Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/434

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
418
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

to the more complex. Instead of this, subjects are treated in no particular logical order, and the reader could only get a very confused jumble of ideas after going over the book. The authors start out with a brief discussion of the theory of electricity, which, even if clearly stated, which it is not, could be comprehended only after some acquaintance with electrical phenomena. The Holtz and Topler static electric machines are described, so far as their mechanical construction is concerned, before the reader is acquainted with any of the phenomena of static electricity, and no attempt is made to explain the principles of their action.

The meaning of electric terms is in many cases not explained until after they have been used in the description of apparatus, and even then in the most cursory way. On the whole the beginner could read the book with but little profit, and it is too scrappy and incomplete to be of much service to any one at all acquainted with the subject.

Pictures from Roman Life and Story. By the Rev. A. J. Church, M. A., lately Professor of Latin in University College, London. Illustrated. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 344. Price, $1.50.

In this series of sketches, Prof. Church, the author of Stories from Homer, Stories from Virgil, has depicted various phases of life at Rome under the emperors. We are introduced to the friends of Mæcenas at his villa; pass a day at the home of Horace; attend the elder Pliny at his studies, and follow Martial about the shops of Rome and to the poet's club. Not very different was this early institution from its modern namesake. It included thirty members, but might have had three hundred, and the only drawback to enjoyment was that the poets had to listen to each other's verses! Overwork was not suspected in those vigorous days, and the indefatigable author limits his hours of study only by his capacity to keep awake. He listens to reading at the bath and a short-hand writer accompanies him in his carriage journeys. By such remarkable industry, during a life of fifty-six years, the elder Pliny accomplished a history in twenty-one volumes, a natural history in thirty-seven, and one hundred and sixty note-books. But there are stirring sights to be witnessed in Rome as well as marvels of literary labor — the great fire, the gladiatorial contests, the burning of the Capitol. These, and pictures of conquest, intrigue, and cruelty, fill the darker spaces of the panorama. However, we learn "there were noble men and women even in the worst days of Rome," and their fidelity to high purpose and true heroism challenge the admiration of all ages.

Elementary Lessons in Heat. By S. E. Tillman. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1892. Second edition. Pp. 162.

These lessons have been prepared by Prof. Tillman to meet the requirements of his class-room at the West Point Military Academy, and are designed for the use of teachers and students generally. They cover the usual subjects of a text-book on heat put in a clear and consise form, and, besides this, Prof. Tillman has given special attention to meteorological phenomena, following Prof. Ferrel in the subject of atmospheric circulation, and the theories of tornadoes and storms.

Sunshine. By Amy Johnson, LL. A. London and New York: Macmillan & Co. Pp. 502. Price, $1.75.

It may be judged that the author of this work, a teacher of science at South Kensington, has been extremely successful in holding the interest of her audiences. The material of this volume is mainly a reproduction of lectures to her classes upon the subject of light. These are given in the form of stories, and the experiments to which they naturally lead are performed conjointly by teacher and children, while suggestions are added for other tests to be made at home. Sun images, shadows, and photographs are studied in turn. The laws of reflection and refraction, lenses and their uses, the spectrum and the rainbow are explained and variously illustrated. The beautiful phenomena of fluorescence and phosphorescence and the action of sunlight upon the leaf-green form interesting chapters. Soap-bubbles are treated in four lectures. The films are shown in the shapes of windmill, mushroom, and liquid prism. A bubble is blown within a bubble, one tinted with aniline green being seen plainly within another of ordinary color, and a letter-weight