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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 4/March 1874/Notes

< Popular Science Monthly‎ | Volume 4‎ | March 1874


The latest application of the sand-blast is for cleaning the fronts of buildings, by removing the soot, dust, and other substances therefrom. The impact of the sand on the surface removes the dirt from all the crevices and indentations, without perceptibly affecting the sharpness of the architectural ornamentation.

In the course of a lecture on mercury recently delivered at Vienna, the leg-bone of a man was exhibited, whose death had undoubtedly been hastened by mercury. On striking the bone heavily on the table, out fell thousands of little glittering globules, which rolled about on the black surface before the lecturer, collecting here and there into drops. This mercury had been absorbed during life, and proved the death of the absorbent.

In 1871 the census of Ceylon was taken, it being the first attempt of the kind in that island. When this measure was first talked of, a belief prevailed in the minds of the Cinghalese that it was but a preparation for the levying of a new tax. In many districts the natives said that the object was to discover the number of unmarried youths, with a view to their being deported to Europe, whose male population, they said, had been destroyed by a great war. This led to an unusual number of marriages being celebrated. The population of the islands is 2,500,000. Their religion is looked after by 5,345 Buddhist priests, 1,078 Sivite priests, 449 Mohammedan priests, 862 devil dancers, 217 Protestant missionaries, and 87 Catholic priests. Over 1,500,000 of the people are Buddhists, nearly 500,000 Sivites, and about 183,000 Catholics, while 35,406 are parceled out between four varieties of Protestantism.

In the January Popular Science Monthly we gave the State Geologist of Minnesota as authority for the statement that iron-ore exists in vast quantities in the neighborhood of Black River Falls in that State. Prof. N. H. Winchell, the State Geologist referred to, has since written us that he never made the statement, and is not aware that iron-ore, in any quantity, is found in that locality. The item and the authority for it were taken from the Journal of the Society of Arts, an esteemed contemporary, which had evidently been misled like ourselves.

The yield of gold in New Zealand up to the end of the year 18*72 was 6,718,218 ounces, valued at £25,814,260, of which the north island furnished 734,269 ounces, worth £2,563,307. This gold is obtained by lode-mining in igneous rocks of the Neozoic epoch. The south island furnished 5,983,979 ounces, value £23,250,953, chiefly obtained from the metamorphic rocks by alluvial washing.

In the competition last October for the $100,000 prize offered by the State of New York for a satisfactory application of steam-power to canal navigation, one of the competing boats, the Baxter, carrying 200 tons of cargo, and drawing 5 feet 8 inches water, traveled about 55 miles in a little over 18 hours, consuming only 830 pounds of hard coal. None of the performances, however, were deemed satisfactory by the commissioners, and the prize was again withheld.

A correspondent of the London Times communicates to that journal some interesting notes on the Eucalyptus as a houseplant. He says that he has several of the young trees, grown from seeds, in his house; that they grow remarkably well, are very pretty, and emit a very pleasant odor, much resembling that of the black currant. They retain their green leaves through the winter. The only objection to them as house-plants is that they become too large; but it is easy to have a succession of them by sowing seeds again. There are several varieties of the Eucalyptus, three of which—wattle gum, blue gum, and scented gum—the correspondent has growing, and he says that they are very much alike in all respects.

At the recent meeting of Italian men of science at Rome, the alienist physicians that is, those who make a specialty of mental disorders—held sessions of their own, under the presidency of Prof. Girolami. After a long and interesting discussion, protracted through several sessions, they founded a Societa Freniatrica Italiana, or Association of Alienists. This body is to assemble every third year, each time in a different city of Italy, the first meeting to take place at Imola next year. Among the subjects for discussion we notice the two following, viz.: "Uniform Classification of Mental Disorders," and "The Founding of Insane Asylums for Criminals."

Benjamin Disraeli, in a late speech at Glasgow, made the significant admission that the revolutions of science within the last fifty years have had "much more effect" in moulding the world than any political causes; and that they "have changed the position and prospects of mankind more than all the conquests, and all the codes, and all the legislators that ever lived!"

Before Bessemer's invention, the yearly production of steel in England was 51,000 tons; it is now 481,000 tons, or nearly ten times as much. The production of Bessemer steel in the United States for the year 1873 is estimated at 140,000 tons.

The great work of the De Candolles, father and son—namely, the "Prodromus Systematis Naturalis Vegetabilium," which contains a description of every known species of dicotyledonous flowering plant—has been just completed. The publication of the work was commenced in 1824 by the elder De Candolle. To commemorate the completion of the "Prodromus," the Horticultural Society of Belgium has awarded M. de Candolle a special medal.

Prop. Anstead thus estimates the coal-supply of the world: In the British Islands there are 12,800 square miles; in France, 2,000; in Belgium, 520; Spain, 4,000; in Prussia, 12,000; in Bohemia, 1,000; in the United States, 113,000; in British North America, 18,000, making a total of 152,520 square miles, nearly six-sevenths of which is found in America, and over five-sevenths in the United States. This does not include the 250,000 square miles said to exist in the Rocky Mountain district through which the North Pacific Railroad passes.

The Silber light is simply an improvement in lamps and burners, which secures the most perfect combustion of the lighting materials yet attained. Air-currents are admitted both into the centre and around the circumference of the flame, and by this means the same amount of oil or gas is made to yield a much stronger and steadier light than that afforded by the appliances in common use.