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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/227

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SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE.

the guidance and furtherance of research. The first volume issued, dealing with the metabolism and sources of energy in plants, is cyclopedic in its completeness of review of investigations in this phase of the physiology without cumbering its bibliographical lists with titles of unimportant papers. In general, subjects yet under controversy are set forth with judicial fairness, and the author has made himself familiar with the work of Russian, English and American botanists in a manner not practiced by some of his contemporaries. The translation of this work by Dr. Ewart (Clarendon Press) has given opportunity for the correction of any slight omissions in the bibliography, and the completed book must be regarded as of the greatest value not only to the botanist but to the animal physiologist who would cover the domain of that illusive subject known as "general physiology."

 

ANTHROPOLOGY.

Probably the most striking sign of the increasing interest in the study of primitive man is the organization of well-equipped expeditions for the investigation of prehistoric remains and particular groups of existing savages. Of the latter class, the Cambridge expedition to Torres Straits, under the leadership of Professor A. C. Haddon, has returned to England, and various preliminary reports of the results of its work have already appeared. A new departure in the scheme of work of this expedition was the introduction of psychological observations under experimental conditions among the natives. The tests which were made were necessarily simple, but covered a fairly wide field. They included tests of visual acuteness, color vision and color blindness, acuteness and range of hearing, appreciation of tones and differences of rhythm, tactile acuteness and localization, estimation of weights, simple reaction-times to visual and auditory stimuli, estimation of intervals of time, memory and a number of tests of a more general character.

 

The detailed results have not yet appeared, but it is evident that there is much of interest to be expected. For example, of about two hundred and fifty individuals of different tribes tested for color blindness, not a case was found, except on one island, where three out of eight subjects suffered from ordinary red-green blindness. Reaction-times are said to be shorter than among the uneducated classes of European peoples, but no figures have as yet appeared. A fact, important if true, is the reported lack of suggestibility among the natives of the region. This is directly opposed to the general observations of most ethnographers and seems hardly probable. On all points the detailed reports are needed.

 

On this side of the world public attention has been called particularly to the admirable plans of the Jesup North Pacific Expedition, which has been at work for the past three years on the northwest coast of America and the opposite coast of Asia. During the year just past the first published accounts of its results have begun to appear in a series of handsome monographs from the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Professor Franz Boas, the director of the expedition-, furnishes the first two memoirs, one on 'Facial Paintings of the Indians of British Columbia' and the other on the 'Mythology of the Bella Coola Indians.' The first named is of importance because of its bearing on the evolution of decorative designs. The Indians of the northwest coast differ from most other primitive groups in the matter of decoration by their failure to develop geometric designs and their tendency to retain realistic portrayals with certain characteristic modifications. In the adaptation of the decorations to the human face the problem has been difficult and a large number of examples are given showing the method of solution. The memoir on Bella Coola myth-