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We learn from the Journal of the American Mathematical Society that the technical staff of the United States Ordnance Department has been authorized to secure the services of five experts in mathematics and dynamics, at salaries ranging from $2,500 to $5,000, to conduct scientific research on ordnance problems, act as advisers on all mathematical and scientific problems, for the ordnance department, and keep up connections between the department and the scientific world.
UNIVERSITY AND EDUCATIONAL
GEORGE EASTMAN, head of the Eastman Kodak Company, has given the sum of $3,500,000 for the establishment of a school of music in connection with the University of Rochester. The school will aim to aid the development of an appreciation of the highest type of motion pictures as an ally of the highest type of music. It is stated in Nature that to a private deputation from the Education Committee of the Parliamentary Labor party, which urged upon him the desirability of an inquiry into the organization and financial position of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, Mr. Fisher has made the announcement that the government has decided to appoint commissions to inquire into the position of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. At both universities the existing resources have proved inadequate to meet the increased cost of maintenance of the various departments, and a few months ago the authorities of each independently applied to the government for financial aid. In reply to these requests Mr. Fisher, on behalf of the government, stated that such grants out of Parliamentary funds could be sanctioned only on the condition that in due course comprehensive inquiries into the whole resources of the universities and their colleges and the use made of them should be instituted by the government. The Cambridge senate on May 31 authorized the vice-chancellor to inform Mr. Fisher that the university would welcome a comprehensive inquiry into its financial resources, and at Oxford a similar decision was taken by convocation on June 10.
DR. ERNEST SACHS, hitherto associate professor of surgery in the medical school of Washington University, St. Louis, has been appointed professor of clinical neurological surgery in the same institution. This is the
first instance in which any medical school has recognized neurological surgery by creating for it a separate department.
DR. L. J. GILLESPIE, of the Bureau of Plant Industry, has been appointed professor of physical chemistry in Syracuse University.
DR. N. A. LANGE, formerly instructor in organic chemistry at the University of Michigan has been appointed assistant professor of organic chemistry at the Case School of Applied Science, Cleveland.
DR. HARRY D. KITSON, instructor in psychology at the University of Chicago, has accepted the position at Indiana University made vacant by Professor E. C. Lindley, who accepted the presidency of the University of Idaho.
DR. CLIFFORD H. FARR has resigned his position in the Bureau of Plant Industry to accept appointment as assistant professor of plant physiology in the University of Iowa.
AT the University of Georgia, Paul Weatherwax, Ph.D. (Indiana), has been appointed associate professor of botany with special reference to physiology and genetics. Joseph Krafka, Jr., Ph.D. (Illinois), has been appointed associate professor of zoology, and John Moore Reade, Ph.D., professor of botany, has been made director of the biological laboratories.
APPOINTMENTS for next year at the college of arts and sciences, University of Buffalo, include the following: Daniel B. Leary, formerly head of department of education at Tulane University, to be professor of psychology and instructor in Russian; Edward J. Moore, associate professor of physics at Oberlin College, to be professor of physics, and Albert R. Shadle, assistant professor of zoology at Cornell, to be assistant professor of biology.
PROFESSOR A. FINDLAY, professor of chemistry, University College of Wales, Aberystwyth,
has been appointed to the chair of chemistry in the University of Aberdeen in succession to Professor Frederick Soddy.
SIR J. J. THOMSON, master of Trinity College, Cambridge, who recently resigned the Cavendish professorship of experimental physics, has been elected into the newly established professorship of physics. This professorship is without stipend, and will terminate with the tenure of office of the first professor unless the university determines otherwise.
DISCUSSION AND CORRESPONDENCE FIRE-WALKING IN JAPAN
DURING my four years' residence in Japan I had several opportunities of witnessing the spectacular religious or quasi-religious ceremony periodically observed at the Ontake Temple, Tokyo, in the course of which the officiating priests walk barefoot over a bed of live charcoal, throw boiling water over themselves and climb a ladder of sharp swords set edge upward. All these pretended miracles, however, are susceptible of scientific explanation, and it is only with regard to the firstmentioned the fire-walking-that I venture to ask the privilege of making a brief statement in SCIENCE.
To the great mass of the spectators in the temple enclosure, who do not usually include more than the merest sprinkling of the more intelligent and better educated classes of the Japanese people, the supposed miracles are the clearest demonstration of the supernatural power of the priests, who would have it believed that it is solely to their incantations that they owe their protection from injury. But it is not necessary to be a very close observer of their movements to perceive that the priests are not content with their perambulations, genuflexions and prayers, but are careful to rub their bare feet with salt, ostensibly for purificatory purposes, before walking over the fire. This fact brought to my recollection the occasion, forty years ago or more, when Tyndall astonished a distinguished audience at the Royal Institution by plunging his bare arm into molten metal, the then Prince of Wales, afterward King Edward VII., who was
present, being prevented from following Tyndall's example only by the determined opposition of his wife.
So sure did I feel of the efficacy of the salt as a protective agent that on my second visit to the temple I determined to follow the priests in their apparently hazardous adventure, and so after rubbing my feet well in the pile of salt, I walked rapidly over the bed of glowing coal, some eighteen feet long. My confidence was not misplaced. In my feet I felt only a sensation of gentle warmth, but my ankles, to which no salt was applied, were scorched.
After a careful examination of such of Tyndall's works as I had access to at the Yokohama Club, without finding any reference to the demonstration at the Royal Institution, I wrote to Sir William Crookes, who not long before had mentioned to me his association with Tyndall in some of the experiments that preceded the delivery of the latter's famous "Lectures on Light." In due course I received Sir William's reply, in which after reference to certain matters of no special interest in this connection, he said:
I do not know of any published account of Tyndall's putting his bare arm into molten metal, but I can well believe it, as I myself have plunged my hand into molten, almost red-hot, lead. I was in a profuse perspiration at the time, and, immediately before, I dipped my hand into strong ammonia, to increase the spheroidal effect. I do not think the extra precaution was of much use, but I did not like to take a risk when looking at the cauldron of hot metal.
To physicists there is nothing new in all this, but not every scientific man is a physicist, or hypnotism would not have been suggested to me, as it has been, as the secret of the remarkable immunity I experienced.
WASHINGTON, D. C.
MARCHING IN STEP
TO THE EDITOR OF SCIENCE: In regard to Walter Moore Coleman's note in the April 18 number of SCIENCE concerning variations in phase in the step of a column of soldiers it
would seem hardly necessary to attribute the perfect marching in the absence of sound signals to any mutual subconscious force passing betwen the men. Would it not be reasonable to infer that in this case the rhythm is sight-transferred? To be sure, in a long straight column any particular squad would not be able to see far down the line, but in getting the time of the step from those somewhat in advance of them there would seem to be as much likelihood of the slight error having either sign, so that there would be no accumulation in error back through the column, as occurs in the case of establishing the rhythm by means of sound signals at the head of the column. That there is, in the absence of sound signals, a sway and swing absent at other times, may be solely a result of perfect rhythm, rather than a result of any difference in the marching of any one man. It is conceivable that in a column of men every man would be marching with rhythmic step, and with dash and enthusiasm, and yet there would be no satisfactory swing and sway to the column if the men were in slightest amount out of step. Synchronize their movements, and the result becomes immediately rhythmic and inspiring, although each man may be taking the same steps in exactly the same way.
That a marching column accepts audible signals in preference to visual signals in case both exist is, I should suppose, a matter of common knowledge. The writer had occasion to drill on the grass-covered Ellipse at Washington many mornings last summer before the heavy dew had gone. The dominant note caused by marching was not that resulting from the planting of the foot, but rather that from the movement through the heavy wet grass-a sound exactly out of phase with the former which ordinarily, in a small body of men, gives the sound signal for the rhythm. The strenuous West-Pointer who was con. ducting the drill never seemed to realize why he could not keep the men in step at such times. There was a continual wave of changing of step passing back through the column, in an everlasting but hopeless endeavor to
make the step coincide with a signal automatically and inescapably out of phase with it. WARREN WEAVER
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN,
The Elementary Nervous System. By G. H. PARKER. Philadelphia, J. B. Lippincott Co. 1919. Pp. 227, figs. 53.
With characteristic lucidity, Dr. Parker has written the second of the Monographs on Experimental Biology of which Dr. Loeb's "Forced Movements, Tropisms and Animal Conduct" is the first. Limited by the plans already outlined for subsequent volumes of the series to subject matter "drawn almost entirely from the three simpler phyla of the multicellular animals, the sponges, cœlenterates and the ctenophores," this book is nevertheless an illuminating introduction to the more fundamental problems of nervous systems in general. Anatomy and histology are not neglected. The author, however, has attacked the subject frankly as a physiologist, by the method of quantitative experimental analysis that in recent years has been revealing a more and more intimate kinship between biology and the maturer sciences of physics and chemistry. The bibliography at the end of the volume contains one hundred and sixty-six titles, and the author has been exceptionally careful, by frequent references throughout the text, to acknowledge his appreciation of the work of others. Yet, owing to the comprehensiveness of his own researches, he has been able in the development of his theme to review many of his own experiments. In this way, though these reviews are necessarily brief and untechnical, he makes of the reader a coinvestigator who shares with him his own keen interest in the problem, his rare skill in devising experiments that are masterfully direct and simple, and who feels the confidence in the results that clear-cut workmanship inevitably inspires.
In an introductory chapter the neuromuscular mechanisms of the higher animals are analyzed into receptors (sense organs), ad
justors (central nervous organs) and effectors (muscles or other organs that enable the animal to react on the environment). Of these, effectors alone are found in sponges. "They mark the beginnings of the neuromuscular mechanism in that they possess the original and most ancient of its constituents, muscle, around which the remainder of the system is supposed subsequently to have been evolved."
Two chapters are devoted to the sponges, a third to independent effectors in the higher animals, and a fourth to a sluggish type of non-nervous transmission (neuroid) that is exhibited by sponges, ctenophores and probably by the ordinary tissues of animals. These four chapters constitute the first of three sections concerned respectively with effector systems, receptor-effector systems, and central nervous organs.
Section two, comprising eight chapters, deals with the neuro-muscular structure of, and nervous transmission in, sea anemones, .jellyfishes and hydroids; the nerve net, of which their nervous systems are in large part representative, and which reappears also in the higher animals, e. g., in connection with the musculature of blood vessels and intestine; the diffuse transmission which characterizes the nerve net; and its relation to the appropriation of food and other complex responses. The single chapter in section three discusses by way of conclusion the relations of the elementary nervous system to the central nervous system of the more complex animals, especially the evolution of that novel element in the system, the central organ or adjustor, which arises in the region between receptor and effector and out of that material which in the elementary system constitutes the nerve net.
General readers as well as special students of science may congratulate themselves on the publication of another book in the growing list by American authors that is making accessible to them in untechnical and attractive form the latest episodes in scientific progress, each with all the authority of a master in his chosen field.
HARRY BEAL TORREY
NOTES ON METEOROLOGY AND
METEOROLOGY AS A SUBJECT FOR STUDY The great importance of weather in military operations2 early made current European weather information a matter of military secrecy, and put a premium on meteorologists. The U. S. Signal Corps met the demand by training about 500 scientific and technical men in meteorology, and the Naval Aviation Service trained about another 100. Meteorology was also introduced in some institutions as part of the prescribed work of the S.A.T.C.,5 but most of them had planned this work for the second or third term, and so failed to give it.
Thus at the end of the war, in spite of the stimulation, the amount of meteorological instruction given in the United States had changed but little from its pre-war status: in fact, the loss of instructors eliminated meteorology from the list of courses given at a number of institutions. A recent survey of the extent of instruction in meteorology in the colleges and universities of the United States, revealed only 70 (less than a sixth of the number reporting) in which any course in meteorology or climatology were given; though perhaps an additional third of the institutions of higher learning in the country touch on meteorology in more general courses.
Nevertheless, the present demand for meteorological information, particularly for special aeronautical forecasts, is much greater than ever before; and the demand for more detailed forecasts and for longer range ones has become more insistent. Our institutions of higher learning are already beginning to appreciate
2 See R. DeC. Ward's articles on the influence of weather on military operations: Bibliography in Monthly Weather Review, February, 1919, Vol. 47, pp. 84-85.
3 See Monthly Weather Review, December, 1918, Vol. 46, pp. 560-562, and April, 1919, Vol. 47, pp.
4 Ibid., April, 1919, Vol. 47, pp. 225-230.
5 See the text-book written for this: "Introductory Meteorology," New Haven, 1918, 149 pp.
For further details see Monthly Weather Review, March, 1919, Vol. 47, pp. 169–170.
the situation, and a number are planning new or extended courses. In aid of this encouraging tendency and to meet the demands for such information, the Weather Bureau has published a group of articles on "Meteorology as a subject for study." The titles and brief discussions of the contents of these articles follow:
In discussing, "How meteorological instruction may be furthered," Professor R. DeC. Ward of Harvard shows that the pressure of the students' desire for increased facilities for instruction in meteorology, and the enthusiasm of the instructor will probably be most effective in promoting meteorological training at each institution. The second paper is a rather detailed discussion of, "Collegiate instruction in meteorology," by C. F. Brooks, treating particularly of the methods used in the large classes at the Signal Corps school of meteorology at College Station, Texas. In the third article, Dr. O. L. Fassig has discussed the purpose, organization and results of this school. Following this, a group of the most important new meteorological books have been reviewed to aid the student or teacher in selecting such general publications as will be of most immediate use. Professor W. J. Humphreys' "Some recent contributions to the physics of the air." is an abbreviated edition of his vice-presidential address at the Baltimore meeting of the A.A.A.S." It is introduced with the other papers here to indicate to some extent the present-day trend of meteorology.8 Finally, to direct research to some of the most important problems now confronting meteorologists, a list of fifty subjects for research in meteorology have been compiled by the scientific staff of the central office of the Weather Bureau.
This group of papers, which was published in the December, 1918, Monthly Weather Review has been reprinted, and copies have been sent to several hundred colleges and univer
7 Published in full in SCIENCE, February 14 and 21, 1919, pp. 155-163, 182-188.
8 Annual reviews of the progress of meteorology and climatology in the United States are published in the American Year Book.''
sities. A limited number of other copies may be obtained on application to the chief of the Weather Bureau.
THE MILD WINTER OF 1918-1919 In the eastern United States, and over most of the Missouri Valley the past winter was so extraordinarily open in contrast to the winter of 1917-1918, that a Detroit newspaper was led to say we had both winters together in that cold one. Except in the south, the mean temperatures of last December and January were generally 15°F. higher than during the same period a year before. The snowfall was practically negligible as compared with the great accumulations of the previous "oldfashioned" winter. The accompanying table shows some of the marked contrasts in the weather at representative cities. Perhaps the most extreme reversal is shown by Cincinnati weather. There the mean temperature of December and January, 1917-1918, was 19.3° F., while that for December and January, 19181919, was 38.5° F., 19.2° F. higher. The snowfall in the two cold months was 36.5 in., but in December and January, last winter, only 1.2 in. Considering together the daily temperatures and snow on the ground, it seems evident that the heavy snow-cover of the cold months made them still colder than they otherwise would have been."
The warm weather and lack of snowfall was a great economic advantage to the country, for transportation was practically unhindered: in striking contrast to the conditions a year earlier. The snowfall in New York City, 0.4 inch in December, 0.3 in January and 0.7 in February was so slight as not to require any expenditure for snow-removal-truly an extraordinary occurrence.10
For detailed discussions of the meteorological conditions of the cold winter, see The Geographical Review, May, 1918, Vol. 5, pp. 405-414; SCIENCE, 1918, Vol. 47, pp. 565-566, and particularly the article by P. C. Day, on "The Cold Winter of 1917-18," in the Monthly Weather Review, December, 1918, Vol. 46, pp. 570-580, 4 figs., 24 charts.
10 See article in New York Times, April 6, 1919, pt. 2, p. 2.