Popular Science Monthly/Volume 51/May 1897/Notes


The presidents of sections of the British Association, nominated for the coming meeting at Toronto, are: Section A, Mathematical and Physical Science, Prof. A. R. Forsyth, F. R. S.; B, Chemistry, Prof. W. Ramsay, F. R. S; 0, Geology, Dr. G. M. Dawson, C. M. G. F. R. S.; D, Zoology, Prof. L C. Miall, F. R. S.; E, Geography, Mr. J. Scott Keltic; F. Economic Science and Statistics, Prof. E. C. K. Gonner; G, Mechanical Science, Mr. G. F. Deacon; H, Anthropology, Prof. Sir W. Turner, F. R. S.; I, Physiology, Prof. M. Foster, Sec. R. S.; K, Botany, Prof. H. Marshall Ward, F. R. S. The evening discourses will be delivered by Prof. Roberts-Austen, C. B., F. R. S., and Prof. John Milne, F. R. S.

A banquet was recently given by scientific men of France to Mme. Clémence Rover in celebration of her seventieth birthday. She is eminent in the study of the mental traits of animals; translated Darwin's work into French; is an advocate of evolution; and is the author of articles on the Mental Faculties of Monkeys, and Animal Arithmetic, which were published in the Popular Science Monthly several years ago.

Mr. Herbert Spencer was offered the honorary degree of Doctor of Science by the authorities of the University of Cambridge, but, adhering to his uniform practice, from which he says he can not depart, has declined it.

The Emperor of Germany has just decorated Dr. Roux, the discoverer, with Dr. Behring, of the vaccine against diphtheria. Two years ago Pasteur refused a similar honor, for reasons of his own. Dr. Roux, although the intimate friend and successor of the great scientist, did not allow his loyalty toward his master to stand in the way of accepting this mark of recognition from the foreign potentate.

The Paris Academy of Sciences has awarded an Arago medal to Lord Kelvin, on the occasion of the jubilee of his professorship in Glasgow University. In conferring it, M. Cornu. the president, touching on the testimonies coming from all parts of the world, said: "Nothing is more consoling for the future than the spectacle of these honors rendered by delegates of all nations to great men of science like Kelvin and Pasteur, who so worthily represent science in its loftiest and at the same time most beneficent aspect."

According to the Times, the Government intends to introduce next session a bill to promote free vaccination throughout England, following continental methods. A small committee, headed by Dr. Thorne Thome, of the Local Government Board, has investigated these methods in Paris at the Institut Vaccinal and the Académie de Médecine, and in Brussels at the École de Médecine, and at Dr. Janssen's vaccination department under the municipality of the city. They intend also to investigate the modes of procedure in Germany.

Edward D. Cope, Professor of Zoölogy and Comparative Anatomy in the School of Biology at the University of Pennsylvania, died in his museum in Philadelphia, April 12th, aged about fifty-seven years. The illness which took him away was one from which he had been a sufferer for many years. He delivered his last lecture at the university two weeks before his death, had been able to attend to some scientific work the Wednesday previous, and his condition had been alarming only for four days. A sketch of his life and work to that time, and a portrait, were given in the Popular Science Monthly for May, 1881. He was presiding officer of the Biological Section of the American Association in 1884, and was president of the Buffalo meeting of the association in 1896. His later publications since our sketch have been: Origin of Man and other Vertebrates, 1885; Tertiary Vertebrates, 1885; The Energy of Life Evolution, and how it has Acted, 1885; The Origin of the Fittest, 1886; and The Primary Factors of Organic Evolution, 1896. Prof. Cope was most eminent in paleontology, but was distinguished in many other branches of biology.

Prof. James Joseph Sylvester, of the University of Oxford, died in London, March 15th, in the eighty-third year of his age. He was born in London, September 3, 1814, was graduated from St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1837, as second wrangler, was appointed Professor of Natural Philosophy in the University of London, and in 1841 became a professor in the University of Virginia. He did not, however, remain there quite a year, but returned to London, found employment as an actuary and conveyancer, and was called to the bar in 1850. He was appointed Professor of Mathematics in the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, retired from this position in 1862, and was appointed Professor of Mathematics in Johns Hopkins University. Here his abilities seemed for the first time to have free scope, and his career was brilliant. He established the American Journal of Mathematics, through which and by his personal teaching and influence he gave a great vitality to mathematical study in this country which still pervades it. In 1883 he was elected Savillian Professor of Mathematics in the University of Oxford, where he repeated the success he had achieved at Johns Hopkins and exerted as potent an influence.

Prof. Henry Drummond, who died in March, 1897, was best known to scientific and the religious circles by his book on Natural Law in the Spiritual World, which touched upon points in which both were interested. His later volume, a collection of Lowell Lectures, on the Ascent of Man, also went into both fields. These books, however, well intentioned and readable as they were, were subjected to adverse criticism from both sides. In 1879 he accompanied Sir Archibald Geikie in a geological tour in the Rocky Mountains, and afterward visited the Scotch mission stations in East South Africa. A result of this visit was a very interesting book on Tropical Africa.

Mr. Sidney Walker, fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society since 1873, whose death was recently announced, read several papers on nebulæ before the society, and contributed an article on the distribution of the stars in the southern hemisphere to the Monthly Notices for 1878. He made two very fine maps showing the distribution of the nebulæ and clusters in Dr. Dreyer's catalogue.

M. Antoine T. d'Abbadie, a member of the French Academy of Science since 1857, in the Section of Geography and Navigation, died in Paris, after a long illness, March 20th, in his eighty-seventh year. His scientific work included exploration, astronomy, geodesy, physics, and numismatics. In 1893 he bequeathed to the Academy, reserving a life interest to his wife, the chateau of Abbadie, in the Pyrenees, which yields an annual revenue of 20,000 francs, and bank shares yielding 15,000 francs. He was one of the earlier explorers of Abyssinia, observed the eclipse of the sun of 1882 in Santo Domingo, and published important works on geographical exploration and geodesy.

Prof. Charles Tomlinson, who died February 14th, in his eighty-ninth year, was on the Council of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, a fellow of the Royal Society, a fellow of the Chemical Society, and one of the founders of the Physical Society. For a number of years he was lecturer on Experimental Science at King's College, and was examiner in physics to the Birkbeck Institution. He held the Dante lectureship at University College, 1878–’80. He wrote many bandy text-books on natural philosophy, meteorology, and natural history, and contributed largely to the Transactions of the Royal and Chemical Societies. In 1854 he edited Tomlinson's Cyclopædia of Useful Arts, Mechanical and Chemical, Manufactures, Mining, and Engineering. He compiled the lives of Smeeton, Cuvier, and Linnæus, and the notices of scientific men in The English Cyclopædia of Biography.

Among the men of science abroad who have died are Dr. Nikolai Zdekaner, St. Petersburg, member of the Imperial Academy of Sciences, and known for his work in behalf of hygiene and knowledge of epidemics; Herr Alois Rogenhofer, formerly Curator of the Imperial Natural History Museum in Vienna; Dr. Hermann von Noerdlinger, formerly Professor of Forestry in Tübingen University; Dr Luigi Calori, Professor of Anatomy in the University of Bologna; Dr. J. D. E. Weyer, Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy in the University of Kiel; and M. Vivien de St. Martin, famous for his researches in ancient geography.

The death is announced of Mr. Henry Boswell, a noted bryologist. Beginning his botanical studies with flowering plants, he later on turned his attention to the study of mosses, both British and foreign, and made a fine collection.

It seems certain that eels, while not exactly amphibious, venture to spend considerable intervals of time on the land, away from water. A German zoölogist, Herr Frenzel, as well as several other persons, recently observed a young eel, about five inches long, concealed in the network of the superficial roots of a bush. It had come from a pond about fourteen feet away, and six feet lower down, and must have exerted vigorous efforts to climb the bank.

A consignment of the American crawfish (Cambarus affinis) has been received at the French agricultural station Fécamp, for acclimatation and propagation. These crustaceans are said to have been taken from the waters of the Potomac. They are sought because they appear not to be subject to the disease which has carried away most of the crawfish in the rivers of France, and are intended to make up for the loss occasioned thereby.

One of the latest papers of the late Sir Benjamin Ward Richardson set forth the qualities of organic membranes as insulators. Experiments were cited by the author going to show that various membranes of the animal body, in addition to performing the functions usually ascribed to them, are also electrical insulators, and by their presence confine and render useful the vital force that is developed in the organs they surround.