Popular Science Monthly/Volume 9/September 1876/Notes


The American Association for the Advancement of Science meets this year at Buffalo, the sessions commencing August 23d. William B. Rogers, of Boston, is President; Charles A. Young, Dartmouth College, Vice-President Section A; E. S. Morse, Salem, Mass., Vice-President Section B; Thomas Mendenhall, Columbus, Ohio, General Secretary.

The Entomological Club of the American Association for the Advancement of Science will meet at Buffalo, N. Y., on the 22d of August, in quarters provided by the local committee of the Association. All interested in the subject of entomology are invited to attend, and to repair at first to the Tuft House for instructions.

The French Association for the Advancement of Science will hold its meetings this year at Clermont-Ferrand, commencing August 17th. The President of the Association is M. Dumas, of the Académie des Sciences.

The Agassiz Museum at Cambridge, Mass., has passed from the hands of the special board of trustees, and is now the property of Harvard College. Besides the real and personal property of the museum, the college comes into the possession of $115,000 in money, as also over $310,000 constituting the "Agassiz Memorial Fund."

The General Council of the British Association has fixed Wednesday, September 6th, as the date of opening this year's sessions. The place of meeting is the city of Glasgow. The authorities of the Glasgow University have tendered to the Association the free use of the commodious buildings situated in the western district of the city. A guarantee fund of £4,000 will be raised by the citizens of Glasgow; of this sum the city corporation gives £500. Sir R. Christison, who was elected President last year, has resigned on account of ill-health, and Dr. Andrews, Vice-President of Queen's College, Belfast, has been elected in his place.

A correspondent sends us an account of the passage of a brilliant meteor, unusually large and bright, over Northern Indiana, Northern Ohio, and Southwestern Michigan, on the evening of July 8th, at precisely nine o'clock. An observer at Elkhart, Indiana, says at that place it seemed almost exactly overhead, and its course began very near 61 Cygni, and ended about 5° south of Ursa Minor. The illumination was as bright as that of a full moon, and was of a greenish-yellow light. The whole pathway was visible for fifteen minutes, and for half an hour a bright, hazy spot, about 6° long and 3° wide, could be seen near the middle of the pathway. No sound accompanied the movement of the flaming body, and at last it disappeared in a sort of bluish light, very brilliant at first, but growing hazy, and finally disappearing. Judging from its height, if it descended to earth at all it must have fallen into Lake Michigan. The course of the body was as straight as an arrow, but its fiery trail very soon assumed the serpentine appearance that would naturally be caused by the atmospheric currents.

Died, recently, in London, at the age of seventy-five years, Edward Newman, F.L.S., F.Z.S., editor of the Zoölogist and the Entomologist, two serial publications which have attained considerable success among amateurs of entomology and natural history in England.

Three years ago there was founded at Boston a "Society to encourage Studies at Home." The number of students who received encouragement from the Society during the first year of its existence was 45, the second year 82, the third year 298. In making choice of studies to be pursued, 127 selected history, 118 English literature, 44 science, 36 art, 19 German, and 16 French.

Prof. C. Wyville Thomson, director of the scientific staff of the Challenger, has received the honor of knighthood from Queen Victoria.

A piece of telegraph-cable, the rubber covering of which had been pierced by grass, was exhibited at a meeting of the Bengal Asiatic Society; the efficiency of the cable was thus destroyed. The species of the grass, owing to its dried up condition, could not be determined. It was suggested, as a probable explanation, that the seeds had become attached to the core when under water, and had afterward germinated when the core was stored.

Prof. Brudenell Carter, in an address on the "Relations of Ophthalmology to General Surgery," takes the ground that, while the growth of specialism in this department has given us improved operations and more dexterous operators, it has retarded investigation by diminishing the number of laborers in the field, and the opportunities of those laborers to study the facts from the standpoint of general pathology.

An Italian chemist, A. Casali, obtains a green pigment by calcining an intimate mixture of one part of bichromate of potash and three parts of baked gypsum, of the variety known as scagliola. The result is a grass-green mass which, on boiling with water, or mixing with dilute hydrochloric acid, leaves a fine powder of an intense green.

Reichardt recommends the use of the microscope in determining the mineral contents of potable water. On evaporating a few drops on a plate of glass, it is easy to distinguish carbonate and sulphate of lime and of magnesia, chloride of sodium, and nitrate of potash and of soda. C. Bischof further recommends the use of the same instrument for determining the organic substances contained in water.

A scheme has been recently devised for supplying London with an inflammable mixture of gases to replace coal. The new gas, "pyrogen," as it is called, is a mixture of nitrogen and carbonic oxide, three-fourths by weight consisting of the latter gas. The combustion temperature of pyrogen is stated to be 2,700° Cent., and for heating-purposes the flame of the burning gas is to be allowed to raise some good radiating substance to incandesence in an ordinary grate.

Felizet, of Elbeuf, having observed that in epidemics of foot-and-mouth disease no beast affected with cow-pox is ever stricken with the former disorder, vaccinated thirty oxen, and not one of the twenty-five beasts effectually vaccinated showed any sign of foot-and-mouth disease, even after living for months among animals largely affected with it.

Prof. Stanley Jevons is opposed to the project of assimilating the American dollar to the English pound sterling; he advocates, rather, assimilation to the five-franc piece. The partial accession of the United States to the franc system would, he says, immensely increase the motives for the English to accept it also, thus preparing the way for an international coinage.

For the purpose of photographing solar eclipses, Mr. Brothers, of the Royal Astronomical Society of London, suggests that at least three achromatic lenses of five or six feet focal length, corrected for the actinic rays, should be constructed, with all suitable apparatus, to be in readiness for use when required. The light of the corona, he adds, is sufficiently actinic to produce good pictures when an instrument of long focus is used—it is only a question of time in the exposure and accuracy in the adjustment of the driving-clock apparatus attached to the equatorial mounting.

The cruelty-to-animals bill, now under consideration in the British Parliament, provides that vivisection should only be performed with a view to the advancement of human knowledge, the prolongation of human life, or the alleviation of human suffering; that it must take place in a registered laboratory; that it must be performed by a person duly licensed; that the animals must be put under the influence of anæsthetics; and that, where pain would be prolonged after the anæsthetic effects had subsided, the animals should be killed.

In their last report, the Commissioners in Lunacy in England discourage the practice, which has grown to be quite general, of filling up the asylums with idiots, imbeciles, and eccentric or troublesome paupers, to the exclusion of the really insane, who need and are entitled to the skill, care, and attention, that asylums are intended to afford.

The Commission Supérieure of the Paris Exposition of 1878 has decided upon the general plan of the enterprise, and estimated the probable receipts. The expense is set down at 35,000,000 francs, and the receipts at 19,000,000; difference, 16,000,000 francs. To meet this deficit, the city of Paris will contribute 6,000,000 francs, and the state 10,000,000 francs. The buildings for the exposition will be erected in the Champ de Mars and in the Trocadero—localities situated on opposite banks of the river Seine. At first, it was proposed to widen temporarily the bridge known as Pont d'Iéna, but soon another project was entertained—that of erecting a new bridge forty metres in width. The question is yet under deliberation.

In the petroleum-mines of Alsace the miners test their safety-lamps in the following manner before going down the pits: At the bottom of an open jar is placed a small quantity of petroleum-spirit, the vapor of which, mingling with the air in the jar, forms an explosive mixture. The lamp is plunged into this mixture, and the slightest, defect in the lamp is proved by an explosion.