Popular Science Monthly/Volume 56/December 1899/Notes


An old contributor, Dr. A. F. A. King, of Washington, D. C., writes us calling attention to the interesting fact that we printed an article of his as far back as September, 1883, suggesting the mosquito theory of malaria, and giving a number of observations which seemed strongly to support this view.

Experiments made by F. H. Hall and W. P. Wheeler, at the New York Agricultural Experiment Station, regarding the best food for "chicks, pullets, cockerels, and ducklings," seem to indicate conclusively that part of the protein must be drawn from animal sources if we are to get the best results. Rations in which from forty to fifty per cent of the protein was supplied by animal food produced more rapid growth and at less cost of production.

Messrs. A. Stutzer and Hartlieb, of Breslau, have detected bacteria in Portland cements, which provoke the liberation of the nitrogen from nitrogenous compounds in water, and the formation of nitrous and nitric acids that act upon the lime in the cement and promote its disintegration.

According to Industries and Iron, the tides are now utilized for generating power at Pont-l'Abbé, Finisterre, France, during fourteen hours per day. At flood tide the water flows through a canal two miles and a half inland into a pond in the rear of the power house, and returns to the sea at ebb tide. The total fall is seven feet and a half, and eighty-horse power is generated by means of turbines. Means have been considered for applying this method of generating power to various industries.

A proposal, for an International Physical Congress has been accepted by the authorities of the Paris Exposition of 1900, and the congress will be held from the 6th to the 12th of August, under the auspices of the French Government. It immediately precedes the International Electrical Congress. So far as has yet been determined, the subjects of the addresses and reports will be classified under the headings of the definition and fixing certain units (of pressure, scale of hardness, quantity of heat, etc.), the Bibliography of Physics, and National Laboratories. The final programme is, however, still to be settled. The subscription for membership is twenty francs, or four dollars. The foreign secretary of the congress is M. Charles Edouard Guillaume, Pavilion de Breteuil, Sevres (Seine et Oise), Paris.

In a book called Literary Munich Portraits, with brief biographical sketches by Paul Heyse, are given of twenty-five of the most prominent literary men of that brilliant capital. Only two authors not Germans are included. One of them is our contributor, E. P. Evans. The other is the Norwegian novelist Bjornson. Heyse leaves himself out, although he is the greatest literary character of them all.

Some recent experiments, conducted jointly by the Kew Observatory Committee and the International Bureau of Weights and Measures at Sèvres, were made to compare the platinum thermometer of Professor Callendar, which measures temperature by the varying resistance of a platinum wire, and the older mercury and gas thermometers. It was found that below 100° C. the differences between the observed values on the nitrogen scale and those deduced from the platinum thermometer are exceedingly small, and that even at the highest temperature (590°) the differences only amount to a few tenths of a degree.

The American Chemical Society has gained 232 members during the past year, making the present number 1,540. The report of the committee on the analysis of coal, submitted to the recent meeting of the society at Columbus, Ohio, embodied detailed instructions in regard to the best methods of analyzing coke, and outlined a plan for securing uniformity in such analysis by chemists throughout the land. This report was adopted.

At the recent annual meeting of the American Society for the Promotion of Agricultural Science Prof. W. J. Beal reported concerning the germination of seeds, after long keeping, that experiments had been tried with various seeds five, ten, fifteen, and twenty years old, from which it appeared that seeds of a large number of important plants would germinate after fifteen years, but the number sprouting after twenty years was small.

A paper was read by Dr. L. O. Howard, at the recent meeting of the American Society of Entomologists, recording the success which has been obtained by the fig-raisers of California in fertilizing the Smyrna variety of figs by the aid of the blastophaga which issues from the Capri figs covered with their pollen. A generation of the blastophaga has been developed at Fresno by which many Sniyrna figs have been satisfactorily fertilized, and there is considerable probability that the insect has at last established itself on California soil.

The five hundredth anniversary of the birth of Gutenberg, associated with the invention of printing, is to be celebrated at Mayence, June 24, 1900. It is hoped that the foundation of a Gutenberg Museum may be a result of this movement. An exhibition illustrating the art and progress of printing is also expected to be held.

The conclusion is drawn by the Italian, Signor Albini, from investigations on the nutritive value of whole-meal bread, that it is inferior to that of ordinary white bread, and that a further disadvantage comes from the excessive quantity of indigestible matter, formed of the harder parts of the pericarp of the grain, which it contains.

We have to add to our obituary list of men known in science the names of Edward Orton, LL. D., Professor of Geology in Ohio State University, late State Geologist of Ohio, and late President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, at Columbus, Ohio, October 16th, in his seventy-first year, of whom we shall shortly give a more extended sketch, with portrait; Grant Allen, writer of several scientific books and articles, and a contributor to the Popular Science Monthly; Prof. Theodore Elbert, German geologist, aged forty-two years; Dr. Max Barth, Director of the Agricultural Station of Rufach, Alsace, aged forty-four years; M. Paul Janet, member of the Paris Academy of Moral Science, and formerly professor at the Sorbonne; Edward Case, English engineer, well known for his method of groining to prevent the sea from encroaching on the coast, September 22d; Hamilton Y. Castner, whose name is associated with the establishment of processes for the electrolytic production of alkali and bleaching powder from common salt, and for the extraction of aluminum; Dr. Oscar Baumann, of Vienna, African explorer, author of a map of the Congo, geographical articles, and books relating to his explorations; and Dr. J. W. Hicks, Bishop of Bloemfontein, formerly demonstrator in chemistry in the University of Cambridge, and author of a text-book on inorganic chemistry.