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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/635

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FRAGMENTS OF SCIENCE.

seen in the sky at night, nearly opposite the point which is at the time occupied by the sun on the opposite side of the globe. It is near the ecliptic, but appears two or three degrees away from exact opposition to the sun. It seems agreed that the Gegenschein is not atmospheric, but rather meteoric, being a reflection from some collection of meteors. The problem set before astronomers is to identify the meteors. A theory that they are connected with the asteroidal zone, or mass of meteors of which the known and numbered asteroids are conspicuous examples, has, according to Professor Barnard, "much in its favor, but there are objections to the theory which can not easily be reconciled with the observed facts." Mr. J. Evershed, of Kenley, England, assumes the Gegenschein to be a tail to the earth, produced by the escape of molecules of hydrogen and helium away from the globe in a direction opposite to the sun—much as a comet's tail is formed. Other observers suppose it to be connected with the zodiacal light or band, which is regarded as a body of meteors connected with the earth and accompanying it, and is plainly visible in the western sky after sunset in the spring, rising from the place of the sun toward the zenith; and Mr. William Anderson, of Madeira, publishes a figure with a demonstration, in The Observatory, to show how its place and appearance may be accounted for on this supposition. The Gegenschein has been compared in a homely way to the radiance which may be seen around the shadows of our heads cast by the sun upon the dewy grass early on a bright summer morning.

 

Literature for Children.—Mr. Richard le Gallienne, in an article published in the Boston Transcript, laments the flood of rubbish that is poured out under the guise of children's books. The subject of literature for children is discussed in the Studies of the Colorado Scientific Society by Prof. E. S. Parsons, who remarks that three of the greatest classics of childhood were not written for children at all. "Pilgrim's Progress was a new type of sermon written by the tinker preacher in his prison cell at Bedford; Robinson Crusoe was a pseudo-history from the pen of one of the first great English realists; Gulliver's Travels was a political satire by the greatest of English satirists. The same thing is true of the stories of the Bible, of the Arabian Nights, of the folklore which strikes a sympathetic chord at once in the child's nature.… Child study, then, reveals the fact that the child nature is the counterpart of what is best in books—that children can appreciate literature." A friend of Professor Parsons wrote him of her daughter, nine years old, being very fond of her father's library, and "simply devoted" to the Bible and the plays of Shakespeare. Harriet Martineau, when a child, "devoured all of Shakespeare," sitting on a footstool and reading by firelight, and making shirts, with Goldsmith or Thomson or Milton where she could glance at them occasionally. Another of Professor Parsons's friends read "all of Goethe's Faust with his little thirteen-year-old girl, to her great enjoyment," and the little girl afterward read alone all of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. "Many teachers have found young children delighted with Dante." These incidents and others point to the inference that it is not necessary to go outside of the world's great literature for fit material for a child's imaginative and emotional nature. One of Mr. Le Gallienne's main conclusions is that it is very hard to guess beforehand what the child will like.

 

Geography and Exploration in 1899.—No great geographical discoveries were recorded during 1899, but much good work was done in exploration. Considerable interest has been taken in preparing expeditions of antarctic research, of which a Belgian expedition has returned with some important results, and Mr. Borchgrevink has begun work at Cape Adar, on the antarctic mainland. The search for Andrée has helped increase our knowledge of parts of the arctic coast. In Asia, Captain Deasy has laid down the whole of the before unknown course of the Yarkand River, and has furnished other information concerning little-known regions; and other surveys and explorations have been diligently prosecuted. About as much may be said of Africa, where "the want of adequate exploration of the mountainous regions on the borders of