Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 36.djvu/284

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272
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

species, while the British author makes the discovery of mutual relations and associations into groups a prominent object.

The tenth volume of the Resultados del Observatorio National Argentino at Cordoba, Juan M. Thome, director, contains all the observations made during 1877 for the General Catalogue, the four microscopes, as well as three tallies of transit-threads, having been employed for them; and the zones from 755 to 759 inclusive, with their reduction-tables, and an index for reference. The number of stellar determinations made during the year was 17,380, of which 516 were made in zones. Tables of corrigenda for the present volume, and for the errors detected in the volumes already published, are appended.

The paper of Mr. Cyrus Thomas, entitled Aids to the Study of the Maya Codices (Government Printing-Office), is based on the assumption that an attempt to decipher those documents on the supposition that they contain true alphabetic characters must end in failure. Some of the characters are more than probably phonetic symbols; but Landa's alphabet furnishes no help in deciphering them, and is evidently based on a misconception of the Maya graphic system. "If the manuscripts are ever deciphered, it must be by long and laborious comparisons and happy guesses." This paper is intended to be a step in that direction. The author concludes that, at the time the codices examined were written, "Maya culture had reached that stage where the idea of phoneticism was being introduced into the writing. Yet it is certain, and even susceptible of demonstration, that a large proportion, perhaps the majority, of the characters are symbols. The more I study these characters the stronger becomes the conviction that they have grown out of a pictographic system similar to that common among the Indians of North America. The first step in advance appears to have been to indicate, by characters, the gesture-sign."

In Hints for Teachers of Physiology (D. C. Heath & Co., "Guides for Science Teaching"), Prof. H. P. Bowditch makes an attempt to show how a teacher may supplement his text-book instruction by means of simple observations and experiments on living bodies or on organic material, so as to impart to his pupils a knowledge of the foundation on which physiology rests, and bring the impressions made on the senses to aid the memory in retaining the facts communicated didactically. The essay, though simply a primer, is fruitful in suggestions for familiar illustrations.

Though edible mushrooms of many varieties are found in all parts of the United States, few of them are utilized, because the majority of the people do not know how to distinguish them from poisonous species. A useful aid to making this very important distinction is furnished in Dr. Thomas Taylor 's pamphlet of descriptions, with natural-colored illustrations, of Twelve Edible Mushrooms of the United States; which also gives directions for selecting and preparing for the table. The paper is embodied in the report of the Department of Agriculture for 1885, and is published separately by Dr. Taylor in Washington.

Investigations of sorghum-blight and the mildew of the huckleberry, with certain parasitic insects inhabiting the knots produced by it, and the fungous parasites of weeds, together with experiments in the cross-fertilization of corn and the germination of weed-seeds, are described in the Report of the Botanical Department of the Kansas State Agricultural College Experiment Station.

A number of documents and papers concerning the care of the insane, and questions concerning the responsibility of the insane, may be noticed in a group. The Report of the Standing Committee on the Insane of the New York State Board of Charities presents the results of the annual visitation to examine the condition of the eight State hospitals and asylums and the eighteen asylums of the exempted counties. The Recent Judicial Departure in Insanity Cases, by Clark Bell, reviews two recent decisions of high courts—one of the State of Alabama and the other of the United States—that indicate an approach to a more fixed and accurate definition of the responsibility of the insane than has heretofore prevailed.—In the case of The Insanity of Oscar Hugo Webber, Dr. J. Hendric Lloyd enters a protest against the conviction for murder of a man who in the author's view was insane to irresponsibility.—The question of responsi-