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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 6/February 1875/Notes

< Popular Science Monthly‎ | Volume 6‎ | February 1875


Prof. Marsh reached his home in New Haven, December 12th, after an absence of about two months in the West. The results of his "scientific raid" to the Bad Lands, near the Black Hills, were very satisfactory. Nearly two tons of fossil bones were collected, most of them rare specimens, and many unknown to science. There were several species of gigantic Brontotheridæ, nearly as large as elephants. At one place the bones were heaped together in such numbers as to indicate that a herd of the animals had been swept into a lake by a great freshet. The whole collection goes to the Peabody Museum of Yale College. A military escort, provided by General Ord, shared with Prof. Marsh the honors and the perils of the brief but brilliant campaign.

Prof. Simon Newcomb, of the Washington Observatory, has gone to Europe to examine the different kinds of flint and crown glass made for optical purposes by the best manufacturers abroad. His trip is in the interest of the Lick Observatory of California, the trustees of that institution wishing to employ the best maker for the founding of the glass.

It is announced that the Phylloxera has made its appearance in Switzerland, and the delegates of the vine-growing cantons are considering the best means of preventing its extension. The volcanic soil around Vesuvius is said to be an antidote to the potato-fungus, and to be of great value in the treatment of Phylloxera.

Mr. Joseph Willcox, of the Philadelphia Academy of Sciences, has discovered in North Carolina a number of burial-places where the bodies had been placed with the face up, and covered with a coating of plastic clay. A pile of wood was then placed on top and fired, which consumed the body and baked the clay, which retained the form of the body. This was then lightly covered with earth.

The supposed fossil remains of land-plants, found by Mr. Lesquereux in the upper portion of the Cincinnati group (Lower Silurian Rocks), near Lebanon, Ohio, are described by Prof. J. S. Newberry, in Silliman's Journal. These fossils are to be referred, according to Mr. Lesquereux, to the Sigillariæ, but Prof. Newberry shows that they do not possess the characters which belong to land-plants, and that in all probability they are nothing but casts of the stems of fucoids.

Prof. Alfred M. Mayer, of the Stevens Institute, has shown, by a series of new and very ingenious experiments, the truth of Prof. Henry's inference that the discharge of a Leyden jar is multiple and oscillatory in its nature. Other physicists had already established this point, but it remained for Prof. Mayer to trace the oscillations and to determine the number of partial discharges per second. In one of his experiments he found the average interval between the partial discharges to be 1/9000 of a second.

A tunnel, very nearly one mile in length, has been bored through Musconetcong Mountain, N.J., on the line of the Easton & Perth Amboy Railroad. With the exception of the Hoosac, this is the longest tunnel east of the Mississippi. The engineering-work on this tunnel was singularly accurate, the error in line being only half an inch, in levels one-fifth of an inch, in chaining or measurement six inches.

The climate of Minnesota has been recommended as very favorable to consumptives, on the ground that the air of that region is exceptionally dry. But, from the Monthly Weather Review of the Signal-Office, for November last, it appears that Minnesota shows the greatest relative humidity of all the regions there named. Thus, the relative humidity for New England was .69, middle Atlantic States .66, lake region .69, Minnesota .77.

The Caen Academy of Science offers a prize of 4,000 francs for the best essay on the "Function of Leaves in the Vegetation of Plants." The Academy does not want simply an exposition of the present state of science upon this question, but also exact experiments, performed by the competitors themselves, and new facts tending to throw light upon the present theories. The essays to be submitted before January 1, 1876.

Prof. Landois reports to the Natural History Society of Prussian Rhineland that ants have the power of producing vocal sounds, though of a pitch inaudible to man. He has proved that they possess a sound-apparatus resembling that belonging to the sand-wasp.