Popular Science Monthly/Volume 48/December 1895/General Notices


The Haandbog i den Systematiske Botanik of Dr. E. Warming has long been recognized as an original and important contribution to the literature of the subject. The present translation, by Prof. Potter,[1] from the third Danish edition and from Dr. Knoblauch's German edition, has been enriched by numerous additional notes kindly furnished by the author. Besides Dr. Knoblauch's revision of the fungi, the bacteria have been revised by Dr. Migula, the Florideæ rearranged after Schmitz, and the Taphrinaceæ after Ladebeck. Instead of rearranging the orders of the Angiosperms according to the systems more familiar to English readers, the sequence in the Danish original is retained. One of the principles of this arrangement is thus defined by the author: "Each form which on comparative morphological considerations is clearly less simple or can be shown to have arisen by reduction or through abortion of another type having the same fundamental structure, or in which a further differentiation and division of labor is found, will be regarded as younger, and as far as possible, and so far as other considerations will admit, will be reviewed later than the simpler, more complete, or richer forms." In an appendix are given an outline of some of the earlier systems of classification and a more complete account of that of Hooker and Bentham. A full index is provided.

The plan and general character of Prof Vine's Student's Text-book of Botany were explained in our notice of the first half volume in the Popular Science Monthly for July, 1894. This work is completed in the second half volume,[2] now before us. The subject of classification is continued, beginning with Group IV, Phanerogamia (or Spermophyta)—the preceding groups including the Thallophyta, Bryophyta, and Pteridophyta—and completed, and the physiology of plants is considered. The province of physiology is defined by the author as being "the study of those phenomena which, taken together, constitute the life of the plant; in other words, while morphology is concerned with what plants are, and histology with their structure, physiology deals with what they do." The performance of their functions by the organs of the plant being materially affected by various external conditions, "the object of physiology is not only to distinguish and study the various functions and to determine the relation between them and their internal structure and the external forms of the organs performing them, but also to determine what are the external conditions by which the performance of the external functions is affected, and the modes in which these conditions exert their influence." A very complete index is given in two parts, "Classification and Nomenclature," and "Morphology, Anatomy, and Physiology."

The chief features of our strange south western region—its pueblos and cliff-dwellings, its Zuñi, Navajo, and other native inhabitants, its plateaus, buttes, and canyons, and foremost of its natural features the Great Canyon of the Colorado River—have been made familiar of late by the reports of many explorers. To Major J. W. Powell[3] belongs the credit of making the first extended exploration of the Great Canyon and the region through which it passes. This he did in the years 1869 to 1872. His report of the scientific results then obtained and a brief popular account of the exploration have been published. He has now prepared a full history of the expedition, with descriptions of the scenery, of the Indians and their customs, of the ruins and relies, and other subjects of interest in the region traversed. The volume is fully illustrated, its list of illustrations occupying more than five pages, and it is printed on heavy paper with wide margins.

Prof. W. O. Crosby's Tables for the Determination of Common Minerals, which appeared in 1887, has now reached a third and enlarged edition. In the new issue provision has been made for the more ready and accurate testing of streak, hardness, and specific gravity. Twenty-five additional species have been included with the two hundred in the original tables, supplementary tables comprising one hundred of the less common minerals have been added, and a synopsis of the classification of minerals has been inserted. These additions, the author believes, will reduce to a minimum the necessity of reference to comprehensive works.

It appears from the Sixth Annual Report of the Missouri Botanical Garden that the course of instruction in gardening was completed by one student in 1894, and another left before the end of his course to take a position at the Pennsylvania State College. In response to many applications it was decided to admit paying pupils in addition to the six on scholarships. The Shaw School of Botany and other branches of the garden's work were carried on as usual. Appended to the report are five papers on botanical subjects, illustrated with fifty-six plates, and the volume contains also several views of attractive spots in the grounds.

The Second Annual Report of the Iowa Geological Survey embraces an account of the work done in 1893 by the survey and is accompanied by several special papers. Among the subjects specifically treated are the cretaceous and certain other deposits within the State, glacial scorings, and buried river channels. The Composition and Origin of Iowa Chalk is discussed by Samuel Calvin, the State Geologist. The geology of two counties is described by the assistant geologist, Charles R. Keyes, who has also written several of the other papers.

The Cause of Warm and Frigid Periods is discussed by C. A. M. Taber in a little book of eighty pages (Ellie, Boston). From an experience of twenty years spent in whaling voyages in early life the author has been brought to ascribe great influence to winds and the surface currents of the sea in modifying climate. He has carefully examined the extant theories concerning the glacial period, and gives his reasons for not finding any of them entirely satisfactory.

A Brief Descriptive Geography of the Empire State, by C. W. Bardeen, consists of a systematic and concise but attractive description of the natural and political features of the State of New York, sadly marred by a great lot of cheap, smudgy pictures. Teachers who have any regard for the artistic sense or the eyesight of their pupils will let this book severely alone. (Bardeen, 75 cents.)

To the series of English classics edited by A. J. George and published by D. C. Heath & Co. have been added Webster's First Bunker Hill Oration (20 cents) and Burke's Speech on Conciliation with America (30 cents). Mr. George is of the opinion that the annotating of English literature for students has often been injudiciously done. Accordingly, instead of placing a surfeit of biographical, historical, and critical material under the eyes of the pupils, he has shown where this matter may be found, thus giving them valuable intellectual exercise in getting it and preventing mental dyspepsia from bolting unmasticated facts.

M. Stanislas Meunier, of the Jardin des Plantes, Paris, has been for many years engaged in the study of what he calls Comparative Geology, which he defines as having the same relation to the geology of the earth as comparative anatomy to the anatomy of man. His special application of it is to the geology of the planets compared with that of the earth. The fruits of his studies are now embodied in a book bearing that title, which is published by Fé1ix Alcan, Paris, in the French International Scientific Series. Though the materials for such a study may at first sight seem lacking, M. Meunier has found enough, in the results of telescopic and spectroscopic and other observations, particularly of the moon and Mars and the examination of meteorites, to make possible a fairly distinct outline, and to prompt further inquiry into this field.

In the Report of the Commissioner of Education for 1891-'92 most of the statistics are relegated to the second volume, while the first volume is devoted mainly to essays on special subjects. Among the more extended of these are an account of the modes of training teachers employed in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, by the able educational writer Dr. L. R. Klemm; also a description of German universities translated from a book prepared for the German educational exhibit at the Chicago Exposition, and a suggestive paper on preparation for the civil service in France and Prussia, by W. F. and W. W. Willoughby. James C Boykin contributes an essay of nearly a hundred and fifty pages on Physical Training, half of which consists of a history of the subject from the siege of Troy to Dio Lewis, while the rest is of greater practical value, consisting of descriptions of various modes of training in present use, with illustrations and statistics. Coeducation is treated by A. Tolman Smith, who supplements his discussion with a large number of opinions of educators and a bibliography. The summer schools have now become so important that a history of them comes in very appropriately here. It was prepared by W. W. Willoughby.

The treatise on Rocks and Soils, by Horace Edward Stockbridge, has come to a second edition (Wiley). The author, who held a professorship in the Imperial College of Agriculture at Sapporo, Japan, when the first edition appeared, is now President of the Agricultural College of North Dakota. Numerous changes and additions have been made in the new edition, which may be found by a comparison with the former edition.

Home Geography for primary grades, by C C. Long (American Book Company, 25 cents), is a thoughtfully arranged introduction to the study of this science. The aim is to give the child object lessons by the use of the surrounding landscape; by directing his attention to some neighboring hill, impress the idea mountain upon him; some small level space indicates a plain; a brook represents a river, a pond or lake the ocean, etc. The idea is a good one, and is well carried out.

How the Republic is Governed, by Noah Brooks (Scribners, 75 cents), consists of a brief consideration in small compass of the fundamental principles which direct our actions as a nation. Among the special topics are The Federal Constitution; The Government of the United States in its Three Departments—Legislative, Executive, and Judicial; National and State Rights; the Indians; Patents and Copyrights; Pensions; Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution.

Another attempt to solve the problem of gravitation is made by Mr. Robert Stevenson in his paper,A New Potential Principle in Nature—Elasticity a Mode of Motion. His principle comprises kinetic energy in the line of motion of a body, and kinetic stability tending to prevent displacement transverse to that line. The latter acts partly as a force of restitution to the original direction, with the resultant of causing a curvilinear motion. The author conceived his idea while he was a student of Sir William Thomson.

Notes on the Geology of the Island of Cuba is based upon a reconnoissance made by the author, Mr. Robert T. Hill, for Alexander Agassiz. Mr. Hill spent about a month on the island, accompanied by some American engineers who were familiar with the country, and who, by reason of their knowledge, were of great assistance to him. Going into the interior to Villa Clara, to acquaint himself with that region, he examined the features of the older area of Cuba; then made a thorough study of the cut of the Yumuri River at Matanzas, and of the limestone formations of the vicinity; investigated the geology of Havana; and made a north and south section across the island from Havana to Batabanos. Going to Baracoa, he examined the country west of Yunque Mountain and east to Cape Maysi. Having completed his work of an original examination of the phenomena, uninfluenced by preconceived hypotheses, he read what others had written of Cuba, and was pleased to find a general agreement between their views and his. The notes are published by the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology.

Self Culture is the name of a monthly magazine devoted to the interests of the Home University League, edited by Edward C. Towne and published by the Werner Company, Chicago and New York. Among the subjects of articles in Vol. I, No. 2, are: Eli Whitney, a Shakespeare of Invention; The Supposed Electrical Character of Vitality; The Principle of Evolution in Nature; Primitive Man; The Story of the Plague in History; The Genius of Shakespeare; Diphtheria and the Schools; and Athletic Exercises in Universities. (Price, 30 cents; $3 a year.)

Under the title The Essential Man, an argument in support of the belief in immortality is presented by George Croswell Cressey (Ellis, 15 cents). Among the circumstances which he deems indicative of a future life are the great difference between the mind of man and the material forces, the fact that no force is ever destroyed, the eventual cessation of all physical life on the earth, and the general diffusion of the doctrine in one form or another.

  1. A Handbook of Systematic Botany. By Dr. E. Warming. With a Revision of the Fungi. By Dr. E. Knoblauch. Translated and edited by M. C. Potter, M. A., F. L. S. With 610 Illustrations. Pp. 620, 8vo. London: Swan, Sonnenschein & Co. Price, 15s. New York: Macmillan & Co. Price, $3.75.
  2. Student's Text-book of Botany. By Sydney H. Vines, M. A., D. Sc, F. R. S. With 469 Illustrations Pp. xvi + 431-821, 8vo. London: Swan, Sonnenschein & Co. Price, 7s. 6d. New York: Macmillan & Co. Price, $2.
  3. Canyons of the Colorado. By J. W. Powell. Meadville, Pa.: Flood & Vincent. Pp. 400, quarto. Price, $10.