Page images

H. Bragg, F.R.S., and on October 13 Dr. Wolf will begin an introductory course of lectures on general history and development of science; this course will be illustrated by lantern slides, and visits will be made to museums. On October 12 at 5.15 P.M., Dr. Charles Singer will begin a course of twelve lectures on the history of the biological and medical sciences from early times till the eighteenth century. Dr. Singer's intention is to make his course a history of medical science, for down to a certain date the biological sciences are inseparable from medicine; he will omit all discussion of social phenomena and personalities. The history of the biological sciences since the eighteenth century will be dealt with by Professor J. B. Hill, F.R.S., in a course of six lectures, beginning next May.

THE Carnegie Institute of Technology of Pittsburgh is completing the most elaborate coal mining laboratory in America. The laboratory, which will be finished by the opening of the fall term, is located beneath the building of the division of science and engineering of the institute. The equipment comprises a full-sized coal mine-a model mine, except that it yields no coal-a mine locomotive and a full set of coal and metal mine machinery, that has been furnished by manufacturers. In addition to the mining laboratories proper there will be a completely equipped ore-dressing and coal-washing plant. It is purposed to extend the mine, during the practise work of the students, along such a plan that it can be utilized for carrying some of the steam and water pipes of the institute.


FROM October 7 through the 17, the University of Buffalo conducted an intensive campaign among the citizens of the city for a fund of five million dollars, to be used partly for endowment and partly for additional buildings. The "drive" was a complete success, and a total of about $5,500,000

was subscribed. The campaign was conducted in the absence of an educational head, Charles P. Norton, having resigned as chancellor of the university early in the summer. He was elected vice-chancellor in 1905, and chancellor in 1909. In his administration a new site for the university was secured, and the new buildings will be erected on a campus of 150 acres at the city line. A committee of the council is charged with the duty of securing a new chancellor.

DR. WALTER T. TAGGART, for many years professor of organic chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, has been elected to succeed Dr. Edgar Fahs Smith as Blanchard professor of chemistry at that institution. Dr. Smith resigned as provost and professor of chemistry last June. Professor Taggart is now the head of the chemical department of the university.

DR. EDWARD WYLLYS TAYLOR, professor of neurology in the Harvard Medical School, has been appointed to the James Jackson Putnam professorship.

MISS GLADYS BRYANT (Radcliffe '17), has become demonstrator in general physiology at Rutgers College.

THE department of chemistry of Cooper Union announces the appointment to its staff of William N. Pritchard, formerly with the Calco Company, Boundbrook, N. J., and of Harold Hurst, formerly with the Le Doux Company.

DR. ERNEST ANDERSON, for the past three years professor of Agricultural chemistry in Transvaal University College, Pretoria, has been appointed professor of general chemistry in the University of Nebraska.

J. B. FERGUSON has left the research laboratories of the Western Electric Company, of New York City, to accept an appointment as associate professor of research chemistry at the University of Toronto.

PROFESSOR ALBERT EINSTEIN, of the University of Berlin, has accepted the chair of science in the University of Leiden. He will divide his time between the two institutions.


IN examining copies of SCIENCE which accumulated during the vacation just closed, a contribution on the "Use of the Term Fossil" in the number of date June 25 has attracted my attention and challenges criticism.

The definition proposed by Professor Field in this contribution is faulty in that it errs in the time concept. He has committed the popular error of considering "historic" synonymous with the present geological epoch. The remains of an animal or plant may antedate human history (be prehistoric) by many thousands of years without belonging to a past geological epoch.

In constructing a definition of the term fossil, it is difficult to improve upon the essential ideas connoted by the term as used by Dr. Karl Von Zittel in his "Palaeozoologie." According to this authority fossils need not be mineralized, nor the remains of extinct organisms, but must possess a certain antiquity-they must have come down to us from a geological age earlier than the present.

We would propose then as a concise definition of fossil, "Any trace of an organism that lived in a past geological age."

While agreeing that accuracy in scientific definition is an object worth striving to attain, we can not concur with Professor Field in objecting to a use of certain scientific terms in a derived sense-commonly figurative. Language is being constantly enriched by such usage.

The expression "fossil botanist" may be criticized as objectional, because ambiguous, but "fossil ripple marks," "fossil suncracks,' "fossil flood plains" (Shimer) are illuminating and apt and are valued contributions to geological phraseology. It is futile to inveigh against such usage or against "literary persons for coining the terms "fossil poetry" and "fossil statesman." Rather should we rejoice in this evidence that our science is not altogether out of touch with modern life. Whether we approve or not, such expressions have come to stay. Not only

new words, but old words with a new meaning content are being constantly introduced into a growing language. Words simply will not stay tied, but as Archbishop Trench put it are, as regards their meanings, "constantly drifting from their moorings." The term fossil, itself, is an illustration in point; also the names of certain fossils, as belemnite, ammonite and nummulite, which embody original erroneous conceptions as to their


As an illustration of a fossil that as the result of refusing to be straight jacketed has made an important contribution to English we have mammoth, from the Tartar word maimon. In the space of about one hundred years this word has given us in its adjective use a synonym for huge so thoroughly incorporated into our speech that few people recognize its exotic character. It may be of interest to some to learn that the first recorded use of the name of this animal in an adjective sense was in Kentucky. John Filson in describing Big Bone Lick in his History of Kentucky, written in 1784, referred to the animal as maimon. Within three years, however, we find Thomas Jefferson and others, also in describing Big Bone Lick, calling the animal mammoth. Within twentyfive years from this time we find the word beginning to be used as an adjective in the sense of very large. The earliest recorded instance of its use in this sense in in 1812, when in a deed it was applied to a very large saltpeter cave in what is now Edmonson but was then Warren county, Kentucky. That this use of the word had not spread to England by 1818 is evidenced by a passage in the letters of James Flint, who writing to England at that date and referring to this large cave in Kentucky remarks that "they call it Mammoth Cave, but why I do not know, for there are no mammoth bones found there." Evidently at that time the use of the word in the sense of large was too much of an Americanism to be comprehended by this Englishman.





MR. PARTRIDGE's declaration (SCIENCE, Sept. 17, 1920) that " we do not know exactly what experiment Galileo performed" from the leaning tower of Pisa appears to me too sweeping. In the first place, Vincenzio Viviani, in his life of Galileo, speaks of "repeated experiments" not of one "experiment." A series of trials is what one would pect. It is highly improbable that Galileo would perform an experiment before a university assembly which he had not previously tried out. The historic data are as follows: (1) Viviani tells us that Galileo at the leaning tower of Pisa used "different weights"; (2) Galileo in his "De Motu" (probably written before he left Pisa) speaks of dropping wood and lead from a high tower; (3) In his "Dialogues concerning two new Sciences," Galileo lets Sagredo say:

But I, Simplicio, who have made the test can assure you that a cannon ball weighing one or two hundred pounds, or even more, will not reach the ground by as much as a span ahead of a musket ball weighing only half a pound, provided both are dropped from a height of 200 cubits.

Later Salviati says that "the larger (iron ball) outstrips the smaller by two fingerbreadths." On the remark of Simplicio that perhaps the result would be different if the fall took place "from some thousands of cubits," Salviati replies:

If this were what Aristotle meant you would burden him with another error . . . since there is no such sheer height available on earth.

It is true that in the above 66 Dialogue" Galileo does not give the place of experimentation and does not mention the leaning tower. But what other locality in Pisa would have been as favorable? From the above data it follows that Galileo dropped different weights of a variety of materials and noticed which of them fell faster.

1 Translation by H. Crew and A. De Salvio, New York, 1914, pp. 62, 65, "First Day."

[blocks in formation]

If the Einstein conception of space is multidimensional and inclusive of the essential conceptions of time and place, then Jonathan Edwards, whom John Fiske characterized as the greatest mind of the Western World, may prove to be the spiritual father of this geometry. Thus wrote Jonathan Edwards:1

Supposing that there are two Particles or Atoms of Matter perfectly equal and alike, which God has placed in different Parts of the Creation. . . . If they are perfectly equal and alike in themselves, then they can be distinguished or be distinct only in those Things which are called Circumstances; as Place, Time, Rest, Motion, or some other present or past Circumstances or Relations. . . . If God makes two bodies in themselves every Way equal and alike, and agreeing perfectly in all other Circumstances and Relations but only their Place. then in this only is there any Distinction and Duplicity. The Figure is the same, the Measure is the same, the Solidity and Resistance are the same, and every Thing the same, but only the Place. The Difference of Place, in this (the former) Case,


2 Antonio Favaro, “Amici e Corrispondenti di Galileo Galilei, XXIX. Vincenzio Viviani." Venezia, pp. 8-19.

1"A Careful and Strict Enquiry into the modern prevailing Notions of that Freedom of the Will which is supposed to be essential to Moral Agency, Vertue and Vice, Reward and Punishment, Praise and Blame, 1754, p. 243; "Of God's Placing differently Similar Particles."'

proves no more than the Difference of Time does in an (the) other.

Edwards, about to become president of the College of New Jersey, and at this date writing as a missionary to the Indians; "Pastor of the Church in Stockbridge," has in the same chapter, these Princetonian thoughts on evolution suggested by Sir Isaac Newton's "Laws of Motion & Gravitation."

Let us suppose two Bodies moving the same Way, in strait Lines, perfectly parallel one to another; but to be diverted from this Parallel Course, and drawn one from another, as much as might be by the Attraction of an Atom, at the Distance of one of the furthest of the fix'd Stars from the Earth; these Bodies being turned out of the Lines of their parallel Motion, will, by Degrees, get further and further distant, one from the other; and tho' the Distance may be imperceptible for a long Time, yet at Length it may become very great. So the Revolution of a Planet round the Sun being retarded or accelerated, and the Orbit of it's Revolution made greater or less, and more or less elliptical, and so it's Periodical Time longer or shorter, no more than may be by the Influence of the least Atom, might in Length of Time perform a whole Revolution sooner or later than otherwise it would have done; which might make a vast Alteration with Regard to Millions of important Events. So the Influence of the least Particle may, for ought we know, have such Effect on something in the Constitution of some human Body, as to cause another Thought to arise in the Mind at a certain Time, than otherwise would have been; which in Length of Time (yea, and that not very great) might occasion a vast Alteration thro' the whole World of Mankind.

Thus the describer of the Ballooning Spiders. Einstein, Conklin; Behold your King!


J. M. C.

"Fundamentals of Botany" but with considerable new matter added and much of the old recast. An account of the life history of the fern lays the foundation for a discussion of cell structure and the fundamentals of cell behavior in reproduction and at the critical periods of fertilization and reduction. Then comes a chapter on heredity followed by a consideration of results from experimental studies of Mendel, Johannsen, and others.

Chapters entitled "Evolution," "Darwinism" and "Experimental Evolution" give the views of Lamarck, Darwin, Wallace and de Vries. The statement of the mutation theory of de Vries is excellent but there is nothing to indicate to the reader how difficult it is to distinguish between mutations and the results of segregation in impure species the breeding behavior of which is complicated by the presence of lethal factors. There is no reference to the remarkable genetical complications which are known for Enothera material rendering it among the most interesting and puzzling under investigation although correspondingly less favorable for the demonstration of mutations.

The latter half of the book considers the evolutionary history of the plant kingdom from evidence supplied by comparative morphology and life histories, geographical distribution, and paleobotany. In this section is brought together much scattered information which together with the discussion is likely to prove of particular interest to the general reader not familiar with geographical botany and with the striking contributions of recent years from studies of ancient plant remains. BRADLEY M. DAVIS


SCIENTIFIC BOOKS Heredity and Evolution in Plants. By C. STUART GAGER. Philadelphia, 1920. P. Blakiston's Son and Co. Pp. xiii+265. Figs. 113.

This very readable book is in part a reprint of certain sections of the author's




METEOROLOGY, until recent years, has been largely a two-dimensional science. Indeed, so strongly has the conception become rooted in the minds of meteorologists, that now, when

the data from soundings of the upper air are becoming available in fairly large quantity, it is necessary to engage in a careful study to determine the most profitable and intelligent way to use them. In recent years, aerological work has been steadily advancing to its place in the forefront of meteorological endeavor, and to-day most national meteorological services have established, or are establishing, aerological divisions. In other words, it is realized that probably the real controls of surface weather lie somewhere in the upper air.

The first aerological work in the United States was done at Blue Hill Observatory, near Boston, under the directorship of Rotch. In 1907, the United States Weather Bureau established a station at Mt. Weather, Virginia. That station, which has a record of frequent kite flights and aerial soundings by captive balloons, was discontinued after seven years. Other stations have been established, however, at Drexel, Nebraska; Ellendale, North Dakota; Broken Arrow, Oklahoma; Groesbeck, Texas; Royal Center, Indiana; and Leesburg, Georgia. The data from the many thousands of kite flights made at these stations have been and are being published in the Supplements of the Monthly Weather Review. These data include temperatures, pressures, moisture content, wind speed and direction, at various levels in the free-air. It should be said, however, that one of the inherent features of kite data is that they represent conditions in moderate winds only, since kites can not be flown in very light or very strong winds.

A convenient summary of the work of the Drexel Aerological Station was recently published in the Monthly Weather Review.1 The purpose of the summary, says Mr. Gregg, is to present in brief and convenient form for the information and use of artillery and

[ocr errors]

1 Gregg, Willis Ray, "Average free-air conditions as observed by means of kites at Drexel Aerological Station, Nebr., during the period November, 1915 to December, 1918, inclusive,' Monthly Weather Review, January, 1920, pp. 1–11. Reprints may be obtained upon application to the Chief of the Weather Bureau, Washington, D. C.

aviation services the results of free-air observations that have been secured by means of kites at Drexel, Nebraska." There are many tables and charts. The values obtained are the means of 1,074 kite flights. The author, in his synopsis, says:

A discussion of the reliability of the data indicates that instrumental and observational errors have been largely eliminated; that the monthly distribution is good; that the diurnal distribution is less satisfactory, but probably fairly representative, at any rate for all levels a short distance above the surface; but that, owing to the shortness of the period under consideration and its wide departures at times from normal conditions, some of the monthly means can not be considered as normal values. These irregularities largely disappear, however, in the seasonal and annual averages; and the latter, especially, may be accepted as closely approximating true conditions.

Now that a number of years' data have accumulated, what are the benefits which may accrue from a study of them? Among others, there are two problems, which may be considered: one is of immediate importance, the other is an old one, long recognized, but attacked only at rare intervals, and with varying success. The first concerns itself with forecasting for aviation, the second with the reduction of pressure in the Plateau region of western United States. They represent only two of the many problems, the solution of which aerological data may aid.

A paper on the question of making pressure maps for stated levels in the free-air as aids in forecasting winds aloft for the use of aviation and as a suggested panacea for the long-recognized reduction difficulties in western United States, has just appeared.2 The central idea about which the work is built is that the Laplacian hypsometric formula requires a value to be substituted for the term representing the mean temperature of the air column which exactly satisfies its definition. Reductions to sea-level obviously can not do

2 Meisinger, C. LeRoy, "Preliminary Steps in the Making of Free-air Pressure and Wind Charts,'' Monthly Weather Review, May, 1920, pp. 251-263.

« PreviousContinue »