Popular Science Monthly/Volume 53/August 1898/Notes


A very interesting excursion is offered by La Nature to its subscribers, from the 4th till the 16th of August, to the central plateau of France, with its caves, gorges, and mountain ascents. An itinerary has been prepared contemplating a visit each day to some of the remarkable and curiously attractive spots in which the region abounds, including an experience of subterranean navigation in the Gouffre of Padisac, the Gouffre of Réveillon, the mines and factories of Decazeville, the buried forest of la Mougudo, the viaduct of Garabit, the Course du Sauveterre, navigation of the Gorges of the Tarn, the Grotto of Dargillan, and ascensions of the Puy Mary, with lunch on the summit, and of l'Aigoual. The entire cost of the excursion, covering all ordinary expenditures, is two hundred and fifty francs, or fifty dollars, from Rocamadour, where it begins, to Vigan, where it ends, with reduced railroad fares going and coming.

Dr. Stuart Jenkins has not been satisfied with the adequacy of the Darwinian doctrine of descent and natural selection. He is peculiarly struck with its failures to explain the infertility of hybrids and to fill the gap between the invertebrates and the vertebrates. After several years of independent study and investigation of the subject, he has published his conclusion in an elaborate article in the Medical Age that "the vertebrate organism, instead of being a single organism which has been evolved from a simple to its present highly complex form by a gradual and cumulative differentiation, is in fact a compound made up of two distinct organisms constantly associated; . . . that the divergence of the vertebrates from the lower type was caused by the plantation of one organism of the ganglionic type upon another, the implanted organism giving rise to the cerebro-spinal nerve system and internal skeleton." The author further believes that the ganglionic type is itself a compound, the ganglions being parasitic on a simple cellular matrix.

A resolution passed by the American Association at its Detroit meeting suggested, as a remedy for the obstacles imposed on the interchange of scientific thought by the prevailing diversity of tongues, the adoption by the civilized nations of an alternate language of Learning, Law, and Commerce, to be taught in higher schools in combination with the mother tongue, and used in interlingual correspondence and printed records. The resolution farther authorized the officers of the association to pledge its co-operation in a general movement seeking that end, and to provide for its representation in any conference on the subject that may be called.

The Guildford Natural History Society, England, is trying to have Walmer Forest set apart as a sanctuary for wild birds, in which they and their nests and eggs may remain unmolested throughout the year; that it may not be let at any time for game preserving or for any purpose hostile to birds; and that it remain in perpetuity a national memorial of Gilbert White.

A notice, with portrait, of the late James Joseph Sylvester, Savilian professor of geometry in the University of Oxford, and formerly professor of mathematics in Johns Hopkins University, appears in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London for May 9th. In the writer's opinion, Sylvester was one of the greatest mathematicians of all time, .though it may be doubted whether he will take a place among those who "occupy absolutely the front rank" His greatest achievement was probably his paper entitled Algebraical Researches, printed in the Philosophical Transactions for 1864; but his published works do not properly represent his genius and greatness. He was so oppressed with floods of ideas that he was unable suitably to organize his researches. His personal character was one of singular beauty, and its salient points were simplicity and honesty.

A copper mask found inside the wrappings of a mummy pack in a grave at Chimbote, Peru, and in a valley thickly dotted with ancient cemeteries, is believed by Mr. George A. Dorsey to be unique. It was hammered from a single nugget of copper, and shaped by the aid of a mold or block. All the features are well formed and distinctive except the nose, which is pinched and dwarfed. A hole was made for the mouth, the ragged edges showing the method of the operation being still visible within.

A rather unusual competition is described by the Lancet as recently occurring in Milan. It seems that the nose possesses a peculiar significance for the Italians—so much, in fact, that they have a "cult of the nose," which has during the last seven years held two "concorsi di nasi" (nose competitions). The former of these was at Padua in 1891. The more recent one took place at Milan, when there were thirty-six competitors, the first prize being a gold medal.

We have to record the deaths, not previously mentioned in the Monthly, among men known in science, of Dr. Joseph Albert Lintner, State Entomologist of New York since 1881, at Rome, Italy, May 5th, aged seventy-six years; Ch. W. A. Herrman, formerly professor of mineralogy in the University of Breslau, but since 1853 a resident of New York city, whose fine collection of minerals was widely known, June 21st, aged ninety-seven years; II. Perigal, treasurer of the Royal Meteorological Society and fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, author of works on bicycloidal and other curves, kinematics and the laws of motion, etc., early in June, in his ninety-eighth year; Hulert Sadler, contributor to Knowledge, The English Mechanic, etc., fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, in June, aged forty-two years; Osbert Salvin, F. R. S., an eminent English ornithologist and entomologist, Strickland curator in the University of Cambridge, one of the founders and editor of the third series of The Ibis, author of articles on Humming Birds and Petrels in the British Museum Catalogue of Birds, and joint author of Biologia Centrali Americana, still in progress, to which he contributed the results of three journeys of scientific investigation in Central American countries—June 1st, aged sixty-three years; the Rev. Percival Frost, mathematician, editor of Newton's Frincipia, and author of treatises on solid geometry and curve tracing, aged eighty years; Dr. George Bauer, associate professor of paleontology in the University of Chicago, at Munich, Bavaria, June 28th; Dr. Theodor Eimer, an eminent zoölogist, professor in the University of Tübingen, May 30th, aged thirty years; Sir James Nicholas Douglass, late engineer in chief at the Trinity House, superintendent of many important engineering works, and author of numerous improvements connected with lighthouses and their illuminating apparatus and in buoys and beacons, aged seventy-two years; Dr. Friedrich von Zenker, pathologist, who first, in 1860, discovered trichiniasis in the human body, and author of valuable medical works, at Erlangen, aged seventy-three years; Dr. Anton Kerner von Marilaun, professor of botany in the University of Vienna and author of the Natural History of Plants, aged sixty-seven years; and Professor Cohn, of Breslau, distinguished for his researches on algaæ, and later for his studies and cultures of bacteria, aged seventy years.