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The fourth part of vol. xxvi. of Notes from the Leyden British Museum and those named in America be transMuseum is devoted to invertebrates, more especially crus- ferred to New York or Chicago, and so on? Incidentally, taceans and insects, Dr, van der Weele contributing three it was mentioned that if a national collection received papers on Neuroptera, Mr. C. Ritzema one
such a valuable augmentation it ought to do something Sumatran beetle, while Dr. de Man discusses and figures in return, and it was accordingly suggested that the British certain crustaceans of the genus Palæmon.
Museum should start a zoological loan collection. No
definite motion was agreed to on any one of these points. Hexten for four months in the year over a great part
A New salamander from North Carolina, remarkable of England, and almost everywhere shot and trapped on every possible orcasion, the otter, observes Mr. J. C.
for its brick-red legs, which contrast with the leaden hue
of the body, is described in No. 1457 of the Proceedings Tregarthed in a delightful article in the June number of
of the U.S. National Museum by Dr. Stejneger under the the Monthly Review, yet manages to survive in the British
name of Plethodon shermani. New crickets and leafIsles in a manner and in numbers which are truly surprising. The fox, were he not rigorously protected, would
winged grasshoppers, or “katydids," from Costa Rica disappear from the greater part of England in a very few
form the subject of No. 1459 of the same serial, the author years, and yet the otter, without the aid of any protection
being Mr. J. A. G. Rehn. A species of Mimetica has the and despite unremitting persecution, continues to flourish in our midst, and this, too, in face of the fact that the female breeds only once a year, and then gives birth to but three or four cubs. The fact that he is here to-day and gone to-morrow—maybe a score of miles away--is, in the author's opinion, the reason of the otter's success in life. It will be news to many of our readers that there are no less than twenty packs of otter-hounds in England and Wales, and now that most of the methods of barbarism " have been abolished, the author enters vigorous protest against the attempts of “grandmotherly legislation ” to abolish an ancient and exciting sport.
FIG. 1.-Mimetica crenulata, lateral view of type. EXTRACTS from two letters written by Mr. T. R. Bell ; “ tegmina,” or front wings, of the usual dried-leaf type, in 1903 and 1904 from India concerning certain butter
and of a form which defies description, although well flies in that country form the most generally interesting
shown in the accompanying illustration. In part 1458 of portion of the contents of the June number of the
the same serial Mr. C. D. Walcott resumes his account Entomologist's Monthly Magazine. Special stress is laid
of the Cambrian faunas of China, basing his observations by the writer on dimorphism in these insects due to the on new material. It is anticipated that a fully illustrated time of year at which they were developed, the dry-season report on the subject will be published before the close imagos, owing to what may be described as practical
of the present year. starvation, differing in many cases very markedly from the The June number of the Popular Science Monthly conwell-fed wet-season forms. On such differences several tains several articles of great interest to biologists and nominal species have been founded. Very noteworthy is geologists. Dr. D. S. Jordan has some suggestive observthe fact that in species of the same genus the differences ations on variation in animals and plants. He points out, between the dry and the wet forms frequently take quite for instance, that in many cases adaptive characters are different lines. “ Ocellation on the under-side of the older than non-adaptive, as exemplified by the fact that wings appears, however, to be a distinct character of the flying-fish flew before the differentiation of the existing wet forms. In breeding certain butterflies, such as some genera. Mutation or saltation, as he prefers to call itof the "blues," at Kanara it was noticed that males and is regarded as only an extreme development of individual females came out in equal numbers, whereas in a state fluctuation, the author adding that “while saltation remains of nature the latter are scarcely ever seen, or if observed as one of the probable sources of specific difference, its are found in thick underwood, while the males bask in actual relation to the process of species-forming in nature the open sunshine.
remains to be proved.” Prof. Carl Eigenmann's article on
the fresh-water fishes of South and Central (“Middle '') The Museums Journal for May contains the report on
America is worthy of the best attention of all interested the discussion following the papers on the relation of pro- in zoological distribution. The leading features brought vincial museums to national institutions read at the
to notice are :-(1) the variety of the fish-life in tropical Museums Association Conference at Worcester last year.
South America ; (2) the paucity of family-types contributing The points for discussion ranged themselves under two
to this variety ; (3) the poverty of the Central American main headings :-1) that museums should be taken over
fish-fauna and its essential South American character, by Government, and "run" practically without local
except for (4) the isolation of the fauna of the Mexican assistance; and (2) that all important specimens should go
plateau ; (5) the poverty of the Pacific slope fish-fauna and to a national collection. The first proposition met with a
its essentially Atlantic type ; (6) the “ marine " character direct traverse in one of the papers read, the author of of the fishes of Lake Titicaca; (7) the poverty of the which urged that museums get on much better in pro- Patagonian fauna and its essential distinctness from that portion as they are independent of Government aid. As
of Brazil ; and (8) the similarity between the fish-fauna regards the second point, which, in the case of zoological of tropical America and that of tropical Africa. As regards museums, related mainly to type-specimens, the question the latter point, the author observes that “a land-connecwas raised as to the proper places of deposition for such
tion, whether a land-bridge, intermediate continent, or sperimens. Should, for example, Indian types go land-wave, between the two continents is imperative. This Calcutia and American to New York, or, on the other
land-connection must have existed before the origin of hand, should types described in England be placed in the existing genera and before many of the existing families."
As a result of visiting several of the more important accuracy, of thin steel plate painted over with aluminiuin herbaria in Europe to study the genus Eupatorium and paint, a small piece being cut out at the extremity of each several allied genera, Mr. B. L. Robinson has published centre line so as to enable the fitter to see that the centre some notes on the Eupatorieæ in the Proceedings of the line of the template coincides with the centre line of his American Academy of Arts and Sciences, vol. xlii., No. 1. flange. The existence of these templates should enable In addition to the diagnoses of new species of Eupatorium full advantage to be taken of the standardisation that the and other genera, the pamphlet contains revisions of the committee has sought to effect. genera Piqueria and Ophryosporus, also a discussion of
In a note to the Rendiconti della R. Accademia dei Lince: the genus Helogyne.
(dated April 22 last) Dr. F. Eredia gives the monthly and A sugar experiment station was instituted in Jamaica yearly rainfall values obtained at the Collegio Romano for in April, 1904, under the direction of Mr. H. H. Cousins, eighty-one years, 1825-1905. Observations were brgun for investigating problems in connection with the sugar there in 1788, but their continuity and uniformity were and rum industries. The report for 1905 indicates what
not quite satisfactory prior to 1825. The annual mean for is being done in the matter of cultivation experiments to this long period is 31.8 inches. The wettest months are test different manures and varieties and to select new
October to December; the maximum fall in any month seedling canes. The advantage to be gained by taking
was 14.7 inches, in November, 1878. new varieties into cultivation is well shown by the results obtained on the Albion Estate, where the Mt. Blanc The weather report issued by the Meteorological Office variety generally grown produces less than any other for the week ending Saturday, June 16, shows that the variety tested, and furnishes less than half the saccharose weather for the period was fine and dry generally. The yield per acre of the seedling B 379.
sky was cloudy in the eastern and southern counties of
England, and some rain fell in all districts. ThunderAn inquiry into the manufacture of Jamaica rums, by
storms occurred in various parts of England on June 12 Mr. C. Allan, occurring in the above report, deals with
and 16. Temperature was generally low for the time of fermentation changes, more especially those that give
year, and in the east of England the mean was to below the quality to flavoured rums. It appears that the flavour
the average. At Dumfries, in the west of Scotland, the is due mainly to the large amount and nature of the
thermometer rose to 83°, and in the east of Scotland and ethers formed. Premising that the characteristics of
in the north-east of England it exceeded 80°. In the north Jamaica rum are derived from saccharine liquors rich in
of Scotland the range of temperature for the week amounted albuminous matter fermented by yeasts and bacteria, in
to 49o. The winds were mostly from between north and the case of the high-flavoured rums bacterial action is
north-east. greatly increased and special bacteria are developed, producing acids that in combination with alcohol form An illustrated price list of echelon diffraction gratings, aromatic ethers.
It is suggested that higher alcohols, just issued by Messrs. Adam Hilger, 75a Camden Road, furfurol, and aldehydes may help to give body to the N.W., will be found to be of interest by all practical spirit.
spectroscopists. The gratings contain from ten to fort In a paper read before the National Academy of Sciences,
plates, the corresponding prices, including suitable mounts. C.S.A., on April 17, the distinguished seismologist Major ranging from 131. to 1201. The heights of the plates var; C. E. Dutton discusses the possible relationhip between
from 32 mm. to 40 mm., but can be made higher than volcanic action and radio-activity. The theory brought
this if desired. The standard width each step is i mm., forward is that, limited tracts at depths of less than
and the thickness of each plate about 10 mm., but this four miles, rocks are melted by heat due to radio-activity.
latter dimension may be increased, with a corresponding As the melting proceeds, the water contained in the rocks
increase in price, if so desired. The list also contains becomes explosive and an eruption follows. When all the
illustrated descriptions of the more generally used arrangelava is exhausted the reservoir is closed. In due course
ments of the echelon apparatus and of the auxiliary spectromore heat is generated, rocks are again melted, and a
scopes and various accessories employed. Messrs. Hilger second eruption takes place. This explains, not only the
make a speciality of the constant deviation spectroscope repetitive character of eruptions, but the comparatively
most usefully employed with echelon gratings, and have shallow depth at which they originate. The horizon of just made an important alteration in the adaptation of the molten rock, if it is dependent on secular cooling of the
telescope and collimator which will greatly increase their world, would be at a depth of 30 miles or 40 miles, while
rigidity, though the price remains the same. if it is due to radio-activity it may possibly be found at a The results of a study of the infra-red region of the depth of three or four miles.
spectrum, made by M. Milan Stefanik at the Meudon An interesting supplement on modern air compressors,
Observatory, appear in the Comptes rendus for April 30. covering twenty pages with seventy-three illustrations,
While working with the solar eclipse expedition in Spain, is published with the Engineer of June 15.
M. Stefanik found that, by placing a dark red screen
It gives an excellent review of the great strides made during the last
before the slit of his spectroscope, he was able to see to fifteen years in the use of compressed air. The develop
a considerable distance into the infra-red. This led him ment of the use of compressed air as a means for trans
to continue a research on this matter on his return to mitting power appears the more remarkable when it is
Meudon, where he employed a spectroscope having two remembered that during the same period the use of elec
prisms, containing benzine and carbon bisulphide retricity for that purpose has grown enormously.
spectively, and used as the light source an image of the
sun projected on to the slit by a lens, after reflection from THE Engineering Standards Committee has made a silvered plane surface. Screens of various coloured arrangements with a firm at Bilston to manufacture com- alcoholic solutions were employed, and the best results mercial sets of standard pipe-flange templates in large were obtained when the screen absorbed all the luminous quantities. The templates made, with
radiations of the spectrum, allowing only the extreme rest
and infra-red to pass. M. Stefanik has arrived at the
OUR ASTRONOMICAL COLUMN. conclusion that is only a limited region of the spectrum be DISCUSSION OF FaculÆ OBSERVATIONS.-An interesting allowed to enter the spectroscope this region is seen much discussion of the observations of faculæ, in which Prof. butter than is the total light were employed, for, despite Mascari compares the frequency and intensity of these the large absorption by the numerous pieces of glass in- phenomena with the solar activity as indicated by sun
spots and the variation of the total luminous radiation from cluded in his apparatus, he was able to observe and to
the solar disc, appears in No. 5, vol. xxxv., of the Memorie 111.p easily the spectrum down to i H. The group 2 was
della Società degli Spettroscopisti Italiani. always easily visible, also X, and the lines 7, 8, o, and a Since 1894 the groups of faculæ on the solar disc have more rarely. It appears from the variations in the intensi- been observed, and their number and intensity recorded, ries of the lines that some of them are of telluric origin. on every day that the atmospheric conditions were favourAccording to the Annuaire of the Bureau des Longitudes brightest (V.V.), bright (V.), ordinary, weak (d.), and
able. The intensities were classified in five groups, viz. tiir infra-red is visible to 0.795 u, but by the employment weakest (d.d.). of the screens M. Stefanik has extended the limit to at
Analysing the results thus obtained, Prof. Mascari finds ipasi 0-900 helai
that the third class (and possibly the second and third
classes) decreased in frequency from that year of sunTHE Oxford L'niversity Junior Scientific Club is to be
spot maximum until 1901, sun-spot minimum, and then
increased regularly up to the 1905 maximum. The (d.) congratulated on the May number of its Transactions.
and (d.d.) classes varied in the inverse sense. Prut. H. A. Miers gives an interesting account of his Assigning numerical values to these classes, from 5 for parent investigations, in collaboration with Miss Isaacs, of the (V.V.) to i for the (d.d.), and taking the grouped puntaneous crystallisation and the nature of supersaturated mean for each year as the relative annual brightness of solutions, while a paper by Mr. M. H. Godby, on the
the faculæ, Prof. Mascari finds that this mean brightness place of natural science in education, is full of good things,
also varies with the sun-spot activity, being 2.83 in 1894,
1.88 in 1901, and 2.97 in 1905. Combining, as a product, and deserves notice of a larger public.
the mean frequency of the faculæ for each year with their
relative mean brightness a similar result is obtained, the Is a note in the Physikalische Zeitschrift (No. 8, p. 257) respective values being 29.80 in 1894, 4.62 in 1901, and Drs. Stefan Meyer and Egon von Schweidler point out
19.63 in 1905. thar Madame Curie, in a criticism of their work, referred
These results, combined with those obtained by himself to in NATURE (vol. Ixxiii., p. 549), misinterpreted the
in 1901 and Tacchini in 1878 showing that the chromo
spheric phenomena were less bright at sun-spot minima tenor of their original communication in assuming that
than at maxima, led Prof. Mascari to the conclusion that they considered polonium to consist of a mixture of the luminous radiation of the sun is greater at the spot radium D, radium E, and radium F. The conclusion they maxima than it is at the epochs of minima, actually formed (Proceedings of the Vienna Academy of NEw METHOD FOR THE DISCOVERY OF ASTEROIDS.-In Sciences, February 1) was in reality the same
No. 4, vol. xxiii., of the Astrophysical Journal, Mr. J. H. arrived at by Madame Curie, namely, that polonium is
Metcalf, of Taunton (Mass.), describes a method which he identical with radium F. In another paper (Vienna of asteroids.
has employed successfully in the photographic discovery Academy of Sciences, Anzeiger, No. 12) Drs. Meyer and
This method is really an adaptation of that employed in von Schweidler confirm, however, the view that radio-lead the photography of comets, where the observer, instead of is a mixture of radium D, radium E, and radium F, and following the guiding star in the usual way, regularly describe the separation of these substances by electrolysis. moves the photographic plate during the exposure so that Several determinations of the constant of decay of radium E
it follows the object which he hopes to photograph, and
thus obtains a well-defined single image of that particular were made as a means of characterising this substance, object, whilst the surrounding stars are represented on the and the nature of a new radio-active product from actinium plate by trails. is discussed.
By moving his plate in a direction parallel to the ecliptic
at a rate previously computed for an ideal asteroid, Mr. The transformation of oxygen into ozone at high tempera
Metcalf has obtained some excellent, well-defined circular tures is the subject of a paper by Messrs. Franz Fischer images of several known faint asteroids, and has also
discovered some new ones. For example, one of the reand Fritz Braehmer in the Physikalische Zeitschrift productions which accompany his paper shows a pair of (No. 9). It is shown that when a platinum wire or images of an asteroid of the thirteenth magnitude which Nernst filament is rendered incandescent whilst surrounded he discovered on March 22. by liquid oxygen, or when an arc lamp or hydrogen Aame RADIAL VelocitY OF a DRACONIS.—A brief note by Herr is plaved upon liquid oxygen, ozone is formed. When the H. Ludendorff, published in No. 4088 of the Astronomische action is prolonged the amount of ozone formed increases ;
Nachrichten, confirms the variability of the radial velocity
of a Draconis announced by the Lick observers. Accordin one experiment i per cent. by weight of the oxygen
ing to the latter, the radial velocity on June 16, 1902, tved underwent condensation. Experiments are adduced
was o km., and on May 4, 1903, and June 19, 1904, it was to prove that the formation of ozone in these cases is - 42 km. ; values of - 43 km. and - 40 km. were also solely a thermal phenomenon, and is not to be referred obtained. to an oronising ultra-violet radiation. When any of the
On two plates secured with the Potsdam spectrograph methods of heating described are adopted in ordinary air, (iv.) on May 23 and 24, 1903, the displacement of the lines nitric oxide appears to be the sole product; in such a case
À 4481 and Hy gave the radial velocity of this star as
-- 17 km, and -- 14 km. respectively. the ozone is not cooled and removed from the sphere of
USEFUL TABLES AND FORMULÆ FOR ASTRONOMICAL Comaction sufficiently quickly to prevent its decomposition. It
PUTATIONS.—No. 15 of the Publications of the Groningen is well known that when a hydrogen flame burning in Astronomical Laboratory contains a number of tables for oxygen is played upon water or ice hydrogen peroxide is photographic parallax-observations, prepared by Dr. W. formed in minute quantity ; it is interesting to note that de Sitter. Each table gives the parallax factors, for each when hydrogen is burnt in liquid oxygen no hydrogen hour of R.A., for every 10° of latitude, and also shows peroxide can be detected. In the former case water is
the limiting dates between which a star of the stated R.A.
may be observed photographically. oxidised to hydrogen peroxide, in the latter molecular
No. 16 of the same publications is given in the same oxygen is converted into ozone.
volume, and contains a number of trigonometrical formulæ
table of goniometrical functions for the · four of observations contained in ships' logs exceeded those of quadrants, compiled by Profs. J. C. and W. Kapteyn; the previous year by more than 28,000. These obseryadditional formulæ, both for plane and spherical triangles ations are utilised in the publication of monthly charts where certain elements are small, are also included.
for the North Atlantic, quarterly charts for the North Sea The LEEDS ASTRONOMICAL Society.-We have just re
and Baltic, the preparation of valuable daily synoptic ceived No. 13 of the Journal and Transactions of the
weather charts of the North Atlantic (in conjunction with Leeds Astronomical Society, which gives a brief résumé
the Danish Meteorological Institute), and various other of the work accomplished by the members of the society efficiency of the arrangements for the issue of weather
investigations. Special mention may be made of the during the year 1905., Eight papers read before the society during the session,
forecasts and storm warnings, and of the careful dis. dealing with popular astronomical subjects, are reproduced stations, including Labrador, the South Seas, the Far East,
cussion and publication of the observations made at distant in the journal, together with a number of notes contributed by members to various publications.
and German East Africa. The exploration of the upper From remarks made in the report it appears that this
air by means of kites is actively carried on; 233 ascents society is greatly in need of increased support, financial
were made during the year, the mean of the greatest and general.
altitudes being 3910 metres. It has been found necessary to limit the altitudes, except on the days of the international ascents, owing to the frequent loss of the kiies.
the principal kite (which carries the instruments) broke METEOROLOGICAL OBSERVATIONS. away on twenty-two occasions, three of which were due
to lightning. Unmanned balloons also reached altitudes FROM the Jahrbücher of the Austrian Meteorological of 9 to 17 kilometres; the usual inversion of temperature
Office for 1904 it appears that changes have recently generally occurred between 9 and 11 kilometres. A disbeen made in the comprehensive operations of that important cussion of the results obtained will be published later on. institution. A considerable addition to its labours has been
The annual summary of the India Weather Review for incurred by the transfer to it of the observations of earth
1904, which completes the discussion of the meteorology quake phenomena originated by the Vienna Academy of
of India for that year, was issued recently. This vast Sciences; this organisation embraces a large number of area is, as before, divided into eleven provinces and stations. Owing to this transfer the office has adopted the fifty-seven districts for the purpose of dealing with medical title of Central-Anstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik. and agricultural statistics respectively. In addition to A considerable increase has been made in the number of
various tables giving the usual monthly and other values, weather forecasts sent gratuitously to provincial post- each element is separately considered under seasons, inoffices; in these telegrams an attempt is made to forecast cluding the hot, cold, and monsoon periods. We can here the weather for two days in advance. On the other hand, only briefly refer to some of the general annual results. it has been found necessary greatly to restrict the amount
The year was characterised by smaller departures from the of data published from stations of the second and third
normal temperature than is frequently the case; the mean order; this materially lessens the bulk of the year-book. of the maxima for the eleven meteorological provinces The investigation of the upper air by manned and un- was 889.0, of the minima 68o.7, and the mean daily range manned balloons is actively continued, and the results are 1994. The Arabian Sea was singularly free from storins: published in the Proceedings of the academy. A separate only' eleven occurred, and they were all comparatively appendix contains a revision of the yearly means of
feeble, and their tracks were less westerly than usual. barometric pressure at various stations since 1886, by Dr. The rainfall stations now number 2486 ; the mean amount Margueles, and a discussion of thunderstorms and hail, by
of rainfall was 57.26 inches, about 11 inches below the M. Prohaska.
normal. On the Burma coast the fall was 152-65 inches. The results of meteorological and magnetical observ- and in the Indus valley only 7.26 inches. During the year ations at Stonyhurst College for 1905 have just been there was a marked increase in the number of sun-spots; issued. This useful observatory possesses photographic the surface of the sun was not free from them on any day. recording instruments both for meteorology and terrestrial Magnetic disturbances were recorded at Colába on 205 days. magnetism, and was one of the seven principal stations in- but there were only three days on which they were classed cluded in the scheme of the Meteorological Committee in great. 1868 for the discussion of the meteorology of the British The report of the Government Observatory. Bombay, for Isles; its observations extend over the long period of fifty- the year 1905 also quotes a remarkable deficit in the raineight years. The most notable feature of the year appears to fall, it being stated as 41.5 inches below the normal of us to be the shortage of rainfall, amounting to just upon twenty-four years, 1873-1896. The total fall for the rear 8 inches. The total rainfall was 38.84 inches ; the least fall was 33.66 inches only, and the amount for the previous in any year was 31.25 inches, in 1887. The prevailing wind
year was 33-42 inches, both of which are record minimum was between south and west on 237 days. Drawings of falls, not even excepting that for the famine year, 1899, solar spots and faculæ were made on 196 days, and the when 35.9 inches were registered. Milne's seismograph stellar spectrograph was employed on nearly every avail- recorded thirty-seven earthquakes during 1905: those on able night.
April 4 and 9 and July 23 were very great disturbances. The fourteenth report of the Sonnblick Society for Plague in a severe epidemic form broke out at Alibag. but the vear
1905 contains statistics of several prominent no cases occurred in the immediate vicinity of the branch mountain meteorological stations, including an interesting magnetic observatory at that place; one case occurred at account of the observatory at the summit of Monte Rosa, Colába in the month of April, notwithstanding that all at an altitude of about 14,960 feet. The Sonnblick station precautions were taken. (Salzburg) is about 10,190 feet above the sea-level, and is The annual report of the Meteorological Department of far from agreeable residence for its enthusiastic the Transvaal for the vear ended June 30, 1905, was reobservers. The mean temperature for the year 1905 was ceived a few days ago. The central observatory, near 19°.9 F.; the monthly mean was only above freezing point Johannesburg. was first occupied in May, 1904. and is in July and August, the absolute maxima in those months situated on an abrupt ridgr of hills, nearly 6000 feet above being 56°.8 and 45°:7 respectively. Rain or snow fell sea-level. The department has been very active in suppls. on 230 days, amounting to 68.8 inches, and fog occurred ing verified instruments and has already some 250 stations on 274 days. On January i the thermometer fell to - 350:3, in different parts of the colony, the majority of which being the lowest observed since the establishment of the record rainfall only; the observers are mostly volunteers, observatory, the next lowest reading being – 30°:3, in and receive no remuneration. The report, however, con. March, 1890; the wind was north-easterly, with high baro- tains complete meteorological observations. or monthly metric pressure (30-71 inches) over Scandinavia and low results for a considerable number of places, and very (29.53 inches) over Greece.
useful mans exhibiting the climatological features of the The twenty-eighth yearly report of the Deutsche venr in various districts. The diurnal periodicity of rain. Seewarte, for the year 1905. shows a considerable increase fall, so far as given shows that the greater nart occurs in the useful work of that institution; the number of sets between noon and midnight. Vearly every fall of rain is
said to be accompanied with thunder and lightning ; some to take the class range smaller than the standard deviof the storms are very heavy, and a lightning recorder has ation would seem to be rather incautious. Surely, as been erected at Johannesburg which gives a permanent a rule, it should be not merely smaller, but a good deal recurd of their intensity and duration. On the High Veldt smaller-say one-third of the standard deviation or less ? the mean temperature of the twelve months ranged from The memoir and its preceding notes must be commended 5T at Volksrust to 65° in the Waterberg, the extreme to the attention of all who are interested in the theory of maxima from $70 to 104', and the extreme minima from frequency distributions either from the mathematical or the 14 to 29o. Telegraphic messages are received and ex- statistical side.
G. U. Y. changed daily, and the Government has sanctioned the appointment of an assistant, to be trained in weather forecasting at the Meteorological Office in London.
A PLEA FOR AN EXPEDITION TO
DR. A. C. HADDON, F.R.S., recently brought befort
the research department of the Royal Geographical
Society a plea for the investigation of biological and THREE brief but important notes on the theory of the law of error were communicated the Royal
anthropological distributions in Melanesia. The Melanesian Academy of Sciences at Stockholm last year by Mr.
islands constitute a fairly well-marked biological province. Charlier, director of the astronomical observatory at Lund.
Many of the islands are of large size, and there is reason The first of these (“ Ueber das Fehlergesetz'') is a dis
to believe that some of these are vestiges of an ancient
land-mass russian on the lines, generally, laid down by Laplace. An
became submerged in " error" is supposed to be given by the sum of a large
Mesozoic period. The islands of Melanesia have yet to be number of elementary errors, each with its own law of
studied from a geomorphological point of view, and their
Botanists would frequency; these laws need not be the same, but are sub- 1 geology is extremely little known.
welcome a Jhet to the condition that the frequency should not fall
more ample knowledge of the flora of the off with great rapidity on either side of the mode. On
district as a whole and of particular portions of it, and this condition, the law reached is the known expansion
many problems of plant structure, distribution, and ecology in terms of the normal function and its differentials, re
require detailed investigation on the spot. The same recently discussed in detail by Prof. Edgeworth (Camb. Phil.
marks apply to zoologists. Botanists and zoologists alike Trans., vol. xx.). In his second note (“ Die zweite Form
would welcome an opportunity for extensive or intensive des Fehlergesetzes") Mr. Charlier discusses the comple- study of the systematic distributional or biological problems mentary case, in which the condition stated does not hold,
of plants and animals in Melanesia.
There also supposing, for instance, that each elementary error can
many anthropological problems in only take the value zero or a, and that the probability of
Melanesia that require investigation in the immediate a is very small. The normal function of the former series
future, since the dying out or modification of arts, crafts, is now replaced by an auxiliary function of more complex
customs, and beliefs that is now taking place, and the form. These iwo laws are referred to as Type A and shifting and mixing of populations, will soon render their Type В. The third note (“ Ueber die Darstellung
solution difficult and even impossible. On the other hand, willkürlicher Funktionen '') bears on the general mathe
there are many districts never yet visited by a white man, matical method employed.
and many islands of which science has no knowledge. The present memoir, which is written in English, is a
There is a certain amount of variation in the physical sequel to these purely mathematical notes, discussing the
character of the people of these archipelagoes that requires practical work of fitting such curves
local study for its explanation. A good deal is known in
to given statistics and so forth. The method of fitting used throughout is
a general way about the arts and crafts of the Melanesians, Prof. Pearson's “ method of moments,
but an investigation of the kind proposed would verify
which has proved existing data, add an immense number of trustworthy so widely applicable. The illustrations are numerous; for Type A, frequencies of stigmatic rays in Papaver,
facts, and localities could be ascertained of unlocated specijohannsen's distributions of weight in beans, cephalic
mens in our museums, and the uses of doubtful objects indicas of Swedish recruits, and deaths from typhoid fever
could in many cases be discovered. By a combination of in groups of three successive days during an epidemic at
these two lines of inquiry, the physical and the cultural, Lund; for Type B, De Vries's statistics of numbers of
the nature, origin, and distribution of the races and peoples petals in Ranunculus, and Johannsen's figures for sterility peculiarly suitable for studying the stages of the transition
of the West Pacific could be elucidated. Melanesia is in barley. Davenport and Bullard's data for the numbers
be of glands in the fore-legs of swine are discussed . under
from mother-right to father-right, and it would both heads. These illustrations are followed by a short transformation, and the steps that mark its progress. With
important to discover the causes that have led to this section on the dissection of a compound curve by Pearson's
this is associated the evolution of the family and the dismethod (Phil. Trans., 1893). One or two possible cases of approximation are discussed, and an interesting suggestion
tribution and inheritance of property. Melanesia is also
a favourable area for tracing the emergence of governmade as to the employment of a graphic method to lighten
ment. the labour of solving the fundamental nonic. The text of
What are required at the present day are intensive the memoir is followed by some tables giving, inter alia,
studies of restricted areas, since it is only by careful
regional study that the real meaning of institutions and the third and fourth differentials of the normal function,
their metamorphoses can be understood. The same applies and values of the auxiliary function for Type B. There are several incidental points of interest; a proof grouped under the term religion. The psychology of back
equally to all the manifold beliefs and usages that are of the empirically discovered rule that the difference
ward peoples has been greatly neglected, and the opporbetween mean and median is one-third of the difference
tunity of a well-equipped expedition would do much to between mean and mode for Type A deserves mention, and
encourage students to undertake this research. a suggestion as to an arithmetical check in calculating
It is superfluous to extend this plea, as all ethnologists moments is worth consideration from the practical stand
will agree that this work requires to be done, and that point. Il one may judge from a diagram (Fig. 5), curves
without delay. The presence of Government officials, ni Type A may be bi-modal. Is this so? The point does
missionaries, traders, and of returned indentured labourers not appear to receive special attention in the text. The
tends rapidly to modify or destroy the old customs. Much statement on p. 15 that “as a rule it may be advisable
has already disappeared in many places; we are yet in
time in many others if we do not delay. 1" Researches into the Theory of Probability." By C. V. L. Charlier.
Dr. Haddon is convinced that the best Pp 51. (Meddelanden från Lunds Astronomiska Observatorium, Serie ii.
means of Koogl. Fysiografska Sällskapets Handlingar. Bd. 16.) (Lund, accomplishing the end in view is to organise a prolonged 1903.)
expedition to the Pacific with the absolute control of a