Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 5.djvu/133

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123
MISCELLANY.

be a pauper or millionaire; a laborer or capitalist; a peasant or prince—which determine, in short, whether his own internal momentum or centrifugal force shall be overpowered by the potent gravitation, or centripetal force, which is constantly prostrating human efforts, or shall enable him to maintain an independent position, and revolve in an orbit of his own."

A Treatise on the Method of Government Surveying. By Shobal V. Clevenger, U.S. Deputy Surveyor. New York: D. Van Nostrand. 200 pp., 12mo.

The author states that the peculiarities of Government surveying being unexplained by existing works on land-surveying, new contractors with the Government are often embarrassed by the want of information on the subject. To meet this want, the treatise was prepared. The principles of surveying, the application of astronomy, and the uses of instruments and of logarithmic tables, are expounded briefly but intelligibly. Suggestions are also made for procuring a surveying outfit, and for rendering the alkaline waters of the Western Plains fit for drinking. Tables of convergences, logarithms, etc., are given at the end. The book is bound in morocco for pocket-use.

The Borderland of Science. By Richard A. Proctor, B. A. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co. 438 pp., 8vo. Price, $4.00.

This is an embodiment in book-form of a series of essays previously published in the Cornhill Magazine. The title forcibly indicates the nature of the subjects discussed, these being generally beyond the pale of exact science, yet possessing in some degree a scientific character. However, with regard to the last three essays, "Gambling," "Coincidences," and "Ghosts," it is difficult to recognize their claim to a position under the title, except in the effort of the author to combat, after an analytical or scientific method, the errors prevailing on those subjects. The essay on "The Herschels and the Star-Depths" sketches the observations of those great astronomers on the "dark portions" of the heavens, and their resulting discoveries of nebulæ. "A Voyage to the Sun," and "A Voyage to the Ringed Planet," in the assumed and fanciful form of a journey to those luminaries, describe their features and the peculiar theories relating to each. "Life in Mars" discusses the reasons for believing that some kind of animal life exists upon that planet, and "A Whewellite Essay on Mars" gives the reasons for doubting that that life resembles such as we see upon our own. Besides several other essays on astronomical subjects is one on "Earthquakes," another on "Coal," and still another on "Flying and Flying-Machines." The clear and vigorous style and varied character of its contents make the book highly interesting. It is to be regretted that it was not published in a cheaper edition.

The Galvanometer and its Uses. By C. H. Haskins. New York: D. Van Nostrand. 76 pp., 12mo.

Of suitable size, this book is intended as a pocket manual for students of electricity, as well as a reference-book for experienced electricians. It explains, at the beginning, the laws upon which galvanometric measurements are based, next the galvanometer itself, and lastly the uses of the instrument. It is illustrated throughout. To the end are appended useful tables of the wires and tangents, and of the weights and resistances of iron and copper wires.

 

MISCELLANY.

Relics of an ancient Malayan Civilization.—At the November meeting of the California Academy of Sciences, photographs of curious hieroglyphics, cut in wood and found on Easter Island, were received from Mr. Thomas Croft, of Papeeti, Tahiti. In accordance with vague traditions current among the natives, they were supposed to represent the written language of some pre-historic race. The stone idols found on the island exhibit a refined form of art, and other relics found there go to prove that the present population are the degenerate relics of a once powerful nation. In the letter accompanying the hieroglyphics, Mr. Croft stated, from the best information he could obtain, that none except the priests, and a chosen few, could decipher these strange characters. At a recent meeting of the