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


Since the establishment of the cell theory by Schieden and Schwann in 1838-'40, it has been recognized that a clear understanding of the processes which go on in the body, both physiological and pathological, and of their relations to parent and offspring, can only be obtained through a study of the cell. This study has thrown new light on many obscure points in heredity, and has revolutionized our theories of the "vital process." Such books as the one before us[1] are the cause as well as the result of such investigations—through their attractiveness stimulating the student to renewed effort. This one is a series of micro-photographs taken from sections of the eggs of the sea urchin and so arranged as to illustrate the principal phenomena in the fertilization and early development of the animal egg. The photographic reproductions are accompanied by a critical description and drawings illustrating every stage, and are preceded by a simple introductory account of the recent history and growth of the science. The refined histological technique and the manual skill necessary for original work of this quality are rarely at the command of the student. He has to get his knowledge from text-books, hence an accurate reproduction of the various specimens is quite essential. The photographs in this work were taken with especial care, not retouched, and reproduced in the prints as closely as possible. The book is unique in containing the first satisfactory series of photographic representations of the early history of the ovum. Prof. Wilson is to be congratulated both as to his own work and in having so skillful a collaborator as Dr. Learning.

The author of this book,[2] who is the instructor in physics in the English High School of Boston, has been before the public as an author of text-books on physics for the past thirteen years. His latest production is characterized by a fullness which he intends to be a protest against "smaller books," "cheaper books," and "primers of science." "Education in physics," he affirms, "implies the presentation of the great truths of that science in their unmutilated form, the indication of their relations to one another, and the furnishing the student an opportunity of observing and exercising the logical processes that have led to the discovery of those truths. Any text-book that aims to introduce the student to a study of such importance and such inexhaustible possibilities should not lose sight of this truth and encourage mere dilettanteism." Accordingly, he supplements his statement of physical laws by a store of concrete applications and other illustrative matter. The book contains a "high-school" course and an "advanced" course, the latter comprising the former and additional matter distinguished by indenting. Some illustrative experiments are given, but the work is not intended to serve as a laboratory manual. A considerable number of problems and exercises have been inserted, a key to which is furnished to instructors. There are nearly five hundred illustrations, and a colored chart showing spectra and combinations of colors.

An experimental laboratory has, with the growth of modern methods of teaching, become almost a necessity in the study of botany. The book before us[3] is designed to aid and direct experimental study. As to the scope of his book the author says: "With the rapid advance of investigation it is next to impossible that an elementary laboratory manual should include the latest results, especially when the essential points of many of them may yet be in controversy, and need the critical treatment which is certainly not within the province of a work of this character. In the hands of an instructor in touch with current botanical thought such deficiencies are easily supplied. The present work consists of a series of experiments selected to illustrate the habits and life history of plants." The author was the translator of Oel's Pflanzenphyslologische Versuche and his book is the outcome of comments and suggestions from laboratories in which this translation has been in use. The general form of Oel's manual is followed; many cuts and a few paragraphs from the translation are used; but it has been modified and reduced in size to conform more nearly to the needs of American primary students. The text is admirably clear and the experiments Instructive and easily performed.

Prof. L. H. Bailey has compressed a wonderful amount of information between the covers of his Rule-book[4] While of most value to the fruit-grower, truck-gardener, or florist, many of its directions, recipes, and tables are needed by every person who has a garden plot or a lawn. It contains directions for making and applying insecticides and fungicides, for preventing the depredations of small animals and birds, and for making and taking care of paths and lawns; recipes for grafting waxes, cements, paints, and glues, tables f weights of seeds, quantities required for an acre, time for planting, time of germinating and maturing, directions for keeping fruits ind vegetables, for predicting the weather, for—but we have not space to give a full table of contents. This is a third edition of the book, revised and extended, and apparently well-nigh perfected. We have not seen a better seventy-five cents' worth of handy literature in many moons.

Educational methods are being so much discussed to-day that any publication dealing with this subject is of special interest Prof. Munroe's book[5] is a history of the changes which have come about in the pedagogist's point of view since the Renaissance. He sketches the revolt against mediævalism, with Rabelais as the moving force. Francis Bacon does the same duty in the movement against classicism. The author says that Descartes was the greater thinker, but believes that he was less of a power at the time than Bacon. In the fourth chapter he narrates the downfall of feudalism and the part which Comenius played in it. In Chapter V, The Child has Senses to be Trained, the effect of the teachings of Montaigne and Locke are reviewed. The Jansenists and Fénelon, Rousseau, Pestalozzi and Froebel, and Women in Education each have a chapter. The author's views may be seen in the following passages taken from the last page of the book: "The new conception of the schoolmaster's task makes the educational problem simpler. . . . Comenius's 'mother-school,' 'that should exist in every house,' is becoming possible; upon the fundamental plan of such a mother-school all education must be shaped. It is no longer a simple question of the intellectual value of this study and of that; it is no longer to be decided what manner and quantity of information shall be given; it is a question now of determining those subjects and those methods which shall best supplement and carry forward the training of character, the real education to true manhood and true womanhood that is or ought to be given in the home under the parents' guidance."

Biology is attracting increasing attention from students of science. In its study now lies the chief hope of solving the questions of heredity and organic evolution. The book before us[6] is the third publication from a series of biological lectures which are delivered every summer at the Woods Holl Marine Laboratory. The first volume was received so favorably in 1890 that the authors were encouraged to continue their publication. This number contains thirteen lectures. Among them are Life from a Physical Standpoint, by A. E. Dolbear; A Dynamical Hypothesis of Inheritance, by J. A. Ryder; On the Limits of Divisibility of Living Matter, by J. Loeb; Cell Division and Development, by J. P. McMurrich; The Problems, Methods, and Scope of Developmental Mechanics, by W. Roux; ano Evolution and Epigenesis, by C. O. Whitman. The book is in no sense a popular one, and must find its readers among special students of biology and the related sciences. Prof. A. Milnes Marshall's monograph on The Frog, intended as an introduction to anatomy, histology, and embryology, was written to guide and direct the student through the practical part of this work, and met a want the whole ground of which was not covered by any manual existing at the time of the original publication. It gives, in the introduction, practical instruction in the methods employed in biological investigation; followed by the application of these methods to the anatomical and histological examination of the animal; the frog being selected because it is easy to get and convenient to dissect, and is a fairly typical example of the group of vertebrates. The preparation of the present, the fifth, edition was Prof. Marshall's last professional act, and was completed only a week before his death. (Manchester and London: Smith, Elder & Co. New York: Putnams, $1.40.)

An Elementary Textbook of Mechanics, by R. T. Glazebrook, is the latest of the Cambridge Natural Science Manuals to reach us. The most satisfactory method of teaching the natural sciences is by means of experiments which can be performed by the learners themselves. This book consists of a series of such experiments which have been used by the author in teaching his classes; the experiments are followed by an explanation and an account of the deductions to be drawn from them. (Macmillan, $1.25.)

Imagination in Dreams, by Frederick Greenwood (Macmillan & Co., $1.75), treats of a subject with which most of us are familiar through personal experience. Two essays, previously published in English periodicals, form the foundation for the work, which as a whole is a rather unscientific discussion of curious psychic phenomena, which are in many cases closely allied, and dependent on morbid and diseased conditions of body and mind, and very probably have little value in determining the normal working of the brain. A number of queer dreams are detailed, many of them the author's own products. He thinks that the limits generally set for the imagination are at times over-leaped in sleep and that "some dream visions are creations of the mind."

Volume XXXII, Part I, of the Annals of the Astronomical Observatory of Harvard College contains an interesting statement of the methods in astronomical photography followed at the Harvard Observatory. There are also two chapters giving the results of researches by Prof. William H. Pickering on the Great Nebula in Orion and on the lunar surface. The former was conducted exclusively by photography while the latter embraced both visual and photographic observations.

Part I of Volume III of the final report on the Geology of Minnesota is devoted to paleontology, and is made up of contributions by Leo Lesquereux, Anthony Woodward, Benjamin W. Thomas, Charles Schuchert, Edward O. Ulrich, and Newton H. Winchell. Prefixed to the special monographs which it contains is a historical sketch of investigation of the Lower Silurian in the upper Mississippi Valley. The report is printed in large quarto form, and the present part is illustrated with about forty plates, besides figures in the text.

Prof. N. Story-Maskelyne describes his Crystallography as a treatise on the morphology of crystals (London: Frowde, 12s. 6d.; New York: Macmillan, $3.50). In addition to giving full descriptions of the several systems of crystallization, he discusses the properties of zones and the varieties of symmetry possible in a crystalloid system of planes. He also describes modes of representing crystals and of measuring and calculating angles. While the author has deemed it necessary to treat some parts of his subject in the simplest form compatible with strict geometrical methods, he hopes that his book will not be found lacking in demonstrations that will satisfy students with high mathematical training.

In an easily readable little book Uriel H. Crocker essays to point out The Cause of Hard Times (Little, Brown & Co., 50 cents). He ascribes the recent business depression and that of 1873-'76 to overproduction, and in supporting this view he comes into conflict with Mill and other authorities of the past and present. One reason that he gives why production outruns demand is that owners of factories frequently prefer to sustain a loss that may not continue so long as to be serious rather than the certainly large loss involved in shutting down their works.

The Brush Arc Light Dynamo, by H. C. Reagan, Jr., is a handbook for electrical engineers and students. The author gives simple descriptions of the very latest Brush dynamos and a list of instructions for use in emergencies. A novel feature is a revolvable celluloid chart. This chart represents a Brush dynamo with a revolvable armature. It shows the manner of cutting the lines of force, the directions of the flow of current induced in the armature coils, the method of commuting the current, and the flow of current to the external circuit and return to the negative brush. The book has been approved by the Brush company. (N. W. Henley & Co., N. Y.)

  1. Atlas of the Fertilization and Karyokinesis of the Ovum. By Edmund B. Wilson, Ph. D., with the co-operation of Edward Learning, M. D. Pp. 32, quarto. New York and London: Macmillan & Co. Price, $4; 17s.
  2. The Principles of Physics. By Alfred P. Gage. Pp. 634, 12mo. Boston, U. S. A., and London: Ginn & Co. Price, $1.55.
  3. Experimental Plant Physiology. By D. T. Macdougal. Pp. 85, 8vo. New York: Henry Holt & Co. Teachers' price, $1.
  4. The Horticulturist's Rule-book. By L. H. Bailey. Pp, 302, 16mo. London and New York: Macmillan & Co. Price, 75 cents.
  5. The Educational Ideal. By James Phinney Munroe. Pp. 262, 12mo. Boston: D C. Heath & Co. Price, $1.
  6. Biological Lectures delivered at the Marine Biologicai Laboratory of Woods Holl, 1894. Pp. 287, 8vo. Boston: Ginn & Co. Price, $2.65.