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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 54/April 1899/Notes


A relation has been discovered by Professor Dolbear and Carl A. and Edward A. Bessey between the chirping of crickets and the temperature, the chirps increasing as frequently as the temperature rises. The Besseys relate, in The American Naturalist, that when, one cool evening, a cricket was caught and brought into a warm room, it began in a few minutes to chirp nearly twice as rapidly as the out-of-door crickets, and that its rate very nearly conformed to the observed rate maintained other evenings out of doors under the same temperature conditions.

C. Drieberg, of Colombo, Ceylon, records, in Nature, a rainfall at Nedunkeni, in the northern province of Ceylon, December 15 and 16, 1697, of 31.76 inches in twenty-four hours. The highest previous records, as cited by him, are at Joyeuse, France, 31.17 inches in twenty-two hours; Genoa, 30 inches in twenty-six hours; on the hills above Bombay, 24 inches in one night; and on the Khasia Hills, India, 30 inches in each of five successive days. The average annual rainfall at Nedunkeni has been 64.70 inches, but in 1897 the total amount was 121.85 inches. The greatest annual rainfall is on the Khasia Hills, India, with 600 inches. The wettest station in Ceylon is Padupola, in the central province, with 230.85 inches as the mean of twenty-six years, but in 1897 the amount was 243.07 inches.

The Korean postage stamps are printed in the United States. As explained in the United States consular reports, they are of four denominations, and all alike except in color and denomination. Of the inscriptions, the characters on the top are ancient Chinese, and those at the bottom, having the same meaning, are Korean; the characters on the right are Korean and those on the left are Chinese, both giving the denominations, with the English translation just below the center of the stamp. The plum blossom in each corner is the royal flower of the present Ye dynasty, which has been in existence more than five hundred years, and the figures at the corners of the center piece represent the four spirits that stand at the corners of the earth and support it on their shoulders. The national emblem in the center is an ancient Chinese phallic device.

A paragraph in La Nature calls to mind that the year 1898 was the "jubilee" of the sea serpent, the first mention of a sight of the monster—whether fabulous or not is still undecided—having been made by the captain and officers of the British ship Daedalus in 1848. They said they saw it between the Cape of Good Hope and St. Helena, and that it was about six hundred feet long. Since then views of sea serpents have been reported nearly every year, but none has ever been caught or seen so near or for so long a time as to be positively identified. There are several creatures of the deep which, seen for an instant, might be mistaken with the aid of an excited imagination for a marine serpent; and it is not wholly impossible that some descendants of the gigantic saurians of old may still be living in the ocean undetected by science.

The results of a study of the winter food of the chickadee by Clarence M. Weed, of the New Hampshire College Agricultural Experiment Station, shows that more than half of it consists of insects, a very large proportion of which are taken in the form of eggs. Vegetation of various sorts made up a little less than a quarter of the food; but two thirds of this consisted of buds and bud scales that were accidentally introduced along with plant-lice eggs. These eggs made up more than one fifth of the entire food, and formed the most remarkable element of the bill of fare. The destruction of these eggs of plant lice is probably the most important service which the chickadee renders during its winter residence. Insect eggs of many other kinds were found in the food, among them those of the tent caterpillar and the fall cankerworm, and the larvae of several kinds of moths, including those of the common apple worm.

The Merchants' Association of San Francisco has been trying the experiment of sprinkling a street with sea water, and finds that such water binds the dirt together between the paving stones, so that when it is dry no loose dust is formed to be raised by the wind; that sea water does not dry so quickly as fresh water, so that it has been claimed when salt water has been used that one load of it is equal to three loads of fresh water. The salt water which is deposited on the street absorbs moisture from the air during the night, whereby the street is thoroughly moist during the early morning, and has the appearance of having been freshly sprinkled.

The Tarahumare people, who live in the most inaccessible part of northern Mexico, were described by Dr. Krauss in the British Association as ignorant and primitive, and many still living in caves. What villages they have are at altitudes of about eight thousand feet above the sea level. They are a small and wiry people, with great powers of endurance. Their only food is pinoli, or maize, parched and ground. They have a peculiar drink, called teshuin, also produced from maize and manufactured with considerable ceremony, which tastes like a mixture of sour milk and turpentine. Their language is limited to about three hundred words. Their imperfect knowledge of numbers renders them unable to count beyond ten. Their religion seems to be a distorted and imperfect conception of Christian traditions, mixed with some of their own ideas and superstitions.

The directory of the School of Anthropology of Paris, which consists chiefly of the professors in the institution, has chosen Dr. Capitan, professor of pathological anthropology, to succeed M. Gabriel de Mortillet, deceased, as professor of prehistoric anthropology. Dr. Capitan's former chair is suppressed.

The highest cog-wheel railroad in Europe and probably in the world is the one from Zermatt, Switzerland, to the summit of the Görner Grat, upward of eleven thousand five hundred feet above the sea. It is between five and six miles long, and rises nearly fifty-two hundred feet, with a maximum grade of twenty per cent. There are two intermediate stations, at the Riffel Alp and the Riffelberg, and the ascent is made in ninety minutes. The height of this road will be surpassed by that of the one now being erected up the Jungfrau.

Extraordinary advantages are claimed by Mrs. Theodore R. MacClure, of the State Board of Health, for Michigan as a summer and health-resort State. The State has more than sixteen hundred miles of lake line, the greater part of which is or can be utilized for summer-resort purposes; there are in its limits 5,173 inland lakes varying in size and having a total area of 712,864 square acres of water. The many rivers running through the State furnish on their banks delightful places for camping and for recreation.

An action of bacteria on photographic plates was described by Prof. P. P. Frankland at the last meeting of the British Association. Ordinary bacterial cultures in gelatin and agar-agar are found to be capable of affecting the photographic film even at a distance of half an inch, while, when they are placed in contact with the film, definite pictures of the bacterial growths can be obtained. The action does not take place through glass, and therefore, as in the case of Dr. W. J. Russell's observations with some other substances, it is considered probably due to the evolution of volatile chemical materials which react with the sensitive film. Many varieties of bacteria exert the action, but to a different degree. Bacterial growths which are luminous in the dark are much more active than the non-luminous bacteria hitherto tried.

Telephonic communication, it is said, has been established between a number of farms in Australia by means of wire fences. A correspondent of the Australian Agriculturist from a station near Colmar represents that it is easy to converse with a station eight miles distant by means of instruments connected on the wire fences, and that the same kind of communication has been established over a distance of eight miles. Several stations are connected in this way.

We have to record the deaths of F. A. Obach, electrical engineer, at Grätz, Austria, December 27th, aged forty-six years. He was author of numerous papers on subjects of electrical science in English and German publications, and of lectures on the chemistry of India rubber and gutta percha; Dr. Reinhold Ehret, seismologist and author of books on earthquakes and seismometers, who died from an Alpine accident in the Susten Pass; Dr. Joseph Coats, professor of pathology at the University of Glasgow, and author of a manual of pathology, a work on tuberculosis, etc.; Thomas Hincks, F. R. S., author of books on marine zoölogy, February 2d; Major J. Hotchkiss, president in 1895 of the Geological Section of the American Association and author of papers on economic geology and engineering; Wilbur Wilson Thoburn, professor of biomechanics at Leland Stanford Junior University; Dr. Giuseppe Gibelli, professor of botany in the University of Turin; Dr. G. Wolffhüzel, professor of hygiene in the University of Göttingen; Dr. Dareste de Chavannes, author of researches in animal teratology, and formerly president of the French Society of Anthropology; Dr. Rupert Böck, professor of mechanics in the Technical Institute of Vienna; William Colenso, F. R. S., of New Zealand, naturalist and author of investigations of Maori antiquities and myths; Dr. Lench, assistant in the observatory at Zürich, Switzerland; Dr. Franz Lang, rector and teacher of natural history in the cantonal schools of Soleure, Switzerland, and one of the presidents of the Swiss Natural History Society, aged seventy-eight years; Dr. William Rutherford, professor of physiology in the University of Edinburgh, and author of several books in that science, February 21st, in his sixtieth year; and Sir Douglas Galton, president of the British Association in 1895 and an authority and author on sanitation, March 10th, in his seventy seventh year.