call to Leipsic in 1865. He edited the "Zeitschrift für praktische Chemie" from 1869. He was, shortly before his death, awarded the Davy medal of the Royal Society for his researches in the isomerism of alcohols.

Professor Eugenio Balbt, Professor of Geography at the University of Pavia, died on the 18th of October. He was a son of the celebrated geographer Adriano Balbi, and was born in Florence in 1812.

The death is announced of Mr. Robert Sabine, C. E., an English electrician who has done good work in connection with the applications of electricity. He was a son-in law of Sir Charles Wheatstone.

Russian science has recently lost by death A. G. Fischer von Waldheim, President of the Moscow Natural History Society.