Popular Science Monthly/Volume 55/August 1899/Minor Paragraphs


In a recent report on the educational work of the Passaic (New Jersey) public schools. Superintendent F. E. Spaulding points out one of the worst faults of our present public-school system. "The true function of education is to foster and direct the growth of children, not to teach so many pages, rules, facts, or precepts of this subject or of that. And the one adequate rule of practice is constantly to meet the growing needs of this and that individual child, not to teach this class of children as a class. From this proposition there follows the corollary, which is amply substantiated in practice, that the time, order, method, and extent of presenting any subject can be rightly determined only by the interest and capacity of the child for whose benefit it is to be presented, not by the logic and practical importance of the subject itself."

Dr. Sir James Grant, of Ottawa, has been led, by his studies of the alimentary canal in its function of discharging the secretions of the various glands, to a high appreciation of the importance of its operation in connection with the elaborate and complex nervous system associated with it. It is reasonable, he believes, to suppose that the activity of these nerves is injuriously affected by noxious influences long before any evidence of organic disease appears, and that, hence, want of care in the digestive process can not and does not fail "to bring about results of a most telling character in the very process of sanguinification." Believing that irregularities of the digestive process in the alimentary canal are more frequent than is generally supposed, he holds that "the internal sewage of the system" can not be too critically examined with a view of preventing the ill effect of toxic accumulations upon the nerve centers. "That the recently discovered neurones," he adds, "play an important part in the vitalizing of nerve energy is a reasonable deduction. A path is now open in which life, under ordinary circumstances, may be prolonged, provided no organic disease is present."

The courses in biology in the University of Pennsylvania have been arranged with reference to the needs of students who desire instruction in the biological sciences for general culture, as a preparation for teaching or original investigation, or as a foundation for the professional course in medicine. They include in the courses in arts and sciences the electives, the biology-chemistry group, and the botany-zoölogy group, each set including several classes; the four-year course in biology, which appeals particularly to students who wish to become teachers or to take up special work as investigators in biology, and the two-years' course in biology, which is designed especially for those who desire some systematic training in natural science before taking up the study of medicine. Both of these courses are open to men and women alike. An ample equipment is provided for the biological department in the shape of spacious class rooms and laboratories, a botanic garden, an herbarium, a vivarium, zoölogical and auxiliary collections, a marine laboratory at Sea Isle, New Jersey, tables at Woods Holl, library facilities, two serial publications, and clubs and societies.

We learn from the London Lancet that besides the special ward of twelve beds at the Royal Southern Hospital of Liverpool, which was formally opened by Lord Lister on April 29th last, arrangements have been completed for a school for the study of tropical diseases at Liverpool. Lord Lister, on the occasion of the school's foundation, said: "The medical student in the ordinary hospital has rare opportunities of seeing these diseases, and for a man who is about to practice in the tropics it is essential that he have opportunities for studying them here before embarking on his tropical career. The possession of tropical colonies makes such institutions in the home country very necessary, not only for preparing the colonial doctors, but for the protection of the home population, which is sure to be brought into contact more or less with the infectious tropical diseases."

An interesting paper by Mr. C. J. Coleman on The Electrical Protection of Safes and Vaults is described in the Electrical World and Engineer. He divided the methods into two systems, in one the alarm depending on the opening and the other on the closing of a circuit-—the latter of the two being the one most in use. Among the curious devices mentioned are cementing narrow tin-foil strips on the inner surfaces of window glass, so that any breakage or fracture of the glass will open the circuit; the use of glass tubes filled with mercury and connected in circuit, or tubes filled with water or compressed air. In reply to questions as to the use of electricity in perforating safes it was stated that a five ply chrome steel safe, seven inches and a half thick, was burned through by three hundred ampères in twenty-five minutes, and holes were burned through a solid block of vault steel twelve inches thick in twenty-six minutes with three hundred and fifty ampères, and in fifteen minutes with five hundred ampères.