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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

EDITOR'S TABLE.

 

THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES.

THIS body held its November session in New York, and its meetings at Columbia College. In the absence of President William B. Rogers, Vice-President O. C. Marsh filled his chair. The proceedings were in a high degree interesting. It is commonly supposed that the disquisitions of this body belong to depths of profundity that are wholly unapproachable by ordinarily endowed mortals, but this is a quite erroneous view. There are often, to be sure, technical and mathematical papers intelligible only to those proficient in these subjects; but the principal topics considered at the recent meeting were not only of general interest, but they were so treated that well-instructed people could appreciate and enjoy them. The Academy, however, never bids for a crowd, and if there should be an influx of outsiders it would be immediately inferred that there is something wrong in the working of the association. Of the hundred members, thirty or forty usually get together at the meetings and devote themselves to reporting the results of research, and to the discussion of views presented. There are set papers, of course, but exposition is largely extemporaneous, and accompanied with blackboard and other illustrations.

The newspapers have given to the public notices of the main results of the late meeting, all of which will be more fully published in the "Transactions" of the Academy, or in the scientific periodicals. Among the novel and striking things brought forward was a new method of chemical analysis, by Dr. Wolcott Gibbs; Professor Rood's experiments in perfecting the vacuum; Professor Langley's researches into the distribution of heat in the spectrum, and his new method of measuring infinitesimal amounts of heat; Professor Henry Draper's photographs of the Orion nebula; and Professor Marsh's account of a fossil animal with an extra brain at the other end of the spinal column. The progress of the electric light was also critically discussed, and various other important subjects were duly considered. In short, if our friends the Academicians will pardon us, their meeting was a "complete success."

 

 

THE STUDY OF GREEK AT CAMBRIDGE.

We drew attention, a year or two ago, to a movement in England, led by several head-masters of the public schools and other eminent gentlemen interested in education, to secure a relaxation in the university requirements regarding the study of Latin and Greek. The study of Greek was compulsory, and insisted upon as if it were the sole condition of turning out an educated man. A petition was sent to the authorities of Cambridge, asking that it be omitted if the student desired to take in its place a modern language. It was remarked that students entering the university "may be the peers of Airy and Adams in pure mathematics, of Tyndall and Huxley in natural science, of a Whewell and a Hamilton in moral science, but they must be able to read a play of Euripides and the Greek Testament, or Cambridge will not have them among its graduates." This state of things was such as to provoke decided protest on the part of liberal-minded men, and hence the public controversy upon the subject, and the petition that forced the issue upon the Cambridge authorities. A late number of the "Lancet" reports