Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/884

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864
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

In his vice-presidential address at the American Association on the Evolution of Algebra, Prof. E. W. Hyde, in the Mathematical Section, made a concise presentation of the history of algebra from before the Christian era to the present time, and even projected the future of the science. After tracing it through the rhetorical stage of the ancients, in which the reasoning was done with words, and the syncopated stage of the middle ages and the revival of learning, when abbreviations were introduced and used instead of words, the author found it in the symbolical stage of the present, or that of arbitrary signs; and "finally, in the present century, we have noted the approach of multiple algebra from different and independent sources, whose value is the glorious future."

In a series of papers on The Unitary Science, the Science of the Future, Mr. Henry R. Rogers, of Dunkirk, N. Y., elucidates as the basis of the unitary philosophy the four cardinal principles of the unity or identity of all so-called forces; the conservation of force; the substantial character of force; and the identity of constitution of all celestial force.

The remains of about a hundred elephants have been found at Mont-Dall, in Brittany, where they arc gathered on a surface of about nineteen hundred square metres. All the bones are broken, and it is thought that the animals must have been eaten by prehistoric men.

Two of the papers read at Washington before the Society for the Promotion of Agriculture are suggestive as to the nature of the agricultural character of soils. Prof. E. W. Ililgard held that maps showing simply the chemical constituents are of little value, and that a map truly to represent the agricultural quality of a soil should take into consideration geology, botany, climatic conditions, meteorology, and chemistry. Prof. Whitney, discussing the structure of soils and the circulation of soil moisture, showed that as much or more depends upon the physical condition of the soil as on the chemical composition. Where land is worn out, it is because a physical change has taken place, not because of any chemical exhaustion, for the chemicals are always there in abundance.

In the Biological Section of the American Association, Vice-President Coulter spoke of the future of systematic botany. Some one has said that the highest reach of the human mind is a natural system of classification. This simply means, he raid, that when the results of all departments of botanical work are well in hand, then the systematists will be in a position to put on a sure foundation the structure they have always been planning. The real systematic botany, therefore, is to sum up and utilize the results of all other departments, and its work is well-nigh all in the future. It is bound to be the Isst expression of human thought with reference to plant-life, just as it wase the first.



OBITUARY NOTES.

Dr. Eduard Schönfeld, Director of the Observatory and Professor of Astronomy at Bonn, died May 1st, in the sixty-third year of his age. His attention was especially directed to astronomy while a student in the University of Marburg. In 1852 he became a pupil and assistant of Argelander, who was beginning his Durchmusterung, or survey of the stars of the northern hemisphere. In 1859 he was appointed Director of the Observatory at Mannheim, where he prepared two catalogues of the variable stars. On Argelander's death, in 1875, he was made his successor at Bonn. He extended the Durchmusterung to stars in zones down to 23° of southern declination.

M. Alexandre Edmond Becquerel, an eminent French physicist, died in Paris, May 11th, in the seventy second year of his age. He was the son of Antoine César Becquerel, the founder of electro-chemics, and himself led a career hardly less distinguished. The investigations with which his name is connected include those on the laws of electro-chemical decomposition, the disengagement of heat by electricity passing in circuits, the disengagement of electricity by mechanical action, the properties of electrified bodies, the action of magnetism on bodies, the property of diamagnetism, the magnetic quality of oxygen, the constitution of the solar spectrum, the chemical action of light, phosphorescence, etc.; respecting which he made important discoveries and published valuable papers in the scientific journals. He also published books — treatises on Terrestrial Physics and Magnetism (1847) and Electricity and Magnetism (2 vols., 1855), and a Précis d'Histoire of Electricity and Magnetism (1858).

Mr. Norman R. Pogson, for thirty years Director of the Observatory at Madras, India, has recently died there. Till 1851 he was connected with Mr. Bishop's Observatory in Regent's Park, where he took part in the observations for forming the ecliptic charts that were published there. He then became an assistant in the Radcliffe Observatory at Oxford, and there discovered several minor planets, and in his investigations of variable stars fixed upon the number whose logarithm is 0·4, which has been adopted to express the ratio of the amount of light that separates two consecutive magnitudes. He left England in 1861 to take charge of the Madras Observatory, from which several volumes of observations were published under his direction.

Captain Cecilio Pujazon, Director of the Marine Observatory at San Fernando, near Cadiz, Spain, died April 15th, in his fifty-seventh year.