Popular Science Monthly/Volume 3/June 1873/Notes


The population of France, as shown by the census, was 38,067,064 in the year 1866. The official estimate of annual increase is 130,078––or, for the seven years ending January 1, 1873, 910,546. Total, 38,977,610. But the actual census gave only 36,102,921, showing a loss of 2,874,689. Deduct the official estimate of Alsace-Lorraine, 1,595,238, and the remainder, 1,279,451, represents the decline of population during seven years. The excess of females over males is now 100 per cent, greater than ever before.

The epileptiform convulsions excited by the internal administration of essence of wormwood, and Japan camphor, may, according to recent experiments in France, be effectually prevented by the use of bromide of potassium. This is regarded as additional evidence of the value of the bromide in the treatment of epilepsy.

The medical officer having under supervision the schools for pauper children in three of the parishes of London reports that, among those admitted, from thirty to forty per cent, are afflicted with ophthalmia in some of its stages, and that bringing the children together in this way concentrates and favors the spread of the disease. The immediate cause of the affection in most of these cases is held to be the dirt and dust of the streets which is allowed to accumulate at the inner corner of the eye, where it forms a semi-solid mass which irritates and inflames the lids.

Died, in Jersey City, on Sunday, March 9th, Charles F. Durant, aged 68 years. Deceased was a diligent student of science, and some years since published a valuable work on the "Shells and Sea-Weeds of the Harbor of New York." He was also the author of a work on astronomy, which was printed for circulation among scientific men. In 1833 Mr. Durant made the first balloon ascension ever made in this country. His aërial voyages numbered in all fifteen.

Petroleum has been found in large quantities in Ecuador. Wells have been sunk at various points between the sulphurous springs of San Vicente and the sea-shore. In some of these the petroleum is fluid, like whale-oil, but in others it has the consistence of butter. In the upper part of some of the wells it can be seen in hard, compact masses, which probably have been formed by the evaporation of the more liquid portions.

Mr. William Yates has made the following important modifications in the Davy lamp: He dispenses with wire gauze immediately around the flame, replacing it in front with a strong lens, and behind with a silver reflector. The miner cannot raise the flame so high as to heat the gauze, and, if he would open the lamp, to light his pipe, he is foiled, for that cannot be done, without extinguishing the flame.

A correspondent of the Lancet tells of a hen laying a pair of eggs of good average size within the space of ten minutes. The same writer found in his poultry-yard a double egg, or two eggs combined. This is not a case of merely double yelk within one shell, which is common enough, but of two complete eggs, with separate shells entire, except at the points of contact.

In Russia the sunflower is cultivated for the oil which it yields. This oil is used in cooking as well as for lamps, for soap-making, and for making paints. Fifty bushels of seed may easily be grown on an acre of land.

At a recent meeting of the French Academy a magnet was exhibited by M. Jamin which carries more than thirty-two times its own weight, whereas the greatest carrying power hitherto obtainable in artificial magnets has been not above four or five times their weight. Instead of the thick plates usually employed, M. Jamin's magnet is made up of a number of very thin plates superposed on each other, and all thoroughly magnetized. By this contrivance the volume and weight of magneto-electric machines can be very considerably reduced.

It has been shown by M. Bérard that, when fruits are set in the open air or in oxygen gas, a certain volume of oxygen disappears, and at the same time a nearly equal volume of carbonic-acid gas appears in its place. If, however, the fruits are placed in carbonic acid or any other inert gas, there is still produced a notable quantity of carbonic acid, as though by a kind of fermentation; and, since, under these conditions, the oxygen necessary to the change is not furnished by the surrounding medium, it must be supplied by the saccharine matter of the fruits themselves, a considerable part of which is thus transformed into alcohol.

A French horticulturist has perceived that, wherever a fruit—a pear, for instance—rested upon some branch or other support beneath it, that fruit always grew to a large size. The support given to the fruit permits the sap-vessels of the stem to remain open, and the fruit can receive abundant nourishment. Mr. Thomas Meehan made substantially the same observation some years ago.

Eighteen men and 63 women died during the past year in England at the age of 100 years or over. There were still living, when the census was taken, 6 men and 22 women, 100 years old; 1 man and 14 women, 101 years; 3 men and 11 women, 102 years; 2 men and 6 women, 103 years; 5 men and 1 women, 104 years; 2 women, 105 years. A woman died in Huddersfield at the age of 107, and a man in Staffordshire was 108 years old when he died.

On the American Continent, the Sequoia, or Big Tree of California, can find a congenial home only in a very few localities. In England, however, it appears to thrive admirably, and various "improved" varieties have already made their appearance there. The Weeping Sequoia is the latest novelty.

The ancient Egyptians possessed the art of so tempering bronze that it would take and keep a sharp edge. Sir Gardiner Wilkison found in tombs bronze daggers which were almost as elastic as steel, after having been buried 3,000 years.

Nickel ore has been found cropping out in the counties of Madison, Iron, and Wayne, Missouri; and at Sand Prairie, in the same State, a new lead-mine has been discovered. The prospectors, says the Iron Age, took out 4,000 pounds of the mineral three hours after the lead was struck.

One of the chief potato-growing provinces of Holland, Groningen, has thirteen mills devoted to the conversion of potatoes into flour. Nearly the whole crop of the province is thus disposed of, the daily yield of the mills being some 246 tons of potato-flour. A large part of this, according to the Glasgow Weekly Herald, is consumed in the adulteration of wheat-flour in England.

According to the French chemist Dumas, the newly-discovered art of decorating walls with tin-foil, bearing designs in oil-colors, has in a somewhat modified form been successfully practised by the Chinese for a long time.

A vein of plumbago, eight feet thick, has been discovered in Missouri. This is the first deposit of this useful mineral found in the West. The vein at Sturbridge, Mass., varies in thickness from one inch to two feet. There are also plumbago-mines at Brandon, Vt., Fishkill, N. Y., Wake, N. C, and St. John's, N. B.

Found post mortem in a lunatic's stomach: 44 pieces of shirt, 41 do. pocket-handkerchief, 10 do. caps, 8 do. braces, 7 do. chamber-pot handle, 6 do. stick, 5 do. leather, 4 do. coal, 3 do. stocking, 2 do. rag, 1 do. tobacco-pipe, 1 do. iron, 4 pebbles, 1 knitted cuff, 1 acorn. Total weight, over 8 lbs.