Popular Science Monthly/Volume 9/June 1876/Notes


The printing-press at which Benjamin Franklin worked in Loudon will be exhibited at Philadelphia. This press was at one time the property of Harrild & Sous, of London, but in 1841 they allowed it to be forwarded to Philadelphia. By way of acknowledgment, a sum of money was to be handed over to the Printers' Pension Corporation, for the purpose of founding a pension for an aged printer. This has never been done, and hence Franklin's press by right belongs to Messrs. Harrild, and should appear at the Centennial Exhibition as an English and not an American exhibit.

In the "Annual of Natural Science," of Würtemberg, Otto Hahn has an elaborate review of the Eozoön Canadense question. This article, which is very long, is published in the Annals and Magazine of Natural History, for April. The author, after an examination of the geological, the mineralogical, and the zoölogical facts, pronounces the so-called eozoön structures to be purely mineral in their origin.

In replying to Tyndall, Dr. Bastian cites a number of investigators as supporting his views on biogenesis. Among the authorities thus quoted are E. Ray Lankester and Dr. Pode; but the former of these two gentlemen now writes to Nature, saying that their (i. e., Lankester's and Pode's) results "conclusively and categorically contradict the particular assertions contained in Dr. Bastian's book, 'The Beginnings of Life,' into the truth of which they set themselves to inquire."

Specimens of paper and cardboard made from peat were recently presented to the Berlin Polytechnic Association by Herr Veyt-Meyer. The paper and cardboard were very firm, and the latter was so thick that it might be planed and polished. Paper made of peat alone is like that made from wood or straw; but only fifteen per cent, of rags is needed to give it consistence. A large factory for the manufacture of peat paper is to be established in Prussia.

In order to act intelligently against the cotton-worm, Southern planters are advised by Prof. A. R. Grote to act in concert. He further recommends that, whatever agent is employed to destroy the worm, be used against the first brood that appears in the locality, so as to prevent its spreading farther. It is highly desirable that the life-history and habits of such insect-pests should be thoroughly studied, with a view to their extermination.

Prof. Benjamin Silliman, of Yale College, has patented a process for giving resonance to sundry alloys, such as britannia metal, pewter, etc., which commonly give only a dull sound when struck. According to the Engineering and Mining Journal, the process consists in submitting articles made of these alloys to the action of a certain degree of temperature, just below their melting-point, for a short time, in a bath of oil or paraffine. The theory of the process appears to turn upon a rearrangement, perhaps a crystallization, of the molecules.

The Phylloxera Commission, appointed by the Paris Academy of Science, to award the Government prize of 300,000 francs for the discovery of an effectual means of destroying the Phylloxera, has reported that none of the specifics submitted to them are entitled to the prize.

Dr. Ewald records, in Reichert's Archiv, an instance of the production of a hydrocarbon gas in the stomach of a man suffering from chronic gastritis. The man, one day, while lighting a cigar, was surprised to see his breath take fire, and burn with a yellow flame. Dr. Ewald afterward analyzed some of this gas, and found it to consist of hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, carbonic acid, and a considerable portion (about ten per cent.) of marsh gas.

About ten per cent. of the Cape diamonds are of first quality, fifteen per cent. of second, twenty of third. The remainder are employed for cutting diamonds, and for the numerous applications of this gem in the arts. It is estimated that the value of the diamonds found at the Cape from March, 1867, to the present time exceeds £12,000,000.

Dr. Richardson, of London, cites the high death-rate of innkeepers, publicans, and the like, as evidence of the fatal effects of intoxicating drink. In London the mortality of all males is 2.012 per cent, annually; that of publicans, 3.466 per cent. In England, exclusive of London, the mortality of all males is 1.182 per cent. annually; of publicans 3.163 per cent. It is a striking fact that the death-rate in this class is higher than in any other class of male occupations named in the census, save one—the hackney-coachman.

Salicylic acid has been used with good results in Germany, in the treatment of recent superficial gangrenous sores, the method being to apply a thin layer of powdered salicylic acid on the surface of the sore, covering it then with wadding.

Experiments lately made in France show that air laden with coal-dust is highly explosive. Several cases of explosion in coalmines have been traced to the action of suspended coal-dust when no fire-damp was present.

The practice of scalping is not peculiar to the American aborigines. Southall, in his "Recent Origin of Man," quotes from Herodotus to show that the Scythians used to scalp their fallen enemies. In the present time the wild tribes of Northeastern Bengal use the scalping-knife.

An expedition under the leadership of Prof. Nordenskiöld will start next summer to explore a commercial route from Northern Russia to Behring Strait. Funds have also been contributed toward the cost of another expedition to explore the gulf of Obi and the sea-route between Archangel and the great rivers of Siberia.

Edmund A. Parkes, M. D., F. R. S., Professor of Military Hygiene in the Army Medical School at Netley, England, died March 15th, at the age of fifty-six years. During the Crimean War he was selected by Government to organize and conduct a hospital, and on his return to England was appointed to the chair of Hygiene at Netley. His annual contributions on hygiene were for many years, perhaps the most valuable feature of the blue-books of the War Department. He was a very successful teacher, and a frequent contributor to the medical press, and to the "Transactions" of scientific bodies. His "Manual of Practical Hygiene" has reached a fourth edition.

Died, March 29th, Dr. Henry Letheby, for many years lecturer on chemistry and toxicology in the London Hospital, and chemical analyst of the city of London. He was the author of a number of papers on sanitary and chemical subjects, published in sundry medical journals. His work on "Food" was republished in this country three years ago. At the time of his death he was sixty years of age.

Nearly all the amber of commerce comes from Eastern Prussia, where it is obtained by dredging the bottom of the sea just off the coast. It was recently discovered that amber occurs in a deposit called the "blue earth." It has been supposed that this deposit extends for some distance inland, and a shaft was recently sunk to determine this point. At the depth of 140 feet there was found a stratum of "blue earth" without amber and two feet in thickness; then came another stratum five feet thick, which was rich in amber.

There are few who do not remember the childish wonder they once felt at hearing the resonance produced by placing a seashell to the ear, an effect which fancy has likened to "the roar of the sea." This is caused by the hollow form of the shell and its polished surface, enabling it to receive and return the beatings of all sounds that chance to be trembling in the air.—Public Opinion.