Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
Volume 2, 1869
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A remarkable meteor observed in Wellington on the 8th inst., at 11.30 p.m., was described in a paper by the Rev. A. Stock. It appeared suddenly in E. S. E., at an altitude of about 20o. It fell with a very rapid motion, vertically. When it was first seen it appeared about three times as large as Venus, and shone with a yellow light. It suddenly appeared to diminish to a point of light, each diminution being accompanied with a shower of sparks falling vertically. It as suddenly increased to its old brilliancy, as suddenly diminished, then increased. Thus there were three brightnesses, and two darker intervals. Another peculiarity was that it showed all the prismatic colours. There was no train of light left after its disappearance.

Mr. J. Kebbell and Mr. Gillon corroborated Mr. Stock's observations.

Papers read:—

(1.)

“On some New Species of New Zealand Plants,” by J. Buchanan. Specimens were laid on the table. (See ante, p. 88.)

(2.)

Dr. Hector gave a short abstract of an elaborate report by Mr. T. Kirk, of Auckland, “On the Botany of Cape Colville Peninsula.” (See ante, p. 89.) This paper gave the results of a survey that had been made for the Geological Department, with the view of obtaining an accurate record of the original vegetation, as the flora of the district is undergoing rapid modification by the gold diggers. In this paper several new species of plants were described, of which specimens were exhibited.

(3.)

“Description of the Mechanical Apparatus employed in raising the s. s. Taranaki,” by J. T. Stewart. (See ante, p. 203.)

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Mr. W. Allen criticised the paper, and regretted that it did not give information on many interesting points that had been observed in the course of this important undertaking, with which he had been connected from the commencement.

He understood that Mr. Stewart had not been a personal observer of the operations, and therefore had relied on information supplied by others. He attributed the success very greatly to the cage described by Mr. Stewart, which had been contrived to afford a working stage to contain the divers and their tools. One of the great difficulties the company had to contend with was want of information on the subject; for instance, they could not find out whether divers could conduct operations at so great a depth. The first attempt, it might be remembered, had cost the life of a diver, but this he believed was due to the physical weakness of the man. Subsequently the divers had experienced no ill-effects from remaining as long even as 110 minutes at the more moderate depths, but when at the greatest depth, 100 feet, they rarely stayed down longer than fifteen minutes. He trusted that no facts that had been noted respecting this interesting, but he feared not remunerative undertaking, would fail to be recorded.

Dr. Hector directed attention to a collection of the marine animals that were found on the vessel, among which are three species of Anomia, two of Mytilus, Ostrea, Pecten, Serpula, Balanus, and Teredo. He remarked that some of these animals are usually found only slightly below low-water mark; and their occurring so well-grown within a year at the depth of 100 feet, seemed to indicate that depth of water did not so much control their existence, as a supply of nourishment, and that this was probably abundant near the wreck.

Some discussion, in which the Chairman, Mr. Mantell, and Mr. Marchant joined, ensued as to the evidence afforded by the wreck that marine animals require access of light for their development, but the observations made did not appear to settle the point.

(4.)

“On the Effects of the Application of the Hot Blast to Blow-pipe Purposes, etc.,” by W. Skey. (See ante, p. 148.) Mr. Skey showed that the temperature obtained by the common blow-pipe, with proper precautions against conduction of heat, was at least 5100o Fahrenheit, as it is capable of fusing fine points of platinum.

(5.)

“On the application of Iodine and Bromine for the detection of Gold when in minute quantities,” by W. Skey. (See ante, p. 156.) The author described a new process which had been recently adopted in the laboratory, to facilitate the analysis of supposed auriferous quartz; when sulphides were present in large quantities, iodine or bromine is used as the solvent, and a rapid test is obtained by dipping filter paper in the solution, and burning it with due care, when if gold be present a very characteristic purple hue is imparted to the ash. By this test the presence of gold, in the proportion of one dwt. in the ton, can be detected with great economy and certainty.