Popular Science Monthly/Volume 40/February 1892/Notes


A practical paper on Some Means of Health in School-houses is contributed to the 1890 Report of the Wisconsin Board of Health by Hon. W. D. Parker. One of the arrangements that Mr. Parker strongly commends is the "dry-air closet," so called because a current of dry air, coming from the ventilating flues of the building, is passed through the vault and carries off all the moisture from it, leaving only a small quantity of dry, inoffensive solid matter, which can be shoveled out. This result, he says, is almost incredible, but has been established by sufficient tests.

The fact that the science relating to electricity has no name of its own is noted by the editor of Our Language, who proposes that it be called "electrics." The pair of words, "electrics" and electrician, would be in analogy with optics and optician, mechanics and mechanician, mathematics and mathematician, and many others. At present the word electricity performs two functions similar to those which are separated in the case of light and optics, heat and thermotics, sound and acoustics.

An instance of a spider catching a small mouse, very similar to one published in the Monthly for May, 1890, comes to us from Columbus, Ohio. The mouse was found by Mr. W. J. Dawson suspended by a cable of spider's threads under a counter in his grocery-store, 511 West Broad Street. It had been hoisted three inches from the floor, and the spider, which was no bigger than the end of a lead-pencil, was by dint of hard work very slowly hauling it up further, the captive being alive and struggling. After about an hour the cord was broken and the mouse was carried away and killed.

M. Maxim, the inventor of the Maxim gun, is studying the construction of directable flying-machines, and believes that he has obtained a motor of sufficient force. M. Fontes Pereira de Mello believes that he is on the right road to the invention of a practical submarine boat.

The primitive monuments of the Balearic Islands are described by M. Cartailhac as of a Cyclopean or Pelasgic character, similar to those which are found throughout the Mediterranean region. Remains of real fortified towns, like a Greek acropolis, exist in Majorca and Minorca, usually at some distance from the most exposed coasts, sometimes on a plain and sometimes on an elevated spot. In the inside of each town there was a special monument of large hewn stones, so arranged as to form a semi-circle. There were also galleries constructed by placing stones on pillars, under which one could hardly stand upright; and towers called talayots, the huge walls of which concealed small crypts or cellars. Human bones were found interred in artificial grottoes or crypts, to each of which entrance was gained by a small antechamber leading by a narrower portal.

The Illinois Experiment Station reports the results of comparative experiments at four stations—three of them in light-colored soils and the other in a darker soil—in raising wheat: on unmanured ground, on ground heavily treated with barn-yard manure, five wagon-loads to the quarter-acre, and on ground treated with one hundred pounds of superphosphate to the quarter-acre. The results showed decisively the superiority of the barn-yard maturing, while the beneficial effects of superphosphate's on the amount of yield were relatively small.

One of the remarkable results of the spectroscopic observation of the great nebula of Orion by Mr. Keeler at Lick Observatory is the representation in them of the direction of the earth's orbital motion, so that the observer "would with some confidence undertake to determine the month of the year by measuring the distance of the principal line from the lead line used in the spectrum."

To estimate the relative merits of different kinds of points for lightning-conductors, Dr. Hess recently collected and examined nineteen heads of conductors that had been struck by lightning. His conclusions are that the fusion of points of lightning-conductors by lightning causes no danger of fire through scattering of fused drops, for this does not occur; that fine and smooth points receive the lightning-stroke in concentrated form, while sharply angled and ribbed and blunt points divide it into threads; that platinum needles and tips have no advantage over copper points; and that there are lightning-strokes which are capable of making incandescent brass wire 7·2 millimetres (say 0·29 inch) thick. Unbranched copper conductors should therefore never be thinner than 7 millimetres.

According to the observations of M. A. Muntz, the rain-water and the herbage of elevated regions are much poorer in sodium chloride than those of the lowlands, and the milk and the blood of animals feeding on the mountains contain a decidedly less proportion of the salt than are found in similar animals from the plains.