Popular Science Monthly/Volume 34/January 1889/Notes


The statistics of the Japanese Empire for 1887 show that commercial enterprise is developing there in a remarkable degree. The foreign trade of the country has increased more than 86 per cent in ten years. In connection with the addition of 151 miles of railway to the 370 miles before built, the pertinacity with which the Japanese insist upon furnishing their own capital, and not borrowing from abroad, is remarked upon. Naval stations are building at Kune, Nagasaki, and Tauchina Island. A system of water-works has been completed at Yokohama, while such concerns were wholly unknown under the old system; 111 commercial and industrial companies were formed last year in Tokio, Osaka, and Kioto, having an aggregate capital of $21,500,000; and in all, shares to the extent of more than $71,000,000 taken up by the people.

Dr. Joseph Wigglesworth, of Rainhill Asylum, regards morality as of developmental origin and growth. Morally insane persons exhibit a change in their affective nature, having their altruistic feelings greatly impaired or lost. Moral insanity might exist by itself, but it is more usually a stage in the development of intellectual insanity, showing itself generally precedent to intellectual change; the moral faculties are often the first to be affected when the cerebrum is the subject of slowly progressing disease. There are also moral idiots or imbeciles—children who, with little or no impairment of intellect, show great deficiency or almost total absence of the moral faculties, and are incapable of acquiring them.

The kava-root (Piper methysticum) of the Society and South Sea Islands is the basis of the intoxicating drink of those regions. Women and girls are employed to chew the root, and, when well masticated and mixed with saliva, it is ejected into bowls, mixed with coca-juice, and left to ferment. Both natives and whites of the lower classes are very fond of it. The natives use it as some among us do wine, under the idea that it will help them along in important undertakings.

The Franklin Institute calls attention to the fact that it is empowered to award a gold medal, founded by the legacy of Elliott Cresson, of Philadelphia, which is granted either for some discovery in the arts and sciences, or for the invention or improvement of some useful machine, or for some new process, or combination of materials in manufacture, or for ingenuity, skill, or perfection in workmanship. It is also empowered to recommend the award of a premium and medal, founded in 1816, by John Scott, of Edinburgh, by a legacy to the city of Philadelphia, for rewarding ingenious men and women who make useful inventions. The premium is not to exceed twenty dollars, and the medal is to be of copper, and inscribed "To the most deserving." Full information respecting the manner of presenting reports upon discoveries and inventions may be obtained by addressing the Secretary of the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, Pa.

A technical university is contemplated in the colony of Victoria. A minute has been issued by the Minister of Public Instruction of the colony, on the policy of founding such an institution, in which the evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Technical Instruction is largely drawn upon. The estimates of cost embrace between £500,000 and £1,000,000 for founding the institution, and a yearly endowment of £30,000.

The district of Oulliassutai in Mongolia has been suffering for two years from an invasion of rats, which have destroyed all the grass of the pastures. The post-carriers have been obliged to change their routes, not only because of the difficulty of supporting relays of horses in the infested districts, but also because the roads have been made dangerous by innumerable burrows.


It was recently announced that General Nicholas Prjevalsky, the distinguished Russian explorer, had died in Central Asia, on his way to Thibet, of typhus fever. He had started from St. Petersburg on the 31st of August, in an attempt to reach Lhassa, in Thibet. When last heard from previous to his death he had reached Vernoje, where he intended to equip his party. A portrait and sketch of him will be found in the number of this magazine for January, 1887.

Prof. Theodor Kjirulf, who has recently died at Christiania, Norway, besides being distinguished as a contributor to scientific literature, was versed in poetry and music, and a lover of the fine arts. He was born in Christiania in 1825; traveled in early life in Norway collecting folk-lore, and in Iceland, Tyrol, and other parts of Europe for geological study. He became attached to the geological department of the University of Christiania in 1850, and a professor there, and Director of the Geological Survey in 1866. He published works on the Silurian basin of Christiania and the geology of southern Norway, and was the author of more popular books on scientific subjects.

James Stevenson, of the United States Geological Survey, died July 25th. He was born in Maysville, Ky., was business manager in the field of the Hayden Survey, was especially interested in American ethnology, and was a well-informed zoölogist.

Mr. William Gifford Palgrave, an eminent traveler, died at Montevideo, where he was British minister, in his sixty-third year. He was author of a "Narrative of a Year's Journey through Central and Eastern Arabia," which was a great fund of information respecting that little-known country.

Silas Stearns, an ichthyologist of thorough and exact knowledge, died at Asheville, N. C, August 2d. He was made a special agent in 1880 of the United States Fish Commission and Census Bureau, in charge of investigations of the marine industries of the Gulf of Mexico, with the fishes of which and their economical value he was particularly well acquainted. According to President Jordan, his early ambition to become a naturalist "met with discouragement in the absurd statement, made by some one in Washington, that no successful work in science would be possible without a classical education," but evidently was not put down by it.

Dr. Peter Gries, an English chemist, died September 6th, of apoplexy. He was best known from his discovery of the diazo compounds.
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