Popular Science Monthly/Volume 7/September 1875/Literary Notices
The Aërial World. A Popular Account of the Phenomena and Life of the Atmosphere. By G. Hartwig, M. & P.D. New York; D. Appleton & Co., 1875. Price, $6.00.
As a compend of interesting and valuable information concerning the atmosphere and its phenomena, this book deserves favorable mention. The reading public is familiar with previous publications by Dr. Hartwig, in which he has succeeded in presenting the results of inquiry in several departments of science in a manner at once popular, entertaining, and instructive. It is quite evident that his success as a writer lies in the judicious selection and arrangement of facts and incidents in science rather than in original investigation; and that he is doing excellent service in this direction will be conceded by all acquainted with his books. The time seems to have not yet arrived when scientific knowledge is sought by the general reading public, unless it be made attractive by skillful manipulations.
The present volume is a popular exposition of the science of meteorology, without being a scientific treatise on that subject. The amount of information in it is immense, but it is classified with excellent judgment, and, so far as we have examined it, is accurate in its science. The style is easy, perspicuous, sometimes florid, but always appropriate and pleasing.
The chapters on "Clouds," "Colors of the Sky." "Aërial Navigation," "The St. Elmo's Fire," "Snow," and some others, are brilliant with descriptive passages. Chapters relating to topics of especial scientific interest are those on "The Magnitude, Pressure, and Ingredients of the Atmosphere," "The Propagation of Sound through it," "Echoes," "Winds," "Fogs," "Dew," "Rain," "Thunder-storms," "Aërolites," etc.
The volume is handsomely illustrated with plates and woodcuts, and a meteorological map.
To the specialist in the science of meteorology, this work may be of comparatively little value. It is not designed for such, and the author modestly observes that his aim has been less ambitious, and that he will not consider his time ill-spent if the perusal of it awakens in the mind of the reader a keener interest in the pages of Nature.
On British Wild-Flowers, considered in Relation to Insects. By Sir John Lubbock, Bart., F.R.S. With numerous Illustrations. London: Macmillan & Co., 18 75. Price, $1.50.
This is the seventh volume in "Nature Series," and is a product of a wonderfully active, capacious, and fertile mind. Few men have accomplished what Sir John has in the departments of ethnology, zoölogy, entomology, and several other branches of science, and are, at the same time, eminent and successful as he is in financial and commercial enterprise.
The present little volume will be read with interest and profit; although, as the author modestly tells us, it is quite incomplete, the subject of it being yet in its infancy. That flowers and insects are intimately related has long been known, but the importance and extent of those relations were scarcely suspected until recent time. "It is our illustrious countryman, Mr. Darwin," the author observes, "who first brought into prominence the fact that the importance of insects to flowers consisted in their transferring the pollen, not merely from the stamens to the pistil, but from the stamens of one flower to the pistils of another... While, then, from time immemorial we have known that flowers are of great importance to insects, it is only of late that we have realized how important, indeed how necessary, insects are to flowers."
These ideas are illustrated and enforced by a series of careful and ingenious observations conducted by the author, "chiefly with the view of encouraging in his children that love of natural history from which he has derived so much happiness."
The work is illustrated by 130 figures, has a glossary, and a copious index.
Statement and Exposition of Certain Harmonies of the Solar System. By Stephen Alexander, LL. D., Professor of Astronomy in the College of New Jersey. Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, No. 280. Washington, 1875.
The laws of Kepler declare, with respect to any one planet, that it moves in an ellipse about the sun, which is at one focus of this ellipse, and that the radius-vector of this planet (the line joining it to the sun) sweeps over equal areas in equal times: with respect to any two planets, these laws declare that the squares of their times of revolution about the sun are proportional to the cubes of their mean distances. This last law, as Sir John Herschel has remarked, binds all the planets together and gives to their motions a family likeness.
Conversely, if we inquire what law of central force will cause two planets to obey the laws just quoted, we find that this central force must vary in intensity inversely as the square of the distance. Given Kepler's laws, we can arrive at this law of force: assuming this law of force, Kepler's laws are a consequence.
Now, if in the planetary system we inquire what are the further laws, if any, which the members each fulfill, we find that there are resemblances, analogies, harmonies, but no exact laws which govern the masses, densities, rotation-periods, distances, etc. The law of Titius (or Bode's law) gave numbers which approximated to the mean distances of the major planets, until Neptune was discovered, the mean distance of which was strikingly different from that which this rule would assign to it. "Kirkwood's Analogy," which gives the rotation-time of a planet when its time of revolution about the sun is known, likewise gives some striking coincidences, but our ignorance of the rotation-times of Mercury, Venus, Uranus, and Neptune, does not permit us to test it very closely.
It has long been a fascinating branch of inquiry to investigate the question of the existence of such laws, and several inquirers have worked assiduously at this question, in pretty much the same way in which Kepler worked at the discovery of his laws, i. e., by pure trial of various hypotheses. The volume before us contains the results of such work, and we propose to present, in brief, an analysis of these results. The volume opens with a statement of Kepler's laws, and with a table showing the values of the masses, mean distances, and densities which the author assumes as the bases of his discussion. We notice here, as elsewhere in the book, that such data are usually taken not from the original sources, but at second hand. With regard to the Masses as given by the author, we note that the mass of Neptune is not "the Poul-Kova deduction;" that the mass of Uranus should be credited to Struve; that Encke's mass of Mercury, which is adopted, is not of equal value with Le Verrier's, which has been published for many years.
In the second section the relations of the mean distances are considered: if of the distance of Neptune we take five-ninths, and of the number thus obtained we again take five-ninths and so on, we thus form a geometrical series of numbers. Of the first eight of these numbers four express roughly the mean distances of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune (of course this distance is represented as it forms the starting-point of the process): one is roughly the distance of Mercury in aphelion (not its mean distance, which is the element of the problem, but its largest distance from the sun); one lies between Venus and the earth, one between Mars and Jupiter, and one between Uranus and Saturn, but much nearer Uranus. So far all is fact, and the candid observer arrived at this point might be supposed to say. With five-ninths as a ratio I can satisfy only three out of the seven conditions I seek to satisfy, and hence five-ninths is not the ratio I want. But at this point the author makes three assumptions: 1. The earth and Venus have the "characteristics of half planets." That is, one of them is on each side of one term of the author's utterly arbitrary geometrical series. 2. Uranus being on one side of another of these terms (although no planet is on the other side), it also will be considered as a "half planet." 3. Mercury has characteristics of a "double planet" because we are forced to consider it in its two positions, aphelion and perihelion, in order to make it agree with the above-mentioned arbitrary geometrical series. Now we have the basis for reducing these disorderly half, double, and missing planets, to something like order; for, putting nine-fifths (the reciprocal of 5ths) equal to r, we have seen that the ratio r does very well for Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune (whole planets); by trial we can see that r 3 does well for the "exterior half planets" (those beyond the terms of the primary series), and also that r 1 will serve for Venus, an "interior half planet" "the only existing example of its kind in the planetary system."
These are the principal conclusions of the first two sections of the work: with a given ratio 5ths we have satisfied three terms out of seven, and to reduce the four remaining terms to order we have made three arbitrary assumptions. The author now proposes as a test to use the mean distance of the asteroid-ring between Mars and Jupiter according to his primitive series. The terms for Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars, are known, and that for the asteroids can be put in by a simple proportion. He finds by this process that the ratio r (= 9ths) will satisfy the existing numbers better if we gradually decrease it as we go farther from the sun, and therefore this r, which at first was constant, is made variable, and the law of its variability is determined from four terms (Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and asteroids) the value of one of which (the mean distance of the asteroid-ring) must long remain unknown; and in this way a "criterion" is set up. After this it is impossible to speak of this part of the book as a work of science; it is rather an exhibition of fancy. Tennyson has called the profession of the law "a multitude of single instances;" and, without passing the limits of decorum or truth, we may characterize the steps by which these final laws are reached in the same way. After all this adjustment of values, the mean distance of Uranus as represented by theory is in error by 1 of its entire amount—a trifle of 7,000,000 miles. A foot-note here says, "Why, after all, Uranus seems to have, as it were, fallen in from his appropriate position, may be considered in another connection."
The satellite systems of Jupiter and Saturn are next considered, and similar laws are found to obtain; except that r, which for the planetary system was altered only into r 3 and r 1, here must become r 1, r 6,r 1, r 5, while for Uranus's satellites r becomes r 2. Moreover, while in the planetary system r regularly increased from Neptune inward, in the system of Jupiter it decreases and in that of Saturn it is constant.
It seems hardly surprising that, with so much liberty of assumption, any set of conditions can be approximately fulfilled, and it is well to remember that, even if a much better fulfillment of these conditions could be made, it would not show that a physical law existed. This fallacy underlies the whole book.
Section 3 is devoted to "Theoretical Considerations," and here we will not follow the author, since what we have just examined is there assumed as fact.
The author's theory of the Zodiacal light is given at some length, and the book closes with a "Summation of Coincidences" sixty-one in number, which are supposed to support the author's position. From what has been said it will be evident that we doubt the willingness of a cautious person to follow the author in his conclusions; and we must regret that the Smithsonian Institution has given this book the sanction of its high name as a "contribution to knowledge."
Geological Survey of Alabama. Report of Progress for 1874. By Eugene A. Smith, Ph. D., State Geologist.
This Report is the first of a series promised, giving in detail the geology of the State, to be followed by a general summary, with maps, charts, and illustrations. The final report will comprise the physical geography, geology, and paleontology, economic geology, agricultural relations, botany, and zoölogy, and will inaugurate a new era in the industrial progress and development of that State.
In the present Report several counties are considered separately, giving their topography, geology, and mineral resources, with a chemical report, and appendix of altitudes, mining statistics, etc. The Report of Prof Smith is excellent in matter and method.
Catalogue of the Fishes of the East Coast of North America. By Theodore Gill, M. D., Ph. D.
This This is one of the invaluable series of publications issued by the Smithsonian Institution, and is a revision of the catalogue prepared by the author in 1861. In that catalogue the number of species of fishes on our coast, from Greenland to Georgia, was given as 394, but accompanied by the remark that the number might be reduced by further observation. That has been done, and only 351 nominal species are enumerated in this catalogue, notwithstanding fifty species have been added since then.
Our vast extent of coast is divided in the catalogue into geographical areas, with boundaries more or less perfectly defined by the fauna characteristic of each. Thus the Arctic Fauna or realm is confined to the Arctic and Greenland seas. The next in order is called the Syrtensian Fauna, including the coasts of Labrador and Newfoundland. The Acadian Fauna extends thence to Cape Cod, but more southerly in deep water. The Virginian Fauna extends from Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras, and the Carolinian Fauna extends thence to the reefs of Florida.
Prof. Gill has done eminent service in recognizing the great public want of popular names to species of fishes. Throughout the catalogue popular or common names are appended to the scientific ones, and, in many cases, new names have been framed for species having no other distinctive ones. At the close of the catalogue is a very full bibliography of "East Coast Fishes," also an index to the catalogue of both scientific and popular names.
A Manual of Diet in Health and Disease. By Thomas King Chambers, M. D., Oxon. 310 pages, 8vo. Philadelphia: Henry C. Lea, 1875. Price, $2.75.
The aims of this hand-book are purely practical, and therefore it has not been encumbered by the addition of the chemical, botanical, and industrial learning which collects round every article interesting as an eatable. Space has been thus gained for a full discussion of many matters connecting food and drink with the daily current of social life, which the position of the author, as a practising physician, has led him to believe highly important to the present and future of our race. The book is divided into three parts. Part I., "General Dietetics," treats of "Theories of Dietetics;" "On the Choice of Food;" "On the Preparation of Food;" "On Digestion," and "Nutrition." Part II., "Special Dietetics of Health," treats of the "Regimen of Infancy and Motherhood;" "Childhood and Youth;" "Commercial Life;" "Literary and Professional Life;" "Noxious Trades;" "Athletic Training;" "Hints for Healthy Travelers;" "Effects of Climate;" "Starvation, Poverty, and Fasting;" "The Decline of Life;" and "Alcohol." Part III., "Dietetics in Sickness," comprises "Dietetics and Regimen of Acute Fevers;" "Dietetics and Regimen of Certain other Inflammatory States;" "Of Weak Digestion;" "Gout and Rheumatism;" "Gravel, Stone, Albuminuria, and Diabetes;" "Deficient Evacuation;" "Nerve Disorders;" "Scrofula, Rickets, and Consumption;" "Disease of Heart and Arteries." It is written in the author's usual pointed style, and will prove serviceable alike to the profession and to people of common-sense.
Archælogical Researches in Kentucky and Indiana, 1874. By F. W. Putnam.
This paper, which was read by Dr. Putnam before the Boston Society of Natural History, and printed in its proceedings, is a very interesting statement of what the author discovered in the mounds and caves of Kentucky and Indiana during the last season, also of early discoveries in the mammoth and other caves many years ago. He visited the spot in "Short Cave" where the famous "Mammoth Cave mummy" was found sixty years ago, and quotes a very full description of the mummy, written probably by Mr. Merriam, of Brooklyn, New York. The paper is an important contribution to archæological knowledge.
Practical Guide to the Determination of Minerals by the Blow-pipe. By Dr. C. W. C. Fuchs, Professor in the University of Heidelberg. Translated and edited by T. W. Danby, F. G. S. London: Field & Tuer. Price, $2.50.
The author informs us that the manuscript of this work has long been used by members of his own classes, and is now offered as an introduction to the determination of minerals by the blow-pipe process, and of crystallized specimens by their physical characteristics.
The work will be appreciated by students in the laboratory. It is of no value to the general reader.
Devonian Trilobites and Mollusks of Erreré, Province of Pará, Brazil. By Profs. Ch. Frederick Hartt and Richard Rathbun.
This paper, reprinted from the "Annals of the Lyceum of Natural History," New York, shows that a close relationship exists between the Devonian fossils found in New York State, and especially in the Hamilton rocks, and those of Erreré, in Brazil, the geological horizon, and many of the forms of life, being almost identical. Aside from the general scientific interest of the paper, these facts render it especially valuable.
Eighth Annual Report of the Peabody Museum of American Archæology and Ethnology. Presented to the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Cambridge, 1875.
This Report opens with appreciative recognition of the services of the late Prof. Jeffries Wyman, to whose industry and great abilities as an osteologist the successful organization of this museum is largely due. He was appointed curator at the first meeting of the Board of Trustees held after Mr. Peabody's "letter of gift," dated October 8, 1866, and in his first "Annual Report" stated that the collection consisted of about fifty specimens. The latest entries in the catalogue bring the numbers up to about 8,000.
The Report, which is illustrated, comprises the additions to the museum in 1874. Of these are varieties of jars, dishes, pots, drinking-cups, water-jugs, water-coolers, and statuettes, exceedingly curious and interesting. With ample resources and skillful management, the museum is a gratifying success.
European Lighthouse Systems. By Major G. H. Elliot. New York: Van Nostrand. Pp. 284. Price, $5.
Notes on Building Construction. Philadelphia: Lippincott. Pp. 234.
Report of the Michigan State Board of Health. 1874. Pp. 221.
American State Universities and the University of Michigan. By Andrew Ten Brook. Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co. Pp. 418. Price, $3.50.
Algebraic Problems. By J. Ficklin, Ph. D. New York: Ivison, Blakeman, Taylor & Co. Pp. 192. Price, $1.50.
Religion and Science. By Charles W. Shields, D. D. New York: Scribner. Pp. 69. Price, $1.
What and How to Read. By G. A. F. Van Rhyn. New York: Appletons. Pp. 251.
Bacon vs. Shakespeare. By Thomas D. King. Montreal: Lovell Publishing Company. Pp. 187.
Startling Facts in Modern Spiritualism. By N. B. Wolfe, M.D. Chicago: Religio-philosophical Publishing House. Pp. 570.
Missouri University Report, 1875. Pp. 210.
Report on the Mineralogy of Pennsylvania. By F. A. Genth. Pp. 206.
The Physiological Reasons why. By A. Hutchins, M.D. Brooklyn: W. W. Swayne. Pp. 50.
The Genera Geomys and Thomomys. By Dr. E. Coues. Pp. 73.
Bulletin of the Buffalo Society of Natural Science. Vol. II., No. 4.
Mineral Deposits in Essex County, Mass. By C. J. Brockway. Boston: A. Williams & Co. Pp. 60. Price, 50 cents.
Fishes of Indiana. By D. S. Jordan, M.D. Pp. 42.
Reasons for embracing the Doctrines of Swedenborg. By Rev. G. Bush. New York: E. H. Swinney. Pp. 120.
Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers. May, 1875. Pp. 140.
Bureau of Education. Nos. 3 and 4, 1875. Pp. 108.
Melanosiderite. By J. P. Cooke, Jr. Pp. 11.
The Sun and the Earth, by Balfour Stewart; Force, by J. W. Phelps. Boston: Estes & Lauriat. Pp. 31. Price, 25 cents.
Insects of the Field. By E. S. Packard, Jr. Boston: Estes & Lauriat. Pp. 31. Price, 25 cents.