Popular Science Monthly/Volume 52/April 1898/Notes


The Report of the New York or American Section of the Society of Chemical Industry for 1896-'97, Dr. H. Schneitzer, New York, local secretary, speaks of the continued growth and prosperity which the section, as well as the society at large, enjoyed during the year. Seventy-nine members were added to the New York section, and the number of members residing in America is now four hundred and seventy one. Seven general meetings were held during the session representing the year, at which, besides the opening address of Chairman C. F. Chandler, twenty-four papers were read, most of which have been published in the Journal of the Society in London. The society is regarded by its promoters as a necessary addition to the existing Chemical Society, its aims being the promotion of the industrial and manufacturing branches of chemistry.

The British Association at its recent meeting made appropriations for grants for scientific purposes amounting to £1,350. The sum was larger than had been voted for several years, because the committee desired to make some grants for the pursuit of local investigations, to be expended by the various committees which had been appointed for the purpose of study and research in Canada. These committees relate to the establishment of a meteorological observatory on Montreal Mountain, Canadian photographs of geological interest, the biology of the lakes of Ontario, the industrial and social conditions of the northwestern Indian tribes, the organization of an ethnological survey of Canada, and the establishment of a biological station in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Professor Leonard has recently shown that cathode rays in air form regions of mist condensation. A jet of steam, a short distance from the aluminum window of a Crookes tube, becomes of a bright whiteness and of a cloudy nature. The cathode rays seem to act far more powerfully than the X rays in this way. A. Paulsen has formed a cathode-ray theory of the northern lights.

The scientific value of Prof. O. C. Marsh's collections just presented to Yale University can not be overestimated. Perhaps the most important of these is the collection of vertebrate fossils, which contains the famous series illustrating the genealogy of the horse. The only conditions attached to the gift are those necessary to insure the permanent care and preservation of the collections themselves.

The Franklin Institute of Philadelphia is making part of its building fireproof, for the safer storage of its valuable library. In connection with the change a much larger space will be provided for the reading room and for the display of models and apparatus and for general museum purposes.

Bleeding has long been discarded by the doctors, but if the experiments of the Russian physiologist Essipor have any significance there may be some virtue in it, after all. This gentleman has found that an abundant drawing of the blood has important effects on the chemical composition and properties of what is left. After drawing large quantities of blood, amounting to as much as one fortieth the weight of the body, from rabbits, guinea-pigs, and pigeons, Mr. Essipor affirms that the fluid acquired a marked bactericidal power, particularly against the microbe of cholera. The effect took place gradually, and attained its maximum in about twenty-four hours. At the same time the animal became refractory against inoculations.

Edward Germano recently conducted a series of experiments to determine the time which the typhoid bacillus could retain its vitality under various conditions. The results showed that in dry air the cultures were dead within twenty-four hours, but in moist warm air they retained their vitality for sixty days. He concludes that aerial transmission in the ordinary acceptation of the term—that is, being blown about as dust or as a miasm in the wind from infected districts—is highly improbable; but that in imperfectly disinfected and apparently dry blankets and woolen clothing the microbes may retain their vitality for some time and be conveyed long distances.

Some recent experiments by Professor Oliver and Dr. Bolam on the immediate cause of death by electric shocks seem to indicate that death is due to a sudden arrest of the heart's action and that simultaneous failure of the respiratory center and the heart, except with unusually high voltage, is very rare. It follows from this that resuscitation in apparent death from electric shock is made much more difficult than if the fatal result were brought about by respiratory failure.

The oldest oak tree in France, the St. Bernard oak at Cunfin, is more than eight hundred and twenty-five years old, having been planted in a. d. 1070, and is mentioned in the Annales ecclésiastiques du Diocèse de Langres. It measures twenty-two feet in circumference at the collar of the roots, and is forty-two and a half feet high to the first branches. The trunk is hollow, and the wood has nearly all disappeared, leaving little else than the bark, which, too, has been eaten away in spots; one of the holes is large enough to let a man inside. A niche was made in the upper part of the trunk by the curé of Cunfin in 1749, and the statue of the Virgin was placed in it. That was swept away during the Revolution, but the old tree still lives.

A bluff of clay marl capped with yellow gravel, fronting Raritan Bay, near Cliffwood, N. J., the extreme northeastern exposure of the cretaceous clay and marl outcrop of the State, is a source from which collections of the fauna have been made, and the only spot where the flora of the horizon has been observed. It has been explored geologically by Messrs. Arthur Hollick, Lester F. Ward, and N. L. Britton, who have collected considerable material from it. The specimens, as a whole, are not very satisfactory, consisting of poorly preserved mollusks, fragments of crustaceans, fruit, leaves and branches of trees, and masses of lignite, many of them occurring in ferruginous concretions which soon disintegrate on exposure to the air. Mr. Hollick, in his paper describing and figuring them, notices twenty-six species of plant remains, ten of which are apparently new.

The result of a careful study of four hundred alcoholics by Forel, of Zurich, again emphasizes the great importance of heredity. Forty-three per cent of the cases had one or both parents alcoholic. Fifteen per cent of the patients were wholesale or retail liquor dealers. All cases showed various physical, mental, and moral alterations. Fourteen per cent were epileptics.

A comparison of the fossil foraminifera of the marine clays of Maine is adduced by Mr. F. S. Morton, in a communication to the Portland Society of Natural History, as furnishing additional evidence that the climate when they were deposited was very much colder than now. Many of the forms are still found living in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, but the forms found still farther north more perfectly agree with them. Those found by the late H. B. Brady in the shallow water dredgings from the Novaya Zemlya Sea are almost identical with the Maine fossil forms.

Dr. Dawson Williams, who has been connected with the editorial staff of the British Medical Journal for seventeen years as assistant editor under Mr. Ernest Hart, has been appointed editor-in-chief to succeed the latter.

In the list of recent deaths of men associated with science are recorded the names of Arthur Kammermann, astronomer, at Geneva, Switzerland, December 15th, aged thirty-six years; Prof. Knud Styffe, director of the School of Technology at Stockholm, a great authority on iron and steel and author of a report on The Elasticity, Extensibility, and Tensile Strength of Iron, which has been translated into English, February 3d, in his seventy-fifth year; Jean Albert Gauthier Villars, printer to the French Academy of Sciences, and publisher of the works of Lagrange, Fermat, Fourier, Cauchy, and other scientific investigators, February 5th, at the age of sixty-nine years; Dr. Rudolf Leuckart, professor of zoölogy and zoötomy at Leipsic, February 7th, aged seventy-four years; and John Carrick Moore, an eminent geologist in the earlier part of the century, author of papers on Silurian strata, Tertiary fossils of Santo Domingo and Jamaica, Erosion of Lake Basins, and the Influence of the Obliquity of the Ecliptic on Climate; in London, February 10th, in his ninety-fifth year—a nephew of Sir John Moore.