Popular Science Monthly/Volume 48/April 1896/Notes


At Bedford College (for women) in England a very commendable addition to the curriculum has recently been made in the establishing of a special course in hygiene. Students are required to devote themselves for one session at least to physiology, bacteriology, chemistry, and physics, practically as well as theoretically. It is ordinarily taught in a disconnected, half-hearted way, and has had to give way to subjects of much less importance. It is to be hoped that institutions in this country will take example from Bedford College.

In an article in the Chemical News on the places of argon and helium among the elements, R. M. Deeley says: The discovery of these two elements having small atomic weights has undoubtedly had the effect of greatly shaking the confidence of chemists in the periodic classification of the elements. Indeed, a disposition is often shown to place the periodic law altogether in the background and put undue faith in physical evidence, which is admitted to be inconclusive. The facts are then reviewed from the standpoint of the periodic law, and the difficulties of placing these new elements clearly shown. He closed his paper with the following paragraph: "Under such circumstances would it not be well to follow the indications of the periodic law and refraction equivalents, rather than a doubtful theory concerning the dynamics of the molecule?"

Three years ago M. Joseph F. Loubat, of Paris, offered prizes of one thousand dollars and four hundred dollars, to be awarded every fifth year to authors of the best works on the history, geography, archaeology, ethnology, philology, or numismatics of North America within the period mentioned. A committee composed of Prof. H. T. Peck, of Columbia College; Dr. D. G. Brinton, of the University of Pennsylvania; and Prof. Henry C. Adams, the latter of whom was awarded the prize in 1893, will adjudicate essays and works for the next award in 1898.

The defect in ordinary photographing under which the colors fail to be rendered in their proper proportions of black and white is corrected in Mr. Bothamley's orthochromatic photography, by the use of minute quantities of certain dyes, which make the plate more sensitive to orange, yellow, and green rays. By this means colored objects of all kinds, including landscapes, are rendered in monochrome much more correctly.

Prof. Bailey, of the Harvard Observatory station at Arequipa, Peru, has discovered from an examination of the photographs obtained by him of certain globular star-clusters that they contain an extraordinary number of variable stars. This does not appear, however, to be a general condition of stellar clusters. In the cluster in Canes Venatici, Messier 3, eighty-seven stars have been proved to be variable. Sometimes the variation amounts to two magnitudes or more, and sometimes it does not appear to exceed half a magnitude. Forty-six variables were found in Messier 5. Some of these variables have short periods, not more than a few hours. All the cases included in these counts were confirmed by the independent examinations of the photographs by three persons. Other instances of variation were noticed, but are not included, because they have not been sufficiently tested.

Michael S. Bebb, a specialist in the botany of the willow, died in San Bernardino, Cal., December 5th. He was a son of Governor William Bebb, of Ohio, and was born at Hamilton, in that State, in 1833. He began his botanical studies when a boy, led to them probably by the flowers and shrubs in his father's garden, and using Torrey's Report upon the Flora of New York as his only guide and text-book. His family afterward removed to Illinois. Some years after the close of the war he began the systematic study of the willows, and made his first communication on them to the American Naturalist in 1874. He studied all the collections of these plants made in North America; described the California species in Brewer and Watson's Botany of California; the Southwestern species collected by Rothrock, in Wheeler's Report; the Colorado species in Coulter's Manual of the Botany of the Rocky Mountain Region; the species of the Eastern States in the last edition of Gray's Manual; determined the willows of British America for the Geological Survey of Canada; and has contributed to botanical journals many papers on American species of the genus. Prof. George Lawson, of the chair of Chemistry in Dalhousie College, Halifax, N. S., who died in that city November 10th, was author of several papers on Canadian plants, published mostly in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, and was an authority on the botany of the Maritime Provinces.

Dr. Francis Payne Poucher, a distinguished physician and botanist, died at Charleston, S. C, where he was Professor of Materia Medica and Therapeutics in the Medical College, November 19, 1895, aged about seventy years. He was editor of the Charleston Medical Journal and Review, and author of books on the Southern Fields and Forests; a Medico-botanical Catalogue of the Plants and Ferns of St. John's, Berkeley, S. C.; A Sketch of the Medical Botany of South Carolina; and the Medicinal, Poisonous, and Dietetic Properties of the Cryptogamic Plants of the United States.