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


The lack of a trustworthy and complete work on dietetics[1] has long been felt among medical men in this country. The dietary of a patient is of no small importance in his treatment, and Dr. Thompson, appreciating this fact, seems to have adequately supplied the want referred to. Of the seventy odd chemical elements, thirteen regularly enter into the composition of the body, and ten more are occasionally found. Although these are comparatively few in number, their molecular arrangement is very complex. In Part I, after a study of these elements as they occur in food, the different foods and food preparations are taken up individually and studied from the various standpoints of the dietician: How much force can be obtained from them, how much heat, are they stimulating or depressing, are they difficult or easy to digest? etc. In Part II, the chemical composition of the common stimulants, beverages, and condiments is given, and then their effects upon body and mind are considered when used in moderation and in excess. The ultimate dangers which their habitual ingestion may lead to in the shape of permanent tissue change, and the special diatheses which absolutely contraindicate their use, are dwelt upon at some length. Cooking, the preservation of food, and the quantity of food required, are the topics dealt with in Part III. The changes which cooking and the various methods of preservation—salting, smoking, canning, etc.—produce in the chemical composition and digestibility of the food stuffs are studied carefully. This is one of the most important departments of dietetics, and yet one which is usually given little attention. Part IV deals with special dietaries for infancy, old age, diet and heredity, climate and season and food, body weight and food, etc. The physiology of digestion, and the conditions which specially affect it, are next considered. The chapter on the general relation of food to special diseases, and the diseases which are caused by dietetic errors, will prove of great value to the layman as well as the physician. Administration of Food to the Sick, Part VII, is also full of practical data for the non-medical. Part VIII, which consists of about three hundred pages, and which forms the main portion of the book, is devoted to diet in special diseases. Each disease is first described in a general way, and then the appropriate diet for it worked out. This chapter is prefaced by some general remarks regarding the care of the sick-room and the patient. Many of the suggestions seem matters of little importance, but it is these small details that are most frequently disregarded, and that are oftentimes the deciding features in the case. Rations and dietaries are discussed in Part IX, army and navy diets, diet in prisons, in athletic training, the various diet "cures," diet and occupation, artificial infant foods, and sleep and food, being some of the special topics. An appendix containing receipts for the preparation of invalid foods and beverages, and the list of illustrations, finish up the eight hundred and two pages. Dr. Thompson's book should be on every physician's table, and as a part of the general household library it would not be out of place. A large portion of it bearing on hygienic questions, its possession might oftentimes prevent the necessity for calling a doctor, through the prevention of unhygienic feeding and the long train of ills which follow in its wake.

We have already noticed the first two half volumes of the noble work of the Professor of Botany in the University of Vienna,[2] and have endeavored to speak of it as its merits deserve. The examination of the concluding volume only enhances our appreciation of its value, and, we might add, of its interest, for it has real interest, such that the unscientific or even the casual reader may find that it has a story to tell him. The introduction to the new parts comprises a brief review of the sources of a history of plants, showing how the description of the external characters of plants as given by Theophrastus and Pliny and the earlier modern writers gradually expanded into the study of the conditions of their growth, reproduction, and dissemination. Then came the discovery of fossil plants, leading to the extension of botany to the study of the ancestral history of existing flora and the derivation and development of species. This sketch outlines the order of presentation in these two half volumes, which follows the stages of development of the science. "A history of the entire plant world considered as a single great community must be preceded by a history of species. But each species is the sum of numberless individuals, which are alike in constitution and have the same external characteristics, and a history of species therefore presupposes a knowledge of the history of the individual. Accordingly, our first business is to describe rejuvenescence, multiplication, and distribution of individuals, and to show by what means a plant, considered as a separate organism, maintains itself, takes possession of its habitat and is enabled to keep its hold on that habitat, up to the moment when it is replaced by descendants endowed with a vitality of their own." The discussion of the Genesis of Plant Offspring relates to asexual reproduction by spores and thallidia, and by buds or roots, stems, and leaves; to reproduction by means of fruits, under which the process from the beginning and the office of the pollen, its protection, the means of its dispersion by wind and by animals, the agencies that attract animals, the crossing of flowers, and autogamy are described; and to changes in reproductive methods, including the replacement of fruits by offshoots, parthenogenesis, and heteromorphism and alternation of generations. The History of Species follows, comprising the nature, alteration in the form, origin, distribution, and extinction of species. The work is completed by a glossary of fourteen pages, and on index of fifty-nine closely printed pages.

Nursery Ethics[3] is an attempt, and a very successful one, to deal with the big people of the nursery, and to outline the moral relations which ought to exist in this little kingdom between the governing powers and the governed. It is a word well and wisely spoken to mothers and to fathers. It is not formal enough to be called a system of morals. It might even be said to lack what Matthew Arnold is said to have lacked—"a philosophy with coherent, interdependent, subordinate, and derivative principles"—but we find it on this account more effective. Back of the running comment on nursery affairs there lie a consistency and thoroughness which indicate that Mrs. Winterburn has kept her fundamental ethical axioms well in mind, if not in type, and has done no violence to them. In this respect the little book is eminently philosophic. Its one aim is to secure justice for the little people. It is a modern and improved form of Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby. Those whose sense of humor has been touched by Anstey and Frank Flockton, or whose sense of justice has been aroused by that too frequent sight, the abuse of parental authority, will readily admit that no rights are so sacred and inviolable as the rights of little children, because none are so absolutely defenseless. Such a crusade might easily tempt one to rhetorical extremes, but Mrs. Winterburn has shown the same self-restraint in dealing with her literary child that she so strongly recommends to other parents in dealing with their children of flesh and blood. The treatment is full of feeling: it is enriched with deep, womanly sentiment, but it is also calm and clear, and its suggestions have a definiteness which gives them practical value.

In considering the attitude of parents and the nature of their authority, Nursery Ethics shows very clearly what few parents evidently realize—that the only foundation for parental authority is the furtherance of childish welfare. This is the strict limit. Any further usurpation of authority is simple tyranny. Obedience to persons is also shown to be without moral sanction. But obedience to conditions imposed by events is a large part of the discipline of life. This is the sort of obedience we should teach our children, and with what graciousness we can teach it if we ourselves yield the same obedience! Above all, there should be no conflict of authority. No one detects this sooner than a child, or sooner takes advantage of it. The deepest moral lesson of the nursery comes, as elsewhere, from a recognition of the law of cause and effect. By associating natural results with action, and by adjusting punishments on the same ground, parents may early begin that judicious abdication of authority which is finally to lead to self-government and the evolution of truly moral beings. It is a point of profound wisdom to let this abdication keep always a step in advance of the child's demand for freedom. The chapters on special problems in nursery management deserve no less careful reading. Mrs. Winterburn's book contains much to commend. We believe that every word of it is true. In style and outward dress it is also attractive. If the ethical principles which it so clearly develops could but find an application in the nurseries of America, the chief work of education would be accomplished at home, and the subsequent problems of school and college would be infinitely easier than they are at present. We wish the little book a most successful mission.

Since the general adoption of embryology and histology as a part of the regular medical curriculum, there has been a large accession of works on this subject to our literature—more, it almost seems, than the demand justifies. Many of them are translations, and a very large proportion are not at all suited to the elementary student. A certain amount of confusion is inevitable, because of the unsettled state of the subject, but the chief difficulty has been the lack of an impartial treatment—each author being interested in upholding one of the many theories, and subordinating everything else to this end. Dr. Hertwig's book[4] is fairly free from this fault, and seems to have been carefully arranged with reference to the student's needs. As the title indicates, it deals with cell physiology as well as anatomy. The book consists of nine chapters, with numerous subdivisions under each. Chapter I gives a general historical review of the cell theory, the protoplasmic theory, and the literature of the subject. The Chemico-physical and Morphological Properties of the Cell is the title of Chapter II. In the third, fourth, and fifth chapters the vital properties of the cell are discussed. These are followed by two chapters on The Vital Phenomena of the Cell. The title of Chapter VIII is Metabolic Changes occurring between Protoplasm, Nucleus, and Cell Products, and Chapter IX closes the book with a discussion of the cell as the elementary germ of an organism, embracing theories of heredity. The translation is well done despite the difficulties, which must have been considerable, as the editor says, in finding English equivalents for many of the German words. A good feature is the bibliography which is given after each chapter, thus enabling the student to readily follow out more in detail any special point which he may be curious about. The book is fairly well illustrated.

The last ten years have been marked, in botanical study, by numerous investigations upon the Archegoniates, as the ferns and mosses are collectively called from the peculiar character and resemblance of the organ in them corresponding with the pistil, and by the extension of our knowledge to many forms which were hitherto but very imperfectly known. But while the collected results of the earlier investigations prompted by Hofmeister's work have appeared for the most part only in test-books, where limitations of space prevented full justice being done to them, those of the later researches have only begun to find their way into the text-books. The author, who is Professor of Botany in Leland Stanford Junior University, has therefore undertaken the present work[5] mainly for the purpose of presenting, in somewhat detailed form, a summary of the substance of the great mass of literature upon the subject that has accumulated, much of which is out of reach of the botanical workers who have not access to the great libraries. Papers published by him from time to time have served as the basis of the work, and these have been supplemented by somewhat extended series of observations, the results of which are published now for the first time. The illustrations were, as a rule, made by the author from his own preparations, and most of them expressly for this work. A bibliography of fourteen pages and a full index make the work complete as a book.

Limited as is the district to which this volume of the work[6] is devoted, the southern tier of counties and the coast from the North Foreland to the Land's End, it presents an extraordinary variety of outline, soil, and climatic influences, and is hence of great interest to the climatologist and health-seeker. Each county is taken up separately. The general geological features and the surface configuration are first considered; then the climate, mortality statistics, and other facts bearing on the healthfulness of the more important towns; and finally a summing up of the diseases which are aggravated by and those benefited by a sojourn in this climate. For instance, "rheumatism prevails generally in Cornwall, which therefore is to be avoided by persons of rheumatic tendencies. The county as a whole presents influences, probably in the water, which are preventive of urinary stone and gravel." Devonshire, Somerset, Dorset, Hampshire, and the southeastern counties are dealt with in detail, and valuable conclusions drawn from their physical and climatic peculiarities. The portion of the work on medicinal springs occupies the last hundred pages, and consists of a consideration of the chemical composition of each water and its probable effect on the body, especially with reference to diseased conditions. The book contains a great deal of interesting information, much of which was before inaccessible to the general reader and practitioner, and with the companion volume promised will undoubtedly take rank as a standard treatise.

The rapid advances which have occurred during the past decade in all the sciences have been nowhere more marked than in the department of surgery. They have made necessary the publication of a book of 1082 octavo pages[7] as a supplement to a work of six volumes which seven years ago was a complete and exhaustive treatise on surgery. In this volume the aim has been to obtain a digest of accepted and valuable facts; mere novelty and possible future value not being considered sufficient warrant for serious consideration. In carrying out the intention to make the volume a supplement to its predecessors, the authors of the several articles have so far as possible avoided repeating the contents of the previous work. Some topics were originally so elaborately treated as to now require but little discussion, while others—such, for instance, as brain surgery—which may almost be said to have come into existence during the past seven years, have called for more space than did the article in the main portion of the work.

Diseases of the Vascular System and Thyroid Gland[8] is Part IV of a very thorough and extensive treatise on modern medical practice. While the subjects treated in this volume are few in number, they are of great importance to the general practitioner. The first article, to which more than half the volume is devoted, is on the diseases of the heart and pericardium, and was written by Dr. James T. Whittaker, of Cincinnati. An interesting section of the paper is devoted to the neuroses of the heart, and the portion on valvular affections also deserves special mention. The next two articles, Diseases of the Blood-vessels, by Dr. A. Ernest Sansom, of London, and Diseases of the Lymphatic Vessels, by Dr. Bertrand Dawson, also of London, seem to be complete, and to bring the subject up to date. The closing article is one of especial interest, by Dr. George Murray on diseases of the thyroid gland, including myxoedema, cretinism, exophthalmic goitre, and goitre, as well as inflammation and neoplasms.

A Revision of the Deltoid Moths, by John B. Smith, forms Bulletin No. 48 of a series of Smithsonian publications which are intended to illustrate the collection constituting the National Museum. Under the general term deltoids there are usually grouped in lists, catalogues, and collections the moths of a series of species and genera which have a somewhat distinctive appearance and habitus, but for which we have as yet no exclusive characters. The home of the group is in that region extending from Maine through Canada, west to the Great Lakes, southward along the Mississippi, and eastward through Ohio along the southern boundary of Pennsylvania to the Atlantic coast. All the species fly at night and are readily attracted to light and sugar. The book is well made, but will only be of interest to the specialist. It is illustrated with fourteen plates.

The third edition of Mr. Alfred Daniel's Text-hook of the Principles of Physics (Macmillan & Co., $4) has recently come to us. It maintains the characteristics of the previous editions, of clear statement and simple arrangement, and improves upon them in the correction of some minor errors which recent researches have brought to light, and in the adoption of a uniform notation, which will prove a great help to the student. Every equation is considered from the point of view of its dimensions, and this has necessitated the modification of some of the original text accordingly. The book is intended either as a preparation for the more valuable laboratory work of experimental physics or for those who have no access to a laboratory, and who must derive their physics entirely from book reading. Any one having a fair knowledge of mathematics ought to have no difficulty in following the text, which is illustrated wherever clearness is gained.

A valuable little textbook on Alternating Currents, by E. J. Houston and A. E. Kennelly, is the latest volume of the Electro-Technical Series to reach us. This subject of alternating currents is probably the most important and most difficult portion of modern electrical science. It is the department in which most of the advanced experimenters are working, and from which new and valuable results may at any time be expected. A very clear and simple explanation of the two forms of currents is first given, their differences explained and accounted for, and the means by which one may be transformed into the other described. The more important commercial applications of the alternating current in electric lamps and motors are then described in detail. Chapter XVII, which closes the book, discusses multiphase motors. (W. J. Johnston Co., N. Y.)

The Fourteenth Annual Report of the United States Geological Survey, for the years 1892-1893, consists of two volumes, the first of which contains the general reports of the director and heads of divisions. The second consists of a series of monographs on geology and related subjects. The first paper, by W J McGee, discusses the potable waters of the eastern United States. He first points out the large part which water takes in our dietaries, and the dangers which arise through its contamination; and then gives a general history of the methods which have been employed for storing and purifying it. In the next article A. C. Peale deals with the natural mineral waters of the United States. The different varieties are named and classified, and the paper is closed by an extended index of the mineral springs, arranged according to States. The Results of Stream Measurements is the title of the third paper, by F. H. Newell. The methods and special instruments by which the measurements are made are first described, and then the data resulting from their employment on various rivers are given. Besides these there are articles on the Laccolitic mountain groups of Colorado, Utah, and Arizona; The Gold-Silver Veins of Ophir, California; Geology of the Catoctin Belt; Tertiary Revolution in the Topography of the Pacific Coast; The Rocks of the Sierra Nevada; Pre-Cambrian Igneous Rocks of the Unkar Terraue, with notes on the petrographic character of the lavas; on the Structure of the Ridge between the Taconic and Green Mountain ranges in Vermont; The Structure of Monument Mountain in Great Barrington, Mass.; and The Potomac and Roaring Creek Coal Fields in West Virginia.

White's Outline Studies in the History of the United States (American Book Co., 30 cents) is an exercise book in which are printed questions which the pupil is to answer by writing or drawing in the blanks left for the purpose, or by marking localities on outline maps.

A volume of Short Studies in Nature Knowledge has been prepared by William Gee as an introduction to the science of physiography (Macmillan, 3s. 6d., $1.10). The chief geographical topics are taken up in successive chapters, beginning with the Great Globe itself and following with Mountains, Valleys, and Great Plains, The Sea, Rivers and their Work, The Winds of Heaven, The Force and the Filigree of Frost, etc. In style and language the book is adapted to pupils of an advanced grade. It is purely descriptive, and while containing a great number of facts the text is always readable and is frequently adorned with poetical quotations. Over a hundred illustrations, a glossary, and an index add to the value of the book.

Dr. Roger S. Tracy has put the chief rules of sanitation into a compact and handy form in his Handbook of Sanitary Information for Householders (Appletons, 50 cents). Taking as the object of sanitary science to secure good air, good food, and good water, he tells first how proper ventilation is to be provided. His longest chapter is that on house drainage, which contains the rules of the Board of Health of New York city. There is a chapter on disinfection, supplemented by a list of the common disinfectants, with a brief description of each, and the average price at retail. With regard to foods he tells what adulterations are found in the chief articles of consumption and how they may be detected. Means of testing water and guarding against impurities in it are also given. An appendix contains a list of the materials needed for fitting up water-closets, with prices.

A second edition has appeared of The Theory of Light, by Thomas Preston (Macmillan & Co., 15,s., $5), which was noticed in this magazine in 1891. In the new edition the text has been revised and has been augmented by more than a hundred pages of new matter, in conjunction with which several new diagrams have been introduced. The changes occur chiefly in those portions which relate to the rectilinear propagation of light, wave reflection and refraction, and the application of graphic methods to the solution of diffraction problems. More detail has been introduced in some places, especially in the chapter on the velocity of light, where the experiments of Prof. Newcomb have been described.

The Report of the Department of Health of the City of Chicago for 1894 is notable as covering the latter and more serious half of an epidemic of smallpox lasting from the middle of 1893 to the middle of 1894. By vigorous preventive and remedial measures—over a million free vaccinations being performed—the deaths were kept down to a total of 1,003. This gave a rate of 5·58 to each 10,000 of population against 16·74 in 1864, 17·80 in 1872, and 23·07 in 1882, which were epidemic years. The experience of the health officers in many difficult cases that they had to deal with are given. The report includes a description of the water supply of Chicago by the Commissioner of Health, Arthur R. Reynolds, M. D., the vital statistics of the city, and special reports on the municipal laboratory, on sanitary and meat inspection, on smoke nuisances, and free public baths.

The American Book Company has issued several simple German texts in board covers at 25 cents each. Three of them now before us are by Seidel and Stifter, two writers of the present century characterized by their naturalness of style. Each book contains about fifty pages of text and a twenty-page vocabulary. They are printed in the Schwabacher type, which is more open and hence more grateful to the eyes than the ordinary German print. In cheaper form and smaller are the Germania Texts, edited by A. W. Spanhoofd (10 cents each). They are designed to supply to advanced classes specimens of the less familiar German authors which have been accessible only in expensive volumes. Among the authors already or soon to be represented are Cholevius, Gervinus, Bürger, Kurz, Goethe, and Khull. The selections are printed in Roman type.

A system of abbreviations has been published by its inventor, Rev. D. A. Quinn, under the title Stenotypy (the author, 125 Governor Street, Providence; paper, $1 cloth, $1.50). It is designed as a substitute for shorthand, to be used on the typewriter, but there is nothing to prevent its being written with the pen or printed from type. The inventor claims that a hundred and twenty words a minute can be written in this system by an ordinary and three hundred words a minute by an expert typewriter operator, and that only a few hours are needed for learning it in place of the many weeks or months required for learning shorthand. He recommends it especially for use with the telegraph and for persons who read addresses from manuscript, as well as for all mercantile and newspaper work. The first line of Hamlet's soliloquy appears as follows in stenotypy: 2 B R nt 2 B T Z' qst 6.

The List of Books for Girls and Women prepared by Augusta H. Leypoldt and George Lies (Library Bureau; cloth, $1; paper, 50 cents) brings helpfully together inquirers and authorities in the literature of art, science, and recreation. Its twenty-one hundred works have been chosen by specialists of mark, who add descriptive and critical notes of refreshing independence. Although the list is designed for girls and women, nine tenths of its titles and fully half its hints for clubs would serve boys and men very gainfully. The editors state that this list will probably be followed by others more detailed, the aim being to pass brief, competent judgments on the whole working literature of our time.

The Sexuality of Nature, by L. H. Grindon (Boston, Mass.: New-Church Union, 75 cents), attempts to prove that "Nature is a system of nuptials. Everything in creation partakes either of masculine or feminine qualities. Animals and plants, earth, air, water, color, heat, light, music, thought, speech, the sense of the beautiful, the adaptation of the soul for heaven—all exist as the offspring or products of a kind of marriage." Under the consideration of inorganic substances we find: "And again, by the marriage of oxygen and nitrogen, two gases invisible and innocuous, nitric acid, a yellow, ferocious liquid, is produced." The book is a novel one, and may interest the psychologist. Its science, however, seems rather uncertain, as the formation of a "ferocious liquid," nitric acid, by the "marriage" of oxygen and nitrogen, is something that has not as yet been successfully accomplished in the laboratory.

Pan-Gnosticism, by Noel Winter (Transatlantic Publishing Co.), is described on its title-page as "the outlines for a methodized course of thought, in which is submitted a proposition transfiguring the present ultimate conclusions of philosophy: and to the effect that inscrutability is a delusion; or, in other words, that the conditions necessary to absolute mystery involve an absurdity."

A volume of short passages in prose and verse—from two to five to a page—all relating to Patriotic Citizenship, has been prepared by Thomas J. Morgan (American Book Co., $1). The matter is carefully arranged on a plan intended to stimulate an intelligent patriotism. A large number of authors and speakers, mostly American, has been drawn upon, ranging in time from Edmund Burke and Patrick Henry to persons now prominent in literature and affairs. An appropriate illustration stands at the head of each chapter.

A collection of Readings and Recitations for Jewish Homes and Schools, made by Isabel E. Cohen, has been issued by The Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia. The selections are mostly poems dealing with episodes in Hebrew history and legend, and are drawn from the works of the best English and American writers. Among the names oftenest appearing are Byron, Disraeli, Emma Lazarus, Longfellow, Charles Reade, and Whittier.

Results of Primary Triangulation, by H. Gannett, is the title of Bulletin No. 122 of the United States Geological Survey. The triangulation of the survey is executed solely for the primary control of topographic work upon scales not exceeding 1: 62,500, The extreme of accuracy is not therefore sought, but only such a degree as to insure that the maximum accumulated error will be imperceptible upon the maps. The results are arranged in chapters by geographical groups, and as an introduction to each chapter there is given a description of the work, outlining the methods employed and instruments used. The groups into which the work is divided are roughly as follows: New England, the Middle Atlantic States, the Southern Appalachian Region, some of the North Middle States, the Black Hills of South Dakota, Aspen, Colorado, and portions of California, the plateau region of New Mexico and Arizona, Texas, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Kansas. There are a number of triangulation maps which illustrate the work done in the various groups.

The second volume of Prof. Wiley's Principles and Practice of Agricultural Analysis (Chemical Publishing Company, Easton, Pa., $2) is devoted to fertilizers. In the first three divisions the determination of phosphoric acid, nitrogen, and potash is described, the official methods and a number of other processes being given in each case. The fourth and concluding part is devoted to the examination of miscellaneous fertilizers, some of mineral and others of organic origin. The general principles of fertilizer manufacture and application have been presented, in so far as they seemed to the author to throw light on the rational method of examination and analysis. A list of authorities cited is given at the end of each division of the volume, and there are seventeen figures of apparatus.

  1. Practical Dietetics, with Special Reference to Diet in Disease. By Gilman Thompson, M. D. Pp. 802, 8vo. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Price, cloth, $5; sheep, $6.
  2. The Natural History of Plants. By Dr. Anton Kerner von Marilaun. Half volumes III and IV. Pp. 983, large 8vo. New York: Henry Holt & Co. Price, $7.50. London: Blackie & Son. Price, 25s. net.
  3. Nursery Ethics. By Florence Hull Winterburn. New York: The Merriam Company. Pp. 341, 12mo. Price, %1.
  4. The Cell: Outlines of General Anatomy and Physiology. By Dr. Oscar Hertwig. Pp. 368, 12mo. London: Swan, Sonnenschein & Co. Price, 21s. New York: Macmillan & Co. Price, $3.
  5. The Structure and Development of Mosses and Ferns (Archegoniatæ). By Douglas Houghton Campbell. Pp. 544, 8vo. London and New York: Macmillan & Co. Price, $4.50; 14s.
  6. The climates and Baths of Great Britain, being the Report of a Committee of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society of London. Vol. I. Pp. 640, 8vo. New York and London: Macmillan & Co. Price, $6.50; 21s.
  7. The International Text-Book of Surgery. Vol. VII. Edited by John Ashhurst. New York: William Wood & Co.
  8. Twentieth Century Practice and International Encyclopædia of Modern Medical Science. In twenty volumes. Edited by Thomas L. Stedman, M. D. Vol. IV, Diseases of the Vascular System and Thyroid Gland Pp. 841, 8vo. New York: William Wood & Co.