Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/292

This page has been validated.

which had the substance of their flesh perfectly preserved, and the bones in place within the flesh. The remains showed different conditions of development. This was the only case that had ever occurred of the mineralization of the muscular substance and the preservation of the external form of these animals; and so perfectly had they kept that the circle of the eye was preserved and the constituent bones could be distinguished.


Hints about Local Museums.—The British Association's Committee on Provincial Museums advises in its report that each such institution ought to be a fully illustrated monograph of its own district. If the entire history of the district and its inhabitants is represented in it, with special attention to any group of objects for which the district is remarkable, this will be almost as much as any local institution can accomplish. But science is daily becoming more exacting in its demands. Details which were thought ample in any provincial museum twenty years ago, would now be regarded as quite insufficient. In order that the scientific statistics of the country may be thoroughly investigated and made known as quickly as possible, a more business-like system of collection should be adopted. The district should be divided into sections, and a paid collector appointed for each of them, whose whole time should be occupied for several years in obtaining specimens and records in every branch of science represented in the museum. This would require a more liberal supply of funds for the first few years than museums usually enjoy, but the value of the museum would be immensely enhanced, and, when the local collections were made tolerably complete, the permanent income required for maintenance would be very much less. The town museum should be the place to which all students and teachers of science in the district would naturally go for assistance.


The Teaching of Chemistry.—The address of Prof. Tilden, as President of the Chemical Section of the British Association, was on the teaching of chemistry. In reviewing the present position of this instruction in England, the author thought the apparent inactivity of the chemical schools was not generally the fault of the professors, but was chargeable in the main to the ignorance, and partly to the indifference, of the public. There exists as yet no intelligent feeling in favor of learning, nor indeed in favor of any sort of education, unless there is expectation of direct returns in the form of obvious practical results. That teachers ought to engage in research at all is by no means clear to the public and to those who are charged with the administration of the new institutions. A popular mistake consists in regarding a professor as a living embodiment of science—complete, infallible, mysterious; whereas, in truth, he is or ought to be only a senior student, who devotes the greater part of his time to extending and consolidating his own knowledge for the benefit of those who come to learn of him, not only what lies within the boundaries of the known, but how to penetrate into the far greater region of the unknown. Moreover, the man who has no intellectual independence, and simply accepts other people's views without challenge, is pretty certain to make the stock of knowledge with which he sets out in life do service to the end. That one may be fitted to form a sound judgment concerning new theories, he must be familiar with the methods by which progress is accomplished. The work of investigation then reacts beneficially upon the work of teaching; that is to say, teachers should be encouraged, nay, even required to investigate, and not because their discoveries may haply prove to be practically useful. Every teacher who has attained eminence as a teacher, who has drawn men after him, who has founded a school of thought, and has left his mark upon his generation, has been an industrious worker in research of some kind.


A Law of Marriage Customs.—With the view of applying direct numerical method to anthropology, Mr. E. B. Tylor has compiled schedules of the systems of marriage among some three hundred and fifty peoples of the world, so as to ascertain by means of a "method of adhesions" how far each rule coexists or not with other rules, and what have been the directions of development from one rule to another. The barbaric custom which forbids the husband and his