Popular Science Monthly/Volume 51/August 1897/Notes


The second session of the Monsalvat School of Comparative Religion (Lewis G. Janes, Director) is to be held at Greenacre, Eliot, Maine, August 3d to September 2d. The purpose of this school is entirely unsectarian, and is described to be to afford opportunity for the scientific study of various forms of philosophical and religious thought under competent teachers. The lectures include courses on the History and Philosophy of Religion and on Christian Origins, by the director; the Vedantic Philosophy and the Religions of India, by the Swâmi Saradánanda, of India; Buddhism, by the Anágariká H. Dharmapala, of Ceylon; The Philosophy and Religion of the Jains, by Mr. Virchaud R. Gandhi, of Bombay; Zoroaster and the Religion of the Parsis, by Mr. Jehanghier D. Cola, of Bombay; and The Religions of China, by the Rev. F. H. James, missionary. A conference for the comparative study of religions will be held during the last week of the school, at which Rabbi Hirsch, of Chicago, Mr. Gandhi, Edward B. Rawson, of New York, and Mrs. Annie Besant will speak on special subjects.

The Newcastle Daily Chronicle of December 17, 1896, speaking of the trial trip of the torpedo boat Turbinia, built by the Marine Steam Turbine Company, Limited, for the purpose of testing the steam turbine engine of Hon. Charles Parsons, says: "Several most successful runs were made, and the very high speed of 29.6 knots was attained over the measured mile. It is believed that this is a speed greatly in excess of anything that has ever been previously accomplished by a vessel of the small dimensions of the Turbinia, which is only one hundred feet in length, nine feet in beam, and has but forty-two tons displacement when fully loaded." As this was only a trial trip, a still higher speed is anticipated after repeated experiments.

It is stated in Nature that M. Camille Flammarion has recently compiled some meteorological statistics regarding the amount of rainfall in Paris, which disclose the remarkable fact that there has been a gradual increase in the fall for the last two hundred years. The following brief table speaks for itself:

1689 to 1719 485·7
1720 to 1754 409·4
1778 to 1797 492·5
1804 to 1824 503·7
1825 to 1844 507·5
1845 to 1872 522·4
1873 to 1896 557·4

Whether this increase is actually due to more rain or to some such causes as better positions for rain gauges, or more improved gauges themselves, one can not with certainty say, but the amount of increase seems rather to negative this. It would be interesting to have similar data from other Continental cities.

The account of the Proceedings of the National Science Club, at its second annual meeting in January, 1896, is late in reaching us, but it loses none of its interest for all that. The purpose of the club is to promote the cooperation of the scientifically inclined women of the country in research and investigation. Twenty papers were read at the annual meeting by members of the club; meetings were held at the reading rooms, 1425 New York Avenue, Washington, several days each week till May; and an experimental course of lectures was given with much success. All parts of the country are represented in the list of nearly a hundred and fifty members, and Norway and Spain furnish corresponding members. The club has twenty-two sections, five of which are in botany.

In a paper read in the British Association, Mr. W. H. Preece mentioned electrical disturbances in submarine cables which produce mutilation of signals and loss of speed in telegraph working, indistinctness of speech and the presence of extraneous and disturbing sounds in telephones, with reduction of the distance through which speech is practicable, which, he said, were due to electrostatic and electro-magnetic induction and to leakage. The paper explained how these disturbances were detected, measured, and mitigated, defined the conditions that determine the distance through which telephony is possible, and described a new form of cable with which the author proposed to connect England and Germany. With such a cable across the Atlantic, he claimed, treble or quadruple the number of words per hour now practicable might be transmitted with the same weight of material.

Dr. C. Le Neve Foster, her Majesty's Inspector of Mines, while visiting the Snaefell lead mine, Isle of Man, after a recent disastrous explosion there, was, by a series of accidents, exposed to poisoning by carbonic-oxide gas for about two hours, until he was taken out on the verge of death. There were several of the party who had to be taken up one at a time, and he was the last to go. For an hour and a half he recorded notes of his feelings while sinking under the influence of the poison, the last entry giving the time he reached the top. Happily, he recovered. "The world," says Nature, "could ill spare a man with such sterling qualities, and science would grieve to lose an investigator who devoted what seemed to be his last moments to extending knowledge for the 'benefit of others.'" Such heroism would have won immortal fame for a military man.

Prof. Bessey, in the American Naturalist, criticises some recent botanical publications for employing English units of measurements, and urges botanical writers to insist upon the use of metric measures throughout. This would all be very well, but that there are some clear-headed people who insist that our system should not be superseded by any but the best, and who still believe that the metric system has not yet proved itself to be that. If it is really the best, it will work its way without special urging.

Mr. E. P. Martin, of the Iron and Steel Institute, observed at its annual spring meeting, 1897, that American steel makers excel enormously those of Great Britain in the output they obtain from their appliances. They have thus, in spite of the high wages that prevail in America, by working in this wholesale manner brought the cost of production to a very low ebb, so that it is now a question not how much steel British producers should send to America, but how far they can meet American competition within their own boundaries.

Sir Augustus W. Franks, President of the English Society of Antiquaries, who died in May, in his seventy-second year, early developed a taste for mediæval archæology, on which he was a leading authority; became an assistant in the British Museum in 1851, and afterward Keeper of the Department of British and Mediæval Antiquities and of Ethnography, and was subsequently till his death a member of the Standing Committee. His principal discovery in archæology was to distinguish the period of "late Celtic" antiquities. Among his archæological works are Ornamental Glazing Quarries, Medallic Illustrations of British History, and an edition of Kemble's Horæ Ferales, which his additions converted, Nature says, into a standard work.

Mr. A. D. Bartlett, Superintendent of the London Zoölogical Gardens, whose death has recently been announced, was originally a hairdresser, and incidentally a bird fancier, specially knowing in canary birds. He obtained a position in connection with the animals at the Crystal Palace, and afterward at Regent's Park. He acquired a remarkable acquaintance with animal life, its habits and diet, and was a skillful appraiser of the value of specimens. With all these accomplishments in zoölogy he was not a writer.

Mr. Edward James Stone, for the past twenty years Director of the Radcliffe Observatory, died in Oxford, England, May 9th, aged sixty-six years. Previous to assuming charge of Radcliffe Observatory he had been her Majesty's Astronomer at the Cape of Good Hope. His special field was the "astronomy of position," and his reputation was mainly won by devotion to meridian observations. He studied the constants of nutation and refraction, the proper motions of the stars, the systematic differences between stellar catalogues, the motion of the solar system in space, and the sun's parallax; and contributed much to the organization of the various astronomical expeditions to the southern hemisphere. He had been President of the Royal Astronomical Society, and held other relations to several learned bodies.

The death is announced at Gothenburg, Sweden, of Baron Oscar Dickson, the wealthy merchant who helped equip Nordenskiöld's first (1868) and bore the entire expense of his second arctic expedition (1872–‘73). Baron Dickson was also a large contributor to the expeditions of 1875, 1876, and 1877.

Matthew Carey Lea, who died in Philadelphia on March 15th, devoted himself especially to the study of the chemistry of photography, and particularly to the action of light, etc., on the salts of silver, and published in 1887 a paper on the Identity of the Photo-salts of Silver with the Material of the Latent Photographic Image. He discovered and described three allotropic states of silver. He was a frequent contributor on this and related subjects to the American Journal of Science, had published fifty-four "more important" papers when elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1892, and issued in 1868 a Manual of Photography, which reached a second edition in 1871.

The deaths are announced abroad of Julius von Sachs, the distinguished botanical author, and of the veteran chemist, Fresenius.