Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/442

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
426
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

inevitable that he should refer to Huxley, of whom he was in some sense a pupil. In speaking of the rapid growth of the latter during his four years on the Beagle, he said: "How this was possible any one will readily understand who knows from his own experience how great is the value of personal observation. . . . Freed from the formalism of the schools, thrown upon his own intellect, compelled to test each single object as regards properties and history, we soon forget the dogmas of the prevailing system, and become first a skeptic and then an investigator." This paragraph is especially worthy of notice, because it points out one of the invariable characteristics of the great man. In whatever field his greatness may lie, he will be found to have broken away from the formalism and conservatism of the schools, and that his great work is based on personal observation and research. This was notably the case with Professor Virchow's establishment of the cellular pathology, as well as of Huxley's researches in comparative anatomy. Our present school system is lamentably weak in this particular, tending to stifle rather than stimulate originality and self-dependence. Professor Virchow's address was, of course, interesting and instructive, but, as he said, much too short for anything like an adequate treatment of the subject. The chief interest of the occasion lay in its associations. An address by Rudolph Virchow, at a meeting presided over by Lord Lister on an occasion commemorating Professor Huxley, left only one thing to be desired—the presence of the latter. For a biologist, or in fact a modern scientist of any description, one can not imagine a more delightful occasion.

 

The Climate of Cuba.—Systematic records of weather appear to be wanting in Cuba. The meteorological observations kept up for several years by Andre Poey are not accessible, no need of their being published having been found. The chief source of information on the subject is the observations which have been kept up at Belen College, Havana, since 1859. From these and a few scattered observations of brief periods at other towns, and by comparison with notes taken at other West Indian stations, W. F. B. Phillips, of the United States Department of Agriculture, has attempted to describe the climate of Cuba. The average annual temperature of the past ten years at Havana was 77° F., and the difference between the highest and the lowest yearly means was only 1.1° F. The warmest month is July, with an average temperature of 82.7° F., and the coldest is January, with an average temperature of 70.3° F. The highest temperature recorded was 100.6° F., in July, 1891, and the lowest 49.6°. Brief intermittent records at Matanzas, more than sixty years old, give a mean annual temperature of about 78°, with 93° as the highest and 51° as the lowest. At Santiago the annual mean appears to be about 80°, and the difference between the warmest and coldest months about 6° F. Records of temperature in the interior, such as they are, give annual means of from 73.6° to 75°, apparently showing lower temperatures than on the coast. The average daily range of temperature is about 10°, the highest occurring between noon and two o'clock p. m., while sudden variations in the temperature of the day are not unknown. The average yearly rainfall at Havana is about fifty-two inches. The season of heavy rainfall begins in the latter part of May and first of June, and lasts till October, and during this period about sixty-three per cent of the year's rain is precipitated. Rain occurs on about one day in three, in heavy downpours of short duration. Notwithstanding the frequency of rain during the summer months, these do not present the greatest number of cloudy days. The days on which rain does not fall are usually perfectly cloudless, and, in general, no clouds are seen in summer except while the showers are falling; while in other months cloudy days sometimes occur without rain. The average velocity of the wind is about 7.5 miles an hour, with variations, according to the season, from 8.5 miles in winter to 6.5 miles in summer. The diurnal variation in wind velocity is much more pronounced than the seasonal variation.

 

The New Planet D Q.—The number of minor planets discovered during the last few years, and their lack of practical importance in astronomy, has tended to distract astronomers' attention from the search for them, as unprofitable, and the announcement of a new one attracts little attention, as a rule. The