Page images

I think that we are now justified in assuming that the It was impossible at that time to state the final conhelium, a product of radio-active change, is present in the clusions at which Mr. Thompson had arrived, for the minerals in a state of supersaturated solid solution; that publication of his work was not completed; but now the mineral substance being impermeable to the gas at that we have the second volume in our hands our ordinary temperatures, the velocity with which equilibrium is established between the helium in solution and the helium

readers are in a position to judge for themselves of the in the gaseous phase is infinitely small, but increases very

character and importance of the results, which have rapidly with rise of temperature; that as the solubility of

now been clothed in the dress of a modern language helium in the mineral substance is probably very small,

for the first time. The sources of such results, we the mineral cannot be made to re-absorb the gas. Grind- need hardly say, are the terra-cotta tablets of the ing even to an impalpable powder, if unaccompanied by royal library at Nineveh, now preserved in the British local heating, should result in the evolution of minute Museum, and after à careful examination of Mr. quantities of helium only.

Thompson's volumes we are able to say that the transI may point out in conclusion that the “ deflagration lator has done his best to reproduce the meaning of which takes place when“ fergusonite ” is heated, and

the documents which he places before us without was taken by Sir Wm. Ramsay and myself to indicate the

unnecessary comments or theories. presence of a chemical compound of helium, also takes place in the case of some minerals which contain no helium.

It must be said at the outset that we do not regard University College, Bristol. MORRIS W. TRAVERS.

Mr. Thompson's work as final in all particulars, for in respect of many Assyrian texts this work is the

editio princeps; but none can fail be pleased with The Pollination of Exotic Flowers.

the manifest honesty of the translations, which quite In connection with Prof. Groom's article on the pollin- justifies us in overlooking the baldness and crudity ation of exotic flowers (November 10, 1904, p. 26) the

of expression which sometimes characterise them. following notes may be of interest. The inflorescence of In studies of this kind we want the texts and the best Marcgravia Umbellata is described in Schimper's “ Plant rendering of them possible, but the most important Geography," where Belt's description is quoted from the point of all is that the editor should not read meanings

Naturalist in Nicaragua.” The plant is common here, into the words of his texts or twist them to suit preclimbing to the summit of the forest trees, and is frequently conceived notions. It goes without saying that Mr. visited by humming birds. The bird settles on the top of Thompson's translations will not be accepted by other the flowers and inserts its long curved beak into the pitchers labourers in his field without reservation. Indeed, we below to suck the sweet juice which they contain. I have not seen insects visiting the flowers, neither have I found

may note in passing that M. Fossey has already them in the pitchers, and conclude that the birds are

animadverted upon them in the Recueil de Travaux, attracted by the sweet juice itself rather than by insects in

in the Revue Critique, and in the part of the search of it as Belt suggests.

Journal Asiatique just issued. It is no part of our Flowers with strong scent and brush-like stamens are

duty here to attempt to vindicate Mr. Thompson's very common, and one of them, the Pois Doux (Inga renderings or to belittle M. Fossey's knowledge of the laurina), is surrounded when in blossom by a motley crowd science of ancient magic, but it must in common fairof bees, large beetles, and insects of every description, as ness be stated that the latter savant is not skilled in well as by humming birds of several species. The latter dealing with cuneiform documents except through the restainly visit very different plants, but are most familiar medium of the copies of other scholars who have been hovering round the banana flowers, sucking the drops of trained in making transcripts direct from the original sweet liquid continually oozing from them. Flowers like the Pois Doux are easily destroyed by heavy Thompson's derivations from the Syriac proves that he

tablets, and the mere fact that he condemns Mr. rain, and blossom only for a short period. A large number of others are provided with horned stamens, with barren

does not comprehend the importance of one northern anthers or anther lobes. May not this be a protection

Semitic dialect in helping to explain another. On the against loss of pollen by rain and wind, it being kept in

other hand, Mr. Thompson has spent some years in the sheltered situation, and only set free when an "alighting task of copying the various classes of tablets which insect moves the stamens? It would be interesting to

he is now editing and translating, and though some observe how far the abundance of flowers with horned may admire M. Fossey's tempting renderings, and stamens is correlated with heavy rainfall and constant wind. prefer them to those of Mr. Thompson, it should be Dominica, December 13, 1904.

ELLA M. BRYANT. remembered that the translations set forth in the volume

before us are those of the skilled workman who is Reversal of Charge in Induction Machines.

working at his trade, whilst those of M. Fossey are the I HAVE tried Mr. G. W. Walker's experiment with a small

product of a student of magic and religion in general. Wimshurst, with g" plates, and find that the reversal he

The groups of tablets published by Mr. Thompson mentions generally takes place, but not always. In my

are five in number. The first are inscribed with case, however, the machine is made so as to excite either

exorcisms and spells which are directed against the kay, and the reversal will not take place unless excitation

disease of ague or fever; the second contain charms has occurred while the motion is reversed.

and incantations which were intended to do away with R. LANGTON COLE.

headache; the third deal with a series of diseases Sutton, Surrey, January 6.

of an internal character, but it cannot at present be said exactly what those diseases were; the fourth

are inscribed with texts written with the view of ETIL SPIRITS AS A CAUSE OF SICKNESS destroying the “ taboo ” to which, it seems, man was IN BABYLONIA.1

thought to be peculiarly liable; and the fifth supply IN a former number of Nature (vol

. lxix., p. 26) the descriptions of supernatural beings, among whom attention of our readers was directed to the appear.

may be mentioned a creature who was half woman ance of the first volume of a work which Mr. Campbell the goddess Nin-tu, who was the Babylonian equivalent

and half snake. Mr. Thompson identifies her with Thompson, of the British Museum, was devoting to the consideration of the important function which devils

of the Egyptian goddesses Hathor, Isis, Mer-sekert, and evil spirits were believed to play in the produc peoples. Like each of those goddesses she was a form

&c., and the Virgin Mary among Oriental Christian tion of disease by the early inhabitants of Babylonia. "The Devils and Evil Spirits of Babylonia." By R. Campbell plays such an important part in many, mythologies.

of the World-mother, or chief Mother-goddess who Vol ii. Pp. liv +179. (London : Luzac and Co., 1904.) By way of supplement, Mr. Thompson has added the

Price 128. 64. net

translation of an ancient prescription for curing the of water collected in pots, whereupon the vessels tooth-ache. The sufferer was ordered to mix some themselves would break. In Sumer and Accad beer with oil and with another unknown ingredient, knotted cords were much used for purposes of witche and, having rubbed it on his tooth, he recited the craft, and knotted locks of hair were held to be allo following words three times :—“When Anu had powerful. The section which treats of the ban and created the heavens, the heavens created the earth, the taboo is especially suggestive, and we hope that Mr. earth created the rivers, the rivers created the canals, Thompson will say more on these subjects when he the canals created the marshes, the marshes created has collected a larger number of examples. Finally, the Worm, which came and wept before Shamash and he directs attention to the existence of the word cried out before Ea, saying :- What wilt thou give Kuppuru," which is the equivalent in meaning to the me for my food? What wilt thou give me to eat?' Mosaic idea of “ atonement," and the texts printed in To this the Sun-God replied :- I will give thee dry the volume before us show conclusively that the acts bones and scented ... wood.' To this the Worm which formed the atonement removed the taboo which made answer : Of what use are dry bones and

man had incurred. The Sumerian ceremonies of scented . . . wood to me? Let me drink between the atonement were certainly developed out of sympathetic teeth and let me be at the gums, that I may drink the magic, and the examples of atonement given in the blood of the teeth and sap the strength of the gums, Bible show that the ceremonies mentioned were, in then shall I be master of the bolt of the door.'" When more than one case, closely connected with primitive the patient had said the above, he was ordered to Hebrew magic. Those who are interested in the study address the Worm and say, “ May Ea smite thee with of magic in all its forms will find Mr. Thompson's

book of considerable interest and importance.

[ocr errors]

N interesting lecture' was recently delivered in

the psychological institute of the University of Berlin by Prof. Scripture, of the University of Yale, whose investigations in phonetics are well known. Prof. Scripture's method is that first employed by Fleeming Jenkin and Ewing, and afterwards developed by Hermann, the writer and others, namely, to record on a moving surface, either by photography or by a direct system of levers, the curves imprinted by speech on the cylinder of a phonograph

a or on the disc of a gramophone. Dr. Scripture has recently improved the mechanism of his apparatus so as to obtain an amplification of the curves, about three times in the horizontal and three hundred times in the vertical direction, while the speed of the movement of his gramophone plate was reduced 126,300 times that at which it rotates during the acoustical reproduction of the sound. His curves have been submitted to analysis, and it shows the energy with which the research is being prosecuted when he is able to state that in America he has twenty persons engaged in this special bit of work.

In the discussion of his results, Prof. Scripture, in the first instance, refers to some remarks by Prof. Sievers, of Leipzig, on what may be called the “ melody" of vowels and words. Prof. Sievers says that each line and verse of a poem has its own melody,

and that this will be determined by the psychological Fig. 1.-Bronze animal-headed figure of one of the Babylonian Powers of condition of the individual at the time of its vocal exEvil. From "The Devils and Evil Spirits of Babylonia."

pression. An author, too, while writing a poem, say

one of a dramatic character, may give a certain the strength of his fist, 0 Worm! We can only “ melody” to the expressions of one individual. hope that these potent words relieved the sufferer. Goethe, for example, causes Faust to drop his voice at

The bulk of Mr. Thompson's present volume is, of the close of a sentence, while the voice of Mephisto course, occupied with the transliterations and literal pheles rises and falls in a variable manner. Sievers translations of the documents of which he treats; but, also points out, as a curious fact, that when Goethe as these are manifestly intended for the expert in completed the poem, many years after he wrote the cuneiform only, we may briefly note the summaries of earlier portions, he had forgotten these melodic effects, their contents, which appear in the preface. The texts and the later portions have not the same melodic which refer to words of power show that they possessed characteristics. Prof. Scripture supports Prof. much 'in common with a similar class of document

Sievers's view. This melodic character will thus affect found in Egypt and elsewhere. The Sumerian

the quality of a vowel sound. magician having found out the name of the devil which Prof. Scripture holds that the movement of the vocal caused the sickness he was called upon to cure, pro-cords does not produce a sinuous curve, and herein ceeded to deal with it by means of sympathetic magic: he agrees with Marage, of Paris. By the movements He employed ceremonies of various kinds, in which of the cords a number of sudden and more or less violent magical figures, loaves of bread, pieces of hair, water, shocks are given to the air, and each shock is coma virgin kid, &c., played prominent parts. Sicknesses municated to the air in the resonators. In this way could be transferred to the dead bodies of kids and

i “Uber das Studium der Spracb Kurven." By E. W. Scriptute. pigs, and devils could be made to disappear into masses Annalen der Naturphilosophie. "(Leipzig : Veit and Co.).

[ocr errors]

we can interpret the groups of marks made on the wax waves, . The writer can corroborate this view from his cylinder of the phonograph. Each group corresponds observations by his own method of recording directly to a “ şhock" from the cords, and the smaller curves the vibrations of a phonograph recorder on a rapidly making up the group are due to the movements of the moving glass plate. air in the resonators. Prof. Scripture is not satisfied Prof. Scripture also points out a fact that was soon with the theory of Helmholtz that the resonators de- apparent to all observers in experimental phonetics, velop overtones in a harmonic series, nor with that namely, that in the records of the phonograph or of Hermann, who asserts that the resonance tones need gramophone there are neither syllables nor internot necessarily be harmonic. He states that he can- mediate glides, but a succession of waves, infinitely not interpret his tracings by the rigid application of diverse in form, corresponding to the tones of the voice either of these theories, and he lays stress on the fact or the sounds of any musical instrument. The sound that the walls of the resonating cavities above the of a single vowel may be in a groove a metre long on cords are not rigid like the resonators of musical the wax cylinder of the phonograph, and in the bottom instruments, but are soft, as if the wall were fluid. of this groove there may be thousands of little groups Such a resonator, he says, will give its own tone in of waves. The writer possesses records of songs that response to all tones. We confess that here we are if drawn out would be 100 metres in length. Finally, not able fully to comprehend the author's meaning. Prof. Scripture lays emphasis on the effect of varying

Prof. Scripture endeavours also to establish a close intensity as influencing, quality: Apart from the relationship between the form of the vibration of the theory of vowel-tones advanced by the author, this cords and the action of the resonators. According to interesting lecture owes its value to the way in which him, the form of the vibration of the cord may be Prof. Scripture approaches the problem from the altered by changes in the action of the muscular fibres physiological and psychological side. The mode of that tighten the cord, so as to produce a tone of a given production of vowel-tones is in this sense not entirely

a physical problem. We are dealing with living cords Come

moved by living muscles, and with curiously shaped mm

resonators having living walls. Rip m


[ocr errors]

health www


THERE are spots, insignificant in themselves, So

which have a world-wide celebrity among those interested in certain pursuits or investigations. Such

is Gheel to the alienist, Shide to the seismologist, or good

Bayreuth to the musician, and such, too, is Spiti, a i barren and sparsely inhabited valley in the centre of

the Himalayas, which has long been known to geologists for its extensive series of richly fossiliferous

rocks. A district like this could not long escape the pros


notice of the Geological Survey of India, and one of

the earliest volumes of its memoirs is that by Dr. F. per

Stoliczka and F. R. Mallet. Published in 1864, this remained the standard, and practically the only, de

scription of the geology of Spiti until the publication, Ah!

in 1891, of Mr. C. L. Griesbach's memoir, in which, while adopting his predecessors' mapping in the main,

he introduced great modifications in the sequence. FIG. 1.-Curves of Rip van Winkle's Toast, spoken by the American actor,

| Neither of these descriptions, however, is entitled to Joseph Jefferson.

rank as more than a reconnaissance, but now we have

the results of what may fairly be described as a survey pitch. Assuming that each muscle fibre has a separate of this region, and, in an interesting and clearly exnerve fibre (which is highly improbable), one can see pressed memoir, Mr. Hayden has gone far towards that the tension of the cords, even when adapted to the clearing up the points which were in dispute. In all production of a tone of a given pitch, might be so

cases where he has found himself at variance with modified as to give out a tone-wave of a special form, 1 his predecessors' conclusions he has produced good and that thus an almost infinite variety of qualities of evidence, and it is in one way satisfactory that he is tone (tone-colours) might be produced. The special generally in agreement with the one who can no longer quality of tone would thus in the first instance depend defend his views. on the psychical condition of the individual at the The Spiti valley contains representatives of every moment. In the next place, according to Prof. series from Cretaceous to Silurian, and a Cambrian Scripture, the "water-wall” resonators, as he calls age is inferred for a series of sedimentary, but unthem, will develop their own tones, independently of fossiliferous, beds underlying the latter. In all these the cord-tones, and thus, again, by a summation of Mr. Hayden not only collected from known, but also these tones, the quality of the vowel-tone may be discovered several previously unknown, fossil-horizons, almost infinitely varied. In this way there is a

among the most interesting of which we may mention Physiological association between the movements of that of the land plants of Culm age. In the Silurian the cords and the action of the resonators.

he has restored Stoliczka's correlation and fully supProf. Scripture also notes that each vowel has its ported it by fossil evidence; on the other hand he has own harmony, depending on the resonators, and that confirmed Mr. Griesbach's discovery of Lower Triassic if it is sounded for even a short time its “ melody

beds, and his conclusion that there is, in Spiti, a conmay change. This is why it is that when we examine tinuous conformable sequence from Permian to Upper the waves corresponding to a vowel as transcribed Trias, and in this connection has rendered ample from the gramophone they are often seen to change in

| 1 " The Genlogy of Spiti, with Parts of Bashahr and Rupshu." By H. H. character as we approach the end of the series of Pp. viti29; illuxera ed. (Calcutta : Government Printing Office, 1904)

Hayden. (Demoirs of the Geological Survey of India, vol. xxxvi, part i.).

acknowledgment of the work of the late Dr. A. v. In speaking at Cambridge to the Head Teachers' Krafft, by whom it had been intended that the descrip- Association on the National League, which owes its tion of the Triassic rocks should be undertaken. inception to his statesmanlike grasp of the psycho

A chapter is devoted to the correlation of the un- logical moment at which to enlist the sympathy and fossiliferous sequence of the outer Himalayas with interest of the nation, half alarmed, half repentant of that in Spiti, and an impartial account is given of the its easy optimism and laissez-faire, Sir Lauder Brunton guesses—they are nothing more—which have been went direct to the pointmade. Mr. Hayden does not attempt to deliver judg- How can we alter most surely and speedily those ment on this vexed question, but seems inclined to- conditions which tend to physical deterioration? wards Dr. Stoliczka's view; in this we think that he The answer lies in a nutshell. By training the has not taken sufficient account of what may be called young to open-air work and play, to care of teeth and extra-Himalayan considerations. The differences be- exercise of muscles, the girls in preparation of appetween Spiti and the outer Himalayas, the long sequence tising food, the boys in such drill as will make them of fossiliferous rocks in the one, the complete absence real defenders of their country. of fossils in the other, seem to admit of only two ex- We may not go so far as Sir Lauder in his belief planations—either the rocks of one area are unrepre- ' in the educative value of the wall picture of the ravages sented in the other, or the conditions of deposition of the tubercle bacillus—we remember the fearful joy

, were so dissimilar that lithological similarity in the

with which we contemplated a ghastly picture of two areas is not to be looked for, and either supposi- volcanic colouring which an old lady assured us was tion precludes all hope of direct correlation.

an accurate delineation of a drunkard's stomach—110 do we think his picture of the country cottage altogether accurate; but he has seized the fact that the master of the situation is the teacher, and to the teacher he turns, confident in his zeal, his devotion, his stimulating propaganda, his patient training, confident, too, in the plastic material our schools bring to his hand.

To another large class of workers in the public service, the medical officers of health, Sir Lauder Brunton also appeals. He pointed out to the Incorporated Society that physical efficiency is more than doubtful in the mass of people even if physical deterioration is unproved.

For accurate data as to height and weight, growth and physical development of the youth of the nation, we must look to the teachers in daily touch with them. Such data have hitherto been conspicuous by their absence, but once in existence they will enable the statesman and statistician alike to realise the problem they have to solve.

This involves periodical measurement, and to render their task effective the teachers will need instruction, and the most likely person to be called in to give that instruction is the M.O.H. Without trenching on the medical profession the teacher may learn from them to detect signs of fatigue or mental strain, to note defective vision and physical weakness, all of which

too often escape notice until irremediable mischief is Fig. 1.-Muth Quartzite at Head of Teli River, kashalır. 6, Laonella done.

Shales; 5, Muschelkalk; 4. Lower Trias; 3, :Productus shales ; 2. Sir Lauder Brunton dwelt on the question of the milk Muth Quartzite; 1, Silurian limestone. From "The Geology of Spiti."

supply, the feeding of underfed school children, and The memoir is indexed and illustrated by plates,

the housing question, and warmly endorsed the comseveral of which are reproductions of photographs by health should have security of tenure in view of the

mittee's recommendation that the medical officer of the author ; it bears the stamp of careful work, and local jealousies he may arouse, the local prejudices he is worthy of the reputation of the Geological Survey of India. We regret that we cannot say as much for

may cross. Discussing the report, Sir Lauder Brunton the method of stitching adopted by the Calcutta approved the desire for a Board of Health to undertake Government Press; the book may be re-bound, but the

some of the duties of the over-worked Local Governtorn and mangled leaves can never make a seemly

ment Board; failing such a board, he cordially volume.

welcomed the idea of an advisory council for matters concerning the national physique, such council to

consist of representatives of the Departments of State SIR LAUDER BRUNTON ON THE NEED OF reinforced by men of science and by experts in quesPHYSICAL EDUCATION.

tions of health and of physical development.

He is assured of the readiness of the medical proTH HE report of the inter-departmental committee on

fession to do their part in the educative work; he physical deterioration, while in the absence of scientifically ascertained data it hesitated to pronounce

believes in equal readiness of the teachers to learn and the evil it investigated to be widespread, has pointed ation should acquire, not only theoretically, but

teach what it is of vital importance the coming generus all to a better way, and Sir Lauder Brunton in these practically-a knowledge of the laws of health. two addresses drives home the lesson.

The National League for Physical Education and 1 January 5:-National Federation of Head Teachers' Associations, Improvement has so far been mainly confined to the “The Proposed National League for Physical Education and Improvement."

January 6. - Incorporated Society of Medical Officers of Health, "The medical profession, but now that its aims are focused Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Physical Degeneration." i and defined Sir Lauder looks to a wider public. He

[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]
[graphic][merged small]

A Simple,


Accurate, and Reliable

Instrument, designed by the Rev. Father O'Toole,

Black Rock College, Dublin, for Students' use in determining the coefficients of

expansion of metal rods, at a

moderate price.

Price, with steamjacket, graduated

spirit level and micrometer gauge,


£2 : 2:0





« PreviousContinue »