GENTLEMEN : When your honorable director invited me to speak before you, I felt much embarrassed. I desired both to interest and instruct you, but the subjects with which I am occupied are of too abstract a nature to offer you much interest. In entering upon them I run the risk of tiring you, and, as people who are tired are little instructed, my aim would be doubly missed.
PROBABLY astonishment would make the reporters drop their pencils, were any member of Parliament to enunciate a psychological principle as justifying his opposition to a proposed measure. That some law of association of ideas, or some trait in emotional development, should be deliberately set forth as a sufficient ground for saying “ay” or “no” to a motion for second reading, would doubtless be too much for the gravity of legislators.
I TURN next to my third topic, the true policy of our government as regards university instruction. In almost all the writings about a nation’s university, and of course in the two Senate bills now under discussion, there will be found the implication, if not the express assertion, that it is somehow the duty of our government to maintain a magnificent university.
ONE Friday morning, a few weeks ago, as I was looking over the Nation, my eye fell upon an advertisement, inserted by the proprietors of the New-York Tribune, announcing the final destruction of Darwinism. What especially riveted my attention was the peculiar style of the announcement: "The Darwinian Theory utterly demolished ” (or words to that effect) “ by AGASSIZ HIMSELF !
I.—The Theory of the Atomic Constitution of Matter.
J. B. STALLO
IT is the avowed endeavor of modern physical science to interpret the phenomena of the material world mechanically—in other words, to interpret them as spatial interactions between physical constants called molecules, or atoms. This proposition, if not expressed, is implied in all the recent treatises on physics, chemistry, and physiology.
THE wreck of the Atlantic, followed closely by that of the City of Washington nearly on the same spot, has led many to inquire into the circumstances on which depends a captain’s knowledge of the position of his ship. In each case, though not in the same way, the ship was supposed to be far from land, when in reality quite close to it.
ALTHOUGH prophecy is usually supposed to be the special gift of inspiration, nothing comes more glibly from secular pens. Half of the leading articles in the daily newspapers are more or less disguised predictions. The prophecies of the Times are more numerous, more confident, and more explicit, than those of Jeremiah or Isaiah.
AT the meeting of this Association in Burlington, I showed some experiments in illustration of the optical method of making sensible the vibrations of the column of air in an organ-pipe. At the Chicago meeting I demonstrated the way in which the vibrations of strings could be studied by the eye in place of the ear, when these strings were attached to tuning-forks with which they could vibrate in sympathy ; substituting for the small forks, originally used by Melde, a colossal tuning-fork, the prongs of which were placed between the poles of a powerful electro-magnet.
I NOW pass to the second part of my discourse. It is in reference to the methods of modern science—the caution to he observed in pursuing it, if we do not wish to pervert its end by too confident assertions and deductions. It is a very common attempt, nowadays, for scientists to transcend the limits of their legitimate studies, and in doing this they run into speculations apparently the most unphilosophical, wild, and absurd ; quitting the true basis of inductive philosophy, and building up the most curious theories on little else than assertion ; speculating upon the merest analogy ; adopting the curious views of some metaphysicians, as Edward von Hartmann ; striving to work out speculative results by the inductive method of natural science.
SOON after my return from America, I learned with great concern that a little book of mine, published prior to my departure, had given grave offence to some of the friends and relatives of the late Principal Forbes ; and I was specially grieved when informed that the chastisement considered due to this offence was to be administered by gentlemen between whom and myself I had hoped mutual respect and amity would forever reign.
OUR satellite holds a somewhat anomalous position in the literature of astronomy. The most beautiful object in the heavens, the orb which telescopists study under the most favorable conditions, and the planet—for a planet she is—which has afforded the most important information respecting the economy of the universe, she nevertheless has not received that attention from descriptive writers which she really merits.
AMERICAN SCIENTIFIC ASSOCIATION—PRESIDENT SMITH'S ADDRESS.
THE EDUCATIONAL CONVENTION AT ELMIRA.
ELECTIVE STUDIES AT HARVARD.
LIFE OF PRINCIPAL FORBES.
THE twenty-second meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which commenced at Portland, Me., August 20th, was fairly attended by the members, and presented very good results in the way of scientific work.
THE UNITY OF NATURAL PHENOMENA. A Popular Introduction to the Study of the Forces of Nature. From the French of M. EMILE SAIGEY. With an Introduction and Notes by THOMAS FREEMAN MOSES, A. M., M. D. Boston : Estes & Lauréat. Price $1.50. 253 pages.
Utilization of Waste Coal.—The English Mechanic gives an historical sketch of the various processes suggested for the utilization of the waste of coal-mines. From this account it would appear that so early as the close of the sixteenth century the waste of small coal attracted notice.
THE year 1759, which witnessed the completion of the Eddystone Lighthouse, closed with tremendous storms, and the courage of the light-keepers was tested to the utmost. A biography of John Smeaton, the builder of the Eddystone, states that for twelve days the sea ran over them so much that they could not open the door of the lantern, or any other door.