Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/770

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

cation has come to be so much a matter of demagogism and popular flattery that it will not be easy to carry out reform in this particular; but we welcome the indications that here and there appear, of a recognition of the existing evil and the need of its remedy. The following passage, which we have seen quoted from the late annual report of the able State Superintendent of Schools of Illinois, Mr. Newton Blakeman, although perhaps somewhat sanguine, at any rate rings out the truth:

"The era of shams, and cheats, and clap-trap, in education, will have gone by. Rewards, and prizes, and other artificial and vicious incentives to study, will no longer he known, and with them the arbitrary, unjust, and preposterous practice of pretending to note a student's intellectual, moral, and deportmental rank and standing by a mechanical system of marks will also be numbered with the discarded rubbish of an obsolete educational dispensation. The hopes that have been crushed, the hearts that have been stung, the irreparable mischief that has been wrought by that puerile and abominable system, should have sent it to the moles and the bats long ago."

Equally encouraging is the action of the New York Board of Education in passing a resolution that hereafter no medals or prizes shall be accepted as awards to the students of the Normal College, except such as may have been previously founded, or from such persons as granted prizes prior to 1873. If this resolution be proper—that is, if the policy abandoned be bad—pray, why not abolish the existing prizes?

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

The Chemistry of Light and Photography, in its Applications to Art, Science, and Industry. By Dr. Hermann Vogel, Professor in Berlin. 100 Illustrations. Pp. 290. D. Appleton & Co. No. XIV. of the "International Scientific Series."

At the International Convention of Photographers, held in this country a few years ago, Dr. Hermann Vogel, of Berlin, was the distinguished German delegate, and was much honored as one of the most eminent and successful cultivators of the subject in both its scientific and artistic aspects. Perhaps no man in any country was so well prepared to make a thorough presentation of the principles and practice of this beautiful process, and, upon being applied to to write a book upon the subject for the "International Series" he consented, and the volume now before us confirms the wisdom of the application. It is worthy the reputation of the author and the interest of the subject, and is beyond comparison the best popular treatise on the chemistry of light, and the present state of the arts, that have grown out of it, that has yet been produced. The history of the efforts, by scientific men, in the early part of the century, to fix and preserve in some way the images formed by light, is familiar to all. Davy and Wedgwood, of England, made the earliest attempts, in 1802, to secure such lasting impressions. Their results, however, were very imperfect, and from time to time the problem was attacked by other chemists, and was finally solved by Nièpce and Daguerre, and the process was given to the world in 1840. In the light of all that has been done in the past thirty-five years, the little pictures of Daguerre, with their "ugly, mirror-like dazzle, which prevented a clear view of them," are now regarded as insignificant, but they were at first contemplated with wonder. When, however, the process was once securely possessed, it was rapidly improved and extended, until it has now become an important element of civilized life. As Dr. Vogel remarks, photography has "spread over almost every branch of human effort and knowledge, and now there is scarcely a single field in the universe of visible phenomena where its productive influence is not felt. It brings before us faithful pictures of remote regions, of strange forms of stratification, of fauna, and of flora; it fixes the transient appearances of solar eclipses; it is of great utility to the astronomer and geographer; it registers the movements of the barometer and thermometer; it has found an alliance with porcelain-painting, with lithography, metal and book typography; it makes the noblest works of art accessible to those of slender means. It may thus be compared to the