Popular Science Monthly/Volume 29/June 1886/Notes


A committee of the American Society for Psychical Research, of which Josiah Royce, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, is chairman, wishes to collect accounts from trustworthy sources, respecting supposed cases of apparitions of absent or deceased persons, and the communication by them of facts unknown to the person visited by them, or belonging to the future, which are after-ward verified. It would also like to receive accounts of other similar personal experiences which may have been striking enough for the persons concerned to remember, or perhaps record. The committee's purpose is to collate and examine the evidence presented, with a view to drawing such conclusions from it as may seem proper and warranted. The committee's circular, which may be obtained on application to the chairman, contains a full statement respecting the kind of information it seeks, with a schedule of questions which may be useful as a guide in making up the accounts.

The summer courses in chemistry, to be given at Harvard University this year, will open July 5th and close August 14th. Instruction will be given under the direction of Dr. A. M. Comey in general chemistry, qualitative analysis, organic chemistry, and mineralogy. The fee for any of these courses is twenty-five dollars, and material and apparatus usually cost from five to six dollars additional. It is desired that applications for desks in the laboratory be made before June 15th. These courses are taken each year by teachers, both male and female, who are preparing to teach chemistry, by persons who intend to use their knowledge in the arts, and by general students.

Wood-oil is now made on a large scale in Sweden from the refuse of timber-cuttings and forest-clearings, and from stumps and roots. Although it can not well be burned in common lamps, on account of the heavy proportions of carbon it contains, it furnishes a satisfactory light in lamps especially made for it, and in its natural state is the cheapest of all illuminating oils. Thirty factories produce about 40,000 litres of the oil daily. Turpentine, creosote, acetic acid, charcoal, coal-tar oils, and other useful substances, are also obtained from the same materials as is the wood-oil.

M. H. Fayol reports that a number of oaken piles which have seen nine years of service at Mières, Spain, have taken on the appearance of stone-coal. The structure resembles that of a fibrous coal composed of bright particles separated by dull ones; it also feels like stone-coal. M. Renault states, after a microscopic examination, that the wood of fibers and parenchyma have preserved their characters, and the dottings of the vessels are perfectly clear. Chemical analysis gives a composition analogous to that of lignite. The very black color is ascribed to the presence of tannate of iron.

M. Chevreul gave joy to the members of the French Academy of Sciences by resuming his seat among them on the 5th of April, after a few weeks' absence on account of illness. He seemed only slightly weakened, but was otherwise in his usual vigor. The President of the Academy gave him a suitable welcome, and he replied, speaking till he was checked by Dr. Vulpian, his titular physician.

Dr. Charles Osten records, in "The Practitioner," the case of a woman patient who was made sick by eating eggs. She appears to be affected with a family idiosyncrasy against eggs, for she said that they never agreed with her when well; and neither her mother nor grandmother could eat them.

According to Professor Virchow, the German Colonial Society has had circulars sent to all European colonies situated in the tropics, requesting observations to be made regarding the question of the acclimatization of Europeans in the tropics, in order that the answers may be ready to be communicated to the German Naturalists' Association at its meeting in September next. An exhibition of objects required in fitting out scientific travelers for their journeys will also be held at the same time with the meeting of the Naturalists.

Herr L. Rutenberg, of Bremen, has presented the Natural History Society of that city with the sum of £2,500 for a Rutenberg fund, in commemoration of the services rendered to science by his son, the traveler, who was murdered in Madagascar. A committee of the Paris Academy of Sciences has matured a plan for the foundation of an Institut Pasteur for the treatment of rabies, to be open to Frenchmen and to foreigners bitten by dogs or other rabid animals. A public subscription is to be instituted in France and abroad for the foundation of the establishment. The management and application of the subscription will be under the direction of a committee, of which Admiral Jurien de la Gravière, President of the Academy, is chief.

Dr. Dubois, of Paris, has been making experiments on the properties of vaseline as food. Two dogs were fed on soup in which the usual fat was entirely replaced with vaseline. With this diet, the animals even slightly increased in weight; their general state was good, with no loss of appetite, vomiting, or diarrhoea. Whence the experimenter infers that the carburets of hydrogen forming vaseline, though they favor neither oxidation nor saponification like fats, are readily tolerated in the alimentary canal of dogs.

The Marquis de Nadaillac gives man's range of endurance of temperature as equivalent to at least 132° C., or 236° Fahr. His estimate is based on the recorded facts of -65° C., or -85° Fahr., observed in the Kara Sea, and 67·7° C, or 151·8° Fahr., in the country of the Tuaricks, in Central Africa.

Dr. Andries, having calculated that accidents from lightning have increased by from three to five fold during the last fifty years, finds that the causes which have been assigned for the phenomena do not account for all. He regards the main cause as lying in the enormous increase in manufactories, locomotives, etc., which fill the air with smoke, steam, and particles of dust of all kinds, while the increased populations contribute their share to the impurity of the atmosphere. His own experiments and those of others have shown that all the electrical phenomena of the air increase in intensity with the increase of dust in it.

The London Sanitary Protection Association registers more than 1,000 members, and reports 1,264 inspections during the year. The general character of the houses inspected was found to be as insanitary as ever, only 5 per cent being found in perfect order, and 9·5 per cent in fairly good order; while in 60 per cent foul air was escaping directly into the house, and in 24 per cent sewage was partly retained under-ground by leakage or choking of pipes.

A periodical descriptive of the contents and additions to the collection has been started by the administration of the Ethnological Section of the Royal Museum at Berlin. The first number contains an account of Dr. Nachtigal's ethnological collections, and other papers of similar interest.


The death is announced of Dr. Moser von Moosbruch, agricultural chemist, of Vienna.

M. Felix Leblanc, Professor of Chemistry in the École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures, Paris, is dead. He was for a long time a collaborator with Dumas; and has left his mark in chemical science, particularly in the matter of studies of carbonic oxide, ne also gave much attention to electrical investigations, and was a member of the committee on experiments of the International Electrical Exposition of 1881. He was chief inspector of gas in the city of Paris, and Vice-President of the Society for the Encouragement of National Industries.

Johann Jacob von Tschudi, an eminent observer of South American phenomena, died in St. Gall, Switzerland, on the 24th of January last. He was born at Glarus, in 1818, and went from school to Peru, where he lived five years. He gave the public the best account of Peru, and also published books on the fauna of that country, and the ancient Quichua language, a travel-sketch of the Andes, an account of the Brazilian province of Minas-Geraes, the "System of the Batrachians," and finally, a comprehensive book of travels in South America, in five volumes. He was a brother of Friedrich von Tschudi, author of the "Thierleben der Alpenwelt."

Mr. Richard Edmunds, a student of extraordinary agitations of the sea and earthquake-shocks, and of antiquities, died recently at Plymouth, England, in his eighty-fifth year. The results of his seismological investigations are published in the "Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal," the British Association Reports, and the "Transactions of the Royal Society of Cornwall." He also published, in 1862, a book on the "Antiquities, Natural History, Natural Phenomena, and Scenery of the Land's End District."

Dr. T. Spencer Cobbold, Fellow of the Royal and Linnæan Societies, has recently died. He was born in 1 828, and received a medical education in practice and at the University of Edinburgh. He was an eminent physician and medical professor. He devoted much attention to the study of morphology and the investigation of the life-history of animal parasites. He prepared the article on "Ruminantia" for the "Cyclopædia of Anatomy and Physiology." In 1868 he was appointed, by the Trustees of the British Museum, Swiney Professor of Geology.