Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 9.djvu/265

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245
LITERARY NOTICES.

American Academy of Arts and Sciences, instituted in 1780. Five thousand dollars were presented, the accruing interest of which was to be invested in medals, and granted biennially by the academy for the most important discoveries in relation to heat or light made within the preceding two years. It was also provided that, if this term passed without any discovery or improvement being made that should be deemed worthy of the award, the accruing interest was to be added to the principal, and the augmented income thus arising was to be added to the medals when the next award was made. But the arrangement seemed to be a futile one, as there were none in America who troubled themselves to extend the knowledge of heat and light; or, at all events, there were no such extensions as in the opinion of the Academy were entitled to win the prizes. Years passed, and the money accumulated until the Academy became embarrassed by the question what to do with it. And so they got a law passed by the Legislature empowering them to depart from the strict letter of the endowment, and use the funds with more freedom in the interest of advancing knowledge. In 1839 the Academy gave from the interest of the Rumford fund the sum of $600 to Dr. Hare, of Philadelphia, in consideration of his invention of the compound blowpipe, and his improvement in galvanic apparatus. The Rumford medal was granted by the Academy, in 1862, to John B. Ericssen for his caloric-engine; in 1865 to Daniel Treadwell, for improvements in the management of heat; in 1867 to Alvan Clark, for improvement in the lens of the refracting telescope; and in 1870 to George H. Corliss, for improvements in the steam-engine. When the gift was made to Dr. Hare, the fund amounted to $27,000; and it has now grown to $42,000.

The biographer of Rumford makes the following significant observation: "It is remarkable that the count, after having liberally provided funds for medals in the award of two learned bodies, should a few years afterward, when drawing his plan and publishing his proposals for his own Royal Institution, have introduced into them an express prohibition of all premiums and rewards."

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

On Fermentation. By P. Schützenberger. With Twenty-eight Illustrations. Pp. 306. Price, $1.50. D. Appleton & Co. No. XX. International Scientific Series.

In the logic of science, the misleading influence of words is a matter of ever-increasing importance. Words remain, but the ideas they represent are altered, expanded, revolutionized. The old and narrow meanings live on in common speech, and the changed and enlarged significations are current among men of science, so that when the terms are employed between these classes they have so totally different a signification that intelligent and critical interchange of ideas between them is hardly possible. The term applied to the present work is a case in point. The word; "fermentation" is derived from fervere, to boil, and applies to the agitation or, effervescence of saccharine liquids when placed in contact with ferments—a phenomenon that was probably familiarly known long before the earliest traces of> history. To the mass of people, the word "fermentation" suggests bread-making and brewing, with the production of spirituous and souring products. To the man of science and as treated in the present volume, fermentation has become one of the great gateways to biology. The subject has ever been, and must continue to be, of great practical moment in its domestic and manufacturing relations; and every step in its scientific elucidation is therefore a contribution to the theory and progress of the arts. The knowledge of it has now become so clear and extended, that it was necessary it should be brought together in a special treatise for reference for all who are interested in practical problems of organic chemistry. But while the present book fulfills this condition, it also aims at the