Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/871

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

on a new discovery, on scientific phenomena, against revealed truth, present themselves sooner or later to every priest in the exercise of his ministry"; and "the priest who knows only his dogmatic and moral theology may be surprised and confounded by objections formulated in entirely new language, supported by pretended fact or by a discovery wrongly interpreted." Father Thein, who is said to be an enthusiastic student of science, to have given years of study and research to anthropology, and to have read the literature of the subject exhaustively, has undertaken in this book to inform his brother clergymen, so that they may not have to go into the conflict unarmed. He reviews the whole system of modern anthropological science and of evolution, with clear knowledge of what has been written and much force of argument. When he finds a weak point, he exposes it unmercifully, and is not above occasional sarcasm. His treatise is intelligent, good-tempered, and readable. But, because, while he questions science everywhere, he accepts the established dogmas of the Church as fixed, his work is better adapted to satisfy those young priests who want to be supported in what they are determined to believe than those inquiring minds who refuse to admit that the dogmas are beyond investigation.

The Proceedings of the First Annual Meeting of the National Conference on University Extension. Compiled by George Francis James. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co. Pp. 292. Price, 1.50.

The spread of the idea of university extension has been rapid, whether the results it has worked out have all been mature or not. Within a year after the first center of extension teaching was established in Philadelphia in November, 1890, Mr. James informs us, more than two hundred such experiments were being carried on in nearly every State in the Union. The results of the first year's work showed the need of thoughtful conference and discussion on the part of those engaged in it. Accordingly, a National Conference on the subject was called under the auspices of the American Society for the Extension of University Teaching, and met in Philadelphia in the last days of 1891. It was attended by delegates from twenty States, representing some fifty of the best institutions of learning, and—either personally or by written report—every center of extension teaching which had so far been established in the country. The seventeen addresses aud papers made and read at the meeting, and contained in this volume of the proceedings, regard the subject from as many different points of view. In addition to them, reports are given of the condition and prospects of university extension in the several States.

Matter, Ether, and Motion. By Prof. A. E. Dolbear. Boston: Lee & Shepard. 1892. Pp. 334.

Prof. Dolbear has essayed to give, in this little volume of three hundred odd pages, a brief account of the fundamental notions of modern physics, and to show the direction in which the thoughts of those are tending who are endeavoring to understand the ultimate mechanism of what we have been accustomed to call dead matter. The title of his volume clearly indicates the trend of such thought. To the physicist the hypothetical ether, which Grove in the forties contemptuously referred to as the clothes-horse upon which to hang the unknown, is becoming more and more a very definite reality. It is to him much more than a working hypothesis. He assumes its existence, and is busily occupied in trying to understand its ultimate structure—that is, how it must be constituted in order to explain the phenomena with which he has to deal.

He sees in it now not only a medium for the transmission of the wave-motions which manifest themselves as light, heat, and electricity, but is attempting to find in it the explanation of matter itself. The old conception of the atom as simply an ultimate particle, itself dead and inert, but endowed with forces by means of which it acts upon other particles, is giving place to a radically different one. This conception is that of the vortex ring. Any smoker can make one, and they are frequently thrown from the funnel of a locomotive in starting. Such a ring consists of a circle of material, all the parts of which are in rotation in the planes of the radii of the ring. Physicists have conceived that such rings formed in the ether—this being postulated as homogeneous and frictionless—might constitute the ultimate some-