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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/882

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

POPULAR MISCELLANY.

The Function of a University.—President D. S. Jordan has a warning in one of his recent papers against attaching too much significance to numbers in estimating the usefulness of a university. The kind of work that students are doing is the really important consideration. One student in quaternions, or in Germanic philology, or trained to carry a scientific investigation to an end, is worth more than a dozen in trigonometry, or stumbling over the elements in Whitney's Grammar, or learning to analyze flowers or identify the muscles of a cat. Great numbers may mean crowded class-rooms, overworked professors, and drudgery, instead of investigation, and the university a huge machine for lower education rather than a center for the discovery and dissemination of truth. "The highest function of the real university is that of instruction by investigation."

 

Death of the Rev. M. J. Berkeley.—The Rev. M. J. Berkeley, the distinguished English botanist, died July 30th, at Sibbertoft, near Market Harborough, in his eighty-seventh year. While his knowledge was very general, he was most eminent in cryptogamic botany, and particularly in the province of the fungi, in which he was a leading authority. He was born near Oundle in 1803. Having been graduated from Christ's College, Cambridge, he took orders as a clergyman, and occupied curacies in various places, adding to his income at times by taking pupils, and pursuing during his whole life the scientific researches that have given him fame. His earliest work was among the mollusca, but he soon turned his attention to botany, particularly to the study and classification of the cryptogams. Among his earlier researches were those into the nature of yeast and the vine mildew, the latter resulting in the discovery of the sulphur remedy. His descriptions of the British fungi in Dr. Hooker's "British Flora," published in 1836, constituted for more than twenty-five years the only text-book on the subject possessing any degree of completeness. The portions of Lindley's "Vegetable Kingdom" relating to fungi are also mainly Mr. Berkeley's work, and much of the matter relating to other orders of cryptogams was contributed by him. A more important and comprehensive work was his "Introduction to Cryptogamic Botany," published in 1857. He was associated with Lindley from an early period in the preparation of articles for the "Journal" of the Royal Horticultural Society relating to the influence of parasitical plants on growing crops and the application of vegetable physiology to purposes of cultivation. He was a valued contributor and kind of advisory editor to the "Gardener's Chronicle" from its establishment in 1841 to within a few years of his death; and in it he published a series of articles on vegetable pathology, which have not been collected. His researches on the potato disease made clear that it was caused by a fungus. Travelers became accustomed to submit to him for examination the fungi collected by them, and until within a year or two of his death he continued to publish descriptions of plants of this class from all parts of the world. He is credited by the "Athenæum" with having been among the first to recognize the necessity of studying the whole life-history of the plants before pronouncing a definite opinion as to their place in a natural scheme of classification; and to advocate and practice the culture of them for the observation of the transitions of their forms.

 

The Yellowstone Park Country.—According to Mr. Arnold Hague, geologist, the country across the Yellowstone Park plateau and the Absaroka Range presents a continuous mountain mass seventy-five miles in width, with an average elevation unsurpassed by any area of equal extent in the northern Rocky Mountains. It is exceptionally situated to collect the moisture-laden clouds which, coming from the southwest, precipitate immense quantities of snow and rain upon the cool table-land and neighboring mountains. The climate, in many respects, is quite unlike that of the adjacent country, the amount of snow and rainfall being higher, and the mean annual temperature lower. Rain-storms occur frequently throughout the summer, while snow is likely to fall at any time between September and May. Protected by the forests, the deep snows of winter lie upon the plateau well