Popular Science Monthly/Volume 30/March 1887/Notes


The steel-plate portrait of the late editor of this magazine, published in the present number, is by Mr. Charles Schlect, and is considered by the friends of Professor Youmans a spirited and excellent likeness.

Mr. W. Stainton Moses, lately a vice-president, has withdrawn from the English Society for Psychical Research, on the ground that the evidence for phenomena of the genuine character of which he and others have satisfied themselves beyond a doubt, is not properly entertained or fairly treated by it.

Professor Burt G. Wilder looks forward to a time when the terms used in anatomy will be simplified and made to agree with a uniform standard. Replying to criticism of the modifications he has himself introduced in such terms, he claims to have endeavored to hasten what seemed to be the natural progress of reform. Very few terms used by him do not occur in the writings of some anatomist of authority. He has selected what seemed to him the best, modified them, when desirable, in accordance with established etymological rules, and has "always used the same word for the same thing." This he has done consistently and persistently; and whatever new terms he puts forth are first tested in the laboratory and lecture-room.

There is no doubt, the "Lancet" believes, that woman can, if she will, qualify herself to do anything that a man can do; for "no physiologist will question the possibility of developing by appropriate stimuli, exercise, and food, any particular part or parts of an organism in such a manner as to make it respond to the demands of its environment"; and it must therefore be theoretically possible that the woman shall be developed in respect to any one or more of her organic potentialities to a level with the male. But she must do so at the expense of some other power, and this is usually at the sacrifice of some function that makes her valuable as a woman. The real question in the matter is, whether it is worth while to pay so great a price for the privilege.

Fourteen European scholars in China recently had a discussion of the question whether Western knowledge, and particularly science, should be conveyed to the Chinese through the medium of their own or of a Western language. The general tendency of their views, which varied as to details, was in favor of exciting the curiosity and interest of intelligent Chinese in the matter of Western knowledge by popular expositions in the native tongue, reserving a more adequate representation for a time when a sufficient number of Chinese shall have acquired foreign languages to constitute a learned class in our sense of the expression. A further and final stage will be reached when the members of this class shall become the conveyers of knowledge to their countrymen in a vernacular improved and adapted to the comprehension of scientific ideas.

Mr. J. W. Walker has discovered a site on Pine Mountain, Georgia, where the ancient inhabitants of the region manufactured their talc vessels for cooking, with indubitable evidences of the use of stone implements in the work. Other similar sites have been found in the District of Columbia, and in Southern California.

Some doubt is thrown upon the "cavern theory" of the origin of minor earthquakes by the publication of Professor O'Reilly's catalogue of British earthquakes and its accompanying map. The data show that, during the period embraced in the view, Ireland has been less subject to earthquakes than England and Wales. In the face of this revelation is the fact that Ireland is remarkably and excessively undermined by cavernous formations, so that if they really give rise to earthquake-shocks, it should have suffered more from them than any other country represented.

A large group of mineral springs in the Transbaikal region of Russia have gained a high repute for their curative effects on men and animals. Their temperature ranges from 35° to more than 100° Fahr. Some are ferruginous, some alkaline, and others sulphurous in composition.

The slopes and environs of the volcanic mountains Etna and Vesuvius are and always have been famous for their fertility, by which large populations are tempted to live, where they are in constant danger of being destroyed by an eruption. The richness of the soil has been traced to fertilization by volcanic ashes, which have been determined to be remarkably rich in their phosphoric acid and potash constituents. Accounts from the district in New Zealand that was flooded with ashes by last June's eruption indicate likewise that the disaster there is likely to prove a "blessing in disguise."

Gold in quantities worthy of attention has been found in the neighborhood of St. Sebastian Bay, Terra del Fuego. It exists in little flakes and oval grains.

Professor W. Mattieu Williams observes that political economists condemn the precept of the Sermon on the Mount, which bids us take no heed of to-morrow, and acknowledges that it is in opposition to the established laws of our political economy. But, he asks, is our political economy a universal science, or is it only the economics of the temperate zone? The primary reason for the duty of thrift that is imposed on us is that in our latitude the earth only yields its fruits during a part of the year, and we have therefore to make stores of food and other material produced by annual harvests. In tropical countries, and to a certain extent in such sub-tropical regions as Palestine, there is little or no necessity to gather into barns, as it is there quite possible to have a daily harvest by arranging a suitable succession of crops.

A woman's journal—called "La Rassegna degli interessi femminili," or "Review of Feminine Interests"—has been started, under the direction of Fanny Zampini Salazaro. It will be adapted to Italian women of all ranks and stations in life, and, while it will not neglect the lighter matters, it proposes to give prominence to those things that are solid and will contribute to the economical well-being and mental development of its constituency. It will consider what relates to women's duties, work, and recreation, and the fields of activity that may be open to them. Domestic duties and the care and training of children will also have a place in it. "La Rassegna" will be published on the 15th of every month, in octavo form. The first number is before us. It is filled with matter of solid interest, and presents a very creditable appearance.


Mr. Jules Lichtenstein, whose name is associated with researches with regard to the phylloxera, is dead.

The death of Professor M. Websky, one of the most distinguished mineralogists in Germany, is reported.

Mrs. Thomas Say, widow of the eminent naturalist, died at Lexington, Massachusetts, November 15 th.

Mr. Arthur Grote, author of many papers on subjects of natural history, died in London, December 4th. He was a brother of George Grote, author of the "History of Greece," and was born in 1814. He spent thirty-four years in the civil service in Bengal, where he was President of the Royal Agricultural Society of India, and of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. Returning to England in 1868, he became a prominent member of the Linnæan and Royal Asiatic Societies.