Popular Science Monthly/Volume 7/July 1875/Notes


Correction.—Prof. Henry Wurtz corrects an error in the theory of A. McDougall, of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, on the possible mode of formation of graphite, as given in our Notes for last month. As he points out, the carbon which collects in gas-retorts does not give the reactions of graphite with a mixture of chlorate of potassium and nitric acid; it is not converted into graphitic acid; therefore it is not graphite at all, and of course its formation cannot explain the formation of that mineral. It has even been shown by Berthelot that gas-retort carbon contains hydrogen, being in fact a highly-condensed hydro-carbon, or mixture of hydro-carbons.

The Aniline Manufacturing Company, of Berlin, are now producing aniline colors by Coupler's process, in which no arsenic acid is employed. Being free from arsenic, these dyes are not only fitted for coloring sweet-meats, liqueurs, syrups, and pharmaceutical preparations, but may be used in many other industrial purposes where poisonous colors would be more or less dangerous, as in the staining of paper, paper-hangings, toys, etc.

A Flame burning in condensed air gradually increases in brilliancy with the compression, till at last it becomes as brilliant as the flame of phosphorus in oxygen. But, if the pressure be still further increased, the process of combustion is retarded, and the flame becomes smoky. From this it would appear that the temperature of combustion increases with the pressure up to the point of dissociation of the hydro-carbon gases of the candle. Hence the conclusion that it is an error to estimate the temperature of the sun at several millions of degrees. Sainte-Claire Deville holds that 2,000° C. is the highest possible temperature.

Schweinfurth, the distinguished African traveler, has been appointed by the Khédive Director-General of all the large collections, museums, and other scientific institutions, of Cairo.

The length of time needed for reaction in sensation has been made a subject of investigation by two German physiologists, Vintschgau and Hongschmied, with the following results: In the case of a person whose sense of taste was highly developed, the reaction-time was, for common salt, 0.169 second; for sugar, 0.1639 second; for acid, 0.1676 second; and for quinine, 0.2351 second. With a person whose taste was less acute the reaction-times were 0.595 second for salt, 0.752 second for sugar, and 0.993 second for quinine. It will be seen that in both instances for the bitter taste of quinine the reaction-time was considerably longer than for the others.

The most noteworthy circumstance connected with Captain Boyton's feat of crossing the English Channel is, not so much his having been kept afloat for so many hours, but that his body temperature was not lowered appreciably. His water-proof dress prevents the loss of animal heat, and hence, after being in the water for fifteen hours. Captain Boyton was almost as fresh and vigorous on reaching Boulogne as when he started from Dover.

An apothecary and self-styled surgeon in Liverpool, named Heap, was recently hanged for the crime of attempting to procure abortion on a young woman, and so causing her death. The jury recommended the culprit to mercy, but the authorities very commendably refused to interfere with the process of the law.

In view of the prohibitory duties imposed by the United States upon imported agricultural machinery, the British Association of Agricultural Engineers recommends manufacturers to hold aloof from the Philadelphia Exhibition. The imposition of prohibitory duties is declared to be out of harmony with the objects of international exhibitions. This advice will be adopted almost unanimously in England.

A Scientific Association has been organized in Peoria, 111., with Dr. W. H. Chapman as president. Arrangements have been completed by the Association for a "Summer School" for the study of botany and zoology, the term to extend over four weeks, commencing on July 5th. The instructors will be Profs. Burt G. Wilder and J. H. Comstock, of Cornell University, and Prof. Alphonso Wood. The tuition for the term will be fifteen dollars.

The meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science takes place this year at Bristol, commencing Wednesday, August 25th. The President of the Association for the present year is Sir John Hawkshaw, C.E., Fellow of the Royal Society.

A donation of $25,000 for library purposes has been made to the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences. The library of the Academy already contains 20,0()0 scientific works, but is in many respects incomplete. It is believed that with the means now at the disposal of the Academy the library can be made equal to any scientific library in the world.

Died, March 20th, Daniel Hanbury, F.R.S., F.L.S., member of the British Pharmaceutical Society. Deceased had attained distinction by his original investigations into the nature and history of drugs, and of the plants from which they are obtained. Just before his death appeared "Pharmacographia: a History of the Principal Drugs of Vegetable Origin met with in Great Britain and British India." Of this work Hanbury was joint author with Prof. Fluckiger, of Strasburg.

The committee of the Bremen Polar Expedition propose that their vessels shall coast along the eastern shore of Greenland, while the English expedition proceeds up Smith's Sound. If this arrangement is carried out, possibly these two expeditions may meet at the pole, or at all events at the northernmost portion of Greenland.

The Anderson School of Natural History, at Penikese Island, will not be opened this summer. A card from Prof. A. Agassiz states that "the applications for this summer's session have been so much reduced by the attempt to make the school partially self-supporting, that the trustees are forced, in order to save the institution from debt, to close it for the coming season. Since no assistance is to be expected from State Boards of Education, it becomes evident that the school must be carried on either by the help of the teachers for whose advantage it is intended, or by endowment. This interruption, which it is hoped may be only temporary, arises neither from lack of enthusiasm in the pupils of Penikese, nor from any want of generous interest in the naturalists who have thus far given their services to aid the enterprise."

TheFrench Geographical Society has awarded a gold medal to the family of the late Captain Hall, in recognition of the distinguished services rendered to geographical science by that intrepid explorer.

The Gardener's Chronicle states, on the authority of the market-gardeners around London, that the spring just passed was the most backward known in that locality for many years.

Dr. J. Bell Pettigrew has been awarded the Goddard prize of the French Academy of Sciences for his original anatomical and physiological memoirs.

The Sanitarian publishes a table showing the death-rate of various cities in the United States for the month of March, from which it appears that the highest death-rate (Nashville) was 37.69 per thousand per annum, and the lowest (St. Louis) 13.37. Other cities showed the following death-rates: New York, 30.'25; Philadelphia, 2(3.30; Brooklyn, 23.54; Chicago, 15.73; Boston, 22.67; New Orleans, 26.72; Washington, 33.36; Richmond, 26.40; Charleston, 34.50; New Haven, 19.80.

A party of Englishmen, Drs. Freeland and Nicholls, Captain Gardner, and Mr. Watt, while exploring the steep and forest-covered mountain behind the town of Rosseau, in the republic of Dominica, came upon a boiling lake about 2,500 feet above the sea-level, and two miles in circumference. When the wind cleared away for a moment the clouds of sulphurous steam with which the lake was covered, a mound of water was seen ten feet higher than the general level, and caused by ebullition. The margin of the lake consists of beds of sulphur; at the outlet is a waterfall of great height.

The twenty-fourth meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science will be held at Detroit, Mich., commencing on Wednesday, August 11th. The Permanent Secretary calls special attention to the meeting of the Entomological Club. It is proposed to form a subsection of Anthropology at the coming meeting of the Association. Officers of this year's meeting: President, Prof J. E. Hilgard; Vice-President, Section A, Prof H. A. Newton; Section B, Prof. J. W. Dawson; chairman, Chemical Subsection, Prof S. W. Johnson.

M. Le Verrier, Director of the Paris Observatory, transmits twice daily to the principal ports of France forecasts of the probable weather for the ensuing twelve hours. The present system does not include signals to give warning of storms. The telegrams are posted up in some public place.

It is suggested to form an artificial isthmus between France and England, leaving a narrow space in the centre for the passage of ships. The expense would not be much greater than in boring a tunnel, and the advantages in some respects greater.

A newspaper paragraph gives this instance of community of disease in man and animals. A large Newfoundland dog, belonging to a Mr. Wallace, of Upton, Mass., contracted measles from the children of a Mr. Walker, and died of the disease. The dog exhibited all the symptoms of measles as seen in human beings, and under medical treatment was convalescing, when he ran out in the snow, was chilled, and died.

A club has lately been formed in this country for the circulation among its members, by way of the United States mails, of microscopic objects. Applications for membership should be made to the secretary of the club. Rev. A. B. Hervey, 10 North Second Street, Troy, N. Y. Those only are eligible as members who are accustomed to work with the microscope, and who can contribute to the usefulness of the club by sending good objects for examination.

At the Louisville meeting of the American Medical Association, S. D. Gross, M.D., of Philadelphia, avowed himself an advocate of bloodletting for many diseases, especially those of an inflammatory character. He predicted that phlebotomy would again come to be recognized as a therapeutic agent, but that it would not be practised indiscriminately.

Pettenkofer has shown that a cubic foot of soil contains one-third of a cubic foot of air. Now, according to Boussingault, the amount of carbonic acid in this air is much more than that in the atmosphere. He found that in a field recently manured it amounted to 221 parts in 10.000 of air; in a vineyard, 96; forest-land, 86; loamy subsoil, 82; sandy subsoil, 24; garden-soil, 36.

The title of the society known as the New York Lyceum of Natural History has been changed. It will henceforward be known as the New York Academy of Sciences.

A correspondent of the Department of Agriculture writes that a decoction of tansy is always effectual in killing bots. He gives the tansy in the morning to a horse infested with bots, and in the evening a dose of salts; the bots die, and pass out with the excretions.

Black silks are very commonly "weighted" with foreign substances to the amount of 100, 200, and 300 per cent. This increase in weight is caused by treatment with salts of iron and astringents, salts of tin and cyanides. In fact, what is sold as silk is a mere agglomeration of heterogeneous matters, held temporarily together by a small portion of silk.

It is stated by Paul Perny, formerly a pro-vicar apostolic in China, that the Emperor Kien-Lung, who lived upward of a century ago, drew up the plan of a general encyclopædia of human knowledge, the publication of which still goes on. Nearly 100,000 volumes of this work have appeared, and there remain 60,000 volumes to be published! M. Perny further states that the Chinese have encyclopædias of more than 300 volumes on agriculture, horticulture, pisciculture, etc.