Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

removed from the microscope. His previous book on more about his ancestry—whether, for instance, he Physiological Histology has, however, shown the con- has any Irish blood in him. The use of the expres. nection between the two. The fixing action of pre- sions true pseudo-acid " and " true pseudo-base servatives on tissues, the staining reactions of cells is distinctly. Hibernian. and nuclei, are ultimately chemical in nature, and The same kind of carelessness is shown in the much of macro-chemistry can be learnt from micro-spelling. Albumin is sometimes spelt with an i, chemistry. Dr. Mann's sympathies are mainly physi- sometimes with an e. The nomenclature comunittce ological, not anatomical. Physical chemistry also is of the Chemical Society tried to introduce uniformity more than a hobby with him, and the sections relating into spelling, and assigned certain meanings to to speculations of a physico-chemical nature form certain terminations. A word ending in ine, for inpleasant oases in what as a rule is rather solid read- stance, means an alkaloidal material; a word ending ing. His histological proclivities have led him in in in does not; similarly, the terminations ol and ole some cases to devote a good deal of space to subjects have a distinct chemical significance. But Dr. Mann which some might regard as of secondary importance has paid no attention to such rules." Vitellin," for --for instance, his lengthy description of the inter- example, is sometimes spelt with, sometimes with. actions of proteids with mercury compounds evidently

out, a final e. “Gelatine" and “ cholin" are spelt springs from the extensive use he has made of cor- as just printed in direct contravention of the rules of rosive sublimate as a fixative.

the Chemical Society. The names of investigators Cohnheim's book in the original state cannot be

are also often mis-spelt; Waymouth Reid, Curtius, described as an ideal one. It lacks the imaginative Claude Bernard, and Lane-Claypon are among the faculty, and reflects the stolid, plodding German

sufferers. worker, anxious to omit no reference to literature The whole question of nomenclature in chemistry that can possibly be dragged into a footnote. To is very difficult, especially in translations. It is hope. some investigators this is of course advantageous; | less to try to reconcile English with German usages. they will profit by the diligence of the author, and but there ought to be an attempt on the part of easily be able to consult the memoirs quoted in refer- English writers to adopt some sort of uniformity. ence to any special point they are interested in. But This difficulty is accentuated in relation to proteid to the student who desires to obtain a general in

nomenclature, and one can only hope that the joint sight and a wide outlook on the general relationships committee of the Physiological and Chemical Societies of the subject, this compression of material is a dis

now sitting on this very subject may put forward tinct hindrance; he will be apt to lose sight of the

some practicable suggestions. Dr. Mann is therefore wood on account of the trees.

not wholly to blame for his misdeeds. Dr. Mann follows on very much the same lines, and

In spite of the blemishes to which I have devoted though it is impossible to restrain one's admiration for so much space, I believe the book will have a useful his labours in hunting up literature, quoting authori

career in front of it. Its many excellences can be ties as far back and as far forward as possible, one

discovered by reading it and using it, and Dr. Mann cannot but regret that the text does not as a conse

is to be congratulated in having produced such a quence run easily, and most of it will form stiff read

valuable addition to scientific literature.

W, D H ing even for advanced students. In some places the pages abound with chemical formulæ without a sufficient guidance in words. Here, again, anyone but an

STATISTICAL SEISMOLOGY. accomplished organic chemist will have difficulty in

Les tremblements de terre. Géographie Seismolo. finding his way along.

gique. By Comte F. de Montessus de Ballore; Dr. Mann also has certain mannerisms of style,

with a preface by Prof. A. de Lapparent. Pp. V + but one does not complain of these unduly, for they

475. (Paris : Armand Colin, 1906.) Price 12 francs. stamp the pages with the author's individuality ; but there is one of these faults which many will find WITH

ITH the growth of their science seismologists annoying and even confusing, and that is a looseness

have become more and more specialised, and and inexactitude in the use of terms. For instance,

devoted themselves to the cultivation of a limited on the title-page we find the word “proteid” used portion of their domain, but none have marked out as a general expression for all the albuminous sub

for themselves a more clearly defined plot, or cultistances; within the pages of the book “ proteid " is vated it with greater assiduity, than the Comte de employed only for a certain group of these materials.

Mentessus de Ballore. Leaving to others the study Albumin also is sometimes used as a generic term,

of the nature and effect of earthquakes, he has conand at other times applied to a specific group; some

fined himself to the consideration of their cause, and times it is used as opposed to globulin, sometimes it attacked the problem by the statistical way, believing includes the globulins, and sometimes it includes that a detailed study of the distribution of earthquakes everything. In one place we read that lactalbumin in time and space will most conclusively indicate their is one of the few true albumins; on another page it is cause. By no means the first cataloguer of earthalluded to as a hypothetical substance. The author quakes in point of time, for the great lists of Mallet has dedicated his work to his father, and in the and Perrey are well known, to say nothing of the dedication tells us something of his father's life- numerous local catalogues compiled by others, our work. It would be interesting to know something author stands preeminent in the number of eartli. quakes which he has tabulated, and the work before originate, black, and left the rest of the map blank. us deals with the records of 171,434 distinct shocks. This abrupt boundary between the regions classed as The labour involved in this compilation would have seismic and the much more extensive ones classed as formed no light task for any man, and when we re- peneseismic or aseismic, is held to be a better repremember that, besides being a specialist in seismological sentation of what is actually the case than any Statistics, the author is an officer on the active list of gradual shading of the one into the other. The the French Army, the result seems almost miraculous. difference between the two maps is, in fact, one of

In summing up the results of all this compilation principle; Mallet's was meant to indicate the frethe author hoids that he has conclusively established quency with which earthquakes were felt, that of the independence of earthquakes and volcanoes, and de Montessus the frequency with which they originate. I've greater .prevalence of the former along those Each of these facts is interesting in itself, but their tricts where the surface relief shows the steepest and delineation must necessarily differ, apart from any hingest gradients. Both these conclusions had been question of increasing perfection of the data. reached by Prof. Milne while working in Japan, and We have indicated some of the conclusions drawn in the second of them is only an empirical, and not this book, which do not seem to be so fully established invariable, way of expressing the general principle as its author suggests, but this must not be taken in that earthquakes are most abundant where the crust derogation of the value of his work in statistical movements have been greatest and most recent, while seismology. We welcome this summary of his rethey become rarer as these movements are older and searches, and iegret that he should have followed have more or less completely died out; but we must

the custom, SO common in France, of omitting a remark that earthquakes seem to be more particularly subject index. associated with the changes resulting from, or accompanied by, compression, for the dropped valleys of

OUR BOOK SHELF. the Jordan, the Red Sea, and of Central Africa are not specially affected by earthquakes.

Notes on Shipbuilding and Nautical Terms of Old in Comte de Montessus attempts to carry his con

the North. By E. Magnusson. Pp. 62. (London :

A. Moring, Limited, 1906.) Price is. net. clusions still further, and finds that earthquakes are alınost confined to certain bands which correspond Viking Club Society, and its appearance will be

This small volume reproduces a paper read before the with the secondary geosynclinals of Haug, and are welcomed by all who are interested in the history and said to lie along two great circles, making an development of shipbuilding. Although it deals chiefly angle of 670 with each other. We have had the with Scandinavian records and discoveries, it contains curiosity to plot these bands, as shown on the map

an excellent summary of Greek and Latin references accompanying the book, upon a globe, and have failed

to ancient ships, and does not leave unnoticed much

older Egyptian types. In short it is a scholarly perto find any correspondence between them and the

formance, and the writer has a full appreciation of great circles as defined, or, indeed, with any other great technical developments which have accompanied procircles; approximately, they seem to form a network gress in shipbuilding. Wide reading and research olare of great circles, joining up in groups of three must have been undertaken to provide the materials; ani four, an interpretation which is more probable they have been dealt with in a terse but clear style, than the other, though the departures in detail render

and the result is of permanent value as a book of

reference and a bibliography of the subject. An ibe correctness of either view doubtful. However this

excellent glossarial index is appended. The only may be, the fact remains that nine-tenths of the regret one feels is that there are no illustrations. The shocks recorded have originated in regions which rock-carvings of ancient ships found in Egypt, Sweden, cannot cover more than one or two per cent. of the

and Norway are described and compared; but simple globe and are almost all distributed along certain

illustrations would have emphasised the deductions lines, of which the most important are the great

made by the author. Again, the details of methods of

construction which Mr. Magnusson gives are readily girdle of the Pacific, the line which runs up from understood by experts in shipbuilding, but would be the Sunda Islands, through Arracan, the Himalayas, grasped by general readers also if diagrams of a simple Caucasus, and Alps to the western Mediterranean, nature had been given. The ancient ships found in ind another which runs up from the Caucasus

Scandinavia and preserved in museums might also Through the mountains of Central Asia to

have been pictured with great advantage. Of course Lake

size and cost would be increased if this were done, Baikal, possibly continuing to somewhere in the

but that action is well worih the consideration of both neighbourhood of the Bering Straits.

author and publisher, as the permanent value of the Ilmuch, in the main, the distribution of the more book would be greatly increased thereby, and its place Holently shaken regions show's no change from that

in the libraries of all interested in shipbuilding would drawn by Mallet in 1838, there is a radical difference

be assured. in the character of the two maps. In Mallet's the

A book so condensed in form and substance must be

read to be understood. Mr. Magnusson does fri quency of earthquakes was indicated by the depth claim originality in discovery or treatment. He starts af tint, and the dark patches shaded off gradually with the log and raft of the stone age, passes to the into the white; de Montessus, believing that it is a

canoe hollowed from a single log by the use of fire mintake to treat an essentially discontinuous pheno- and flint implements; traces the development of the 17+ non as a continuous one, has made the limited

coracle and other hide-covered vessels, with internal

framework; shows how these "skins" were replaced pras, where destructive earthquakes are known to by wood planks, first fastened by thongs or withes,

not

and later on by iron nails; and so he arrives at methods Only such elementary facts of anatomy and physiof building which persisted, with trifling variations, | ology as are necessary to the reasonable understand. until wood gave place to iron in the last century. As ing of the subject are introduced, and some hints as regards propulsion a similar advance is traced from to * first aid " are here and there given in the text. the single oar, to the rowing boat, and the galley with but this subject is otherwise omitted. its banks of oars, coming at last to the use of masts The chapters on alcohol, tobacco, and exercise are and sails, as navigation took a wider and over-sea particularly good. They are discussed in tolerant range. The special provisions made in vessels used language and with much sound common-sense. Aftor for purposes of war are described, including that most reading the following opinion (p. 157) the reader will ancient method of attack—the ram-bow. Altogether think twice before he refuses an offer of confer. the book is an excellent piece of work.

tionery. “Where the taste has not been vitiated, W. H. W. in a degree by tobacco but chiefly by alcohol, sugar

is as acceptable to the normal civilised man as it is A First German Course for Science Students.

Ву

to savages, and his disposition toward candy is no Prof. H. G. Fiedler and F. E. Sandbach. Pp.

bad test of his drinking habits." x+99. (London: A. Moring, Ltd., 1906.) Price

The following criticism of our national game o 23. od. net.

cricket will scarcely meet with approval in this It is essential that students who intend to devote country :-“ Cricket, an exotic that has never taker serious attention to science should be able to read wide root on our soil, lacks many of the qualities of scientific works in French and German, and, if pos- a good game, chiefly because of the long waits before sible, also in Italian. By the use of the present book going to the bat and the limited number actively a working knowledge of the German language can

engaged.” But though the author does not write be obtained through lessons based upon work in in his usually well-informed manner upon this parelementary physics and chemistry. The book consists ticular item, the following statement (p. 88) will serve of a series of reading lessons describing simple ex- to acquit him of the charge of bias towards every periments and principles such as are included in the thing American :-" The misnamed nasal twang with rudimentary courses of schools. The words and

which some Americans are justly charged is due phrases used in the various reading-passages are partly to chronic catarrh, blocking the nasal passages, graded in such a way that the principal rules and and pa, tly to that curious and unconscious imitation grammatical forms are illustrated by the text. A by which in youth we acquire the tone most commonly short outline of grammar essential for the purpose in heard. Unfortunately, as a people all our voices are view follows the series of lessons, and there is a full too sharp and rasping. . . We are so accustomed vocabulary.

to strident voices that we fail to recognise their inThe book is printed in English characters, but the herent infirmity.” text and illustrations have a decidedly German appearance, as is appropriate in this case. Though the Life and Matter. A Criticism of Prof. Haeckel's course covered by the lessons is similar in substance

* Riddle of the Universe." By Sir Oliver Lodge. to that taken as introductory science in many schools,

Pp. ix+ 200. (London: Williams and Norgate, no doubt most teachers will prefer to follow English 1905.) Price 25. 6d, net. text-books for the actual work of the class-room and It is difficult to pardon Prof. Haeckel for his dog. laboratory, and to use this book as an auxiliary aid matism and his over-statements, and no less for his or an incentive to the study of German. For pupils having furnished the peg on which have been hung who are familiar with the experiments described, the many dull books and reviews. Forgiveness becomes book will be found very useful, and it will make them easier when his work evokes a first-rate criticism like acquainted with the German equivalent of many that in the volume before us. Sir Oliver Lodge con. technical terms not to be found in the ordinary reading tests chiefly (a) the right by which the name of books of the language. As an attempt to coordinate Monism is arrogated to the Haeckelian philosophy : the teaching of modern languages and science, it will (b) Haeckel's statement of the “ Law of Substance, no doubt be appreciated, and for the finer feeling of the true account of which, according to the critic, is literature pupils may still read extracts from the works that “ anything which actually exists must be in some of standard authors.

way or other perpetual "; (c) Haeckel's account of

the development of life, and particularly the theory Personal Hygiene Designed for Undergraduates. which endow's the atoms of matter with life, will

By Dr. A. A. Woodhall. Pp. vii +221. (London : and consciousness.
Chapman and Hall, Ltd., 1906; New York: John The later chapters of the book state with great
Wiley and Sons.) Price 4s. 6d. net.

clearness Sir Oliver Lodge's own constructive views. PERSONAL hygiene is important branch of He regards it as possible that life is a basal form of hygiene which does not receive its full measure existence, as fundamental an entity as matter and of treatment in any text-book, but this small work energy. “It can neither generate nor directly exert does not pretend to offer to its readers more than force, yet it can cause matter to exert force on matter, a clear and elementary statement upon the hygienic and so can exercise guidance and control." His needs of the body. It is intended for under- view occupies a middle position between the so-called graduate students, and it consists of the sub- monistic one and that, for example, of Prof. James stance of lectures upon personal hygiene delivered Ward, who argues that the laws of physics are only by the author during the past few years. Exercise, / approximate and untrustworthy. food, clothing, habits, and similar matters of daily The author, who understands well that effective individual concern, are here dealt with in language illustration is half the difficulty, and that the as free from technical terms as possible. We are analogy of experience" is one of the soundest of told in the preface that the constant aim of the philosophic principles, develops a fascinating comwriter has been to present actual conditions in the parison between life and magnetism. If we under. simplest language, and it must be said that he has stand his views aright they imply that possibly mind achieved this object. We may add that the work can exist apart from terrestrial brains, and life apart is free from Americanisms -either of wording from living creatures or plants as we know themor spelling:

that is, that the phenomena of life and consciousness

an

66

which surround us are due to the interaction of

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR. something material and something spiritual, or. (to (The Editor does not hold himself responsible for opinions express it otherwise) to the fact that something spiritual uses the material as its instrument or organ.

expressed by his correspondents. Neither can he undertake

to return, or to correspond with the writers of, rejected This seems to imply a dualism, but he also holds it manuscripts intended for this or any other part of NATURE. possible that “there may be some intimate and No notice is taken of anonymous communications.) necessary connection between a generalised form of

Osmotic Pressure. inatter and some lofty variety of mind.” The arrangement of the various topics is not always

In the concluding sentence of his most interesting letter the best possible. This is partly caused by the in

on this subject in your issue of May 17 (p. 54) Mr. clusion of reprints from well-known journals-a prac

Whetham states that “ The theory of ionic dissociation rice which is open to criticism.

rests upon electrical evidence, and by such evidence it must

But apart from these light delects the book deserves hearty commend

be tried.” It is unnecessary to dwell on the importance

of the pronouncement. ation.

Will Mr. Whetham kindly tell us how we lonow all the The Fox. By T. F. Dale. (Fur, Feather, and fin

things which-in the final paragraph of his letter-he so Series.). Pp. xiii +238; illustrated. (London : Long- confidently asserts that we know; in fact, what precisely mans, Green and Co., 1906.) Price 55.

the electrical evidence is upon which the theory of ionic

dissociation now rests. ** THE fox," writes the author in his opening para- exposition and will be able, I am sure, as counsel of the

He is a recognised master of lucid graph, " is at home in Europe, Asia, including India, whilom advocates of the doctrine of molecular suicide in a great part of Africa, the whole of North America, solution, to state the case fully and fairly on their behalf. and a distinct but allied species, Canis virginianus- When we have this statement it will perhaps be possible known as the grey fox in the United States—is found to consider the validity of his modest contention and in South America.” If he had tried to compress as

whether electricians alone have the right to pronounce many errors as possible into a single sentence, he judgment. A plaintiff is usually sure of his case before his could scarcely have succeeded better. The fox is un

cross-examination takes place. known in India proper, it inhabits only the northern

This request is preferred in no adverse i(r)onical spirit, fringe of Africa, and the grey fox (l'rocyon cinereo simply because I feel that it really is necessary that we argenteus) is a native of North and not of South

should be informed where we are exactly. Our friends the America. This is one of those numerous instances

ionic dissociationists are incorrigible squatters and seem to

think that they have acquired the right of preemption over where authors of works on popular natural history their adversaries' property ; it is difficult to know, as they will go out of their way to refer to subjects which they object to stock-taking, whether they have given anything do not understand, and which do not concern them. in exchange for that they have lifted and what they have Had Mr. Dale kept within his proper limits, we should jettisoned of their original property; and until the elechave had nothing but commendation to bestow upon

tricians' title-deeds are shown and submitted to careful his work, in which the fox is discussed from the point scrutiny, chemists can scarcely be expected to admit that of view of the sportsman and the farmer in a very

they are ousted from possession. thorough manner. The eight illustrations by Messrs.

As a chemist and a friend of the poor molecules, I feel Thorbum and Giles are all that can be desired,

that the aspersion of immorality should not be allowed to although one of them follows somewhat closely on

rest upon them for ever unless the evidence be really con

demnatory beyond question. In any case, it is important the lines of a well-known sketch by the late Mr. Wolf.

that we should discover the true nature of the crime comR. L.

mitted in solution ; to cloak the inquiry by restricting it Oologia universalis palæarctica. By Georg Kause. to thermodynamic reasoning--a favourite manœuvre of the

Parti. (Stuttgart: Fritz Lehmann, Verlag; mathematically minded—is akin to using court influence London : Williams and Norgate.)

in abrogation of full and complete investigation ; such a This is the first part of a beautiful egg book, printed chemist, who, although able, perhaps, to imagine the exist

course may satisfy the physicist but is repulsive to the entirely on separate sheets of cardboard, two sheets

ence of a frictionless piston, yet desires, in the first place, being devoted to each species-one of coloured figures to get nearer to a knowledge of what happens to the real of the eggs, the other of letterpress, backed with tangible piston of practice.

HENRY E. ARMSTRONG. references to the specimens figured. The text is in German and English, and comprises a large number Mr. WHETHAM's letter in NATURE of May 17 (p. 54) of synonyms and local names, and a short description raises clearly the whole question of the applicability of of the range of the bird, its breeding habits, nest, eggs, thermodynamic reasoning to osmotic phenomena. &c. The four species treated of in the first part are

views as to the value of thermodynamic reasoning appear the golden eagle, quail, song thrush, and raven, as to be somewhat heterodox, may I indicate some criticisms many as sixteen (odd) eggs of the last-named bird of his remarks? ifrom different localities) being figured. In the case

All thermodynamic proofs assume the truth of the

“ second law.' Now the machinations of Maxwell's demon of the song thrush we have five “ clutches,” and in that of the golden eagle a clutch of two eggs and

have shown clearly that the meaning of this law, when

interpreted in terms of the molecular theory, is merely that, ihre single ones. The colour printing has been very successful, and admirers of eggs will welcome the

in the processes considered, no differential treatment is excellent selection of varieties which has been figured, The law may or may not be true in any particular case.

applied to the molecules in virtue of their different velocities. of fach of which the “ are given. We cannot It cannot be said that there is any a priori support for it, PXirnd the same praise to the English version of the or that a proof of its validity for one small branch of letterpress, which is crude, too literal, and disfigured phenomena would justify its application to a totally different by unfamiliar words and expressions. However, it is

branch. possible to understand what is meant, although the

In all treatises with which I am acquainted, when the rrmark on the quail that " the 9 only breeds, the male

law has been stated, the only reasons alleged for believing lu polygamons," reads strangely until we substitute

it to be true are those derived from our inability to construct broads for breeds and correct the misprint.

a heat engine which will work without equalising tempera

A few pages, before or after, will be found the stateThe work is to be complete in 150 parts, and Messrs.

ment that we cannot construct a reversible heat engine; Williams and Norgate point out that on the publica

but it is not pointed out that the irreversibility of all actual tion of Part ii. the price per part will be raised from engines would mask the effect of a violation of the second fisten to eighteen pence.

law, unless that violation were very complete and the separ

As my

data"

ture.

to

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

errors

are

ation of the molecules into high and low velocity groups Mr. C. E. Whiteley. I may perhaps repeat that the phenovery nearly perfect. A demon might be slaving with the menon in question is the continued descent and re-ascent most commendable energy, but all his exertions would be of the inner cone of a coal-gas and air fame when a rendered inoperative by the imperfections of our apparatus. suitable mixture of the two is ignited at the end of u To my mind, the evidence for the second law, even applied glass tube fixed so as to form a prolongation of the metal to the best actual heat engines, is extremely slight.

tube of a Bunsen burner. But even if the evidence were overwhelming, there would The following results were obtained by Mr. Whiteley :be no justification for applying the law to a process of such (1) The continued oscillation of the inner cone could not an entirely different nature as osmosis, where, moreover, be established with a forced supply of both gas and air there is some presumption that it is not true. No actual but only when the air was sucked in by the injector action membrane is perfectly semi-permeable ; some molecules of of a gas jet, as in the ordinary Bunsen burner. (Mr. the solute pass through ; it is not wildly improbable that Temple informs me that this was also his method of workthese molecules possess velocities within some narrow range. ing.) (2) The continued oscillation of the inner cone could But if this is so, Maxwell's demon is at work, the second be maintained when the apparatus was tilted even law is not applicable, and thermodynamic reasoning is horizontality or beyond. (3) When the inner cone began tre absurd. Definite experimental proof must be offered before descend a back pressure was immediately produced in the the validity of the law for osmosis can be considered even ascending current of gas and air. probable. Some progress might be made by examining the I think the determining influence is clear from these same membrane at different temperatures; if its degree observations. When the cone begins to descend and causes of imperfection" did not vary rapidly with the tempera- a back pressure this will momentarily check the indraught ture, the existence of such a separation as has been sug- of air without materially checking the supply of gas. gested would be rendered less probable.

stratum of mixture containing less air is thus produced ; Mr. Whetham has offered some proof already. He points its rate of inflammation is less than its upward velocity. out that there are five assumptions involved, and asserts and so the cone is carried to the top of the tube. Soon that the truth of all of them is proved by the agreement the normal air supply is re-established, a mixture with between theory and experiment. But he ignores the possi- a higher rate of inflammation is restored, and the cone bility that two or more of the assumptions may be incorrect again descends. and that the errors thus introduced may cancel each other.

A confirmation of this explanation is afforded by two He offers a particular solution of an equation containing further observations :-(4) a shortening of the glass tube five variables, and assumes that it is the only solution increases the rapidity of oscillation in conformity with the possible.

shorter distance to be traversed by the altered stratum : It must be remembered that there is not perfect agree-|(5) a capacity in the form of a globe at the bottom ment between theory and experiment. The

of the glass tube stops the oscillation. Such an arrangelarger than those involved in the direct measurement of ment would both damp the back-pressure impulse and the pressure and the other quantities involved ; there is a obliterate stratification. systematic error. But this is due, say the thermo- Observations (2) and (5) show, I think, that the chimner. dynamicists, to the imperfection of the membrane. Exactly like action suggested by Prof. Galloway cannot be the so; but that imperfection may invalidate the whole proof; determining cause, and indeed this could hardly be exin order to support their proof they may be denying one

pected, inasmuch as such action would increase the of their fundamental assumptions.

aspiration of air and produce a mixture having a higher Mr. Whetham says that to reject the theory because

rate of inflammation, a condition which would oppose the there is no perfect membrane would be as absurd as to

other effect, viz. the increased upward velocity of the reject all thermodynamics because there is no reversible mixture to which alone Prof. Galloway alludes. engine. I agree ; but then I am such a heretic that I Mv own previous explanation was inadequate to explain reject both. Our inability to construct a perfectly re- the continued oscillation, and only important in relation versible engine is connected with the impossibility of hand- to the lighting back of Bunsen Aames. ling individual molecules: friction and the rest would

ARTHUR SMITHELLS. vanish if we could replace the material cylinder by a

The l'niversity, Leeds, May 19. swarm of trained demons. When we have constructed a perfectly reversible engine we shall be possessed of the powers of those demons, and we shall be no longer bound

Ancient Fire Festivals. by the second law, which merely asserts that we do not In reference to your series of articles which have recently possess those powers. So far as physicists are concerned, appeared in Nature on Stonehenge and the ancient festivals, reversible thermodynamics is a vain thing.

I send you the following notes on a Wiltshire celebration Neither am I convinced of the perfection of Mr. of the August fire customs. Tan Hill Fair is held on Whetham's two perfect membranes. They are doubtless August 6, and the coincidence of the name Tan (Celtic for perfect so far as the solute is concerned, but his assumn- fire) and the date point to a time long prior to our era, tion (2) may be violated by the molecules of the solvent. when the fire festivals were annually held. It is quite possible that it is the swifter molecules which This fair, the origin of which is lost in antiquity, is escape in the vapour and the slower which escape into the held in the very last place likely to be chosen for such a solid, and that, if our experimental devices were sufficiently purpose, and must have had its beginning at a time when delicate, we could use the separation thus effected to per- men assembled there for some purpose very different to form useful work. At any rate, proof is required to the what brings them there now, for neither roads nor water. contrary before thermodynamic deductions can be made ways (conditions essential to most fairs) lead to Tan Hill. with accuracy.

Tan Hill is on the highest part of the downs (near So far as I can see, thermodynamic reasoning anplied to Devizes, north Wiltshire), 958 feet above sea-level, looking osmotic phenomena, as to most others, proves nothing but down on Avebury and dominating the whole country, and that the sum of the errors introduced by the various crossed only by British trackwars which lead to the fair. rather doubtful assumptions is not very different from zero Sacred fires lit of old on this Tan Hill would have been --a result that does not seem to me worth the labour that seen from Martinsell (near Marlborough). Hacknen, Old. has been expended in obtaining it

bury, and for miles around, and were probably eagerly

NORMAS R. CAMPBELL.. watched for br the people taught to expect the blessing on Trinity College, Cambridge, Mar 20.

the crops of the ensuing year consequent on these fires;

and it is on this bleak, desolate down that one of the The Oscillation of Flame Cones.

larasping fairs of the countri is hold

Fairs in Ireland and in Wales parrr on the same tradition PROF. GALLOWAY (NITURE, April 19, p. 584) considers of the ancient fire festival held in August, as well as this that my explanation of the phenomenon described by Mr.

one at Tan Ilill. Temple in his letter (March 29, p. 512) is inadequate, and in ancient Ireland this August celebration was called he offers a different explanation. With the view of deciding the Lingnassad," the feast of Lug (a sun god). and the question some experiments have been made here by according to Prof. Rhrs this festival was the great pyent

« PreviousContinue »