ALTHOUGH something has been done toward the scientific treatment of history and of the larger facts of sociology, the conception of the reign of law amid human actions lags far behind the recognition of law in the material universe, and the disposition to ascribe social phenomena to special causes is yet almost as common as it is in the infancy of knowledge so to explain physical phenomena.
ASIDE from the evidences of the earth’s internal heat furnished by artificial excavations, we have incontestable proof thereof in hot springs and in volcanic phenomena generally. The temperature of certain springs is nearly 100° at the surface.
IT is a usual and a commendable practice to preface the discussion of the views of a philosophic thinker by some account of the man and of the circumstances which shaped his life and colored his way of looking at things ; but, though Zadig is cited in one of the most important chapters of Cuvier’s greatest work, little is known about him, and that little might perhaps be better authenticated than it is.
MANY swamps and ponds, which are now considered utterly worthless, might be made sources of great profit by devoting them to the production of a worm which is exceedingly valuable, and the cultivation of which requires no expensive outlay.
SOME able and scholarly articles appeared in one of the leading New York dailies during the last winter, comparing Harvard with the principal universities abroad. The writer evidenced his thorough acquaintance with the curriculum and requirements at Harvard, but the original work done there outside the lecture-room was almost completely ignored, and dismissed with hardly a passing mention.
THE science of human life has been the last to recognize that minute interaction of all the sciences which every other department of knowledge now readily admits. We allow at once that no man can be a good physiologist unless he possesses a previous acquaintance with anatomy and chemistry.
IN the month of June, 1879, I visited some of the principal cinchona districts of South America. The following notes are based upon my own observation and information obtained from native bark dealers and gatherers. I shall speak more particularly of the cinchona-forests of Ecuador, once the only source of bark, and still yielding large quantities.
PROFESSOR A. KIRCHHOFF has published, in the “Transactions of the Geographical Society of Halle,” an interesting description of a party of Nubians who came to that city with the caravan of Messrs. Rice and Hagenbeck. The traveler Marno, in his “Journey into the Egyptian Equatorial Provinces and in Kordofan,” gives a flattering account of the handsome forms and features of the youth of the nomadic people of those provinces, with the faces of the boys so fine and soft that one might be made to doubt whether they may not be girls.
AN UNTECHNICAL ILLUSTRATION OF DEVELOPMENT IN PURE SCIENCE.
GEORGE BRUCE HALSTED
WHEN at the making of a new university a lot of specialists were thrown together, I was impressed by their lack of information in regard to the progress of the eldest of the family of sciences, mathematics. One fellow, a graduate of the University of Virginia, said that, from what had been taught him, he had come to believe mathematics finished by Newton, and now he was puzzled by a talk of progress.
PROFESSOR RAINS’S little book for beginners in analytical chemistry has been already noticed and commended in these pages, but its method is so excellent that it needs to be more fully explained. Chemistry is now a regular study in many if not in most schools ; but, in the common mode of pursuing it, the pupil gets but very little real knowledge of the subject.
THE article on “Premature Burials,” in the January (1880) number of this journal, from its tendency to magnify the importance of the probabilities of premature burial in cases of trance and suspended animation, and from its assertion that, in effect, the ordinary physician or general practitioner is not capable of reaching a satisfactory conclusion upon the signs of death, has led the writer to brief in what follows the opinion of the medical jurists of the present day upon this subject.
THE boring of the St. Gothard Tunnel is pronounced by one of the engineers to be the greatest work hitherto attempted by man ; certainly its importance and magnitude can hardly be overrated. It deserves to be regarded with especial admiration as a work which was marked in every department and at every stage by triumphs of the highest skill in scientific engineering.
M. FOUQUÉ, a professor in the College of France, has recently published an elaborate work on the volcano of Santorin, which is considered one of the most remarkable and instructive examples of volcanic phenomena on the earth. He possesses excellent qualifications for this work, for he has made special researches on the volcano on three different occasions : first, when sent by the French Academy of Sciences in 1866 ; and twice afterward, in 1867 and 1875, under a commission from the Minister of Public Instruction.
FREDERICK WÖHLER, the Nestor of German chemists, was born July 31, 1800, in the little hamlet of Eschersheim, near Frankfort-on-the-Main, in the house of the village pastor who was his uncle by marriage. How it happened that the mother was away from home at such an important period—for this was not her residence—is worthy of record, as it shows that there were heroic elements in the family for the son to inherit.
AS the habits and value of the English sparrow are now being investigated in various parts of the country, I submit the results of my own observations made during the last three or four years, or since the bird became abundant in this locality.
WE can not congratulate the English on the treatment of the international copyright question by some of their eminent authors. It was but the other day that we had to point out the lack of good sense exhibited by Matthew Arnold in his very complacent discussion of the subject; and now comes a blast from Wilkie Collins which, although it does not amount to much, is still a perverse and unhelpful utterance.
EDUCATION: INTELLECTUAL, MORAL, AND PHYSICAL. By HERBERT SPENCER. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 283. Price, 50 cents, paper covers. THIS little work has now been twenty years before the public, and during that time has gradually made its way to all parts of the civilized world.
The Catskill Mountains.—Professor A. Guyot gives, in the “American Journal of Science” for June, the results and a map of the first scientific survey of the Catskill Mountains, which he has undertaken, and with the aid of interested assistants has so far successfully carried out.
PROFESSOR WILLIAM K. KEDZIE, formerly Professor of Chemistry and Physics in the Kansas State Agricultural College, and Professor of Chemistry in Oberlin College, died at Lansing, Michigan, April 14th, in the twenty-ninth year of his age.