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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/144

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

edge," which was devoted principally to the popularization of science, and to which he was himself a voluminous contributor, writing on all sorts of subjects, from "Americanisms" and "Whist" to the purposes for which the Pyramids were built. He also wrote under a variety of signatures; in his own name, in astronomy; as "Edward Clodd," on dreams and evolution; as "Thomas Foster," on morals and other abstruse subjects; as "Mephisto," on chess; and as the editor of several departments. In his earlier life he accomplished something in original research, at which he would have gladly continued, but financial embarrassments compelled him to do that which would bring money at once—and hence the prolific fruits of his pen. In 1884 Mr. Proctor married, as his second wife, Mrs. Robert C. Mallery, of St. Joseph, Mo., where he lived till he removed to Florida in 1886. He had erected at Oak Lawn an observatory, where he was accustomed to spend much of his time, reviving the original work of his earlier days, and had been engaged in later years upon a book which he had intended to make the crowning work of his life and his most solid title to fame, "The Old and New Astronomy." It was to be published in twelve monthly parts, by Longmans, Green, and Longmans, London and New York. We are not informed whether the manuscript of this work has been completed; but we understand that the sixth part is now ready for delivery. One of the last articles he wrote was that in "Harper's Weekly" for September 22d, on the "Moon a Dead World (but not like our Earth)," in which he held that the differences in the character of the lunar and terrestrial surfaces are owing to differences in the extent to which denudation has worked on the respective bodies. He also left several manuscripts in the hands of one of the newspaper "syndicates."

 

The Teaching of Physics in Schools.—The Committee of the American Association on the Teaching of Physics expresses the opinion in its report that the teaching may begin with profit in the "grammar-school," but decidedly opposes any general recommendation that it must begin there or in the primary school. "Here, perhaps more than anywhere else, nearly everything depends upon the teacher." When taught in the gram-mar-school and by a competent teacher, it should be done mainly by and through illustrative experiments, which may be of the simplest character, involving and exhibiting some of the fundamental principles of the science; and these should generally be made by the teacher, the pupils being encouraged to repeat, vary, and extend. The course of study in the high-schools should be in harmony with the fact that the large majority of the young people who are educated in the public schools receive their final scholastic training there. It is important that the student should be made acquainted, if only to a limited extent, with the methods of physical investigation, and that he should be able himself to plan and carry out an attack upon some of the simpler problems of the science. In a high-school course of four years of three terms each, the study should not begin before the third year, and should be continued, with three hours a week of class-teaching, for one year—text-book work with illustrative experiments by the instructor during the first two terms, and simple laboratory exercises in the third term. A course like this should be required as preliminary to admission to all courses in college.

 

Ancient Egyptian Medicine.—The ancient Egyptians had abundant opportunities in performing the preparatory processes for embalming to become acquainted with the structure and some of the functions of man's physical system. Hence medicine flourished among them from an early date. Medical colleges existed in the priestly schools of Memphis, Heliopolis, Sais, and Thebes. Two nearly complete medical treatises of very great antiquity are still extant, and fragments of others. The Ebers papyrus, which is written in hieratic characters resembling those of the earlier writings of the eighteenth dynasty (B.C. about 1550), begins, after the conventional prefatory adjuration, with a section on hygienic measures and simple remedies. This is followed by a section on the parasite Bilharzia hæmatobia, which is still common in the Nile Valley. Other diseases are then treated of, including those of the eye, which have always been among the most serious afflictions of Egyptian life.