Popular Science Monthly/Volume 33/August 1888/Notes


The Entomological Club of the American Association will meet at 9 a. m., August 15, 1888, in the High-School building in the city of Cleveland. As Cleveland is quite centrally located, this will be very convenient both for Canadian and United States entomologists. We may therefore expect an unusually large and interesting meeting. All who expect to present papers should send notice of their subjects to A. J. Cook, Secretary, Agricultural College, Mich.

The meeting of the British Association is to be held at Bath, beginning September 5th. The sectional presidents will be Prof. Schuster in Mathematics, Prof. Tilden in Chemistry, Prof. Boyd Dawkins in Geology, Mr. Thiselton Dyer in Biology, Colonel Sir C. W. Wilson in Geography, Lord Bramwell in Economic Science and Statistics, Mr. W. H. Preece in Mechanical Science, and General Pitt-Rivers in Anthropology.

The College of Engineering, of the Imperial University of Japan, graduated nineteen students in 1887—a number which the president thought, in view of the facilities for study offered, ought to be and would be much exceeded this year. There were four graduates from the College of Science. It appears that the people of Japan have not yet realized what promising careers are open to their young men in science. The small numbers which the scientific departments of the university are graduating are insufficient to meet the demands, which are increasing year by year, for the services of scientific men who shall further the national progress. Meanwhile, it is impossible to fill many vacant positions in the offices of the Imperial Government, and in various local governments and schools, where such graduates are needed.

Dr. Ludwig Wolf reports that the Baluba, of Central Africa, do not see any wrong in selling their wives and children, but that they make a difference between domestic slaves and slaves for export. A Baluba chief, with whom he expostulated, listened quietly to his arguments, and then told him, rather in confidence, that they sold only their troublesome wives out of the country, never the good ones. Dr. Wolf saw in the slave-market at Mukenge a distinguished-looking old fellow who had been a chief. During his reign he was continually fighting with the neighboring tribes, and many of his subjects were killed in battle. At last his people began to grumble, and decided quietly to sell their own chief into slavery, as the best way to get rid of him, and to live for the future in peace. They sold him for ten goats, which were killed, and the meat distributed as a compensation among the relatives of those who had died in the frequent battles of their chief.

Mr. J. A. Scott, of Ann Arbor, Mich., has had a pleasant experience in tree cultivation during his life of eighty years. He can point to trees in Connecticut, now two feet in diameter, which he planted when a boy. His present home is shaded with a grove of maples which he planted. He allows squirrels to frequent the place, and encourages them to stay. They bring nuts, some of which find their way to the ground and grow; and thereby the maples are becoming interspersed with nut-bearing trees, which are already from six to twelve inches in diameter.

A contributor to "Land and Water" mentions having shot in the Crimea bustards which came to the shore over the water from the southward, and alighted very weary. The circumstances indicated that they had flown across the Black Sea, and confirmation of this belief was given by finding in their crops a species of dwarf bean which was not known to grow nearer the Crimea than upon the hill-sides of Asia Minor, around Brusa, almost three hundred miles distant. He also took in the hand several quails, very much exhausted, which had apparently come direct from the sea.

Earthquake recorders have been so adjusted at the observatories in Japan as to give correct graphic representations of the movements undergone by a point on the soil during the progress of a shock. The resultant figure exhibits a series of twists and wriggles of the most complicated kind, so that the path pursued by the point might be, as it has been, compared to the form taken by a tangled string when thrown down in a heap. Prof. Sekiya, of the University of Tokio, has deciphered one of these tangles, and has made a model of seventy-two seconds of it in wire, in which the line of the curve of motion is distinctly designated for each second. The model, ten times the size of the graphic representation, is divided, to save confusion of the eye and mind of the student, into three sections, which are separately mounted, but fixed on a common table.

There are important differences in the quality of the virgin pine-wood of Michigan and the second-growth pine of Massachusetts. As shown by Mr. E. K. Lake, of Lansing, the virgin pine from Michigan is tough, and breaks splintering for three or four inches, while the second-growth wood from Massachusetts is more brittle and less fibrous, and breaks off short and even. The difference is ascribed to the more rapid vegetation, following the more direct exposure to the light, of the Massachusetts second growth; and also to the more perfect maturity of the Michigan pine—the specimen exhibited having been eighty years old when it was utilized, while the Massachusetts pine was cut at the age of forty years.

Dr. George Harley, F. R. S., has made an investigation which reveals abundant evidence to prove that although man, during his evolution from barbarism to civilization, has increased in strength and stature and in longevity, on the other hand, his power of recovery from the effects of bodily hurt has materially deteriorated.

The existence and persistence of exclusively local customs—that is, of customs prevailing in a single village, without extending to those immediately around it—is a phenomenon for which explanation is still wanting. An instance of the kind has been marked at Wurzen, on the borders of Carniola, where, whenever there is a baptism, the nurse, on leaving the house to go to the church, takes a loaf of bread with her, and gives it to the first person whom the party meets. It is understood that the person to whom it is offered must take it whether he wants it or not. The custom is said to be symbolical, and to be intended to make the child charitable. But why has it been preserved here so long, while no other village has it?

A practicable method of promoting forest growth is advocated by Mr. L. D. Watkins, of Michigan, by covering the waste places on the farm with trees. Besides making the land of use and being commercially valuable, they would serve a good immediate purpose as screens. The author recommends the common locust for steep hill-sides, where nothing else can be grown; black-walnut and white oak for such spots as may be fertile; and cedar and tamarack (larch) for damp, springy place.

The reports of the British Meteorological Office show that the mean rainfall for the whole of the British Islands during 1887 was only 25·8 inches, whereas the mean for the twenty-two years from 1866 to 1887 was 35·3 inches. Thus there was a deficiency over the whole area of the country of nearly 10 inches, or 27 per cent.

Dr. Thorne Thorne has called attention to the gradual decline of small-pox in England during the past fifty years. In the five years from 1838 to 1842, the deaths from this disease amounted to 57·2 per hundred thousand living, while in 1880-'84 the death rate had sunk to 6·5 per hundred thousand. It is believed that vaccination has not only had a direct influence in causing this marvelous reduction in the number of victims to small-pox, but has also had a tendency to make the children of vaccinated parents less liable to the disease.


Prof. M. N. Bogdanoff, an eminent Russian zoölogist, died at St. Petersburg, March 16th. He was the author of several works, relative to the animal life of different parts of Russia, in one of which he treated in detail the present geographical distribution of animals in connection with the soil and climate of the country during the Post-Pliocene period. His "Birds of the Caucasus" is the authority on that subject. In 1885 he began the publication of what was to have been his chief work, the "Ornithology of Russia." Only the first part of it has been issued. He was also the author of popular zoölogical sketches, published in a periodical.

V. N. Mainoff, an eminent Russian ethnographer, has recently died. He was best known for his studies of the Mordvinians, their anthropological features and customs. He also prepared a Finnish grammar, and was compiling a Finnish and Russian dictionary.

James Johonnot, a well-known laborer in education and author of educational books, died June 18th, at Tapton Springs, Florida, aged sixty-five years. His work in education was begun when he was eighteen years old, and was continued as teacher and institute instructor till 1885, and as author as long as his health permitted. Among his educational works, many of which were drawn from science, and in effect were first steps in it, are the "Principles and Practice of Teaching," the "Geographical Reader," the "Natural History Series of Instructive Reading Books," six in number; "How we Live," an elementary physiology; the "Historical Series of Instructive Reading Books," seven in number; and the "Sentence and Word-Book."

Mr. Henry Pryer, an authority on Japanese entomology and ornithology, died at Yokohama, February 17th. He was an old resident in Japan, and spent most of his time in business pursuits, while he also made a name in science.

Prof. R. D. Irving, of the United States Geological Survey, died May 30th, in the forty-second year of his age. He had charge of the surveys in Wisconsin and Minnesota.