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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 46/January 1895/Notes


We owe our readers an apology for the absence of the illustration from the article on Pithecoid Man, printed in the December Monthly. The writer of the article sent a photograph with his manuscript from Germany, and after the number was printed we discovered that the picture had been copyrighted in this country. The owner of the copyright refusing to permit us to publish the illustration on any terms, we were obliged to throw it out, and through an oversight the needed correction was not made on the cover of the magazine.

The importance of forestry is urged by Prof. W. T. Thiselton Dyer on account of the probability that the supply of timber may be exhausted before that of coal. It further appears in view of our complete dependence upon the products of the vegetable kingdom for the necessaries of our existence.

Five genera of mammals living in the south of France are named by M. Mingaud to the Scientific Society of Nimes as nearly extinct. They are the wolf, the genet, the beaver, and the thoroughbred horses and cattle of Camargue; the last two species being in course of breeding out by crossing. The author considers it important that the natural history museums provide their collections with typical specimens of these animals.

The programme of the winter's lectures of the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, for the season now beginning, promises a lecture on every Friday evening from November 2d to April 5th. The subjects are various, and the lecturers are masters of them. They include illustrations of travel, bacteriology, the coal mine, the photochromatoscope, watch manufacture, the relation of forests to the surface of the country, the metallurgy of aluminum, electricity and its applications to different arts, the mineral resources of the United States, sanitary engineering, and other topics.

M. Forel recently showed the Scientific Society of Lausanne some curious balls of animal hair which had been agglomerated by the waves, and were scattered over the beach of the Gulf of Morges, near the great tanneries. In some places these balls are numerous enough to form a continuous stratum under the ground. If these products of the activity of the lake were buried under the soil, they might produce very singular fossils, which would be puzzling enough to geologists of the future.

Certain school studies are described by Superintendent H. P. Emerson, of Buffalo, in a paper read before the Thirty second University Convocation, as those which are of least educational value, but are yet necessary because they are the tools for acquiring further knowledge, such as reading, spelling, writing, drawing, and the most of number work or arithmetic. Here children learn the signs or symbols of knowledge rather than knowledge itself. One of the great mistakes of education in the past has been that these vehicles of knowledge have been so exalted as to occupy the most important place and to be regarded as ends in themselves.

In a paper on Corean Children's Games, read in the American Association, Mr. Stewart Curlin said the Corean games agreed in general with the children's games in modern use, but more closely with those of the neighboring countries of China and Japan. Although they have departed somewhat from the dramatic and divinistic forms to which they can ultimately be traced, yet these early sacred associations are more apparent in them than in the children's games of other countries of eastern Asia. Toys are looked upon as sacred things. Mr. Culin spoke of the common Corean games, such as the "tug of war," in which villagers oppose villagers at either end of a rope of straw, the archery contest, the game with slaves, and others. The Chinese names of a large portion of the children's games indicate their Chinese origin. Respect for literature and the written character is seen in the literary amusements, something like the familiar word-games in Amei'ica. The hatred of Japan and the Japanese which permeates Corea is well illustrated by the simple game of "fighting violets," which the children call "o-ran ka got"—i. e., "barbarian head-cutting."

A "Deseret professorship of Geology" has been established in Salt Lake City, Utah, endowed with sixty thousand dollars by Salt Lake City, and Dr. J. K. Talmage has been chosen and installed professor in it. The university, although not technically its owner, will enjoy the advantages of the Deseret Museum of the Academy.

Prof. Büchner has shown in a series of experiments that the direct rays of the sun act efficiently in destroying microbes in small quantities of water, and that diffused sunlight also has no insignificant power in the matter. The experiments made to determine the depth to which this action of sunlight penetrates showed that it diminishes very fast between a metre and a half and two metres and a half, at which depth it is hardly perceptible. From this result. Prof. G. C. Frankland infers that the influence of light in purifying water (that is, large bodies) can not be regarded as of much importance; and it would hardly be safe to depend on its operation in the "self-purification" of rivers. Other experiments indicate that microbes thrive in the dark and multiply in the night, under favorable conditions of temperature.

A monument to Quatrefages was unveiled at Valleraugues, France, August 20th, in the presence of a deputation of the most eminent scientific men of the country. The scientific career of Quatrefages was described in the addresses of MM. Milne-Edwards, Hamy, Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, and Brongniart, of whom M. Hamy declared him the creator of anthropology. The monument consists of a bust in bronze of Quatrefages, placed upon a pedestal of stone, on the principal face of which is the statue of a young native of the Cevennes presenting a crown to the eminent naturalist.

Attention is called by the English Dr. Welply to a danger which has so far escaped public notice. Creameries receive their milk from a number of farms. After the cream has been removed, some of the skim milk is sent back to the farms for consumption. The milk being all mixed together, a means is thus afforded for conveying typhoid fever or other disease existing on one of the farms to all the others, and for creating fresh disease centers. An instance where this really occurred is cited by the author. This affords a fresh argument for always boiling milk before using.

A new style of bottle for poisons is figured in the Lancet. It has the neck on one side, and is otherwise described as of such a shape that it will not stand up, and should always be lying down in such a position that the word "poison" and the label shall be in view; "and this peculiarity is as readily to be distinguished in the dark as in the light. A particular grip is necessary in handling it, for the fingers have to touch the table when lifting it. The peculiarity of the neck can not be overlooked when corking or uncorking." It is as cheap as an ordinary bottle.

The work of preserving the White Mountain forests has made some progress in spite of selfish legislation. One step forward has been the designation of the Appalachian Club as a trustee to receive funds for the purchase of forest lands.

According to the German journal Die Natur, a German chemist has discovered a substance possessing the singular properties of solidifying under the influence of heat and becoming liquid at temperatures below the freezing point of water. It is Obtained by mixing equal parts of phenol, camphor, and saponine, with a very small quantity of turpentine, and has been named cryostaz, or in English cryostace. This is the first substance known having the properties described; for, although albumen solidifies at a high temperature, it can never again be restored to the liquid condition.

The Board of Regents of the University of California have decided to establish a course of anthropology at that institution.

Extracts from various authorities are quoted in a paper by H. H. Clayton to show that there has been a gradual evolution in the definitions of clouds since Howard. Thus a distinction has been established between high and low cirro-stratus and high and low cirro-cumulus. The stratus has been separated into fog and low sheet clouds, and two distinct forms of rain cloud have been recognized. The author agrees that ten terms, all compounded of Howard's four fundamental types, would fully meet the requirements of practical meteorology.

Dr. Karl Grossman and Dr. Cahnheim in their journey across Iceland (1893), visited the lava cavern Surtshellir. They explored this cavern and photographed by means of magnesium light the wonderful ice cave which exists in its farthest recess. On their return journey they made a second descent, with a view of searching for the coins deposited there by previous travelers. Successful in their efforts, they took two of the oldest coins, after leaving new ones in their places. It was their intention to restore the old coins to their former resting place on the occasion of their next visit.

An important work now in hand, under the auspices of the Anthropological Section of the British Association, is the organization of an ethnographical survey of the United Kingdom, based upon scientific principles. It is proposed to record in a systematic and uniform character for certain typical villages and the neighboring districts: 1, The physical types of the inhabitants; 2, their current traditions and beliefs; 3, peculiarities of dialect; 4, monumental and other remains of ancient culture; and, 5, historical evidence as to continuity of race.