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the stagnation of rain water, the notification, and if necessary the removal to hospital, of cases of malaria, and the use of kerosene and the administration of quinine, with such marked success that at the present time malaria has practically, if not absolutely, disappeared from the places where the aforesaid measures have been carried out, while the remainder of the district remains much as it was. The report is a striking testimony to the value of the discovery by Major Ronald Ross.
A COMMITTEE appointed some years ago by the laboratory section of the American Public Health Association has recently issued its report on standard methods of water analysis. The committee in formulating the report has ascertained in a comprehensive manner the views of American analysts in regard to the bacteriological, chemical, physical, and microscopical examinations of water, and much cooperative work has been done in connection with the differentiation of species of bacteria. The need for greater uniformity in water analysis methods is universally recognised, and in the further standardisation of analytical and bacteriological methods in this country regard should be had to the report of the American committee. The part dealing with the identification of species of bacteria would appear to be specially valuable. The report is reprinted from the Journal of Infectious Diseases (May).
IN connection with the Agricultural Education and Forestry Exhibition at the recent show of the Royal Agricultural Society there was a section devoted to meteorology, organised by the Royal Meteorological Society. One feature was a typical climatological station with all the necessary instruments; another was an exhibition of diagrams, maps, photographs, &c., illustrating the effect of weather upon agriculture. Barometers, thermometers, rain gauges, sunshine recorders, &c., were also shown, and an address was given each day by Mr. W. Marriott on meteorology in relation to agriculture.
WE have received from the meteorological reporter to the Government of India (Dr. G. T. Walker) the Monthly Weather Review for November, 1904, and the Annual Summary for 1903. In the Monthly Review the data are presented from two different points of view:-(1) the prevalence and spread of diseases, and (2) their connection with agricultural questions. For this purpose India has been divided into two large groups of divisions, from what may be termed the medical and agricultural standpoints. The vastness of the area, and the number of tables that the discussions necessitate, are somewhat bewildering. The Annual Summary, however, completes the discussion, and the aggregate data are presented in an elaborate but clear and able manner. From the agricultural standpoint, India is divided into 57 meteorological districts; the tables show, for each element, the departures of the monthly and annual mean values for 1903 from the averages of past years, and the leading features are clearly illustrated by a series of carefully prepared charts.
THE English titles of the Journal of the Meteorological Society of Japan for May show that it contains several interesting articles, e.g. on the earthquake of April 15, the hot wind at Taito in Formosa, and others. Mr. T. Okada contributes a note in English on the relation between the pulse-rate and atmospheric pressure. The author quotes a table by Prof. Clayton, who made an ascent of Pike's Peak in 1901 by means of the railway, and therefore without exertion, and Mr. Okada has calculated the atmospheric pressure at each station up to 4313
metres, from Hann's simplified barometric formula. glance at the table shows that the pulse-rate regularly increases with decrease of atmospheric pressure, and he gives a simple equation by the use of which the actual and calculated values exactly agree. This formula shows that a decrease of 9 mm. of pressure causes an increase of one beat of the heart per minute.
We have received a copy of the report and results of observations for the year 1904 at the Fernley Observatory, Southport. The work carried on at this institution is of considerable importance; the observatory represents the coast district of the north-west of England, between Liverpool and Fleetwood, while somewhat to the east is the inland observatory of Stonyhurst. All these stations, except, perhaps, Fleetwood, are equipped with complete self-recording instruments. The Southport Observatory undertakes, in addition to the usual work of a first order station, considerable experimental work connected with rainfall, evaporation, wind, &c., at various subordinate stations in its vicinity. It also publishes a useful table of comparative climatological statistics at health resorts and large towns. The tables show that at Southport the year 1904 was very dry, the rainfall being 7.4 inches below the average. The maximum shade temperature was 82°4, on July 11, and the minimum 220, on November 27; the lowest radiation temperature was 134, on February 29. The director is Mr. J. Baxendell, meteorologist to the Southport Corporation, and the chief assistant Mr. F. L. Halliwell, who, in connection with Mr. Baxendell and Mr. W. H. Dines, has invented several large sensitive recording instruments which are now adopted at various important stations.
THE Board of Agriculture and Fisheries has received, through the Foreign Office, a copy of a despatch from the British Consul at Munich reporting that 200,000 eggs of a new kind of whitefish (Coregonus Albula) of the Salmonidæ family, imported from Lake Peipus, in Russia, were hatched last year with excellent results at the fish-breeding station at Starnberg, near Munich. It is the intention of the Bavarian Fisheries Society, under which the experiments have taken place, to continue trials for five consecutive years to the same extent as hitherto, in the hope that the fish first placed in the different lakes may have spawned by then.
THE Bulletin of the Johns Hopkins Hospital for May (xvi., No. 170) contains papers on various medical subjects and on cancer, &c., in bitches. Dr. Hemmeter, in an article of considerable interest, discusses the history of the discovery of the circulation of the blood. He remarks that no less than six individuals have been credited with this discovery-Servetus by the Spaniards, Colombus, Ruini, and Cesalpinus by the Italians, Harvey by the English, and Rabelais by the French. He then proceeds critically to survey the evidence for and against the claims of these, and also of Galen, Malpighi, and others whose anatomical discoveries were almost necessarily precursors of the conception of the blood circulation. Dr. Hemmeter finally concludes that "the discovery of the circulation of the blood was the work of almost a millennium from Aristotle and Galen to Harvey, but the one who first logically drew true consequences out of hundreds of years of preceding work, and upon whose broad intellectual shoulders all subsequent investigations rested, was William Harvey; and to-day, 328 years after his birth, we may side without reservation with the words of Bartholin : At Harveyo omnes applaudunt circulationis auctori."
ANOTHER mounted specimen of the great auk has just been sold to a Continental museum by Messrs. Rowland Ward for 400l. There are, it is said, practically seventy known specimens, most of which are in State museums.
EXPERIMENTAL work for the purpose of protecting the sugar-growing industry in the Sandwich Islands has been undertaken by the new owners of the group with characteristic energy, and we have before us the first issue of Entomological Bulletins published at Honolulu on behalf of the Experiment Station of the Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association. The present part is the first instalment of a series to be devoted to the homopterous insects commonly known as leaf-heppers (jumping relatives of the ordinary aphides, or plant lice) and their enemies, and treats of the minute parasites known as Dryinidæ, by which these pests are themselves attacked. Attempts have been made to introduce foreign dryinids into Hawaii in order that they should assist in keeping down the leaf-heppers, but at present with only partial success, owing to the fact that some of the introduced kinds do not prey on these insects. Any leaf-hepper attacked by a dryinid may be reckoned as good as dead, for even the contents of its head and eyes are mercilessly sucked dry by its uninvited "guest. The truth of the old rhyme about little fleas and lesser fleas" is, however, forcibly emphasised in the case of these parasites, which are in turn attacked by what our American friends are pleased to call hyperparasites. "How hardly the dryinid parasites," writes Mr. R. C. L. Perkins, the author of the paper and director of the experiment station, " are at times pressed by their various hyperparasites, we often observed. To cite one instance, from about fifty cocoons of several species of parasites obtained near Cairns, one solitary male alone emerged, all the rest being hyperparasitised, and similar observations were made in several localities."
DR. WILLIS's annual report of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Peradeniya, Ceylon, for 1904 is chiefly devoted to the work connected with investigations in economic botany. As a new departure, the formation of a cotton experiment station in the dry region of north-central Ceylon, supplied with water from irrigation tanks, is of primary importance. The difficulty of clearing the land was enhanced by scarcity of coolie labour, but the soil is excellent, and the situation seems to be well suited to the production of Sea Island cotton; rubber is also being experimentally cultivated in this region. In connection with rubber, the checking of the canker disease observed on two Hevea plantations and the high values obtained for some samples of Castilloa rubber are of interest.
MR. E. P. STEBBING contributes a note to the Indian Forester (May) on the satisfactory results which have been obtained by soaking bamboos in crude Burma petroleum in order to keep off the boring beetles, species of Dinoderus known as shot-borers. The article by Mr. G. H. Myers, a member of the Bureau of Forestry, on Forestry Education in the United States," is noteworthy as indicating the aspirations which stimulate this and similar departments. The importance of practical training and of a knowledge of American requirements is emphasised.
Ax hereditary abnormality in the human hand and foot and its relation to Mendelism form the subject of an article published in the papers of the Peabody Museum of American Archæology and Ethnology (vol. iii., No. 3). The abnormality in question came under the notice of the author, Dr. W. C. Farabee, some years ago in Pennsylvania, and consists in the suppression of one phalange,
or joint, in each of the fingers and toes, with the exception of the thumb and great toe, which were abnormally shortened. The whole hand was extremely short and podgy," and this feature was associated with shortness of bodily stature. Thirty-seven persons, all related, were affected with the malformation, which was inherited in accordance with Mendel's law for five generations. Although a tradition that every other child in the family had short fingers did not prove to be exactly true, yet almost precisely half the number of offspring displayed the abnormality.
In one instance a regular alternation of normal and abnormal individuals continued until the eighth child. The total number of offspring descended from the original abnormal individuals is 69, of whom 33 are normal and 36 abnormal, distributed as follows:-in second gener ation, 4 normals and 4 abnormals; in third, 5 and 7: in fourth, 7 and 9; and in fifth, 17 and 16. The case affords strong confirmation of the general truth of the Mendelian doctrine.
THE general report of the Geological Survey of India drawn up by the director, Mr. T. H. Holland, F.R.S., shows that during the past year much valuable work has been done, and that results of scientific interest as well as of immediate economic importance have been obtained. Among advances of unusual scientific interest is the discovery of a new series of the remarkable family of elæolitesyenites near Kishengarh, in Rajputana. In economic work the department has kept in touch with the numerous developments of private enterprise in the mining of coal, gold, manganese ore and salt, and has demonstrated the existence of iron ores of industrial value. An interesting discovery is that India possesses a possibly valuable asset in the deposits of laterite, which cover considerable areas in the peninsula and in Burma, as it is shown that laterite often exhibits the essential characters of bauxite. The subject is dealt with exhaustively in the Records of the Geological Survey of India (vol. xxxii., part ii.) by Mr. Holland, who gives analyses of the best samples which have so far been tested. These laterites or bauxites were collected in the Madras Presidency, in the Central Provinces, in Central India, in Bengal, and in Bombay, and the percentages of alumina reach as high as 67.88. In the same issue of the Records Mr. Holland publishes returns of the Indian imports and exports of mineral products in 1904. The export of 154,880 tons of manganese ore is a remarkable feature, and the rapid increase in the export of Indian mineral oil is also noteworthy.
WE have received from the Peruvian Government copies of Bulletins Nos. 22 and 23 issued by the Corps of Mining Engineers. The former is a monograph on the mineral resources of the province of Otuzco, by Mr. F. Malaga Santolaya. The province contains rich deposits of gold and silver ores and coal of good quality, as well as ores of copper, lead, manganese, and antimony. The second bulletin is a report of a commission on the Cerro de Pasco mines, signed by the chairman, Mr. C. E. Velarde. It contains a useful summary of the Peruvian mining law and a detailed description of the Cerro de Pasco deposit, originally worked as a silver mine, but now with increasing depth yielding chiefly copper ore.
THE Sociological Society has issued a pamphlet containing an address by Dr. James Bryce on the aims and programme of the society, together with the first annual report of the council and a list of members. The report outlines the circumstances attending the inauguration of the society, and enumerates the aims which it has in view. A brief account of each of the meetings held during the
year with which the report is concerned is given, and a statement of accounts supplied. Dr. Bryce points out in his address that the members of the society may be divided into three classes, viz. those who devote themselves specially and scientifically to the business of research in all those fines of inquiry which concern man as a social being: those interested in sociology as educated and intelligent men; and practical men who are not able to devote themselves entirely to scientific study, but have to deal with sociological problems in the course of their daily life.
THE first number of a new periodical devoted to birds has just made it appearance at Cape Town. It is called the Journal of the South African Ornithologists' Union, and is the organ of the association recently formed under that name. Besides information relative to the new union and reports upon the proceedings of its first meetings, this number contains original articles upon South African birds by Major Sparrow, Mr. F. J. Ellemor, Mr. G. C. Shortridge, and Mr. A. Roberts. The journal is edited by Mr. W. L. Sclater (the president of the union), Dr. Gunning, and Mr. Bucknill, and will appear at irregular intervals, when sufficient matter has been received."
MANY inquiries having been made for part ii. of the Museum Boltenianum, 1798 (which relates to Mollusca, and is very scarce), it has been decided to reproduce a few copies by photographic fascimile from the Crosse copy now in the British Museum (Natural History), and to sell the same at 21. per copy if a sufficient number of subscribers be forthcoming. The work, if issued, will be produced under the supervision of Mr. F. W. Reader. Those wishing to subscribe should apply to Mr. E. R. Sykes, 3 Gray's Inn Place, Gray's Inn, London.
THE Journal of the Royal Sanitary Institute (vol. xxvi., No. 6) is mainly devoted to housing problems. Mr. Turton introduces a discussion on re-housing tenants dispossessed from insanitary property, Dr. Louis Parkes a second on housing in mansions let as flats, and Dr. Robertson a third on certain aspects of the housing problem.
THE Psychological Bulletin (vol. š., No. 6) contains a report of the proceedings of the north central section of the American Psychological Association, a paper by Raymond Dodge on the illusion of clear vision during eye movements, various reviews, notes, &c.
A SECOND edition of the Key to the Classifications of the Patent Specifications of France, Germany, Austria, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Switzerland in the Library of the Patent Office" has now been published at the Patent Office. The price of the "Key" is 6d.
MR. JOHN MURRAY has just issued the ninth edition of Mr. Edward Whymper's guide to "The Valley of Zermatt and the Matterhorn,' and the tenth edition of his guide to "Chamonix and the Range of Mont Blanc." The price of each volume is three shillings net.
WE have received from Messrs. Hurst and Blackett a copy of a map of Lhasa drawn to a scale of 4 inches to a mile. The map is based on the survey in 1904 of Captain C. H. D. Ryder and Captain H. M. Cowie, with a few additions by Mr. Perceval Landon.
THE first of a series of illustrated papers by F. J. Sprague on "The Electric Railway appears in the Century Magazine for July; it gives many interesting particulars of the early experiments made in electric traction.
THE articles contained in the Bulletin of the Johns Hopkins Hospital for June (vol. xi., No. 171) are all of considerable medical interest, and comprise papers on the aetiology and pathogenesis of pernicious anæmia, by Dr. Bunting, on recurrent phlebitis, by Dr. Briggs, on heart block in mammals, by Dr. Erlanger, &c.
MESSRS, GURNEY AND JACKSON announce the preparation in three volumes of a translation by Dr. C. A. Keane of Lunge's" Technical Methods of Chemical Analysis.”
WE are asked to state that Mr. C. S. Sargent's “ Manual of the Trees of North America (exclusive of Mexico)," which was reviewed in our issue for June 29 (see p. 107), is published in England by Messrs. Archibald Constable and Co., Ltd., 16 James Street, Haymarket, and that its price is 255. net.
OUR ASTRONOMICAL COLUMN,
JULY AND AUGUST METEORS.-We have now nearly arrived at what is the most interesting period of the year for the meteoric observer. With skies often clear, with the air at an agreeable temperature, and with meteors visible in more than usual abundance, success is promisingly offered to everyone who practically enters upon the study of this important and complicated branch of astronomy.
In the previous months of May and June, with their strong twilight and a scarcity of meteors, there has been no special inducement to observers, but after the third week in July the nights will become perceptibly darker, early Perseids will begin to manifest themselves, and many Aquarids will probably appear towards the close of the month from a radiant at 339°-10°. Active showers in Sagittarius, Pegasus, Draco, Cygnus, Cepheus, Andromeda, and Cassiopeia will also be observed, but the radiant points will be more remarkable for their variety and number than for striking activity in individual cases.
It is an interesting feature in observations at this time of the year to watch the Perseids from their earliest arrivals (about July 15) to their most belated apparitions (about August 21), and to trace the motion of the radiant point towards the E.N.E. In the following table the position of the radiant is given for every third night :-
The moon will be increasingly gibbous, and though many meteors will doubtless be exhibited before moonset, it will be very advisable to count the number visible in the dark sky after our satellite has gone down, and particularly on the last two dates mentioned above, as the maximum is likely to occur between 2h, and 3h. 30m. a.m. when the radiant is high.
To give anything like a comprehensive list of the radiant points visible in July and August would require a large space, and is, moreover, unnecessary, a pretty complete summary of them having been published in Astronomische Nachrichten, No. 3874, for 1903 June 3.
THE FORMATION OF THE MARTIAN SNOW-CAPS.- A short note communicated by Prof. W. H. Pickering to No. 6, vol. xiii., of Popular Astronomy states that on examin
ing a number of photographs of Mars, which were secured with the 11-inch Draper telescope during the period March 31 to April 30, it was seen that no snow-caps properly so-called appeared until April 23. The photograph of March 31 showed clouds on both the terminator and the limb, but no polar caps. On April 23 a clearly visible and extensive light area appeared at the southern pole, but was not bright enough for snow, rather resembling an extensive region of clouds. A very small light area appeared near to the northern pole on April 15, but was only seen with difficulty. A visual examination with a 24-inch reflector revealed the southern polar cap on April 30 as extending far towards the north in long. 340°.
Prof. Pickering thinks that when the clouds disperse snow will probably be revealed lying in their place. He also contends that the observed seasonal colour-changes from brown to green on such features as the Mare Erythræum is the surest evidence of the existence of vegetation on Mars.
RECENT OBSERVATION OF EROS.-From an equatorial observation of Eros on June 12, in which the planet's position was referred to that of 8 Capricorni, Prof. Millosevich determined the following position:—
(1905 June 12d. 14h. 32m. 24s. M.T. Rome). a (app)=21h. 48m. 4174s. 8 (apr.) = - 16° 41′ 35′′ 3 (Astronomische Nachrichten, No. 4029.) STANDARD TIME IN VARIOUS COUNTRIES.-An interesting and useful summary of the present status of the use of standard time the world over is given in appendix iv., vol. iv., of the Publications of the U.S. Naval Observatory. The director of the observatory, Rear-Admiral Chester, has prepared various tables in which he shows the relation of the standard time employed in each country, state, or colony, to the meridians of Greenwich and Washington. In the first table is given a summary of nations that use standard time, and it shows that, of the thirty-six nations specifically mentioned, twenty employ Greenwich time as the basis of their systems. The areas and population concerned in these twenty nations form a very large majority of the totals, and of the remaining sixteen no two agree. This Mr. Chester regards as a powerful argument in favour of the adoption of a universal time system.
Other tables show in detail the present status of the time systems employed in a large number of localities, and enumerate the dividing lines separating those contiguous areas in which different standards are in use.
HARVARD COLLEGE OBSERVATORY ANNUAL REPORT.-In the forty-ninth annual report of the Harvard College Observatory Prof. E. C. Pickering, dealing with the year ending September 30, 1904, gives a brief outline of the progress made in each of the many and various researches which are being carried out at that observatory.
Variable stars and asteroids were photometrically observed, with the polarising photometer, by Prof. Wendell, who, inter alia, found that the asteroid  Iris varies about one-quarter of a magnitude in a period of 6h. 12m. The measurement of all the Durchmusterung stars in zones 10' wide at intervals of 5° was continued with the 12-inch meridian photometer, and the observations of many of the zones are now practically complete.
543 photographs taken with the 11-inch Draper telescope brought the total number secured with this instrument up to 15,030, and 1116 photographs were secured with the 8-inch Draper telescope, raising the total up to date to 32,094. It is proposed to extend this work to the spectra of the fainter stars by giving exposures of sixty minutes' duration and using only one prism. Many objects having peculiar spectra were discovered by Mrs. Fleming during the examination of the Draper photographs.
The Boyden and Bruce telescopes were employed continuously, and from the examination of the long-exposure chart plates Prof. Frost discovered many new nebulæ, &c.. including 203 nebulæ in Virgo where the Dreyer (N.G.C.) catalogue mentions only 58.
The meteorological observations were continued at the Blue Hill Observatory, kites being employed on fourteen occasions. The average maximum height reached by the kites was 7750 feet above sea level, the maximum altitude attained on one occasion being 14,660 feet.
THE ACADEMIC SIDE OF TECHNICAL TRAINING.'
IT is not so very long ago that engineers, at any rate, became willing to recognise that technical training had an academic side at all. Almost the first, and still undoubtedly the greatest, representative of the academic side of our profession was the late W. J. Macquorn Rankine, who, after eighteen years of practical engineering experience, became professor of engineering in Glasgow in 1855, and held the chair until his death in 1872, and some of whose pupils have occupied, and now occupy, very high positions in the profession for which he did so much. Perhaps it may be said that Rankine was by nature rather a physicist dealing with engineering problems than an engineer (in spite of his love for the three-foot rule "**) dealing with engineering problems. But only those of us who have had occasion carefully to study his work from the point of view of trying to teach subjects similar to his can ever know what an extraordinary physicist he was. But up to the years 1870 and 1880, Rankine's pupils and their contemporaries were not yet old enough to influence the body of the engineering profession, and there still existed a pronounced dislike on the part of an enormous number of engineers to anything academic, a dislike which can hardly be realised now by those who see the various professional bodies vieing with one another in their endeavours to ensure that their members shall have a proper and complete scientific training.
Now all the great engineering societies have recognised formally that no engineering training is complete without its academic side, and a very important committee, consisting of delegates from the five great engineering societies, with Sir William White as president, has been at work for some time, formulating their ideas as to the nature of the qualifying training, and going so far as to formulate also ideas as to the preliminary education of young engineers before they commence their academic training. I do not wish-rather I do wish very much, but it is not my subject to-day-to enter upon the very thorny questions involved in what that preliminary education ought to be according to the notions of a grown-up engineer. I will say, however, for it is no secret, that communications received from many headmasters of our great schools, while not going so far as some of us would like, are yet quite astonishingly radical in their ideas as compared not only with thirty, but even with fifteen years ago.
As to the general trend of our academic training, I think we engineers are entitled to say that it should be so arranged as best to train the best engineers. I put it in this way because I mean it to be understood that while on the one hand the best engineer is certainly not the man who knows his own business only and narrowly; on the other hand, I think we are entitled to demand that the engineer should not be looked upon as the mere byeproduct of the training, but as the chief result to which other things are to be subordinated. I think that University College is not likely to fall into this mistake, but the point has really to be kept in mind in cases where, as here, the engineering education is only one branch of the wide range of education covered by the whole work of a university college.
In saying this, however, I particularly do not mean that the academic training of engineers should be laid out exactly on superficially utilitarian lines. The idea of giving a young man just as much mathematics, just as much physics, or just as much chemistry as the minimum that he can professionally require, is not only pernicious, but absolutely fallacious. I am sure that the only way of knowing a subject up to a certain point in such a fashion that, up to that point, it can be thoroughly utilised, is to study the subject up to a point very much further advanced. It is not at all a valid objection to the teaching of any particular point in mathematics or physics that it is more
1 Abridged from an Address delivered before the Union Society of University College, London, on June 29, by Dr. Alex. B. W. Kennedy, F.R.S. 2 Some talk of millimètres, and some of kilogrammes, And some of décilitres, to measure beer and drams; But I'm a British workman, too old to go to school;
So by pounds I'll eat, and by quarts I'll drink, and I'll work by my three-foot rule."
complicated or more advanced than anything which the engineer will be likely to require. That, in itself, is not an objection at all, because, as I have said, it is impossible really to master a scientific subject up to a certain, often very elementary, point without having at least a superficial knowledge of a much greater extent of the subject. But it is desirable, indeed necessary from our point of view, that the advanced work in purely scientific subjects should be specially chosen so as best to deepen and make certain the knowledge of the earlier work. This may be, and almost certainly is, a very different thing from choosing it so as to form the best basis for still further study of the particular science in question. In this connection I must point out at least as my opinion-that it is a mistake to consider that there is only one mathematics or one physics, and that either the preparatory work or the whole teaching must necessarily be the same for everybody -for the man who is to devote himself to engineering, or for the man who intends to spend his life in physical work. For instance, I think an engineering student may be allowed to take for granted that A times B is equal to B times A (he is always quite prepared to believe it), and that it is perfectly reasonable to make to him dogmatic and probably in a sense erroneous, statements as to atoms (let us say) or as to the ether, without any of the qualifications which would be necessary supposing the atoms and the ether were to form the basis of the man's future studies.
It is no doubt a noble conscientiousness which sometimes prevents a man who is in the front rank among men of science from making to his students, as quite general, statements which he knows to be true only with qualifications or limitations. But the case is one in which often the general statement, given with authority, will really give the student a truer conception of the facts than a more accurate statement which is guarded by reasoning and explanations which he (that is, the student) cannot understand, and will almost certainly misunderstand. As a writer in NATURE put it a few days ago, referring to the theory of quaternions, "the truth is that very few students are able to appreciate to the full an absolutely logical argument until they have a certain amount of practical knowledge imparted to them more or less by authority."
There is one matter in connection with the teaching both of mathematics and physics to engineering students which I think might well be emphasised more than is generally the case. Whether it is desirable that it should be emphasised in dealing with the general student I do not venture to say. I mean the point that the answer to any question can only be as accurate as the data of that question. For the ordinary examination question in mathematical physics it is necessary and unavoidable to presuppose certain data which in real life are absurd and impossible. In the ordinary everyday questions of engineering there is nothing more misleading than to take for granted the data of the examination paper, and a very great deal of the disrepute into which mathematical work had fallen at one time among engineers was due to the fact that although the average student was able to use his methods rightly, he was unable to perceive whether they led him to a right result. I think it must be possible, even if it is not exactly easy, to point out to the student the extent to which the accuracy of his answers is influenced by the assumptions which he makes.
It is, I am afraid, too often presumed that the method of working out the answer is the chief thing; perhaps it may be from some particular point of view. But for our purposes, foolish as it may sound, the method of working out the answer is only secondary; the answer itself is the chief thing, and we really must have that answer right when it finds itself translated into steel or stone. We would much sooner have a right answer got by an imperfect method than a wrong answer got by the best method in the world. And an answer may be wrong in two ways; it may be wrong because the data are in themselves wrong, that is to say, inapplicable to the particular case, or it may be wrong by being stated in a form much more accurate than the real data will allow of, as when we find the indicated horse-power of engines given
to six significant figures, when we know perfectly well that the fourth must always be doubtful.
It would be most useful if our scientific professors would discuss these points with their students and show them specially the extent to which the methods and theorems of the mathematician and the physicist may be properly applied when the only data available for the problems are such as actually are found in practice. It is hardly fair to leave the engineering professor to tell his pupils, to leave the engineer to tell his assistants, that the methods they are using are quite inapplicable, and the results which they are getting obviously inaccurate. This is in every way inadvisable, and may lead the otherwise guileless student to discount all his teachers instead of only one. Every scientific experimenter knows that it is often the most difficult part of his work to say how alterations in data or want of knowledge of accuracy in data may affect the result, and I should like much to see this matter systematically dealt with by the teachers who have actually to do with the scientific or theoretical treatment of the questions concerned. If they have any doubt as to what is the general nature of the complex engineering questions which have to be solved, a letter addressed to any engineer in Westminster would bring them the fullest information. But happily most of the university colleges now have engineers on their Senates, so that the information can be had without going outside their own walls.
As to the more advanced part of engineering teaching in colleges, I want to put forward an idea that I have more than once had occasion to express. I should much like to see the development of some such connection between old and distinguished students of a college, who become later on older and more distinguished engineers, and the college at which they have studied or some other college, as exists in the similar case of the medical profession. My suggestion is that to get the full benefit from its best pupils, a college should, if possible, keep in touch with them after they have left it. A few years after they have left college, and when they have fairly got into the swim of professional work, but before they have so much lost touch with the difficulties of their college days that they no longer appreciate the student's point of view, they might be made to help in teaching by giving lectures on the special branches of engineering with which they were specially and actively familiar. They should do it before they have forgotten what they formerly learnt, or have had it driven out of their heads by the pressure of other ideas, and while college methods and points of view are still familiar. They would be men still making their way in their profession, still, let us hope, full of enthusiasm for their work, and certainly they would be daily finding out the differences between actual and academic problems. Teaching of this kind could in no way replace the general preliminary teaching of engineering subjects in the college, which must continue to be given, as it is given now, by a professor or professors, the bulk of whose time is spent at the college, and who are thoroughly in touch with all the students.
I confess that I hope a time will come when in any case professors of engineering will not remain permanently in academic harness, but will come out and take their place a most important one-as colleagues among the active and leading engineers of the country, and will look upon such a position as that which they ought to reach rather than a solely academic position, however eminent. But, in addition to the work of the permanent professor or professors, I believe that old students coming back in the fashion I have indicated, not in one only, but in several branches of engineering, and giving short courses of special lectures to third year students, would very much help both the students and the rest of the teaching staff. The arrangement would also have the very great advantage of bringing about a closer and warmer connection between the men who are at work in their profession and the colleges where they were trained. It would also help to keep the colleges themselves in that actual and continual touch with engineering things and ideas which is so absolutely essential for their continued usefulness.