Popular Science Monthly/Volume 4/April 1874/Notes


An Honor to Prof. Henry.—Prof. Joseph Henry, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, has received from the French Government a superb porcelain vase, as a testimonial of his services as the United States representative of the commission on the international standard metre.—Journal of the Telegraph.

New Fossil Man.—In the Revue Scientifique for December, it is stated that a third skeleton of a troglodyte has been discovered by M. Rivière, in the caves of Mentone. This new skeleton, judging from the various and numerous implements by which it was surrounded, lived at an epoch far more remote than that assigned to the skeleton now in the Museum of Paris. The instruments of warfare and other objects found with it, though composed of flint and bone, are not polished. They are only sharpened, and, by their coarse execution, appear to belong to the palæolithic age. On the upper part of the skeleton was a large number of small shells, each pierced with a hole, which appeared to have formed a collar or bracelets. No pottery nor any bronze object was found.—Lancet.

In an article on "Furs and their Wearers," published in the December Popular Science Monthly, the fur-seal of Alaska and the sea-otter were inadvertently confounded. In a letter kindly calling attention to the error, Mr. F. M. King, of Whitestone, L. I., who has been on the spot and knows the two animals, points out a few of their characteristic differences. The sea-otter is rarely seen on land, but eats, sleeps, and is said even to bring forth its young in the water. It is provided with a tail, has legs with webbed feet, and handles its food with its fore-paws, and is in fact an otter. The fur-seal breeds on shore, and is captured mostly out of the water. It has neither legs nor paws, but flippers like all the other seals.

The death of the great German anatomist, Max Schultze, is announced. He was in the prime of life, and had just experienced the satisfaction of seeing his laboratory at Bonn—the amplest and most elegantly-constructed in Europe—finished, under his direct supervision. His death is a great loss to biological science.

A writer in the American Naturalist suggests that one of the most important uses to which the Yellowstone National Park can be put is, "the preservation from extinction of at least the characteristic mammals and birds of the West, as far as they can be domiciled in this section."

A German engineer proposes to combine hard ingots, or blocks of steel, in the process of casting, with laminæ of soft steel or wrought-iron, in such a manner that the latter, in undergoing the rolling process, may assume an internal position, thus combining a certain amount of elasticity, ductility, and toughness, in the interior, with a hard exterior to withstand wear and abrasion.

A cemetery is now being searched at Luzarches, in the vicinity of Paris, where articles of the times of polished stone have been found. Hatchets, knives, scissors, arrow-points, and delicately-worked blades, made of flint, have been discovered; also awls of bone from various animals; and, on the remains of a female skeleton, a kind of medallion with two holes was seen, which probably formed part of a necklace. Several skulls have been examined by Dr. Broca, who will communicate the results of his investigations to the Anthropological Society of Paris.

It is stated that, at the recent Scientific Congress at Rome, two Neapolitan physicians submitted to the meeting a liquid preparation for stopping instantaneously the flow of blood from wounds of every description. A commission of physicians have performed experiments with it in one of the Roman hospitals, and have reported on it as one of the happiest of recent discoveries, and as particularly serviceable on the field of battle.

A curious addition was lately made to the aquarium of the Paris Jardin d'Acclimatation, viz., a polyp of the Medusa kind. The day after its admission to the compartment assigned to it, all the other animals in the same tank were found to be dead. An analysis of the water showed the reason of this strange mortality—the polyp had changed the water to vinegar. The so called vinegar-polyp has the power of producing in itself alcohol, which is soon transformed into vinegar; this, however grateful it may be to the polyp that produces it, is fatal to other aquatic creatures. The poisonous Medusa was at once removed from the basin and put in a tank by itself, where it will be permitted to carry on its cheap vinegar-manufacture as long as it pleases.

An exhibition of appliances adapted to economize fuel is to be held in Manchester, England. The exhibition will comprise: 1. Appliances which may be adapted to existing furnaces, etc., whereby an actual saving is effected in the consumption of fuel. 2. Appliances which may be adapted to existing furnaces, etc., whereby waste heat is utilized. 3. New steam-generators and furnaces, boilers and engines, specially adapted for saving fuel, and appliances whereby waste products are utilized, the radiation of heat prevented, etc. A variety of similar apparatus for manufacturing, agricultural, and domestic purposes, will also be exhibited. The exhibition promises to be interesting and instructive.

An institution of novel character was recently founded in France. The Villa Emilia, at Meudon, half-way between Paris and Versailles, was thrown open on January 1st, to explorers of any nationality, to young men who propose making scientific voyages, and to all who wish and are able to encourage them. The expenses of the institution are to be defrayed by an association. The property already embraces instruments and laboratories, scientific books, etc. Free courses and lessons will be given, and travelers may leave their collections there, to be kept till their return. Gifts of money will be made to those who may serve the society in certain specified ways. The association, "Cercle des Explorateurs," as it is called, will have its Gazette, giving news of explorers, and there will be two meetings, in spring and fall. Those wishing to join the society are desired to communicate with its originator, M. Méhédin, Meudon, Seine et-Oise.

Dr. Ferrier has received a grant from the Royal Society, for the purpose of enabling him to pursue his investigations on the brains of monkeys, etc. The results of his researches will, in due time, be embodied in a paper which will be read before that society.