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III. BOTANY. 1. A Students' Text-Book of Botany ; by SYDNEY H. VINES, M.A., F.R.S., Professor of Botany in the University of Oxford. (London: Swan, Sonnenschein & Co.; New York: Macmillan & Co. 1895, pp. 821.)-The first volume of this work has already been noticed at some length in this Journal. The second volume is now at hand. It resumes the subject of Classification at Phanerogamia, and devotes to this above two hundred pages. The work closes with a short treatise on the physiology of plants, and with two indexes to the whole.
It would be but scant praise to speak of Professor Vines's textbook as a well-written, careful bandbook: it is much more than this: it is also well proportioned throughout and constructed with constant reference to the pressing needs of modern students. It is therefore a distinct contribution to our aids in teaching botany.
The arrangement and treatment of Phanerogams appear to be more convenient for the use of students than any with which the writer is acquainted. It is suggestive of Le Maout and Decaisne's French treatise, inverted so that the Compositæ come last and are, by implication, made highest in rank.
The physiological portion of the work deserves the warmest commendation for its lucidity and comprehensiveness. Here and there a few more details would be acceptable to the average student, as for instance, when the matter of water-culture is treated, the percentages of the prescribed substances might have been given. There are very few errors to be detected: the principal one being a misplacement of roots for shoots in the account of Knight's wheel experiment.
To show how succinctly and clearly difficult and doubtful subjects are presented, a short extract of the account of the relations of plants to atmospheric nitrogen is herewith given:
“Although it is generally true that plants cannot assimilate uncombined nitrogen, nevertheless certain plants (Papilioneve, such as peas, beans, etc.), will grow and flourish in a soil from which all traces of nitrogen-compounds have been carefully removed. The nature of the means by which this result is attained is not yet completely determined, but the principal facts are briefly as follows: In the first place, the roots of these papilionaceous plants have been found to bear peculiar gall-like outgrowths termed tubercles, which seem to be more numerous and larger the smaller the proportion of combined nitrogen contained in the soil. The tubercles are the result of the attack of a fungus which penetrates into the root through the root-hairs. The green plant and the fungus appear to exist in a state of symbiosis, as in the case of the mycorhiza already mentioned, with the result that the green plant is adequately supplied with combined nitrogen although growing in a soil from which such compounds are originally absent. In explanation of these facts there can, first, be no doubt that the supply of combined nitrogen obtained by the green plant is ultimately derived from the free nitrogen of the atmosphere, and, secondly, that the supply is not obtained from the atmosphere directly by the leaves, but indirectly by the roots through the soil. Nor can there be much doubt that the tubercles are associated with the process of the assimilation of the free nitrogen : but it is a question whether this process takes place in the tubercle itself, or whether it is not carried on in the soil by a Schizomycete, which may either be derived from the tubercles, or be an independent organism. It seems probable that the latter suggestion is nearer the truth. It is, in fact, known that a bacterioid organism exists in the soil having the property of forming nitrogenous compounds from free nitrogen in the presence of nonnitrogenous organic substance (e. g. glucose). It may be that the development of this organism is especially favored by the presence of the tubercular roots of the Papilioneve in the soil, and that the nitrogenous substances which it produces are absorbed by the roots after having undergone nitrification.
“The tubercles are structures formed by the hypertrophy of the cortex of the root, resulting from the attack of the fungus at various points: their cells are rich in sugar and starch: the branches of the mycelium penetrate most of the cells, and there bud off innumerable gemmules (sometimes called bacterioids). The tubercle eventually becomes disorganized; the gemmules are then set free into the soil, and are doubtless the means by which other roots become attacked by the fungus."
The subjects following are remarkably well treated : the transser of water, and movements.
G. L, G. 2. Cellulose. An outline of the Chemistry of the structural elements of plants, with reference to their Natural History and Industrial Uses ; by C. F. Cross, E. J. BEVAN, and C. BEADLE. 8vo., pp. 320. London and New York (Longmans).–For many years the two chemists whose names are first in the order above given, have been associated together in the practical investigation of cellulose. Their contributions to the literature of the subject have been numerous, but these publications have been widely scattered and hence partially unavailable to American students. The present work brings together such of their results as may not properly be regarded as trade secrets, and it embodies a good deal of the voluminous literature of the whole subject. Some of their remarkable discoveries, especially in regard to the cellulose thiocarbonates, are incorporated into the body of the work without even a reference to the important fact that science owes these recent acquisitions mainly if not wholly to them. To the botanist the monograph possesses a high degree of interest, since the typical cellulose and the three compound celluloses are adequately discussed from all points of view. The most important phases presented are the following: (1) the colloidal aspects of cellulose, (2) the relation of vegetal to animal cellulose, (3) new methods of acting on the compound celluloses. While the treatise is of value in the biological laboratory, its highest practical use will be found in the tecbpical laboratories which are rapidly revolutionising the industrial applications of wood pulp.
G. L. G. 3. An Interesting Method of Dissemination. In the last number of Botaniska Notiser, Dusée describes a curious peculiarity detected by bim in the Cameroon species of the genus Calymperes. This genus possesses a calyptra which remains permanently attached to the base of the capsule, instead of separating from it in either the mitriform or cuculiform fashion. The calyptra thus constitutes a sort of bag fitting the capsule rather loosely, and therefore permitting enough play for the elevation of the operculum. When the operculum lifts a little, and the spores escape into the limited space between the capsule and the calyptra, they are as closely confined as if they had not been freed from the capsule itself. Just here comes in the surprising peculiarity observed by Dusén. The calyptra now becomes slit near its apex, and when the surroundings are dry, these slender slits are wide enough to permit the spores to be sprinkled out. On the approach of moisture the slits close tightly and keep the spores in. Moreover the operculum becomes wedged into the top of the calyptra and is lifted or shut as may be, with changes in the dryness or moisture of the whole. The complicated nature of the structure suggests that the mode of dissemination in mosses should be again examined in the field. As is well known, many species are provided with means for dispersion, depending on the condition of the atmosphere ; it is probable that a reinvestigation may throw light on many more cases. In connection with this, it is interesting to observe that recent observations by Goebel have enlarged the range of function in the elaters of Hepaticæ.
G. L. G. 4. Australian Narcotics.—In the presidential address of Mr. J. H. MAIDEN, the untiring investigator of the useful plants of the Australasian colonies, it is said that the “native tobacco," Nicotiana suaveolens, although possessing the same physiological action as ordinary smoking tobacco, appears never to have been used by the blacks. But, on the other hand, Pituri (Duboisia Hopwoodii), the principal narcotic of the aborigines, has the same physiological action as nicotine. Two other plants are also used for smoking, namely, Adriana acerifolia, a Euphorbiaceous species, and Amorphophallus variabilis. These have not yet been carefully studied.
G. L. G.
IV. MISCELLANEOUS SCIENTIFIC INTELLIGENCE. 1. The Science of Mechanics, by Dr. Ernst Mach, Professor of Physics in the University of Prague. Translated from the second German edition by Thomas J. McCORMACK, pp. 534, with 250 cuts, 1894, Chicago (The Open Court Publishing Co.).—Every student and still more every teacher of mechanics or any subject akin to it needs to regard his work from the standpoint of this book. The fundamental notions of mechanics are presented in the form of a history of their development accompanied by a critical analysis of the reasoning by which each contributor to the science made his deductions.
The purpose of the author, as stated by himself, is to show “how the principles of mechanics have been ascertained, from what sources they take their origin and how far they can be regarded as permanent acquisitions."
The story of the labors of the pioneers of thought in opening paths into the unknown is no small part of their legacy to mankind. The author tells this story for mechanics, not superficially but after the manner of the Germans. Of especial interest to teachers of mechanics is his forcible presentation of the opinion that the true relation of its principles is the historical one. Many will find in it a clew to a natural method of teaching, and its influence ought to be evident in the text-books of elementary mechanics hereafter published.
W. B. 2. Dynamics ; by R. T. GLAZEBROOK, F.R.S., pp. 256, 99 illustrations. (The Cambridge Natural Science Manuals.) – This book presents very attractively the system of teaching followed by the author in the Cavendish Physical Laboratory, and marks a great advance on the method still too prevalent of presenting mechanics as a branch of pure mathematics. A series of carefully arranged experiments, many of them new and inexpensive and suitable for the average student to perform with his own hands, carry the reader along the line of the historical development of the science far enough to prepare his mind to receive willingly and intelligently its fundamental principles in their most general form. The theory is thus developed rigorously and with unusual clearness.
W. B. 3. A Fewo Chapters in Astronomy, by Claudius KENNEDY, M.A., pp. 150, 1895, London (Taylor & Francis).-Several topics, which most text-books necessarily ignore or dismiss with a few paragraphs, are here treated very copiously and instructively, e. g. the deviation of projectiles caused by the rotation of the earth.
W. B. 4. North American Birds, by H. NEHRLING; with 36 colored plates after water-color paintings by Prof. ROBERT RIDGWAY, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C., Prof. A. GOERING, Leipzig, and GUSTAV MUETZEL, Berlin. Milwaukee, Wisconsin (George Boumder). The first volume of this attractive popular
work bas already been issued as well as three parts of the closing second volume ; Parts xii to xvi will complete it. The aim is to give a complete history of all the songbirds, flycatchers, hummingbirds, swifts, goatsuckers, woodpeckers, kingfishers, trogons, cuckoos, and parrots of North America. The text is written in a clear entertaining style suited to the general reader; the typographical work is excellent and the same can be said of the colored plates.
OBITUARY. MR. Joux H. REDFIELD, one of the co-editors of the “Preliminary Flora of Mount Desert Island”—a model contribution to Geographical Botany-died at his home in Philadelphia, on the 28th of February in his 80th year. He had scarcely received the congratulations of the friends of the amenable science, before he quietly passed away under an attack of influenza. For nearly twenty years previously he had served as Conservator of the Herbarium of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, to the care of which he gave much of his spare time, except the three months of each summer devoted to the exploration of Mount Desert Island. In the department of vascular Cryptogams he ranked among the highest authorities. He was the son of the well known Redfield who discovered the rotatory motion of tornadoes, and was born at what is now Cromwell, Connecticut. Moving with his parents to New York, he became among the younger of those who founded the New York Lyceum of Natural History. Marrying into the family of the Whitneys, who established the great car wheel works in Philadelphia, he removed to that city in 1861, and took an active part in all that tended to the growth of the Academy. The Hookers, Torrey, Gray, Sargent, and many eminent scientific men were among his intimate friends, who honored him for his many manly virtues as for his scientific worth. He was one of the founders of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His mod. esty led him to decline many tendered honors, bis only ambition being to leave behind him, in the Herbarium of the Academy, something that should be useful to others for all time. T. M.
DR. LOTHAR VON MEYER, Professor of Chemistry at Tübingen, died on the 12th of April in his sixty-fifth year. He was one of the most prominent chemists of Germany, at once as investigator, author and teacher. The discovery of the periodic law is largely due to him.
DR. CARL Vogt, the famous German naturalist, died in Geneva, Switzerland, on the 5th of May in his eighty-second year.