Popular Science Monthly/Volume 35/July 1889/Notes


According to the "Medecinische Presse," of Vienna, a Dr. Terc has found a cure for rheumatism in bee-stingiags. Having found that every stinging is followed by a swelling up to a point when the body seems to have become hardened against further effect, he tried the stingings on a rheumatic patient. Upon saturating the patient's system with the bee-poison the rheumatism disappeared—not to return for a long time. Dr. Terc has applied his remedy in one hundred and seventy-five cases and has inflicted thirty-nine thousand stingings; and now keeps a colony of bees on his premises, to be employed in this work.

According to a count by Dr. W. J. Beal, of the Michigan Forestry Commission, there grow wild in Michigan seventy species of indigenous trees and three exotics that have escaped from cultivation; and of shrubs, one hundred and fifty native and five escaped exotics.

A Dictionary of Volapük, compiled by Assistant Surgeon M. W. Wood, U.S.A., is announced by Charles E. Sprague, New York. It will contain more than three hundred pages, and will embody the additions and emendations contained in the fourth edition of Schleyer's dictionary. A peculiar feature will be the arrangement of the Volapük-English and English-Volapük parts on the same pages; each page containing a Volapük-English and an alphabetically corresponding English Volapük part.

Pertinently to the interest that is taken in testing the vision and color-sense of seamen, a writer in the "Lancet" urges the importance of accuracy of hearing in men of this class. During fogs, sounds are the only means vessels possess of giving notice of their presence, and the only means by which they may be warned against dancer of collision. It often requires a nice ear to hear a distant fog-whistle, and a nicer one to determine from what direction it comes. Seamen are as liable to affections which will blunt the acuteness of their hearing as they are to faults of eye-sight.

Here is another instance of how observation trips up a priori reasoning. A correspondent of "The Spectator" relates that some one wrote to an English paper to say that "blackbirds did not eat fruit because they liked it, but because they were thirsty, and recommended we should place pans of water on the gravel walks and so save our garden fruit. A cottager in Montgomeryshire, being told of this interesting fact, replied in the dialect of that part of the country: 'Dern the bruts! they cross the bruck to come to my geërding.'"

Anopinion is growing that bovine tuberculosis is frequently transmitted to the human subject by eating the flesh and drinking the milk of tuberculous cows. It is to be hoped that thorough boiling of the meat destroys the vitality of the bacilli, which are assumed to produce this disease, but we are not warranted in believing that roasting the meat, as usually practiced, will have that effect; and as milk is seldom boiled before being partaken of, it is clear that the milk of a tuberculous animal is unfit for food, and dangerous to life.

British North Borneo is fast approaching the state of a regularly organized colony, with a fine promise of prosperity. The territory has been divided into nine provinces, named after the founders of the company, and grants of land have been issued covering 475,289 acres, in five of the provinces, those on the coast having the preference. The grantees are mostly Dutch; and a large proportion of the land granted is intended for tobacco cultivation. The total area of the territory will probably be found to be more than 20,000,000 acres. The price of the land, originally one dollar an acre, has been raised to two dollars. Regular steam communication was instituted September 1, 1888, between Sandukan and Hong-Kong and Singapore.

A story is told in the Ohio papers of a railroad engine-driver who was suspended because the examining physician pronounced him deaf. He asked to be reinstated because, when on a moving engine, he could hear perfectly well. This was found, on experiment, to be the case. Prof. W. M. Williams matches this story with another, within his own observation, of a man who was painfully deaf in a quiet house, but "could hear ordinary conversation with perfect ease in a cab or railway-carriage, provided the jolting was considerable."

A "Dictionary of Universal Climatology" is announced as in preparation by the Observatory of Rio Janeiro, M. L. Cruls, director. It is intended to present methodically the climatological data of as great a number of places on the earth as is possible, reduced to uniform standards of notation and terminology.

M. Charles Richet, editor of the "Revue Scientifique," Paris, is investigating heredity in man, and invites information from correspondents respecting remarkable instances of the transmission of powers.

"Vegetable musk" is made from the seeds of the Hibiscus abelmoschus, a malvaceous plant. The ancient Egyptians used to chew the seeds to stimulate their appetites and make their breath fragrant, and they regarded them as aphrodisiac and astringent. Previous to the French Revolution, when it was the fashion to powder the hair, the seeds, called ambrette, were mixed with starch and kept till the starch had absorbed a suitable proportion of their perfume, when the seeds were removed and the musky-odored starch was put up in packets for sale. Ambrette is now imported in large quantities into Europe, and is used in the preparation of the alkermes of Florence, and to adulterate musk.

"How Sea-Birds dine" is described in "Nature" by a correspondent who caught them in the act off the island of Mull. Observing them collected at a single spot, he steamed toward it, and found that the center of their gathering was a reddish-brown ball, about two feet under the surface, composed of herring-fry, which had been driven into that shape by the divers surrounding the shoal and hemming them in on all sides, "so that the terrified fish huddled together in a vain effort to escape inevitable destruction. The divers work from below and the other sea-birds feed from above; and, as in some cases after the birds had been at work for some time I saw no ball, I suppose not one fish is left to tell the tale." The observation was repeated several times.

Asayama, one of the most noted volcanoes in Japan, is the loftiest mountain in the country which is in a constant state of activity, and is nearest to the capital, and is also situated in a district that is famous for its health resorts. A correspondent who visited it describes the roar on approaching the edge of the crater as not unlike the noise produced by the passage of a railway-train across a bridge under which one is standing. There was no shaking, but loud hissing and bubbling constantly proceeded from numberless vapor-jets in the inner face of the crater-wall. The estimates of the diameter of the opening vary widely. The present crater is apparently the youngest and innermost of three.

The important treatise of Buys Ballot on the distribution of temperature over the earth contains very plain cartographic representations of the variations of temperatures from means of the parallels and the January and July. The least variations in the latter point are on the equator, and the greatest are in northeastern Asia (60°) and north-western America (40°), and in the southern hemisphere, in Australia.