Page images

their copper only from their plant food. In view of this fact about a dozen species of plants were incinerated. In all cases, whether the portion incinerated was taken from the stem, or the leaves, or fruit, the ash reacted positively.

In general, copper was present only in traces in plants, not at all in amounts comparable to that present in insects. It is probable that the copper ion is inactive in plants, that its presence is due to mechanical storage, and that it plays no active rôle in the physiology of the plant.

It is evident, however, from the experiments performed, that copper is widely distributed in both the plant and animal world. In the former it is present only in traces, and probably inactive, while in the latter it is present in measurable quantities and its rôle appears to be active.

A more detailed account of these investigations will be published in the near future. RICHARD A. MUTTKOWSKI




THE RIGHT HON. F. D. ACLAND recently asked in the House of Commons, as we learn from Nature, whether the lord president of the council "is aware that dissatisfaction is being expressed by scientific workers with the appointment of a man without scientific qualifications as director of research to the Glass Research Association; whether, as the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research provides four fifths of the funds of the association, the department was consulted before the appointment was made; and does he approve of the appointment as giving a guarantee that state funds devoted to scientific research will be wisely expended?" Mr. Fisher replied to the question, and his answer included the following statements, which concerned a director for the work called from the United States: (1) The successful candidate has a wide and successful experience of scientific

research into the problems of the glass industry, and is considered by the association to be the man best suited for organizing and directing the research needed by it. (2) The responsibility for the selection of a director of research rests in each case with the research association concerned, and not with the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, which has no power to approve or disapprove the appointment of any individual. (3) The department guarantees three quarters of the expenditure of the research association up to a certain limit, but payment of the grant is conditional, among other things, on the approval by the department of the program of research and of the estimate of expenditure thereon. (4) The advisory council of the department, after considering all the relevant circumstances with great care, recommended the approval of the expenditure involved in this director's appointment.



THE scientific program of the meeting of the National Academy of Sciences, held in Washington on April 25, 26 and 27, has been printed in SCIENCE, and other information concerning the meeting will be published later.

At the business session of April 27, the president of the academy, Dr. Charles D. Walcott, presented his resignation, but at the earnest request of the academy, he consented to serve the remaining two years of his term. The resignation of the foreign secretary, Dr. George E. Hale, was accepted with regret, and with the expression of high appreciation of his able work in that office. Dr. R. A. Millikan was elected foreign secretary, to complete the unexpired term of Dr. Hale. Dr. Hale was elected a member of the council, and Dr. Raymond Pearl was reelected.

The following were elected to membership: Frank Michler Chapman, American Museum of Natural History.

William LeRoy Emmet, General Electric Company, Schenectady, N. Y.

William Draper Harkins, University of Chicago. Ales Hrdlicka, United States National Museum.

Arthur Edwin Kennelly, Harvard University. William George MacCallum, Johns Hopkins University.

Dayton Clarence Miller, Case School of Applied

George Abram Miller, University of Illinois.
Benjamin Lincoln Robinson, Harvard University.
Vesto Melvin Slipher, Lowell Observatory.
Lewis Buckley Stillwell, 100 Broadway, New York.
Thomas Wayland Vaughan, United States Geo-

logical Survey.

Donald Dexter Van Slyke, Rockefeller Institute. Henry Stephens Washington, Geophysical Laboratory.

Robert Sessions Woodworth, Columbia University. Foreign Associates

William Bateson, John Innes Horticultural Institution, Merton Park, Surrey, England.

C. Eijkman, University of Utrecht, Holland.


SCIENCE has been issued weekly from the same press without intermission for over twenty-six years, but it is possible that the present number may be delayed. The widespread strike of compositors for a forty-four hour week affects the offices at Lancaster, Easton and Baltimore, in which a large part of the scientific journals of the United States are printed. The printing office will do all in its power to bring out the number at the regular time, and at present the pressmen are at work. In order to get the number through the press articles in type are being used with the exception of a few news notes. This unfortunately requires the postponement of the publication of accounts of the recent meetings of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Chemical Society, the Executive Committee of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Joint Committee on Conservation and other material of current interest. It may be noted that the advertisements are in type, and advertisers have been requested to continue to use the same copy, so that no sacrifice of reading matter is made for the advertisements. The number is, how ever, reduced by eight pages to facilitate its publication.


Ar the recent meeting of the American Chemical Society at Rochester, Professor Charles F. Chandler and Dr. William H. Nichols were unanimously elected honorary members of the society.

DR. SIMON FLEXNER, director of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, has been elected an honorary fellow of The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene of London at a meeting of the council of that society, held on April 8, 1921.

THE William H. Nichols medal of the New York section of the American Chemical Society was presented to Professor Gilbert M. Lewis, dean of the department of chemistry of the University of California on May 6. The program was: "The man and his work,"” remarks by Arthur B. Lamb, John Johnston; presentation of medal by John E. Teeple; acceptance and address, Color and molecular structure," by Professor Lewis.

[ocr errors]

THE Royal Geographical Society of Great Britain, with the approval of the King, has awarded to Vilhjalmur Stefansson their Founder's Medal for his "distinguished services to the Dominion of Canada in the exploration of the Arctic ocean." The medal is to be presented at the anniversary meeting of the society in London on May 30. Mr. Stefansson will then be on a lecture tour in the western United States and consequently unable to attend, and it is expected that the High Commissioner for Canada will receive the medal on his behalf, as the Stefansson Arctic expedition of 1913-1918, of which this award is a recognition, was a Canadian naval expedition.

[ocr errors][merged small]

THE meeting of the Academy of Sciences of Cuba on March 26 was a special session in honor of the return of Dr. Juan Guiteras from his mission to Africa to study yellow fever and other tropical diseases on behalf of the Rockefeller Foundation. It will be remembered that General Gorgas started with him, died in London.

UNDER the auspices of the Rockefeller Foundation Major-Gen. Sir Wilmot Herringham, consulting physician to St. Bartholomew's Hospital, vice-chancellor of the University of London, and Sir Walter Fletcher, senior demonstrator in physiology, Cambridge University, are traveling over the United States to study medical and scientific institutions for the British government.

THE biological expedition to Spitzbergen, organized in Oxford University, is to set out in June, under the leadership of the Rev. F. C. R. Jourdain, and will devote its attention principally to ornithological work.

PROFESSOR ARTHUR H. GRAVES, collaborator, Office of Investigations in Forest Pathology, Bureau of Plant Industry, U. S. Department of Agriculture, and formerly assistant professor of botany in the Sheffield Scientific School and Yale School of Forestry, has accepted the appointment as curator of public instruction at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to begin September 1, 1921.

DR. R. A. MILLIKAN, of the University of Chicago, delivered the first annual address before the Crowell Scientific Society of Trinity College, Durham, N. C., April 28. This society is a reorganization of the general scientific society which had been in existence for the past thirty years. Physicists and students from various parts of the state were in attendance.

DR. DAVID WHITE, chief geologist of the United States Geological Survey, delivered a lecture on the "Deposition of oil shales and cannels," at the School of Mines of Pennsylvania State College on April 29.

PROFESSOR ALBERT EINSTEIN, lectured at the University of Chicago on May 3, 4, and 5.

The general subject of his lectures was "The Theory of Relativity."

WILLIAM ROBERT BROOKS, director of the Smith Observatory since 1888, and professor of astronomy at Hobart College since 1900, died at his home in Geneva, N. Y., on May 3, at the age of eighty-five years.

DR. ALBERT C. HALE, formerly for twentynine years head teacher in the department of physical science at the Boys' High School, Brooklyn, secretary of the American Chemical Society for thirteen years, died on April 22 at the age of seventy-five years.

CAPTAIN E. W. CREAK, C.B., F.R.S., formerly superintendent of compasses in the British Admiralty, died on April 3 at the age of eighty-four years.


THE State Legislature of Texas passed an act which has now been approved by the governor appropriating one million, three hundred and fifty thousand dollars to be used in buying property adjacent to the present campus of the University of Texas. It is expected that about 120 acres, a considerable part of which is residence property, will be purchased.

MRS. RANSOHOFF, the widow of Dr. Joseph Ransohoff, former professor of surgery at the medical college, has given $25,000 to the medical college of Cornell University toward an endowment fund for the establishment of a chair of surgery and anatomy. The money will be used as a nucleus for such an endow ment, the minimum of which is estimated at $150,000.

DR. PAUL H. M.-P. BRINTON, of the chemical department of the University of Arizona, has been appointed professor of analytical chemistry in the University of Minnesota.

DR. R. W. SHUFELDT has been elected professor in nature study in the summer school of the George Washington University.

DR. JOHN EDWARD ANDERSON, instructor in psychology at Yale University, has been promoted to an assistant professorship.



DOUBTLESS practically all scientific workers favor general use of the decimal or metric system of weights and measures. Obviously there are certain unavoidable difficulties, both psychological and economic, which must be overcome before this end can be attained. It seems inconsistent, then, for users of the system to add unnecessarily, even in small degree, to the popular prejudice against the change.

Just such an unnecessary minor difficulty is produced by a common American practise in the pronunciation of metric names containing the prefix cent-. As a matter of history, it is true, these names came to us from the French; they could just as well, however, have been taken directly into English from the Latin and Greek. In most respects these words are already, by common consent, fully Anglicized; we never employ the French syllabic stress, nor do we use the French sound of the r or the i or the second e in centimeter. Why, then, should we ever say "sänt" (sahnt), approximating the sound. in centime, for the straightforward English "sent" (as in center)? Although this hybrid pronunciation is (for example) not recognized by the Funk and Wagnalls "New Standard Dictionary," it is certainly widely prevalent in this country, and it doubtless adds a little to the unthinking popular prejudice against the metric system as a ""high-brow" foreign innovation. The same considerations apply to the word centigrade, which has come into English by the same route.

In various other English words, such as ·cental, centipede, and centenary, cent is regularly pronounced as in the case of the name of our monetary unit. The only excuse for a different practise for the metric system is the fact that these words were first used by the French. They are truly international words, however, and as a matter of practical convenience they should be naturalized in each

language in which they are used. Any attempt at precise international uniformity for such words is obviously predestined to failure, except as this uniformity comes with the general adoption of an international auxiliary language such as Esperanto-and even when this happens the usage of "national" languages will probably remain unchanged.

And while we are about it, in conformity with the definite trend of modern English usage, can we not all agree to drop the "me" from gram (me), and to write meter rather than metre?




TO THE EDITOR OF SCIENCE: In SCIENCE for March fourth an eminent astronomer speaks of the "strong probability that intelligent life exists in abundance throughout the universe." May I inquire where I can secure any evidence in support of this statement? I should like to know upon what grounds I may assert that life exists anywhere but upon this earth. Secondly, how may I know it is intelligent? And thirdly, how may I know that it exists in abundance? The whole assertion savors to me of newspaper pseudo-science.



TO THE EDITOR OF SCIENCE: On April 4 I had the pleasure of suggesting by letter directly to Professor Hubert Lyman Clark that he read Professor Simon Newcomb's superb essay of thirteen printed pages on this very old subject, entitled "Life in the Universe," and contained in his volume, "Side-Lights on Astronomy" (Harper and Brothers), pp. 120132, 1906. One of Newcomb's concluding sentences (p. 132) reads, "It is, therefore, perfectly reasonable to suppose that beings, not only animated, but endowed with reason, inhabit countless worlds in space."



The Sumario Compendioso of Brother Juan Diez. The earliest mathematical work of the New World. By DAVID EUGENE SMITH. 1921. Boston and London: Ginn and Company. 65 pages. Price $4.00.

Those who are interested in the earlier mathematical developments only in so far as it can be shown that these developments have contributed directly to the present extent of our mathematical knowledge will find little to interest them in the present small volume. It is not claimed that this volume exhibits any decided step forward in mathematics or that it exerted a great influence on later works devoted to the same subject. There are, however, many mathematicians and historians who will doubtless be very glad to have an opportunity to read in their own language the excellent translation which Professor Smith has here provided of what seems to be "the earliest mathematical work of the New World."

It is desirable that the student of the history of arithmetic should be able to consult original sources. By the publication of the "Rara Arithmetica" about a dozen years ago and by the publication of the present volume Professor Smith has rendered very valuable service to those who desire to consult such sources. The historical notes which appear in these works are exceedingly valuable even if they are often less extended than might appear desirable. In the present volume two pages or less of such notes relate to each of the following four subjects: The Mexico of the period, printing established in Mexico, general description of the book, and nature of the tables.

An important oversight should be noted here in order that the reader may not be misled in regard to the time when the book under review, which was first published in 1556, became known to American educators. Το establish the fact that the reader is seriously exposed to misconception as regards the point in question and also on account of the interest which these statements may command, we quote the first three sentences of the preface.

If the student of the history of education were

asked to name the earliest work on mathematics published by an American press, he might, after a little investigation, mention the anonymous arithmetic that was printed in Boston in the year 1729. It is now known that this was the work of that Isaac Greenwood who held for some years the chair of mathematics in what was then Harvard College. If he should search the records still farther back, he might come upon the American reprint of Hodder's well-known English arithmetic, the first text-book on the subject, so far as known, to appear in our language on this side the Atlantic.

[ocr errors]

As some "student of the history of education" may be assumed to have read the "Rara Arithmetica and noted that on page 286 thereof the work under review was called "the first arithmetic printed in America" it seems strange that such a student should have been overlooked while the said preface was written. One is perhaps still more surprised to find that such an intelligent student was also overlooked when Professor Smith prepared the article relating to the book under review for the last January number of the American Mathematical Monthly as well as when he read a paper before an intelligent audience during the recent meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science at Chicago. On both of these occasions the substance of the part of the preface quoted above was given without any reference to the fact that one of the most interesting elements relating to the subject under consideration had been noted a dozen years earlier in the "Rara Arithmetica."

The emphasis on this oversight in such a public place seems to be justified by the facts that this emphasis may tend to lessen the danger that readers of the book under review will be misled as regards an interesting historical fact, and that one could not condemn in too strong terms one of the motives which might possibly be ascribed to the translator and editor by the reader after discovering that he had been misled by the statements quoted above. Being forewarned such a reader is more likely to attribute these statements to an astounding oversight by an unusually painstaking and careful writer.

Tables make up the greater part of the original work but as they are no longer of

« PreviousContinue »