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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/431

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419
LITERARY NOTICES.

gypsum quarries, statistics the annual production of gypsum, and an account of the uses of gypsum.

In The Cosmic Ether and its Problems that mysterious substance or agent is presented by Mr. B. B. Lewis as the invisible actuator of the world of matter and life. Accepting the current theories of the ether the author elaborates them and applies them to the accounting for various cosmic and terrestrial phenomena more positively, perhaps, in some instances, than sober science is yet ready to assert, though we have not noticed that he transcends the bounds of some scientific speculations. The field of knowledge outlined in the essay seems to find a definite limit, the author says, only on the one hand in the direction of inquiry as to the nature and origin of the material molecule, and, on the other hand, "as to the separate entity and perpetuity of that ether inspiration constituting the sentient, intelligent personality actuating the physical life organism"—which will doubtless remain "permanently unanswerable to scientific methods of investigation." (Published by the author at Bridgeport, Conn.)

The same subject is treated in a very different manner by Terence Duffy author and publisher, of San Francisco, in a book entitled From Darkness to Light, further defined as Duffy's Compendiums of Nature's Laws, Forces, and Mind combined in one; conformable to this, his great discovery that the sun and earth are the poles of the magnet. "Explains the motion of the earth, how maintained, what space is, what force is," etc. The author has intended, he says, to write as he understands, and to be as concise as possible, in plain words without any elaboration. We can not tell whether he keeps within science or flies away beyond it. His statements, as they read, have an air of absurdity; yet when we take a passage, analyze it, and translate it into language, it appears that the author may mean well, after all. The book's only value is as a curiosity.

A study of The Deadly and Minor Poisons of Toadstools is published by Charles McIlvaine, of Haddonfield, N. J. By toadstools the author means visible fungi as distinguished from microscopic. To the alkaloid, or poisonous principle, he gives the name of amanitine, preferring it, as derived from the name of a family of plants, to muscarine, the usual name, which relates to a species. Its most certain and powerful antidote he finds to be atropine.

The Eleventh Annual Report of the United States Geological Survey contains the usual account by the director of the operations of the year, in which the value and efficiency of the several divisions are carefully pointed out, followed by' administrative reports of the heads of divisions. Two papers are appended to the report of operations: the first is on The Pleistocene History of Northeastern Iowa, by W J M'Gee; and the second on the Natural Gas Field of Indiana, by Arthur John Phinney. Mr. M'Gee's paper is illustrated with forty plates and one hundred and twenty cuts and Mr. Phinney's with five plates. A second volume contains the second annual report of the director upon the Irrigation Survey. This embraces the results of the work of the divisions of hydrography, topography, and engineering for the year ending June 30, 1890, together with a detailed statement made by the director before a committee of the House of Representatives, discussing the problems of irrigation in the arid lands of the United States. It appears from the report that a great deal of work has been done in locating agricultural lands that are accessible to water, in gauging rivers and rainfall, and in surveying reservoir sites. The text is accompanied by sixty maps and views and four cuts of apparatus.

In A Select Bibliography of Chemistry, an attempt is made by H. Carrington Bolton to collect the titles of the principal books on chemistry published in Europe and America from the rise of the literature (1492) to the close of the year 1892. The term chemistry is taken in its fullest significance, and the bibliography contains books in every department of chemical literature, pure and applied. It is confined, however, to independent works and their translations, and does not include academic dissertations nor "reprints" and "separates," and no attempt has been made to index the voluminous chemical literature, except in the section of Biography. Full bibliographical details have been given where possible. A considerable number of the books have been personally examined,