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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 48/April 1896/General Notices

< Popular Science Monthly‎ | Volume 48‎ | April 1896

GENERAL NOTICES.

Under the editorial care of Prof. C. Lloyd Morgan has appeared the second volume of the work upon which Prof. Romanes[1] was engaged at the time of his death. The present volume is mainly devoted to a consideration of those post-Darwinian theories which involve fundamental questions of heredity or utility. The chapters dealing with heredity are almost exclusively concerned with Prof. Weismann's views as to the inheritance of acquired characters. Prof. Romanes presents evidence both for and against such inheritance, and while he agrees with Galton in largely diminishing the potency of the Lamarckian principles, he can not go so far as to abolish it as Weismann does. In the chapters grouped under the head of utility he vigorously opposes the doctrine that all species must necessarily be due to natural selection, and therefore must severally present at least one adaptive character as held by Huxley, and he finds still less tenable the more extended form of the same doctrine held by Wallace. Regarding the question as purely one of reasoning, he combats it by argument without appeal to facts. In an appendix he discusses some side issues connected with the principle of panmixia, and in another he states more fully than in the body of the book the opinions of Darwin and Huxley on characters as adaptive and specific. The volume contains a portrait of the author as frontispiece and several figures in the text.

 

Prof. Tarr's new book on physical geography[2] has the character of those recent treatises which have appeared under the title of physiography. It is not a description of the topographical features, climate, animal and vegetable productions, etc., of the several regions of the earth in the familiar atlas form, accompanied by large maps, but rather a depiction of typical forms assumed by land and water, with accounts of the processes that have produced them. It is thus largely devoted to the dynamic side of its field. After a short description of the earth as a planet, the author sets forth the usual and the occasional phenomena of the atmosphere, and shows how these conditions affect the geographic distribution of animals and plants. Three chapters are given to the form and characteristics of the ocean, leaving about half of the book to the land. In this last part especial attention is given to such agencies of change as weather, streams, glaciers, waves, and the internal heat of the earth, and to the various features of the land produced by them. There is also a chapter on the reciprocal influences of man and Nature, and one on economic products. Most of the examples are drawn from the United States. There are four appendixes devoted respectively to meteorological methods, topographic maps, suggestions to teachers, and questions on the text. The volume is copiously illustrated with photo-engravings of varying degrees of distinctness, maps and diagrams, and a list of reference books is given at the end of each chapter.

In his First Year in French, designed for young pupils (American Book Co., 50 cents), L. C. Syms has aimed to unite the conversational and the translation methods of teaching the language. Directions for the use of the book are given, and French-English and English-French vocabularies are appended.

The same publishers have issued the first part of a series of simple French readings under the title Contes et Légendes (60 cents), by H. A. Guerber, author of Myths of Greece and Rome, etc. With the exception of the first one of the series these stories are not likely to be known to American pupils. There is a vocabulary.

The technique of the organic chemical laboratory is a considerable and somewhat intricate body of knowledge. Through oral instruction the student becomes acquainted with those devices and forms of apparatus required for common operations, getting, where there is a choice of processes, the one which his instructor has had the best success with. When he comes to practice his profession he gathers others as he has occasion for them from the various journals for the publication of chemical researches, and sometimes fails to find what he wants at the right time. In order to make such knowledge conveniently accessible, Dr. Lassar-Cohn, of Königsberg, several years ago prepared a Laboratory Manual of Organic Chemistry, from the second edition of which Prof. Alexander Smith, of Chicago, has made a translation (Macmillan, 8s. 6d., $2.25). It groups processes generally applicable under such heads as crystallization, distillation, extraction, determination of melting points and of molecular weights, sealed tubes, and sublimation. In this part of the work a large number of pieces of apparatus are described and some forty are figured. About three fourths of the volume is devoted to special processes of condensation, the preparation of esters, halogen compounds, nitro-derivatives, and other substances, oxidation, reduction, saponification, etc. There is also a chapter on organic analysis. The volume is indexed and has a table for finding the year of any volume of the chief chemical journals.

From the Department of the Interior we have received Volumes XXIII and XXIV, consisting of monographs from the United States Geological Survey. The first of these deals with the Geology of the Green Mountains in Massachusetts. The general structure and correlation is first considered, and then Hoosac Mountain and Mount Greylock are taken up individually. There are many valuable plates and maps to illustrate the test. Volume XXIV is entitled Mollusca and Crustacea of the Miocene Formations of New Jersey. The work seems to have been done with care, and the relation of the paleontology of New Jersey to the structural conditions prevailing in other parts of the United States makes it of national interest. Unusually good illustrations are numerous.

Volume XIV, for 1894, of The United States Fish Commission Bulletins, contains, as these publications regularly do, the results of a large number of careful observations on the life history and habits of American fish in all parts of the country. Among many interesting papers we especially note the following: Notes on Two Hitherto Unrecognized Species of American Whitefishes, by Hugh M. Smith, M. D.; On the Appliances for collecting Pelagic Organisms, with special reference to those employed by the United States Fish Commission, by Z. L. Tanner, United States Navy; Feeding and Rearing Fishes, particularly Trout, under Domestication, by William F. Page; and A Statistical Report on the Fisheries of the Middle Atlantic States, by Hugh M. Smith, M. D.

The Stark Munro Letters, by A. Conan Doyle, is an attractive little volume of 385 pages (Appletons, $1.50). It is an account of the troubles and difficulties which a young physician. Dr. Stark Munro, had to overcome at the outset of his career. The story is told in a series of letters from the young doctor to one of his school-fellows who has emigrated to America. The central figure in the tale is a man named Cullingworth, who was a schoolmate of the two correspondents, and whose career is followed to the end of the book, at which point he is on the eve of departing for South America with a shipload of spectacles for the natives. His strange, almost paradoxical character makes a curious picture, and leads to some surprising performances, both in connection with his private life and in his profession of medicine, where he comes to be considered by his associates a mere charlatan.

Under the title The Forces of Nature, brief popular accounts of the solar system, the air, sound, light, heat, and electricity have been brought together in a volume by H. B. Harrop and Louis A. Wallis (the authors, Columbus, O., $1.25). It is not a book for study, but is intended rather to give an understanding of the chief laws and phenomena of science to persons who have been occupied with their respective callings to the exclusion of scientific reading.

Something widely different from the ordinary text-book is the Working Manual of American History, by William H. Mace (Bardeen ). It consists, first, of a Hst of topics, extending in time from the opening up of America to Europe down to the reconstruction of the South, with references to standard historical works. This matter, which occupies about one third of the volume, is followed by extracts from documents covering about the same period, accompanied by questions.

A text-book for normal schools, under the title Psychology in Education, has been prepared by Prof. Ruric N. Roark (American Book Company, $1). The author arranges the mental faculties in classes and subclasses, and bases his descriptions on this classification. In accordance with the purpose of the,book he points out the importance of training each of the faculties, and shows how knowledge of the operations of the mind can be applied in education. Prof. Roark is not one of those instructors who leaves his students to balance conflicting views, even in so young a science as psychology. All his statements are definite and decided. He does not hesitate even to set bounds to the further progress of knowledge, nor to state his view in certain controverted matters as if there were no other. Thus, in the chapter which he gives to the "physical basis" of mind he says: "All that is known regarding the subject may be stated fully in one paragraph: Mind, as we know it, rests upon a physical basis, which acts upon mind, and upon which mind acts. What the connection is between mind and that physical basis, or how this connection is made and maintained, is not known, and most probably never will be known." Here and elsewhere he shows that he expects little from the "new school" of physiological psychologists. He has much more sympathy for child-study, and points out methods of pursuing it. His views as to the comparative worth of many of the usual school studies are also freely expressed.

The recently published account of the Myths of Greece and Rome, by H. A. Guerber, has been followed by Myths of Northern Lands, by the same author (American Book Company, $1.60). The ancient tales which are the common heritage of the English and other branches of the Germanic stock are here simply told, with the embellishment of poetical quotations and of engravings from paintings representing the personages and scenes of the myths.

The several Webster's School Dictionaries have been revised to conform to the International. The largest of the four, Webster's Academic Dictionary (American Book Company, $1.50), now contains 736 pages, being 150 more than in the last edition, while the illustrations have been increased from 350 to over 800. The body of the book is now arranged in two columns, instead of three, and the supplementary matter comprises a guide to pronunciation, rules for spelling, lists of affixes, abbreviations, proper names, words and phrases from foreign languages, and arbitrary signs, a classification of languages, and a brief mythological dictionary.

The University of Chicago Press has undertaken the issue of The American Journal of Sociology, a bimonthly magazine, to be edited by Prof. Albion W. Small and his associates in the department of sociology in the University of Chicago. The journal starts in a quiet and dignified way. There was evidently no effort to go far afield for conspicuous contributors to the first number, six of its seven articles being contributed by Chicago professors. It is announced, however, that some of the most eminent sociologists in the United States and Europe will be advisory editors and contributors. We are glad to see the lack of a journal for America in this field supplied. The new magazine can be productive of much good, both to its readers and to its contributors—to the latter, by forcing them to state their ideas so as to be proof against the criticism which never dares raise its head in the professor's lecture-room.

Two pamphlets on American currency, either of which may be taken as an antidote to the other, have come to hand within the same month. In one, The Financial Question, a large number of considerations adverse to the free coinage of silver are presented by Charles S. Ashley in short, disconnected discussions or quotations (the author, Toledo, O.). A feature of the publication is a series of diagrams, in which many of the author's facts and estimates are presented in a graphic way. Various considerations on the opposite side of the question are presented by Mason A. Green under the title Are we Losing the West? (C. E. Brown, Boston, 10 cents). If the Ohio man can be taken as speaking for the West, the anxiety of the Massachusetts man is misdirected.

Among the bulletins issued by the University of the State of New York in 1895 was a revision of the Academic Syllabus, or statement of the requirements for the examinations conducted by the university. It contains the changes determined upon since the last revision, in 1891, the most important of which tend toward more thorough work in English and history. Another bulletin is devoted to the Tenth Annual Conference of Associated Academic Principals, in which discussions on a number of subjects interesting to teachers are reported. Extension Bulletin No. 9 consists of brief descriptions of the Summer Schools of the United States and of a few abroad.

Guides to genuine science teaching are steadily increasing in number. A little manual which well embodies the spirit of such instruction is Practical Proofs of Chemical Laws, prepared by Vaughan Cornish, of Owens College (Longmans, 2s., 75 cents). It is a course of some twenty experiments on the combining proportions of the chemical elements, with full working directions, and a statement in each case of what the results mean. The results of historic experiments and of students' work are frequently cited to show what approximation to accuracy should be expected.

A Naturalist in Mexico, by Frank C. Baker (David Oliphant, Chicago), is the account of a winter's trip to Cuba, northern Yucatan, and Mexico. The expedition was undertaken under the auspices of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, its object being to collect data and specimens illustrating the fauna, flora, and geology of Yucatan and southern Mexico. The text is a combination of narrative, science, and history. Some of the descriptive writing is very well done, and while the book is perhaps not exhaustive, the whole trip only lasting a trifle over three months, it is extremely interesting. Illustrations from photographs, taken by the party, together with sketches made by the author, are quite numerous; and there are also figured a number of new species of mollusks which were discovered by the expedition.

A Laboratory Course in Experimental Physics, by W. T. Loudon and J. C. McLennan (Macmillan, 8s. 6d., $1.90), was prepared, say the authors, to assist them in handling large laboratory classes in which they had found it very troublesome and slow to give the necessary detailed explanation of the experiments to each individual orally. The book contains a series of elementary experiments adapted for students who are not familiar with higher mathematical methods, which have been arranged as far as possible in order of difficulty. There is also an advanced course of experimental work in acoustics, heat, and electricity, which is intended to follow the elementary course.

The Eleventh Annual Report of the Commissioners of the State Reservation at Niagara contains, besides the detailed account of the work of the commission for the year 1893-'94, an interesting paper on the Duration of Niagara Falls and the History of the Great Lakes, by J. W. Spencer. The computation of the age of the river is made by the measured rate of recession of the falls during forty-eight years, and leads to the conclusion that the falls are 31,000 and the river 32,000 years old. At the estimated rate of terrestrial elevation in the Niagara district, it will require between 5,000 and 6,000 years for a sufficient rise to divert the waters of Lake Erie through the divide at Chicago, and thus end the falls. Mr. Spencer's paper has been reprinted separately. In the commissioners' report considerable space is given to an account of the efforts which they have made to protect the beauty of the falls and its surroundings from destruction through commercial enterprise. They have not as yet been able to influence the State Legislature in any effective way, and, while the water privileges on the Canadian side are a source of revenue to Canada, the American privileges are being legislated away for nothing, and, what is far worse, there seems great danger of serious injury to the natural features of the falls and the park.

A picturesque sketch of Constantinople, has been written by F. Marion Crawford and copiously illustrated by Edwin L. Weeks (Scribners, $1.50). The author finds much that is attractive in this unique city and its environs while the Turk appears to him a much better specimen of humanity than the wily Greek or Armenian will admit.

The Outline Study of United States History, prepared by Harlow Godard (Bardeen, 50 cents), consists of a list of topics extending from the discovery of America to Cleveland 's second administration, with directions for studying, lists of reference books, and reviews.

The Report of the United States Life-saving Service for 1894 presents the usual record of laborious and often heroic service. The year was one of violent tempests and many disasters, while timely warning signals were given to over two hundred vessels, a large portion of which undoubtedly would have otherwise met with destruction. An examination of this record should convince any one that the maximum pay of sixty-five dollars a month ought not to be withheld from those surfmen who are employed for more than eight months in the year. The report contains a list of life-saving medals awarded by the Secretary of the Treasury since 1874. Several names of New York policemen appear in this list, but none of those of any other city, which apparently gives support to the claim that New York's force is "the finest."

Reconstruction during the Civil War, by E. G. Scott (Houghton, $2), is a political history of the so-called period of reconstruction. The years during which the process of renewal of the former Confederate States was taking place are called in popular speech the reconstruction period, and this name refers somewhat indefinitely to the time occupied by the single term of President Johnson and the succeeding two terms of President Grant. The author begins in Revolutionary times and, roughly sketching the origin, growth, and history of the various political parties up to the time of the civil war, gives the reader a clear notion of the causes, both immediate and remote, which led up to this event. Then he takes up the proposed methods of reconstruction, and gives an account of the disagreement between Congress and the President on this question. The last five chapters contain accounts of reconstruction as carried out in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Louisiana, and a discussion of what constitutes a State of the American Union.

Dr. M. L. Holbrook has issued a volume on the Physical, Intellectual, and Moral Advantages of Chastity (Holbrook & Co., New York, $1), in which he exhorts his readers to live a chaste life, and depicts the beauty and nobleness of chastity with the aid of many quotations from poets and essayists. He also denies the reality of alleged disadvantages of chastity.

Weather and Disease, by A. B. MacDowall (The Graphotone Co., London, 2s. 6d.), is the title of a book on the influence of weather on health. This is a subject which has received too little attention from physicians, and yet every one knows how immediately a sudden change in the weather affects even a healthy person's spirits and bodily well-being; how much more susceptible must a broken-down, or even an only temporarily weakened system, be to such changes! The primary object of this book is to give an idea of the way in which certain elements of our weather and the mortality from some well-known diseases have varied in recent years. The mode of exposition adopted is that of graphic cur-es. For instance, on page 57, a whooping-cough table is given which covers the period from 1837 to 1894. A curve is plotted from a careful study of the mortality statistics, thus giving a picture which accurately represents the variations of the death-rate in this disease during practically the last fifty years; this table can then be compared with a similarly constructed one, representing the variations in temperature and rainfall for the same period, and the relation between the two series made out.

The sudden rise into prominence of massage as a therapeutic agent has already caused the growth of a quite extensive literature on the subject. The last volume to reach us, The Practice of Massage, by A. Symons Eccles (Macmillan, Vs. 6d.), is in a general way a treatise on the more recent as well as the earlier contributions to our knowledge of the effects, uses, and limitations of massage, so far as they have appeared to be fairly well established by actual results. The author has besides, however, set down the record of his own personal observation and practice. The appropriate manipulations for the various diseases are given in detail, and the book is closed with a very good bibliography of the subject.

With the beginning of the new year and of its fourteenth volume, the Pharmaceutische Rundschau became the Pharmaceutical Review, and was removed to Milwaukee. It will also henceforth be printed chiefly in the English language, although articles from German contributors that would suffer by translation will continue to appear in German, and sometimes in both languages.

The embodiment of a vivid narrative and the dress of a handsomely printed and illustrated volume have been provided by John Uri Lloyd, of Cincinnati, for the philosophical reflections and scientific hypotheses that a lifetime has matured in his mind. In a preliminary statement Prof. Lloyd says that his study of the material (he ranks high among American pharmaceutical chemists) has discredited materialism for him, and the leading ideas of his book, to which he has given the anagrammatic title Etidorhpa, are that "force and spirit are neither less real than the other, and that matter is not more substantial than either," while pure and noble love is man's highest good, whether here or hereafter. The story reminds one strongly of Jules Verne. It describes a journey underground in the care of an eyeless guide, among colossal fungi, monstrous cubical crystals, hideous reptiles, and beautiful flowers, over crags and precipices and across a crystal lake, until the "end of earth" is reached. At one point Etidorhpa, with a train of other beautiful beings, comes before the pilgrim and asserts her sovereignty. The results of the author's reflections upon gravitation, matter, force, life, volcanoes, intemperance, and future life are incidentally introduced. The illustrations, by J. Augustus Knapp, deserve high praise. Prof. Lloyd has issued a limited edition of the book at a subscription price of $4.

Except a few pages occupied by administrative reports the fourth volume of the Report of the Iowa Geological Survey is devoted to descriptions of the geology of six counties—Allamakee, Linn, Van Buren, Keokuk, Mahaska, and Montgomery. The stratigraphy and economic products of each county are given with considerable fullness, and the physiography more briefly. There are good beds of coal in one or two of these counties and more or less building stone, brick clay, lime, etc., but so few deposits of metals as to afford little inducement for prospecting. The volume is handsomely printed and contains illustrations and county maps.

We have received a copy of the second edition of Prof. Sadtler's Handbook of Industrial Organic Chemistry (Lippincott, $5), the first edition of which we noticed in our January issue for 1892. "The fact that a large edition of the book has been exhausted in about three years and a half, and that it has been temporarily out of print, leads me to think," says the author, "that the plan of treatment adopted was an acceptable one, and that such a book was needed." In the present edition the bibliography has been rewritten and brought carefully up to date. While the body of the text has not been altered, numerous corrections have been made. In the appendix two new tables are added, giving the physical and chemical constants of the oils, fats, and waxes classified for reference and comparison. This work contains so much valuable information of a character otherwise inaccessible to the general reader, even if he possess a good cyclopædia, that we have been much pleased at the opportunity of noticing a second edition.

 

Compressed Air, by Frank Richards (Wiley, $1.50), is a little treatise on air compression, and the transmission and application of compressed air. The main portion of the book consists of a series of articles which have appeared during the last few years in the columns of the American Machinist. They treat of the various practical details in the shape of machinery, methods of distribution, etc., which have had to be solved in the use of compressed air as a means of power distribution and application. There is an interesting chapter comparing compressed air with electricity, and another which discusses the numerous ways in which the former may be utilized.

  1. Darwin and after Darwin. By the late George John Romanes. Vol. 11. Pp. 344, 12mo. Chicago: The Open Court Publishing Co. Price, $1.50.
  2. Elementary Physical Geography. By Ralph S. Tarr. Pp. 488, 12mo. New York and London: Macmillan & Co. Price, $1.40.