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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 54/December 1898/General Notices

GENERAL NOTICES.

The great importance of the problems of forestry and all that pertains to them can not fail to be appreciated by any one who has seen the devastation wrought in many sections of this country by the "wood chopper." Forestry is one of the subjects where natural science can step in and guide the way to economic success, and where, in default of scientific methods, economically fatal results inevitably ensue. The preservation of forests has been an important problem in Europe for many years, but until quite recently it has received little attention in the United States. One of the pioneers in the field of forestry in this country was Franklin B. Hough, whose Elements of Forestry is still a used and useful manual. Among his many schemes for attracting attention and study to this important subject was one of making actual sections of the wood of American trees, and arranging them in a compact and attractive manner for general distribution. This idea he never carried out, and it has remained for his son, Mr. R. B. Hough, to finally carry out the scheme, by publishing a complete series of such sections, carefully prepared and compactly bound.[1] In Part I of the series there are cuttings representing twenty-five species of American trees. The sections are sufficiently thin to allow of their study by transmitted light. There are three cuttings from each species, transverse, radial, and tangential to the grain. An accompanying text gives a condensed description of each tree, including its physical properties, uses, and habitat. These descriptions are preceded by a useful introduction to the study of general botany, describing the methods of distinguishing and naming the various parts of plants and trees, and giving an account of their structure and methods of growth. The actual wood sections, quite apart from their scientific value, are worthy of attention because of their great beauty. They are substantially mounted on black cardboard, each card containing the three sections of a species, and its common name in English, French, German, and Spanish. The thinness of the cuttings makes it possible to use them as transparencies, thus bringing out the texture of the wood in a very effective way.

Prof. Charles Reid Barnes is impressed with the fact that while laboratory work has become nearly universal in botany, and laboratory manuals are numerous, there is still a lack of books giving an elementary account of the form and functions of plants of all groups. To supply this want he offers Plant Life[2] as an attempt to exhibit the variety and progressive complexity of the vegetative body; to discuss the more important functions; to explain the unity of plan in both the structure and action of the reproductive organs; and to give an outline of the more striking ways in which plants adapt themselves to the world about them. He has made the effort to treat these subjects so that, however much the student may still have to learn, he will have little to unlearn. The book is not intended to be memorized and recited, but to be intelligible to pupils from thirteen to eighteen years of age who are engaged in genuine laboratory study under the direction "of a live teacher who has studied far more botany than he is trying to teach." It is adapted to use supplementarily to any laboratory guide or to the directions prepared by the teacher. The directions are made fullest in relation to cryptogams and physiology, because these fields are at present most unfamiliar to teachers.

Attaching great importance to Electro-Dynamics, which he thinks will in the near future assume the same relation to the electric motor that the science of thermo-dynamics already bears to the steam engine, Mr. Charles Ashley Carus-Wilson aims in the book of that name[3] to apply the principles of that science to the direct-current motor. Writing for electrical engineers particularly, he takes for granted a certain acquaintance with the use and design of motors, but avoids unexplained technicalities as far as possible. He has not deemed it necessary to deal with self-induction, except in connection with the question of sparking. The numerical accuracy attempted has been limited to that attainable with an ordinary ten-inch slide rule, on which all the examples have been worked out. Importance is attached to the graphic method of solution.

Of Dr. Frank Overton's three books on Applied Physiology,[4] the first or primary grade follows a natural order of treatment, presenting in each subject elementary anatomical facts in a manner that impresses function rather than form, and from the form described derives the function. The facts and principles are then 'applied to everyday life. The intermediate grade, besides being an introduction to the study of anatomy and physiology, is intended to be a complete elementary book in itself, giving a clear picture of how each organ of the body performs its work. The advanced grade book was suggested by a series of popular lectures in which the author presented the essential principles of physiology about which a physician is consulted daily. His explanations of many common facts were "novel to his auditors, and it was found that the school books were silent upon many of these points, especially with regard to the cells. Throughout the series the fact that the cells are the units in which life exists and acts is emphasized. The author has endeavored to include all the useful points of the older text-books, and to add such new matter as the recent progress of physiological and hygienic science demands. Avoiding technical terms, he has sought to express the truths in simple language, "such as he would use in instructing a mother as to the nature of the sickness of her child." The subjects of alcohol and other narcotics are made prominent in all the books, and are discussed fully in the third of the series. The relation of respiration and oxidation to the disappearance of food, to the production of waste matters, and to the development of heat and force, is dwelt upon. Simple and easy demonstrations, many of them new, are provided at the ends of chapters. A chapter on Repairs of Injuries, or the restoration of the natural functions, when impaired, by the body, is new in a school textbook.

In Yetta Ségal[5] a slender thread of a story is used by Mr. Rollin as the vehicle for a theory of "type fusion" or convergence which he thinks has not received sufficient attention from social or scientific students. There are a pair of lovers, one of whom is discovered at a critical period in the courtship to have negro blood in his veins, and a philosopher who comes forward to satisfy the parties (who hardly need it) that this is no serious matter, but is all according to human evolution and the destiny of the race. "You must be impressed," he says, "by the fact that there are a great many people here and there, of mixed blood, and that the number is increasing. . . . it is well that not a few are indeed truly admirable specimens of the human race. Such phenomena must be interpreted in a way consistent with man's nature: if he is developmental; if he shall attain a higher status through struggle, or through means that are seemingly, or for the time, degrading; if he is moving from the simple to the complex, as to organization; if universal movement tends to unific existence—then race interchange, with elimination of peculiar characteristics, has probably made its appearance as a phase of infinite order, and for the benefit of future man. . . . It is presumptuous for the wisest to assert that the man of lower type has no element of strength peculiar to his race which the most advanced does not need in his present organization. It may be needed either for present protection in the way of re-enforcement, or as an element of strength for further advancement." Mr. Rollin does not advocate type fusion or wish to accelerate the movement, but presents it as a fact and factor in human evolution deserving more extensive and thorough study than it has received.

The increasing attention which of late years has been given to the study of comparative anatomy has finally resulted in what promises to be a complete and detailed account of the structure of a subhuman mammal[6] The author, Dr. Jayne, believes that a course in mammalian anatomy offers a valuable preliminary to the study of medicine, and this is the purpose for which the book has been made. This is to a certain extent true, especially where, as in the case of the cat, there is so close a similarity to the structure of the human body. But the chief scientific interest and value of such a work must lie in its broader philosophic aspects; in the aid which it can not but give in clearing up some of the many mooted points of evolutional biology, and in the stimulus which it will impart to the study of relationships among the lower animals. The present volume, the first of the series, deals only with the skeleton of the cat, each bone being first studied individually, then in its relations to other bones and to the muscular system and the skeleton as a whole, and finally in comparison with the corresponding portion of the human skeleton. There are 611 extremely good illustrations, and the printing of the volume is unusually clean and attractive.

Among the articles of special value in recent numbers of the (bimonthly) Bulletin of the Department of Labor, under the editorial control of Commissioner Carroll B. Wright and Chief Clerk O. D. Weaver, are those on Boarding Houses and Clubs for Working Women, by Mary S. Ferguson, in the March number; The Alaskan Gold Fields and the Opportunities they afford for Capital and Labor, by S. C. Durham, in the May number; Economic Aspects of the Liquor Problem; Brotherhood Relief and Insurance of Railway Employees, by E. R. Johnson, Ph. D.; and The Nations of Antwerp, by J. H. Gore, Ph.D., in the July number. Summaries of reports of labor statistics, of legislation and decisions of courts affecting labor, and of recent Government contracts constitute regular departments of the bulletin. (Washington.)

For delicate humor and refined art of expression few writers can excel Jean Paul Friedrich Richter, but the sources of his rich flow of humor are so deeply hidden and his expression is so very subtle that the generality of those who attempt to read his works fail to appreciate him or even to understand him, and give him up. The pleasure of appreciating him is, however, worth the pains of learning to do so. Those who are willing to undertake this, and who read German, may find help in the Selections from the Works of Jean Paul Friedrich Richter, prepared by George Stuart Collins, and published by the American Book Company. The book is intended for students of German who have attained a certain mastery of the language. Pains have been taken to avoid such passages as might from their mere difficulty discourage the reader, and to choose such as would be complete in themselves. The selections are made from the shorter writings of the author, and each is intended to be representative of some feature of his manifold genius and style.

A notice of the Stenotypy, or system of shorthand for the typewriter, of D. A. Quinn, was published in the Popular Science Monthly in March, 1896. It is really a system of phonography to be used with the typewriter whenever it is practicable to employ that instrument. A second edition of Mr. Quinn's manual and exercises for the practice of the system is published by the American Book Exchange, Providence, R. I.

A paper on Polished-Stone Articles used by the New York Aborigines before and during European Occupation, published as a Bulletin of the New York State Museum, is complementary to a previous bulletin on articles of chipped stone. Both papers are by the Rev. Dr. W. M. Beauchamp, and are illustrated by figures from his large collection of original drawings, made in nearly all parts of New York, but mostly from the central portion. While the chipped implements are more numerous and widespread than those treated of in the present bulletin, the latter show great patience and skill in their higher forms and taste in selecting materials, and they give hints of superstitions and ceremonies not yet thoroughly understood.

Henry Goldman has invented, in the arithmachine, what he claims is a rapid and reliable computing machine of small dimensions and large capacity, with other advantages. He now offers, as a companion to it, The Arithmachinist, a book intended to serve as a self-instructor in mechanical arithmetic. It gives historical and technical chapters on the calculating machines of the past, describes the principles controlling the construction and operations, and furnishes explanations concerning the author's own device. (Published by the Office Men's Record Company, Chicago, for one dollar.)

The Bulletin from the Laboratories of Natural History of the State University of Iowa, Vol. TV, No. 3, contains two technical articles: On the Actinaria, collected by the Bahama Expedition of the University, in 1891, by J. P. McMurrich, and the Brachyura of the Biological Expedition to the Florida Keys and the Bahamas in 1893, by Mary J. Rathbun; and a list of the coleoptera of Southern Arizona, by H. F. Wickham. Mr. Wickham observes that the insects of northern Arizona are widely different from those of the southern part, a fact which he ascribes to difference of altitude, and, consequently, in vegetation. The Bulletin is sold for fifty cents a copy.

Two books in English—Elementary English and Elements of Grammar and Composition—prepared by E. Oram Lyte, and published by the American Book Company, are intended to include and cover a complete graded course in language lessons, grammar, and composition for study in the primary and grammar grades of schools. The endeavor has been made to present the subject in such a way that the pupil shall become interested in the study from the first. The first book, Elementary English, is designed to furnish material for primary language work, and to show how this material can be used to advantage, embodying and representing the natural methods of language teaching. The child is given something to do—easy and practical—at every point, and is not troubled by formal definitions and rules to be committed to memory. The second book is also based on the principle that the best way to gain a working knowledge of the English language is by the working or laboratory method. It is therefore largely made up of exercises, and aims to teach through practice. The subject is unfolded from a psychological rather than a logical point of view. What is to be memorized is reduced to a minimum, and not presented till the pupil is ready for it. The lessons in literature and composition are designed to help the pupil to appreciate worth and beauty of literature, and lead him to fluent and accurate expression.

The Bulletin of the Geological Institution of the University of Upsala presents a series of special papers of much interest to students of that science, on studies in geology, largely of Scandinavia, but of other countries as well. Part 2 of Vol. Ill, now before us, has such papers on Silurian Coral Reefs in Gothland, by Carl Wiman; the Quaternary Mammalia of Sweden, by Rutger Sernander; Some Ore Deposits of the Atacama Desert, by Otto Nordenskiold; the Structure of some Gothlandish Graphites, by Carl Wiman; the Interglacial Submergence of Great Britain, by H. Munthe; Mechanical Disturbances and Chemical Changes in the Ribbon Clays of Sweden, by P. J. Holmquist; Some Mineral Changes, by A. G. Högborn; and the Proceedings of the Geological Section of the Students' Association of Natural Science, Upsala. The articles are in German, English, and (in previous numbers) French.

Two Spanish-American works of very different character have come to us from Valparaiso, Chili. One is entitled Literatura Arcaica—Estudios Criticos, or critical studies of old Spanish literature, by Eduardo de la Barra, of the Royal Spanish Academy, which were communicated to the Latin-American Scientific Congress at Buenos Ayres. The author was invited to present to the congress the fruits of his extensive studies on the Poem of the Cid, but afterward modified his plan and gave these, the results of his more general investigations of the romances of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, which Spanish critics regard as the most ancient they have, and other romances attributed to the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, with an article on the Cid. This work is published by K. Newman, Valparaiso.

The other book is a volume of Rrimas, or rhymes, by Gustabo Adolf o Béker, published by Carlos Cabezon, at Valparaiso. The ordinary student might think that the Spanish language is one of those least in need of spelling reform, but not so the author and publisher of these poems, which are presented in the most radically "reformed" spelling, and with them comes a pamphlet setting forth the character and principles of "Ortografia Rrazional."

The report of a study of seventy-three Irish and Irish-American criminals made at the Kings County Penitentiary, Brooklyn, N. Y., by Dr. H. L. Winter, and published as Notes on Criminal Anthropology and BioSociology, contains numerous observations bearing upon the effect of hereditary influences in criminality, but hardly sufficient to justify the drawing of any general conclusions.

The late Mr. Lewis M. Rutherfurd, in developing the art of astronomical photography, naturally gave much attention to the star 61 Cygni—which was the first to yield its parallax, and through which the possibility of measuring stellar distances was shown—and its neighbors. A number of the plates of this series were partially studied by Miss Ida C. Martin more than twenty years ago, and the study has now been carried out by Herman S. Davis, as part of the work of Columbia University Observatory. The results of Mr. Davis's labors are published by the observatory in three papers: Catalogue of Sixty-five Stars near 61 Cygni; The Parallaxes of 6ll and 612 Cygni; and Catalogue of Thirty-four Stars near "Bradley 3077"; under a single cover.

In a small work entitled A Theory of Life deduced from the Evolution Philosophy a few thoughts are recorded by Sylvan Drey relative to the manner in which, from central doctrines identical with the teachings of Herbert Spencer, a system of religion, an ideal society, a theory of ethics, and a political creed—the doctrine of social individualism—may be built up. The religion is to recognize an inexplicable and inconceivable energy revealing itself in the universe, of which the highest theistic conception possible to human beings, free from the supposition that it represents a likeness, is the only one that can be accepted. "Absolute truth is beyond the grasp of human beings; but for all practical purposes the teachings of the evolution philosophy, relative truths though they may be, may be regarded as final and conclusive." Mr. Drey's paper of thirty-four pages is published by Williams & Norgate, London.

  1. The American Woods. Exhibited by Actual Specimens. Parti, representing Twenty-five Species. By Romeyn B. Hough: Lowville, N. Y. The Author.
  2. Plant Life considered with Special Reference to Form and Function. By Charles Reid Barnes. New York: Henry Holt & Co. Pp. 428. Price, $1.12.
  3. Electro-Dynamics. The Direct-Current Motor. By Charles Ashley Carus-Wilson. New York: Longmans, Green & Co. Pp. 298.
  4. Applied Physiology. Including the Effects of Alcohol and Narcotics. By Frank Overton, M. D. Primary Grade. Pp. 128. Intermediate Grade. Pp. 188. Advanced Grade. Pp. 432. American Book Company.
  5. Yetta Ségal. By Horace J. Rollin. New York: G. W. Dillingham & Co. Pp. 174.
  6. The Mammalian Anatomy of the Cat. By Horace Jayne, M. D. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company. Illustrated. Pp. 816. Price, $5.00.