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sunsets following the Krakatoa outburst (whose explosion of 1883, Aug. 27, drove whole cubic miles of dust and steam, if not clear through our atmosphere, at least many times higher than the clouds ever float) indicated by their successive appearances at different places a probable upper equatorial current moving rapidly westward, i.e., rotating slower than the earth. We do not think the discussion of these red sunsets is, from this stand-point, by any means exhausted, and hope that Professor Kiessling of Hamburg, who has so well explained the physical causes of the phenomena, will publish the thousand or more records he has of the first appearances of the red sunsets all over the world. The only other occasions when these upper currents can be observed are the rare chances when the drift of a long-continuing meteor-streak might be determined from two or more observatories. workers with equatorials would endeavor, on those rare occasions when a meteor-train remains visible, quickly to begin a series of pointings (using the lowest power) alternately upon the two ends of the streak, noting the times and reading the hour and declination-circles as rapidly as possible, we might in time accumulate some valuable data about the upper currents in our latitudes; but observatories near the equator are scarce. However, the knowledge thus gained of the heights at which meteors appear would be much more accurate than from the ordinary alignement among the stars, and these observations ought to be made on every possible occasion by astronomers.


Two new comets. Two new comets have already been discovered during the present month. The first was found on Dec. 1, at Paris, the name of the discoverer not being given in the telegram. The comet was readily picked up by Professor Frisby of the Naval observatory with a 24-inch finder, and the following observations were obtained with a 9.6-inch equatorial:

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It has been described as ill-defined, and slightly condensed towards the centre, without a tail. The second comet is announced in a telegram from Prof. Lewis Swift, who states that the comet was discovered by Mr. E. E. Barnard of Nashville, Tenn., on Dec. 3, its position being at 9h 37m (probably Washington mean time) R.A., 4h 21m 578; Dec., +4° 45'. The motion is given as 35 minutes, but the direction of the motion is made unintelligible by the ambiguous term 'north west.'

In the position just given, the comet would pass the meridian a few minutes before the bright star Aldebaran, but nearly twelve degrees farther south.


THE work of the Henry Shaw school of botany, St. Louis, outside of the university classes, will begin with the formation of a class for the study of grasses. For the accommodation of teachers in the schools of the city, this class will meet from 9 to 1, on Saturday mornings. A class in analytical botany will take up the study of spring flowers on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, and Saturday mornings, from April 6 till June 12, 1886.

Those interested in composite photographs will find a plate of four of members of the National academy, in Science of May 8, 1885; another, from a composite photograph of several skulls, in the number for June 19; a third, of the officers of the American association at the Philadelphia meeting. in the issue of Aug. 28; and a fourth, showing the racial characteristics of Jews, in Science of Oct. 9.


♦♦♦ Correspondents are requested to be as brief as possible. The writers' name is in all cases required as proof of good faith.

Newcomb's 'Political economy.'

PROFESSOR NEWCOMB objects, in the last number of Science, to certain things in my recent notice of his work on political economy, charging me with 'atrocious misrepresentation' of his views. The quotationmarks enclosing two sentences in the first paragraph of my review should not have been there, and, so far as they led my readers to think that they indicated Professor Newcomb's own words, they were misleading; and an apology is due Professor Newcomb from me, which is hereby tendered. I may simply say, by way of explanation, that the proof of my article was not submitted to me in time to receive any corrections at my hands before it was printed, or the offending marks, as well as the word always, to which the author objects later in his letter, would certainly have been expunged.

As to the chief point at issue, however, viz., whether my article presented a correct view of Professor Newcomb's theories, I have nothing to take back or change. I have again examined Professor Newcomb's book, in connection with his strictures on my review, and do not see wherein I have misrepresented him. The point in dispute, of course, is not what Professor Newcomb desired or tried to do, nor even what he claims to have done, but simply what he actually did do in the work reviewed. It is true that he expressly disclaims any intention of doing what I maintain he has done; but this is no evidence, of course, that my view of his actual work is erroneous. The notice contained my opinion of the real work, and not of the author's

intentions. The proof of the correctness of my opinion cannot be given within the space which you can allot to the discussion, since it involves a careful comparison of Professor Newcomb's premises and conclusions, of his declared intentions and his actual success. The following sentences, taken somewhat at random from the book, seem to me to prove the general justness of my view. The italics are mine. Page 543 (Summary of principles): "The motives which animate men in the pursuit of wealth are in the highest degree beneficent, and have led to a system which insures to every man fit to live the maximum of enjoyment from his labor, if he will only adapt himself to the system." Page 518: "It is also to be remembered that the existing system insures the employment of every man in the way best suited to his talents better than any other system possibly can. This fact follows from almost the whole system of political economy, so that it need not be further dwelt upon." Pages 517 and 518: "Thus, from an idealistic point of view, nothing can be said against the general equity of the existing system of free competition." Page 516: "It is a great mistake to suppose that the enormous inequalities which we see in wealth imply any thing wrong in the system which permits them." Page 370: We have already shown that in the state of things which now exists in this country it is scarcely possible for any industrious man to suffer for the necessaries of life."

These quotations, it seems to me, present a fair view of what should be regarded as the logical outcome of the methods and principles of the book. The author is not consistent in his reasoning, and this leaves him abundant opportunity to quote passages which are at entire variance with what I represented as the result of his effort. It should also be said that they are at entire variance with the conclusions above quoted; which latter are, in my opinion, more in harmony with the general drift of the book than the former. As one interested in the progress of the science, I am glad to know that Professor Newcomb recoils with such vigor from the logical consequences of his theory, as we may hope that his influence will at last be thrown in the direction of sounder methods than those which he so vigorously repudiates and so closely follows.

In conclusion I should like to say that my objections are nearly all to the general methods and tendencies of the book. I think, as I said in essence in my review, that many of the minor discussions are admirable and suggestive. E. J. JAMES.

Professor Newcomb may well repeat the ancient prayer to be delivered from his friends, if Mr. Franklin's letter fairly represents their best efforts. With the single exception of what has been already mentioned, the latter is exceedingly unhappy in his strictures.

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To begin with his last point, he remarks that the closing sentence of my review was ' entirely and absurdly gratuitous, as Professor Newcomb describing what governments do when they establish an unlimited bimetallic system." Professor Newcomb's original sentence might possibly have been excused on the ground of carelessness of statement; but if he should agree with Mr. Franklin, and still desire to stand by it in its actual form, it would simply be another instance of one of my chief objections to Professor Newcomb's general methods; viz., that he is dealing all the while with imaginary quan

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tities. It is safe to say that neither Professor Newcomb nor Mr. Franklin can adduce a single historical example where governments, in establishing a bimetallic system, assumed that the values of equal weights of the two metals have a certain fixed ratio to each other." They have sometimes assumed that by establishing such a system they can do much toward creating such a fixed ratio, which is an entirely different thing. The statement of Professor Newcomb is doubly objectionable, in the first place, because it is not true; and, in the second place, because it is the form usually adopted by one-sided monometallists in describing the position of bimetallists, so that they may forestall discussion by ascribing to their opponents such an absurd theory as to make them appear a pack of drivelling idiots. I prefer to think that Professor Newcomb does not desire to bolster up his position by any such questionable devices.

Mr. Franklin asks how much of the influence of recent German writers on economic science is traceable in Professor Sidgwick's book. The mere question proves one or both of two things: 1°, that Mr. Franklin is only superficially acquainted with Professor Sidgwick's work; or, 2°, that he knows nothing of recent German writers on political economy; or, 3°, both. The influence of German thought is evident on nearly every page — certainly in every chapter of Professor Sidgwick's book. Some of the chapters, indeed, notably the one on public finance and that on distributive justice, might almost be called abstracts of Wagner. I did not say that Professor Newcomb knows nothing of recent political economy, but simply that his treatment of the subject shows no traces of such knowledge. To give evidence of such knowledge, it is not necessary, of course, to quote from recent works. One might reveal the fact in one's methods and conclusions that the gigantic movements of the last generation had not swept by without in some degree affecting the views of the writer. A man who writes a work on physics need not stop to trace out the authority for each statement he makes in order to show that he is abreast of the time. To do that would be as absurd in form as it would be in reality, if he attempted to write such a book without taking any notice of the work done in that department within the last generation.

Whether it be evidence of ignorance and incompetence in any field to adhere to the system of a past generation when another system, whatever may be its merits or defects, has certainly displaced the old one, may fairly enough be left to the sober sense of men of science and to the practical answer of a moving world. It seems pretty clear that Mr. Mill, to whose methods and system Mr. Franklin implies that Professor Newcomb adheres, would indignantly repudiate any such views as those above quoted from Professor Newcomb's book, since he regarded them as already obsolete at the time when he wrote.

I did not say, nor did I mean to imply, that Professor Newcomb had just begun to make excursions into the economic field, but that these excursions had always been of a hasty and desultory character, since the better part of his life and effort had been devoted to something else; and, further, that the whole tenor of his introduction was that we should now see an example of the true scientific method, the failure to apply which, so far, was the real secret of the failure of political economy. E. J. J.

The Biela comet meteor-stream. The showers of meteors from this stream (see Science, vi. 489 and 496) were observed not only very extensively on the night of Nov. 27, but also at some places on nights preceding and following this ; and a complete collection of all the observations should be made in order to study the distribution of matter in the stream. We should be glad to receive from everywhere reports of observations of these showers; and they should give, as fully as may be, the following data: 1°. The time the observations commenced, whether in twilight or darkness, and whether the shower seemed to be beginning or already in full operation. 2. The clearness of the sky, and freedom from interference of trees, streetlamps, etc. 3°. If a continuous count was kept, the rate at which it proceeded (as illustrated on p. 490 of last week's Science), the number of observers, and how stationed. 4°. If no count was kept, then the time of any marked variations in the density of the shower. 5°. The time the observations ended, and whether the shower appeared to be over; and, if so, whether any further watch was kept for a renewal of it, and how long. 6. The appearance of the meteors, especially the color of the brighter ones and of their trains, if any; also if any appeared to describe curved paths. 7. If the observer was reclining so as to watch all round the radiant equally well, or, if there was an observer for each quadrant, then some approximate indication, if possible, of the relative density in each quadrant; and, if this varied decidedly, then the times of the variation.

Probably few can give much information on the last point, but it would be valuable in discussion of local differences in the showers. There are some indications of this at stations not many hundred miles apart, which, if they are real, indicate a considerable bunchiness in the meteor-stream within very moderate distances. These will always be interesting showers to observe, not only for their connection with the lost comet, but also because they come into our atmosphere with low velocities, nearly on the following side of the earth, and hence are conveniently observed in the evening and with the radiant near the zenith, very rare characteristics of well-marked showers.

Some features of the meteor-orbit may be of interest. Assuming the elements which Santini computed (Astr. nachr., L. 124) for the unobserved return of the comet in 1859 as the latest computation of its probable motion, they show that the orbit is an elongated ellipse inclined about 12 to the earth's orbit, with a perihelion distance of .87 (the earth's mean distance being unity) and an aphelion distance of 6.21 (Jupiter's mean distance is 5.20), and that the aphelion is only .92 from the plane of the ecliptic; thus making it highly probable that Jupiter pulled the comet into the solar system originally, and showing that it can still perturb its motion considerably. The most interesting feature (the one which makes the meteor-showers possible) is that, according to Santini's elements for 1859, the radius-vector of the comet at its descending node equals .992, while that of the earth at this point is .986, an approach within .006, or about 550,000 miles. This small distance, however, is liable to have been changed by several times its whole amount by perturbations since then.

At this node the velocity in the comet-orbit is 24.3 miles per second, while the earth's is 18.7; and as the motion of the comet is direct, the inclination only

12°, and the angle between the radius-vector and the normal of the comet-orbit only 182, the meteors enter the earth's atmosphere from the apparent direction of the radiant in Andromeda, with a velocity of only 9.8 miles per second, thus causing their sluggish motion, which perhaps would be even more marked were it not likely, that, on account of their slow speed, they are consumed at a somewhat lower level than the swift showers, and hence appear relatively too fast from greater proximity.

Of course, there can be no shower unless there are meteorites scattered along that part of the orbit where the earth reaches the node about Nov. 27. Santini's elements make the passage through the node about thirty days before that through perihelion, and give the following series of times for the successive crossings of the node, the period being 6.67 years. The next column gives the elapsed intervals from these times till the nearest earth-crossing about Nov. 27.

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The only recently observed showers certainly attached to this stream, so far as known to the writer, are those of 1872, when the comet was already three months past the crossing, and the one just happened, when, according to the same elements, the comet should not have crossed till a month afterwards. There appears to have been no well-marked shower observed in 1865, when, with imperturbed elements, the circumstances should have been almost the same as this year; and the difference is, no doubt, due to the increased diffusion of the stream and the perturbations since 1859. The phenomena of 1892, as compared with those of 1872, will furnish some evidence on this point; but, as the perturbations of this stream are pretty large, the above times may very likely be wrong by some months at the end of the century.

This is by far the most interesting meteor-stream we have to deal with as yet, and the study of its special perturbations would seem to be well worth making. After the passage of the double comet in 1852, the Academie des sciences de St. Petersbourg offered a prize (Astr. nachr., xxxviii. 95) for a full discussion of the whole theory of the comet from its discovery in 1826 to its expected re-appearance in 1859; but no one seems to have undertaken the work at that time. Perhaps its discussion at this day, extended to its perturbations as a diffusing meteor-stream, would be worthy of a prize. H. M. PAUL.

Washington, Dec. 5.

The Biela meteors.

On the evening of Friday, Nov. 27, at 6.15, I observed a meteoric shower of considerable proportion. In taking a casual glance at the heavens after tea, my attention was at once attracted by several meteors, which followed in such rapid succession that I was able to count twenty in less than five minutes. They appeared all over the heavens, and, among the great number observed during less than half an hour, the radiant point of but one was other than in the con

stellation Perseus. My observations were unavoidably interrupted. At 10 o'clock I again scanned the heavens, but the shower had then subsided. ROBERT D. SCHIMPFF.

Scranton, Penn., Nov. 28.

Natural gas in Illinois.

In an editorial note in Science for Nov. 20, there is a reference to the failure of the natural gas-wells in Champaign county, Ill. In all, there are only about a dozen gas-wells in this county. In two, which are near together, the pressure is about twenty-five pounds per square inch: in the others it is only a few pounds. After personally investigating a number of wells, the writer concludes that there has been no marked decrease in the supply, the failure of any particular well being due to an accumulation of mud and water rather than to an exhaustion of the supply. With one exception, all the wells require pumping out every two or three months. The gas is nearly pure marsh-gas, and is found at a depth of 70 to 90 feet, in a layer of loam from 3 to 12 feet thick. Inferences drawn from the Champaign county wells are inapplicable to the Pittsburg wells.

Near Litchfield, this state, natural gas has been found which in quantity, quality, and source, is similar to that of Pittsburg. I. O. BAKER.

University of Illinois.

International geological congress at Berlin.

I have just read in Science for Oct. 30 your interesting article on the international geological congress at Berlin. Will you permit me to point out one error which has escaped your attention? It is in regard to the bracketed clause which comes at the end of the first column on p. 378: the lower . . . beds.' This phrase is inaccurate. Professor Geikie asked for the suppression of the words 'lower carboniferous' and 'calciferous sandstone.' I accepted this without opposition because it was expressly understood that the typical localities referred to in my report (Kilborkan, Marwood, Pilton, Dura Den) ought to be included in the upper Devonian, as the report of the commission defines it.

As to the following sentence, The whole paragraph (c) was afterward suppressed,' I do not know upon what it could have been founded. I have not the least recollection that there was any suggestion of the suppression of that paragraph, and you can be sure that such a proposition would have given rise to an animated discussion. G. DEWALQUE. Liége, Nov. 13.

The English sparrow.

The American ornithologists' union has collected evidence from all parts of the country where the English sparrow occurs, and has published a report based upon their investigations. As I stated in Science (No. 144), they have urged that laws be passed against it, looking to its entire extermination. Acting upon this advice and upon experience with the pest, several states have repealed their protective laws, and the bird is now under the ban. Every one who has seen the bird in the east knows that it drives away native birds, destroys fruit, and is disagreeable in every way.

In regard to a means of destruction, let every

state offer a small bounty for birds and eggs, and the small boys will do the work. A bird is not at all comparable with locusts or mosquitoes. Intelligence, or instinct as we may call it, makes the vast difference. We might persecute insects till the end of time, and they would still come upon us each year; but birds are very quick at seeing whether or not they are wanted. If they are persecuted, they instinctively draw away from man, as in the case of the crow. We may not be able to entirely rid ourselves of the pest, but we can at least succeed in driving them away from the cities; and once get them into the country, where they can be taught to fear the shotgun, and we shall have them at least under our control. They can be driven away from the cities if their nests are demolished as soon as made, and if all the bird-houses are removed. A careful use of poison might also work with advantage, and in the large parks the shotgun in the hands of competent men could be brought into use.

I will add that if any of the readers of Science are troubled with the sparrow in ivy or other vines, by sprinkling red pepper among the leaves they will soon be rid of the pests. This has been tried with RALPH S. TARR.


Washington, D.C., Dec. 4.

The results of shad propagation on the Atlantic coast.

In your issue of Nov. 13, p. 434, I see it stated by Colonel McDonald that the rivers draining into the Atlantic, from Cape Cod to the capes of the Chesapeake, together with the submerged continental border lying between the coast-line and the Gulf Stream, constitute an area "within the limits of which the migrations of the shad are confined."

Is this true? It certainly was not true sixteen years ago; for at that time, I am quite sure, shad were abundant in all the southern rivers. I well remember that they were especially abundant and fine in the Ogeechee, ten miles south of Savannah. I have not been in the southern states in shad season since 1869, and therefore cannot speak from personal observation since that time, but I have no doubt that the same is still true. JOSEPH LECONTE. Berkeley, Cal., Nov. 21.

Crystals in maple sirup.

I send you a photograph, kindly furnished be by Mr. Arthur W. West, of some large crystals which formed on the inside of a glass jar of maple sirup. The sirup was made from the rock maple, Acer saccharinum, during March, 1885, by Elias Fogg, Esq., of Maple Ridge, Sandwich, N.H. As this is the first time that crystals have been noticed to form in the sirup by Mr. Fogg, or any one in Sandwich, I thought it worthy of notice. I would suggest as a theory to account for this crystallization that for the past two or three seasons there has been a considerable drought in that part of New England, and the maple trees have therefore been less gorged with water than formerly, so that the sap is composed of a larger proportion of sugar as it comes direct from the trees. Mr. Fogg says that there has been no difference in the process of making the sirup, but that it keeps better, and is less liable to mould. J. H. SEARS.

Salem, Mass.




THE recently published memoir of Dr. J. Steiner' is an especially important contribution to this very difficult field of research, and one which is likely to have influence not only from its intrinsic merit as an investigation, but also from the unusual literary excellence characterizing the author's presentation of his subject. The frog was chosen for the experiments on account of the comparative simplicity of its brain. The experiments consisted in a series of systematic removals of portions of the brain; and to the thoroughness and patience with which this system of study was executed the success must be attributed. Steiner removed first the hemispheres, and records in his memoir the observed results; next both the hemispheres and optic thalami; then the mid-brain; then the cerebellum; finally the upper part of the medulla. Then follow experiments with asymmetrical removals. Together with the description of each operation is given the account of the physiological phenomena which ensue from it. The discussion of the interpretation of the observations is kept separate, an essential advantage to the reader.

The most important conclusion reached is, that in the anterior portion of the medulla oblongata there is a common centre for the co-ordinated movements of the head, rump, and limbs; or, in other words, that we cannot separate the three centres topographically, and can establish the fact of their organic connection. This central office Steiner names the brain-centre (hirncentrum). ingenious experiments and reasoning he renders it probable that the upper parts of the brain (bigemnia, etc.) contain no general co-ordinating motorcentres, but only sensory centres and pathways; that is to say, they act to the brain-centre the role of centrifugal nerves, and the brain-centre is the only locomotion centre of the body.


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stronger, and there is first a locomotion, and then the well-known reflex wiping motion to remove the irritant; the wiping motion causes the stoppage of the locomotion - the interpretation of this fact is that the brain (locomotion) centre is more readily excited than the reflex centre in the cord, and that the reflex centre inhibits the action of the braincentre. This is another of the increasing number of instances of the reaction consequent upon stimulation of a given part varying with the strength of the stimulus. This discovery already appears to us of very far-reaching significance for the future of nervous physiology.

In a second chapter the author establishes asymmetrical injury of the brain as the cause of compulsory curvilinear motions (mouvements de manège, rollbewegungen, clock finger movements, etc.). For further details we must refer to the interesting original.

Dr. Josef Paneth brings a new contribution' to the solution of the vexed question whether the cortex cerebri of new-born animals is irritable. He attributes Toltmann's negative results, which are accepted in most text-books, to the use of narcotics by that experimenter, and reports thirteen experiments made by himself on dogs, of which eight gave a positive, four a probably positive, and one a negative result. It may be added that animals which are born more advanced in development (as, for instance, guinea-pigs) have been already shown to have an irritable cortex at birth. The only irritable area was half a square centimetre in the region of the sulcus cruciatus. Microscopical examination showed the absence of medullated fibres in this region, so that Toltmann's view that their presence is essential to irritability is not sustained. Paneth's results agree with those previously reached by Lemoine." C. S. MINOT.

GEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF CANADA. THE Dominion of Canada embraces nearly half the continent; but the greater part of this vast area is still a trackless wilderness; and the labors of the geological survey, in its earlier decades, were wisely concentrated upon those districts in the eastern provinces and the valley of the St. Law1 Ueber die erregbarkeit der hirnrinde neugeborener hunde. Von J. PANETH. Pflüg. archiv f. physiol., xxxvii, 202. 2 Lemoine, Contribution à la détermination et à l'étude expérimentale des localisations fonctionelles encéphaliques. Paris, 1880.

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