Harper's Weekly 02/14/1857


Improvements in Photography.

In the
London papers we notice the report of divers suc-
cessful experiments in the photographic art. The
substitution of paper for the metallic plate used in
the old daguerreotype, while it avoided the un-
pleasant glare inevitable during the early stages
of the art, was attended by this disadvantage, that
what was gained in perspicuity was lost in deli-
cacy. Paper, from its fibrous nature, absorbs the
middle tints, and hence, in the case of colored
works, the artist was forced, by stippling, to sup-
ply the defects of the photographer. The chemical
properties of ivory render that substance inappli-
cable to the purposes of the art, but by a compound
of sulphate of barytes and albumen a material has
been obtained that has the appearance and close
texture of ivory, without any of the resisting qual-
ities. The middle tints of the “negative” are
thus accurately reproduced, and, by a simple wash
of color, the artist executes a work equal in finish
to the old ivory miniatures, endowed with all the
truthfulness proper to photography. It is esti-
mated that, by the use of this new material, a por-
trait that, under the old system, would have re-
quired a month for its completion, can now be fin-
ished in two days. The method of producing the
figure and the background from separate “nega-
tives” receives new development from this inven-
tion, as the nuances of distance become more ca-
pable of exact imitation.

Application of Aluminum

When the proc-
ess of obtaining this new metal was first discov-
ered, hopes were entertained that it would take the
place of silver as the metal of domestic elegance.
These hopes have been scarcely realized. It is
true that the metal does not blacken by exposure
to sulphureous exhalations like silver, but it tar-
nishes by exposure to moisture, and it is damaged
by contact with warm water. Moreover, it is blue
in aspect, more like zinc than silver, and therefore
less attractive. But uses for aluminum are dawn-
ing that were little anticipated on the discovery of
the metal. It is now being employed in the cast-
ing of bells. No metal, or combination of metals,
yields a tone so musically sweet when struck as
aluminum. Provided, therefore, the cost of its
production be not too great, no metal can compare
with aluminum for casting of bells. Its value
now is about one-third that of silver, and there is
every reason to believe that it will become here-
after much cheaper.

Valuable Mines of lead, silver, and copper
have been discovered, and to some extent have
been recently developed, in Cherokee county, in

Peruvian Bark.

The possibility of a quinine
famine is exciting great apprehension in India,
where fever is one of the common incidents of ev-
ery-day life, and the Indian papers are urging the
necessity of naturalizing the quinine-yielding cin-
chona-tree, as a movement of philanthropy as well
as of agricultural economy. It is well known that
the capacity of the Peruvian forests for supplying
the world with cinchona bark is not unlimited,
and that, while the supply is thus gradually di-
minishing, the demand for the drug over the whole
world is yearly increasing. The Dutch have late-
ly imported the plant into Java with apparent suc-
cess. It has even been introduced into India, but
on a very small scale—insufficient to test its suc-
cess. The experiment, however, will now be re-
newed. In South America the quiniferous cin-
chona is limited to the Bolivian, Peruvian, and
Columbian Andes, from latitudes 20° S. to 10° N.,
and to latititudes ordinarily varying from 1500 to
10,000, but sometimes amounting to 14,000, and
even, under the equator, to 18,000 feet. The best
bark is found in dry, rocky situations, at great
heights, and in the coldest regions. In low and
hot valleys the plant grows—it even grows luxu-
riantly—but the medicinal value of its bark van-
ishes. The Indian government, it is said, in order
that the experiment may be fairly tried in British
India, will send an experienced botanist to South
America, empowered to select a cargo of plants for
transport to India.

Calculating Machine

M. Thomas, of Col-
mar, says the Paris Moniteur, has lately made the
finishing improvements in the calculating machine
called the Arithmometer, at which he has been
working for upward of thirty years. This Arith-
mometer serves as a complete substitute for human
intelligence in the combination of figures. It may
be used without the least trouble or possibility of
error, not only for addition, subtraction, multipli-
cation, and division, but also for much more com-
plex operations, such as the extraction of the
square root, involution, the resolution of triangles,
etc. A multiplication of eight figures by eight
others is made in 18 seconds; a division of sixteen
figures by eight figures in 24 seconds; and in 1 ¼
minutes one can extract the square root of sixteen
figures, and also prove the accuracy of the calcula-
tion. The Arithmometer adapts itself to every
sort of combination. As an instance of the won-
derful extent of its powers, we may state that it
can furnish, in a few seconds products amounting
to 999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999—a mar-
velous number, comparable to the infinite multi-
tude of stars which stud the firmament, or the
particles of dust which float in the atmosphere.
The working of this instrument is, however, most
simple. To raise or lower a nut-screw, to turn a
winch a few times, and by means of a button to
slide off a metal plate from left to right, or from
right to left, is the whole secret. Instead of sim-
ply reproducing the operations of man's intelli-
gence, the Arithmometer relieves that intelligence
from the necessity of making the operations. In-
stead of repeating responses dictated to it, this in-
strument instantaneously dictates the proper an-
swer to the man who asks it a question. It is not
matter producing material effect, but matter which
thinks, reflects, reasons, calculates, and executes
all the most difficult and complicated arithmetical
operations with a rapidity and infallibility which
defy all the calculators in the world. The Arith-
mometer is, moreover, a simple instrument, of very
little volume, and easily portable.

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