Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 36.djvu/284

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


272

��THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

��species, while the British author makes the discovery of mutual relations and associa- tions into groups a prominent object.

The tenth volume of the Resultados del Observatorio National Argeniino at Cordoba, Juan M. Thome, director, contains all the observations made during 1877 for the General Catalogue, the four microscopes, as well as three tallies of transit-threads, having been employed for them ; and the zones from 755 to 759 inclusive, with their reduction- tables, and an index for reference. The number of stellar determinations made dur- ing the year was 17,380, of which 516 were made in zones. Tables of corrigenda for the present volume, and for the errors detected in the volumes already published, are ap- pended.

The paper of Mr. Cyrus Thomas, entitled Aids to the Study of the Maya Codices (Gov- ernment Printing-Office), is based on the as- sumption that an attempt to decipher those documents on the supposition that they con- tain true alphabetic characters must end in failure. Some of the characters are more than probably phonetic symbols ; but Landa's alphabet furnishes no help in deciphering them, and is evidently based on a miscon- ception of the Maya graphic system. "If the manuscripts are ever deciphered, it must be by long and laborious comparisons and happy guesses." This paper is intended to be a step in that direction. The author concludes that, at the time the codices ex- amined were written, " Maya culture had reached that stage where the idea of pho- neticism was being introduced into the writ- ing. Yet it is certain, and even susceptible of demonstration, that a large proportion, perhaps the majority, of the characters are symbols. The more I study these characters the stronger becomes the conviction that they have grown out of a pictographic sys- tem similar to that common among the In- dians of North America. The first step in advance appears to have been to indicate, by characters, the gesture-sign."

In Hints for Teachers of Physiology (D. C. Heath & Co., " Guides for Science Teach- ing"), Prof. H. P. Bowdilch makes an at- tempt to show how a teacher may supple- ment his text-book instruction by means of simple observations and experiments on living bodies or on organic material, so as

��to impart to his pupils a knowledge of the foundation on which physiology rests, and bring the impressions made on the senses to aid the memory in retaining the facts com- municated didactically. The essay, though simply a primer, is fruitful in suggestions for familiar illustrations.

Though edible mushrooms of many va- rieties are found in all parts of the United States, few of them are utilized, because the majority of the people do not know how to distinguish them from poisonous species. A useful aid to making this very important distinction is furnished in Dr. Thomas Tay- lor's pamphlet of descriptions, with natural- colored illustrations, of Twelve Edible Mush- rooms of the United States ; which also gives directions for selecting and preparing for the table. The paper is embodied in the report of the Department of Agriculture for 1885, and is published separately by Dr. Taylor in Washington.

Investigations of sorghum - blight and the mildew of the huckleberry, with certain parasitic insects inhabiting the knots pro- duced by it, and the fungous parasites of weeds, together with experiments in the cross- fertilization of corn and the germination of weed-seeds, are described in the Report of the Botanical Department of the Kansas State Agricultural College Experiment Sta- tion.

A number of documents and papers con- cerning the care of the insane, and questions concerning the responsibility of the insane, may be noticed in a group. The Report of the Standing Committee on the Insane of the New York State Board of Charities presents the results of the annual visitation to ex- amine the condition of the eight State hos- pitals and asylums and the eighteen asylums of the exempted counties. The Recent Ju- dicial Departure in Insanity Cases, by Clarfc Bell, reviews two recent decisions of high courts one of the State of Alabama and the other of the United States that indi- cate an approach to a more fixed and accu- rate definition of the responsibility of the insane than has heretofore prevailed. In the case of The Insanity of Oscar Hugo Webber, Dr. J. Hendric Lloyd enters a pro- test against the conviction for murder of a man who in the author's view was insane to irresponsibility. The question of rcsponsi-

�� �