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Forty-five minutes after decapitation the intestines were perfectly free from motion, and the access of air to the abdominal cavity did not excite it. On excitation of the two vagus nerves, movement of the stomach and intestines was very evident, extending as far as the transverse colon. Longet had supposed that this action of the stomach took place only when it was filled, but in the present case it was entirely empty. On re-excitation, the walls of the stomach folded in plications, and drops of gastric fluid were visible over almost the whole of its surface. The heart beat at the rate of fifty-one pulsations per minute twelve minutes after execution: it ceased entirely at the end of the twentieth minute. These experiments bring nothing unexpected, but they give final confirmation to theories hitherto based only on vivisection of animals, and extended to man by hypothesis. They may also re-assure those physiologists who have feared that conscious life might exist after decapitation by the guillotine.

-The utilization of scrap tin has exercised the minds of many inventors who have seen a fortune in it, if they could only separate the covering metal from the sheet of iron beneath it. It is estimated, says Engineering, that the supply of old and scrap tin at London, Birmingham, Swansea, Wolverhampton, Truro, Liverpool, and Glasgow, amounts to 30,000 tons per year, and that this can be obtained at 5s. per ton, or less. Of this weight, five per cent is pure tin, which, in ingot form, is worth £95 to £100 per ton; while the iron, separated from the tin, is worth about 40s. per ton. Hence 20 tons of scrap, which can be bought for £5, would realize, when the two metals are separated, at least £130, a sum which allows a very good margin to cover the cost of the manufacturing operations. A company, called the Electro metal extracting, refining, and plating company, of 76 Finsbury Pavement, E.C., has been formed to carry out a new process by which the tin is stripped from the iron in a perfectly pure form, while the foundation plate is unattacked. The scrap is placed in a series of baths, through which a current from a dynamo is sent; and while there the white metal is dissolved, and is afterwards recovered in metallic state. It is said that the operations are so inexpensive that a profit of £79 is realized from the treatment of every 20 tons of scrap. The process is also set forth as being applicable to mining refuse, tailings, and slags containing gold, silver, copper, tin, etc., as well as to plating metals with zinc.

- All of the original coast survey plain table sheets of the water-front of New York, Brooklyn, and Jersey City, have been published by photo

lithography on the full scale of the surveys, and are now ready for use. A chart has been prepared, and is now ready for publication, which will fill a long-felt want by supplying in one sheet all of the waters of Washington Territory north of Gray's Harbor. This chart covers the coast from Tacoma to Nanimo.

-Professor Baird and the usual complement of officials composing the summer force of the fish commission left Washington on Tuesday last, July 6, for Wood's Holl, Mass., to be absent till October.

The second number of the Political science quarterly, edited by the faculty of political science of Columbia college, contains the following articles: Andrew Jackson, by Anson D. Morse; The Constitution in civil war, by William A. Dunning, Ph.D.; Ambiguous citizenship, by Hon. William L. Scruggs; The Christian socialist, by Edwin R. A. Seligman, Ph.D.; The legal tender question, by Harry Harmon Neill; Constitutional crisis in Norway, by Prof. John W. Burgess; The conflict in Egypt, I., by John Eliot Bowen, Ph.D.

- The passage of the Suez Canal, which until recently occupied from thirty-six to forty-eight hours, can be made, now that navigation during the night is possible, in sixteen hours for vessels fitted with the electric light apparatus. This important advance is the result of a very interesting report by Commander Hector, of the steamer Carthage, belonging to the Peninsular and oriental company, and addressed to the directors. This report was written after the Carthage made the first continuous passage, under the authorization of the Canal company, given the 1st of December, 1885. The Carthage arrived at Suez after a run from Port Said of eighteen hours. The actual running time was sixteen hours, there having been two delays caused by impediments in the channel: the mean speed made was 5.43 miles per hour. The passage as far as Ismailia was the most interesting, because it was the first attempt to take a large vessel through at night, with the aid of the electric light.


.. Correspondents are requested to be as brief as possible. The writer's name is in all cases required as proof of good faith. The new school of economists and the history of economics.

PERMIT me to make a correction of a misstatement, no doubt inadvertent, in Professor Ely's article in the last issue of Science, on the economic discussion. He says that the new school' of economists" were the first in America to give a proper position to Adam Smith, Ricardo, and Malthus, by the introduction of



courses in the history of political economy into our
And yet, at least as early as 1878, and I
believe for several years before that date, Professor
Dunbar gave at Harvard university an advanced
course in political economy, in which a large part of
the time was occupied with a careful examination of
the history and development of economic doctrines.
The writings of Adam Smith, Ricardo, and Malthus
were naturally given especial attention. The course
of which this historical study was a part has con-
tinued to be given from year to year since it was first
instituted. Other institutions may also have offered
of the same kind; but certainly in this
instance the history and literature of political economy
were studied before the new school had entered the


There is a tendency in the new school to claim for itself perhaps an undue share of credit for the advances in economic thought and economic teaching which have taken place in the last ten or fifteen - a tendency which seems to me to be illustrated years,F. W. TAUSSIG. by Professor Ely's somewhat hasty remark. Newport, July 4.

Sea-level and ocean-currents.

In the number of Science of Jan. 1, I published some notes on the great equatorial westward flow of the earth's atmosphere and its influence upon oceanic circulation. I credited to this great atmospheric current the westward movement of the surface water of the ocean beneath it, and considered the friction of the winds as the most important factor in the whole system of oceanic circulation. In an interesting letter published in Science of Jan. 22, on sealevel and ocean-currents, Mr. William Ferrel states that the theory which attributes the movement of that it is well ocean-currents to the friction of the winds is untenable, saying, among other things,

known that ordinary winds have very little effect in
changing sea-level except in very shallow water."
He fortifies this assertion by quoting, from the re-
port of the chief of engineers, observations which
seem to show that the mean level of the water at
either end of Lake Ontario varies but one-third of
an inch with changes of wind; that the sea level is
precisely the same on both sides of the Isthmus of
Darien; and that the sea-level on the coast of Ireland
is the same in summer and winter, though the more
violent westerly winds of winter should raise that
level if winds were capable of moving and Leaping
up water on a coast.

Though fully appreciating the accuracy and value
of Mr. Ferrel's work, and differing from so high
authority with extreme reluctance, I deem it but
justice to myself to say that the question is by no
means so simple as he represents it, and that there
are many facts which prove, beyond all argument,
the power of wind to move great masses of water,
and to produce all the phenomena of oceanic circu-
lation. For example: for ten years I occupied in
summer a country house on an island in Lake Erie,
and I have more than once known a strong westerly
wind to depress the level of the water in the west
end of the lake, and raise it at Buffalo by two feet or
This means the actual transfer, within a
few hours, of a sheet of water of half the area of
Lake Erie, and one foot in thickness, from the west-
ern to the eastern portion of the lake.


I was once detained at Indianola, Tex., three

days by a norther, which blew the water off the
coast till the harbor was almost dry land.

Again: since this discussion began, violent south-
easterly gales have forced the ocean water into New
York harbor, and raised the water-level six feet or
more, inundating much of the lower portion of the
city, and causing great destruction of property. As
this rise was general along the coast, and was felt
as sensibly at Sandy Hook as at the Battery, it is
evident that we here have proof that wind is capa-
ble of moving vast bodies of water before it, even
where the depth is considerable.

All the facts cited by Mr. Ferrel in support of his
statement are of equivocal bearing on this question.
The sea-level on the isthmus is still under discussion,
and, if it shall be proved to be the same on both
sides, that fact would be as difficult of explanation
on the gravitation as the wind theory.

Capt. John Brown of Put-in-Bay Island reports to
a strong westerly wind sometimes de-
me that "6
presses the water level at Put-in-Bay four feet below
the normal." And Mr. Julius Pohlman of Buffalo
writes me as follows: "I learn from the records of
the signal office here that the heaviest south-west
storms on record raised the waters at this end of
the lake between eight and nine feet above the or-
dinary level.

It is true that more violent winds are encountered
on the Atlantic in winter than in summer, but almost
none of these are continuous across the ocean.
the cyclones are rotary, and the stormis not such are
local and temporary. A change or reversal of direc-
tion of the wind would soon neutralize its effect, and
in winter the antagonistic easterly winds are cor-
respondingly violent on the European coast.
the whole, it is doubtful whether the sum of the
impulses of the westerly wind is much greater in
winter than in summer.

Since the atmosphere presses on the ocean with a
weight of nearly fifteen pounds to the square inch,
it is evident that when the air is moved the friction
This is demonstrated by the rapid
must be great.
raising of ridges of water before a strong wind; and
these ridges are all waves of translation. Waves of
oscillation occur, but they are rare; and the ap-
paratus so frequently employed for illustrating wave-
motion by vertical rods successively lifted is mis-

Mr. Ferrel says, in conclusion, "A continuous wind for some time in any direction causes merely surface currents of considerable velocity;" but it requires no argument to show that such surface currents, if continuous, would infallibly produce a movement of the deeper strata of water in the same direction.

The time estimated by Zöppritz for the transmission of surface motion to the depth of a hundred metres seems to me grossly exaggerated: but even if ten times longer than his estimates, the great equatorial wind, which has doubtless been blowing from east to west since the ocean has had an existence, would be amply sufficient to establish a movement that would form a primum mobile for the whole system of oceanic circulation.

That gravitation is a factor in oceanic circulation is proven by the presence of ice-cold water in the abysses of the ocean under the equator, - water that must have flowed in from the polar regions, but it has seemed to me, and to many others whose opinions are worth more than mine, that it is a much

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Private rescarch and government science.

Since the promulgation and discussion of the bill to curtail the work of the scientific bureaus at Washington, and Mr. Herbert's appeal "to the best literary and scientific thought of the country to come to our aid and join us in the effort to effect a reform and arrest this pernicious tendency," much has been written and said upon this subject.

One of the chief arguments brought to bear by those opposed to the extraordinary scientific progress being made, and the vast amount of scientific work being done by this country at the seat of its government, is, that this work is proving detrimental to private research in similar channels.

Further, it has been said by the opposition that these scientific publications of the U. S. geological survey are valueless in the book-markets of the world; and Mr. Herbert points to that law in the organization of the survey which specifies that it shall sell all its publications not exchanged at cost, and that during the past six years this sale has realized an amount but slightly exceeding fifteen hundred dollars.

Now, one of the best proofs that this scientific activity on the part of the government is in no way checking private research, has been recently brought forward by Professor Agassiz, who laid before this commission of investigation the titles of forty-eight publications of the Museum of comparative zoology at Cambridge, alone,

But perhaps a still better light is thrown upon these two latter questions by an unprejudiced examination of such a catalogue as is published by Dulan & Co. of 37 Soho Square, London. Here we find five of Mr. O. G. Elliot's zoological monographs on sale for five hundred and forty-five dollars, and other evidences of the very highest activity in private research in America on every page. Moreover, to prove that the government publications of this country are not held as being valueless in the book markets of the world, we see any number of the publications of the geological survey, and other scientific bureaus of Washington, on sale in the above catalogue, and being sold at prices fully equalling those of private pulications. That more mouey has not been realized at the survey for the sale of its works, simply speaks in favor of how eagerly they are sought in exchange, leaving but a few copies each year on hand for sale.

The excellent handbooks of geology of this country by Dana and LeConte do not seem to have been suppressed by government interest in this highly important work; and if we run our eyes over the bibliography and illustrations of this science, as set forth in these two volumes, I defy any one to say that the government work is not appreciated, or that private researches in this field are checked. The same holds good for all the other sciences.

I think when the sense of the vote of the "best literary and scientific thought of this country" is taken upon Mr. Herbert's appeal to suppress such works as the paleontological monographs of Marsh,

Ward, White, and others, and the magnificent publications in the bibliography of science undertaken and accurately carried through by our government, there will be an enormous zero on his side of the ticket. Government moneys can be squandered on far worse things in the times of peace, than such schemes as powerfully aid the progress of knowledge, culture, science, and learning. Be it said to the credit of this country that she sees fit to invest her surplus means to the advancement of such ends. R. W. SHUFELDT.

Fort Wingate, N. Mex., June 29.

Expulsion theory of comets.


Mr. Proctor's article in a recent number of the Nineteenth century, on the expulsion theory of comets, leads one to believe that the solution of this problem is not only as far off as ever, but that little headway is being made for a general clearing-up of the mystery.' There are many serious objections to this particular theory of the origin of comets. admit, of course, that the earth and Mars, for instance, or even the moon, may have been at one time scenes of vast fiery eruptions, etc. But that this cast-off matter should go out into space in a burning state, and continue to go out, probably, for a great number of years, then returu, still in a burning state (the alleged comet),-while the hody from which it was expelled, and a much greater size as a matter of course, always remaining in close proximity to the sun, and drawing closer all the time, should cool down and become solid and non-luminous, such as the earth, Mars, or the moon is at the present time,-is certainly something on which Mr. Proctor's theory throws little light. The expelled matter must naturally cool down the same as the body from which it was expelled, and except by accident, considering the distance it would have to travel to meet another source of heat (a sun), we can only come to one conclusion in regard to the expulsion theory, it won't do. G. Brooklyn, June 29.

Flooding the Sahara.


Mr. G. W. Plympton's very interesting and suggestive article on the flooding of the Sahara (Science, vol. vii. pp. 542-544) induced me to make scme numerical estimates, based upon the data furnished by him, which may be of some interest to readers of Science. He shows that the area, which, lying below the Mediterranean, can possibly be flooded by it " (the united areas of the depressed portions), is, by M. Roudaire's measurements, about 3,100 square miles; and the average depth, if flooded, would be 78 feet. Now, assuming the area of the cross-section of the water of the Inlet Canal to be 2,000 square feet, and the average velocity of the inflowing water during the whole time of flooding to be 2 feet per second (not a low estimate), it follows that the average inflow would be 4,000 cubic feet per second=3,456 × 105 cubic feet per day = 1,262,277×10 cubic feet per year.

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Again: 3,100 square miles 864,230×105 square feet; and, the average depth being 78 feet, the amount of water required to flood it to this depth = 67,409,971X105 cubic feet. Consequently such a canal would require 53.4 years to flood the comparatively small and shallow Saharian lake, under the assumption that during the inflow no water was lost by evaporation or by absorption into the porous bed.

In such an arid and hot climate, evaporation alone would probably prolong the time of flooding for hundreds of years: indeed, the time might be prolonged indefinitely, for the loss by evaporation might ultimately be equal to the supply by inflow. We have a case in point in Pyramid Lake, in Nevada, into which the bold and rapid outlet of Lake Tahoe (Truckee River) perpetually flows without flooding it. Of course, by increasing the dimensions of the Inlet Canal, or augmenting the velocity of the inflowing water, the computed time of flooding might be proportionately shortened; but, after all, the feeble efforts of man are insignificant in relation to the great hydraulic systems of nature.

Berkeley, Cal., June 29.


A dissolving smoke-ring.

The remarkable breaking-up of a smoke-ring from a locomotive in Chicago was observed by me, a few days since, in company with a mechanical engineer of New York, whose estimate of size and height I adopt. The ring rose to an elevation of about one hundred and fifty feet, and attained a diameter of twenty or twenty-five feet, as nearly as could be estimated. It broke up suddenly with a rush of the smoke along the line of the ring toward two centres; namely, the smoke of the south half coming together in the centre of that half of the line, and the smoke of the north half correspondingly to a centre in the north. After these momentary and confused aggregations, all semblance of form disappeared. A vortex ring is different from the theoretic planetary ring breaking up into satellites, but aggregation of the dissolving smoke-ring is suggestive. Grinnell, Io.


Surface tension and muscular contraction. I would offer as an attempt to explain the nature of muscular contraction the bypothesis that the contraction is due to the phenomena of surface tension.

By surface tension of a liquid is meant a peculiarity presented by its surface, due to a difference in state between the molecules in the surface and those in the interior of the liquid. That there must be an essential difference between the surface of a mass and its interior follows from the fact that the molecular forces acting on any particle within the mass are equal in every direction, and so must balance one another; while the particles in the surface film, having no particles above them, are acted on only from below and at the sides, and so are constantly drawn down against the mass: so that the liquid must be under a definite surface tension.

This surface film behaves as a perfectly elastic membrane stretched in every direction by equal tensions, and takes the form of smallest area consistent with the conditions. This tendency of the film to become as small as possible is well illustrated by the soap-bubble, which may be considered as a layer of water with two surface films. So, when left to its own molecular forces, a drop of liquid assumes that form having the smallest superficies, with a given content, which is the sphere.

When a drop of liquid rests upon a surface which it does not wet, it assumes the form of a sphere more or less flattened out; and the greater the surface tension of the liquid forming the drop is, the more

nearly does it approach the spherical form, and whatever alters its surface tension causes a corresponding alteration in the form of the drop.

Many substances, even in small quantity, exert a considerable influence on the surface tension of liquids.

If a drop of water resting upon a greasy surface, which it does not wet, be touched with a little alcohol, its surface tension is diminished, and it immediately spreads out over a larger area; but. when the alcohol evaporates, the surface tension of the water is increased, and it again contracts into a more globular form.

Remarkable changes in form are caused when a globule of mercury is electrically polarized. In organic substances the surface tension increases with the increase of certain elements entering into their composition, and diminishes with the increase or diminution of others; e.g., in butyric acid and acetic anhydride the increase of oxygen and diminution of hydrogen increase the surface tension.

Now, to see the bearing of this upon the contraction of a muscular fibre, it is necessary to remember that the surface tension of a liquid may be changed by a change in its composition, that the contracting elements of a muscular fibre are the cells, and that the composition of the cells is changed at the time of a contraction.

The cells are of an oblong shape extended in the axis of contraction; and when contraction occurs the cells grow shorter and thicker, just as an oblong drop of water grows shorter and thicker when its surface tension is increased.

Now, a tendency to contraction must follow an increase in the surface tension of the cell; and that there probably are changes in the surface tension of the cell during contraction, follows from the fact that there are chemical changes in the cell, more rapid during contraction than rest. The changes occurring in acting muscle may be identical with those in resting muscle; but in resting muscle, restoration keeps pace with destruction, while in contraction, destruction largely exceeds restoration : so any thing hastening the decompositions within the cell may cause con


Exhaustion is explained by the accumulation of products of decomposition, since fatigue in muscles in which circulation has ceased may be readily removed by renewing the current of blood.

This hypothesis may be thus summed up: the active shortening of the fibre is due to an increase in the surface tension of the substance of the cell, caused by an increase in the proportional amount of the products of decomposition. Equilibrium is restored after the stimulus which hastened the chemical changes has ceased by a part of the products of decomposition finding their way into the blood-current, and possibly by the remaining products helping to build up the original compound. Buffalo, N.Y., June 25.


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FRIDAY, JULY 9, 1886.


No one can visit Cambridge this summer without remembering that two hundred and fifty years ago an acorn was here planted from which an oak has grown. No scholar can come from a distant state without wishing to offer his tribute, however inadequate it may be, to the wisdom which has governed the counsels of Harvard through eight generations. A graduate of Yale will, I trust, be pardoned for associating the name of his own alma mater with that of her elder sister. Their united influence has not only been strong in New England, but strong in other portions of the land. It is difficult to surmise what would have been the condition of American society if these foundations had never existed. Their graduates have promoted the literature, the science, the statesmanship, and the religion of the land; but more than this is true. Their methods of instruction, their unwritten laws, their high endeavors, and their academic spirit have re-appeared in each new state of the west, as each new state bas initiated its social order. To be governed by the experience of Harvard and Yale is in many an educational court an appeal to common law. To establish another Harvard or another Yale, to nurture the germ from which a great university might grow, has been the aspiration of many a patriot, of many a Christian. It was a laureate of both Harvard and Yale, the sagacious Manasseh Cutler, who initiated the policy of securing in the states beyond the Alleghanies a certain portion of the public lands for the foundation of universities. Among the pioneers of California was one who went from New England with college on the brain; and now every ship which enters the Golden Gate faces the buildings of a university which Henry Durant did much to establish.


The history of higher education as guided by the two oldest foundations in this country may be considered in four periods: in the first, extending from the earliest settlement until the revolution, the English college idea was dominant in its simplest form; the second, following the severance of allegiance to the crown, was the time when profes

1 An address before the Phi Beta Kappa society of Harvard college, July 1, 1886, by Daniel C. Gilman, president of the Johns Hopkins university.

sional schools in medicine, law, and theology were begun; the third, beginning about the middle of this century, was marked by the formation of scientific schools; and in the present period we are looking for the fulfilment of the university ideal, brought hither by the earliest immigrants from England.

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The colonial vocabulary was modest. Whatever else it might be, university' seemed a very great noun, to be used as guardedly as episcopacy' or 'sovereignty.' In the earliest mention I remember of the cradle of Harvard, the alternative is found, 'a school or colledge;' and in Connecticut, 'collegiate school' was in vogue for seventeen years. "We on purpose gave your academy as low a name as we could that it might the better stand in wind and weather," said the well-known civilians who were consulted in 1701 by Pierpont and his colleagues at the mouth of the Quinnipiac. Elsewhere, under other influences, there was not the Several same caution, nor the same success. years before the settlement of Massachusetts Bay. the Virginia company determined to set apart, at Henrico, ten thousand acres of land for a university,' including one thousand for a college for the children of the infidels.' There was another project for a university as early as 1624, which has lately been brought to light. Dr. E. D. Neill, in Virginia Vetusta,' calls attention to the fact that an island in the Susquehanna, which the traveller may see to the north as he crosses the railroad-bridge at Havre de Grace, was conditionally given for "the foundinge and maintenance of a universitie and such schools in Virginia as shall there be erected and shall be called Academia Virginiensis et Oxoniensis." The death of the projector, Edward Palmer, interrupted his plans.

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Mr. Dexter has established the fact, that, before 1647, nearly a hundred graduates of English universities had migrated to New England, threefourths of whom were from Cambridge; and the elaborate volumes of Mullinger exhibit in great fulness the conditions of collegiate and university life as they were known to these Cambridge wanderers in the earliest half of the seventeenth century. It is evident that the university idea was then subordinate to the collegiate; logic was riding a high horse; science and literature, as then represented by mathematics and Greek, were alike undervalued. An anecdote recorded by Mullinger reveals at a glance the situation. "Seth Ward,

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