Popular Science Monthly/Volume 65/June 1904/The Progress of Science
THE NEW BUILDINGS OF CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY.
On the first of March four new buildings were opened at Cambridge by King Edward. One of these is a law school; the others are for the natural sciences—a medical school, a botanical laboratory and a geological museum. The great English universities have found difficulties in meeting the requirements of modern science. The colleges were richly endowed, though unequally; and they have suffered in recent years from the depreciation in the rents of agricultural lands. The lecturers and coaches of the colleges could give the instruction needed in the languages and in mathematics, and to a certain extent in other subjects such as the political and mental sciences, but they could not provide laboratories for the natural sciences. The universities were almost without endowments, and they have been very slow in coming either from the state or from private gifts. In 1882 a commission required the colleges to contribute toward the support of the university. In 1897 special efforts were made at Cambridge to secure an endowment fund, which resulted in gifts amounting to about $350,000, rather a modest sum, according to American ideas, but sufficient with the other resources at hand to warrant the erection of four new buildings.
Geology at Cambridge had its beginnings in the bequest of Dr. John Woodward, who in 1727 drew up a will leaving to the university his cabinet of fossils and an income of £150, from which a lecturer was to be paid to read at least four lectures every year in defense of the doctrines of the founder. It appears that lecturers were duly appointed who did not lecture, until in 1818 the office was assigned to Adam Sedgwick. In the following fifty-five years, Sedgwick made Cambridge a great geological center. After his death in 1873, a committee collected a fund ultimately amounting to about $125,000, to which the university added about $100,000, and the Sedgwick Memorial Museum has been built from designs by Mr. T. G. Jackson. Professor Hughes, Sedgwick's successor in the Woodwardian chair, says of the building: "Skilfully designed, and carefully executed, it will enable us to display the finest educational collection in the world. This was what Woodward aimed at in his day of small beginnings, and what Sedgwick worked for during his whole j academic career. The great museum occupies the first floor of both wings, and amid the long series of specimens which scientific geology has revealed | to us, Woodward's ancient cabinets are piously preserved in a small enclosure I special to themselves. On the ground floor are the products of the earth's crust which are of economic value, with a large lecture-room. On the second floor are class-rooms, and private rooms for the different teachers, with the noble library, the fittings for which were provided by the liberality of the late master of Trinity Hall. In the attics are more rooms for research, and large store-rooms where specimens can be unpacked, sorted, and determined before they are placed in the museum." The building for the botanical school is less imposing than the Sedgwick Museum, but appears to secure good effects by its proportions. So far as can be judged by the illustrations and ground plans, it presents a good type of laboratory building, with ample light and convenient arrangements. The
building has doubtless been made for the laboratories and lecture rooms, not as sometimes happens in university architecture, imitated from some model built at a time when there were no laboratories. A hundred years hence such buildings will probably appear in better taste and more truly beautiful than our gothic and classic imitations, built without reference to their uses. The cost of the botanical building paid from the endowment or benefactors fund mentioned above is about $130,000. It contains in addition to the herbarium and museum and a large elementary laboratory, laboratories for physiology, morphology and chemistry, and some ten private and research rooms. The engineering department has taken over the room formerly used for botany.The Medical School Building with
the Humphry Museum has been erected at a cost of about $170,000, mostly supplied by the benefactors fund, and a further wing for pathology and physiological chemistry is planned at a cost of about $65,000. The Humphry Museum is treated ornamentally, both inside and out. The fact that the main lecture-room is lighted entirely by artificial light, might lead us to suppose that utility had been sacrificed to architecture, but it is said that the building is well adapted to the uses of the medical school. The library is planned on a new principle, the stacks being blocked solidly on the sides, each case being movable and pulled out when wanted. This scheme seems to be ingenious; the space is nearly trebled and books are kept free from dust. It is doubtless a disadvantage to shut the books from view, but when the case is pulled out the books are more accessible than in ordinary stacks.
The buildings here mentioned are erected on land acquired by the university from Downing College, and three of them form part of an irregular quadrangle. It is hoped that a school of agriculture and an archeological museum will be added to the group within a reasonable period.
DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RESPIRATION CALORIMETER.
Two important developments have lately been made in this apparatus, which render it a more efficient means of determining tin' use which is made of food nutrients in the body, and extend its use tn experiments with large animals. As is well known, the apparatus as developed by Atwater and Rosa enabled the accurate determination of the carbon, nitrogen and water excreted by the subject within the respiration chamber, and the heat given off by him under different conditions of food and exercise. During the past year an alteration has been made in the apparatus by which the oxygen consumption is also determined, giving increased accuracy and furnishing data for estimating the gain or loss in protein and fat, as well as a new method of estimating the respiratory quotient. The arrangement for determining the oxygen is new and very ingenious. In adapting the apparatus to it, it has been changed from what is known as an 'open-circuit' to a 'closed-circuit' apparatus, i. e., the same air is used over and over again, the products of combustion in the body of the subject (carbon dioxide and water) being constantly removed by passing the air current through sulphuric acid and soda lime, and fresh oxygen supplied to take the place of that consumed in the respiration. The oxygen content of the air current is kept practically constant and normal. The accuracy of the modified calorimeter for measuring heat has been tested by a number of electrical check
experiments, and by the combustion of alcohol in a specially devised lamp.
As indicating the character of the work carried on by Professor Atwater with this apparatus, a recent experiment may be cited. In this the subject remained in the respiration chamber for thirteen consecutive days, making the experiment the longest one on record and in many respects the most
complete. There were three days of work on a so-called sugar diet, three days on a fat diet, one day of hard work on a fat diet, two days of fasting, and four days on a light and very simple diet, the subject sleeping or lying down during one day, sitting up one day, and two days doing light work on a bicycle provided with an ergometer for measuring the work. The observations were unusually complete, including in addition to the carbon, hydrogen and heat, the oxygen and the income and outgo of sulphur and phosphorus. A record of the body weight was also made by a new method in which the subject was weighed from the outside.
The adaptation of the respiration calorimeter to use with farm animals marks a decided advancement in the method and facilities for studying the fundamental principles of animal nutrition. This has been accomplished by Dr. H. P. Armsby and J. A. Fries, who, working in cooperation with the Bureau of Animal Industry of the Department of Agriculture, have constructed an apparatus of this type at the Pennsylvania Experiment Station. In adapting the apparatus to experiments with large animals, it was necessary not only to increase the size of the respiration chamber, but to introduce a considerable number of special features so that the operations of feeding, weighing, collecting the excreta, etc., could be performed entirely from without. Among the most interesting of these are the devices for weighing the heat absorbers from the outside, the air lock for introducing feed and water without allowing the escape of air from the respiration chamber, and similar devices for the collection of the liquid and solid excretory products.
By check experiments the apparatus has been found to be very accurate, the measured heat being practically identical with the theoretical amount produced by burning alcohol in the respiration chamber. In ordinary
metabolism experiments with animals the amounts and composition of the food and of the urine and feces are the factors considered. Using this apparatus it is possible to determine the total income and outgo of both matter and energy. The apparatus affords opportunity for investigation in a great variety of important lines, and for checking the results secured by the more practical feeding experiments. It is especially adapted to studies of such questions, for example, as the energy required to digest and assimilate different classes of feeding stuffs, the food requirements of animals under different conditions, and the replacing value of nutrients.
An experiment recently reported with the apparatus, the first one to be published, was on the available energy of timothy hay. In this a large steer was used, and there were four periods, each covering two days in the respiration chamber. This first experiment gave results of much interest from both a scientific and a practical standpoint, and clearly demonstrates that for studies on the nutrition of animals, as well as of man, the possible lines of investigation with the respiration calorimeter range from the most practical to the most technical subjects.
It is worthy of mention that the Armsby-Fries apparatus is a distinctly American product, and is the only one of its kind in operation in the world. A similar apparatus, modeled after it, is being constructed at the agricultural academy in Bonn, Germany, but is not yet in operation.
THORIUM, CAROLINIUM AND BERZELIUM.
In a paper entitled 'Thorium, Carolinium, Berzelium,' presented at the Chemists' Club, New York, the evening of April 8, by Dr. Charles Baskerville, professor of chemistry at the University of North Carolina, the following interesting and important facts were brought out. As the result of a number of years' study of the element thorium, Dr. Baskerville has succeeded in extracting from it two novel chemical elements. The work indicated an agreement with the conclusions of Hofmann and Zerban in opposition to those of Schmidt, Curie and Rutherford, namely, that thorium is a primary radio-active body. Although no thorium preparations had yet been prepared absolutely free from any activity, numerous reasons were given which pointed toward the correctness of the conclusion that thorium is not a primary radio-active element. An extremely interesting observation touching this may be noted, namely, a preparation was obtained from a large amount of the wash waters used in the I manufacture of the Welsbach mantles which was very much more radio-active than the original thorium and yet showed no thorium by chemical methods, and the merest trace was found in the spectrum made with a large Rowland grating. Whether it be primarily radio-active or not, the speaker maintained would not interfere with the other conclusions obtained from the investigations of himself and a number of his students.
Pure thorium was fractioned by phenyl hydrazine and the fractions obtained varied in their atomic weights from 214 to 252, the original thorium showing 232.6. That method was abandoned as time-robbing, and an effort was made to separate the constituents by fractional distillation of the chlorides as they were made by passing chlorine over a mixture of pure carbon and thorium dioxide. Very elaborate apparatus was devised I for this purpose, the mixture being placed within a carbon boat and the distillation carried out within quartz tubes. A white vapor was given off at a comparatively low temperature which 1 condensed in the cooler portion of the tube and was readily collected by solution in alcohol. The thorium was distilled away from the boat and collected as fern-like crystals of the tetrachloride within the quartz tube. A ; residue remained in the boat. These three materials were more or less purified and atomic weight determinations made of them. That which remained : in the boat after different methods of purification showed an atomic weight of 255.6. Its oxide gave a specific gravity of 11.26, the original thorium having an atomic weight of 232.6 and | specific gravity of 10.5. The original thorium oxide was pure white, whereas this residue possessed a pinkish tinge. This is the carolinium of the new element reported by Dr. Baskerville in 1900. The volatile body gave an atomic weight of 213, assuming its quadrivalence. The oxide gave a specific gravity of 8.44. It possesses a slight green color. As Berzelius first noted this 'Meisserdampf,' stating that it was not thorium, the author named the element berzelium after the famous Swedish chemist who discovered thorium. The new thorium gives a white oxide and shows an atomic weight of 220. The specific gravity of this oxide is 9.2. Carolinium oxide is soluble in hydrochloric acid. Neither of the other oxides, nor the original thorium oxide, is soluble in this acid. All the oxides show radioactivity. Several chemical differences were also noted. The speaker carefully stated that the materials were not yet in the state of purity that was desired. He stated that none of these substances give absorption spectra. Some slight differences had been noted in the arc spectra, but no definite conclusions could be drawn. Samples of the materials had been sent to Sir William Crookes, by request, who is at present engaged in mapping the spectra in the ultra-violet region. Chemists have agreed to accept an element only when a definite atomic weight and characteristic spark spectrum are had. To be sure such important observations require verification in the hands of others as well.
THE INSECT ENEMIES OF COTTON.
That the high price of cotton is partly due to the abundance of certain insect pests in the south is strikingly shown by the two maps, which we reproduce, showing the distribution in Texas of two of the more important insect enemies of cotton. The bollworm has long been known as injurious to cotton, corn and other crops, in foreign countries as well as in the United States. The Mexican cotton boll weevil, at present the most serious menace to cotton culture, has spread northward from Mexico during the past ten years, until now it occupies the greater part of the Texan cotton belt, and has entered Louisiana. Both of these insects live within the boll or carpel of the cotton plant; and at present there is no way of combating them save by cultural methods. The government has appropriated a considerable sum of money for an investigation of these insects, and a number of scientists, under the Department of Agriculture, are now at work in Texas and Louisiana. The present status of
Map showing distribution of cotton boll weevil in the United States in 1903. The heavy line indicates the limit of the region in which the weevils have multiplied 10 such an extent as to be found in all cotton fields; the remainder of the shaded portion indicates the region in which colonies are known to exist.
this investigation and the means of control which the work of the department has shown to be most feasible are detailed in Farmers' Bulletin No. 189 relating to the cotton boll weevil, and in Farmers' Bulletin No. 191 relating to the cotton bollworm, from which publications the two maps presented herewith are taken.
SCIENTIFIC EDUCATION IN SCHOOLS.
The council of the Royal Society has adopted and submitted to the universities of the United Kingdom the following resolution:
"That the universities be respectfully urged to consider the desirability of taking such steps in respect of their regulations as will, so far as possible, ensure that a knowledge of science is recognized in schools and elsewhere as an essential part of general education."
The council has also appointed a committee, which has drawn up a statement in regard to the teaching of science in schools, which reads as follows:
"Notwithstanding efforts extending over more than half a century, it still remains substantially true that the public schools have devised for themselves no adequate way of assimilating into their system of education the principles and methods of science. The experience of 'modern sides' and other arrangements shows that it can hardly be expected that, without external stimulus and assistance, a type of public school education can be evolved which, whilst retaining literary culture, will at the same time broaden it by scientific interests. On the other hand, it is admitted that many students trained in the recent foundations for technical scientific instruction have remained ignorant of essential subjects of general education.
"The bodies which can do most to promote and encourage improvement in these matters are the universities, through the influence which they are in a position to exert on secondary education. This improvement will not, however, be brought about by making the avenues to degrees in scientific or other subjects easier than at present. Rather, the test of preliminary general education is too slight already, with the result that a wide gap is often established between scientific students careless of literary form and other students, ignorant of scientific method.
"It may be suggested that the universities might expand and improve their general tests, so as to make them correspond with the education, both! literary and scientific, which a student, matriculating at the age of 19 years, j should be expected to have acquired; and that they should themselves make provision, in cases where this test is not satisfied, for ensuring the completion of the general preliminary education of their students, before close specialization is allowed.
"In particular, it appears desirable that some means should be found for giving a wider range of attainment to students preparing for the profession of teaching. The result of the existing system is usually to place the supreme control of a public school in the hands of a headmaster who has little knowledge of the scientific side of education; while the instructors in many colleges have to deal with students who have had no training in the exact and orderly expression of their ideas.
"Our main intention is not. however, to offer detailed suggestions, but to express our belief that this question of the adaptation of secondary education to modern conditions involves problems that should not be left to individual effort, or even to public legislative control; that it is rather a subject in which die universities of the United Kingdom might be expected to lead the way and exert their powerful influence for the benefit of the nation."
We regret to record the deaths of M. Emile Duclaux, director of the Pasteur Institute; of Sir Clement Neve Foster, professor of mining in the Royal College of Mining, London; of Professor A. W. Williamson, the eminent British chemist; of Sir Henry Thompson, the distinguished surgeon; and of Sir Henry M. Stanley, the African explorer.
At the recent meeting of the National Academy of Sciences members were elected as follows: Professor William Morris Davis, Harvard University Professor William Fogg Osgood, Harvard University; Professor William T. Councilman, Harvard Medical School; Professor John U. Nef, University of Chicago. The foreign associates elected were: Professor Paul Ehrlich, Frankfurt; Professor H. Rosenbusch, Heidelberg; Professor Emil Fischer, Berlin; Sir William Ramsay, London; Sir William Huggins, London; Professor George H. Darwin, Cambridge; Professor Hugo de Vries, Amsterdam; and Professor Ludwig Boltzmann. Vienna. The Draper gold medal was presented to Professor George E. Hale, of the Yerkes Observatory, Wisconsin, for his researches in astrophysics.
The trustees of the British National Portrait Gallery have received by bequest from the late Mr. Herbert Spencer a portrait of himself, painted by J. B. Burgess, R.A., and a marble bust of himself by Sir J. E. Boehm.—The certificate of incorporation has been filed of the Walter Reed Memorial Association for the purpose of securing funds to erect a monument in Washington City to the memory of the late Walter Reed, major and surgeon U. S. Army. Dr. Daniel C. Gilman is president, and General George M. Sternberg, vice-president of the association.
Lord Kelvin has been unanimously elected chancellor of the University of Glasgow in the room of the late Lord Stair.—Professor W. Ostwald gave the Faraday lecture of the Chemical Society at the Royal Institution, London, on April 19. At the close of the lecture he was presented with a medal bearing the image of Faraday, which had been specially struck for the occasion. Cambridge University subsequently conferred on him the degree of doctor of science.—The Bruce Gold Medal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific has been awarded to Sir William Huggins for distinguished services to astronomy.
Dr. John M. Clarke, paleontologist of the state of New York, has been appointed geologist and director of the State Museum.—Dr. F. S. Earle, assistant curator of the New York Botanical Garden, has resigned to accept the office of director of the new agricultural station in Cuba. The station will occupy a farm and buildings at Santiago de la Vegas, about twelve miles from Havana. The sum of $75,000 has been appropriated for the establishment and maintenance of the station for the first year.—Among the distinguished lecturers at the summer session of the University of California, which begins on June 27, are Professor Svante A. Arrhenius, of the University of Stockholm; Professor Hugo De Vries, of the University of Amsterdam; Sir William Ramsay, of University College, London, and Professor James Ward, of the University of Cambridge.
The corporation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has instructed its executive committee to confer with the Harvard University authorities on the subject of closer relations between the two institutions.—A Massachusetts Zoological Society has been incorporated with a view to establishing a Zoological Park in Boston.