Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/396

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382
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

should be furnished with the principles of a science they have not had to discover for themselves, and with charts to guide their general course, leaving to their individual acumen the adaptations and modifications required by special circumstances. We have such knowledge to guide us in improving our breeds of cattle and our crops: must we remain without it in the infinitely more important business of improving our human crop, of getting out of our human soil all that it can be made to yield for social and individual good? Must every tyro still be allowed to try experiments, not in corpore vili, but on the most delicate and precious of materials—the human body and mind, on the most powerful of all forces—human passions and the human will; experiments in which success or failure means virtue or vice, happiness or misery, lives worthy or unworthy, sowing with every action a seed of good or ill, to reproduce itself in an endless series beyond all human ken?

 


NOTES.

During the summer, the division of the geological and geographical survey of the Territories under the charge of Prof. Powell explored Northeastern, Middle, and Southeastern Utah. In addition to the geographical and geological work, the expedition has collected, according to the Tribune, many interesting facts in ethnography. Prof. Powell has found several new ruins of ancient towns in the Colorado Valley, and has collected some specimens of ancient picture-writings, and many stone implements. Prof. Powell, we are told, is now prepared to indicate in his map the position of many scores of these ancient towns or hamlets now found in ruins in the valleys on each side of the Colorado.

Prof. Theodore Gill, of the Smithsonian Institution, and Dr. Elliott Coues, U.S.A., are engaged upon a systematic revision of the mammals of North America. The scientific competence of the authors, as well as their rare opportunities for the inspection of specimens in practically unlimited numbers, is an ample guarantee for the thoroughness of the promised treatise.

Dr. Lyon Playfair, at the recent meeting of the British Social Science Association, quoted Michelet's statement that, for 1,000 years, no one in Europe used the bath, and urged that it was no wonder that the epidemics of the middle ages cut off one-fourth of the population—no wonder that there were a spotted plague, black death, sweating sickness, dancing mania, mewing mania, biting mania, and other terrible epidemics.

In Sonoma County, California, according to the report of the Department of Agriculture, the farmers soak their seed-wheat from eight to twelve hours in a solution of sulphate of copper, in the proportion of six ounces of the salt to 100 pounds of wheat. In this way the "smut," which is a fungoid growth, is killed, and prevented from spreading from diseased to sound grains.

The council of a new college, recently opened in London for the medical education of women, includes the names of the following eminent physicians and physiologists, many of whom are also lecturers in the institution: Charlton Bastian, King, Chambers, Huxley, Hughlings-Jackson, W. L. Playfair, and Burdon-Sanderson.

About forty years ago the Government of France made a costly attempt to introduce the culture of the tea-plant into that country. Three thousand shrubs were imported and planted in various regions of France. Next year the disaster was complete. It is now known that the tea-plant does not give a crop unless with an average temperature reaching 61° Fahr., and a considerable atmospheric moisture in summer. The English Government have not been similarly deceived. Introduced on the slopes of the Himalayas at a height calculated for the suitable heat and moisture, tea now ranks among the sources of wealth of British India. With like success the cinchona is now cultivated in Asia; but botanists and meteorologists were first dispatched to the Andes to determine the conditions of its native growth.

De Candolle proposes a physiological classification of plants based on their relations to heat and moisture. He makes six divisions, viz.: megatherms, which need much heat and moisture; xerophiles, requiring dry heat; mesotherms, moderate heat; microtherms, natives of temperate climates; hekisotherms, natives of high latitudes; finally megistotherms, an exceptional group which require a mean annual temperature of over 30° C. (86° Fahr.).

A French botanist, Cosson, holds that lichens require a very pure air for their development; in fact, he thinks they afford a very delicate natural test of the purity of the atmosphere.

The Smithsonian Institution is soon to publish a memoir by Prof. Simon Newcomb, of the United States Naval Observatory, on "The General Integrals of Planetary Motion."