Popular Science Monthly/Volume 41/June 1892/Notes


The Japanese observe very exact proportions between leaves and flowers in the arrangement of irises. With three leaves they use one flower, with seven leaves two flowers, with eleven leaves five flowers, with thirteen leaves only three flowers, and with fifteen leaves only two flowers again. When we examine pictures that show the results of the application of these rides, says Garden and Forest, we are convinced that they have been dictated by a very true feeling for artistic effects of the most delicate sort.

According to the analyses of Dr. C. F. Millspaugh, of the West Virginia Experiment Station, weeds vary largely in the percentages of nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash which they contain. One of the evening primroses has only one per cent of nitrogen, while the poke-weed has three per cent of that substance, and a dry ton of the weed will contain twenty-two dollars' worth of it. By composting weeds with plaster, a valuable manure may be obtained.

According to the story of George Hunt, keeper of the lighthouse at Tillamook Rock, on the Pacific coast, in the storm of December 7, 1891, the waves swept clear over the house, washing away the boats, and tearing loose and carrying off the landing platform and tramway which were bolted to the rock. On the 29th the waves were still higher, and streams of water poured into the lantern through the ventilators in the balloon top of the dome, one hundred and fifty-seven feet above the sea-level.

Dr. Alanus, a translation of whose letter relating his experiences is published in the Medical and Surgical Reporter, says that after having lived for a long time as a vegetarian without feeling any better or worse than he had felt with a mixed diet, he discovered one day that his arteries were showing signs of atheromatous degeneration. Consulting a work by Dr. E. Morin, of Paris, he found that affection pointed out as one of the results of living on an exclusively vegetable diet. He now no longer considers purely vegetable food as the normal diet of man, but only as a curative method of great service in various morbid states.

According to an article in the Overland Monthly, many women in California gain a livelihood by raising flower bulbs and seeds for market, and many others send to San Francisco every day hampers of wild flowers and ferns which have been picked from the neighboring cañons. Mrs. Theodosia Shepherd, of Ventura, stands foremost among these successful floriculturists, although only eight years have passed since, without means and broken down in health, she grew her first seeds for market in the old mission town of San Buena Ventura. She now fills orders from prominent Eastern florists, with occasional calls from Europe, Australia, and the Sandwich Islands.

An attempt has been made by Herr Pfeiffer to prove and measure, by the change in electric conductivity, the solvent action of water on glass. He found that a cubic centimetre of water dissolved at 20° C. in one hour from one to two millionths of a milligramme from a square centimetre surface of glass; that with temperature rising arithmetically, the growth of solubility is considerably more rapid than that of a geometrical series; that the increase of conductivity of the water for a given kind of glass under like conditions is a characteristic constant; and that later, when a certain quantity of alkali is dissolved, further action involves a dissolving also of silicic acid, and the salts then formed may cause a decrease of conducting power.

A vein of asbestos has been found near Broken Hill, New South Wales, in which there are fibers thirteen inches long, of silky and flexible texture, but less tough than Italian asbestos. It is reddish in color.

The sixth annual meeting of the Iowa Academy of Sciences was held at Des Moines, December 29th and 80th. The programme of discussions was full, and besides technical subjects of biology, zoölogy, petrology, etc., included several topics of domestic and other economical importance, such as the determination of the active principles of breadmaking, the bacteria of milk, the effect of feeding on the composition of milk, sugar beets, the coal-bearing strata, brick and other clays, and aluminum in Iowa; the artesian well question, and the report of the committee on State fauna. The President of the Academy, Prof. C. C. Nutting, made an address on Systematic Zoölogy in Colleges, and Mr. J. E. Todd gave some Further Notes on the Great Central Plain of the Mississippi.

The statement that the adoption of electric lighting in the English Savings-Bank Department has been followed by a considerable reduction in the amount of sick-leave points to what will probably be one of the chief advantages of this mode of lighting rooms. An electric lamp does not draw on the oxygen of the room, and does not give off irrespirable gases as do gas and oil lights.

According to the Minneapolis Tribune, as cited in Garden and Forest, the leading opponents of the proposed forest reservation in northern Minnesota have become supporters of the measure. The Duluth Chamber of Commerce sent its secretary, Mr. Thompson, to the meeting of the State Forestry Association, to protest against the movement, but when he learned that instead of withholding the timber from use it was proposed to secure a constant lumber-supply, and that the forests when protected from fire and larceny would be more productive than they are under the present lack of supervision, Mr. Thompson himself joined the Association and was made a member of the Executive Committee, which is laboring to induce the President to make the proclamation withdrawing the forest lands from sale and entry.

A collection of letters and unedited memoirs by the Swedish chemist, Scheele, is in course of publication, under the direction of Baron Noidenskiold. The question of preparing an English-American edition of the work is under consideration.

In the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, November 11, 1891, Prof. Hughes described the results of his examination of some deserted Indian villages in Arizona, one of which consisted of caves excavated in the top of a small hill of lava; and another of dwellings built under the shelter of overhanging ledges in the cliffs of the Walnut Canon, much resembling the cliff dwellings of mediaeval times along the rivers of Dordogne.

Statues of Boussingault, by M. Dalon, and Chevreul, by M. Fagel, are to be erected in Paris, in connection with the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers. The Chevreul statue is a repetition of one executed by M. Fagel in 1889.

Manganine is the name of a new alloy, consisting of copper, nickel, and manganese, which has been brought into the market by a German firm, as a material of great resisting power; it having a specific resistance higher than that of nickeline, which has hitherto passed as the best resisting metal. It is said to be affected in only minute degree by high temperatures, and is therefore adapted for the manufacture of measuring instruments and measuring apparatus in general, which are required to vary in resistance as little as possible under different degrees of heat. While the resistance of other metals is increased by the raising of their temperature, that of manganine is diminished.

There is an art in dusting which does not receive the attention it demands. According to the various analyses of different observers, the components of ordinary dust exhibit special characters in almost endless variety. Mineral matters, animal and vegetable debris, morbid germs, and whatever is small and light enough to remain for any time suspended in the air, falls into the category; and among these things are many substances that in the air do mischief. The spread of cholera and exanthematous diseases has, doubtless with truth, been attributed to its influence. Methods of dusting, therefore, which merely remove the dust to another place or fill the air with it, are not sufficient and are not harmless. It should be wiped rather than brushed away, and carried away off, or destroyed. Then let the sunlight in to kill the infection that may remain.

An examination of tinned peas, greened, by Drs. M. Charteris and William Snodgrass, of Glasgow, showed, by deposits on the crucible and on the blade of a steel knife inserted into the gastric solution, the presence of copper. The copper and its albuminate were digested in solutions similar to those of the pancreatic and gastric juices, and in the stomach of the living animal. Administered to a rabbit and a pig, the salts of copper produced toxic symptoms.

A novel rice-pounding machine used in the northern Shan states (Indo-China) is described by Lord Lamington as including bamboo pipes through which water is led into a hollow cut into one end of a pestle such as is usually worked by foot. The other or mallet end rises with the weight of the water till the water is automatically discharged, and then the pestle falls back and does its work of pounding the unhusked paddy.

The Acarus sacchari, or sugar-mite, is very frequently found in raw sugar, but not in refined. In an inferior sample of raw sugar, Prof. Cameron found five hundred of the organisms in ten grains. They may be avoided by eating only refined sugar, but it is doubtful if they would do any harm if they were eaten. The disease known as "grocer's itch," however, is probably due to the presence of this mite, which works its way under the skin and produces symptoms identical with those produced by the common Acarus scabiei, and the remedies are the same for both. The parasites multiply very rapidly, and Gerlach found that a single female would produce fifteen hundred thousand progeny in three months. The most common agents for destroying them are mercuric chloride and sulphur.

Discussing the value of the tree as a schoolmaster, Garden and Forest presents as the first of its lessons that "it teaches man to reserve judgment by showing that the insignificance of a germ is no criterion of the magnitude of its product, that slowness of development is not an index of the scope of growth, and proves to him that the most far-reaching results can be attained by very simple means. A barrel of acorns may be the nucleus of a forest that shall cherish streams to fertilize a desert; a handful of cedar cones may avert an avalanche, while a bushel of pine seed may prevent the depopulation of a great section of country by mountain torrents."

It should be mentioned pertinently to President Jordan's article on Agassiz at Penikese, that the buildings of the Anderson School on that island were totally destroyed by fire in August, 1891. The fire caught—Mr. George O'Malley, of New Bedford, informs President Jordan—under one corner of the building, and in a very short time nothing was left.

The Laboratory for Investigators of the Marine Biological Laboratory at Wood's Holl, Mass., will be open from June 1st to August 1st. The laboratory for teachers and students will be opened July 6th for regular courses of seven weeks in zoölogy, botany, and microscopical technique. The number of students will be limited to fifty, and preference will be given to teachers and others already qualified. Students may begin their individual work as early as June 15th without extra charge. A spacious new wing of the laboratory building will be ready for use on July 1st.

A summer course in botany is held annually in the lecture-room of the College of Pharmacy, 209 and 211 East 23d Street, New York, to consist of ten lectures, beginning this year April 28th, and closing with the excursion of July 5th. The extensive appliances for instruction of the institution are used; fresh material is collected weekly; and competent lecturers are provided by a committee of the Torrey Botanical Club. In addition to the lectures, the course includes ten excursions. The lectures will be given on Thursdays, at four o'clock in the afternoon, and the excursions will be made on Tuesdays and Saturdays, each member choosing the series of excursions which he will attend.

The fourth meeting of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science was held at Hobart, Tasmania, January 7th to 14th, under the presidency of Sir Robert Hamilton, and was in every way successful and creditable. The president, in his inaugural address, gave a sketch of the history of the Royal Society of Tasmania, and suggested reasons why all intelligent persons in Australia should do their utmost "to hasten the advent of the time, which is undoubtedly approaching, when science will form a much more integral part of the life of the people than it does at present." The next meeting will be held at Adelaide, and Prof. Tate will be its president.