Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 30.djvu/154

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142
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

be similarly improved? Surely, if we only have the requisite knowledge, and, taking a practical view of life, could regulate our domestic arrangements with some degree of reason, rather than by habit, prejudice, and the foolish ideas cultivated by foolish novelists, this might be done. Probably we have enough physiological knowledge to effect a vast improvement in the pairing of individuals, if we could only apply that knowledge to make fitting marriages, instead of giving way to foolish ideas about love and the tastes of young people, whom we can hardly trust to choose their own bonnets.

 

The Place of Geography in School-Studies.—The burden of General Sir F. J. Goldsmid's presidential address before the Geographical Section of the British Association was, that the place which geography holds among school-studies is not that which it ought to hold if its uses were understood and appreciated. As a matter of state and public-school education, the science of geography should be elevated, not degraded. It should be placed on a par with classics, mathematics, and history, with each and all of which it has affinity. A knowledge of geography is not one of those accomplishments which will come, as it were, of them-selves, or are the outcome of lightly sown seeds in the home; it will not come, like hand-writing, with incidental practice, nor is it to be gained by mere traveling. After a running review of the principal geographical work of the world during the year, the speaker mentioned the east and west coasts of Africa as two regions in which geographical activity had been evinced in a remarkable degree. "It is really astonishing," he said, "to trace the changes in a map of Africa during the last quarter of a century. Large spaces that were quite blank have been filled up with conspicuous delineations of mountains, fine lines representing rivers, crossed by or connected with finer lines of affluents or feeders, with names, circles, and dots for towns or villages. Yet, as I now contemplate that map in its latest form, it seems to me that hundreds of spots visited have yet to be indicated, and that the coast lines of the Indian Ocean on the one side and the Atlantic on the other are teeming with life imported, as it were, from Europe." An adequate knowledge of geography combined with history ought to have contributed to prevent the English Government consenting to the treaty it has made, though it is still unratified, with Portugal, respecting the lower Congo. While full information respecting the history and geography of such important countries as Afghanistan, Beloochistan, and Persia, is available in books, it is nowhere to be found in the comprehensive form that would necessarily be adopted were geography honored with professorial chairs; but, in the absence of the appropriate manual, search must be made in encyclopædias, gazetteers, and volumes of history and travel.

 


NOTES.

The question of the origin of the red sunsets, which still continue to appear at times, is yet a subject of discussion. The theory of their being due to volcanic dust in the air is still most in favor, but their persistency is by some regarded as a cause of objection to it. Professor Newcomb suggests in "Nature" that, in order to reach a decisive conclusion on the matter, we must have observations made in regions where the upper atmosphere is exceptionally free from vapors and other attenuated matter, and where, consequently, the advent of such matter could be detected when it could not be determined at other places. He names the Cape of Good Hope as such a region, and hopes that observers there will give special attention to the investigation.

Professor F. W. Putnam gave, in the American Association, a résumé of results from his explorations of burial-places, mounds, and earthworks, during the past twenty years, in various parts of the United States. They go to show that successive peoples have inhabited the several regions of the country, and that the mounds were made by different people at different times, as evidenced by their structure and contents.

Professor Boyd Dawkins said, in a British Association paper on the exploration of Gop Cairn, commonly known as Queen Boadieca's tomb, and of the cave at St. Asaph, that the human remains found in the cave threw great light on the ethnology of the district in the bronze age, and proved that in the Neolithic age the population of that part of Wales was of the Iberian type. All the skulls were of this type save one, and that possessed all the characteristics usually found in a round-headed Celt of the bronze age. These appeared to indicate that fusion