AMONG the philosophers of Greece and Rome we find, even at an early period, germs of geological truth, and—what is of vast importance—an atmosphere in which such germs could grow. These germs were transmitted to Roman thought; an atmosphere of tolerance continued; there was nothing which forbade unfettered reasoning either upon the earth’s strata or upon the remains of former life found in them, and under the empire a period of fruitful observation seemed sure to begin.
ON the 6th of last March the United States steamer Galena reached Aspinwall after a cruise in the Windward and the Leeward Islands. Before her departure from Norfolk in January, I was directed by the Navy Department to visit the works of the canal upon our arrival at Aspinwall.
THE predominant feeling induced by a review and consideration of the numerous and complex economic changes and disturbances that have occurred since 1873 (as has been detailed in the foregoing papers of this series), is undoubtedly, in the case of very many persons, discouraging and pessimistic.
THE persistent survival of weather-lore in these days of intellectual emancipation is not at all remarkable when we consider the extent to which the vulgar sayings embody real truths. A few years ago Messrs. Abercromby and Marriott embarked on an extremely interesting inquiry with a view to determine, by actual comparison, how far the popular proverbs express relations, or sequences, which the results of meteorological science show to be real.
THE admirable studies of Mr. Darwin on the influence of earthworms upon the soil has made it clear that these animals exercise a most important effect in its preparation for the use of plants. Mr. Darwin’s luminous essay has served to call attention to the effect of organic life on the development of the soil-coating.
ALL science is partly descriptive and partly theoretical. Care must, however, be taken lest too much theory be built up without sufficient foundation of fact, or there is danger of erecting pseudosciences, such as astrology and alchemy.
WHAT AMERICAN ZOÖLOGISTS HAVE DONE FOR EVOLUTION.*
PROFESSOR EDWARD S. MORSE
TO those who have already been startled by the memoir of Dr. W. Baldwin Spencer on the presence and structure of the pineal gland in Lacertilia, and the evidence that it represents a third eye in a rudimentary condition, it will be interesting to know that among some of the earlier mammals the pineal gland may have assumed functional importance as an eye.
WHEN the harassed and wretched Macbeth inquired of the doctor, “Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased?” his candid physician promptly disclaimed any such high qualifications. “There-in,” said he, “the patient must minister to himself.”
I HAVE never beheld the first indications of the rising of Orion without a peculiar feeling of awakened expectation, like that of one who sees the curtain rise upon a drama of absorbing interest. And certainly the magnificent company of the winter constellations, of which Orion is the chief, make their entrance upon the scene in a manner that may be almost described as dramatic.
THE absolute necessity of maintaining a certain standard of purity in food-products, has led, in most of the States, to a comprehensive and somewhat stringent legislation concerning adulteration. Particularly is this the case as regards the products of the dairy.
WHEN one of the gall-flies (cynips) stings the tender shoot of a rose-bush, the poison which is deposited along with her eggs excites at that portion of the twig an excessive degree of nutrition, and the resulting swelling becomes the home of the young of the fly.
THE passage of the Interstate Commerce bill marked a new era in national economic legislation. The immense magnitude of the interests involved, makes such a radical enlargement of legislative jurisdiction a very important event to the business interests of the country.
HOWEVER numerous and prolific our investigations into the composition and properties of organic bodies may have been, we yet are very imperfectly acquainted with those processes by which these manifold forms of matter originate from simple constituents of air and water, and are as yet unaware of the causes on which the changes are depending that they undergo during life.
UNDER the name of Cagots there live in the Pyrenees and the old Aquitanian regions on both sides of them—in the Spanish Upper and the French Lower Navarre, in Béarn, Gascony, Guienne, and Lower Poitou—a peculiar race who have been much talked about and have attracted the attention of the peoples about them from very ancient times.
THE value of Sir Joseph Whitworth’s work, and the extent to which it has entered into common life, are exemplified whenever a screw-tap is fitted to a bolt. A biographical sketch of him, published on the occasion of his death, designated his name as the greatest of our time in mechanical engineering, and characterized him as a person of remarkable individuality and one whose efforts have left a permanent impress upon the workshops of the whole civilized world.
THE article of Professor Joseph Le Conte in the “Popular Science Monthly” for October, upon the subject “What is Evolution?”—the clearest, fullest, and fairest presentation of the subject we have ever met with—suggests afresh an insuperable difficulty to our entire and hearty acceptance of the doctrine of evolution.
NOW and again, amid the rush of modern progress, we catch a note or sign of reaction. Such a note we most distinctly have in the article published a couple of months ago in “Science” over the signature of Mr. Appleton Morgan. Mr. Morgan is a lawyer of distinction, whose talents have been largely employed by railway companies, and who has thus naturally contracted a sympathy, very allowable in its way, for those corporations.
THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGY. Edited by G. STANLEY HALL, Professor of Psychology and Pedagogics in the Johns Hopkins University. Vol. I, No. 1. Baltimore, Md.: N. Murray. Pp. 206. Quarterly, $3 per year. THIS journal is to be heartily welcomed and commended.
Mr. Lockyer’s Theory of “The Cosmos.”—Mr. Lockyer has presented, in a paper to the Royal Society on the “Spectra of Meteorites,” a new hypothesis concerning the origin and nature of the stars and other celestial bodies. Among the fundamental propositions of his theory are those that all self-luminous bodies in the celestial spaces are composed of meteorites, or masses of meteoric vapor, produced by heat brought about by condensation of meteor swarms due to gravity; that the spectra of all bodies depend upon the heat of the meteorites, produced by collisions, and the average space between the meteorites in the swarm, or in the case of consolidated swarms, upon the time which has elapsed since complete vaporization; that the existing distinction between stars, comets, and nebulæ rests on no physical basis; and that the main factor in the various spectra produced is the ratio of the interspaces between the meteorites to their incandescent surfaces.
THE theories expressed in the “Monthly” by Mr. Eaton and Mr. Gouinlock, that constriction of the blood-vessels of the head by tight hats is a chief cause of baldness, have been reviewed by Professor T. Wesley Mills, who only partly accepts them, and holds that the principal root of the trouble is in nervous strain.