Popular Science Monthly/Volume 49/July 1896/General Notices
The author's Fungi: their Nature, Influence, and Uses, which appeared in 1875 and passed through several editions, has long been the standard, and probably one of the best and most comprehensive works in our language on the subject. The rapid advance in knowledge of the life history and development of these organisms during the last ten years, and especially the large scheme of classification carried out by Prof. Saccardo, have, however, made it essential that, in order to keep pace with the times, a guide and introduction should be prepared for the use of students, which, without superseding the volume of 1875 as a popular instructor, should treat the subject more after the manner of a text-book, adapted to the illustration of recent discoveries, and an explanation of the methods of classification. The present work is the result of an effort to supply this want. The first part of the book—organography—relates to the general character and features of the fungi. An attempt is made in the introduction to differentiate them from the other cryptogams, and particularly from the other thallophytes, the algae and the lichens. Then the mycelium is described, and in the succeeding chapters the carpophore, or the supporter of the fructification; the receptacle, or envelope of the fructification where there is an envelope; the fructification, fertilization, dichocarpism, or the existence of two distinct forms of fructification; saprophytes and parasites, or fungi that grow on dead and those that grow on living organisms; and the constituents of fungi. The second part is devoted to classification, and begins with a chapter on fungi in general, after which the phycomycetes, the higher fungi, the meromycetes, and the mycomycetes, and their subdivisions—naked, spored, puffball, discoid, subterranean, capsular, gaping, conjugating, rust, mold, and slime fungi, and the rest—are described. The third part includes chapters on the Census of Fungi and their geographical distribution, and an appendix on collecting, to all of which are added a glossary and an index, together with bibliographies of each department.
The sixth edition of M. Schützenberger's standard work on Fermentation is substantially a new book. It has been brought up abreast of the present condition of the science, which has made so great advances under the impulse given it by the discoveries of Pasteur. Nothing is required to be said of the importance of the theory of fermentations in science, and in its innumerable applications in the industries, agriculture, hygiene, and medicine. Many of the most important economical processes are dependent upon the action of ferments. In other processes the equally important thing is to prevent or stay it. In the first part of the book the author treats of the fermentations brought about by the intervention of an organized or figured ferment—alcoholic, viscous, lactic, ammoniacal, or butyric—and by oxidation; the second part is devoted to fermentations provoked by the soluble products elaborated by living organisms.
A series of Chemical Experiments has been prepared by R. P. Williams, author of two other chemical books (Ginn, 60 cents). The experiments are adapted for use with any text-book of chemistry, or without a text-book. They are especially designed to show the properties of substances and classes of substances, and more than half of the one hundred and two experiments—or, more properly, sets of experiments—deal with the reactions used in qualitative analysis. By means of a systematic and condensed mode of statement, directions for a great many operations are put into a moderate compass. The qualities that the author has especially aimed to give his manual are thus stated: "In preparing the experiments the author has endeavored, first, to select such as are most instructive and best illustrate the subject without being too elaborate; second, to arrange them in an order calculated to lead up by the most natural and easiest steps to a knowledge of the science; third, to make the subject fascinating by giving just enough information and suggestion to interest the experimenter, and to make him work for the knowledge to be gained. Finally, the author has aimed to make the book simple enough for the dull and slow pupil, and, by the introduction of supplementary and original work, elaborate enough for the most acute." In the analytical part the reactions are given first for each metal of a group separately, thus showing why each reagent is added, and the whole group is then treated in the same way. The value of this method will doubtless be generally admitted. All the right-hand pages of the volume are left blank for notes or memoranda; there are lists of apparatus and chemicals required, directions for making solutions, suggestions for work and note-taking, and a plan of the laboratory of the Boston English High School, where the author is instructor in chemistry. There are thirty-nine cuts of apparatus.
The Practical Inorganic Chemistry, recently prepared by Dr. G. S. Turpin, of Swansea (Macmillan, 60 cents), is a small experimental manual for beginners, which opens with laboratory exercises that might be classed as either physics or chemistry, and after some drill on setting up apparatus proceeds through a series of simple chemical experiments, including three or four in which quantitative results are required, up to systematic qualitative analysis. The exercises run to one hundred and sixteen in number, and there are sixty-one figures of apparatus
The Sublimmal Self (a part of our mind or faculty which apparently exists below the ordinary consciousness) is the chief subject considered in Part XXIX of the Proceedings of the Incorporated Society for Psychical Research. (Secretaries' offices, 19 Buckingham Street, Adelphi, W. C, London, and 5 Boylston Place, Boston, Mass.; 4s.) In preceding parts of the Proceedings, issued in 1891, 1892, and 1893, Mr. F. W. H. Myers has published seven chapters on this subject, and now in Chapters VIII and IX he continues the presentation and discussion of evidence bearing upon it. He states the general characteristic of the occurrences recorded as "to show us fragments of knowledge coming to us in obscure and often symbolical ways, and extending over a wider tract of time than any faculty known to us can be stretched to cover. On the one side there is retrocognition, or knowledge of the past, extending back beyond the reach of our ordinary memory; on the other side there is precognition, or knowledge of the future, extending onward beyond the scope of our ordinary inference." Instances of retrocognition differ from those usually classed as telepathy mainly in occurring after instead of at the time of the event. Those of precognition have been known before under the name of premonitions or warnings. A brief note in the same part states that a series of experiments tried by a committee with an Italian spiritualist medium had resulted in revealing nothing but systematic trickery. There is also a brief report of the Hypnotic Committee, a list of members, etc.
A bulletin of much practical value, on Timber, prepared by Filibert Roth, has been issued by the United States Department of Agriculture. It gives the structure and appearance of hard and soft woods, and describes their mechanical properties and the methods employed for testing them. Other characteristics dealt with in less space are weight, moisture, shrinkage in seasoning, chemical properties, durability, and decay. Directions for distinguishing the different kinds of wood are given, and there are an analytical key to the more important woods of North America and an alphabetical descriptive list of the same. The pamphlet is fully illustrated.
The Manual of Phonography prepared by Norman P. Heffley (American Book Company, $1.25) is designed especially for class use, but may be used for self-instruction. It is based on the ninth edition of Isaac Pitman's Phonography, but embodies many improvements in teaching that have been made in recent years. The book is thus described by the author: "The 'corrresponding' and 'reporting' styles have been blended into a natural and orderly method, each principle when introduced being thoroughly explained and its application illustrated by ample practice in reading and writing. . . . The number of arbitrary word signs has been reduced to a minimum consistent with requirements for all purposes, and the entire system has been rearranged into a series of easy and progressive lessons. . . . It contains a complete exposition of all the principles, word sign?, and contractions that are requisite for the most difficult reporting purposes."
In the bulletin on Farmers' Institutes in 1894-'95, issued by the Michigan State Agricultural College, there are reported nine institutes—abstracts of the papers read, and brief summaries of the discussions held at each, being given. These reports have a liveliness and meatiness that mark the meetings as occasions of much profit.
Whittaker, in London, and Macmillan, in New York, publish The Chemists Compendium, compiled by C. J. S. Thompson (price, $1). It is a handbook of information for druggists, containing the formulas of the British Pharmacopœia given briefly and arranged alphabetically, a posological table, the unofficial formulary of the British Pharmaceutical Conference, some directions for dispensing French and German prescriptions, besides many lists and tables relating to analysis, poisons, photographic chemicals, freezing mixtures, doses for domestic animals, artificial fruit essences, solubilities, etc., etc.
Volume XXXIV of the Annals of the Harvard Observatory is devoted to a Catalogue of 7,922 Southern Stars, by Solon I. Bailey. These observations were made from the top of Mount Harvard, near Lima, Peru, and are intended to furnish magnitudes for the southern stars on the same scale as that on which the magnitudes of the northern stars are expressed in Volumes XIV and XXIV. Two chapters describing respectively the plan and the reduction of the observations are prefixed, and another, giving a history of the expedition, in which the obstacles encountered are described and information as to the suitability of a number of sites for astronomical work is given. Part IV of Volume XL and Part III of Volume XLI of the Annals are devoted to meteorology. The former is a report on the Observations made at the Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory in 1894 under the direction of A Lawrence Rotch. An appendix to the tables gives the results of a series of comparisons of anemometers begun in 1892. The latter of these publications embodies the Observations of the New England Weather Service, which has one hundred and ninety-two volunteer observers, with J. Warren Smith as director. Accompanying the tabulated observations and based upon them are a description of the weather month by month, a list of severe storms, and a map showing the mean annual isotherms in New England for 1894.
Terrestrial Magnetism is a quarterly journal which has been added to the list of periodical publications of the University of Chicago. It is edited by Dr. L. A. Bauer and a corps of associates representing most of the countries of Europe, the United States, China, Java, and Australia, the intention being to give it an international character. All languages that can be printed with Roman characters will be admitted to its pages. The chief contributions to the first number (January, 1896) are: On Electric Currents induced by Rotating Magnets, and their Application to Some Phenomena of Terrestrial Magnetism, by Arthur Schuster, F. R. S.; and Die Vertheilung des erdmagnetischen Potentials in Bezug auf beliebige Durchmesser der Erde, by Dr. Ad. Schmidt. This number contains also a photographic reproduction of Halley's earliest equal variation chart, with a brief history by the editor. (University of Chicago press, $2 a year.)
The Bachelor and the Chafing Dish is the title of a little book for the gourmet, by Deshler Welch. The work consists of a number of "informal" receipts for preparations which can be cooked in a chafing dish. There is considerable somewhat amusing and desultory talk interlarded, most of the receipts being given after the description of an appropriate situation, such as a camp in the woods or at a sick friend's bedside. There is appended a glossary of the various terms used in cooking. (F. Tennyson Neeley, Chicago.)
On account of its covering part of the year of the Columbian Exposition, the Report of the Commissioner of Education for 1892-'93 contains an unusually wide range of interesting matter. The Exposition material includes essays on the educational exhibit, as a whole, by various American writers; many accounts of American education by foreign visitors; notes on the exhibits of separate States and foreign countries; and a series of papers prepared for the World's Library Congress, which together constitute a treatise on library economy. Among the subjects presented in other parts of the report are American Educational History; the Report of the Committee of Ten on Secondary School Studies, with papers relating thereto; Pecuniary Aid for Students; the Education of the Negro; and Medical Education. The usual statistics are presented. Those of the common schools show an increase of 1·2 per cent in enrollment and 3·45 per cent in average attendance over the preceding year.
Number 1 of Volume III of The Transit, a magazine published by the Engineering Society of the State University of Iowa, is entirely taken up by a monograph on Portland Cement, from the pen of Charles D. Jameson, Professor of Engineering at the university. A general consideration of the properties of lime and cement is followed by some historical data regarding the early use of cement both here and abroad, a general review of the methods of manufacture and testing, and the chemical processes concerned in the hardening of hydraulic cements. A number of good pictures show the various pieces of apparatus employed in its manufacture, and several structures in which the so-called monolithic, or artificial stone construction, has been used.
The last publication in the New Brunswick school series to reach us is a little Teachers' Manual of Nature Lessons, by John Brittain. It aims only, the author says, to be a useful index to some of the elementary chapters of the book of Nature, and to indicate briefly the means by which children may be led to read them with pleasure and profit. The text consists of suggestions for talks and simple experiments illustrating some of the more elementary facts of geology, chemistry, physics, and natural history. (J. & A. McMillan, St. John, N. B.)
A historical and descriptive sketch of The Yellowstone National Park, by H. M. Chittendon, has recently come to hand. It deals first and principally with the history of the upper Yellowstone, from the days of the early explorers to the present time. The descriptive portion of the work contains a fairly comprehensive treatment of the natural features of the park. Some good maps and a number of well-chosen pictures, the latter of which are somewhat marred by poor paper and printing, add value to the book. A few illustrated biographical sketches of the early explorers and a bibliography of the literature pertaining to the region are appended.
Much of the time expended in computations is wasted through the use of an excessive number of places of figures, and through failure to employ logarithm tables. The use of logarithms for work of four or more places, not only effects an important saving of time over direct multiplication or division, but also conduces to greater accuracy. Computation Rules and Logarithms, by S. W. Holman, consists of a number of simple rules indicating the number of places to be used in a given computation; "an explanation of the use of the notation by powers of ten; certain instructions, more or less novel in form, as to the use of the logarithm and other tables; and a collection of useful tables." The book is well bound and printed. (Macmillan, $1.)
The Molecular Theory of Matter, which has seldom been given more space outside of Germany than a chapter or two in a general work on physics, now has a volume, by A. D. Risteen, devoted to it (Ginn, $2). After giving some general considerations, the author divides his subject into the kinetic theory of gases, of liquids, and of solids, molecular magnitudes, and the constitution of molecules. He aims only to present the accepted views on these topics in a form that can be readily grasped by students, and where competent physicists disagree he lets the fact be known. There are frequent references to original sources, and some fifty diagrams and other figures are used.
The Eclectic School Readings is a series of books to supplement the usual school reading books. Two have come to us, Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans, designed for the usual second-reader grade, and Stories of American Life and Adventure, for the third-reader grade (American Book Company, 40 cents and 50 cents). Both are by Edward Eggelston, who has aimed to lighten the labor of learning to read by presenting stories containing enough spirit and movement to interest the young. He has also seized the opportunity to implant a love of America in the American child by drawing his subjects from what might be called the heroic age of the United States. We are glad to see such a master hand in writing "true stories" enlisted in the service of the young. The only improvement we could suggest would be to combine a love of Nature with a love of country. A combination of Eggleston and Burroughs, for example, would yield a product well-nigh perfect.
The Eighth Biennial Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of Illinois is devoted to taxation, and it shows how large property owners, especially in the chief city of the State, throw an unfair portion of the burden of taxation upon their poorer neighbors. This is accomplished by undervaluations often grotesquely small, and by assessing vacant land lower than land of equal value bearing improvements. While Chicago real estate receives most attention, considerable information concerning the property of railroad and other corporations in the State is presented. The Bureau recommends that State taxes be levied solely on site values of land, and advocates several changes in administration. An appendix contains information concerning the coal-miners' strike in 1894, and the decision of the State Supreme Court on the Sweat-shop Act. A compilation of the Labor Laws of the State of Illinois is included in the same volume.
In Statesman and Demagog, a pamphlet by Alphonse Allman, of San Francisco, a dynamical theory of money is presented, with many mechanical analogies and diagrams. Unfortunately, his analogies seem to run away with him in places, and in making his theory plain to those versed in mechanical principles he has obscured it from every one else.
In Bilder aus der deutschen Litteratur the student is given a bird's-eye view of the field, with many favorite ballads, some extracts from longer pieces, and the outlines of the chief prose works, but without too many dates and statistics. The author, Prof. I. Keller, of the Normal College, New York, has aimed to use language which the student can read at sight (American Book Company, 75 cents).
The Secret of Mankind (Putnams, $2) belongs to a class of books to which the name Utopian might be given, as it presents the (anonymous) author's ideal of human society in the form of a description of an imaginary state. Another favorite form of writing with a certain class of writers—conversations with the shades of the departed great—is also used. Metaphysics, ethics, government, and education are the chief topics discussed.
Under the title Light on Current Topics (Massachusetts New Church Union, Boston, $1) a series of lectures setting forth the teaching of the Swedenborgian Church on certain topics of present interest has been issued in book form. Among the subjects tieated by various lecturers arc, Theosophy and Religion, The Relation of the Church to the State and to Secular Affairs, and Pauperism and Crime.
The Interstate Commerce Commission has issued its seventh annual volume of Statistics of Railways in the United States, giving information about mileage, capital, earnings and other income, expenditures, and charges against income on account of capital covering the year ending with June, 1894. The year was exceptional in several ways. It included the last four months of the Columbian Exposition, which had an important influence on the passenger traffic, and it covered a part of the period of the recent business depression. The latter fact is apparent in all the tables, and especially in the unequaled percentage of the mileage of the country in the hands of receivers.
In its Report on Coal in Illinois for 1894, the Board of Commissioners of Labor of that State has presented statistics on the output of mines, value of the coal, cost of mining, number of employees, days of active operation, wages, the use of powder, casualties, and the ventilation of mines. This information is arranged both according to districts as reported by the several State inspectors of mines and in summary form. An appendix contains statistics of the coal-miners' strike of 1894 and of the world's production of coal, the latter reprinted from a report by Robert Giffen to the British House of Commons.
The Report of the United States Commission to the Columbian Historical Exposition at Madrid comprises a brief account of the participation of the United States in the Exposition, by Rear-Admiral Luce, who was the commissioner-general for this country; a report by Dr. Daniel G. Brinton on the collections exhibited; catalogues of the anthropological, numismatic, historical, and other objects sent by various institutions and government departments of the United States; and descriptive essays on several classes of these objects. Mr. William E. Curtis furnishes a report on the historical part of the exhibit, which included seventy-seven portraits of Columbus, only one of which was made during his life, and a considerable number of pictures representing places identified with the life history of Columbus, or the remains of Spanish occupation in the United States, or subjects connected with the origin of the name America. Many of the portraits are reproduced, and other parts of the volume are fully illustrated.