Popular Science Monthly/Volume 50/January 1897/Fragments of Science
|←Publications Received|| Popular Science Monthly Volume 50 January 1897 (1897)
Fragments of Science
Education and Industrial Prosperity. — For several years past there has been a growing appreciation of the close relation between the general educational system of a country and its industrial prosperity. The striking advance in the latter respect which has occurred in Germany, and the perfection of her universities and mechanical schools, have formed a valuable object lesson, which, although surprisingly slow in doing its work, seems at last to have awakened English scientists and economists to the pressing need for action. For a number of years large sums have been spent annually in providing technical schools in England, but they have apparently had little effect in helping her to retain the commercial supremacy of which she had for so many years been the possessor. Mr. William's book, "Made in Germany," seems to have started the discussion anew, and Prof. William Ramsay has recently published an article, apparently suggested by Dr. Ostwald's letter in the Times (describing the methods of instruction in physics and chemistry in German universities), in which he attempts to locate the cause of the failure of the English school system. In Prof. Ramsay's opinion, it is the English university which is at fault, and more especially its examination system. He says: "In Germany, as shown by Prof. Ostwald, little importance is attached to examinations. The student, after spending a year and a half or two years in mastering the general aspects of his subject, proceeds to carry out some research. . . . During all this time he is not pestered with having to prepare for periodical examinations, requiring the rapid assimilation of a sufficient number of facts to enable him to pass. Even at the end of his career the examination is considered of secondary importance. . . . The result of this freedom from mental worry is that the student is able to imbibe that spirit of love of knowledge for its own sake, and that enthusiasm for its advancement, which lie at the base of all true progress in science. From among such students the German manufacturers are drawn. . . . In England we have no such incentive to a university career. . . . The aim of most of our students is a degree, and the degree is awarded on the results of frequent examinations." This latter state of mind can obviously have but one result in the great majority of cases, namely, that of making the knowledge gained simply the means of obtaining a degree, and not an end in itself — a something to be used and then thrown aside and forgotten. The absolute inability of most students to make any practical application of their college learning, or to see the connection and interdependence between its various branches, is a clear indication of the light in which they regard it. The same conditions which prevail in the English schools are even more pronounced in the United States, and while Prof. Ramsay's causa vera is only part of the story, his article as well as Dr. Ostwald's letter deserves the thoughtful attention of our educators and economists, for, while we have no commercial supremacy to lose, we have, what is perhaps more important, one to gain.
Prospective Railway Routes in Africa.—In describing, before the Geographical Section of the British Association, the probable railroad routes in Africa, Major Leonard Darwin, president of the section, mentioned the routes up the Nile and into parts of the central Soudan as among the most important. In the Nile route, the river itself would afford a large part of the medium of communication; but the region of the cataracts, covering several hundred miles, would have to be spanned by a railway connecting the lower river with Berber. Above Berber is a navigable waterway at high Nile for fourteen hundred miles to the Fels rapids, besides between four hundred and six hundred miles on the Blue Nile and the Bahr-el-Gazal. There is, perhaps, only one other place in Africa where an equal expenditure would open up such a large tract of country as between Suakim and Berber. Two routes for railways from the coast to the Victoria Nyanza have been proposed, one running through the British and the other through the German sphere of influence. The German route would be the shorter of the two; but there is some reason to think that the British line will open up more country east of the lake which will be suitable for prolonged residence by white men. A line from the south end of Lake Tanganyika to the northern end of Lake Nyassa and thence to the coast would open up a vast extent of territory, and would, especially if eventually connected with the Victoria Nyanza, be more valuable than any other line in Africa in putting an end to the slave trade. On the west coast, the Congo points to the most important line of communication. After a hundred and fifty miles of navigable waterway we come to two hundred miles of rapids, along which a hundred and seventeen miles of rails are already laid. Then, on entering Stanley Pool there are, according to the Belgian estimates, seven thousand miles of waterway. If all the representations are correct, there is no place in all Africa where two hundred miles of railway may be expected to produce such marked results. Another region of great promise is that of the Niger, but the political conditions of the country it — lying on the border land between the Mohammedan and the pagan tribes — make the early execution of railways somewhat problematical. Formidable mountain ranges being few, the chief impediments to railway construction in Africa are the drifting sands, wide tracts of rocky country, the dampness of the forest causing rapid decay of material, and the deadly nature of the climate.
The Evolution of Aseptic Surgery.—A part of the presidential address of Sir Joseph Lister at the British Association was devoted to the story of the development of the author's system of aseptic treatment of wounds. It began with the publication of the results of Pasteur's researches on fermentation, by which it was proved that putrefaction was not produced by any chemical action of the atmosphere, but by germs. Sir Joseph then sought for some substance that would prevent the development of germs in the bodily tissues without harming the tissues themselves, and found it in carbolic acid. Diluted with water, this substance when applied quickly transferred itself to the tissues and attacked the germs. In cases to which the watery solution was not adapted, or where it was too irritating, a solution in some organic substance, not parting with the carbolic acid so readily, was found to be bland and unirritating, and served as a reliable store of the antiseptic. While continuing his experiments in confirmation of Pasteur's theory, Sir Joseph found that blood drawn with antiseptic precautions into sterilized vessels might remain free from microbes for an indefinite time, even when exposed to the access of air or with ordinary water added to it. He even found that if very putrid blood was largely diluted with sterilized water, so as to diffuse its microbes widely and wash them clean of their acrid products, a drop of such dilution added to pure blood might leave it unchanged for days at the temperature of the body, although a trace of the septic liquid undiluted caused intense putrefaction within twenty-four hours. Hence he was led to conclude that it was the grosser forms of septic mischief, rather than microbes in the attenuated condition in which they exist in the atmosphere, that were to be dreaded in surgical practice. He hinted to the London Medical Congress in 1881 that it might turn out possible to disregard the atmospheric dust altogether, but did not venture to practice upon the hint till 1890, when he brought forward, at the Berlin Congress, what he believed to be absolute demonstration of the harmlessness of atmospheric dust in surgical operations. "This conclusion has been justified by subsequent experience. The irritation of the wound by antiseptic irrigation and washing may therefore now be avoided, and Nature left quite undisturbed to carry out her best methods of repair, while the surgeon may conduct his operations as simply as in former days, provided always that, deeply impressed with the tremendous importance of his object, and inspiring the same conviction in all his assistants, he vigilantly maintains from first to last, with a care that, once learned, becomes instinctive, but for the want of which nothing else can compensate, the use of the simple means which will suffice to exclude from the wound the coarser forms of septic impurity."
The Iron Age in Aboriginal Art.—Prof. O. T. Mason has been led, from his studies of aboriginal art, to attach great importance to the influence on the native American mind of the iron age, which he defines in the American Anthropologist as "the conservative folk age, the middle age as distinguished from the Renaissance, which replaced the old in progressive Europe." It is almost impossible. Prof. Mason says, for one looking over a collection of Americana, "to decide positively whether he is regarding the unadulterated Western hemisphere, or mediæval Europe, or native Africa, or some happy combination of these. In the New World during four centuries, as in the Old World, the activities, the whole life, of the native people were partly such as belong to a common humanity, such as arise through a partnership and co-operation between any group of human beings and their environment, and such as came to them from foreign lands living in the iron age of Europe. . . . There is hardly a tribe on this continent that has never heard of iron; there are tribes of Americans that preserve only a vestige of native life. Even the archæologist is often in doubt regarding buried specimens. Shell heaps, mounds, caves, and cemeteries often hide iron-made products among the goodly stuff, exciting a reasonable doubt concerning the probable authorship of the works themselves."
Value of Horseless Vehicles.—In a paper in the British Association, Mr. A. R. Sennett traced the history of mechanical locomotion from the sixteenth century, when horseless vehicles were run by means of springs, touched upon the automotors of succeeding centuries, cited the instance of a light wind-propelled vehicle which made the journey between Bristol and London in the early part of this century, and led up to the self-propelled vehicles of the present day. He pointed out that horseless locomotion on the European continent was looked upon more from the point of view of sport than of adaptation to transport in commercial and industrial operations. The author predicated, however, that we should enter upon the subject in a far more serious manner. Notwithstanding the immense mileage of railroads in England (and in the United States, too, we may add), a considerable proportion of the mileage of good common roads is represented by roads connecting towns situated at a considerable distance from railway stations. Such towns and outlying stations could be far more efficiently served by judiciously organized systems of horseless road locomotives than ever could be done by the most elaborate system of light railways. Whether we took the case of the heavy and slow haulage of the farmer and the team owner, or the light and rapid delivery required by the tradesman, we should find that economy is upon the side of mechanical propulsion. Horseless vehicles were believed to compare favorably in point of cost and depreciation with horse vehicles.
The Work of Physical Chemistry.—Prof. William A. Noyes, as Vice-President for the Chemical Section of the American Association, opened his section with a very interesting and suggestive review and forecast of the achievements of physical chemistry. Though the progress of this branch seems slow in comparison with what we may conceive as ultimately possible, notable advance has been made through the efforts of the numerous investigators who have been industriously working in it. Light has been cast upon many problems, and it is now possible to predict phenomena of which the operator could formerly have knowledge only by experiment. The older methods have given place to mathematical determinations, and new regions of investigation have been opened to chemists. We have still before us, however, the vast task of learning how to save and utilize the immense proportion of the power — far exceeding that which is saved — which now goes to waste in all our operations. To make good as large a part as possible of that which Is now lost should be the object of future work in physical chemistry.
A Woman among African Cannibals.—Miss Kingsley, who returned to England in the fall of 1895, after a journey of nearly a year in the Cameroons, collecting fishes, relates stories of thrilling adventures, particularly among the Fangwe cannibals living between the Ogowe and Rembwe Rivers. These people are always at war with one another, and are one of the few tribes in Africa that eat their own dead. As her little band of three Fangwe "elephant men" and four Djuma men approached each Fangwe town, it was found to be in a state of defense, and the leader of the band invariably fell into some trap which the inhabitants had laid outside the town for the enemy. At almost every town the Fangwe stopped the expedition and wanted to eat the Fangwe elephant men, who were of a hostile section. Miss Kingsley had guaranteed the elephant men safety, and sometimes by persuasion, sometimes by threats of punishment, and sometimes by a little present, they were saved. Not one burial place was found in the country, but pieces of human bodies are kept in most of the native mud huts just as civilized people keep eatables in their larders. The Adjumas, on the other hand, bury their dead in the forest. Miss Kingsley climbed the Cameroons Peak, 13,700 feet high. At an altitude near 10,000 feet, she came across the great crater. There are about seventy craters in the Cameroons Mountains, and from the largest of these the peak shoots up almost perpendicularly on the sea side; hence it has to be reached from the other side. Inland from the Cameroons the Rumbi Mountains are inhabited up to about 7,000 feet, and Miss Kingsley found shelter in native huts. In the higher ascent she had to sleep on the ground in the open air, and was frequently drenched by the heavy rains, but suffered no injury to health thereby. In the canoe journey up the Ogowe, the craft was upset and its occupants thrown into the water nearly a dozen times. Miss Kingsley had several narrow escapes, and was saved more than once by clutching the rocks in the rapids and holding on to them till the natives righted the canoe.
Drifting Fruits.—For nearly three hundred years a curious fruit has been found drifting along the coasts of the West Indies, concerning the origin and nature of which nothing could be determined. It was first noticed, described, and pictured by Clusius in the Exoticorum libri decem in 1605. The next reference to it was by Johannes Jonston, in his Latin history of trees and fruits, in 1662. It was noticed again in 1680, and thence down to 1764, after which it does not seem to have been mentioned till 1884, when Mr. D. Morris collected specimens of it near Kingston, Jamaica; and in 1887 a specimen was picked up on the shore of Bigborough Bay, in the south of England. In March, 1889, it was identified by Mr. J. H. Hart, Superintendent of the Botanic Gardens at Trinidad, as the fruit of Sacoglottis amazonica, or, locally, cojon de burro, a tree very rare in Trinidad, but more abundant in the delta of the Amazon. From one or both of these localities, says Mr. Morris, who describes the fruit and gives its history in Nature. "The fruits are carried by the waters of the Gulf Stream into the Caribbean Sea, and either thrown ashore on the West Indian Islands or carried still farther, as in the case of many other similar fruits, across the North Atlantic and cast on the shores of western Europe."Of these other similar fruits, Mr. Morris mentions the Laodicea of the Seychelles—known as coco de mer—which was first found floating; the "sea apples" or "sea cocoanut"—fruits of the Bursa palm—which drift in the West Indian seas; the large brown beans of the Cocoon, or Entada scandens, which are cast ashore in various parts of the world; and a specimen of Cæsalpinia bonduc.
An Experiment in Irrigation.—The results of experiments in irrigation of garden crops are given by Prof. Byron D. Halsted in the report of the Botanical Department of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station. The water was applied in the latter part of the season, and therefore only to the later crops; to the second crop of golden wax bean, and to pepper, turnips, egg plant, and celery. The yield of beans from similar plots was as 17 pounds and 1 ounce not irrigated to 45 pounds irrigated; of peppers, 717 fruits to 1,277 fruits. The peppers from the unirrigated belt, moreover, filled only six and a half peach baskets, with a total weight of 80 pounds, while those from the irrigated belt filled eleven and a quarter like baskets, with a total weight of 147 pounds. Further, the irrigated peppers were plumper and better colored and of far superior quality and brought much more in the market. In the plants themselves the leaves of the unirrigated belts looked wilted and limp, while those of the irrigated plants stood up fresh and strong. Irrigation prolonged the season of fruitage and the frosts caught the plants still blooming and bearing fruits in all stages of growth. With egg plants and tomatoes the experiments were made too late for the most satisfactory results. Those crops want midsummer rather than autumn irrigation. Irrigation of turnips caused vigorous growth of the plants, but increased the tendency to club. Better effects may be expected in land free from the club-root fungus. The crop of celery was increased in the irrigated rows to two and a half times that upon the rows not receiving the water. In marketable product, in pounds, the difference was three to one, and in marketable value about eight to one in favor of irrigation.
Significance of Morphological Botany.—The problem of morphological botany was characterized by Dr. D. H. Scott, of Kew Gardens, in his sectional address at the British Association, as a purely histological one, and perfectly distinct from any of the questions with which physiology has to do. Yet there is a close relation between these two branches of biology, at any rate to those who maintain the Darwinian position, for from that point of view we see that all the characters which the morphologist has to compare are, or have been, adaptive. Hence, it is impossible for the morphologist to ignore the functions of those organs of which he is studying the homologies. There is no essential difference between adaptive and morphological characters, but the physiologist is interested in the question how organs work; the morphologist asks, What is their history? The origin of the great groups of plants is perhaps an insoluble problem, but all that can be directly observed or experimented upon is the occurrence of variations. Such investigations can but throw a side light on the historical question of the origin of the existing orders of living things, and the morphologist must use other methods of research. In judging of the affinities of fossil plants vegetative characters must be made use of, and especially characters drawn from anatomical structure. In many specimens the anatomical features are the only ones known, and in cases where the reproductive structures have been discovered the conclusions drawn from anatomical characters have been confirmed. The study of fossil botany is thus likely to call attention to points of structure formerly passed over. Anatomical characters are being made use of in the classification of the higher plants, and thus an effort is being made to place the classification on a broader basis. They are undeniably adaptive, but it is a mistake to suppose that they are necessarily the expression of recent adaptations; on the contrary, there are examples of marked peculiarities which have become the property of large groups of plants. A given anatomical character may be of a high degree of constancy in one group, while extremely variable in another; and characters are often most constant when most adaptive.
Hornbooks.—Hornbooks—those leaflets containing the alphabet, the a-b-abs, a text for exorcism, the Lord's Prayer, and the Roman numerals, framed and covered with transparent horn as with a glass—with which the first lessons in reading were administered to our ancestors, have disappeared so entirely that they are hardly known except to antiquaries, yet they were common in England down to the time of George II, and were introduced into America in the seventeenth century. Mr. Andrew W. Tuer, who has written their history, says that the preservation of many of those which have come down to us is due to the tricks of little boys, who dropped the hateful things through cracks in the floor or wainscoting, to be brought to light again when the house was pulled down. The earliest hornbook known to be left, which is assigned to the middle of the sixteenth century, was found behind the paneling of a farmhouse. A hornbook called the Middleton was discovered in 1828 in the thatch of an old cottage. As spelling books came more and more into use, hornbooks became obsolete; and when they were no longer in demand it is said that a million and a half were destroyed in one warehouse. They could, however, be found in use in the country villages down into the present century; and there may be people still living who took their first lessons from them, and had scholastic chastisement administered with the backs of them. As they became scarce, specimens of them rose in value; and while the usual price of them had been a penny, three halfpence, or twopence, a famous copy—the Bateman Hornbook—was sold at auction for three hundred and twenty-five dollars. This book was three inches and three quarters high and two inches and seven eighths wide, with a handle an inch long, and was covered, except the handle, with leather. The alphabet was preceded by the Cross, and this was the case with most of the hornbooks. Hence the phrase, "criss-cross row." The back was stamped with a figure of Charles I, bareheaded and in armor, on horseback. At the top corner and facing the king was a large celestial crown, issuing from a cloud above his head, and in the other corner an angel's face and wings. The book bore other marks of less interest. Some of the hornbooks were costly. Queen Elizabeth gave one of silver filigree to Lord Chancellor Egerton, and others were made of ivory and bone. Finally, we come to the gingerbread hornbook, which seems once to have been a common baker's dainty. Of it Prior wrote :
To Master John the English Maid
A Hornbook gives of gingerbread;
Hornbooks may be seen portrayed in pictures by the German and Dutch masters, as in Rembrandt's "Christ Blessing Little Children " and the works of Jan Steen and Van Ostade.
Value of "Useless" Research. —The report of the British Association's committee on the establishment of a national physical laboratory, after referring to what is done and what can be done for promoting research by the universities and schools and other existing institutions, specifies particular types of investigation which are outside the range of effort possible for such institutions or for an individual—such as observations of natural phenomena, the study of which must be protracted through periods longer than the average duration of human life; testing and verification of physical instruments and preservation of standards; and the systematic and accurate determination of physical constants and numerical data which may be useful for scientific or industrial purposes. In the discussion of this report. Prof. Fitzgerald opposed divorcing the universities from research, but hoped they would teach the usefulness of "useless" research, while investigations of commercial importance should be relegated to a national laboratory. Prof. Kohlrausch, of the Physical Training Institute (the Reichsanstalt) at Berlin, showed how completely that institution was answering the purposes for which it was founded, as illustrated in the great development of the technical glass industry, particularly of thermometer-making; the improvement of photometers and standards for measuring light; and researches in apparatus for measuring furnace temperatures. Scientific discovery, he declared, whether costly or cheap, is, in its results, beyond price, for you never know whether the abstract discovery will not lead to inventions of great industrial importance. He could point to quite small physical discoveries which later received great technical applications. When Huygens investigated the singular double refraction of calcareous spar, no one supposed that so small a point in physics would have a commercial value over the whole world in the sugar industry and in brewing.
Agricultural Depression.—A recent editorial in Garden and Forest, under the above title, deserves the careful attention of the farmer. It is based on an address delivered by Prof. Bailey before a horticultural school in this State. Prof. Bailey protested, in the first place, against the prevalent idea that the farmer is suffering more than other members of the community. He is suffering from the general stagnation of business, and is no worse off than his neighbor. There is no special road to renewed prosperity for the farmer unless the condition of the whole country is improved, and any legislation designed to aid farmers as a class would be not only ineffective but pernicious. The farms of New York State average from three thousand to five thousand dollars in value, and with this capital invested prudent farmers are able to support their families, while it is doubtful if the same amount of capital invested in business would average as much. Prof. Bailey added that under the homestead act great areas of free and railroad lands were taken possession of by numbers of immigrants who rushed into the West to make homes for themselves. The area of cultivated land increased at a much more rapid rate than the population grew, and a surplus of breadstuffs soon caused depressed prices. Since the greater part of our arable lands are now occupied, the population is growing more rapidly than the area of cultivated land is expanding, so that we may look for the time in the near future when the demand for food will, in some measure, equal the supply, and then the stringency will cease and the farmer may expect a greater reward for his labor; and not only this, but we may expect a great advance in agricultural and horticultural science and practice in the next few years. "Phosphates from rock and potash from the Stassfurt mines are already cheap, and even now it is announced that German investigators are on the eve of perfecting processes for drawing upon the vast stores of nitrogen in the air, so as to make that most expensive element of plant food as cheap as the others. Prof. Nobbe, of Saxony, the distinguished plant physiologist, claims that he has produced on a commercial scale pure cultures of the different bacteria which are efficient in affixing the free nitrogen of the air in a form available for plant food, and has them for sale in small glass bottles. It is claimed that the soil can be inoculated with these organisms for the modest sum of one dollar and twenty-five cents an acre. Of course, it may be premature to place much confidence in this new method of securing fertility, but it has long been considered probable, and is of enough importance to have been made the subject of several papers read before the Royal Agricultural Society of England."
Exploration of Spitzbergen.—The exploring expedition of Sir Martin Conway and Mr. Trevor-Battye to Spitzbergen had among its members a geologist, a naturalist, and an artist—three factors to the production of as complete a picture as possible of what they saw. The object of the journey was to penetrate into the interior of the island, of which the coast was already fairly well known. The spectacle as they entered one of the western of that experience. They had gone too early. If they had started at the end of August instead of the end of June, the snow would have been melted, and they would have made better headway. Eventually they got some distance inland, and then they turned southeast in the direction of Advent Bay. On their way they found a peak near them, which they climbed. The rock was rotten, there were large holes through it, and the whole seemed to tremble with the weight of a single man. On reaching the top they found that the white plains they had seen on landing consisted of a number of plateaus, and that valleys of much greater extent lay between. Descending, they entered a large valley which was enveloped in cloud, and for five or six hours were passing, sometimes up to their knees, sometimes up to their waists, through some exceedingly soft slush. In time they reached the foot of a very remarkable glacier which afforded some valuable observations on the nature of glacier advance. Returning from Advent Bay the way they came, they next made a journey eastward across the island. They encountered the same conditions till they came to a wall of ice, which proved to be the side of a glacier. Crossing this the next day, they reached the sea, thus completing the passage across the island. The main geographical point to be noticed in connection with their journey was that while both in the north and the south of the island there was a complete ice sheet, the central region consisted of a great bog—"a mere pudding of ice and stones."was described by Sir Martin Conway in the British Association as having been extraordinarily brilliant. "They thought Spitzbergen must be in heaven." They had anticipated, from what had been written of he country, that they would have to cross either glaciers or a snow sheet, and had therefore provided themselves with Nansen sledges. But as they proceeded it proved that their journey was to be over broken stones and bogs. On the first day, when they had journeyed half a mile, they found that their path lay between a slope on the right and cliffs on the left, while every four or five hundred yards there was a deep gully with practically vertical sides. These gullies were filled with rotten snow. On the first day they covered about three miles, and their progress through the island was a repetition
Evolution of the Bicycle.—"At the end of the seventeenth century, in 1693," says M. Baudry de Saunier, who is quoted by M. Gaston Tissandier in La Nature, "Ozanam, a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences spoke of a mechanical vehicle in the possession of a friend of his, a doctor in La Rochelle. A servant, mounted behind, made it go, resting on two pieces of wood which communicated with two wheels working the axle." In 1796, M. de Sivrae, realizing that the simplest construction was the most efficient, devised a machine of three wooden parts a solid beam and two wheels. The beam was furnished in front and back with two forks, between the branches of which the wheels turned; to these were added a seat and a cushion. This vehicle was called the celérifère, or carry-fast (Latin, celer, fast, and ferre, to bear). In 1818, M. le Baron de Drais de Sauerbon, farmer and engineer, modified the celériffère by cutting the front away from the beam on which the rider was supported, and reattaching it with a pivot, which permitted it to be turned to the right or the left. Henceforth it was not necessary, as it had been before, to knock the front wheel of the machine with the hand to the right or left, whenever the rider wished to turn it, but the wheel itself became a readily acting rudder. Baron Drais rejoiced much in the contemplation of his carriage, and giving it his name, called it the Draisienne, or Draisian, and ordered his servant to exhibit it and display its methods of working before the sightseers in the Tivoli Garden. The servant proved awkward at the business, and only succeeded in giving himself many knocks and having the children run and shout after him. Discouraged and annoyed by the caricatures of his experiment which were published. Baron Drais went to live in a convent at Carlsruhe, where he died in 1851. The English modified his idea, and, substituting iron for wood, which had the faults of swelling and shrinking and cracking, made of the Draisian the pedestrian-horse, or hobby-horse, which was much in vogue for a considerable time. None of these machines were really ridden; they were simply contrivances to expedite walking. They were propelled by kicking, and the riders seldom let both their feet leave the ground at once, or, if they did, only for a very short time; but with their aid every step became considerably more than a pace, and the ground was got over much more rapidly.
American Women's Art.—Artistic wood carving, according to Mr. Benn Pitman, secured its first distinct recognition as woman's work in 1872, when examples of carved furniture, doors, and baseboards executed by women of the author's family were shown at an exhibition in Cincinnati. Much interest was aroused by the display, and a general desire was created in other women to do similar work. In 1873 a practical art department was established in connection with the Art Academy, to which Mr. Pitman and his daughter gave their services gratuitously. The experiment was regarded with great interest, and more than sixty ladies, "representing the culture and intelligence of the city," began practical designing and carving. The class grew and numbered one hundred and even more for years. Ninety-five per cent of the pupils were women. Etching and hammered metal work were soon added to the studies, and china painting was taken up in 1875. In the fall of that year a considerable sum of money was raised by gift and the sale of beautiful examples of china painting, which went to the fund for the erection of the Woman's Pavilion of the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition. More than one hundred specimens of china painting were included in the Cincinnati school exhibit at Philadelphia. No woman's product, distinctively American, has perhaps attained such repute as the Rockwood pottery of Cincinnati. "Its celebrity is due to varied causes. Excellence in material, form, firing, and glaze are points of superiority necessary to success, but that which has mainly contributed to its renown is unquestionably its realistic style of decoration," which "appeals to a newly awakened intelligence which appreciates original, careful, and truthful studies from Nature."
An Ethnological Storehouse.—An "ethnological storehouse" is urged by Prof. W. J. Flinders Petrie as necessary by reason of the impossibility of preserving more than a small portion of the material for anthropology in the very limited area of London or town museums. This leaves only two alternatives—the destruction of material which can never be replaced, illustrative of modern races now fast disappearing, and ancient races as revealed by excavation; or the storing of such materials accessible in a locality and a manner which shall yield the greatest possible storage space for a given expenditure. Such a repertory might be solely anthropological, including an example of every variety of object of human work of all ages, or it might be extended to zoölogy, mineralogy, and geology. The least to be expected from such a place would be to store the surplus objects which can not find place in existing museums. Its greatest development, however, would be to form a systematic collection of man's work, ancient and modern, reserving to existing museums such objects as illustrate the subject best to the general public, and such as need the protection due to their market value; and these could be properly represented in the repository collection by photographs. If fully developed, such a repository would become a center for study and higher scientific education. The author proposed a site of five hundred acres within easy reach of London, on which buildings could be erected as needed. The features in favor of the project and against it were discussed in the British Association, and some substitute propositions were offered; but Prof. Petrie pronounced the last mere palliatives, which did not touch the broad view.
Insect Enemies of the Grape.—An interesting article by C. L. Marlatt on the Principal Enemies of the Grape has recently appeared in the Year Book of the United States Department of Agriculture. The rapid growth of the vine industry in this country and the increasing cultivation of the less vigorous European grapes have combined to make the above subject one of considerable commercial importance. Nearly two hundred different insects have already been listed as occurring on the vine in this country; few of these, however, are very serious enemies, being either of rare occurrence or seldom numerous. The principal enemies of the grape-grower are the grape phylloxera, the grapevine fidia, both chiefly destructive to the roots; the cane borer, destructive particularly to the young shoots; the leaf hopper, the flea beetle, rose chafer with its allies, and leaf folder, together with hawk moths and cut worms, and the grape-berry moth, the principal fruit pest. The extent of the loss that frequently results from the ravages of these insects is something enormous. The phylloxera, when at its worst, had destroyed in France some 2,500,000 acres of vineyards, representing an annual loss in wine products of the value of $150,000,000, and the French Government had expended up to 1895 in phylloxera work over $4,500,000, and remitted taxes to the amount of $3,000,000 more. The leaf defoliators, as the rose chafer and flea beetle, frequently destroy or vastly injure the crops over large districts, and the little leaf per, though rarely preventing a partial crop, is so uniformly present and widely distributed as to probably levy a heavier tribute on the grape in this country than any other insect. These insects are, however, all amenable to treatment, and the loss may be very considerably limited if the proper methods of control are followed out. Mr. Marlatt gives a description of the above insects, with illustrations of the various stages of each, and finally the remedies, and methods of employing them which have been found most efficient in combating each pest.