Popular Science Monthly/Volume 56/November 1899/General Notices

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GENERAL NOTICES.

In Every-Day Butterflies[1] Mr. Scudder relates the story of the very commonest butterflies—"those which every rambler at all observant sees about him at one time or another, inciting his curiosity or pleasing his eye." The sequence of the stories is mainly the order of appearance of the different subjects treated—which the author compares to the flowers in that each kind has its own season for appearing in perfect bloom, both together variegating the landscape in the open season of the year. This order of description is modified occasionally by the substitution of a later appearance for the first, when the butterfly is double or triple brooded. An illustrations are furnished of each butterfly discussed, it is not necessary that the descriptions should be long and minute, hence they are given in brief and general terms. But it must be remembered that the describer is a thorough master of his subject, and also a master in writing the English language, so that nothing will be found lacking in his descriptions. They are literature as well as butterfly history. Of the illustrations, all of which are good, a considerable number are in colors.

Dr. M. E. Gellé's L'Audition et ses Organcs[2] (The Hearing and its Organs) is a full, not over-elaborate treatise on the subject, in which prominence is given to the physiological side. The first part treats of the excitant of the sense of hearing—sonorous vibrations—including the vibrations themselves, the length of the vibratory phenomena, the intensity of sound, range of audition, tone, and timbre of sounds. The second chapter relates to the organs of hearing, both the peripheric organs and the acoustic centers, the anatomy of which is described in detail, with excellent and ample illustrations. The third chapter is devoted to the sensation of hearing under its various aspects—the time required for perception, "hearing in school," the influence of habit and attention, orientation of the sound, bilateral sensations, effects on the nervous centers, etc., hearing of musical sounds, oscillations and aberrations of hearing, auditive memory, obsessions, hallucinations of the ear, and colored audition.

 

Prof. Andrew C. McLaughlin's History of the American Nation[3] has many features to recommend it. It aims to trace the main outlines of national development, and to show how the American people came to be what they are. These outlines involve the struggle of European powers for supremacy in the New World, the victory of England, the growth of the English colonies and their steady progress in strength and self-reliance till they achieved their independence, the development of the American idea of government, its extension across the continent and its influence abroad—all achieved in the midst of stirring events, social, political, and moral, at the cost sometimes of wars, and accompanied by marvelous growth in material prosperity and political power. All this the author sets forth, trying to preserve the balance of the factors, in a pleasing, easy style. Especial attention is paid to political facts, to the rise of parties, to the development of governmental machinery, and to questions of government and administration. In industrial history those events have been selected for mention which seem to have had the most marked effect on the progress and make-up of the nation. It is to be desired that more attention had been given to social aspects and changes in which the development has not been less marked and stirring than in the other departments of our history. Indeed, the field for research and exposition here is extremely wide and almost infinitely varied, and it has hardly yet begun to be worked, and with any fullness only for special regions. When he comes to recent events, Professor McLaughlin naturally speaks with caution and in rather general terms. It seems to us, however, that in the matter of the war with Spain, without violating any of the proprieties, he might have given more emphasis to the anxious efforts of that country to comply with the demands of the administration for the institution of reforms in Cuba; and, in the interest of historical truth, he ought not to have left unmentioned the very important fact that the Spanish Government offered to refer the questions growing out of the blowing up of the Maine to arbitration and abide by the result, and our Government made no answer to the proposition.

Mr. W. W. Campbell's Elements of Practical Astronomy[4] is an evolution. It grew out of the lessons of his experience in teaching rather large classes in astronomy in the University of Michigan, by which he was led to the conclusion that the extensive treatises on the subject could not be used satisfactorily except in special cases. Brief lecture notes were employed in preference. These were written out and printed for use in the author's classes. The first edition of the book made from them was used in several colleges and universities having astronomical departments of high character. The work now appears, slightly enlarged, in a second edition. In the present greatly extended field of practical astronomy numerous special problems arise, which require prolonged efforts on the part of professional astronomers. While for the discussion of the methods employed in solving such problems the reader is referred to special treatises and journals, these methods are all developed from the elements of astronomy and the related sciences, of which it is intended that this book shall contain the elements of practical astronomy, with numerous references to the problems first requiring solution. The author believes that the methods of observing employed are illustrations of the best modern practice.

In The Characters of Crystals[5] Prof. Alfred J. Moses has attempted to describe, simply and concisely, the methods and apparatus used in studying the physical characters of crystals, and to record and explain the observed phenomena without complex mathematical discussions. The first part of the book relates to the geometrical characteristics of crystals, or the relations and determination of their forms, including the spherical projection, the thirty-two classes of forms, the measurement of crystal angles, and crystal projection or drawing. The optical characters and their determination are the subject of the second part. In the third part the thermal, magnetic, and electrical characters and the characters dependent upon electricity (elastic and permanent deformations) are treated of. A suggested outline of a course in physical crystallography is added, which includes preliminary experiments with the systematic examination of the crystals of any substance, and corresponds with the graduate course in physical crystallography given in Columbia University. The book is intended to be useful to organic chemists, geologists, mineralogists, and others interested in the study of crystals. The treatment is necessarily technical.

 

A book describing the Practical Methods of identifying Minerals in Rock Sections with the Microscope[6] has been prepared by Mr. L. McI. Luquer to ease the path of the student inexperienced in optical mineralogy by putting before him only those facts which are absolutely necessary for the proper recognition and identification of the minerals in thin sections. The microscopic and optical characters of the minerals are recorded in the order in which they would be observed with a petrographical microscope; when the sections are opaque, attention is called to the fact, and the characters are recorded as seen with incident light. The order of Rosenbusch, which is based on the symmetry of the crystalline form, is followed, with a few exceptions made for convenience. In an introductory chapter a practical elementary knowledge of optics as applied to optical mineralogy is attempted to be given, without going into an elaborate discussion of the subject. The petrographical microscope is described in detail. The application of it to the investigation of mineral characteristics is set forth in general and as to particular minerals. The preparation of sections and practical operations are described, and an optical scheme is appended, with the minerals grouped according to their common optical characters.

Mr. Herbert C. Whitaker's Elements of Trigonometry[7] is concise and of very convenient size for use. The introduction and the first five of the seven chapters have been prepared for the use of beginners. The other two chapters concern the properties of triangles and spherical triangles; an appendix presents the theory of logarithms; and a second appendix, treating of goniometry, complex quantities, and complex functions, has been added for students intending to take up work in higher departments of mathematics. For assisting a clearer understanding of the several processes, the author has sought to associate closely with every equation a definite meaning with reference to a diagram. Other characteristics of the book are the practical applications to mechanics, surveying, and other everyday problems; its many references to astronomical problems, and the constant use of geometry as a starting point and standard.

A model in suggestions for elementary teaching is offered in California Plants in their Homes,[8] by Alice Merritt Davidson, formerly of the State Normal School, California. The book consists of two parts, a botanical reader for children and a supplement for the use of teachers, both divisions being also published in separate volumes. It is well illustrated, provided with an index and an outline of lessons adapted to different grades. The treatment of each theme is fresh, and the grouping novel, as is indicated by the chapter headings: Some Plants that lead Easy Lives, Plants that know how to meet Hard Times, Plants that do not make their own Living, Plants with Mechanical Genius. Although specially designed for the study of the flora of southern California, embodying the results of ten years' observation by the author, it may be recommended to science teachers in any locality as an excellent guide. The pupil in this vicinity will have to forego personal inspection of the shooting-star and mariposa lily, while he finds the century plant, yuccas, and cacti domiciled in the greenhouse. In addition to these, however, attention is directed to a sufficient number of familiar flowers, trees, ferns, and fungi for profitable study, and the young novice in botany can scarcely make a better beginning than in company with this skillful instructor.

 

Prof. John M. Coulter's Plant Relations[9] is one of two parts of a system of teaching botany proposed by the author. Each of the two books is to represent the work of half a year, but each is to be independent of the other, and they may be used in either order. The two books relate respectively, as a whole, to ecology, or the life relations of surroundings of plants, and to their morphology. The present volume concerns the ecology. While it may be to the disadvantage of presenting ecology first, that it conveys no knowledge of plant structures and plant groups, this disadvantage is compensated for, in the author's view, by the facts that the study of the most evident life relations gives a proper conception of the place of plants in Nature; that it offers a view of the plant kingdom of the most permanent value to those who can give but a half year to botany; and that it demands little or no use of the compound microscope, an instrument ill adapted to first contacts with Nature. The book is intended to present a connected, readable account of some of the fundamental facts of botany, and also to serve as a supplement to the three far more important factors of the teacher, who must amplify and suggest at every point; the laboratory, which must bring the pupil face to face with plants and their structure; and field work, which must relate the facts observed in the laboratory to their actual place in Nature, and must bring new facts to notice which can be observed nowhere else. Taking the results obtained from these three factors, the book seeks to organize them, and to suggest explanations, through a clear, untechnical, compact text and appropriate and excellent illustrations.

The title of The Wilderness of Worlds[10] was suggested to the author by the contemplation of a wilderness of trees, in which those near him are very large, while in the distance they seem successively smaller, and gradually fade away till the limit of vision is reached. So of the wilderness of worlds in space, with its innumerable stars of gradually diminishing degrees of visibility—worlds "of all ages like the trees, and the great deep of space is covered with their dust, and pulsating with the potency of new births." The body of the book is a review of the history of the universe and all that is of it, in the light of the theory of evolution, beginning with the entities of space, time, matter, force, and motion, and the processes of development from the nebulæ as they are indicated by the most recent and best verified researches, and terminating with the ultimate extinction of life and the end of the planet. In the chapter entitled A Vision of Peace the author confronts religion and science. He regards the whole subject from the freethinker's point of view, with a denial of all agency of the supernatural.

In a volume entitled The Living Organism[11] Mr. Alfred Earl has endeavored to make a philosophical introduction to the study of biology. The closing paragraph of his preface is of interest as showing his views regarding vitalism: "The object of the book will be attained if it succeeds, although it may be chiefly by negative criticism, in directing attention to the important truth that, though chemical and physical changes enter largely into the composition of vital activity, there is much in the living organism that is outside the range of these operations." The first three chapters discuss general conceptions, and are chiefly psychology. A discussion of the structures accessory to alimentation in man and the higher animals occupies Chapters IV and V. The Object of Classification, Certain General Statements concerning Organisms, A Description of the Organism as related to its Surroundings, The Material Basis of Life, The Organism as a Chemical Aggregate and as a Center for the Transformation of Energy, Certain Aspects of Form and Development, The Meaning of Sensation, and, finally. Some of the Problems presented by the Organism, are the remaining chapter headings. The volume contains many interesting suggestions, and might perhaps most appropriately be described as a Theoretical Biology.

"Stars and Telescopes"[12] Professor Todd says, "is intended to meet an American demand for a plain, unrhetorical statement of the astronomy of to-day." We might state the purpose to be to bring astronomy and all that pertains to it up to date. It is hard to do this, for the author has been obliged to put what was then the latest discovery, made while the book was going through the press, in a footnote at the end of the preface. The information embodied in the volume is comprehensive, and is conveyed in a very intelligible style. The treatise begins with a running commentary or historical outline of astronomical discovery, with a rigid exclusion of all detail. The account of the earth and moon is followed by chapters on the Calendar and the Astronomical Relations of Light. The other members of the solar system are described and their relations reviewed, and then the comets and the stars. Closely associated with these subjects are the men who have contributed to knowledge respecting them, and consequently the names of the great discoverers and others who have helped in the advancement of astronomy are introduced in immediate connection with their work, in brief sketches and often with their portraits. Much importance is attributed by Professor Todd to the instruments with which astronomical discovery is carried on, and the book may be said to culminate in an account of the famous instruments, their construction, mounting, and use. The devisers of these instruments are entitled to more credit than the unthinking are always inclined to give them, for the value of an observation depends on the accuracy of the instrument as well as on the skill of the observer, and the skill which makes the instrument accurate is not to be underrated. So the makers of the instruments are given their place. Then the recent and improved processes have to be considered, and, altogether. Professor Todd has found material for a full and somewhat novel book, and has used it to good advantage.

Some Observations on the Fundamental Principles of Nature is the title of an essay by Henry Witt, which, though very brief, takes the world of matter, mind, and society within its scope. One of the features of the treatment is that instead of the present theory of an order of things resulting from the condensation of more rarefied matter, one of the organization of converging waves of intinitesimal atoms filling all space is substituted. With this point prominently in view, the various factors and properties of the material universe—biology, psychology, sociology, ethics, and the future—are treated of.

Among the later monographs published by the Field Columbian Museum, Chicago, is a paper in the Geological Series (No. 3) on The Ores of Colombia, from Mines in Operation in 1892, by H. W. Nichols. It describes the collection prepared for the Columbian Exposition by F. Pereira Gamba and afterward given to the museum—a collection which merits attention for the light it throws upon the nature and mode of occurrence of the ores of one of the most important gold-producing countries of the world, and also because it approaches more nearly than is usual the ideal of what a collection in economic geology should be. Other publications in the museum's Geological Series are The Mylagaulidæ, an Extinct Family of Sciuromorph Rodents (No. 4), by E. S. Riggs, describing some squirrel-like animals from the Deep River beds, near White Sulphur Springs, Montana; A Fossil Egg from South Dakota (No. 5), by O. C. Farrington, relative to the egg of an anatine bird from the early Miocene; and Contributions to the Paleontology of the Upper Cretaceous Series (No, 6), by W. N. Logan, in which seven species of Scaphites, Ostrea, Gasteropoda, and corals are described. In the Zoölogical Series, Preliminary Descriptions of New Rodents from the Olympic Mountains (of Washington) (No. 11), by D. G. Elliot, relates to six species; Notes on a Collection of Cold-blooded Vertebrates from the Olympic Mountains (No. 12), by S. E. Meek, to six trout and three other fish, four amphibia, and three reptiles; and a Catalogue of Mammals from the Olympic Mountains, Washington, with descriptions of new species (No. 13), by D. G. Elliot, includes a number of species of rodents, lynx, bear, and deer.

Some Notes on Chemical Jurisprudence is the title given by Harwood Huntington (260 West Broadway, New York; 25 cents) to a brief digest of patent-law cases involving chemistry. The notes are designed to be of use to chemists intending to take out patents by presenting some of the difficulties attendant upon drawing up a patent strong enough to stand a lawsuit, and by explaining some points of law bearing on the subject. In most, if not all, cases where the chemist has devised a new method or application it is best, the author holds, to take out a patent for self-protection, else the inventor may find his device stolen from him and patented against him.

A cave or fissure in the Cambrian limestone of Port Kennedy, Montgomery County, Pa., exposed by quarrymen the year before, was brought to the knowledge of geologists by Mr, Charles M. Wheatley in 1871, when the fossils obtained from it were determined by Prof. E. D. Cope as of thirty-four species. Attention was again called to the paleontological interest of the locality by President Dixon, of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, in 1894. The fissure was examined again by Dr. Dixon and others, and was more thoroughly explored by Mr. Henry C. Mercer. Mr. Mercer published a preliminary account of the work, which was followed by the successive studies of the material by Professor Cope preliminary to a complete and illustrated report to be made after a full investigation of all accessible material. Professor Cope did not live to publish this full report, which was his last work, prepared during the suffering of his final illness. It is now published, just as the author left it, as Vertebrate Remains from the Port Kennedy Deposit, from the Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Four plates of illustrations, photographed from the remains, accompany the text.

The machinery of Mr. Fred A. Lucas's story of The Hermit Naturalist reminds us of that of the old classical French romances, like Télémaque, and the somewhat artificial, formal diction is not dissimilar. An accident brings the author into acquaintance and eventual intimacy with an old Sicilian naturalist, who, migrating to this country, has established a home, away from the world's life, on an island in the Delaware River, The two find a congenial subject of conversation in themes of natural history, and the bulk of the book is in effect a running discourse by the old Sicilian on snakes and their habits—a valuable and interesting lesson. The hermit has a romance, involving the loss of his motherless daughter, stolen by brigands and brought to America, his long search for her and resignation of hope, and her ultimate discovery and restoration to him. The book is of easy reading, both as to its natural history and the romance.

We have two papers before us on the question of expansion. One is an address delivered by John Barrett, late United States Minister to Siam, before the Shanghai General Chamber of Commerce, and previous to the beginning of the attempt to subjugate the islands, on The Philippine Islands and American Interests in the Far East. This address has, we believe, been since followed by others, and in all Mr. Barrett favors the acquisition of the Philippine Islands on the grounds, among others, of commercial interests and the capacity of the Filipinos for development in further civilization and self-government; but his arguments, in the present aspect of the Philippine question, seem to us to bear quite as decidedly in the opposite direction. He gives the following picture of Aguinaldo and the Filipino government: "He (Aguinaldo) captured all Spanish garrisons on the island of Luzon outside of Manila, so that when the Americans were ready to proceed against the city they were not delayed and troubled with a country campaign. Moreover, he has organized a government which has practically been administering the affairs of the great island since the American occupation of Manila, and which is certainly better than the former administration; he has a properly formed Cabinet and Congress, the members of which, in appearance and manners, would compare favorably with Japanese statesmen. He has among his advisers men of ability as international lawyers, while his supporters include most of the prominent educated and wealthy natives, all of which prove possibilities of self-government that we must consider." This pamphlet is published at Hong Kong. The other paper is an address delivered before the New York State Bar Association, by Charles A. Gardiner, on Our Right to acquire and hold Foreign Territory, and is published by G. P. Putnam's Sons in the Questions of the Day Series. Mr. Gardiner holds and expresses the broadest views of the constitutional power of our Government to commit the acts named, and to exercise all the attributes incidental to the possession of acquired territory, but he thinks that we need a great deal of legal advice in the matter.

A pamphlet, Anti-Imperialism, by Morrison L. Swift, published by the Public Ownership Review, Los Angeles, Cal., covers the subject of English and American aggression in three chapters—Imperialism to bless the Conquered, Imperialism for the Sake of Mankind, and Our Crime in the Philippines. Mr. Swift is very earnest in respect to some of the subjects touched upon in his essays, and some persons may object that he is more forcible—even to excess—than polite in his denunciations. To such he may perhaps reply that there are things which language does not afford words too strong to characterize fitly.

Among the papers read at the Fourth International Catholic Scientific Congress, held at Fribourg, Switzerland, in August, 1897, was one by William J. D. Croke on Architecture, Painting, and Printing at Subiaco as represented in the Abbey at Subiaco. The author regards the features of the three arts represented in this place as evidence that the record of the activity of the foundation constitutes a real chapter in the history of progress in general and of culture in particular.

  1. Every-Day Butterflies. A Group of Biographies. By Samuel Hubbard Scudder. Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. Pp. 386. Price, $2.
  2. L'Audition et ses Organes. By Dr. M. E. Gellé. Paris: Félix Alcan (Bibliothèque Scientifique). Pp. 326. Price, six francs.
  3. A History of the American Nation. By Andrew C. McLaughlin. New York: D. Appleton and Company. Pp. 587. Price, $1.40.
  4. The Elements of Practical Astronomy. By W. W. Campbell. Second edition, revised and enlarged. New York: The Macmillan Company. Pp. 264. Price, $2.
  5. The Characters of Crystals. An Introduction to Physical Crystallography. By Alfred J. Moses. New York: D. Van Nostrand Company. Pp 211. Price, $2.
  6. Minerals In Rock Sections; the Practical Method of identifying Minerals in Rock Sections with the Microscope. Especially arranged for Students in Scientific Schools. By Lea McIlvaine Luquer. New York: D. Van Nostrand Company. Pp. 117.
  7. Elements of Trigonometry, with Tables. By Herbert C. Whitaker. Philadelphia: Eldredge & Brother. Pp. 200.
  8. California Plants in their Homes. By Alice Merritt Davidson. Los Angeles, Cal.: B. R. Baumgardt & Co. Pp. 215-133.
  9. Plant Relations. A First Book of Botany. By John M. Coulter. New York: D. Appleton and Company. (Twentieth Century Text Books.) Pp. 264. Price, $1.10.
  10. The Wilderness of Worlds. A Popular Sketch of the Evolution of Matter from Nebula to Man and Return. The Life-Orbit of a Star. By George W. Morehouse. New York: Peter Eckler. Pp. 346. Price, $1.
  11. The Living Organism. By Alfred Earl, M. A. New York: The Macmillan Company. Pp. 271. Price, $1.75.
  12. Stars and Telescopes. A Handbook of Popular Astronomy. Boston: Little, Brown & Co. Pp. 419. Price, $2.