Popular Science Monthly/Volume 40/December 1891/Notes


Mr. H. A. Hazen maintained in the American Association that the opinion that tornadoes whirl is a mistaken one. Of the two ways of learning the shape of tornadoes, that of observing them directly is burdened with difficulties, and is neither satisfactory nor accurate; while the study of them by observation of their débris is easy, and will lead to correct conclusions. Reports of such observations of between two hundred and three hundred tornadoes have been received at the Weather Bureau during the past two years, and the evidence from them is overwhelmingly favor of the view that there is no whirl.

A description of the methods pursued in the Geological Survey of the United States was given, with graphic illustrations, by Major Powell to the International Geological Congress. The speaker explained that, inasmuch as the Survey is a national institution, supported by taxes paid by the public, the results of its work are made intelligible to the people, and are not prepared so as to be understood only by men of science.

The Committee on Forestry in the American Association reported that, under a recent law authorizing the President to withdraw from sale or other disposal such public timber-lands as he may deem fit, the boundaries of Yellowstone Park had been enlarged. A necessary enlargement of the Yosemite Valley reservation was anticipated, and a number of other reservations in Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, Colorado, and California, comprising several million acres, would be asked for in a memorial prepared by the American Forestry Association.

The next meeting of the International Geological Congress will be held in Berne, Switzerland, in 1894. The Geological Survey of Russia, supported by the Czar, invites the Congress to hold its meeting in 1897 in St. Petersburg.

According to a paper by G. L. Spencer and E. E. Ewell, in the American Association, wheat flour and bran mixed with molasses seem to be the favorite materials for the manufacture of imitation coffees. It is hardly probable that the manufacturer selects a good quality of flour, for a bad or damaged article would be cheaper. Refuse crackers and other waste of bakeries probably supply a portion of the material employed. A factory recently seized in France employed a mixture containing 500 grammes of ferrous sulphate, 15 kilogrammes of chiccory, and 35 kilogrammes of flour. With the exception of such mixtures as this, imitation coffee is not detrimental to health, but especially affects the purse of the purchaser.

A curious feature of old-time life is recalled in Mr. Freshfield's paper before the British Society of Antiquaries on the wrought-iron sword-stands in the churches of the city of London. These sword-stands, of which two leading and various subordinate types were described, appear to have come into fashion in the reign of Queen Elizabeth; but only one or two of the older ones survived the great fire, and most of those now existing are of the eighteenth century.

Prof. Putnam announced, at the last meeting of the American Association, that the Government of Honduras had granted to the museum at Cambridge, Mass., the exclusive right to explore the scientific resources of the country for a period of ten years.

A paper by Prof. A. N. Krassnof, read at the meeting of the Geological Society of America, traced the resemblance of the black soils of the Russian steppes and the prairies of America to their similar origin in the layers of successive annual crops of plants.

As described by Charles B. Thwing, the results obtained with Lippman's process for color photography, though not conclusive at all points, seem to indicate that the mixed colors may be reproduced with some fair degree of accuracy. Modifications are introduced by a change of thickness of the film between exposure and final drying, and by a shortening of the distance between maxima caused by the rays striking the reflector at an angle other than the normal. A second result is that an exposure long enough to give a clear image of the red is certain to obliterate the blue by over-exposure; and a third, that an over-exposure may completely reverse the colors, causing the original colors to appear on the reverse and the complementary on the film side of the plate.

Prof. Jastrow describes some curious tests which he made with a young man who had been born without the sense of smell, for the purpose of determining what things are tasted when we cat and what are smelled. It appears that many things which we relish are not tasted, but only smelled.

A paper by Mr. John Watson, of Manchester, England, asserts that the redevelopment of lost limbs is not unusual among insects. He has had three specimens in which limbs have been redeveloped, and one case of complete cicatrization. "Redevelopment," he says, "can take place either in the larval or the pupal stage of an insect's metamorphosis."