Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/865

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
845
LITERARY NOTICES.

President.—Albert B. Prescott, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Vice-Presidents.—A, Mathematics and Astronomy—E. W. Hyde, Cincinnati, O. B, Physics—F. E. Nipher, St. Louis. C, Chemistry—B. C. Kedzie, Agricultural College, Michigan. D, Mechanical Science and Engineering—Thomas Grey, Terre Haute. E, Geology and Geography—J. J. Stevenson, New York. F, Biology—J. M. Coulter, Crawfordsville, Ind. H, Anthropology—Joseph Jastrow, Madison, Wis. I, Economic Science and Statistics—Edmund J. James, Philadelphia.

Permanent Secretary.—F. W. Putnam, Cambridge, Mass.

General Secretary.—Harvey W. Wiley, Washington, D. C.

Secretary of the Council.—A. W. Butler, Brookville, Ind.

Auditors.—Henry Wheatland, Salem, Mass.; Thomas Meehan, Germantown, Pa.

Treasurer.—William Lilly, Mauch Chunk, Pa.

The meeting for 1891 will be held in Washington, D. C.

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

The Evolution of Sex. By Patrick Geddes and J. Arthur Thomson. The Contemporary Science Series. New York: Scribner & Welford. Pp. 322. Price, $1.25.

The purpose of the Contemporary Science Series is to bring within general reach of the English-speaking public the best that is known in all departments of modern scientific research. Frank investigations and clear presentations are promised, in particular, of all the questions of modern life—the various social and politico-economical problems of to-day, the most recent researches in the knowledge of man, the past and present experiences of the race, and the nature of its environment. The first book issued in this series covers a field in which lie some of the most difficult as well as most generally interesting of biological questions. The subject is, therefore, an attractive one both to trained biologists and to persons without special training, and the wants of both these classes of readers have had consideration in the mode of treating the subject which the authors have pursued. They undertake to give an outline of the various kinds of reproductive processes that occur in the animal kingdom, and to point out an interpretation of these processes in the elemental facts of biology. They have decided opinions on the important biological questions now in dispute, which are not always the ones generally accepted, and especially as regards the factors of organic evolution. Hence they are continually joining issue with this or that evolutionist or physiologist, agreeing only in part with any one. Darwin's theory of sexual selection comes up for criticism at the very outset, and both this and Wallace's views on natural selection are rated as accounting for the acquirement of secondary sexual characters only in part. The authors offer, as a broader and more fundamental explanation of the origin of sexual differences, that katabolic, or destructive, changes in living matter prevail in the male, while anabolic, or constructive, action characterizes the female. This idea as to the essential difference between the sexes is the key to the whole theory of sex relations held by the authors. Thus, in regard to what determines sex in the embryo, concerning which over five hundred theories have been set forth, they say that anabolic, or favorable, conditions of the environment tend to cause the production of females, while katabolic, or severe, surroundings favor the appearance of males. A considerable division of the volume is devoted to a description of the organs, tissues, and cells concerned in reproduction, in the course of which an account is given of the phenomena of hermaphroditism. In concluding this section the theory of sex already alluded to is fully set forth. The various modes of reproduction which obtain in the animal kingdom are then described, including parthenogenesis, which leads to a discussion of the alternation of one-sexed and two-sexed generations. The theory of reproduction which the authors advance is that there is a continual see-saw between anabolism and katabolism, nutrition and reproduction. Growth of cell and of organism alike has a limit which, as stated by Spencer, depends on the tendency of increase of mass to outrun increase of surface. When anabolism threatens to pass this limit, katabolism acts and restores the preponderance of surface. Reproduction is continually going on in organic