Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/140

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

individual; and social. The history of the study of criminality is next sketched, and its importance is indicated. The physical characters of criminals are considered and compared with those of other men, after the example set by Lombroso, with reference to various anatomical peculiarities as well as to the broader factors of general structure, physical sensibility, and heredity. Of psychical factors, moral insensibility, intelligence, vanity, emotional instability, sentiment, and religion are presented as those to the influence of which, on one side or the other, the most importance may be attached. The working of these factors is illustrated by reference to the custom of tattooing, thieves' slang, prison inscriptions, criminal literature and art, and criminal philosophy. The results of criminal anthropology are reviewed in the fifth chapter; they are sometimes obscure and even contradictory; but we can not afford, in dealing with criminals, to dispense with such science of human nature as we may succeed in attaining. The lesson is drawn that criminality is a natural phenomenon to be studied gravely and carefully, according to natural methods; and that by natural and reasonable methods alone can the problem of its elimination be faced with any chance of success. The general character of some of these methods is indicated.

Protoplasm and Life, one of the Fact and Theory papers series, published by N. D. C. Hodges, New York, contains two biological essays by Charles F. Cox. In the former essay, entitled The Cell Doctrine, the author reviews the history of the theory of protoplasm and the discussions upon it, and reaches the conclusions that the original idea of the cell, as propounded by Schleiden and Schwann, has gradually faded away; that there appears to be no one visible and tangible substance to which the name protoplasm is rigidly and exclusively applied; and that life is as much a mystery as ever. In the second essay, which is on the Spontaneous Generation theory, he endeavors to show that a transition from not living matter to living forms is an essential step in the process of evolution; that at the point at which experimental proof is applicable (namely, present and continued archebiosis) the theory of such transition is discredited, if not disproved; and that "the general theory of evolution is still in the stage of hypothesis, and that in the gap between lifeless substances and living forms we have the veritable 'missing link.'"

In preparing his book on Tornadoes (New York, N. D. C. Hodges, Fact and Theory papers) Prof. H. A. Hazen has aimed to present in popular style the theories bearing on the subject, and the facts that have accumulated from year to year, otherwise scattered through many volumes. Efforts have been made to sift theories to their sources; to review Espy's work, which lies at the basis of modern theories of tornado formation; to obtain an estimate of the tornadoes that have occurred in this country since 18*73; and to compare the destruction by tornadoes with that by fire. Some suggestions are given about tornado insurance. The sun-spot theory and the possibility of predicting tornadoes are touched upon. The Louisville tornado is described; and directions are given for observing tornadoes.

The Chief Signal Officer of the Army complains in his Report for 1889 that the military branch of the corps is deteriorating for the lack of facilities for the practical training and drilling of the officers and men, but makes a full exhibit of meteorological work. The issue of weather forecasts and storm warnings has been continued, and the demands for them have increased. As the field to which they are applied expands, modifications have to be made in their shape; they become more general, and local work has more to be left to local observers; and in this department obligations are acknowledged to certain newspapers in the larger cities. Defects in the predictions are excused by pleading the amount of work that is imposed upon the persons who have to make them. Thus the chief forecast official has forty-nine minutes in the morning and fifteen minutes at night at his disposal for what is a very complicated task. Yet, the percentage of correct predictions is rising 78·3 in 1887, 81·6 in 1888, and 83·8 in 1889. Weather reports from the West Indies have been resumed. A special study is being made of cold waves. Weather signals are supplied at 1,056 stations. Observations of atmospheric electricity have been discon-