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and Senderens started their epoch-making re- value of his experience in discriminating between searches in 1897. These chemists found that
the various processes is, we think, a matter which finely divided metals other than platinum, namely, will be regretted by the average reader. As it is, iron, cobalt, copper, and especially nickel, could one almost feels inclined to say that some of the be used with marked success as catalysts in reac- methods described could scarcely have been extions of this type, and the catalogue of Poulenc pected to yield satisfactory results even by their Frères, of Paris, bears witness to the practical discoverers, and the reader who is not an expert success which has attended their work.
will arrive at the conclusion that there are some It is stated that the nickel most suitable for the fifty different ways by which hydrogenation may purpose is obtained by reducing the oxide by be accomplished, and that all of them are of equal hydrogen at a temperature of between 270° and importance. To the expert, however, who is able 300°, but no one who has worked on this subject to sift grain from chaff, this section will be of can have failed to experience the extraordinary the greatest service. differences in the activity of the metal produced The same criticism applies to the next section under various experimental conditions, and it is of the book, which deals with the various kinds therefore not surprising that no great technical of catalysers which have been used. This section use has been found for the process until within occupies two chapters, and is succeeded by an comparatively recent years.
admirable account of nickel carbonyl, followed, The fact that the liquid or unsaturated fats of in chapter vi., by an interesting account of the the olein type are unsuited for the purposes of work of Paal and others on the use of the rare soap-making, as well as for the production of metals in the colloidal state as catalysts. Chapedible fats, has caused numerous experiments to ter viii. deals with the analytical constants of be made with the object of converting these sub- hydrogenated oils, and the two succeeding chapstances, either wholly or partially, into the satur
ters contain a description of the methods by ated or hard fats of the stearin series. As early which these oils may be converted either into as 1875 Goldschmidt showed that oleic acid could | edible fats or into soap. The last nine chapters be reduced to stearic acid by phosphorus and of the book, some hundred pages in all, deal hydriodic acid at a high temperature, and, indeed, with the various methods which have been devised this process, or a modification of it, was applied for the preparation of hydrogen. This section is on the industrial scale at about this time, but the treated in a most exhaustive manner, and the method was not successful, and it was not until influence of impurities in the hydrogen, acting W. Normann, in 1903, took out a patent for a either as poisons to the catalysts or as substances " process for converting unsaturated fatty acids injurious to the oils, are discussed. The book
, or their glycerides into saturated compounds”
ends with an appendix containing an account of that the Sabatier and Senderens' method was the recent litigation over the Normann patent. applied to the saturation of unsaturated fats and
This excellent treatise is well illustrated by the tremendous possibilities of the process from
some 145 photographs and drawings both of an industrial point of view became evident.
scientific apparatus and of plant. The admirable The patent of Normann was obviously bad, and
manner in which the author has emphasised the it was rendered invalid in 1913, as the result of scientific basis of the technical processes which an action between Joseph Crosfield and Sons, he has described causes it to be a noteworthy Ltd., and Techno-chemical Laboratories, Ltd. addition to our literature on specialised organic In the book under review, the first two chapters chemistry.
J. F. T. are devoted to a description of all the various processes which have been used for the purpose
A TEXT-BOOK OF EFFICIENCY. of effecting hydrogenation, and it is in this portion that the author seems to have erred on the
Fundamental Sources of Efficiency. By Dr. F. side of over-elaboration. The point had evidently
Durell. Pp. 368. (Philadelphia and London: occurred to him, because, in his introduction he J. B. Lippincott Company, 1914.) Price 1os. 6d. states that “The observations and opinions of
net. many minds have been brought together. Some O many it once came as a shock to hear of these views obviously are sound, others are
that the great Mach laid stress on the open to grave doubt, and still others are of a con- economy of thought in science.
It seemed as tradictory or polemical nature. Whether or not though science were brought into too close anain the treatment of this material to carry through | logy with much more mundane kinds of human a vein of critical comment was a problem which activity. But in this book the study of almost confronted the author.” That he decided not to every conceivable kind of activity, including introduce this vein of criticism and to give the scientific activity, is made from the abstract
point of view of efficiency. “An efficient process the removal of waste and error, and the combinais one in which the available results exceed the tions of efficients. Chapter xviii. deals with appl.expenditure” (p. 4); and the work is an at- cations to psychology, education, sociology, bus:tempt to analyse the various forms and sources ness, art, ethics, and religion. Finally, there are of efficiency into a few elemental principles. appendices on “The Categories and a Genera “While the book has been cast in a form adapted Philosophy of Life” and a "Historical Survey." to general reading, groups of exercises have been The book is rather obscurely written, but coninserted which, it is hoped, will add to its value tains very inuch valuable illustrative material. if it is used as a text-book in any institution where
φ. the principles of efficiency are taught." Surely it is only in America that we could have
OUR BOOKSHELF. a professor of efficiency. From the preface we also learn that, since the importance of investigat
Elementary Human Biology. By J. E. Peabody and Dr. A. E. Hunt. Pp. xii + 194.
(New ing the elements which constitute fitness, that is, York: The Macmillan Co.; London: Macmiefficiency, becomes evident as soon as the prin- lan and Co., Ltd., 1915.) Price 4s. ciple of the survival of the fittest is recognised, UNDER
UNDER this somewhat curious title the two the leading ideas of the book were suggested by authors, American schoolmasters, have produced the reading of Herbert Spencer. Many important a manual which deals with elementary hygiene. 1: details have been obtained from the publications is evidently written for children, for the pronunciaof the Efficiency Society and the works of various tion and derivation of comparatively simple words,
such as involuntary and ventilation, are given. It, modern writers.
however, manifests a curious lack of perspective, The most primitive and, in a sense, fundamental for while it contains simple exercises which teach source of efficiency is the act of re-use or repeti- young pupils the reasons for rules of health, such tion, and human progress in general is marked as cleaning the teeth, masticating the food, and by an increasing amount and by higher forms of washing the skin, it also deals with elaborate re-use (p. 31). A superior efficiency to more or
details for comparing bacteriologically with Petri less haphazard re-use is attained by the “unit
dishes the air of a room after sweeping it with a
broom, and after the use of a vacuum cleaner. and multiplier principle” treated in chapter ii. :
One home exercise which with unconscious humour “A unit is any entity used manifolaly in space is marked optional consists in chewing popped or time or in any relation. The multiplier ex- corn and noting that it becomes sweet during the presses the number of manifold uses made of a process. The conditions of American life are so unit" (p. 50). This principle may be extended so
often different from those in this country, for as to form a still more general agent of efficiency, instance, in the matters of heating and ventilating that of the “group," and this is dealt with in houses, that we doubt whether the present book
will profitably replace the many excellent text-books chapter iv. The group is so fundamental in its
on hygiene we already possess here; the same nature that the other primal sources of efficiency may be said in relation to subjects such as profitmay be regarded as various methods of using the able housekeeping and cooking. Even if the group. Groups may be used not only singly, but English child or his parent overcomes the difficulty also in combination, with a corresponding increase of converting dollars into shillings, we doubt of efficiency (chapter v.). It is often a source of
whether they will be much enlightened by such
words as skillet, round steak, and string beans. efficiency to substitute for a given system of
A few of the many errors noted are: that milk. groups a series of groups or “orders” of the
sugar is changed into grape-sugar by heating it system (chapter vi.). The use of an object or with Fehling's solution; that the saliva forms objects external to a given domain as a means dextrose from starch; that nerve impulses travel of obtaining results by forming new and large 100 ft. per second; that Nissl granules in nerve groups is the source investigated in chapter vii.
cells appear as
a result of fatigue; that the Chapter viii. deals with sources obtained by the epiglottis closes as a lid on the larynx during perceptions of diversities and of uniformities. digestive proteolysis; that Sylvester's method for
swallowing; that peptone is the end-product in After a study (chapter ix.) of the aims and ends artificial respiration is the best. Children, it is of efficiency processes, chapter x. contains a good true, require teaching to be simple, but they treatment of symbolism as an agent of efficiency, deserve that it should be accurate. W. D. H. and here pp. 174-175, 177, 185, 187 (cf. p. 359) Inorganic Plant Poisons and Stimulants. By Dr. seem especially noteworthy. The other chapters
W. E. Brenchley. Pp. ix + 110. (Cambridge: are on the principle of directive action, the study At the University Press, 1914.) Price 5s. net. of speed and rhythmic methods as means to effi
Miss BRENCHLEY has set herself a difficult task in ciency, the principle of "dialectic" or unexpected attempting to deal with problems such as are indiscovery, the study of limitations of processes, dicated in the somewhat ambitious title of her
publications of the Royal Society, the Royal Astronomical Society, the Royal Meteorological Society, the Chemical Society, the various engineering institutions, and scores of others of equal importance are ignored. Similarly in education, attention is confined apparently to the Educational Times, the Journal of Education, and the Parents' Review, while no mention is made of the Preparatory Schools Review, the School World, the Schoolmaster, and a host of others. The Classical Review is indexed, but the periodicals concerned with modern languages, English studies, nature study, and so on, seem to have been forgotten.
While appreciating the enterprising beginning which has been made, it may be hoped that in the next volume the compilers will cast their nets more widely, and so secure a more representative production.
book, and we confess to a feeling akin to disappointment after a perusal of the volume. The work is good as far as it goes, but the treatment is less suggestive, and the grip less firm than we had been led to anticipate.
The effects of the salts of five elements, viz., copper, zinc, arsenic, boron, and manganese upon plant growth have been studied, and the surprisingly deleterious results which follow on the addition of minute traces of some of them to plants grown as water cultures are described, and are also illustrated by excellent photographs. The conclusion is reached that no stimulation of growth follows the addition of even the smallest amounts of salts of copper, zinc, or arsenic, whilst some improvement does occur when salts of boron or manganese are employed. This is of interest when the somewhat widespread notion of the beneficial action of traces of copper salts, in some instances, at any rate, is recalled. Naturally, however, one must accept with caution conclusions based on the results of water-culture experiments in any endeavour to extend them to plants growing under ordinary soil conditions. This is the more necessary when one reflects how differently plants may behave in pot culture and in the field, and that even in the field itself it is not possible always to predict results at all accurately when the soil, aspect, drainage, and other factors as well are all subject to variation. We need a far more intimate knowledge of the physical conditions, as well as of the chemical processes that are in part, and often largely, governed by those conditions in the soil, before we shall be in a position even to formulate these fundamental questions, a satisfactory answer to which must form the basis on which our real knowledge of the plant, in this connection, will have to be built up. Miss Brenchley is fully aware of the difficulties which surround the whole subject, and her summing up of the whole position is admirable in its caution. Index to Periodicals. Compiled by various authori
ties and arranged by A. C. Piper. Vol. i., April-September, 1914 Pp.
xxxii + 192. (London : Stanley Paul and Co., for The
Librarian and Book World.) Price 215. net. The general editor of this classified and annotated index to the original articles contained in some of the principal weekly, monthly, and quarter y periodicals, Mr. A. J. Philip, rather 'disarms
, criticism by recounting in the preface the difficulties due to the war under which the index has been prepared. The idea of such an index of the important signed articles in periodical literature was excellent, and had it been possible to carry it out with some completeness, the result would have been widely welcomed.
It is difficult to understand on what plan the 109 periodicals indexed have been chosen. The preface says that foreign periodicals have been omitted, yet the names of a few appear in the list of those indexed. The Journals of the Royal Anthropological Institute, the Royal Microscopical Society, the Royal Sanitary Institute, and the Royal Statistical Society have been dealt with, but the
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR. (The Editor does not hold himself responsible for
opinions expressed by his correspondents. Neither can he undertake to return, or to correspond with the writers of, rejected manuscripts intended for this or any other part of Nature. No notice is taken of anonymous communications.] The National Organisation of Scientific Effort.
For readers of Nature one of the most striking features of the war is that the German Government should be approved and supported by its prominent men of science, in spite of the fact that it uses methods of warfare which we regard as being outside the pale of humanity and common civilisation. It seems inconceivable that anything like it should happen in this country. If the British military authorities had transgressed against the written and unwritten laws of humanity as Germany has done, feel that
of science would have found a voice in condemnation of the Government. In this country it is no unusual thing for men of science to find a voice in condemnation of the Government, both for what it does and for what it leaves undone. Such condemnation used, in fact, to be, in peace time, a staple article of scientific public-speaking, the like of which one did not find in Germany. One never heard there even in private conversation the kind of criticism of Government action or inaction which in this country is reiterated commonplace.
The difference in practice may be attributed to the fact that in Germany scientific effort is organised by Government, which stands to scientific work in the relation of creator, provider and guardian, on its own terms. In Germany, Government is the providence of science; and to rail against Government, even when its ways are dark and mysterious, is not to be thought of. The attitude of the man of science in Germany
towards his Government recalls Cowper's hymn. Changing the gramma‘ical gender to avoid irreverence :
Blind unbelier is sure to err
And It will make it plain. We have nothing like it in this country, and this reflection prompts the question: What is the corresponding organisation in this country? For organisation there must be, whether it be simple or elaborate, effective or ineffective, intentional or haphazard.
Our organisation is, in fact, haphazard, a matter of history and tradition; and, on examination, it
will be found to be at least moderately efficient as Let us concentrate our attention on the "research " regards persons, but woefully inadequate as regards aspect of the question and appeal for support to the subjects.
* Government grant for scientific research” which is The difference is well pointed by an incident at a administered with a free hand by a committee apdinner in connection with a scientific meeting a few pointed by the Royal Society. It is common knowyears ago. The speaking, after dinner, had become ledge that the committee acts ostensibly on the rather informal, and one of the foreign representa- principle that for research in this country all that the tives urged the desirability of a professorship in, say, Government needs to provide is a number of small seismology—the particular subject is unimportant- doles to enthusiastic workers who find themselves and, in reply, the chairman said that he had recog- deficient in apparatus and materials. The sums necesnised the need for a long time, and was uncertain sary for the maintenance and remuneration of these whether the best way of approaching its satisfaction workers have to be provided by other means-into was to appeal directly to the universities, or to begin which the Government Grant Committee is careful with the schools and so create a demand which the not to inquire. universities would find it to their interest to meet. But with the neglected subjects to which we have The German representative on leaving the dining- been referring, research has to be initiated and workers room remarked : “But, of course, your Government found and paid : the Government Grant Committee must create a professorship.” The only reply to that draws the line there. It is a very unforiunate conis that it is not our way.
clusion, because any appeal to Government for reThen what is our way? To what authority in search from anybody but the Royal Society can be, this country does one appeal for the promotion of and indeed is, rightly estopped by a reference to the the study of any scientific subject which is felt to provision which already exists for scientific rescarch, be in want of support?
and which is not officially known to be inadequate. There is the Royal Society, which is known Here again the Royal Society shows itself admirto be remarkably powerful body
dis. ably efficient in discriminating between the merits of criminating between the merits of the scientific the persons who apply for the doles, but it has pracworkers in this country. Some years ago one of tically nothing to say to the appeal for subjects left its presidents devoted a series of presidential addresses entirely in the cold. to the claims of science in education; but to ask Is it unjust to
the situation with the Royal Society to put machinery in motion to regard to the subject-aspect of our national organisasupply the need for university professorships in certain tion of scientific effort by saying that it is in this subjects would be simply to court a rebuff, and for unfortunate position : that on the one hand nothing an obvious reason. It is understood that the Royal can be done without the Royal Society, and on the Society, though it is, for some purposes, a representa
other hand, with all respect and admiration, nothing tive body, does not regard itself as the proper body can be done through the Royal Society ? to take the initiative in approaching the Government Yet things are done from time to time; ways out for the support of a new scientific project. The of the dilemma have been found; our existing proper course is supposed to be for those who are organisation must have other aspects. Parenthetically interested in the project to approach the Government
it is a matter for wonder how the subject of themselves, and for the Government to refer the matter mineralogy came by the provision which it now enjoys to the Royal Society as a kind of jury. By that mode at the older universities. One has the feeling that if of procedure the promcters, without the official sup- it had not been endowed long ago it would never be port of the representatives of science, have first to endowed now. It seems even further from the imconvince the Government that their project comes portant consideration of the “main chance” which within its province, a task that in itself is enough to appeals to the universities than some other subjects damp the ardour of many enthusiasts.
which have still no academic status. If the Royal Society is shy of approaching the Looking back at the history of the other subjects Government, it would be still more shy of approaching which may be included in the title of out-of-door directly an academic corporate body. That is not to physics, we find that the British Association for the be thought of. Besides, it is itself academic enough Advancement of Science stands out as the specialised to know the answer without going through the organ of our national organisation for giving things formality of making the inquiry.
a start. One knows the mode of procedure quite well. Nor is it likely that an avenue to the purse of the Certain prominent men of science (who when they are private benefactor could be found through the cor- back in London will be the Royal Society) meet in porate action of the Royal Society, although without some provincial town, discuss the matter, appoint a such action any appeal is prejudiced from the start. committee, and make a grant out of the members' It can scarcely be doubted that if the Royal Society pounds for out-of-pocket expenses. The subject would from time to time set out the gaps in the prospers by the unpaid work of some indefatigable professorial ranks of the universities on account of member of the committee; after some years an appeal subjects of deep human and scientific interest which is made to Government. The British Association have no exponents in the academic life of this country conducts the appeal, which is thereby guaranteed (and so, by conscious or unconscious imitation, of the respectful consideration; and its reception by the British Empire), the appeal would carry conviction to Royal Society jury is also guaranteed by the some of those who are willing to consider a worthy personnel of ihe committee; there is no element of outlet for part of their wealth. The contention danger in the reference, and so the plan is brought that the British Empire is not rich, or at least not to some sort of fruition. rich enough to staff its universities properly, will not To the operation of the British Association can be really bear examination; and yet the very dignity of traced the origin of what provision there is (outside the Royal Society seems too great for it to undertake the Royal Observatories, the Hydrographic Departthe duty of appealing for funds for separate subjects ment of the Navy, and one division of the Meteorothat need support.
logical Office) for meteorology, terrestrial magnetism, So we
are back again at the usual refuge for solar physics, seismology and the so-called “Stanscience in distress : the Government. The front door dardisation of instruments, now represented by the is closed, as we have seen, but we can try the back. National Physical Laboratory. For each of these one
or more committees of the British Association could and all the complaints in Science Progress and at the be named, one of which dates as far back as 1842, meetings of the British Science Guild, punctuated by early days even for the British Association. There what has been brought to light since the war began, are, no doubt, many other enterprises in other mean at least that, branches of science which have a similar history. We may learn from our enemies and let the
So the organisation of scientific effort on our side Government' take over the control of our scientific which corresponds with the Government organisation effort, or, appalled by the result in the case of Gerof Germany may be expressed by this precept for any- many, and sharing the feeling of Prof. Brants and one who has a project for scientific work: “You the Dutch for whom he speaks in the March number first attend a meeting of the British Association and of the Nineteenth Century and After, we may have get a strong committee appointed; then you work the courage to be ourselves and manage things in for a number of years without pay, but with a mind our own way. The future will show; only we must conscious that you will thereby acquire merit with have a way which is recognisable and recognised. the Royal Society, the great discriminator; then if Behind the Government, whether in association with you have not money enough to pay for apparatus a special Minister or not, there must be a powerful you can appeal to the Government Grant Committee advisory Committee with facilities for initiation as with an assured prospect of success; then when you well as discrimination, a sort of Privy Council for find it necessary for somebody to be paid, you can Science with public responsibilities, to whom the public
the Council of the British Association to as well as the Government can appeal. approach the Government for the money. The Before that can be established the Royal Society Government will then take the opinion of the Royal must settle what its function is to be. At present it Society, and that will be quite all right, because your claims to discriminate in its corporate capacity, and own committee will be in force there; and then, if leaves to its individual members the duties of initiayou are moderately fortunate, Government will give tion. The British Science Guild has sought to you half of what you ask as a grant in aid,' and for remedy this state of affairs, and is prepared to take the rest you must look out for yourself."
the initiative in an organised way. But it is evident We are therefore by no means devoid of organisa- that, if the Royal Society is to exercise the tion; what we have is almost venerably historic and power of discrimination, the two bodies must be in very elaborate; but it is long and tortuous and sadly reality the same persons, as in the case of the initiainefficient for the following obvious reasons :- tive of the British Association, or the scientific body
First, that in spite of our pride in private effort, and politic will be divided against itself; therefore the our prejudice in its favour as being vastly superior first question to be settled is whether the Royal to anything that Government can do, our process leads Society's claim to the power of discrimination is to ultimately to Government and nowhere else. It gives be confirmed and supplemented by the faculty of no footing in the universities or in any other body, initiative, or whether both faculties are to be vested corporate or incorporate, whose members control the in a recognised and responsible body of Government temporary destinies of the British Association. Of | advisers. course, at the end of the chapter the Government The Royal Society is by no means an ideal institucould approach the universities, but with the present tion for the purpose, and it was not created for such relations between Government and the universities work; its full body of four hundred and fifty members this is a perilous thing for a Government to do. It is too numerous to carry the responsibility, was done in one instance lately; and there is a smile and its Council of twenty-one too small, too on the face of the tiger."
much selected for the purpose of personal disSecondly, it leads to accepting Government money crimination, too transitory, too full of work of in the form of what is called a grant in aid,” which other kinds, too much unpaid, and not sufficiently means public money with public responsibility, but no representative of the subjects with which a national official prestige and no official purpose. The grant is organisation must deal in the long run because they made as a concession to somebody's enthusiasm; the are not adequately represented at the universities. responsibility for success rests with the unfortunate The point is obviously a difficulty; but in the long enthusiast, and the limitation of ways and means last it can only be settled in one way, and the sooner rests with somebody else. One of the common forms the Royal Society takes the field with a proposal for of our scientific attitude is that Government support an initiating and discriminating advisory body other chills and discourages private effort. The scientific i than its own Council the sooner will it be possible societies are fond of adopting it because it leaves to take a definite step in the direction of the national them in a sort of control of things; and, of course, organisation of scientific effort.
F.R.S. Government as at present advised " is not likely to demur. But what attracts and stimulates private
Osmotics. effort is really efficiency, whether public or private; it is frequently the case that support by Government IN connection with the recent discussion, at the lacks that stimulating quality simply because it repre- Faraday Society, on osmotic and vapour pressures, it sents not a purpose, but a concession. . The situation seems worth while to state that a long and laborious recalls a remark once heard at a college dinner-table, series of vapour pressure measurements which Mr. when a country clergyman thus expressed himself Hartley and I have undertaken is nearly completed, concerning the Nonconformist discontent about educa- and I hope will be published shortly. tion : “I cannot see what these dissenters have to com- The results so far go to show that by taking plain of; we tolerate them.” So with our national RT=22.3909 (in litres and atmospheres, and with organisation of scientific effort : it ends in toleration O=16), which is the value for nitrogen and close to by the Government, and the “establishment" looks that derived from water vapour at 30° C., a very good on with a sort of bewildered wonder at our insatiable agreement is obtained between the direct and indirect discontent.
values of the osmotic pressure of cane-sugar at o° C., Among the changes which will follow the war, and incidentally of calcium ferrocyanide. whatever the issue may be, the reorganisation of I also take the opportunity of mentioning that if Þ scientific effort must find a place. All the after- be the osmotic pressure, V and v the volume of soludinner speeches about the parsimony of the Treasury, tion and volume of water containing one gram-mole