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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 33/July 1888/Notes

NOTES.

Prof. Daniel S. Martin has announced a "Geological Map of the Environs of New York City," embracing a region of sixty-eight miles from north to south, and fifty miles from east to west. It includes the whole width of the Triassic belt of New Jersey, with its trappean ridges entire, and its relations to the formations around it; the northern part of the entire series of the New Jersey State Survey's divisions of the Cretaceous; the recent divisions of the New Jersey and Long Island coast region; the Great Terminal Moraine conspicuously laid down; the lines of deep sounding, which mark the submerged pre-glacial channel of the Hudson River; and all other geological features. It measures forty by fifty inches, and is published at a subscription price of ten dollars a copy.

The fourth session of the International Geological Congress will be held in London, September 17th to 25th. Prof. Huxley will be honorary President, Prof. Prestwich President, and the President of the Geological Society, the Director of the Geological Survey, and Mr.. T. McR. Hughes, Vice-Presidents. Messrs. T. W. Hulke and W. Topley are the General Secretaries, to the latter of whom communications respecting the Congress should be addressed, at 28 Jermyn Street, London, S. W.

A circular of the Educational Department of Scotland discourages attempts to give technical instruction in the primary schools till the boys have reached the higher standards, and not even then unless skilled teachers and scientific apparatus are attainable. In most instances the thorough teaching of elementary science is beyond the reach of the primary schools; but some of the difficulty may be overcome by several school boards uniting to employ a trained staff of teachers. School boards are advised to seek the aid of local committees composed of manufacturers who know what technical education is most needed in the district.

Dr. W. J. Holland, naturalist of the American Eclipse Expedition to Japan, collected 4,000 botanical specimens, representing nearly 800 species, and 6,000 entomological specimens, representing about 1,200 species, mainly Lepidoptera and Coleoptera. He obtained also by purchase the entire collection of Pyralidæ made by Mr. H. Pryer, representing the labors of nearly seventeen years, and containing nearly 4,000 specimens, of more than 375 species, the larger part of them as yet undetermined, and some possibly new to science. This collection of Pyralidæ covers the entire group of the Japanese Islands. The botanical collections exhibit strikingly the wonderful affinity between the flora of Japan and that of the United States.

Two incidents are related by the London "Spectator," which seem to indicate that animals are able to think and carry out a plan. They occurred in India. A rough terrier, when given a bone, was sent to eat it on the gravel drive in front of the bungalow. Two crows had sought often to snatch the meat from the dog, but had always been defeated. Finally, they discussed the matter in a neighboring tree; after which one of them flew down and pecked at the dog's tail, and while he was attending to this matter, the other one came and seized the bone. The same dog had a favorite seat, of which a visiting dog had frequently deprived it. One day, the terrier, having found his seat thus occupied, flew savagely out of doors, barking at a supposed enemy. As the intruding dog rushed out to take a part in the fray, the terrier hastened back to secure possession of its-seat.

President Willits, of the Agricultural College of Michigan, while he disputes the exercise of a direct influence of forests in promoting moisture—saying that all the trees in the world will not put it where it is not—believes that the moisture on the continent is advancing toward the west, and that the planting of forests and increased cultivation will cause the rainfall to advance farther west every year. Seven hundred thousand acres of forest have already been planted in Nebraska; the cotton-wood and the willow first, and then the soft maple and the hard woods.

Two skeletons of Akkas, from central Africa, representing probably the smallest of the human races, have been received at the British Museum from Emin Pasha. As described by Prof. Flower, though both of full grown people, they are hardly four feet high, while a woman of the race, measured by Emin Pasha, was still shorter. They are well formed, and present most of the characteristics of the negro race, except that the skull is rather rounder than usual. They appear to belong to the branch of the human race called "negrito," which includes also the smaller tribes of the Indian Archipelago.

The north side of the Romsdal, Norway, is a magnificent wall of dark-colored rock, ranging at the lower part of the valley from two to three thousand feet in height. Over this are poured a multitude of cascades, some of them mere threads of water. On a clear summer's day the continuous sunshine warms the dark rock so effectually that some of these minor falls, after breaking, as they all do, into snow-like spray, vanish altogether by evaporation.

Austria, according to a British consular report from Trieste, has a larger proportion of forest to its area than any other country. The woods cover about 3,500,000 acres, of which 80 per cent is timber forest, and the remainder is of young growth. The Government and the large land-owners own 69 per cent of the whole, the parish authorities 20 per cent, the clergy 51/2 per cent, and the peasants about 11/2 per cent. The total value is estimated at $200,000,000, and the annual increase at $2,500,000.

According to the British consul at La Rochelle, since the failure of the vineyards from phylloxera, an imitation of claret is made there by steeping raisins and currants in water and mixing the compound with cheap Spanish wine. In other districts of France, a spurious brandy is made from a mixture of beet-root and cheap German spirit. This, having been sent to a port of exportation in its true character, is rc-marked and sent abroad as cognac.

Why, asks Prof. W. Mattieu Williams, must we suppose the existence of a luminiferous ether distinct from other matter, when it is just as easy to account for the phenomena of heat, light, electricity, magnetism, and chemical force as "modes of activity of ordinary matter, analogous to the waves of sound," but differing from them by being molecular vibrations, while sound is molar vibration? Gaseous matter being infinitely expansible in the presence of radiant heat, there is no difficulty in imagining space filled with ordinary gases thus expanded, and performing all the functions ascribed to the ether.

In a paper on "Earthquake-Sounds," Prof. Milne suggests that there is a close connection between the sounds that precede the shock and the smaller vibrations that bear a like relation to them. He had counted as many as seven per second of these sinuosities, and believes that we are warranted in assuming the existence of still smaller and quicker vibrations preceding even these. With more delicate seismographs we might be able to catch the very early infinitesimal movements that herald the approach of an earthquake. With thirty or forty vibrations per second, we should have an audible note of very low pitch.

The sum required to secure the erection of the monument to the chemist Scheele at Köping, Sweden, has been collected.

 

 
OBITUARY NOTES.

Ephraim George Squier, a distinguished American archaeologist and author, died in Brooklyn, N. Y., April 17th. He was one of the first persons, in conjunction with Dr. Edward H. Davis, of Ohio, to undertake a systematic exploration of the ancient mounds and earthworks of the Mississippi Valley, and their joint account of their explorations, published by the Smithsonian Institution, is still the fullest work, and a standard for reference on the subject. He also published a memoir on the Aboriginal Monuments of the State of New York"; accounts of researches among the ruins of Central America and Peru; a "Monograph of Aboriginal authors who have written on the Aboriginal Languages of Central America"; and "Tropical Fibers and their Economic Extraction." He was in his sixty-seventh year. The death of Mr. Squier was followed, on the 15th of May, by that of Dr. Davis, his coadjutor in the preparation of the "Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley," in the seventy-eighth year of his age. Dr. Davis began to explore mounds while a student in Kenyon College, Ohio, and presented papers on the results of his work as society and college exercises. He was encouraged to continue his explorations by Daniel Webster. He opened nearly two hundred mounds in the Mississippi Valley at his own expense, and gathered a large collection of relics, which are now in Blackmore's Museum, at Salisbury, England. He became, in 1850, Professor of Materia Medica and Therapeutics in the New York Medical College.

Dr. Emil Bessels, the physician and scientific leader of the Polaris Expedition, died in Stuttgart, Germany, March 30th, aged forty years. He was a native of Heidelberg, and first became known through an expedition into the Spitzbergen Sea. In 1871 he took the scientific direction of the Polaris expedition. He was afterward appointed a secretary to the Smithsonian Institution. He was the author of "Scientific Results of the United States Arctic Expedition," "Physical Observations" of the same, a German account of the expedition, and of contributions in American and German scientific journals.

Prof. Leone Levi, an eminent English statistician, has recently died at his home in London. He was born in Ancona, Italy, of Hebrew parents, in 1821, and came to England when twenty years old. He originated the movement for the establishment of the Chamber of Commerce in Liverpool, the oldest of institutions of that class. Having lectured for some time in King's College on commerce, he was made professor of that branch. The London "Daily News" characterizes as the three directions in which his work has perhaps been of most public value as being in his exposure of the evils of war, his minute and careful investigation of questions bearing on the wages of the working classes, and his conclusive dealing with the fair-trade folly in connection with the depression of trade.

Prof. Alexander Dickson, of the University of Edinburgh, who died at the close of 1887, was a botanist most distinguished for his investigations of the morphology of several of the conifers, and on the diplostemony of the flowers of the angiosperms; for various contributions to the study of the embryology of flowering plants; for researches on the development of the pitcher plants; and for various special studies.

Dr. Gerhard von Rath, the eminent German mineralogist, died in Coblentz, April 28d, while on his way to the East on a scientific expedition. He was born in 1830, was appointed a professor at Bonn in 1863, and became recognized as the most distinguished representative of mineralogical science in Germany.

The death is reported of Surgeon-Major F. S. B. François de Chaumont, F. R. S., Professor of Military Hygiene at the Army Medical School, Netley, England. He was fifty-five years of age.

Vice-Admiral Thomas A. B. Spratt, of the British Navy, who has recently died, made many most valuable contributions to geography during his thirty-six years of continuous service in Mediterranean stations, in connection with which he made many surveys and explorations. His chief publications concern these surveys; and his deep soundings and dredgings have been commended as having been essential to the elaboration of Edward Forbes's views on the submarine zones inhabited by different classes of animals.

Nicholas von Miklucho-Maclay, one of the earliest and most industrious of the explorers of New Guinea, has recently died, at the age of forty-two years. He was the son of a Russian nobleman, and, having studied medicine and natural science at St. Petersburg and the Dutch universities, visited Madeira with Prof. Haeckel, in 1866, and afterward the Canary Islands and Morocco. He spent a year in 1871-'72 in exploring the northwest and southwest coasts of New Guinea; then visited Farther India, Malacca, and various island groups; and, in 1876-'78, explored the northern coast of New Guinea. He visited this island again in 1879, and returned to Russia in 1882 with rich collections. He resided for some time in Sydney, and founded a biological station there.