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-The commission appointed by the Belgian government to experiment on Pasteur's method of protecting cattle and sheep from anthrax by inoculation with the attenuated virus have published their report. They find, from very numerous vaccinations which have been performed at Hervé since the spring of 1883, on farms where anthrax breaks out every year, that Pasteur's method preserves both sheep and cattle from the disease. No case of anthrax has been observed among a thousand fully-grown cattle which have been vaccinated, while the non-vaccinated have died, as usual. As regards the duration of the protective influence, it has been found to be one year for young animals in the proportion of ninety per cent, and at least two years for all mature animals. They confirm Mr. Pasteur's statement that places where animals which have died of anthrax have been buried are dangerous, the soil retaining the germs.
-The Austrian central tourist club has addressed a petition to the assemblies of all Austrian alpine provinces to pass a law prohibiting the wholesale uprooting of edelweiss now carried on. The petitioners point out that hundreds of thousands of the plants are dug up, and sent abroad, even to America; so that there is a fear that the favorite plant of all lovers of the Alps will be exterminated, except in a few remote places. Several Swiss cantons have passed such a law.
- Professor Milne has been engaged in researches on the oscillations of sea-level in the Kurile Islands. He finds that the two islands Iturup and Kunashiri form the first two of the series of stepping-stones which connect Japan by means of Kamtchatka with Asia. They contain a greater proportion of rounded hills and of deeply cut valleys than any of the islands farther north, and may therefore be regarded as older than those which are built up almost entirely of finely formed volcanic cones. The neighboring island of Urup presents appearances similar to these two. The formation of an island like Iturup probably commenced as a number of volcanic peaks forming islands, which were subsequently elevated, of which there are indications in the stratified rocks and terrace formations. All the appearances, however, which Professor Milne has ascribed to a raising of the land, might, he observes, be also explained by raising and lowering of the sea, such as that which Mr. Croll argues might be produced by the accumulation of ice at the pole; and the fact that the height of the terraces increases northwards appears to confirm this view.
- Mr. J. Macdonald Cameron has printed a report on the bituminous deposits of the Camamie basin of the province of Bahia in Brazil. In addition to the purely commercial portion of the report, there is much interesting information with regard to the various descriptions of these oleaginous deposits. Mr. Cameron has some interesting remarks on the influence of the mangrove on the muddy swamps on the coast. The dirty grayish black mud in which the mangrove vegetation is very luxuriant, resembles that noticeable in England in rivers and streams on
the banks of which oil or soap works are situated. He inclines to the opinion that this mud is principally formed by the continuous decomposition of the roots and branches of the mangrove trees. The tidal currents ebb and flow slowly, and hence do not sweep away the mud. Thus abundant food for the tree is insured "as well as a store of oleaginous material for the use of distant generations of human beings."
-The articles of scientific interest in the English general magazine for July are as follows: Grant Allen has an article 'Concerning clover' in the Gentleman's magazine, - a very interesting account of the various kinds of clover, the object of the different modes of flowering, and the general points of interest concerning the plant. The science notes in the same magazine, conducted by W. Mattieu Williams, contain a few remarks upon the recent scientific events of popular interest. In Longman's magazine, Grant Allen is also the scientific writer of the month. His article entitled 'The first potter,' is a résumé of our knowledge of prehistoric pottery. Under the title of 'Recent progress in biology,' in the Nineteenth century, Ray Lankester takes up, in an accurate manner, all the recent steps of progress in this science, laying most stress upon Koch's and Caldwell's investigations. The article in the same magazine, entitled 'Transylvanian superstition,' by Mme. Gerard, is a very complete enumeration of the vast number of superstitions of this very superstitious country, which cannot fail to be of great interest to anthropologists. An article in Blackwood's Edinburgh magazine on 'Footprints,' proves that the human footprints often found on the rocks in many countries are artificial, and the remnants of the signsystem of the aborigines. The National review has an article upon ‘Some higher aspects of mesmerism,' by E. Gurney and F. W. H. Myers. The title explains itself, and it is interesting to find the subject so well treated in a general magazine. In the Contemporary review, G. J. Romanes publishes his Rede lecture for 1885, - a long dissertation on the relation between Mind and motion.' Under the title of 'Dangers of medical specialism,' H. B. Donkin takes an opposite view from that entertained by Dr. M. Mackenzie in a recent article, and urges that specialism in medicine should not be made a trade.
Among the American magazines, there are few really good popular scientific articles. In the Catholic world, there is a very popular article of some scientific interest, entitled 'Among insects in a southern city,' by T. F. Gabney. The Andover review contains an article by Rev. E. M. Bliss, upon 'Kurdistan and the Kurds,' which is a very good description of the people and the country. The article in the NorthAmerican review upon the 'Subterranean history of man,' by S. C. Bartlett, is a rehash of the results obtained by the recent investigators of this subject. 'Mohammedans in India,' by F. Marion Crawford, in Harper's, possesses some scientific interest. The Century has an article on the 'Gate of India,' with a map, and one upon Frank Hatton in North Borneo,' by his father, with notes from the explorer's diary.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 14, 1885.
OFFICIAL SCRUTINY OF THE U.S. COAST-SURVEY.
SERIOUS charges have been brought by the authorities in Washington against the administration of the U.S. coast-survey. During many days past, the newspapers, under more or less sensational headings, have given currency to statements and insinuations of a damaging character. Some of the articles which have come under our eye are obviously wrong, some contain half-truths, and some are inspired with animosity toward particular men, or toward the prosecution of purely scientific work. Up to the time when these lines are written, we have seen nothing in the journals which bears the stamp of official accuracy; but there appeared on Friday last what purports to be a summary of the results attained by a committee of investigation appointed by the treasury department. much is to be said in public, as is contained in this statement, we regret that the charges are not authenticated by a signature, and that the circumstances under which the inquiry has been conducted are not clearly made known. The credit of an important branch of the public service, as well as the personal standing of its leading officers, is involved in these criminations. A decent regard for justice, and a fair consideration for those who have long maintained a good report, require something more than anonymous and semi-official communications, sent out by telegraph, in which it is not possible to discriminate the pen of the reporter from that of the authorized investigator, and in which it is still harder to determine what are the charges of the complainants, and what are the conclusions of the tribunal. Either reticence should govern an investigation until some conclusion is reached which can be openly made known, or else there should be sufficient publicity in the conduct of
the inquiry to acquaint the public with the extenuating circumstances of the defence, and the answers which are made to the preferred complaints. Unless we are misled by these unofficial statements, it appears that the superintendent of the survey has been deposed from his office for alleged mismanagement, that the assistant in charge at Washington has been first removed and then restored, and that several persons employed by the survey (chiefly in subordinate relations to the service) have been brought under censure.
We have no disposition to apologize for, or to screen, continued neglect of duty, or abuse of the high responsibilities which are attached to the conduct of an important post; but certain facts of an explanatory character should certainly accompany expressions of blame. The friends of the superintendent are aware that he has been for a long while a sufferer from a painful disease. He has been advised, as we are informed, to seek relief from acute and distressing attacks by the use of agents which are extra hazardous. There is no doubt that his efficiency as an administrative officer has thus been seriously impaired. It would have been well, under circumstances of so much responsibility, if he could have been quietly retired in view of the long-continued, efficient, and able services which he has rendered to the country. Failure resulting from physical infirmity, and from the employment, however injudicious, of the prescribed means of relief, is failure still, so far as the conduct of a public office is concerned; but it is not the failure of a dissipated man indulging in vice. The accused is not to be condemned like one who has surrounded himself with bad associates, or who has appropriated to his personal gratification the public money. His previous record of fidelity, application, and uprightness should be remembered. A sharp distinction should be drawn between erroneous methods of control which
he has initiated, and those bad traditional forms which are likely to grow up in any public office unless the most vigilant watch is kept. If the record of the superintendent is good, -and we believe that it is, up to the time of a great domestic sorrow, and the subsequent incursions of disease, the judgment of the government and of the public should be very different from that which would be due to a dishonest, incapable, or dissipated man. We sincerely believe, that, when all the facts are brought out, our judgment will prove to be correct, and that the bad administration attributed to the superintendent will not be without extenuating considerations. The honors which have been won by the coastsurvey abroad and at home, for thoroughness, under arduous and complicated circumstances, are honors which have been won by those who have administered its affairs.
While awaiting further information, there are some known facts, and some known principles, which it is worth while to bear in mind, particularly as there is always a multitude ready to raise a hue and cry if any determined opponent leads off in throwing out suspicions.
Without the slightest disposition to screen official mismanagement, if it has been discovered, we must caution our readers against giving credence to insinuations and rumors. All who are under implied censure have a right to be fully heard, and to bring all the facts which are explanatory of their conduct to the eye of a qualified tribunal. They have a right to protest against the arbitrary exercise of personal authority, or against the judicial methods of a star-chamber or a drumhead court-martial. No political purpose, no personal dislike, no disbelief in science, should be allowed, unquestioned, to throw discredit upon a branch of the public service, or dishonor upon a corps hitherto regarded as exemplary in all its official work.
The work of the coast-survey, during its long history, has been of the highest character. For nearly seventy years it has been approved by successive congresses and administrations, and by navigators, merchants, and men of
exact science. It has received the highest encomiums of foreigners who were qualified to judge of its merits, and were interested in pointing out its defects. The five superintendents - Hassler, Bache, Benjamin Pierce, Patterson, and Hilgard - have each, in different ways, improved its methods, and upheld its efficiency. The officers just displaced have grown up in the service, and have won promotion by the ability and fidelity with which they have discharged their great responsibilities. The presumptions of official rectitude are in their favor until positive faults are pointed out. They are entitled by the principles of good government, as well as by their individual services, to all the opportunities they may desire for explanation or defence; and any premature opinion is unfair, especially if it is affected by personal prejudices, or is based upon a lack of appreciation for scientific researches.
In the conduct of such a bureau as the coastsurvey, a large amount of discretion must be left to the chief. He, and he only, can determine a vast number of questions which pertain to the selection of assistants for different kinds of work, the choice of fields of labor, the discrimination between services which have an obvious relation to some immediate want of the public, and those which may be just as serviceable, but are recondite, and unintelligible to the uninformed. It is impossible to mark out the duties of the highest assistants by such rules as may be applied to the clerical services of an ordinary counting-room. order that the results of the survey may be accurate and trustworthy,- the only results which are worth having, costly instruments must be bought and used, and must afterwards be thrown aside, because other instruments are better, or because their work is done. Still larger outlays are requisite, in order that elaborate and important fundamental inquiries may be prosecuted by men who are trained to exact scientific methods. A staff of learned and experienced investigators is absolutely essential to the conduct of such a national undertaking as the coast-survey.
Nevertheless, all this scientific research is appreciated by a very small number of persons. Indeed, the more valuable it is, the less obvious may be its merits. Every seaman knows the value of a good chart: not every seaman, not every scholar, not every statesman, knows the conditions by which a good chart is produced. It is only the expert who appreciates the subtle sources of error which must be eliminated he only knows the infinitude of mathematical, physical, astronomical, and geodetic problems, which are involved in an endeavor to portray faithfully such a coast line as that of the United States, and to keep the portrayal in accurate correspondence with the changing sands.
The judge of what to do, and how to do it, must be the superintendent. Congress must say how much money may be spent, and the secretary of the treasury must exercise an authority over the methods of expenditure: but the master of the works must be the head of the survey; and, although he is liable to error, like the general in the field, or the seaman on the deep, the ultimate results, attained under his guidance, are the criterion of his scientific efficiency.
In the zeal for civil-service reform, which has characterized the new administration, it will not be surprising if outlays for scientific observation, experiment, and research should be regarded as questionable if not extravagant. It is not to be wondered at, that an auditor of accounts should consider as needless, expenditures which experience has shown to be absolutely necessary for the efficient management of a scientific bureau. It will not be strange if a commission of government officials pronounces many of the investigations of the coastsurvey to be incomplete, useless, or unduly costly. It will be easy to gain a reputation for economy, and for discovering the faults of preceding administrations, by striking at work, the methods of which, from their very nature, are incomprehensible to the public. It is easy to furnish witticisms to innumerable writers by a judicious repetition of scientific technicalities. But, happily, Congress is not likely to be misled by such combined misapprehensions
and misrepresentations. The president, unless we mis-read his official and personal character, will insist upon wise economy. Beyond the administration and Congress, there lies an appeal to the intelligence of the people, who certainly do not want parsimony in the study of the sea-coast. Honesty and accountability will be demanded by the public in all branches of the government service: they will rejoice in every check which may be devised to prevent the misappropriation of funds, but they will not want the efficiency of the coast-survey impaired. An administration will indeed ap pear awry, which proposes in one breath to restore the navy to efficiency, and in another to interfere with the accurate study of the coast, and with the perfection of our knowledge of harbors and reefs. Let there be fair play in considering the affairs of the coast-survey, and we shall have no fears of the result.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR.
THE Sedalia and other papers lately contained accounts of the application of a 'mad stone' to a Mr. Girard of this city, who had been bitten by a supposed mad dog.
The stone was owned by Mr. J. M. Dickson of Kansas City, who advertises the use of the stone, and states that it has been in possession of his family for more than a hundred years, and was brought by one of the family from Scotland. From the large number of references given in Mr. Dickson's advertisement to the mayor and other officials, and physicians of Kansas City, we may take it as true that Mr. Dickson is honest in his belief as to the virtues and history of the stone.
To a reporter Mr. Dickson made a statement that he had applied the stone to more than five hundred cases of bites by various kinds of mad animals and wild skunks; his opinion evidently being, that the bite of this animal, whether rabid or not, will produce hydrophobia. He gave the method of application, which was to place the stone upon the wound, or upon an abrasion of the skin made on any part of the body, first soaking the stone in sweet milk. He stated, that, if the person contained any virus, the stone would adhere to the wound or abrasion until it was saturated with the poison, when it would fall off; and that it was then cleaned by again soaking it in sweet milk, and this was repeated until the stone would no longer adhere.
We may presume, that, of the five hundred treated by him, a large number had been bitten by animals which were not mad; and statistics show, that, of those bitten by dogs which are mad, not more than one-third to one-half will have hydrophobia; and yet we can hardly suppose, that, of five hundred persons who believed themselves to be in danger of hydrophobia, not one would have taken it even if no preventive measures had been taken. Mr. Dickson
states, that no case treated by him has developed into hydrophobia.
At the time of Mr. Dickson's visit to Sedalia, I had the opportunity of seeing the stone for a few minutes, and found it to be a fossil coral of the genus Favosites. It was of rather small size, only about threefourths of an inch across, and was of hemispherical shape, with one side cut so as to present a smooth surface. The fossil seemed to be silicified, a part of the tubes being filled almost to the ends, and a part open. The tube cavities on the flat surface generally presented open spaces between the diaphragms or tabulae, making the stone more or less cellular or porous. From the slight examination I made of the stone, I judge it to be Favosites gothlandica Lam., if from Scotland; and, if it is American, F. hemisphericus Y. and S.
I have since seen Mr. Girard; and I learn from him, and also from the Sedalia agent of the Adams express company, that the stone was first soaked in sweet milk without having any effect upon the color of the milk. It was then applied to the arm, and adhered so tightly, that, on turning the arm over and shaking it, the stone still clung to it. About three times the stone was taken from the arın and soaked in milk, and it then turned the milk a greenish color. At last the stone would no longer adhere to the wound, and the cure was pronounced complete.
Has any competent person made proper tests of reputed mad stones? Are these persons mistaken about the stone adhering tightly? Would any similar porous stone adhere the same way? Are the persons also mistaken about the change in the color of the milk? In short, will any stone have any effect on virus in a person's blood? F. A. SAMPSON.
The inscription rocks on the island of Monhegan.
During a recent visit to the island of Monhegan, Me., my attention was called by Mr. P. C. Manning of Portland to the so-called inscriptions described and figured by Schoolcraft in his Indian tribes,' vol. vi. p. 610. The inscriptions are on a small island, Menana, which is separated from Monhegan island proper by a narrow channel. The principal inscription, that figured by Schoolcraft, is on the nearly vertical face of a small cliff about five feet high, situated a few rods north and east from the fog-signal station. The country rock of both islands is a black or dark-gray rock different from any rock I have seen in Maine except at one other locality. A lithological description of this rock is reserved for the present. It shows great numbers of veins. Part of these veins are of white granite, or sometimes of white quartz; but many are black, like the surrounding rock, and differ from it simply in fineness of grain. When weathered, even the blackest of the rocks become dark gray in color. As the various layers differ so much in granular condition, and somewhat in composition, they naturally weather and fracture very differently. Some of the rock is quite massive, with no regular fracture: other layers fracture quite prismatically, almost like slates. The rocks are everywhere weathered into forms unusually varied, and often fantastic; the veins sometimes weathering faster than the contiguous rock into furrows, at other times into ridges. The joints and veins are often arranged systematically.
When one first sees the inscription rock, he cannot fail to notice that the appearance is as if a tablet had
been prepared upon the surface of the rock, not horizontally, but obliquely. There are two parallel furrows about one-half an inch deep, and eight inches apart; and the so-called letters are on this The tablet has a fine-pitted surface of weathering quite even and flat. The surrounding rock is more coarsely pitted. Examination shows that this apparent tablet is simply the exposed edge of a fine-grained vein which penetrates the coarser-grained rock obliquely. This vein shows both on top of the rock and also on the side. The parallel furrows which enclose the so-called inscription tablet are simply furrows of weathering at the sides of the vein. The supposed letters are composed of straight furrows intersecting each other obliquely, so that most of them are some modification of the letters V and X. A cross-section of these furrows ends in a sharp angle enclosed between curved lines, like the sinus of a crenate leaf. At the base of the furrows I invariably found a crack in the rock, though sometimes not readily without the aid of a magnifier. There are two systems of these joints, -one nearly vertical, the other nearly at right angles to the sides of the vein. Nearly all the furrows forming the supposed inscription belong to these two systems of joints: a few are aberrant, and two are horizontal. Most of the joints are filled with a film of oxide of iron, but the two horizontal joints and two others are open. At the point where the vein obliquely enters the rock, the furrows on the vertical wall are continued without a break around the angle of the rock to the edge of the roof-exposure of the vein. This is plainly caused by the same joint penetrating the vein at both exposures. In general, the exposure of the vein on top of the cliff has been more unevenly eroded, and shows fewer furrows. A small piece has recently been broken from the southeast corner of the inscription tablet; and an ironfilled crack, which is found at the base of a furrow above this fracture, can be seen crossing the fresh surface, though it is faint. The inscription furrows bend downward into the two longitudinal furrows which border the so-called inscription tablet. The surrounding coarse-grained rock shows but few furrows, and they are not so regular in outline as those on the edge of the vein.
It is evident that the inscription' is a freak of surface erosion. The furrows are the result of weathering along joints. At the same time they differ from the ordinary weathering of the island in certain details.
A few rods from this inscription is a smaller one, very much like it in form of erosion furrows; and Í found a small slab, near the north-east angle of Monhegan island, showing almost identical V and X forms. Portland, July 27. G. H. STONE.
Recent contributions to the literature of
Two works upon this subject have recently been published. Dr. Friedländer, pathologist to Friedrichshain, has reviewed the French work of Cornil and Babes mercilessly, and with a personal animus not in harmony with scientific accuracy. It will be remembered, that Dr. Babes was the Hungarian authority who bitterly opposed Koch's views of the tubercular bacillus, and sought to substitute in lieu thereof 'Babes' granules.' He was, for a short time, a student in the laboratory of Professor v. Recklenhausen, and then went to Dr. Cornil, in Paris. Later, he came to Prof. Dr. Virchow, in Berlin, where he has remained ever since. He is still a very young man; and while he has not the extended experience in pathological mycology of Friedländer, Koch, or Hirschberg, he has been constant, in season and out of season, in his lab