Popular Science Monthly/Volume 9/May 1876/Notes


The subject of iterated nesting by birds being under discussion in Forest and Stream, Dr. Charles C. Abbott contributes to that journal the following list of birds which he has himself observed nesting twice in summer: 1. Usually breeding twice—robin, cat-bird, bluebird, house-wren, yellow warbler, English sparrow, bay-winged bunting, chipping-sparrow, song-sparrow, orchard oriole; 2. Occasionally breeding twice—white-breasted nuthatch, scarlet tanager, yellow-bird, chewink, Baltimore oriole, purple grakle.

The American Metrological Society has, through its president, memorialized Congress for the preparation of coins, of metrical weight and uniform fineness, and for the passage of laws and conclusion of treaties whereby such coins shall become legal tender, according to their weight.

A crucial experiment was recently made at Sunderland, England, on a fire-proof house. One of the rooms was filled with tar-barrels, wood, and other combustible material, and, when the door was shut, the mass was set on fire. It simply burnt itself out, without apparently affecting the condition of the adjoining rooms or the stability of the house itself. The building material was a concrete of cement and fibre bound together by strings of iron and wire. This becomes a sort of stone-cloth, available for floors and doors, as well as walls and ceilings, so that no wood whatever need be used.

A small pike caught by Dr. Charles C. Abbott, of Trenton, New Jersey, seemed to be unusually corpulent, so the fish was dissected. It was found to contain a large mud-minnow; within the minnow was a pike about two inches long, and within the pike the remains of another mud-minnow!

The action of sundry drugs on the liver has been experimentally studied by Drs. Rutherford and Vignal, the result going to show that podophylline, aloes, and colchicum, are powerful hepatic stimulants. The same property, but in an inferior degree, is possessed by rhubarb, senna, taraxacum, and scammony. Croton-oil appears to have but little action on the liver. In three cases out of four calomel had no action on the liver, and in the fourth the secretion of bile was slightly increased.

The Lancet publishes a list of British physicians deceased last year at an advanced age. There are nineteen names in the list, and the sum of their ages amounts to 1,617 years, showing an average age of eighty-five years. The greatest age attained by any of the deceased was ninety-six years, and three had reached that term. The lowest was seventy-six years, at which age two of the deceased ended their career.

The Monthly Weather Review of the Signal-Office records the following phenomena for December, 1875, namely: Dandelions in bloom at Brownsville, Pennsylvania, on the 23d; 24th, pinks and hyacinths in bloom at Brookhaven, Mississippi; 25th, peach-trees in bloom at New Orleans; 31st, peach and cherry buds swelling at Litchfield, Michigan, and on the same day roses in bloom at Green Springs, Alabama.

As mentioned in the Notes of the November number, the Abbé Moigno, of Paris, has published several papers by Tyndall, Huxley, Du Bois-Reymond, and others, accompanying them with refutations of their authors' freethinking arguments. The good abbé doubtless meant well, but the Roman "Congregation of the Index" finds in his book more poison than antidote, and accordingly forbids it to be circulated.

Earthquake-shocks are stated in the Monthly Weather Review to have been felt on December 3d at Carson City, Nevada (slight); 13th, at Maricopa Wells, Arizona; 21st, at Santa Barbara, California; 22d, at Fortress Monroe, Virginia; also at New Market, Indiana; Greensboro, North Carolina; Petersburg, Virginia; and other points in Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina.

A committee of the Boston Society of Civil Engineers has drafted a form of petition to be addressed to Congress, asking for the establishment of the metrical system of weights and measures in this country. This system is now in use in all European countries except England, Norway, Sweden, Russia, and Turkey. It has also been adopted in Mexico and the various states of South America.

The Royal College of Surgeons, of England, having been advised by eminent counsel that the terms of their charter require them to admit women as candidates for their diploma, have announced that they are now ready to admit women to the examinations, on the same conditions as men.

The repugnance of the Chinese to railroads is based upon an article of their religion—ancestor-worship. Constructors of railroads pay no respect to ancient burying-places, but run their lines right through them, thus disturbing the repose of the dead. This disregard of the sacredness of the last resting-place of the departed grievously scandalizes the devout Chinaman.

Cynodrakon Major is the name proposed by Prof. Richard Owen for a reptile having some points of mammalian resemblance, some fossil bones of which have been found in the late palæozoic or early mesozoic formation of South Africa. Prof. Owen thinks he recognizes in these fossils some indications of retrogression rather than progression in descent. A problem is here presented for which, in Owen's opinion, neither the Lamarckian nor the Darwinian theories offer any answer.

We learn from the American Naturalist that a summer School of Biology will be held in the Peabody Museum at Salem, Massachusetts, beginning July 7th, and continuing six weeks. Special attention will be given to marine botany and zoölogy. Mr. J. Robinson will be instructor in botany, with C. H. Higbee as assistant. A. S. Packard, Jr., with the assistance of J. S. Kingsley and S. E. Cassino, will give instruction in zoology. Special instruction in microscopy by Rev. E. C. Bolles. The number of pupils is limited to fifteen.

Further experiments with salicylic acid, made by Feser and Friedberger, show that it may be administered for a long time, in small doses, to domestic animals, without injurious effects to digestion, nutrition, or general health. But, given to a dog in the proportion of one gramme to five kilogrammes of the animal's weight, salicylic acid causes paralysis of the extremities and disorder of the respiration and circulation. Death from strong doses of the acid results from paralysis of the respiration.

The Normal (Illinois) "School of Natural History" will open on July 25th, continuing in session till August 25th. The course of study embraces comparative anatomy of vertebrates; comparative anatomy of invertebrates; analytical zoölogy; analytical entomology; botany. In the list of instructors are the names of B. G. Wilder, Cyrus Thomas, and J. A. Sewall. Fuller information given by S. A. Forbes, Normal, Illinois.

In the American Journal of Science for February, Prof. J. D. Dana corrects an error which for many years has circulated in geographies, gazetteers, and similar works. This error consists in representing the West and East Rocks near New Haven as being the termination of the Green and White Mountains respectively. "The fact is," writes Prof. Dana, "that East Rock is but a short appendage to the system of trap-dikes of the Connecticut Valley, and West Rock, a southern portion of the same system. The Green Mountains," he adds, "consist of metamorphic rocks, and are not younger than Silurian. But the trap ridges of the Connecticut Valley belong to the valley, and are of Jurassic origin."

A station for agricultural experiments has been established at the Wesleyan University, Middletown, by the State of Connecticut. Dr. Atwater, Professor of Chemistry in the university is the director, and Dr. W. C. Tilden, with two assistants, is the acting chemist. The State appropriation being insufficient to defray all the expenses of the station, the proprietors of the American Agriculturist have agreed to make up the deficiency.

The twin-steamship Castalia, which during four months of last year daily made voyages between Dover and Calais, appears to have given satisfaction in every respect, save speed. Arrangements have now been made by the Channel Steamship Company for the building of a large twin-steamship, which, uniting all the advantages of the Castalia with such improvements as experience has suggested, will have a speed of not less than fourteen knots an hour.

A wonderful case of recovery from a gunshot-wound was that of the late Commander Sanders of the British Navy, who died last February, at the age of ninety-one years. In 1803 he was shot in the head, the bullet passing clear through from ear to eye. He was kindly cared for by the surgeon of the French ship which he was attempting to "cut out" when he received the wound. At the end of five years' detention as a prisoner of war, he went back to England sound and well, with the exception of the loss of an eve

The relative strength of various substances is stated as follows in the Scientific American: A rod ¼ inch in diameter, of the best steel, will sustain, before breaking, 9,000 lbs.; soft steel, 7,000 lbs.; iron wire, 6,000 lbs.; good iron, 4,000 lbs.; inferior bar-iron, 2,000 lbs.; cast-iron, 1,000 to 3,000 lbs.; copper wire, 3,000 lbs.; silver, 2,000 lbs.; gold, 2,500 lbs.; tin, 300 lbs.; cast-zinc, 160 lbs.; cast lead, 50 lbs.; milled lead, 200 lbs.; box or locust wood, 1,200 lbs.; toughest ash, 1,000 lbs.; elm, 800 lbs.; beech, cedar, white-oak, pitch-pine, 600 lbs.; chestnut and maple, 650 lbs.; poplar, 400 lbs.

A new variety of bronze, containing manganese, and known as "manganese bronze," has lately been introduced in England. It is said to be very valuable for all kinds of small work wherein gun-metal is now used, and it is capable of being forged like iron.

During a visitation of extreme cold weather in the vicinity of Carson River, the quicksilver pump in the Eureka mill ceased to perform its proper functions; the machinery of the pump continued to work, but no quicksilver was raised. On examination, the mercury in the tank was found to be frozen solid.

The British Geological Society has this year awarded to Prof. T. H. Huxley its Wollaston Medal. Prof. Huxley has also been elected a Corresponding Member of the Danish Academy of Sciences. The Royal Academy of Rome has conferred a similar honor upon Mr. Herbert Spencer, having elected him a Corresponding Fellow.

Prof. D. S. Jordan, of Indianapolis, will conduct a summer School of Science, during the coming season, in the mountains of East Tennessee. The members of the school will collect specimens of the birds, reptiles, fishes, insects, and plants, of that region.

In a cave near Thayngen, Switzerland, Conrad Merck has discovered a quantity of animal remains, consisting of bones of the reindeer, cave-lion, mammoth, woolly-haired rhinoceros, urus, glutton, and other species. Relics of human habitation have also been found in great abundance—such as flint-flakes, implements of reindeer-horn, and several well-executed engravings on bone, horn, and lignite.

A writer in the Gardener's Monthly states that, when properly cured, the kernel of the American walnut is white and delicious, with a delicate flavor hardly surpassed by any nut. The nuts should be gathered as soon as they are ripe, and not allowed to remain in the hull. They should then be dried quickly.