Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/149

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
139
POPULAR MISCELLANY.

picture taken with this instrument—the first daguerreotype of still-life taken in this country—was a view of the old Brick Church and the City Hall in New York, and was a great curiosity. Daguerre's process required an exposure of twenty minutes, and he said that living objects could not be taken by it, on account of the difficulty of their keeping still so long. Professor Draper succeeded in shortening the exposure by substituting bromide of iodine for the iodine used by Daguerre, and with the aid of this compound took the first portrait of the human face. This was in 1839, and the success of the experiment was announced in a note dated March 81, 1840, in the London "Philosophical Magazine" for June, 1840. Professor Morse afterward tried the process, and took a portrait of his daughter. Mr. Prosch opened a daguerrean gallery at the corner of Broadway and Liberty Street, where Professor West was the first to sit for his portrait. The light of the sun was thrown directly upon his face by reflection from a mirror; consequently, he had to shut his eyes, and they were represented closed. Mr. Wolcott was not ready to begin his work till the spring of 1840; but he was successful in taking the best portraits in the city. The question of priority was not raised till 1860, when it was considered by a committee of the American Institute, to whom Professor Draper submitted a written statement, while the friends of Wolcott failed to do so. Draper is also credited in the "Edinburgh Review" for January, 1843, with having been the first person who took portraits by the daguerreotype process.

 

The Prevention of Insanity.—Dr. Nathan Allen, of Lowell, Massachusetts, in a pamphlet on that subject, calls attention to the prevention of insanity as a question which, although much neglected, is at least quite as important as that of the cure of insanity. The disease is very largely dependent on physical and sanitary conditions, and these should be studied out and brought within such regulation as will prevent its development. Since, according to the late Sir James Coxe, insanity originates in some form of disease or in a deterioration of the body rather than in an exclusive affection of the nervous system, its growth should be checked by a general diffusion of the knowledge of the laws of the human organism and the use of all means necessary for the preservation of good health. So far as insanity is hereditary, its transmission should be prevented by avoiding marriage with persons predisposed to it. It should be the aim of the medical profession to become so well acquainted with the diseases of the nervous system and the brain that they could detect the first symptoms of disturbed or deranged states of mind, so as to be able to treat them understandingly, and, in all probability, in many cases successfully.

 

The New York State Museum of Natural History.—The Trustees of the New York State Museum of Natural History, having about eight thousand square feet of space available for the exhibition of specimens requiring twenty-one thousand square feet for their proper display, complain that the present museum-building has become entirely inadequate for its intended purpose. Relief is anticipated, however, from the gradual occupation of the State Hall, a fireproof building, which is authorized as fast as its rooms may become vacant by the removal of State offices to the new Capitol. A consolidation of the scientific work done under the patronage of the State, which is now scattered under several distinct heads, is recommended by the trustees, so as to make it all a part of the museum. The reports of the museum, and the scientific work generally, now lagging far behind, under the operation of the political patronage and plunder system of printing, are impatiently waited for by the scientific world, and the trustees suggest that the demand could be more speedily and fully satisfied if the printing of them were intrusted directly to the institution. Four volumes of valuable museum reports are still unprinted, though long due. Of the Geological Survey's work on Paleontology, five parts have been published in seven bound volumes. Five bound volumes are required to complete the work, for which a considerable proportion of the plates and manuscript are prepared. Seventeen letters and declarations, from as many eminent scientific men and societies, are published, in connection with the statement of the trustees of the