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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 29/May 1886/Notes

< Popular Science Monthly‎ | Volume 29‎ | May 1886


A reproduction in phototype of seventeen pages of a Syriac manuscript, containing the epistles known as the "Antilegomena," is to be published by the Johns Hopkins University, under the editorial supervision of Professor Isaac H. Hall. The manuscript consists of the Acts and Catholic Epistles, and the Pauline Epistles, with Hebrews, together with tables to find Easter, etc., tables of ecclesiastical lessons, and a poem giving the history of the genesis of the manuscript.

Professor Germain Sée, of Paris, remarks, concerning the alimentary importance of water, that it is essential to dissolve the salts taken in with the food and eliminate them from the system. He denies that man can live on a purely vegetable diet, and points out that the vegetarians themselves confess the fallacy of their theory by using eggs, milk, and butter, by which they make up for the want of solid meat.

Professor H. A. Rowland, of Johns Hopkins University, has completed a photographic map of the solar spectrum, from wave-length 3,680 to 5,790, and has nearly ready the portion above 3,680, to the extremity of the ultra-violet, wave-length about 3,100. A scale of wave-lengths has been added, and the whole is claimed to be more exact and give greater detail than any other map in existence. While the error in wave-length at no part exceeds 1/50000 the wave-lengths of more than 200 lines in the spectrum have been accurately determined to 1/500000 part.

A comical feature of the almanacs published for use in Belgium has been brought to light. With the exception of two scientific works, whose editions are limited, they are all—495,000 out of a total of 500,000 copies a year calculated for Paris. They give the times—of the rising of the sun and moon, in which the local difference is often fifteen minutes, for Paris, making at certain seasons the day half an hour longer or shorter than it actually is in Belgium! Eclipses are calculated in detail as for Paris, even if they will not be seen at all in Belgium; and, if such an event should occur as an eclipse visible in Belgium which will not be seen in Paris, the almanac will know nothing about it. The "Grand double Almanack de Liége" does not recognize any of the discoveries that have been made in the solar system during the last three quarters of a century!

In addition to three cases previously reported for the current season, the "Lancet" records, in three weeks, three other deaths occasioned by accidents in playing foot-ball. In one case, the victim was kicked in the stomach by an opposing player; the second case was also traced to a kick in the stomach, followed in time by fits; and, in the third case, the player's head, in the rush, was doubled under his breast, and the spinal cord was ruptured. Evidently a reform is needed in the conduct of this game.

An Association for the Protection of Plants was formed at Geneva in January, 1883. On the 1st of January, 1885, it numbered 226 members, resident in eight cantons of Switzerland, with correspondents in France, Belgium, England, and Italy. It has established a garden of acclimatization for Alpine plants, and has distributed the seeds of five hundred species for cultivation in other countries. It has also received, by gifts or exchange, seeds from other countries for its own botanical garden. Its latest "Bulletin" contains a paper on a local flora near Geneva, and a paper by Henry Correvon, director of the garden at Geneva, recommending the cultivation of the edelweiss.

M. Forel has made a communication on the behavior of rivers derived from glaciers, like the Rhine and the Rhône, when they run across lakes. They have been found to preserve their distinct existence, and to continue their course in deep ravines excavated through the lake-bottoms. The ravine of the Rhine in the Lake of Constance has been traced for five kilometres in length and to 1·65 metres below the level of the water. Where it is most largely developed, it is six hundred metres wide and seventy metres deep. The ravine of the Rhone is of similar dimensions, and has been traced for six kilometres. The course of these ravines is tortuous. They appear to be of recent origin, or in course of formation, and are a result of the superior density of the cold, sediment-charged glacial water of the rivers.

The anti-vivisectionists predicted, some years ago, that the investigators to whose objects they are "anti" would come at last to experiment on the human subject. Mr. W. Mattieu Williams has become aware of three instances in which this horrible prediction has been fulfilled, in each case with the full consent of the subject and without injury to him. Pasteur has mutilated human skin and moistened the blood with the poisonous secretions of mad rabbits. Dr. B. W. Richardson has invented a painless cutting-knife, and has tested it upon his own arm. And Mr. Harrison Branthwaite, in the interest of temperance, has administered brandy, for the purpose of testing its thermic effects, to three classes of persons—habitual drunkards, moderate drinkers, and abstainers.

MM. Millardet and Gayon, having manured the vine with sulphate of copper, mixed with lime, find that most of the copper is deposited in the leaf, while merely a doubtful trace can be found in the juice of the grape. Other experiments, with other salts and other plants, indicate that the chlorophyl of the leaves is the most active agent in picking up the foreign matter.

The London "Sanitary World" publishes regularly a "Black-list," including the names of dealers who have been proved to be selling falsified or adulterated goods. It intends to secure for this list the records of all proceedings under the Foods Act, and against the owners of rookeries, throughout England, so that the people of all the villages can learn at once who is cheating them and selling them unwholesome goods.

A new artificial fire-proof stone or plaster has been invented, the principal constituent of which is the mineral asbestine, a silicate of magnesium. This is mixed with powdered flint and caustic potash, and with sufficient water-glass (silicate of soda) to make it into an adhesive plaster. It is further mixed with sand before use. It does not require lathing, but adheres to a smooth surface, and may be applied upon a wall or ceiling of sheet-iron.

For fixing soils in embankments, or where there is wash, reliance is usually placed upon the roots of grass or other plants; and long delays are often incurred, with frequent renewals and repairs of gulleys, before a network of roots can be obtained capable of giving a firm foundation. M. Cambier, of the French railway service, has found in the double poppy a most valuable plant for this purpose. It grows quickly, and helps to support the soil in about two weeks, while, at the end of three or four months, it forms a stronger network of roots than any grass known. It is an annual, but sows itself after the first year.

According to the Newcastle (England) "Journal," Mr. Walter McDonald, of Ilderton, near Wooler, while trying to clear a dam which had been clogged by a freshet, fell into a snow-drift, and might have been buried in it but for the extraordinary sagacity of his collie dog. He was struggling to reach the branch of a tree that overhung him, which the dog observing, it sprang at the branch, pulled it down, and held it within its master's reach till he was able to get a hold upon it.

Mr. Clemens Winkler, of Freiburg, Saxony, announces the discovery by himself, in the new mineral argyrodite, of a new nonmetallic element, closely related to arsenic and antimony, to which he has given the name of Germanium.



Professor John L. Campbell, of the chair of Geology and Chemistry in Washington and Lee University, died at Lexington, Virginia, February 2d, in the sixty-fifth year of his age. He had been a professor at Lexington since 1851. He was the author of contributions on "Virginian Geology in American Science," his last paper having been a review of the geological reports of Professor W. B. Rogers.

The death of M. Jules Jamin, Perpetual Secretary of the Section of Physical Science in the Paris Academy of Sciences, is announced. He was born in 1813, was elected a member of the Academy in 1858, was an eloquent teacher and debater, and a frequent contributor to the "Revue des Deux Mondes"; he published many papers in the "Transactions" of the Academy, was author of a course in physics for the Polytechnic School, and had patented an electric light.

Mr. Charles William Peach, who was distinguished as a field geologist of the southern coasts of England, died in Edinburgh on the 28th of February, in his eighty-sixth year. He was the son of a country mechanic and inn-keeper, and served in the revenue coast-guards for twenty years, and afterward in the customs, for pay hardly ever much exceeding five hundred dollars a year. He was an industrious collector, and an indefatigable hunter of new species; he became very early acquainted with the marine fauna of his districts; first detected the lower Silurian fossils in the supposed Azoic rocks of Cornwall; furnished the Polytechnic Society in 1843 a valuable paper on land and freshwater shells and marine animals; discovered the fossils in the altered rocks of the Highlands, which enabled Murchison to elucidate the structure of that region; and has been said by a living geologist to have done more in the field of old red sandstone fossils "than all other geologists put together."

Charles James Edward Morren, Professor of Botany in the University of Liege, died February 28th, in his sixty-third year. He was a son of Professor Charles Morren, of the University of Ghent, who was afterward Professor of Botany in the University of Liége. Being called upon to assist his father in teaching, he prepared, as his especial examination thesis for the doctorate, a dissertation on green and colored leaves, by which he first became known to the botanists of Europe. He succeeded his father as full professor in 1858. He was founder of the Botanical Institute of Liége; editor of the "Belgique Horticole," and author of numerous memoirs and academic dissertations on questions of botany, chemistry, and vegetable physiology.

Dr. Heinrich Fischer, mineralogist and Professor at the Freiburg University, is dead. He was best known by his book on "Jadite and Nephrite."