Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/772

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Mr. Becker in his interesting little book gives us a glance into several of these great societies, or rather he takes us into his club, and, making himself and his reader very comfortable, he proceeds to chat with agreeable frankness about what he has seen, about what interests him, whether it be the theory of isomeric alcohols, or the way the pretty girls of the London audiences are dressed. Once in a while he seems to feel that he is growing trivial, and drawing forth a memorandum he gives a long (and useful) array of facts and figures. But these occasions are rare; he tells his listener very pleasantly what he has seen in the various scientific companies, what he thought, and what he knows about them, what amused him and what bored him. Almost every one will enjoy his easy talk, and almost every one will learn something from his book. His view of science and scientific men is not precisely the highest nor the most dramatic one. Huxley is one of those who have helped "to gild the pill of science," not a strong man earnestly striving for what he thinks the right and true. Tyndall is quite the same—the enthusiasm, the "sacred rage" in them is quite left out; they are simply men in dress-coats who are successful, eminent, and highly to be respected.

The English astronomer Smyth tells us in one of his fascinating books of a visit which he made to Encke at the Berlin Observatory, and he seizes so well the dramatic side of the situation that his reader almost hears, as he. did, the astronomical clock ticking off the seconds which but just now belonged to eternity and are lapsed into time.

To Mr. Becker, Encke would have been an eminent observer and astronomer, and the secretary of the Berlin Academy; and his clock would have been in a mahogany case, and would have cost £100 0s. 0d.; but Mr. Becker's account of the Berlin Observatory would have been worth listening to. Indeed, it is hardly fair to object even in the least to the manner of the book, since its pretensions are so modest and its facts and figures so good; and we are sure that all of Mr. Becker's readers will thank him for the quiet enjoyment he gives them in his 340 pages of pleasant talk.

A Practical Treatise on the Gases met with in Coal-Mines. By the late J. J. Atkinson, Government Inspector of Mines of the County of Durham, England. 53 pp. Price 50 cents. New York: D. Van Nostrand.

The author of this little monograph was an authority upon the most complicated questions of ventilation, and the President of the Manchester Geological Society declares it to be "the most useful book of reference yet published on the ventilation of mines."

The discussion is unquestionably of very great interest to all who have the management of mines, or are exposed to danger from ignorance of the nature of the gases that are set free in subterranean explorations. But the little book seems not without interest to others. The laws of atmospheric change, and their relations to life, are general, and the practical problem of ventilation, as we encounter it every day in our dwellings, is by no means simple. There is much information in this little manual relating to the air we breathe, its pressures, movements, vitiations, and various properties, which is of general interest and importance.

Observations of Sun-Spots at Anclam. By Prof. G. Spoerer. With 23 Lithographic Plates. Publications of the (German) Astronomical Society, No. 13. Leipsic, 1874.

We have had occasion to call the attention of our readers, from time to time, to various popular works on the physical condition of the sun ("The Sun," by Proctor, Lockyer's "Solar Physics," etc.), and we now desire to note the appearance of this great work of Dr. Spoerer's, which, with Carrington's "Observations of the Spots on the Sun," forms the basis upon which future theorists must build.

Carrington's accurate observations commenced in November, 1853, and since that time the solar surface has been assiduously observed by Carrington, Spoerer, Wolf, Secchi, De la Rue, and others, in Europe, and by C. H. F. Peters, Winlock, and Langley, in America. Photographic records of the sun-spots have been made in America, in England, and in Russia; and Germany has just established an observatory at Pots-