PROPERLY to appreciate ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLDT’S life-work, one must form a conception of the intellectual atmosphere from which he issued. The opinion may not unfrequently be found among laymen that there was no real German naturalist before Humboldt.
PASSAGES SELECTED FROM PROFESSOR W. G. SUMNER’S NEW BOOK, ENTITLED “WHAT SOCIAL CLASSES OWE TO EACH OTHER.”
IN the introduction to his little volume, Professor Sumner remarks: “ During the last ten years I have read a great many books and articles, especially by German writers, in which an attempt has been made to set up 'the state' as an entity, having conscience, power, and will sublimated above human limitations, and as constituting a tutelary genius over us all.
IN a former article we endeavored to elucidate some of the principles which have been developed from the later researches and experiments on the relations of our clothing with the atmosphere (see “Popular Science Monthly,” October, 1883). The house, also, may be regarded as a kind of clothing, as a large and ample garment, designed to regulate our relations with the surrounding medium, and to deliver us from its tyranny, but not to isolate us.
EVERYBODY who watched the sun with a telescope last summer must have wondered at the great belt of spots lying across the southern part of the disk during the last half of July. Several of the spots and groups were of extraordinary size, and their arrangement was very singular.
IT is known to all who watch the signs of the times—obvious, indeed, to them, and known to many who are less observant—that those moral restraints which claim to be of sacred origin are no longer accepted by a large and increasing number of persons.
IT has been shown by the researches of Galton, Ribot, and others, that a law of heredity exists, and is applicable to our psychological qualities. Without attempting to deny the operation of this law, it is our intention here, believing that its scope has been considerably magnified, to endeavor to determine its limits in particular directions.
ABOUT a century before the birth of the Emperor Augustus, the most popular physician in Rome was the Grecian philosopher Asclepiades. His system seems to have resembled that of our “movement-cure” doctors. Instead of being stuffed with drugs, his patients were invited to his palæstra, a sort of out-door gymnasium or hygienic garden, where they were doctored with gymnastics, wholesome comestibles, and, as some writers assert, with flattery—probably courteous attention to the jeremiads of crapulent senators.
THE appearance of some of the smaller varieties of migratory birds, such as sparrows, swallows, doves, etc., several hundred miles away from the nearest land is by no means an unusual occurrence on the ocean. About these little erratic visitors there are some curious and interesting facts.
STUDY of the movements of events reveals dynamical, necessary sequences, and contemplation of the laws of probability, treated mathematically, generally involves a mental attitude at variance with theories of luck and premonition. It is believed that a rational treatment of the question will help to dispel superstitious ideas by disclosing the chain of continuity in all known actions.
THERE are a good many reasons why physicians should have opinions about the education of youth rather different from those held by most of the public and of the professional educators. Their whole art is founded on the study of the human being—his beginning, his development, his course, his decay, and his death.
I FIND that Sir Henry Thompson, in a lecture delivered at the Fisheries Exhibition, and now reprinted, has invaded my subject, and has done this so well that I shall retaliate by annexing his suggestion, which is that fish should be roasted.
ALTHOUGH the world no longer believes in the gods, demi-gods, and heroes with which the ancients and our pagan ancestors animated nearly every object, old-country people still retain a considerable relic of heathenism in the shape of myths of a host of spirits of nature which are all the time at work to produce prosperity and success or destruction.
THE attempt to estimate the successes of medicine on the grand scale is met at the outset by a source of fallacy which can not well be eliminated. Medicine has certainly a share, and it may be a very large share, in the general lengthening of life, in the decrease of pain and suffering, and in the increase of working-power; but other influences, besides the thought and endeavor of the medical profession, have helped to bring about those results.
SCIENTISTS as well as economists and statesmen are turning with a scrutiny, renewed as each year advances, toward the great region of middle Asia—a territory which, if it supplies society with immigrants much too thrifty for the tastes of our broader-minded Celtic brethren, bids fair in many ways to furnish materials for scientific research that can be compared in interest to no other portion of the world’s surface.
THE study of natural history has of late years been largely directed to the observation of laws according to which the development of the individual species and genus takes place. Although the vital principle which determines the growth and the nature of the animal or plant eludes the search of shrewd and practiced observers, yet the modes in which that principle manifests itself are in many cases pretty well understood.
SCHIAPARELLI continued his observations of the topography of the planet Mars during its last opposition, i. e., from October 26, 1881, to the end of February, 1882, and his results were communicated in a preliminary report early in March to the Accademia dei Lincei, of Rome.
IT is but a few years since the practical student of electrical science was limited to the single branch of telegraphy. His choice lay between becoming a telegraph operator and a manufacturer of telegraph instruments. The telegraph operators form a numerous and intelligent body of men; sharp competition exists among them, and for a long time they had scarcely any chance of improving their position, because until recently no other branch of electrical engineering was open to them.
IN the December number (1882) of the “Monthly,” you published an article prepared by me, on the “Annual Growth of Trees,” which has been somewhat largely commented upon, in the periodicals and press of the day, as also by the “American Congress of Forestry ” at St. Paul.
NEAR the mouth of the Little Cheyenne River, in Dakota Territory, there is a rock on which arc some curious indentations. The rock lies on the north slope of a bowlder-covered hill, and is itself an erratic. It is about twelve feet long by seven or eight feet wide, and rises above the surface of the ground about eighteen inches.
WE last month cited conclusive testimony that, as a matter of fact, classical studies are a general and notorious failure; we now propose to look a little into the causes of that failure. The partisans of the system have a ready reason for so much of it as they have not the assurance to deny.
THIS little volume has exceptional claims upon the attention of thinking people. It is not of the current order of social science literature, but is rather a trenchant protest against its prevailing spirit, and an able attempt to substitute the scientific for the sentimental mode of studying the relations of men in society.
Glacial Theories at the American Association.—Topics connected with the glacial theory received much discussion at the Minneapolis meeting of the American Association. In his paper on “The Life History of the Niagara River,” Mr. Julius Pohlman held that the falls had no part in excavating the gorge below the whirlpool; but that, Lake Ontario subsiding slowly, no waterfall was formed at its entrance, and the lower part of the gorge was worn out by the river as a rapid in an old shallow valley, till at the whirlpool this path met the ancient river-valley, while it was along that valley only that the falls receded to their present site.
IN Dr. Pyburn’s article on “A Home-made Telescope,” in the last (November) number of the “Monthly,” page 86, seven lines from the bottom, the diameter of the thirty-inch roller is given as “two and five eighths inches” ; it should read “ one and five eighths inch.”