Popular Science Monthly/Volume 47/June 1895/Popular Miscellany
Death of Professor Dana.—Prof. James Dwight Dana, the veteran American geologist, died at his home in New Haven, Conn., of disease of the heart, April 14. He had been apparently in good health, manifesting no signs of weakness other than by taking his walks less frequently, but on the morning before his death was attacked with a nervous fluttering of the heart, which, being not uncommon with him, was not regarded as serious. After sleeping for a while at night, he awoke feeling worse, and died before the doctor was able to reach him. A brief sketch of Prof. Dana's life and work up to that time was given in the third number of The Popular Science Monthly, July, 1872. Besides the books and published papers mentioned in that article he has since revised the text-books and manuals of geology and mineralogy, bringing them up to very recent dates; added to his works The Geological Story Briefly Told and a small volume on the New Haven region entitled The Four Rocks; contributed numerous papers on scientific subjects to the journals in which they appropriately found a place; and edited the American Journal of Science to the end of his life. He continued to serve in his professorship in Yale College till 1892, when he asked the corporation to appoint his successor, and Prof. H. S. Williams was elected; but he continued, at the request of the corporation, to deliver his lectures till January, 1894. After this he finished the revision of his Manual of Geology, which has been published recently; continued his contributions to the American Journal of Science; kept up his investigation of the phenomena of the Hawaiian volcanoes, for which he made a recent visit to the Sandwich Islands in 1887; and completed a short work on Cephalization, or a system of classification based upon progressive nerve centering in the brain. He was a man of lovable disposition and high personal character; and he held honors, memberships, or medals from most of the important scientific societies of the world. The complete list of his books and published papers given in the American Journal of Science contains two hundred and fourteen titles. It begins with a paper on the Condition of Vesuvius in 1834, published in 1835, and ends with the fourth and revised edition of the Manual of Geology, which Prof. Dana finished in February, 1895. A month later he had completed the manuscript of a new edition of The Geological Story, and then began work on a new edition of the Text-Book.
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��sons in prisons with more hardened crimi- nals, where all the influences are demoraliz- ing and not one healthful the ordinary course is obviously not the best one or a good one in any way. Prof. McClatchie, on the other hand, looking upon the cases as involving moral disease, outlines a reforma- tory treatment based on principles similar to those which rule at the Elmira institution. The first precept to be observed in it is that first offenses should never be overlooked ; vigorous treatment in the beginning is really a kindness to the subjects. Next, a system of graded institutions is needed, so that prisoners may be classified and segregated. " Those guilty of different degrees of crimi- nality should be placed in different institu- tions and given entirely different treatment. The sentence should in all cases be what is called indeterminate that is, no one should be sentenced for any given time. He should be placed in the institution and should re- main there until competent men pronounce him cured. The treatment should all be disciplinary. It should not consist of sim- ply kind treatment, but should be firm and vigorous. All three of their natures their physical, mental, and moral must be treat- ed simultaneously." The discipline must be continued until it is easy for the subjects to control their will and to use their hands and their minds in the right manner. " They must form the habit of doing right until it has become a part of their nature, or the work will not be thoroughly done. ... If it is found that it is impossible to reform the criminal, he should be kept confined indefi- nitely."
St. Augustine and the Days of Creation.
St. Augustine of Hippo is said to have been a diligent student of the Mosaic record of the creation, and tried earnestly to find a method of interpreting it consonant with what he knew of the facts of Nature. In writing of this feature of his career the Rev. John A. Zahm, of the University of Notre Dame, says that during the twenty-five best years of his life the first two chapters of Genesis were continually before his mind. What did Moses mean by the word " days " ? he asked again and again. " How could there be days in the ordinary acceptation of the word before the sun was created on the fourth
��day? Were not the first three days men- tioned by Moses periods of time rather than ordinary days of twenty- four hours each? And what about the seventh day a day that had no evening a day, therefore, that still endures ? How explain, according to the laws of Nature, which are the laws of God, the production and development of the vari- ous forms of plant and animal life in the short period of six ordinary days ? The idea that God, during the days of Genesis, operated in a manner different from that which sub- sequently characterized his providence, that the laws which governed the material uni- verse were not the same then that they were afterward ; that the Hexaemeron was distin- guished by a series of miracles and a succes- sion of specific creations rather than by the reign of law that the Creator himself had imposed on matter, and by which it was en- dowed with the power of gradual evolution and differentiation, seemed so repugnant to the keen and logical intellect of Augustine that he could never bring himself to adopt it, much less give it his support. . . . The word ' days,' according to the illustrious doc- tor, was not to be taken in a literal but in a figurative sense. They meant not ordinary days, but the works of creation which were unfolded in time by a series of progressive transformations. For a similar reason the words ' evening ' and ' morning ' are to be interpreted metaphorically as meaning not dusk and dawn, but the beginning and end of the divine works. God, according to St. Augustine, as well as according to St. Grego- ry of Nyssa, first created matter in an ele- mentary or nebulous state. From this pri- mordial matter created ex nihilo (from nothing) was evolved, by the action of physical laws impressed on it by the Creator, all the various forms of terrestrial life that subsequently appeared. In this process of evolution there was a succession, but no di- vision of time. The Almighty completed the work he had begun, not intermittently and by a series of special creations, but through the agency of special causes, by the opera- tion of natural laws causas rationes of which he was the author."
Wabbling of tlte Earth. Displacements of the rotational axis of the earth, says Prof. Forster in a paper read in the British Asso-
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��ciation, have been observed from the very earliest times, and are so great that they can be detected with very simple apparatus. These effects are due to exterior causes, and consist in a displacement of the axis of the earth in space, and a consequent wandering of the pole among the stars. The action of internal forces in the earth would be to pro- duce a displacement in the rotating body itself. A deviation of the rotational axis from the principal axis of inertia would cause a rotation of the pole round the principal axis of inertia. Such a rotation would have a period of nearly ten months, and could be best detected by continuous and active ob- servations of latitude at various observato- ries. Measurements were made as early as the middle of this century, but gave no defi- nite results, the ten-monthly period being marked by other disturbances due to cur- rents and circulations in the atmosphere, oceans, and rivers. Four years ago the In- ternational Geodetic Union secured co-opera- tion of observations, and this, together with an expedition to Honolulu, has led to defi- nite results. These show that the north pole wanders through about fifty feet between its extreme positions.
Bactericidal Solar Rays. Although in- vestigation has not been idle, experimenters have not been wholly agreed as to the exact property or field of the sun's rays which is most efficient in action on bacteria and fungi. The inquiry has been continued by Prof. H. Marshall Ward, to whom the thought oc- curred in the course of his work that the most direct answer to the question, Which rays are the most effective ones ? might be best obtained by shining the solar spectrum directly upon the film of spores, and making it record the effects by their subsequent be- havior, according as the different groups of rays fell upon them in other words, by ob- taining a photograph of the spectrum in liv- ing and dead bacteria. The results showed conclusively that the rays that kill the bac- teria are the blue and violet ones. An ob- servation was made during the investigation which may go far to account for the unsat- isfactory character of the determinations of former experiments. The chief difficulty to be overcome was the great weakening of the intensity of the dispersed rays of the beam
��of light decomposed to form the spectrum a weakening caused by the distribution of the incidence of the rays over a larger area and by their absorption and reflection in passing through the lenses and prisms. It was found also, in working with the electric light, that the power of the blue and violet rays was further impaired in other words, that they were stopped by the material (glass) through which they had to pass. The effect of the glass was practically the same as that of mist or haze in the atmosphere, which so filters out the blue-violet rays that the light of a dull day was of little effect in the author's experiments. These difficulties were overcome by using quartz instead of glass, with which it was possible to obtain a very pure spectrum sufficiently rich in blue and violet rays to kill the spores in a few hours. The author found it easy to obtain satisfactory results in the summer with the solar rays, even with glass lenses, mirrors, etc., and exposures of five or six hours, but in winter the exposures required to be so long as to be almost impracticable.
Work of the Peabody Museum, The
Curator of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology calls attention, in his report for 1893-'94, to the lack of room in the museum. Several collections made under the curator's direction have been se- cured. Besides a generous gift of money, Mr. Clarence B. Moore has contributed a good representative collection of the singular pot- tery which he obtained from a mound in Florida, and other objects of interest from the burial and shell mounds of that State. The publication of Mr. Nuttall's memoir has been provided for, and the work has been held in press for the incorporation of newly discovered facts. Space has been provided for the collections of archaeological, histor- ical, and educational objects and relics made by the late Mrs. Hemenway, of which Mr. J. Walter Fewkes is in charge. The collection of Mr. Frederick H. Rindge, deposited in the museum, contains the finest and most exten- sive lot of obsidian implements ever brought together from the Klamath country. Some of the chipped implements are remarkable for their size, and others for their beautiful finish. The collection also includes gems of workmanship in stone, bone, and ivory
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��from the tribes of the northwest, and many carvings obtained from the Eskimos. Dr. C. C. Abbott has presented a quantity of material obtained from the site of an old Dutch trad- ing house on the Delaware, which tells the story of the early contact of the white race with the Indians. Mr. Valk explored during the year an ancient village site and burial place in the Delaware Valley, where interest- ing discoveries were made relating to the early inhabitants. In his examination of the singu- lar and ancient burial places on the coast of Maine, Mr. Willoughby has ascertained sev- eral important facts, and has obtained many interesting objects, some of which show Es- kimo affinities. Mr. George Byron Gordon has undertaken the exploration of Copan under a concession from the Government of Honduras. More money is needed for this work, and other institutions are invited to co- operate in it. The collection already in the museum is pronoimced to be of remarkable interest and not equaled elsewhere, but is so crowded and unprotected that it is not open except under special arrangement. The course of general anthropology was attended by nine pupils.
The Passing of Torture. Asiatic peoples tolerate torture, practice it, almost seem to like it (the infliction of it, that is) ; European nations do not now permit it. The differ- ence presents a problem in the development of human character. Europeans did not always abhor torture; they have changed since the Romans delighted in gladiatorial shows and in seeing captives and Christians thrown into the arena to be devoured by wild beasts. Aversion to torture can hardly be called a characteristic of Christians, al- though it is inculcated in the Christian code, and may have been developed under Chris- tian teachings. King Menelek of Abyssinia, who is said to have recently condemned a treacherous page to terrible sufferings by mutilations and exposure in the wilderness, calls himself a Christian. The Inquisition was in full blast under the asgis of the Church only two or three centuries ago, and autos dafe were festivals in Madrid down to 1750. Prisoners convicted of certain crimes were broken on the wheel only a bare hun- dred years ago in France. Torture was legal in Denmark within living men's memories,
��and is still practiced, though not authorized, in Russian prisons. And what are we to say to the punishments still sometimes inflicted upon offending negroes in the southwest? But these things have passed away, and only a few vestiges of them, like the last men- tioned, remain among any men of European lineage, while the world at large abhors the recital of them. Having shown a number of otber special causes the validity of which, he considers, can not be depended upon to account wholly for the change, a writer in the London Spectator assumes that " there must be some separate moral impulse which has arisen apart, or in a certain degree apart, from any teaching of the creeds ; and we find it difficult not to believe that it is a new impulse, that man's moral nature has on this side made in Europe a distinct stride forward. It is an advance the extent and depth of which have not yet been tested, for the masses of Europe have not of late years been provoked to furious anger, as they once were, by heresies and treasons, or as they may be, by and by, by anarchist explosions ; but it is an advance which it is impossible not to recognize, and one that has gone far down, reaching classes whom the spirit of practical Christianity has hardly touched. If that is true, it is the most hopeful thought suggested by any of the social phenomena around us ; and after much observation, con- tinued for many years, the present writer can hardly doubt that it is true."
Oysters and Disease. In view of what has been said of the possibility of the com- munication of disease by eating raw oysters, inquiries have been instituted by the English Local Government Board into the circum- stances under which the cultivation and storage of shellfish along the coast are car- ried on. As a result of his bacteriological investigation of water from an oyster bed and of oysters from the same source, Prof. Cruikshank, of King's College, London, re- ports that he found a considerable number of bacteria in the sea water, but very few in the liquid of the oyster, in which the in- crease of bacteria was also very slow, but that in both cases the bacteria were familiar and harmless species, and there was no sep- tic odor. Hence he finds no evidence that would lead him to condemn the oysters as
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��its trough has been filled up by glacial de- tritus and alluvium. It thereby approximates in appearance to a plain. This appearance is due to the inability of the central stream to scour for itself a central channel a fact attributable to the width of the valleys and the consequent absence of glaciers on any scale, and to the short summers, which do not last long enough, or receive sufficient solar heat, to admit of a very powerful erosive impetus being communicated to the melting snows. Mr. Curzon estimates the extreme length and breadth of the Pamirs to be nearly equal, and each about one hundred and fifty miles.
A Model Public Library. The report of the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Public Library, Cal., furnishes many facts of much interest. One of the most noteworthy of them is the declaration that the library has been a paying investment for the city, as a means of education and recreation to the citizens, and as an attraction to the tourist population. Among the novel features is that of the circulation of current literature, which has met with hearty appreciation from the beginning, and is believed to have been a potent feature in encouraging the reading of the best class of the books and periodicals of the time. Another popular fea- ture is the musical department, which has been much utilized by students of music, and has proved a means of education. Early in the administration of the library, civil-service rules were adopted for the appointment and regulation of the staff of attendants. The first appointments were made after a rigorous examination into the qualifications of appli- cants, ignoring all objects except the greatest good of the library. A training class was es- tablished in November, 1891, from the gradu- ates of which, and of succeeding classes, all appointments to the staff have since been made. Appointments and promotions are all regulated according to efficiency and length of service; and it being understood that the employed of the library are entitled to retain their positions during good behavior, the formality of reappointment from year to year has not been recognized as necessary or advisable. It shows how little the Ameri- can people are removed from barbarism in the management of public affairs that these
��matters embodying the plainest and most obvious common-sense principles have to be explained in the report and shown to be right. The library has 42,313 volumes; gave out for reading at home or in the library or the reference room, 489,086 volumes in 1894; has 18,057 registered members ; and employs nineteen attendants.
The Office of Natural Selection. Xatural selection, Prof. A. S. Packard holds, in his paper on the Inheritance of Acquired Char- acters, as he has from the first insisted, is not an initial or impelling cause in the origi- nation of new species and genera. It does not start the ball in motion ; it only, as we might say, guides its motions down this or that incline. It is the expression, like that of " survival of the fittest " of Herbert Spen- cer, of the results of the combined operation of the more fundamental factors. In certain cases we can not see any room for its action ; in some others we can not at present explain the origin of species in any other way. Its action increased in proportion as the world became more and more crowded with diverse forms, and when the struggle for existence had become more interesting and intense. It certainly can not account for the origi- nation of the different branches, classes, or orders of organized beings. It in the main simply corresponds to artificial selection ; in the latter case man selects forms already produced by domestication, the latter afford- ing species and varieties due to change in the surroundings that is, of soil, climate, food, and other physical features, as well as education.
An Ancient Flint-Implement Factory.
Large numbers of flaked stone implements of beautiful form and material, and in some cases of unusual size, are abundant in the Mississippi Valley within a radius of one hundred and fifty miles of St. Louis. An important site, from w r hich a material and instruments were supplied closely correspond- ing with those used in the St. Louis region, has been found nearly three hundred miles southwest of that city, and is described by Mr. W. H. Holmes. The stone is a whitish or light-gray chert, of conchoidal fracture, flaking easily, and resonant. The excava- tions are in three groups, occupying four or
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��five acres, and are roundish pits and trenches. " The story of the working of the quarry and the management and the manipulation of the stone is to be read with almost as much ease as if the work had closed but yesterday. The fragments and masses of fresh chert were selected and removed from the pits, and the work of reduction and manufacture began. Shops were established on the mar- gins of the pits, on the dump heaps, and at convenient points in the vicinity. . . . The shops are very numerous over the level space included between the three main groups of quarries, but, as a rule, they are not found more than one hundred or one hundred and fifty feet from the pits. Small trimming shops are found, however, much farther away, scattered through the forest and along the water courses." The circular clusters of white chert refuse are clearly denned on the dark ground, and especially so after forest fires have destroyed the growth of weeds and small underbrush. In the center is a shal- low depression, which was the fireplace of the lodge. Around this the workmen sat, and here are the fragments and flakes, the rejects and hammer stones left by them, cov- ering about the space inclosed by the lodge, and hardly disturbed since the site was de- serted. Where the work has gone on for a long time, near the quarry margins the accu- mulations of refuse are so great that sepa- rate shops are obliterated, a number coales- cing in the general mass, which in some cases reaches many feet in depth. One can sit on these accumulations and, without changing position, select bushels of the abor- tive implements and partially worked pieces broken under the hammer. Little or no specialization of form was attempted on the quarry sites ; but blanks were chiefly made to be subsequently elaborated. It is evident that all the work was professional.
The Eight-hour System in Practice. A
most successful result of the operation of the eight-hour system is recorded in the works of Brunner, Mond & Co., English manufac- turers. It has been in force there for five years, and the result has not been an in- crease in the cost of production. At first the wage cost per ton went up, but it then dropped, and is now as low as it was in 1889, the last year of the twelve-hour day. The
��managers are satisfied that the result is not owing wholly to improvements in machinery or methods of manufacture, but largely to the change in the length of the working day. They affirm that though the men work fewer hours, the efficiency of their work is not diminished, and their opinion is borne out by the fact of such improvements as greater regularity in attendance, increased applica- tion, and better health among the employed. The men used often to be irregular and drunken; now they come to their shifts regularly and sober. They are no longer found asleep at their posts. " The improve- ment in the men's looks," Mr. Brunner says, " and especially in their gait when leaving the works at the end of the shift, is very marked."
Astronomical Work of Harvard Observa- tory. The forty-ninth annual report of the Director of the Astronomical Observatory of Harvard College is for the eleven months end- ing September 30, 1894. The most important events of the year were the practical trial of the Bruce telescope and the successful opera- tion for several months of the Boyden Mete- orological station on the summit of the Misti (Peru), at a height of 19,200 feet. Some criticisms that have been made of the photo- metric work of the observatory are answered, so far as they are of a scientific character. Sixteen hundred and fifty-seven photographs were taken with the eight-inch Draper tele- scope, and seventeen hundred and eight in Peru with the eight-inch Bache telescope. Seven variable stars were shown to have the hydrogen lines bright in their photo- graphic spectra. Eleven new variables were discovered from the presence of bright hydrogen lines in their spectra, besides three whose variability was discovered from changes in their photographic images. Five gaseous nebulas were discovered from their spectra. Several photographs were obtained of the new star in the constellation Norma, the spectrum of which, as in the case of the new star in Auriga, has become that of a gaseous nebula. This object is gradually be- coming fainter. Nine hundred and twelve photographs were taken with the eleven- inch Draper telescope. An investigation has been in progress for the detection of stars having large parallaxes or proper motions.
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��The meteorological station on the Misti was successfully conducted for several months, one of the assistants visiting it every ten days and readjusting the self-recording in- struments, till the station was broken into by Indians and some of the instruments were carried off. - Long - exposure photographs were taken at Arequipa of three nebulae and clusters under an improved method by which certain errors due to flexure and refraction are corrected. The great advantages of the atmospheric conditions at Arequipa are in- sisted upon. With the Bruce photographic telescope the spectra of the faint stars prove very satisfactory ; and stars too faint to be photographed with other instruments can thus be studied. Experiments have been made to determine the photographic magni- tudes of the brighter stars on a uniform scale.
The New Element in the Atmosphere, Argon. The real existence of the new ele- ment which Lord Rayleigh and Prof. Ramsay claim to have discovered in the atmosphere appears to be proved by further investiga- tions, of which, and of the substance itself named argon the discoverers recently gave a full account at the University of London be- fore the members of the Royal Society. The discovery seems to have been first made by Lord Rayleigh in the course of his experi- ments for the determination of the densities of some of the more permanent gases. He found that nitrogen obtained from chemical compounds was about a half per cent lighter than when obtained from the atmosphere. Prof. Ramsay took up the investigation with Lord Rayleigh's permission. Both achieved the separation of argon from nitrogen ; Prof. Ramsay by a chemical method, and Lord Rayleigh by the process of " sparking." It has now been separated from the air by at- molysis a kind of filtering process applied to gases by red-hot magnesium, and by spark- ing. Its density has been determined to be about 197. It is very soluble in water, and it has been proved that the nitrogen extract- ed from rain-water is twice as rich in argon as that which exists in the air. Argon is best obtained by freeing the air, from which carbonic acid and water have been removed, from oxygen by means of red-hot copper and then absorbing the nitrogen by means of
��metallic magnesium, which, when heated to redness, combines with the nitrogen, forming an orange-colored mass of magnesium ni- tride. The residual gas after this series of operations the passage of the gases being repeated again and again is argon. In this process chemically derived nitrogen yields no snch residue. The density of pure argon is 20 (19 - 7) ; hence its molecular weight, in ac- cordance with Avogadro's law, must be 40. There are reasons for believing that, like mercury, its molecule contains but one atom ; its atomic weight, 40, is therefore identical with its molecular weight. Argon is soluble to the extent of four volumes per one hundred volumes of water, so that it is about two and a half times as soluble as nitrogen, and possesess approximately the same degree of solubility as oxygen, and is accordingly found to occur in increased proportion to nitrogen in rain- water. According to Dr. Olszewski, argon easily condenses to a colorless liquid at a temperature of 128"6 C. and under a pres- sure of thirty-eight atmospheres. At a lower temperature argon freezes to a crystalline mass like ice; at a still lower temperature it becomes white and opaque. Its freezing point is 189'6, its boiling point 187, and its density as a liquid is 1 '5. Mr. Crookes has found that it has two spectra, marked by red and blue lines respectively. This indi- cates that it may be a mixture of two ele- ments. Other properties indicate that it is a single element, and the weight of the evi- dence seems so far to be in favor of this supposition. There are difficulties in the way of the unqualified acceptance of either view. It presents other problems of constitution and behavior, in view of which much study will yet be required before a satisfactory con- ception can be gained of its exact nature and of its place in the chemical series. It is chemically the most inert element yet found.
Distinction of Animals and Plants.
Finding that the definitions of the distinc- tions between animals and plants fail when the attempt is made to apply them to the lower organisms, Prof. Charles S. Minot sug- gests, in Science : " Animals are organisms which take part of their food in the form of concrete particles, which are lodged in the cell protoplasm by the activity of the protoplasm itself. Plants are organisms
�� � which obtain all their food in either the liquid or gaseous form by osmosis (diffusion)." Immediately he finds that there are certain facts which appear to invalidate these conclusions. The myxomycetes at one stage of their lives take solid particles of food very much like the amœbæ, but no other plants are known to do so, and may not there be a connecting link? The tapeworm in the intestine does not apparently take up any solid food, but is nourished by absorption; but this is an exception induced by a parasitical life, as near relatives of the tapeworm take up solid food. The definitions are not, however, proposed as a fixed theory, but as a speculation suggesting lines of research that appear promising.