Popular Science Monthly/Volume 52/December 1897/Notes


Mr. Vernon Harcourt has retired from the general secretaryship of the British Association, which he has held for fourteen years; and Prof. Roberts Austen, who has for some time assisted in the work, has been chosen to succeed him.

M. B. Renault, a French investigator, has long been working at the identification of fossil bacteria. The general results of his observations have recently been published. He believes them to have been coeval with the first appearance of organic life on the earth, the spherical form being earlier than the rodlike. He has found indications of their presence in bone, teeth, and scales, and also in vegetable tissues. The species are, as a rule, distinct from those at present in existence.

Few States, says Mr. John Gifford, in his report on the forestry of that State, "have been more thoroughly deforested than New Jersey. Just how to mitigate this evil without the expenditure of large sums of money and without infringing on private rights, or without adding to the expense of those who are already burdened with unprofitable land, is indeed a difficult problem on which there is great diversity of opinion. After a visit to several of the principal forest regions of Europe . . . the writer believes that great caution is necessary in this work, and that what is gained must come little by little until America has, after much experimentation, developed her own systems applicable to her varied climate, species, soils, and demands." The first and most important steps are the prevention of conflagrations and the construction of roads in forest regions.

The method of the computation of the Chinese calendar is described by Paul d'Enjoy in the Bulletins de la Société d'Anthropologie, 1896, p. 52: "Every year is named by a combination of two words according to a fixed rule, and the special combination is supposed to indicate the fortunes of the year. The year 1896 was the period of the external hearth and the monkey; that is a time of dangers from abroad, which must be met by cunning and dexterity. In 1897 the Chinese enter into calmer times, under the auspices of the internal hearth and the chicken. Next year the combination is waste land and dog." The months, weeks, days, and hours are also described. Each of their hours corresponds to two European hours, of which seven belong to the day and five to the night. The first hour commences at eleven o'clock at night.

Beets and beet sugar form very important elements of agriculture and manufacture in Russia. Besides supplying all the wants of the empire, the sugar is exported in considerable quantities to other countries. The cost of cultivation averages about eighteen dollars an acre. Russia ranks fourth among European nations in quantity of sugar manufactured per year. The raw sugar produced by Russian factories is said to differ but little from refined sugar, and to surpass foreign raw products. The cultivation of beets is said to have had a beneficial effect on agriculture in general throughout the empire by causing the introduction of improved types of machinery and implements.

In connection with an account of the Kootenays of British Columbia, given in the British Association, Mr. D. A. F. Chamberlain exhibited an album of drawings made by members of the tribe, which showed a well-developed artistic taste among that people. The map-drawing was remarkably well done, and showed large tracts of country delineated with much topographical skill. The whole series is to be reproduced and published in the volume of transactions of the association.

A paper read by Dr. Ami, of the Geological Survey, Ottawa, at a conference of members of the British Association, described twenty-six public museums and private scientific collections in the Dominion.

Dr. Rudolph Heidenhain, Professor of Physiology and Histology in the University of Breslau, who died in October, 1897, was born January 29, 1834, was graduated at Berlin in 1854, and was appointed to the professorship in Breslau, which he held during the rest of his life, in 1859. He made valuable discoveries in physiology and contributed numerous notable papers to its literature. He published a volume of Physiological Studies in 1856, and four volumes of Studies of the Physiological Institute of Breslau between 1861 and 1868. His laboratory was the source of voluminous contributions by himself, his pupils, or his assistants to Pfluger's Archives on a large variety of special topics in the field of his studies. His essay in Hermann's Handbook of Physiology on the Secretion Processes, extending over four hundred pages, is quoted in every text-book on physiology. His later researches on lymph formation and the studies conducted in his laboratory on hemodynamics and ferment action were very important.

Sir Peter Le Page Renouf, an eminent Egyptologist, keeper of Egyptian and Assyrian antiquities at the British Museum, died in October, seventy-five years of age.