Popular Science Monthly/Volume 26/January 1885/Notes


Correction.—The paper on "School Culture of the Observing Faculties," in the December "Monthly," was written by Mr. J. C. Glashan of Ottawa, Canada, and not Glashaw, as printed.

M. G. Chauvet, in a monograph on the prehistoric polishing tools of Charente, France, notices the fact that flints very like some of the stone-age hatchets were, till recently, used in the factories of Angoulême for polishing playing-cards. The polishers are now made of copper.

A Number of the members and officers of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia have associated themselves into a Bureau of Scientific Information, the object of which is to impart, through correspondence, precise and definite information bearing upon the different branches. The bureau consists so far of twenty members, each of whom volunteers his services in his particular field of investigation. Professor Angelo Heilprin is secretary of the association.

Certain mushroom universities in the West and South seem anxious to put a high-sounding degree of some sort "within the reach of all." The allurements of these institutions include, in the department of letters, the degrees M. E. L. (Master or Mistress of English Literature); M. L. A. (Mistress of Liberal Arts); L. E. L. (Laureate of English Literature); L. A. (Laureate in Arts); B. E. (Bachelor of English); M. P. L. (Mistress of Polite Literature); and M. L. (Master of Letters); in science, A. C. (Analytical Chemist), and B. S. (Bachelor of Surgery); and in other departments are offered M. r. (Master of Philosophy); B. P. (Bachelor of Painting); M. A. (Master of Accounts); and L. I. (Licentiate of Instruction). One institution gives the degrees B. P. (Bachelor in Pedagogics); P. P. (Principal of Pedagogics); T. E. (Topographical Engineer); S. (Surveyor); and B. D. A. (Bachelor of Domestic Art). A person acquainted only with the effete colleges of the East would be at a loss on what scale to estimate the attainments of those who had been graduated with these degrees.

Sir H. E. Roscoe, speaking in the British Association of the diamantiferous deposits of South Africa, and the ash of the diamond, showed that silica and iron oxide form constant constituents of the diamond. He also stated that, when these yellow diamonds are heated out of contact with the air, they lose their color, and remain colorless so long as they are not exposed to the light; they then regain their color.

Mr. F. W. Putnam described before the American Association the exploration of the "Turner" group of mounds near Madisonville, Ohio, which had been conducted in the most careful and thorough manner, with examination of the earth shovelful by shovelful. The discoveries, both of objects obtained, and of facts regarding the structure of the mounds, were exceedingly valuable. Among the objects, some of which had never been found before in mounds, were shell-beads, disks, and rings by the thousand; cones cut from alligator-teeth; ornaments from buffalo-horn, mica, and copper; objects of native silver, gold, and meteoric iron; 50,000 pearls, mostly pierced and injured by heat; small stone dishes carved in animal forms; and artistically shaped figurines of terra-cotta, suggesting an Egyptian character.

Nordenskjöld is understood to be preparing a new three years' expedition under Russian auspices, the object of which is the north pole. He will start first for the newly discovered Bennett Islands, Henrietta and Jeannette, in the New Siberian Archipelago, where deposits of provisions will be made; thence to Franz-Josef Land, where other provisions will be left, and whence a start will be made in three divisions, for the pole.

The meeting of German naturalists, which opened at Magdeburg on the 18th of September, under the presidency of Dr. Gachde, was attended by more than a thousand men of science. Among the addresses delivered was one on the relation of micro-organisms to the infectious diseases of man, by Professor Rosenbach, of Göttingen. Dr. Gerhard Rohlfs spoke on the importance of German colonization in Africa.

In the Biological Section of the American Association, Dr. G. M. Sternberg described his experimental research relating to the etiology of tuberculosis. He had repeated the inoculation experiments of Koch, with similar results. The experiments of Formad to induce tuberculosis in rabbits, by introducing into the abdomen finely powdered inorganic material, had been repeated, with entirely negative results. Dr. Sternberg held that Koch's bacillus was an essential factor in the etiology of tuberculosis.

Sunlight or starlight in passing through our atmosphere loses by absorption an amount which is commonly rated at twenty per cent of the whole. By experiments made both near the sea-level and at altitudes of nearly 15,000 feet. Professor S. P. Langley has been brought to the conclusion that the previous determinations are largely in error. He believes it probable that the mean absorption of light (and of heat also) by the atmosphere is at least double that which is customarily estimated, and that fine dust-particles play a more important part in this absorption than has been heretofore supposed.

Professor Landolt recently exhibited before the Academy of Berlin a cylinder of solidified carbonic acid which had been kept for more than an hour in that condition. He had prepared it by passing liquid carbonic acid from a compressor into a conical sack of canvas, in which it assumed the form of melting snow, and then ramming the whole into a cylindrical vessel.

Signor Michela, of Italy, has devised a kind of telegraphic short-hand which he calls steno-telegrapby. It consists of a machine by which signs corresponding to various sounds can be telegraphed, and by means of which, it is claimed, 10,000 words can be sent in an hour. It has been used for some time in telegraphing the debates of the Italian Senate.

M. E. P. N. Fournier, a French botanist whose death was recently announced, edited in connection with M. Egger the work of Theophrastus on plants, and was preparing a flora of Mexico for the French Government and a flora of Brazil for the Emperor Dom Pedro.

Senhor Ladislao Netto, of Rio Janeiro, in a lecture on evolution at Buenos Ayres, gave some remarkable illustrations, from his own observations, of the power of plants to adapt themselves to diverse conditions. The same plants which became enormous vines in the dense Brazilian forests may be found growing as ordinary shrubs in the open. He and M. Lacerda have found the Strychnos triplinervia in isolated situations as a bush a little over six feet high, with no signs of a climbing tendency except a few atrophied tendrils; while in a wood only a few steps away another individual of the same species had a slender stem, with internodes, sixty feet in length; and the plant frequently grows to be seventy-five feet long. Other plants are mentioned by Senhor Netto, particularly the Thorinia scandens, which after having become quite respectable vines, began to increase irregularly in thickness immediately on having the sunlight let in upon them.

Observations made by Dr. L. Glaser, of Mannheim, in the river-valleys of Germany during the wet seasons of 1882-'83 and 1861-'62 have led him to the conclusion that heavy winter rains and floods are very destructive to insect-life, and have a marked effect in diminishing the "bug-crop" of the following season.

Recent observations of the British Meteorological Office on the temperature of the Gulf Stream between the latitudes of the north of Ireland and Bordeaux, and extending half-way across the Atlantic, go to show that the temperature of the water was abnormally high (1° to 3° above the mean) during June, July, and August.


Among the deaths of last summer was that of Count Constantin Branicki, an earnest promoter of natural science, who had made valuable contributions to the Museum of Warsaw, Poland.

Professor Bros Emil Hildebrand, one of the most distinguished of European antiquaries, died at Stockholm, on the 30th of August last. He was Royal Antiquary of Sweden, and under his care the Swedish archæological collections became among the richest and most curious in Europe.

Julius Cohnheim, a German pathologist, is dead, in his forty-fifth year. lie was a pupil of Virchow's, and filled professorships at Kiel, Breslau, and Leipsig.

Among the active students of botany who died last year are E. P. M. Fournier, at Paris, and Ludovieo Caldesi, at Faenza, Italy.

G. B. Delponte, formerly Professor of Botany in the University of Turin, died some months ago at Mombarrizzo, Piedmont. He was well known for his researches on the Desmidiæ.

Chemistry has lost by death, during the past year, Dr. Carstanjen, of Leipsic, who was fifty-nine years old, and Dr. Hans Hübner, director of the chemical laboratory at Göttingen, who was in his forty-seventh year.