Popular Science Monthly/Volume 50/January 1897/General Notices

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

 
GENERAL NOTICES.

This book will be the first complete illustrated botany published in this country.[1] Its aim is to represent and describe every species, from the ferns upward, mentioned as distinct by botanists and growing wild within the area adopted. It is intended, also, to complete the work within such moderate limits of size and cost as shall make it accessible to the public generally, so that it may serve as an independent handbook of our Northern flora, and as a work of general reference, or as an adjunct and supplement to the manuals of systematic botany in current use. The utility of a completely illustrated manual, both to the botanist and to the non-expert, is apparent. The most minute and accurate description may leave a doubt which the comparison of pictures of the species will solve. Persons who are not familiar with botanical terms and the methods of bontical analysis may find in the illustrations a ready means for the identification of the plants that grow around them, and through the accompanying descriptions they will at the same time acquire a familiarity with botanical language. The enterprise of preparing this work was projected by Judge Brown, who is President of the Torrey Botanical Club, and has been diligently prosecuted for six years under the supervision of Dr. Britton, and, as to the text, mainly by him; while the work in all its parts has been carefully revised by both authors. The latest matured results of botanical studies, here and in Europe, have been availed of for the work, so as to bring it fully abreast of the knowledge and scientific conceptions of the time, and make it answer present needs. The area treated of has been so liberally defined as practically to include the entire flora of the northern portion of the Great Plains. Most of the arctic plants are also included, for there are only a few of them which may not be found within the limits prescribed for the work. The figures are all from original drawings for this book, either from fresh plants or from herbarium specimens. All have been first drawn of natural size from medium-sized specimens and afterward reduced to a proportion which is indicated. Hence they do not suffer from the use of a magnifier, but are rather improved by it. The systematic arrangement has been revised so as to correspond as nearly as may be with the order of nature as now understood—as an order of evolution from the more simple to the more complex—and the sequence of families adopted by Engler and Prantl has been closely followed. The nomenclature is according to the code devised by the Paris Botanical Congress in 1867, as modified by the rules adopted by the Botanical Club of the American Association. English names are given as far as possible, but, in the confusion that exists in respect to these, great exercise of judgment in selection has been called for.

 

In the Social Forces in German Literature,[2] Dr. Kuno Francke, of Harvard University, attempts to define what seem to him the essential features of German literature from the point of view of the student of civilization rather than from that of the linguistic scholar or literary critic. By his studies and various influences he has been led to look at the substance rather than the form of literature, to see in it primarily the working of popular forces, to consider it chiefly as an expression of national culture. His effort is to supply what seems to be a decided need of a book which, based upon an original study of the sources, should give a coherent account of the great intellectual movements of German life as expressed in literature, and point out the mutual relation of action and reaction between these movements and social and political conditions. To his view all literary development is determined by the incessant conflict between the tendency toward personal freedom and the tendency toward collective organization. The subject is considered under this view in connection with the period of the migrations, from the fifth to the ninth century; with the growth of mediæval hierarchy and feudalism, the height of chivalric culture, the rise of the middle classes, the era of the Reformation, and the several epochs since, whose characteristics have been reflected in literary development; the whole constituting an admirable and instructive study of this phase of the history of civilization.

 

A very useful little book on How to Feed Children[3] has recently come to us from Mrs. Louise E. Hogan. The framework for the book consisted of a number of magazine articles that have appeared during the last two years in various journals. The author's aim has been to offer in a practical form a few suggestions concerning the application of the principles of dietetics to feeding in the nursery and throughout the period of childhood. All the material can of course be found in technical manuals in a much more extended form, and there is no claim of originality; but an attempt has been made to select the most important and general rules, and to present and apply them in a simple and practical way. While the close relations between physiology and dietetics are generally recognized, very little account is usually taken of them in cooking, and the worst results from their non-observance naturally occur among children whose digestive tract is less able to deal with unsuitable material. The first six chapters deal with the proper food for infants, and its preparation. Laxative foods are given a chapter. Nursery diet, fat in food, diet in illness, and diet for school children are all chapters of special interest. There are about twenty pages of receipts, as well as a good index, appended.

 

An Inductive Manual of the Straight Line and the Circle, by William J. Meyers, has arisen through the difficulty which the author has found in dealing with his own classes in geometry by the ordinary method, which is a purely deductive one. He believes that the inductive method will yield as extensive and exact a knowledge in the same length of time, a much greater readiness in the application of the knowledge obtained, and a more thorough "training of the imagination, invention, and judgment." Instead of a series of written proofs to memorize, such as, for instance, the sum of the three angles of a triangle is equal to two right angles, the student takes the triangle, and, with suggestions from the teacher where necessary, works out the various relations between its sides and angles for himself. The method seems a great improvement on that usually adopted. (The author, Fort Collins, Col.)

 

Nature Study, by W. S. Jackman, was written, says the author, for the purpose of aiding the elementary teacher in imparting this very important branch of knowledge to the younger pupils. The close relation between Nature study and the other subjects in the common-school course, and a few of the more general and essential facts and laws of natural science, are chiefly dwelt on. The book is accompanied by a series of charts, bound separately, which present "a conspectus of selected work in Nature study for each month of the entire year." (The author, Chicago, 85 cents.)

 

The second series of Life Histories of North American Birds — Special Bulletin No. 3 of the United States National Museum — by Charles Bendire, relates to the parrots, cuckoos, anis, trogons, kingfishers, woodpeckers, goatsuckers, etc.; swifts, hummingbirds, cotingas, tyrant flycatchers, larks, crows, jays, magpies, starlings, blackbirds, orioles, and grackles; while the former series (Bulletin No. 1) included the gallinaceous birds, pigeons, doves, and birds of prey. The descriptions have especial reference to the breeding habits and eggs of the birds, and are based on the collections in the museum. The classification of the American Ornithologists' Union has been followed. The seven plates contain more than two hundred representations of eggs, reproduced by chromolithography from original watercolor drawings. We are informed that the ſ collection of the museum has been increased by the acquisition by gift of the collection of seven thousand specimens of Dr. William L. Ralph, of Utica, N. Y. We hope the collections of all the ornithologists will be completed soon, and that the rest of the eggs may be allowed to become birds. The very first sentence of the first description in this book tells a story that should make all collectors pause. It is that the range of the bird in question — the only representative of its family in the United States — is yearly becoming more and more restricted.

 

The Sixteenth Report of the United States Geological Survey, the first issued under the direction of Mr. Charles D. Walcott, appears in four large, handsome volumes. From the report of the director in the first volume we learn that he has not made any radical changes in either the policy or personnel of the survey. Such modifications as have been made are intended to bring his bureau more in touch with some of the economic and educational interests of the country. They include improving the quality of the topographic maps and marking the subdivision lines and the township and section corners on those of States containing public lands; placing the entire topographic force within the classified civil service; obtaining authority from Congress to print and sell topographic maps with text for educational purposes; enlarging the Divisions of Hydrography and of Mineral Resources ;and the making of reconnaissance surveys of regions supposed to contain important economic resources, in order to obtain information which, under the ordinary plan of awaiting a complete survey of the region, would be delayed for years. Following this report are papers on The Dinosaurs of North America, by O. C. Marsh; Glacier Bay and its Glaciers, by H. F. Reid; Some Analogies in the Lower Cretaceous of Eu-rope and America, by L. F. Ward; Structural Details in the Green Mountain Region and in Eastern New York, by T. N. Dale; and one of three hundred pages on Principles of Pre-Cambrian North American Geology, by C. R. Van Hise. All of these are adequately illustrated, that of Prof. Marsh having eighty-five plates. The second volume is devoted to papers of an economic character, an account of the Geology and Mining Industries of the Cripple Creek District, Colorado, having first place. The general geology of the district is set forth by Whitman Cross in considerable detail. The plan followed involves giving the character of the various rock formations, the evidences of action by the ancient Cripple Creek volcano, and descriptions of the rocks forming each of the hills in the camp and vicinity. R. A. F. Penrose, Jr., describes the mining geology of the district, telling what ores are met with, how they occur, and the way in which they were deposited. He also gives detailed descriptions of the ore deposits of the various hills and gulches, and frequently describes the veins followed by individual mines. Prof. N. S. Shaler contributes a paper on the Geology of the Road-building Stones of Massachusetts, giving the results of tests made on a considerable variety of stones, with some discussion of the value of the different kinds under various practical conditions. The Economic Geology of the Mercur Mining District, Utah, is treated by J. E. Spurr. There are two monographs bearing on irrigation: The Public Lands and their Water Supply, by Frederick H. Newell, and Water Resources of a Portion of the Great Plains, by Robert Hay. The former of these papers tells the character of the remaining public lands and in what States they are located, and gives the available sources of water in each State. The latter gives the results of an investigation on a strip of country lying along the eastern boundary of Colorado, this district being chosen as typical of the Great Plains region. The volume is adequately illustrated with maps, diagrams, photographic views, etc. The report on the Mineral Resources of the United States, with which the name of David T. Day has been for many years identified, appears for 1894 in a new form. It constitutes the third and fourth of the royal octavo volumes of the general Report of the Survey. Mr. Day has utilized the greatly increased space allowed him by producing a much more valuable work in his field than ever before. Iron is the first of the minerals to be considered, and in addition to the statistics for the United States there is an account of the production of iron ores in various parts of the world, by John Birkinbine, and a statement of the operations of the iron and steel industries in all countries, by James M. Swank. Other metals are treated by various specialists or by the editor. The second of Mr. Day's volumes is devoted to non-metallic products. Here the account of coal production, by Edward P. Parker, has first place. The manufacture of coke and the production of petroleum and natural gas are presented by Joseph D. Weeks. William C. Day tells of the year's operations in the stone industry, Heinrich Ries contributes an account of the technology of the clay industry, while minor products are treated by various hands. The first appearance of monazite in these reports is made the occasion for a historical and chemical account of the substance by H. B. C. Nitze. This is the mineral used in making incandescent mantles for gas-burners.

 

The idea that it is well to become acquainted with the beings that they are to do their professional work upon has now taken firm hold upon the teachers of this country. They are absorbing the many books on the psychology of children that are offered to them and demanding other treatises on special topics not yet fully or clearly dealt with. A volume that undertakes the inconspicuous but fundamental task of supplying facts from which the characteristics of children may be learned is the collection of Child Observations made by students of the State Normal School at Worcester, Mass., and edited by Miss Ellen M. Haskell (Heath, $1.50). The twelve hundred examples of children's doings here presented are purposely confined to Imitation and Allied Activities. The design of the book is fully explained in an introduction contributed by Mr. E. H. Russell, principal of the normal school. "The records," he says, "make no scientific pretensions whatever. They are printed in response to many requests and with the hope of awakening or quickening interest in children simply as children, not as pupils or as ‘material’ for psychological or anthropological study." Mr. Russell calls attention to the evidence in these observations of the interest with which children repeat their imitative acts, this interest being sustained by their vivid fancy. Their spontaneous activity—muscular and mental—is another notable characteristic that he mentions. He also gives a caution against too much seeking for uniformity in children. A second volume, embracing another class of these observations, will be forthcoming if the demand should appear to warrant it.

 

The recent political campaign was remarkably productive of books which have more than an ephemeral interest. Among these is The Monetary and Banking Problem, by Logan G. McPherson (Appletons, $1), consisting of three articles contributed to this magazine early in 1896, with additional chapters on bimetallism and on the standard of value. Mr. McPherson maintains that, while gold and silver were suitable for money in past conditions of the world's trade, they are very crude instruments for our present commerce. The use of both together is made impracticable by natural laws unless one is subsidiary to the other. They are being steadily superseded by paper representatives of value, and the author looks forward to the adoption of a new unit which shall be not a specified weight of metal but a quantity of human effort. The reasons for the position taken by him are clearly stated, and the problem which still confronts the United States in spite of the verdict of the recent election is discussed practically and understandingly.

 

Believers in the gold standard will regard as pertinent to the times the new edition of Fiat Money Inflation in France, by Andrew D. White (Appletons, paper, 25 cents), which was one of the books of the recent campaign. Doubtless many persons will devote some of their leisure this winter to a further study of monetary questions, and to them this bit of history can not fail to be instructive. The present issue contains an extract from Macaulay on effects of cheap coinage, and an introduction showing the resemblance of the scheme tried by France to that proposed for the United States.

 

The volume of Proceedings of the Indiana Academy of Sciences just issued contains about three hundred pages and a number of plates. Among the more notable articles are Call's Revision of the Parvus Group of Unionidæ, Everman and Scovell's Fishes of the Missouri River Basin, and Investigations concerning the Redfish. The notable feature of the Biological Survey Reports is the series of reports on Turkey Lake. This, the largest inland lake of Indiana, has been chosen as the seat of the Indiana University Biological Station. The lake is being studied as a unit of environment with the variation of its inhabitants. The scope of the report as indicated by the titles is about as follows: Report on the physical features; hydrographic map, with contours for every ten feet of depth; temperatures; the inhabitants, by Eigenmann, Ridgley, Kellicott, Birge, Hay, Call, Atkinson, Reddick, and Chamberlain; methods of studying variation, by Eigenmann; and the variation of Etheostoma caprodes, by Moenkhaus.

 

The instructor who has had for several years a large class of beginners in organic chemistry knows how much of his time is required to initiate his neophytes into the new kind of laboratory work that they are taking up. He will not need to be told the value of a book that could give the necessary directions clearly, briefly, and without the omission of any essential caution or qualification. Such a book Dr. Ludwig Gattermann aimed to produce in his Practical Methods of Organic Chemistry, and with so much success that a translation into English has seemed warranted (Macmillan, $1.60). Dr. Gattermann describes first such general operations as crystallization, simple distillation, distillation with steam, etc., not omitting the drying and cleaning of vessels. In this general part are included qualitative tests and the quantitative determination of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, sulphur, and the halogens. Passing to special preparations, the author gives directions for thirteen reactions in the aliphatic series, forty-two in the aromatic, and one example each with a substance in the pyridine and quinoline series. Directions for preparing a few inorganic reagents are also given. The attention of the student is called to the significance of each reaction described, so that his knowledge shall be something more than empirical. The volume is illustrated with eighty-two cuts of apparatus.

 

"I sometimes wonder whuther it's bein’ good thet makes some folks infidils, er whuther it's bein' infidils thet makes some folks so good," remarks one of the characters in The Reason Why and in the association of these ideas strikes the keynote of the story. In his preface the author, Ernest E. Russell says, "There was a time when such a story as I have tried to write would have helped me," and in an unquestionably genuine desire to help others he makes his story a vehicle for the reasons that lead many thoughtful men and women to reject the Christian religion. These reasons are quite fully stated, chapters and parts of chapters being devoted to the inherent probability or improbability of the Scriptures, the action of early councils of the Church in forming the canon and the creeds, the Arian "heresy," the Nestorian "heresy," the return to Augustine in the Reformation, miracles, possession by evil spirits, and kindred topics. Several minor matters are touched upon in passing, such as the beneficial influence of industry, the wreck of happiness likely to follow the marriage of persons having opposite religious beliefs when one has the proselyting spirit, the rightfulness of doing to a human being what we regard as an act of mercy to a brute, namely, shortening the suffering that precedes death, etc. The thread of story is sufficient to give coherence to the book, while the characters, who are country people of a generation ago and educated young persons of rural origin, are excellently portrayed. Thoughtful persons who have drifted away from early religious teaching will enjoy and profit by The Reason Why. (The author, 13 Astor Place, New York.)

 
  1. An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States and Canada and the British Possessions. By Nathaniel Lord Britton, Ph. D., and Hon. Addison Brown. In 3 vols. Vol. I. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. Pp. 612. Price, $6.
  2. Social Forces in German Literature. By Kuno Francke, Ph.D. New York: Henry Holt & Co. Pp. 556. Price, $2 net.
  3. How to Feed Children. By Louis E. Hogan. Pp. 236, 12mo. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co. Price, $1.