Popular Science Monthly/Volume 31/September 1887/Notes


The steamers of the new American "Arrow Line" are to be constructed upon a new principle, and with a view to an estimated speed sufficient to make the voyage between New York and Liverpool in a little more than four days. The Pocahontas will be 540 feet long, will be provided with 1,060 water-tight compartments, 500 of which are to be below the water-line, and will have 20 boilers with engines of 27,986 horse-power and capable of giving a speed of 22 knots an hour.

Professor Asaph Hall has determined the parallax of Aldebaran at 0·102", with a probable error of 0·0296.

The sixtieth meeting of the German Association of Naturalists will be held at Wiesbaden, September 18th to 24th. A number of new scientific instruments and preparations will be shown.

An unusually large number of foreign men of science will, it is expected, be present at the forthcoming meeting of the British Association in Manchester. Among the Americans are Cleveland Abbe, J. R. Eastman, of the United States Naval Observatory; and William Libbey, Malcolm McNeill, and C. A. Young, of Princeton College, in Section A; F. W. Clarke, J. W. Langley, and J. W. Mallet, in Section B; Asa Gray, C. S. Minot, and E. S. Morse, in Section D; Dana Horton and Judge Mackay, in Section F; and Thomas Egleston and J. B. Francis, in Section G.

Dr. E. A. A. Grange, of the Agricultural College of Michigan, describes a disease in the foot of the horse, frequently occurring in the summer season, which he calls laminitis, but which is often manifested as what is called chest-founder, from the position which it causes the horse to take, suggesting an affection of the chest. The disease is really an inflammation of the sensitive laminæ of the foot, sometimes involving neighboring structures, and may be compared with toothache. It may be caused by overheating and sudden cooling, overworking, overfeeding, or too long and close confinement in the stall. It is manifested by attitudes indicating pain, by irregularities in breathing, twitching movements, etc. The treatment materially depends upon the cause in the particular case, and is both general and local.

The British Inspectors of Explosives report for 1886 the continued satisfactory operation of the Explosives Act of 1875. Only one loss of life was returned in legitimate manufacture, as against an average of over eight in the eight years previous. Mention is made in the report of 143 accidents having occurred during the year, whereby 40 persons were killed and 136 injured. The averages for the previous nine years were 38 killed and 98 injured.

Mr. Alfred Carpenter, of the Marine Survey office, Bombay, has observed Macacus monkeys on the island off South Burmah opening oysters with a stone. They bring the stones from high-water mark down to low-water, selecting such stones as they can easily grasp. They effect the opening by striking the base of the upper valve until it dislocates and breaks up. They then extract the oyster with the finger and thumb, occasionally putting the mouth straight to the broken shell. The way they have chosen is the easiest way to open the shell.

The "Technology Quarterly" has been started at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It is published by a board of editors chosen from the senior and junior classes, who are intended to represent all the departments of the Institute.

Dr. T. Langdon Down, inquiring into the causes of idiocy, has found that intemperance of parents is one of the most considerable factors in producing the affection. His view is confirmed by some French and German investigators, one of whom, Dr. Delasiauve, has said that in the village of Carême, whose riches were in its vineyards, ten years' comparative sobriety, enforced by vine-disease, had a sensible effect in diminishing the cases of idiocy. Nervous constitution and consumption exercise important influence. Of the professions, lawyers furnish the smallest proportion of idiots, while they are credited with the procreation of a relatively very large number of men of eminence. With the clergy, these proportions are more than reversed. The influence of consanguineous marriage, per se, is insignificant, if it exists.

The French Association for the Advancement of Science will meet in Toulouse, September 22d to 29th.

Bottles for holding spirits and acids are now made of paper. The glued paper is rolled by machinery into such a tube as is required, and the tube is cut up into suitable lengths. The tops and bottoms, of wood or paper, are cemented in, and necks are added when required. The interiors of the bottles are then lined with a heated fluid composition that sets hard and will resist acids and spirits. The bottles are practically unbreakable, have a minimum of weight, and require no packing material in transit. The manufacture is said to be carried on extensively in Chicago, and has been introduced into England.

Mr. Nordenskiöld some time ago received an account from Don Carlos Stolp, of San Fernando, Chili, of his observations of the "red sunsets" of 1883-'84, from a point on the Andes about fifteen thousand feet above the sea; and afterward Señor Stolp sent some specimens of an atmospheric dust which he had observed at the same time. Analysis of this dust showed that it had no relation to volcanic dust, but that it was of the kind regarded as cosmic dust—containing the iron, nickel, phosphoric acid, and magnesia constituents characteristic of the cosmic deposits. There is, however, no evidence that this dust was connected with the red light.

Mr. Ernest Hart, of the Smoke Abatement Institute, fears that London will always suffer from fogs, because it is placed in a river valley, on a clay soil, and is bordered on the Essex side by low-lying lands very imperfectly drained, and on the north side by the Harrow Weald. The fogs generated—the results of damp exhalations—are greatly aggravated by the parks, most of which require draining. But if the smoke is got rid of, the fogs will be much less dense.

An English National Association for the Promotion of Technical Education has been formed. The Marquis of Hartington is its president, and several lords, Professor Huxley, Sir John Lubbock, Mr. Mundella, Sir Lyon Playfair, Professor Stuart, and Professor Tyndall, are among its vice-presidents.

Photographs of the sun were taken at Greenwich Observatory on 199 days during 1886, while photographs from India filled in the gaps for 164 days; so that the record of observations is complete for all but two days. The area of sun-spots and faculæ has continued to decline during 1886 and 1887. There were 61 days in 1886, and from October to April 17th last, 73 days on which no spots appeared.


Charles Rau, one of the curators of the Smithsonian Institution, died in Washington, July 28th, at about seventy years of age. He was invited by Professor Henry about forty years ago to come to the United States and take a position in the Smithsonian Institution. He was the author of archæological books, and of numerous special articles in his chosen study.

Dr. Moritz Wagner, professor in the University of Munich, a distinguished traveler and scientific writer, died May 31st.

The death of M. Issartier, a French senator and mayor, formerly an eminent medical man, is reported. M. Issartier had long given up the practice of medicine, and had devoted himself to horticulture and scientific agriculture. He published a treatise on the cultivation of fruit-trees, and a course in agriculture.

Ivan Polyakoff, who died recently at St. Petersburg, at about forty years of age, was regarded as one of the most promising Russian men of science. His particular field was in botany and zoölogy. His earlier papers were published in the "Irkutsk Gazette." He was engaged upon expeditions from the Lena gold-washings to Transbaikalia, in the Olonetz region, the middle Volira, the lower Obi region and Saghalien, and the Pacific littoral. He was attacked with his final illness on his return from the last journey. He was the author of the accepted description of Prjevalsky's horse, "Equus Prjevalski."