Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/126

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.



lish Sydenham Society. He was a man of large wealth, which he liberally devoted to the work of science by maintaining his physiological school; and, besides being a skillful and able investigator, he was a man of enlarged culture and earnestly sympathetic with all measures and movements for the diffusion of valuable knowledge among the people. He was warmly interested in carrying out the project of the "International Scientific Series," being a member of the German committee to decide upon the contributions from that country; and, had he lived, he would have prepared a volume for the series himself. He wrote and spoke the English language with ease and elegance, and his wife conversed in it so fluently and perfectly that the writer felt sure she must be an American lady, if not English, until he learned that she had never been out of Germany. Prof. Czermak died of a lingering disease from which he had long suffered.


Mr. Richard A. Proctor, the eminent English astronomer, is to lecture in this country during the ensuing season. We need hardly say that he is a first-class man, and stands among the ablest in his chosen department of science. Nor is he a mere recipient and reporter of other men's ideas; he has views of his own, and has made his independent contributions to the extension of astronomical science. But it is as a lucid and attractive writer on astronomical themes that Mr. Proctor is chiefly known. He has written an elaborate work on "The Sun," and has just published a corresponding volume on "The Moon;" these, with "Other Worlds than Ours," and his numerous and excellent papers in the reviews on stellar astronomy, show his thorough familiarity with the whole field of celestial phenomena. Mr. Proctor is said to be a clear, rapid, and forcible speaker, which, with his illustrations, will make his lectures the leading scientific entertainment of the season.


The Philosophy of Evolution. (An Actonian Prize Essay.) By B. Thompson Lowne, M. R. C. S., F. L. S. London, John Van Voorst.

hannah acton, relict of Samuel, had opinions. In this there was certainly nothing remarkable, but she had also that which gives dignity and power to opinion, that is, money to back it. Ideas amount to very little until incarnated, and then they acquire an immense and lasting influence. A narrow-minded blockhead may cherish views that nobody regards as worth listening to, but if he puts a few hundred thousand dollars behind them, and founds a college for carrying them out, they suddenly rise into respectability, and are made potential for generations. Our friend Hannah had a notion that there prevails a very low estimate of the wisdom and goodness of the Creator of the universe, and she was willing to spend money to raise the standard, so she placed a thousand pounds of good solid investments in the hands of a committee of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, to appropriate the interest, every seven years, in the shape of a prize of one hundred guineas, for the best essay, "illustrative of the wisdom and beneficence of the Almighty, in such department of science as the committee should select," leaving it to their discretion to withhold the reward if none of the essays produced were thought worthy of it. Seven years ago, the solar radiations—certainly a magnificent subject—was proposed for a prize; but, as nothing appeared upon that theme which would to any extent promote the donor's intention, the money was not granted. So the funds accumulated, and this year two prizes were offered, one of them for the best essay on the "Law of Evolution, as illustrating the Wisdom and Beneficence of the Almighty," and B. Thompson Lowne got the golden prize for writing the little book before us. The fact is notable as showing the advance of thought, for no transformation suggested by the evolutionists as taking place among the lower animals