Popular Science Monthly/Volume 33/September 1888/Notes


A proposition is on foot for forming vast reservoirs in the Rocky Mountains by erecting dams in the cañons to hold back the spring floods and store the water for use in the dry season in irrigating the arid lands of the plains. It is a similar scheme to that which was broached more than forty years ago to be applied to the ravines in the Alleghanies, for the purpose of furnishing the Ohio River with a constant supply. Major Powell, who is thoroughly acquainted with the region affected, considers the scheme entirely feasible, and believes that the expense, great as it will be, will amount to but a fraction of the value of the land that will be reclaimed. An appropriation of $250,000 for preliminary surveys is to be asked for.

The Canadian Institute has sent out circulars inviting co-operation in an effort to collect data respecting the political and social institutions, the customs, ceremonies, beliefs, pursuits, modes of living, habits, exchange, and the devolution of property and office which obtain among the Indian peoples of the Dominion. As in the United States, there is danger of the opportunity of collecting and testing the facts relating to these traits soon passing away. Contributions to the philology of the Indian tongues and additions to their folk-or myth-lore will also be welcomed as heretofore. The schedule of inquiries embraces sixteen classes of facts, under which a considerably more minute amplification in detail is suggested.

A marble medallion portrait of Dr. Thomas Davidson, the distinguished paleontologist, has been unveiled in the Geological room of the Free Town Museum in Brighton, England. Sir Richard Owen, who was not able to attend, sent a letter of regret, and Professor Judd wrote testifying to the skill and enthusiasm with which Dr. Davidson carried on his researches.

A trial race was recently had at Tours, France, to determine the relative speed of different kinds of couriers. Four horsemen of the dragoons and hussars, four cyclists on cycles of different kinds, two trained dogs, and some carrier-pigeons, competed. The course was from Tours to Montbazon, 4,300 metres. The pigeons accomplished it in 5' 35"; the hussars in 7' 57"; the dragoons in 8'; the dog Brisefer in 8' 8", Turco in 8' 38"; the bicyclettist (riding a velocipede with two small and equal wheels) in 7' 5"; the bicyclist in 9' 15; and two tricyclists in 10' 30" and 10' 40" respectively.

Mrs. Emma W. Hayden has given to the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia in trust the sum of $25,000, to be known as the Hayden Memorial Fund, in memory of her husband, the late Prof. F. V. Hayden. The interest of the fund is to be applied to the purchase of a bronze medal and a further money reward to be given for the best publication, exploration, discovery, or research in geology or paleontology. The determination of the award will rest with a committee suitably appointed by the Academy. The competition will be open to Americans and others.

According to the calculations of Prof. Kirchhoff, of Halle, the Chinese language is spoken by 400,000,000 persons; Hindustani and English by 100,000,000 each; Russian by 70,000,000; German by more than 67,000,000; and Spanish by 47,000,000. French is seventh in order.

Rabies prevailed among the deer of Richmond Park, London, and made necessary the destruction of many of the animals. The character of the disease was determined by inoculating rabbits with it, and these animals died exhibiting the characteristic symptoms of rabies. The infected animals are transformed to fierce and savage beasts, almost rivaling the rabid horse in their attempts to do mischief. The disease begins with signs of mental hallucination, and develops, through aggressive rage, into paralysis, ending with death by failure of the heart. The macroscopic and microscopic appearances of the affected tissues reveal the usual lesions which are symptomatic of rabies, and thus determine the exact character of the disease.

The "rabbit-pest" in Australia is marching steadily onward to the north—not in search of new pastures, but, according to Mr. 0. G. N. Lockhart, in answer to one of the animal's instincts. The buck-rabbit is disposed to kill all the young ones if he can get at them, and the does are aware of this propensity. Hence the does, when they find themselves pregnant, slip away from the males, and go on in the direction in which they have been advancing, which topographical incidents have determined shall be northwardly.

The firemen of London are to be dressed in fire-proof clothing of asbestus, after a fashion that has already been applied in Paris.

Why is it, as a succession of rain-gauges set up at the same place will show, that the quantity of rain falling on a given surface diminishes with the height? The explanation is suggested by W. Mattieu Williams that the temperature of the upper strata of the air being below that of the lower strata, the rain-drops gather moisture as they descend, and become much larger when they reach the surface than they were at any previous height above it.

Seal-skins, when worn by the seals themselves, are very different in appearance from those which have been fabricated into ladies' cloaks. The fur is not visible, but is concealed by a coat of stiff overhair, dull, gray-brown, and grizzled. This overhair has to be removed by a long, laborious process, and this work, according to the thoroughness with which it is done, largely determines the value of the skin. Skins from two to four years old weigh from five and a half pounds to twelve pounds. It takes three skins to make a lady's sack.

Whence, asks an English professor, came the men who inhabited the British Islands in preglacial times V Not from the east or south, for the remains of southern species of deer and other food-animals would have been found with theirs; whereas all such remains are of northern origin. Then, if men came down from the north, they must have gone up there in some previous age; and we have themes for curious speculations concerning the preglacial antiquity of man and polar climates.

The National Academy of Sciences has awarded the gold medal for an original investigation of meteoric bodies, provided for by the widow of Dr. Lawrence Smith, to Prof. H. A. Newton, of Yale University.


Colonel James Stevenson, of the United States Geological Survey, and for many years connected with the Ethnological Department of the Smithsonian Institution at Washington, died in New York, July 26th, of heart disease. He was born in Maysville, Ky., in 1840.

Henry Carvill Lewis, Professor of Geology at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, and in Haverford College, died in Manchester, England, July 22d. He had gone to Europe to remain three or four years in the prosecution of geological studies. it was among his immediate purposes to read a paper before the British Association, and afterward to visit Norway on a tour of geological observation.