Popular Science Monthly/Volume 56/March 1900/Minor Paragraphs and Notes


Prof. Frederick Starr, of the University of Chicago, has made two excursions to Mexico for the purpose of establishing the physical types of the aborigines by means of measurements, photographs, and casts. He studied twelve tribes, half of which were almost unknown to science, and made measurements of more than eleven hundred and fifty men and three hundred women. On his last trip he rode one thousand miles among the mountains on horseback. In a recent paper in the Open Court he takes notice of frequent and curious survivals of pagan belief to be remarked among these peoples, although they are all supposed to be devout Christians. In one instance, which is specially described, an idol bearing some resemblance to those found among the ruins of the ancient cities occupied a station in the church by the side of the crucifix, sharing the honors with the statue of the Virgin on the other side. Grief and consternation prevailed among the Indians when the idol was taken away by the ecclesiastical authorities.

The question of the increase of insanity in England during the last few years is regarded as assuming a serious aspect, and the report of the Commissioners of Lunacy for 1898, showing the largest annual increase yet recorded, the Lancet says, reveals the gravity of the situation. Other collateral facts given in the report "add to the seriousness of the outlook." The increase in the number of inmates in institutions for lunatics is attended with a falling off in the recovery rate, which is lower for 1898 than that of the previous year, and even than the average of the last ten years. A steady diminution in the recovery rate has appeared also during each period of five years since 1873. The attempt to account for the increase of lunatics in public and private asylums by supposing that it is made up by removals thither from workhouses or from the care of relatives fails, for it is shown that this class of insane is increasing too, though slowly. The subject is regarded as of so much importance that it was considered and discussed in the Psychological Section of the British Association at its Bristol meeting in 1899.

A process by which calcium carbide can be continuously produced more cheaply than by the process at present in use is reported, in Industries and Iron, to have been discovered by Professor Freeman, of Chicago. In the new process a huge arc lamp inclosed in brickwork in the interior of a furnace is employed. The upper electrode of the lamp is hollow, and through it is fed a powder composed of common lime and coke. This powder, being carried through the upper carbon directly into the electric flame, is melted by the intense heat, and molten calcium carbide runs away from the furnace. It is estimated that the carbide is produced at a cost of half a cent per pound.


A new method of securing more perfect combustion, described by Mr. Paul J. Schlicht before the Franklin Institute, is based on the fact, described by the inventor, that if a current of air is properly introduced into a chimney flue through which hot products of combustion are escaping, it will flow in a direction contrary to theirs, and, becoming heated in contact with them, will reach the center of the fire in a condition highly favorable to the most complete union of oxygen with the combustible elements of the fuel. Suggestions are made in Mr. Schlicht's paper for the construction and regulation of furnaces, so as to secure the condition described.

Mr. Edward Orton, Jr., has been appointed State Geologist of Ohio, to succeed his father, the late Dr. Edward Orton. He has been connected, as an assistant, with the survey, in which he studied the distribution of the coal measures, and has also prepared reports on the clay and clay industries of the State.

"From a moral if not from a scientific and industrial point of view, incontestably superior to that of the European peoples," is the characterization a book reviewer in the Revue Scientifique gives to Chinese civilization.

Sir William Turner is the president-elect for the Bradford meeting of the British Association, 1900. He is head of the great medical school at Edinburgh, and President of the General Medical Council, and was pronounced by Lord Lister, in nominating him, the foremost human anatomist in the British Islands, and also a great anthropologist.

A gold medal is offered by the Society of Agricultural Industry and Commerce of Milan to the inventor of the best apparatus or the person who will make known the best method for protecting working electricians against the accidents of their profession. The competition is open to all nations.

The statue of Lavoisier, called by the French "the founder of chemistry," is to be erected, during the Universal Exposition in Paris, on the square of the Madeleine, at the intersection of the Rue Tronchet. The work is in charge of the sculptor Barrias. The sum of ninety-eight thousand francs, or nineteen thousand six hundred dollars, has been subscribed to pay for it.

The death list of the last few weeks of men known in science includes a considerable proportion of important names. Among the number are John B. Stallo. formerly of Cincinnati, author of General Principles of the Philosophy of Nature, The Concepts and Theories of Modern Science, and numerous contributions to scientific publications, recently United States minister to Italy, in Florence, December 30th, in his seventy-fifth year; Sir James Paget, for many years the leading surgeon in England, and author of books relating to surgery, in London, December 30th, in his eighty-sixth year; Dr. Thomas C. Egleston, Emeritus Professor of Mineralogy and Metallurgy in Columbia University, in New York, January 15th; Prof. Henry Allen Hazen, one of the chief forecasters of the United States Weather Bureau, and author of improvements in the methods employed there, in Washington, from the results of a bicycle collision, January 22d, in his fifty-first year; Dr. Wilhelm Zenker, a distinguished physicist, at Berlin, October 21st, aged seventy years; Augustus Doerflinger, an engineer who was engaged in the work of the removal of Hell Gate in New York Harbor, at Brooklyn, November 24th, in his fifty-eighth year; Johann Carl Wilhelm Ferdinand Tiemann. Professor of Chemistry in the University of Berlin and late editor of the Reports of the German Chemical Society, at Meran, Tyrol, November 17th, in his fifty-second year; he was distinguished for his researches upon the constitution of odoriferous principles, including works on vanillin, the aroma of the violet, terpenes, and camphor, and the synthesis of amido-acids; Dr. Birch-Hirschfeld, Professor of Pathology in the University of Berlin, aged fifty-seven years; Sir Richard Thorne Thorne, principal medical officer to the Local Government Board, in London, December 18th, aged fifty-eight years; author of many official reports relating to the public health, of works on the progress of preventive medicine during the Victorian era, and of lectures on diphtheria and the administrative control of tuberculosis; Dr. John Frederick Hodges, Professor of Agriculture and lecturer on medical jurisprudence in Queen's College, Belfast, Ireland, and author of two elementary books on chemistry, The Structure and Physiology of the Animals of the Farm, and of several papers published in the Proceedings of Scientific Societies; E. C. C. Stanford, a practical chemist, distinguished for the introduction of several original methods of manufacture, and for the preparation of several new substances, such as algin and thyroglandin; he was the author of the monograph on the iodine industry in Thorpe's Dictionary of Chemistry; and John Ruskin, who, though not a man of science in the strict sense of the term, did his full share for the advancement of knowledge and comfort among men, at Coniston Lake, England, January 20th, in his eighty-first year.