Popular Science Monthly/Volume 52/March 1898/Notes


It re very curious and almost paradoxical, says M. V. Brandicourt, reviewing in La Nature the underground temperature observations made in excavating the great Alpine tunnels, to find underneath the eternal snows physical conditions like those of tropical regions. Under its frigid envelope of ice the massif of the Alps is nearly a hot furnace, and nowhere else in Nature can a more striking contrast between the intense cold of the higher peaks and the heat stored up in the depths of the soil be found. It is computed that tunnel borers under Mont Blanc would meet a temperature of 122° F. in the deepest part of the excavation.

It is suggested in the report of Prof. W. A. Hardman and Mr. Andrew Scott, on disease in the oyster, that the dread of germs may be carried too far. "After all," Professor Hardman says, "we do not want—even if we could get it—an aseptic oyster. The rest of our food—our milk, our bread and cheese, our ham sandwiches, and so on—are teeming with germs, most of them harmless so far as we know, but some of them may be just as bad as any that can be in shellfish. If we were to insist on breathing filtered air and eating nothing but sterile food, washed down with antiseptic drinks, we should probably die of starvation or something worse, if we did not go mad first with the constant anxiety." The report holds that our object should be to get our oyster beds as healthy as possible, but not to insist upon conditions that would make it impossible to rear any oysters at all.

The Hon. Carroll D. Wright, United States Commissioner of Labor, has been elected a member of the Institute of France, and an honorary member of the Imperial Academy of Science of Russia.

At the annual meeting of the Indiana Academy of Science the following officers were elected for the year 1898: President, C. A. Waldo, Purdue University; vice-president, C. H. Eigenmann, Indiana University; secretary, John S. Wright, Indianapolis; assistant secretary, A. J. Bigney, Moore's Hill College; press secretary, George W. Benton, Indianapolis; treasurer, J. T. Scovell, Terre Haute.

A story is told in the Electrical Review of London to the effect that Augurelli, in the sixteenth century, believing or pretending to believe that he had discovered the art of making gold, dedicated a treatise which he wrote on the subject to Pope Leo X. The Pope received him with much ceremony and spoke with an appearance of great cordiality, and he flattered himself that he was going to receive a very liberal reward. At the close of the interview Pope Leo took a large purse out of his pocket and presenting it to him said, "As you are able to make gold, I can not offer you a more useful and fitting present than a purse to put it in."

The people living along the river Tura, in the Russian government of Tomsk, to collect the platinum that abounds in the river sands, hitch a sort of a plowshare to the rear of a raft. This plows up the water, as they express it, and the sands of the bottom are led into a wooden conduit, whence they pass into a tub furnished with pine branches, among which the metal settles by virtue of its high specific gravity. The exploiters are said to find this method of washing profitable.

The carpet industry at Osaka, Japan, according to the British consul at Hiogo, gives employment to about ten thousand children and youth of both sexes from seven to sixteen years of age. The carpets are made of jute, with designs imitating those of Persia and Turkey. About four thousand eight hundred square yards of goods are produced a day.

The Philadelphia Mycological Center is a club, of which Captain Charles McIlvaine is president, for the study and testing of mushrooms. Its second Bulletin, for September, 1897, gives descriptions, with the results of testings, of twenty-one species. Most of these species were found to be good eating, but cautions are given respecting a few of them. The "Center" seems to be prospering, for the Bulletin gives the names of fifteen new members in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts.

The Hon. Ralph Abercrombie, meteorologist, whose death at Sydney, Australia, June 21st, has been mentioned in the Monthly, was born in 1842, and was always in delicate health. Having entered the British army in 1860, he was stationed at Quebec in 1864, and while there obtained leave of absence and visited General Grant. He was obliged to give up his commission in 1869, and after this the maintenance of his health became a serious care with him. His meteorological studies began at an early period, and his first book—Seas and Skies in Many Latitudes—embodied observations made by him while in the military station at Quebec. His most distinguished service to meteorology was probably the preparation, in conjunction with Professor Hildebrandsson, of Upsala, of the new classification of clouds, which was adopted by the International Meteorological Congress of 1896. He was author of works on the Principles of Forecasting, of the book on Weather in the International Scientific Series, and of many contributions to scientific societies. During his seven years of illness at Sydney he made grants of money for the production of essays on meteorological subjects, three of which have been published.

The record of recent deaths among men of science includes the names of Arthur Kammermann, attached to the observatory at Geneva since 1881, in his thirty-sixth year; Ernest Giles, Australian explorer; Thomas Jeffrey Parker, professor of biology in the University of Otago, and author of works on biology, at Dunedin, New Zealand, November 7th; Prof. Francesco Brioschi, mathematician and president of the Accademia dei Lincei in Milan, December 13th, aged seventy-two years; James Holm, professor of physics in the South African College, Capetown, aged twenty-eight years; Dr. Oscar Stumpe, astronomer, at Berlin, aged thirty-five years; Dr. Eduard Lindemann, scientific secretary of the Observatory of Pulkova, Russia, in his fifty-sixth year; Prof. E. L. Taschenburg, author of contributions to Economic Entomology, January 20th, aged seventy-nine years; M. Ernst Bazin, inventor of the roller steamer; and Dr. Samuel Newth, formerly principal of New College, St. John's Wood, England, and author of books on natural philosophy.