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As I was unable at the time to refresh my memory on the subject, I wrote guardedly, "Unless we have misunderstood." A fitter expression would have been, "If we remember aright." It is satisfactory to know that my recollection was substantially correct. Το object to the theory being called a "suggestion" seems fastidious. As to Prof. MacBride's suggestion, Mr. Elliot's reference was to a proof of vol. i. of "A Treatise on Embryology." J. A. T.
THE NATURAL HISTORY BUILDING OF THE UNITED STATES NATIONAL MUSEUM.1
MR. RATHBUN has done well to publish a
full technical account of this building, which claims "to be greatly in advance of all
and, by giving exceptional width to the main mass, the floor area is large in proportion to the extent of outer wall. The plan, which covers nearly four acres, shows a large pavilion surmounted by a rotunda facing south, and from it three wings extending towards the east, west, and north; the latter are connected near their outer ends by two L-shaped ranges, completing the enclosure of two large uncovered courts.
The length of the southern façade, shown in perspective in our Fig. 1, is 561 ft.; the greatest north and south measurement, which is along the middle block, is about 364 ft.; each court is 128 ft. square. The wings have a width of 116 ft.; and the L-shaped ranges a width of 61 ft.
FIG. 1.-United States National Museum, Natural History Building, viewed from S. E., showing the South front, the outer end of the East wing, and the beginning of the East range.
other museum buildings intended for a similar purpose." The three objects aimed at have been storage, usable exhibition space, and laboratory accommodation. The epithet "usable" is important, for in exhibition galleries dark corners and obtrusive architectural details are worse than useless. "Usable" also implies facility of accommodation to growing and changing needs. With this in view, the building has been planned as a great shell, with few permanent division walls;
1 "A Descriptive Account of the Building recently Erected for the Departments of Natural History of the United States National Museum." By Richard Rathbun. U.S. National Museum, Bull. 80. Pp. 132+xxxiv plates. (Washington, 1913.)
This great width and the fact that the building is four storeys high might lead one to expect a deficiency of light. deficiency of light. The modern classic style, however, has permitted exceptionally large windows (Fig. 1) in all but the upper storey, where, of course, skylights are available. Moreover, in these windows a maximum of glass surface has been secured by the use of light metal framing. Light is also furnished to the wings by light-wells 50 ft. wide, which break through the upper storeys and light all except the basement or ground storey. The floor of the first storey is thus all available, but the top-lit area is usually separated by glazed
multiples of this unit by the building of partitions between the columns, or to meet varying needs the exhibition galleries can likewise be broken up by slighter screens of material appropriate to each case. As the museum grows and changes there will be no difficulty in making such alterations, for all the mains from the heating and lighting plant run in tunnels under the basement, and are connected with each floor by two vertical chases cut in each wall pier. These chases also serve for electrical communications, ventilating flues, vacuum-cleaning pipes, hot and cold water supply, and the like. Thus for the future we can almost imagine that in this building "neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron " will be heard in the
and corrected each noon from the Naval Observatory.
There are six electric Otis elevators, four for passengers and two for freight. The latter are near the large wagon entrances, and run from ground to attic; their cars measure 7 ft. 3 in. by II ft. 4 in., by 12 ft. high, and can take a load of 12,000 lb.
Nearly all the ground storey of the east wing is occupied by the machinery plant, which serves the older buildings also. Except for the generator engines, the two stoker engines, and six pumps in the engine-room, which are worked by steam, all motive power is supplied by electricity and is conveyed to the various laboratories and workshops.
The latter consist of painters', cabinet-makers', joiners', and metal-workers' shops, all on the south of this wing. This concentration warrants
the use of machinery, and almost every kind of wood-working tool, down to the oil-stone, has its individual electric motor. The "sweat of man's brow" sounds archaic here, but none the less the artisans have a shower-bath and dressing-room. Each department has also its own laboratories, work-rooms, and "comfort-rooms."
The abundant storage space is fitted with standardised shelves, drawers, and cases, permitting ready rearrangement and interchange.
The auditorium is well designed, accessible, and isolated. There are also two rooms for committees and small scientific meetings.
This book does not profess to describe the installation of the exhibits, though a few plates (see Fig. 2) show the general effect. Its value lies in its account of structural detail and practical fitments; it should be read by every museum governor, and digested by every architect of future museum buildings. The claim advanced may not be substantiated at every point, but as regards those here mentioned it is enough to say that the United States Museum possesses what our own Natural History Museum notoriously lacks.
DUTY-FREE ALCOHOL FOR SCIENTIFIC PURPOSES.
N the recent discussions on the best means of developing the colour industry in this country, reference has frequently been made to the duty charged upon pure methyl and ethyl alcohol, which are essential for certain products. Although the past and present stagnation is mainly due to other and much more deep-seated causes, the fact that the trade is still handicapped by a form of taxation which does not exist in Continental countries is one of the signs of the steady indifference of the Government to scientific industrial development of which Thomas Thomson so bitterly complained in his history of chemistry written nearly a century ago.
As the result of a very widespread feeling of dissatisfaction with the high cost of these alcohols (a feeling which had long existed in all the important centres of chemical research in this country) the subject was brought before the chemical section of the British Association at the Glasgow meeting in 1901, and an influential committee was formed, which was successful in persuading the Board of Inland Revenue to forgo the duty on methyl and ethyl alcohol used for scientific purposes in approved institutions. Their recommendations were embodied in the Finance Act of 1902, the working of which has, we believe, given general satisfaction. Whether or not the laboratories of manufacturing firms are permitted to share these advantages we cannot state. Yet in spite of the virtual, if tardy, concession of the principle that research can be usefully promoted in this way, one is constantly confronted with the sort of trivial annoyance such as Sir William Ramsay and Prof. Hickson have recently suffered
at the hands of the excise authorities (see Nature, February 11 and 18), who imposed a duty on the spirit in which specimens coming from abroad were preserved. "Red tape seems almost too soft a material for binding the cast iron regulations which govern the Excise Department. If, however, the above principle is recognised and conceded, surely it might be adopted in a broad and, if possible, scientific spirit on the part of the authorities. It is not only carried out in the narrowest spirit of officialdom, but also is applied with an extraordinary absence of logic, such as is only conceivable where ignorance of the elements of organic chemistry exists.
For example, chloroform and ether made from ethyl alcohol pay duty, whereas that from methylated spirit (methylated ether) in one case and acetone in the other do not, although the products are practically identical. Again, methyl and ethyl alcohol used for research are exempt from duty, whereas ethyl acetate and butyrate, ethyl chloride, bromide, iodide, and chloral hydrate, in all of which ethyl alcohol is used, are not exempt. The corresponding methyl derivatives which are obtained in precisely the same way from methyl alcohol are not scheduled and, we presume, are free to all consumers. It may be seen from the table of excise regulations that chemists keeping or using stills are subject to a tax of ten shillings on each still, although it should be stated to the credit of the excise department that the payment is rarely if ever enforced in laboratories so far as we know. Perhaps at some future date the regulation may be modified. We see in all this a tardy and grudging response to those pressing demands for liberty of research, which foreign Governments have so successfully encouraged.
But it is not the duty on alcohol which has been the main factor in crippling the colour industry during the last thirty years. Nor is it defective training, equipment, or ability of the young chemists turned out from our universities, whose scientific work stands second to none. It is that the manufacturing world is only beginning to realise at this time of crisis in the chemical industry the true value of the research chemist. We say "beginning to realise," for it was only a few days ago that a professor of chemistry in one of our provincial universities received a request from a large and wealthy corporation to recommend at first-rate chemist, to whom the handsome salary of thirty shillings a week was offered, or about a third of the earnings of a coal-miner working full time!
It would take up too much space to attempt to trace the cause of that attitude of indifference among nearly all classes to the application of scientific research to industry which is such a striking feature of German commercial development. There can be no question that the key to the problem is to be found in our educational system. The very terms "humanities" and "stinks" are fraught with deep significance. They would appear to contrast what is real and living
with what is dead and corrupt; what is ennobling with what is contemptible. Yet if a comparison were possible it is the humanities which include the dead languages and literature and the history of dead institutions, whilst the sciences bring us directly into contact with present realities. Nevertheless, it is the former which take precedence in our public schools and our older seats of learning and command the highest marks in Civil Service examinations, whilst chemistry and the other sciences are tolerated though not encouraged, and are valued by the Civil Service commissioners at less than one-third that of the classics and one-quarter that of pure and applied mathematics.
The conclusions are obvious. Our highlyeducated Government officials and princes of industry are more or less ignorant of science. It is for many of them an unknown and mysterious region into which they would prefer not to penetrate. That Nemesis now confronts our industries may be a blessing in disguise. It is only in a struggle that the weak points in one's armour are disclosed. We are learning a lesson, which might have been learnt years ago had we not been so inexorably bound by tradition, and the sooner we profit by it the better.
METEOROLOGY AND THE WAR.
N an article which occupies a prominent posi ́IN tion in Le Petit Journal of February 9, l'Abbé Moreux, the director of Bourges Observatory, emphasises the importance which Germany attaches to meteorological observations and forecasts in connection with the war on land, on sea, and in the air. The fact is scarcely surprising when it is remembered that the great damage done sixty years ago on November 14, 1854, to the allied fleets in the Black Sea by a storm, the course of which could be followed across Europe, was the factor which led Leverrier to conceive and inaugurate the service of international meteorological telegrams. Meteorology is essentially so co-operative and peaceful a science that its stormy birth is apt to be forgotten.
According to M. Moreux, Germany transferred meteorologists from Aix-la-Chapelle to Liège and then to Brussels almost simultaneously with the entry of her army into these cities; and when she found the Aix-la-Chapelle staff not sufficiently expert for her needs she brought up more competent authorities from Berlin and reinforced them with astronomers whose special duty was to watch sounding balloons. The evidence on this point does not appear, however, to be very conclusive, and from the marvellous successes in the prophetic sphere which have been attributed to the German representatives in Belgium it would appear probable that the race of Galeotti, and not that of Galileo, has been invited to render assist
Meteorology, along with other departments of science, is bound to have important bearings on the present war. It is, perhaps, more closely
associated with the actual active operations than many other departments of science; but its application is not likely to be rendered more successful by substituting for men who are intimately acquainted with the subject men who have achieved distinction in quite a different field; nor by moving the experts from the central institution to the local field of operations. Progress in forecasting in recent years has been achieved by extending the area from which observations are received by telegraph rather than by special observations at a single place; and the meteorological expert's work is to co-ordinate the results of other people's observations, mainly by charting them, rather than to make the observations or to apply the deductions based upon them.
It may be added that in normal times Hamburg is the official centre of the German system of weather-telegraphy and forecasting.
WE announce with much regret the death on Monday, March 1, at seventy-five years of age, of Prof. James Geikie, F.R.S., emeritus professor of geology and mineralogy in the University of Edinburgh.
THE King of the Belgians, and Admiral Lord Fisher of Kilverstone, First Sea Lord of the Admiralty, have been elected honorary members of the Institution of Civil Engineers.
A BRONZE Statue of Captain R. F. Scott, erected at Portsmouth Dockyard by the subscriptions of naval officers and officials of the Dockyard, was unveiled on February 26 by Admiral Sir Hedworth Meux, the Commander-in-Chief at Portsmouth. The monument is the work of Lady Scott, and shows Captain Scott in his Antarctic dress.
THE following candidates have been selected by the Council of the Royal Society to be recommended for election into the Society:-Prof. F. W. Andrewes, Prof. A. W. Conway, Mr. L. Doncaster, Mr. J. Evershed, Dr. W. M. Fletcher, Prof. A. G. Green, Mr. H. H. Hayden, Dr. J. Mackenzie, Prof. J. C. McLennan, Dr. A. T. Masterman, Prof. G. T. Morgan, Dr. C. S. Myers, Mr. G. C. Simpson, Mr. A. A. Campbell Swinton, Mr. A. G. Tansley.
We regret to see the announcement of the death, in his fifty-seventh year, of Mr. Frank T. Bullen, whose knowledge of the sea and its natural history made him distinguished among writers of sea stories. Mr. Bullen was a junior clerk in the Meteorological Office for several years previous to 1899, and while occupying that post he contributed to NATURE of June 4, 1896, a very interesting article on 'The Sperm Whale
and its Food." This was before he had attained fame by his book, "The Cruise of the Cachalot," but we were impressed at the time by the clear and attractive style of the article, and were glad to know that later Mr. Bullen's real literary gifts received general recognition.
SIR CHARLES A. PARSONS has made a gift of 5000l. to the Royal Institution. The following resolution
passed by the managers was approved by the members on March 1:-"That the managers of the Royal Institution desire to express to the Hon. Sir Charles A. Parsons, K.C.B., F.R.S.,, who has unconditionally placed at their disposal, for the purposes of the institution, the sum of 5000l., their most grateful appreciation of his munificence and discernment. They accept the gift as a timely and noble recognition of the good public work the institution has done in the past, and is still doing, in the acquisition and diffusion of scientific knowledge, and as an incitement to maintain and extend its usefulness in the unique position which it has for more than a century occupied."
NEWS received from the Russian Arctic voyager Vilkitski now definitely locates him in Taimyr Bay, to the west of Cape Chelyuskin. A wireless message from him has been picked up by Captain Sverdrup, who is laid up further to the south-west on the same inhospitable coast. Vilkitski, having set out in July from Vladivostok to make the passage to European Russia, has thus accomplished about three-fifths of the voyage along the Russian arctic coast. poses to send some of his men to Sverdrup, thus relieving the pressure upon his supplies, for he has encountered such heavy ice conditions hitherto that it does not seem certain that he will be able to get on with his ships next summer. The expedition has ample opportunity to add to geographical knowledge (as it has done already) on the coast where it is now imprisoned.
THE appeal for subscriptions to the Sir William White Memorial Fund has resulted in a sum of 30761. 148. 6d., contributed by 455 subscribers. The committee of the fund has decided that the most suitable form which the memorial could take would be the establishment of a research scholarship in naval architecture to be named after Sir William White; and it has been arranged to hand over to the council of the Institution of Naval Architects the greater part of the funds subscribed so that a sum of at least Iool. a year shall be available for the scholarship, which will be administered by the council of that institution. In addition, a medallion portrait will be placed in the new building of the Institution of Civil Engineers; and, finally, at the suggestion of Lady White, a donation of one hundred guineas has been made to the Westminster Hospital, where Sir William White passed away.
A REVISED memorandum on cerebro-spinal meningitis, or "spotted fever," has been issued by the Local Government Board in view of cases of the disease which have occurred in various part of the country. It is issued as a purely precautionary measure, and is intended to indicate to medical practitioners, especially village doctors, that the department is watching the outbreak, and that should suspicious cases occur, free bacteriological examination and isolation accommodation will at once be provided. Suspicious cases should be isolated immediately, and any contact cases closely watched. A warning is issued against overcrowding, and as the germs are first located at the back of the throat any person even slightly suspected
of having contracted the disease should refrain from kissing anyone else. So far as the general public is concerned, the outbreak may be regarded with indifference. In London it is stated that not more than twenty cases of the disease have been recognised during the last two months.
WE have recorded already the sudden death, on February 13, of Prof. Wesley Mills, emeritus professor of physiology, McGill University, Montreal. From an obituary notice in the issue of the British Medical Journal of February 27 we learn that Prof. Mills took the degree of M.D. in McGill University in 1878. He was for several years demonstrator of physiology with Sir William Osler, and studied at University College with Sir J. Burden-Sanderson and Sir E. A. Schäfer. In 1884 he became lecturer in physiology, and in 1886 professor of the subject at McGill University. He organised the teaching of physiology on modern lines, and was the first Canadian teacher of the subject to have a thoroughly upto-date, well-equipped laboratory. Among his early contributions to physiology were the studies of cardiac innervation. He became much interested in comparative physiology, and the results of a long series of studies are embodied in a work on "The Nature and Development of Animal Intelligence." In 1889 appeared his "Text-book of Animal Physiology," which was modified in the new edition of 1890 to the “Textbook of Comparative Physiology." In 1906 appeared his "Voice Production in Singing and Speaking," a work which brought him much reputation outside of medical circles. After a serious illness in 1910 he retired, and lived in London, devoting himself with energy and enthusiasm to the study of music.
THE Royal Swedish Academy of Science, Stockholm, has recently erected a monument in the Swedish cemetery at Brookwood, Woking, to the memory of Daniel Solander, F.R.S. The memorial consists of an obelisk of unhewn Swedish stone, with the inscription of the name, and dates of birth and death, and that the memorial was erected by the Academy. Daniel Solander was the son of a clergyman in Pite Lappmark, was born in 1733, entered the University of Uppsala as a student in 1750, and left his native country ten years later for London. Here he became employed in the British Museum, in 1764 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and in 1767 made the acquaintance of Banks, who induced Solander to travel with him in that eventful voyage in the Endeavour which was Cook's first expedition to the southern seas. On returning from this voyage in 1771, Solander was adopted by Banks as his secretary and librarian, until his death in 1782 from an apoplectic seizure, in the presence of Sir Charles Blagden and the younger Linnæus, dying ten days later. There exist several portraits of Solander; one, a full-length engraving depicting him as as "a Simpling Salamander," another of head and bust to left; and, by far the best, a full-length portrait in oil, by John Zoffany, which belongs to the Linnean Society, and was copied for Sir Joseph Hooker's edition of Banks's Journal, published in 1896.