Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/590

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574
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

the masses, however, which has begun in the board schools, and is destined to widen, will necessitate a like improvement in all the grades above them. The English are nevertheless gaining in artistic development, and the freedom of choice and the individuality of the English artist arc beginning to tell abroad, and English taste in architecture and ornamental design is rapidly supplanting Continental. It is to England that Germans come for Christmas-cards, original ornamental pottery, patterns for embroidery, etc.; "and, in Vienna lately, I could scarcely buy a souvenir that was not adorned with cuttings from Kate Greenaway's charming crudities." The Royal Commissioners on Technical Education show in their reports that, among the French, it is not in the technical education of the ordinary working-classes that the differences sought are to be found; and the reports of the French commissioners reveal a state similar to that prevailing in England, so far as their ordinary workmen are concerned. Schools of arts and trades have been established, but their pupils expect to be foremen, not workmen. Apprenticeship schools have also been started, with more promising results. The best and most successful technical schools are in Switzerland and Germany, and conform, as a rule, to Professor Ayrtoun's definition, that they are not a school where the manipulation or routine of a trade is taught, but one where a lad receives general instruction in the principles of applied science, and special instruction in the application of those principles to the particular trade he is following, or which he is about to follow. In them everything is taught that can be gained at the universities, except the dead languages, while modern languages and the applications of modern science to art and industry are added, with such thoroughness that nearly all the leading men of England have found it desirable to spend some years in Germany. In the Polytechnikum at Zurich, Professor Meyer teaches chemistry in a purely scientific direction, irrespective of any practical application; then Professor Lunge treats the chapters which refer to practical applications, at greater length, and enters into a number of details relating to various chemical industries, placing the technical side foremost, but laying the principal stress on explaining the scientific principles underlying the applications. Models of every kind of mechanical action and of every kind of machine are found, but manual labor is excluded; while the student in architecture, for instance, has to work out the strains of every floor or roof or specialty in construction, and to delineate the same in skeleton diagrams attached to every plan he draws; and the mechanical draughtsman is not given a subject to copy, but only the parts of a machine, which he has himself to piece together, thus thoughtfully working out in practical draughtsmanship the theory he has been taught to apply constructively. The highly educated young men from these polytechnikums finally become masters when they can, but are not ashamed, till then, to act as foremen of manufactories, etc.

 

M. Respighi on the Light of Comets.—M. Respighi, admitting the fact that a part of the light of comets is due to the reflection of solar light, is of the opinion that it is yet too soon to decide that any part of it is a proper light due to the comet's own incandescence. He believes that the discontinuity of the comet's spectrum, and the bright lines or bands, may proceed from light modified by passing through the masses of vapors or gases, of which the cometary bodies are composed. It is certain, he observes, that a large part of the cometary light comes from the interior of the bodies, and passes through extensive strata of vapors, in which it is subjected to a selective absorption that causes it to give lines different from the Fraunhofer lines of the sun. So we may have both the weak but complete spectrum produced by the light reflected from the outer strata in which the absorption has been insensible, and another spectrum coming from the deeper parts, with which the absorption has been greater. This view is confirmed by M. Respighi's spectroscopic observations of comet b, 1881. The phenomenon, he observes, is of a similar nature to that of the dark bands of the spectrum of the sun in the horizon, but is greatly exaggerated in the case of the comets by the enormous volume of the vapors, the richness of their chemical composition, and the feebleness of the light they reflect.