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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 6/November 1874/Notes

< Popular Science Monthly‎ | Volume 6‎ | November 1874


During the Khivan expedition, the Russian army was fed chiefly on biscuits composed one-third of rye-flour, one-third of beef reduced to powder, and one-third of powdered sauerkraut. The men are said to have had a great relish for this food, and their good health during the expedition is attributed, in great part, to the use of it.

In his address before the Congress of Orientalists, Max Müller claimed that, during the last 100 years, Oriental studies had contributed more than any other branch of scientific research to purify the intellectual atmosphere of Europe.

An exhibition of very considerable interest is to be held in Paris in September and October. It will consist of all the useful insects and their productions, and of the noxious insects, and specimens of the injury they do. Each species is to be shown, when possible, in its several stages of egg, larva, chrysalis, and perfect insect. The exhibition will be under the auspices of the Central Society of Agriculture and Entomology.

Prof. Jeffreys Wyman, of Harvard University, died at Bethlehem, N.H., September 4th, aged sixty years. The deceased was, for twenty-seven years, Hersey Professor of Anatomy at Harvard, and of Comparative Anatomy in the Lawrence Scientific School. His published works consist of numerous articles on anatomy and physiology contributed to scientific periodicals and learned societies.

The Austrian Polar Expedition, which, for some time, has caused such anxious apprehensions, has at last been heard from. The expedition was shipwrecked, and spent two winters upon the ice. The highest latitude reached was 83. Hall's highest latitude was 82° 16'. A large tract of land was discovered northward of Nova Zemlia. Only one death occurred during the whole time from the sailing of the expedition, in 1872, to their arrival at the Norwegian island of Wardoe in September of the present year.

Tissandier finds the quantity of solid matter contained in a cubic metre of Paris air to vary between 6 and 23 milligrames. Where this matter consists of débris of wood, coal, or the like, the corpuscles reach sometimes a length of 1/10 millimetre; where of mineral matters, silica, etc., the diameter varies from 1/100 to 1/1000 of a millimetre. Analysis of the dust shows: organic matters, from 25 to 34 per cent.; mineral matters, from 75 to 66 per cent. Iron was found in notable quantity.

M. Gréhaut, of the Paris Biological Society, has, for some time, employed a method of producing anæsthesia by means of chloroform, which gives very satisfactory results, and produces complete anæsthesia, for any required length of time, without danger to life. To this end, he administers to the person or animal to be anæsthetized a quantity of vaporous chloroform accurately determined. He fastens to the muzzle of a dog, weighing say 20 pounds, a rubber bag holding 100 quarts of air mixed with 20 grammes (about 300 grains) of chloroform in the state of vapor. The animal breathes this confined atmosphere, and anesthesia is produced in the course of from five to ten minutes. It may be protracted for over two hours. With this amount of chloroform the anæsthesia is complete, and, in portion as a fraction of the vapor is eliminated from the lungs, an equal quantity is absorbed by the same organ.

Silicious and calcareous rocks are mere commonly broken up by chemical than by mechanical action, but the contrary is the case with felspathic and slate rocks. For subaqueous structures silicious stones are generally preferable to those of a calcareous nature.

An electro-magnetic copying-machine has been devised by Hencker, of Munich, which transmits by telegraph, and that, too, without the assistance of an operator, writing, portraits, plans, maps, etc. An impression of the object to be copied is taken with a prepared ink on a sort of silver paper, which is then rolled on a revolving cylinder, and the message, whether in writing or in the form of a drawing, is at once forwarded to its destination, a perfect fac-simile of the writing or drawing being produced at the other end of the wire.

The Paris Acclimatization Society has requested and obtained of Mr. Seth Green permission to publish a French translation of his work on trout-culture.

At Mariupal, Russia, a teacher was recently denounced to the entire parish, by the village pope, as unfit to teach children, owing to his "habit of taking walks on the steppe, and collecting useless grasses, disgusting insects, and every conceivable abomination, and making these things objects of public instruction." This wicked teacher was also censured for his disuse of the rod, and his aversion to the good old Russian practice of pulling out bunches of hair from the heads of refractory children!

The salaries of male and female teachers in the schools of San Francisco have been equalized.

An exhibition was recently made in Scotland of a process of clearing forests by steam. A traction engine of 12 horsepower is stationed some distance from the wood, and a wire chain is fastened to the tree. Steam is then put on, and the tree is pulled forcibly out by the roots. In the course of five hours, upward of 300 trees, in a plantation nearly 100 years old, were pulled out. It is hoped that the method may prove applicable in the clearing of new tracts of forest-land.

From a synopsis communicated to the Philadelphia Academy of Sciences by Prof. Cope, of his work in connection with Hayden's survey in 1873, it appears that the whole number of species of vertebrata obtained was 150, 95 being new to science. The species from the Miocene numbered 75, of which 57 were new.

A French patent has been granted for the preparation of leather from tripe, intestines, and other animal membranes; these are worked in milk-of-lime while still fresh, then washed and immersed in water, and finally in a paste made of starch and white-of-egg. The substance thus formed is to be used for glove-making, etc.; the material may also be tanned or curried.

In 1865 there were in France 4,833 school libraries containing 180,854 volumes; in 1869 the number of libraries was 14,395, and of volumes 1,239,165. At the present time there are (the Seine Department not included) 15,623 school libraries, and 1,474, 637 volumes. Notwithstanding the events of the last few years, the state, provinces, communes, and private individuals, have liberally contributed funds for maintaining this important work.

The problem of pure-water supply for London has probably been solved by Mr. J. Lucas, of the Geological Survey. Examining the green sands and chalk of Surrey, he finds over 1,000 feet of porous strata resting on absolutely impervious clay. He contends that a tunnel driven along the strike of the beds, or water-level, must arrest all the water that is flowing down as far as the gallery is carried.

The question whether snakes eat toads is answered affirmatively by a writer in Hardwicke, who speaks from direct observation. Having discovered a garter-snake in a strawberry-bed, he struck the creature a sharp blow with a stick, and out flew a medium-sized toad. Before the blow, only the hind-feet of the toad were visible, protruding from the snake's mouth.

In removing grease-spots from clothing with benzole or turpentine, the usual way is to wet the cloth with the detergent and then to rub it with a sponge or the like. This only spreads the grease, and does not remove it. The proper method is given by the Scientific American: Place soft blotting-paper beneath and on top of the grease-spot, after the latter has been thoroughly saturated with the benzole; then press well. The fat is thus dissolved and absorbed by the paper, and entirely removed from the clothing.

The British Meteorological Society has organized a system of observations of natural phenomena connected with the return of the seasons, as affecting the development of animal and plant life. It is expected that in this way much valuable information will be gained with regard to the influence of climate on plants, insects, birds, and other animals. The Royal Agricultural, Horticultural, Botanical, and other societies of Great Britain, have promised their cooperation in the scheme.

A singular feature of the last illness of Guizot was, that for three weeks previous to his death his memory was totally at fault during the greater part of the day; but from noon till 5 p. m. it was quite perfect, especially if the conversation turned upon his favorite study—the history of France. Again at five he would fall into a kind of somnolence, which lasted till noon of the following day.

The new Reclam-Siemens cremation-furnace has been tested at Berlin with satisfactory results. Two hundred weight of animal carcass was consumed in about 90 minutes, and reduced to white ashes at the cost of less than one dollar. Eighty-two German cities possess cremation societies.

From researches made by Phipson, it appears that thallium is much more widely distributed than has been supposed—as widely, indeed, as lead, he thinks. He has met with it especially in metallic cadmium, and the cupriferous pyrites of Spain and Norway, and in many of the other minerals and industrial products derived from them.

The molar tooth of a mastodon was recently exhumed near Waterloo, Ind. It weighs six pounds, is eight inches long, and has four prongs and four double crowns.

The French Minister of War, General de Cissey, has very positively prohibited the officers of the army from communicating to any scientific body, or publishing in any scientific journal, any "memoirs of a scientific character having reference to any branch of the military service.... Such publications," he says, "are absolutely contrary to the 'principles of (military) hierarchy.'" The Revue Scientifique naturally takes umbrage at this general order, and says that it cannot fail to do injury to the army, by placing it beyond the reach of fair criticism.

The American Museum of Natural History in Central Park, as we learn from the Tribune, has lately received the Wolfe memorial gift, which consists of a collection of shells gathered by Dr. J. C. Jay, together with his library of works on conchology. The collection embraces over 10,000 species, and probably 50,000 specimens. The library is supposed to contain every book treating of shells published before 1861, and most of those issued since then. It also contains full sets of the transactions of all the prominent scientific societies.

The Austro-Hungarian Government has decided to send out another expedition next year to ascertain whether "Franz-Josef Land" is part of the continent or an island. The expedition will be divided into two parties, one going by way of Siberia, the other by way of Greenland.

The use of aniline red for coloring hair-oils is condemned by the Laboratory, and an instance is cited in proof of the injurious effects resulting from the employment of oils so colored. A man in Boston, who had for some time frequented a barber's shop in which aniline-colored oil was used in hair-dressing, began to experience a disagreeable itching of the scalp, very similar to that produced by arsenic. On inquiry, the trouble was traced to the hair-oil, which contained arsenic present in the aniline color; and, by discontinuing its use, the eruption soon disappeared.

Mr. Richard A. Proctor says of our Signal-Office forecasts of the weather, that they are "singularly accurate, the percentage of error being little more than ten or twelve, and constantly diminishing." During the last three months of his stay in the United States, the weather announcements of the Signal-Office failed of strict fulfillment only twice; and even then the error consisted only in the announcement of a change in the weather a few hours before it actually occurred.

About two-thirds of the estimated cost of the Liebig Monument, at Munich, has been subscribed—the far greater part of the money coming, of course, from Germany. "England," says the Lancet, "numerous and deep as are her obligations to the father of agricultural chemistry, stands very low on the subscription-list, being, in fact, outstripped by Italy, which comes next, as a subscriber, to Germany itself."

A sandstone anvil has been discovered near Ironton, Ohio, supposed to have been used by the mound-builders. It is composed of very sharp grit, contains over 100 depressions, weighs about 500 pounds, and measures 8 feet 8 inches at its greatest circumference. This relic of an extinct race is to be presented to the Cincinnati Society of Natural History.

It may interest the consumers of Rhenish wines to learn that at Kehl there is a large establishment for the manufacture of wine without grapes. In the Rheingau and the Palatinate there are hundreds of similar establishments, according to the London Times correspondent. The Excise Bureau of the German Empire recognizes this product as grape-wine.

The English literary journals are discussing the question of forming one English word to represent what the French call a savant. "Man of science" is the only expression at present in approved usage that exactly corresponds to the French word. Scientist is "an American barbaric trisyllable." A writer in the Academy gives us our choice between "sciencist" and "scient."