The great national antarctic expeditions of Great Britain and Germany are now on their way to the southern hemisphere, the Discovery having set sail from Cowes on August 6, and the Gauss from Kiel on August 11. Those who wish to follow intelligently the results of the explorations of the next three years will want to know what has been already accomplished, and there are fortunately two books giving the necessary information. A little while since, The Macmillan Company published in America a translation by Mr. A. Sonnenschein of Dr. Karl Fricker's excellent work on the 'Antarctic Regions.' With true German thoroughness, he begins with the conjectures of Aristotle and follows the history of discovery to the recent expeditions. The book is elaborately illustrated with maps and photographs. Still more important is the 'Antarctic Manual' prepared for the use of the British expedition. Under the auspices of the Royal Geographical Society and through the initiative of Sir Clements Markham, Dr. George Murray, the director of the civilian scientific staff, has compiled a volume of 600 pages, giving information likely to be of use in the conduct of the expedition. The contributors are the most eminent British men of science. Lord Kelvin writes on atmospheric electricity and Professor Schuster on the aurora; Professor Darwin on tidal observations and Professor Glazebrook on the pendulum. The contributors on the natural sciences include Professors Bonney and Gregory, and Messrs. Lydekker, Boulenger, Fletcher and Murray. Then a number of older articles are reprinted, the 'Narrative' of Charles Wilkes, the 'Journal' of Dumont d'Urville, etc. The work has been prepared for the officers of the expedition, but a limited edition will be sold to the public through Mr. John Murray.
'Twentieth Century Inventions; A Forecast,' by George Sunderland (Longmans, Green & Company) is a readable, sober and profitable book which is entirely free from the exaggerations which mark most efforts in this direction. The author takes the ground that the germs of future inventions are already formed and that future progress is but the evolution of present tendencies. Thus he develops a new form of steam engine from the principles of the construction of the aneroid barometer, a new form of railroad from the rope cableway, and a new method of typesetting from the linotype machine. It is a curious fact that some of his proposed methods have not only been invented, but actually used in this country; for instance, the inclined movable staircase, electric motors for house elevators, electric heating, and the generation of power by wave action have already been shown to be possible if not feasible economically. The author is sound in his general ideas of evolution, but it may be possible that the century will witness inventions which he and we cannot imagine.