« PreviousContinue »
THE YERKES OBSERVATORY.-From the University of report on the progress of the Geological Survey of India Chicago we have received a brochure in which Prof. E. B. would necessitate. Frost gives a brief, detailed account of the establishment, Very full reports upon the work of the various scientific equipment, and work of the Yerkes Observatory. Four- departments during the year 1907-8 then follow. Dr. teen excellent reproductions of photographs of insiruments, J. W. Leather and Mr. D. Hooper deal with the work spectroheliograms, nebulæ, &c., illustrate the twenty-four on industrial and agricultural chemistry, and Mr. Puran pages of the booklet, and give the reader a very fair idea Singh with forest chemistry; Dr. G. T. Walker, F.R.S., of the enormous activities and possibilities of the institu- with solar physics, meteorology, and terrestrial magnetism ; tion. One point which attracts our attention is Prof. Sir Thomas H. Holland, F.R.S., with geology ; Colonel Frost's emphasis of the necessity for having, in a modern S. G. Burrard, F.R.S., with geodosy and geography; astronomical observatory, well-equipped workshops wherein Messrs. W. W. Smith, A. Howard, E. J. Butler, and repairs and modifications of existing instruments may be R. S. Hole with various branches of botany; Mr. executed, and new instruments constructed.
A. M. F. Caccia and A. J. Gibson with forestry; Dr. PROMINENCE OBSERVATIONS.—No. 6, vol. xxxviii., of the
N. Annandale and Messrs. H. Maxwell-Lefroy and E. P. Vemorie della Società degli Spettroscopisti Italiani
Stebbing with zoological subjects; and Colonel H. T. tains Prof. Ricco's periodical summary of the Catania
Pease with veterinary science. prominence observations, dealing with the first six months
· The progra.nmes of work of the various scientific departof 1908. Prominences were observed on ninety-three days
ments for the year 1908-9, as approved by the Board, during the six months, and 170 in the northern, and 247
constitute the next section of the volume, which concludes in the southern, hemisphere were measured. The mean
with an appendix by Dr. W. R. Dunstan, F.R.S., director latitude for the two hemispheres was 27.5°, but, dividing of the Imperial Institute, describing the economic investithe latitude, N. and S., into 10° steps, there were two
gations conducted for India at the Imperial Institute maxima (lat. 10°-20° and 50°-60°) in the northern hemi- during the year ended September 30, 1908. sphere and only one (20°-30°) in the southern.
The detailed programmes of work teem with particulars of investigations of great interest, but since the bare
enumeration of the researches to be undertaken runs to SCIENTIFIC WORK IN INDIA.
twenty-seven large pages, it is possible here only to give THE annual report of the Board of Scientific Advice for
an example or two. In meteorological work, a special India for the year 1907-8 has lately been issued by
cndeavour is being made this year to secure meteorograph the Superintendent of Government Printing, Calcutta.
records of temperature and humidity up to great heights The Board was constituted in 1902, and consisted origin- by means of small balloons. At four nearly equidistant ally of the heads of the meteorological, geological, periods between April and December batches of registerbotanical, forest, survey, agricultural, and veterinary ing balloons have been, and are to be, liberated at some departments,
but the Government of India invites from place in the west of the Punjab, and organised efforts time to time to serve upon it other men of science in the
made to recover as many as possible on descent. Each service of the imperial and provincial Governments. The
batch was to comprise, perhaps, ten complete units, the Board is a central authority for the coordination of official
adjustment and liberation of which takes between a week scientific inquiry, intended to ensure that the work of re
and ten days. It was hoped to reach heights of 25,000 search is distributed to the best advantage and the preven
feet in the earlier experiments, and later in the year it tion of useless duplication of inquiries and lack of inter- / is hoped to increase the heights at which the balloons departmental cooperation. The advice of the Board is
are caused to descend until 50,000 feet has been reached. given with the view of aiding the Government of India
It is important to reach this height in order to see whether in prosecuting practical research into questions of economic
the isothermal zone, which has been almost invariably and applied science on the solution of which the pro
found at or near that level by sounding balloons in Europe,
is to be encountered over India. gressive prosperity of the country depends. The Board discusses annually the proposals of the head of each of the Survey provides another typical instance of the activity
The new work to be undertaken by the Geological great departments in regard to the programme of investigation in his department, and submits each year a general of scientific workers in India. The mapping of previously programme of research to the Government.
unsurveyed areas in the Amherst district of Lower Burma
Its reports is being proceeded with, the geological map of the Raniand programines are communicated through the Secretary of State for India to the Royal Society. which has ganj coalfield is being revised in conjunction with a comappointed an advisory committee to consider them.
mittee appointed by the Mining and Geological Institute of The present report opens with a summary of the pro
India, and the following pieces of work are in hand :-a ceedings at the three meetings held during 1908, two at
survey of the ossiferous deposits of the Siwaliks and the Calcutta and one at Simla. As indicative of the scope
Salt Range; an examination of copper-ore and associated of the labours of the Board, some of the subjects discussed
sulphide-ore deposits in Sikkim; a survey of certain at the first meeting may be mentioned. The Board had
glaciers in Sikkim; and a study of the palæontology of under consideration the remarks of the Royal Society com
(a) the Cretaceous rocks of Tibet, (b) the fossil fishes of mittee on the Board's report for 1905-6 and its programme
the East Coast Gondwanas. for 1907-8. The subjects discussed included, among many others, the preparation of a hand-list of the species of the fora of India, economic and industrial chemistry, and the
POSITION FINDING WITHOUT AN HORIZON. limits of the imperia! mycologist'sresearch work, the WHEN about three years ago the first Gordon-Bennett relations of the zoological section of the Indian Museum
, and of the aëronauts to other departments engaged in zoological research, and descended precipitately on the north coast of France, proposals for a special report on the progress of the believing they were approaching the Bay of Biscay, it Geological Survey.
seemed to me worth while to consider the possibility of The conclusions arrived at by the Board in these matters designing an instrument by the aid of which observations were as follows :—that, as regards the preparation of a could be taken so to obtain even
a rough idea of hand-list of the flora of India, although its importance position. For this purpose the observation of the altitude was recognised, lack of staff and the existence of more and azimuth at any moment of a single star or of the sun immediately necessary work precluded its preparation will be sufficient to establish the locality, or the altitudes forthwith ; that the consideration of economic and indus- of two
not in the same vertical plane with the trial chemistry and the work of the imperial mycologist observer will do as well. should await the results of the discussion of the subjects If the observation is such that the error is as great as by the Board of Agriculture for India; that reference the diameter of the sun or moon, the resulting uncertainty should be made, so far as possible, to the zoological section of position will be a little more than thirty miles, and so of the Indian Museum by other departments engaged in in proportion. The observer will be, of course, on a circle zoological research : and that no officer was available for on the earth described round the point where the star the increase of work that the preparation of a special, is in the zenith, the radius of which in nautical miles is
equal to the zenith distance of the star expressed in sextant being therefore set to any position to bring the minutes.
star on to the scale, a series of scale readings may then A search at the Patent Office library showed that a be made, which, added to or subtracted from the vernier large number of inventors had for nautical purposes, rather reading, give the series of altitudes. If the telescope is than for use in balloons, imagined instruments which, for slid sideways so that half its field is to the right of the various reasons, would be impracticable. In some mirror k, it may be made to look into the object-glass attempt has been made to combine a sextant and a pen- end of a surveyor's level or even at the sea horizon with dulum, but even if the observer were not expected to watch a known dip, and the zero of the scale tested and so the star and the pendulum at the same time, the pendulum adjusted by means of the moving weight 2. At any time was made so short and of such quick period that the when a sea or artificial horizon is available, observations inevitable trembling of the hand would give rise to angular may be made as with an ordinary sextant with the relative movement of the pendulum represented by several telescope laterally displaced, and by this means also the diameters of the sun. The beauty of the sextant is the index-glass may be adjusted. property it possesses of gluing the two objects, e.g. I have experimented with a collimator and telescop the sun and horizon or moon and star, which are being mounted as described, and found that, without the top observed together, so that with all the spasmodic movements which the magnification of the telescope and the unsteadiness of the hand make inevitable, the eye, nevertheless, can follow them and see if there is continuous close contact or not, whereas if the apparent position of one of the objects only depended upon the steadiness of the hand, no observation worthy of the name would be possible. It is therefore essential, if any approach to accuracy is required, that the star or sun should be seen in the same field with, and glued to, the mark, whatever form that may take, which determines the altitude, and also that the angular variation in the position of this mark should hardly be affected by the trembling of the hand. I tried at the time to interest one or two instrument makers,
dubut unsuccessfuily; now, however, that the subject is attracting attention in Germany, as shown by Dr. Lockyer's (vol. Ixxx., p. 29) article in a recent
b mit number of NATURE, perhaps my design may be worth bringing forward. I would only remark that an instrument of the kind would be useful on board ship when the sun or stars may be visible while the sea horizon is obscured, provided only that, as is usual in fog, the ship is not rolling seriously. These worse conditions can only be met by the more complicated gyroscopic horizon perfected by Admiral Fleuriais.
b The instrument depends essentially upon the use of a
у vertical collimator suspended on gimbals, and top-weighted like a metronome, so as to have a period of swing either
8 way of as much as one second. The collimator has at its focus a scale of, say, tenths of a degree in transparent divisions upon an opaque ground, and above its lens a clear or half-silvered glass mirror set at 45° with the axis of the collimator. The collimator is suspended in a tube, which is the handle of the instrument, and which carries also the parts of a small sextant.
Figs. 1 and 2 are vertical sections through the axis of the instrument, the latter partly in elevation. a is a box frame to which are attached the tubular handle b, the telescope c, and other sextant parts. The telescope is carried by means of a slide d and pin e, so that it may be moved sideways or be hinged downwards when not in
Inside the handle is mounted a gimbal ring f, on which the collimator g is supported on knife-edges h; i is the scale already described ; k is the unsilvered mirror attached to the collimator, by means of which the scale i, illuminated by the mirror 7, may be seen in the tele- weight, the angular movement due to unsteadiness of the scope ; l and ni are the horizon and index glasses re
hand is far too great for accurate observation, but that spectively of the sextant, but made as prisms for con
when the period is increased to about one second by topvenience, though, of course, the usual mirrors might be weighting, the angular movement is so far reduced that, used; r is the top weight of the collimator; and t a
when sitting at a table and holding the instrument in correcting weight running on a screw to bring the zero
the hand, an accuracy of 1' is possible. Of course, with of the scale i apparently on to the true horizon. A the trembling of the hand the collimator turns about its conical damper u, lined with velvet, is made to slide
centre of oscillation, and so with the period named a within the handle, being pressed upwards by a spring v
sudden movement of 1/100 inch will correspond to 1 so as to steady or even to lift the collimator off its v's and
about, while if the period is two seconds the angular against the pins 1, and capable of being moved down accuracy will be four times as great. wards by the thumb-lever x and fork y. An exterior
If used on a ship with any appreciable rolling it would sleeve 5 carries a cap 8, which serves as a protector to
be best to get down to the neutral axis, and observe zenith the translucent window at the base of the handle, and
stars through a hatchway, so as to avoid the horizontal as a holder also for the illuminating mirror 7; 3 is a
acceleration which is so pronounced on the bridge, for, of quadrant carrying three dark or tinted glasses.
! course, the collimator will hang, not in the true vertical, When the telescope is directly opposite the mirror k
but at an angle equal to and the reflectors i, m of the sextant, the star will be seen by double reflection projected upon the scale, of which
If this is small the star may be observed to move a one half is marked + and the other The arm of the corresponding degree upon the scale in time with the
rolling of the ship, and the successive elongations may be read ofl.
In a balloon, owing to the extreme quiet, I believe useful observations could be taken, more especially at those times at which it is not turning. I do not think it would be of any use on a flying machine in motion.
C. V. Boys.
THE POSITION OF HIGHER EDUCATION.
committee of the London County Council has had under consideration the relations which it is desirable should subsist between the University of London and other institutions of university rank in the metropolitan area and the London County Council. The subcommittee's report was presented to the education committee towards the end of May, and contains, not only a valuable résumé of the various steps taken by the late London Technical Education Board and by the Council itself to improve the supply of higher education in London, but also important collection of statistics concerning the financial aid given by municipal and other authorities in the great provincial centres of population.
The subcommittee's report includes tables of grants made
7,010 Leeds ...
532 Newcastle-upon-Tyne 6.750
4, 340 Reading
more than 250,00ol. in this way ; Leeds 380,000l. ; Liver-
than 192,000l. ; and Sheffield more than 229,000l. ; while, in London, University College had received up to the date of the latest Government report 453,000l.; King's College 206,000l. ; and Bedford College more than 29,000l. from private benefactions.
The subcommittee has given careful and sympathetic consideration the applications received from certain London institutions of university rank for grants during the present year, and has come to the conclusion that more might be done in London for university education in consideration of the amount of the grant received from the Treasury, and having regard to the rateable value of the county of London. In this connection the following table, abbreviated from one included in the report, is instruclive :
Rate in £ necessary, Amount obtain to raise g antio local
able from a Town
similar rate in University College
42, 203 Sheffield
1 20,228 Biiziol 1
158, 360 Reading
25, 220 The table shows very clearly that if London made the same proportional provision for higher education that Cardiff does, the annual grant would be 181,840!. instead of 25,2201. ; or 158,360l. if it applied the same fraction of the rate as Nottingham does for higher education.
It is of interest to pass from the comparison of rate-aid and State-aid for higher education in England and Wales made in this and the preceding tables to some facts relating to the position of the subject in other countries. By a fortunate circumstance, an exhaustive article by Prof. Guido H. Marx in the issue of Science for May 14 shows remarkable growth and spread of interest in higher ducation, and the consequent great increase in the number of young men and women pursuing advanced studies, and receiving higher scientific and other training, in various countries.
It is natural to look to Germany for significant educational movements, and Prof. Marx, dealing with the combined attendance at the twenty-two German universities, shows that prior to 1870 this attendance was fairly uniform, keeping regular pace with the population. Immediately after 1870 the increase of attendance grew much more rapidly than the population, and there is not the slightest tendency for the increase to fall off. At the beginning of the period of rapid development in 1870 there was in Germany one student in the institutions of higher education for every two thousand inhabitants, while in 1907 there was one such student to every thousand inhabitants.
In the case of the United States of America, the combined attendance at all the colleges, universities, scientific, technical, and professional schools-omitting preparatory departments—up to the year 1885 showed a condition of practical stability, but beginning with that year the ratio of these students to the population increased year by year, and at present indicates no signs of falling off. In 1885 there was one such student for every seven hundred inhabitants, and twenty years later one for every four hundred of population.
Several important deductions can be made from the following table, drawn up by Prof. Marx :
1 The Bristol Town Courcil has derided to devote the produce of id. rate (about 7 cool. a year) to university education.
293,450 £70,277 London County Council Grants to University Education.
Council grant £
& Bedford College
800 King's College
2.000 University College
1,500 London School of Economics 1,150
1,200 East London College
1,000 Imperial College of Science and Technology
5.000 University of London
10,000 Extra Grants ...
25,220 It is pointed out in the report that the various universities and university colleges have been successful in obtaining great assistance from generous donors, and that in such cases the receipt of State aid and financial help from the local authority does not seem to affect the flow of private benevolence. Thus Birmingham has received
Number of Students in Higher Educational Institutions G. H. F. Nuttall and Dr. S. Hadwen, who Save in different countries. account of their successful curative treatment
cases 80 per cent. to 85 per cent. of the red blood-corpus's United States 84,000,000 210,333
are infected, and the escape of the parasites into the bar Switzerland 3,500,000
gives rise to the characteristic hæmoglobinurea. The n's Germany
cycle, which was described, bears a definite relation to : Sweden
5.300,000 5,000 1,060 treatment, and the double pyriform and large rounded for France
39,000,000 32,000 1,200 of the parasite are dominant in the blood. It was for Roumania 6,000,000
int5,000 1,200 that if trypanblau was injected subcutaneously Italy 33.000,000
venously all the pyriform parasites disappeared,
1,400 Belgium 7,100,000
later. 1. remaining parasites degenerated two hours
5.000 1,400 Holland 5,600,000 4,000 1,400
animals (dogs) showed no symptoms. The parasites : Austria-Hungary 47,000,000 30,000 1,570
turned in very sinall numbers after about ten Spain
19,000,000 12,000 1,600 days, but the animals appear to be quite well, and to Great Britain 44,000,000 25,000 1,750
was sufficient, and
parasites disappear. One injection Russia 147,000,000 23,000
nearly all the animals injected were cured, while the u
injected controls all died; a 100 per cent. mortality when Russia, it is seen, is the only western country of occurred in this disease in dogs was converted into a prominence which has not passed Germany's figure of the 85 per cent. recovery. The drug has the same effecten
student for year 1870, namely, thousand the Piroplasma causing,
in “ red-water disease"
says Prof. Marx,
“ the most Further investigations of a thorough character are striking fact displayed by this table is the way Great sary before the drug can be put to practical use, but 1: Britain has lagged in this vast movement of the demo- discovery is of the greatest importance. cratisation of the advantages of higher education-and, Mr. Č. Warburton gave a very interesting account ri scarcely less significant, the strong leading position of the his experiments on the life-histories of the human Pedicu, United States.
the clothes and head lice. Great difficulties Too much importance must not, however, be attached encountered at first, but finally, by allowing them to fent to the table here reprinted with slight modifications, or to
on the back of his hand two or three times a day, to Prof. Marx's conclusions. The total number of students author was able to fill a very important blank in the kronof higher education in the case of the United States ledge of these insects. He found that the female of includes students of both sexes in colleges, universities,
P. vestimenti laid 124 eggs in twenty-five days. technical and professional schools (exclusive of preparatory began to hatch in eight days, and continued to do so ie
: departments), in the session 1903-6, and in the case of
about a month. The larvæ feed as
ther ar: Germany, too, the students of technical and professional
hatched, and after moulting three times became imaginschools above gymnasial rank are included in the total.
in eleven days. Great trouble was experienced in breedir. But Great Britain's 25.000, and the totals assigned to
P. cervicalis (P. capitis), but patience and discomfort were all the remaining countries except Russia, deal only with
rewarded with success, and it was found that a sing their universities; their technical colleges and professional
female deposited forty-eight eggs, which hatched in severa schools being ignored, apparently. It is not by any means
to cighteen days, and the later stages were contended that higher instruction in science and letters spondingly lengthened compared with those of P. teste receives anything like the consideration it should in this
menti. country, but it is desirable, in making a comparison such
The actual and possible applications of recent discoveries as that Prof. Marx has instituted, to eliminate as many
in heredity to biological problems of an economic character sources of error as possible, and to confine attention rigidly
were discussed by Mr. A. D. Darbishire. He showed how to matters which are really comparable. The article upon
important were such Mendelian principles as segregation “The Supply of Secondary Education in England and
and the breeding true of organisms bearing the recessive Elsewhere," which appeared in Nature of June 17, sup
character. The recessive character mav be a resistance 10 plements to some extent the information brought together
the rust fungus, as Prof. Biffen discovered in wheat. He by Prof. Marx and summarised in the foregoing tables.
was inclined to believe that resistance to the attacks of the beetle Bruchus might be dealt with according to Mendelias
principles, and also the increase of the saccharine contents ASSOCIATION OF ECONOMIC BIOLOGISTS.
of peas by the selection of the absorptive character, which
is different in round and wrinkled peas. THE eighth annual meeting of this steadily growing Mr. S. A. Ncave gave an interesting account of his
association was held in the new School of Forestry observations on the distribution and habits of the tsetse.fr at Oxford on July 13-15. The outstanding features of the meetings were the extremely interesting, and in many cases
Glossina palpalis, which were made in the Congo Free
State and North-east Rhodesia in the years 1907-8. ] important, papers that were read and the discussions which
would appear that the high plateau country forming the followed, signs alike of the increasing importance of the watershed between the basins of the Congo and Zambez. application of biological science.
rivers forms a barrier against the southward extension of The president, Dr. A. E. Shipley, F.R.S., opened the the distribution of the fly. He was of the opinion that, meeting with a paper on the relations of certain cestodes on the whole, G. palpalis will not be found to occur in and nematode parasites to bacterial disease. He argued the Zambezi basin, an important fact in view of the possithat the piercing of the wall of the alimentary canal by bility of the spread of sleeping sickness into South Africa parasites carries with it bacterial infection. In the case entertained by some authorities. of the “ disease of the grouse, the piercing of the wall The results of observations and investigations on other of the cæcum by the tapeworm Trichostrongylus per insects of economic importance were communicated to th gracilis was followed by an intrusion of bacteria into the association. Dr. C. Gordon Hewitt has continued his submucous layers. It is found that there is a definite investigations on the large larch saw-fly Nematus erichsoni, relation between the number of worms in the alimentary and finds that the natural enemies are increasing in canal and the number of bacteria in the body of the host. number. The percentage of parasitic ichneumons has inThis perforation of the intestinal wall and subsequent creased, as also the attacks of the small vole Microius invasion of the lesions by bacilli is of importance in such agrestis. A parasitic fungus (Cordyceps) has been found diseases as peritonitis and appendicitis. Such worms as attacking the pupal stage, and the insectivorous birds are Oxyuris, &c., are frequently associated with peritonitis, being encouraged. In spite of all these he was of the and other entozoa with appendicitis. He strongly advo- opinion that the results of the attack would be of a grave cated the greater use of vermifuges, which are used less character, an opinion which was shared by Prof. Somerihan heretofore, and in this he was supported by Prof. ville in the subsequent discussion. A number of successful Osler in the discussion that followed.
experiments on the breeding of the house-fly during the One of the most important papers was that of Prof. winter months (February) under favourable conditions of
temperature, &c., were described by Mr. F. P. Jepson, should, and is treated upon broad scientific lines, there who has thus been able successfully to confirm the will be no lack of lessons that may be learnt from it. observations of previous investigators. Mr. Walter E. The development of culture within the geographical region Collinge described the part played by the Collembola, or would be illustrated by chronological series depicting the
springtails," in the destruction of such plant life as general life and habits of the people at successive periods. developing seeds, bulbs, orchids, and hops. The struc- An open-air exhibition in connection with the main museum ture of the rose-aphid Siphonophora rosarum
would enable obsolete types of habitations and other la scribed by Mr. A. J. Grove, and Prof. E. B. Poulton structures to be erected, and admit of the exhibition of exhibited a collection of predaceous insects and their prey. many features of the older domestic and social economy :
The disappearance of the fresh-water crayfish from the and.' further, it would supply a permanent centre for the Thames valley and other localities in this and European performance of the folk-dances, songs, and old-time countries owing to the so-called “plague" is a problem ceremonies of the British people. of great interest to biologists. Mr. Geoffrey Smith's paper It was rather singular that the special subject of the on some of the work that he has been carrying on in arrangement of mammalia in museums, which had cooperation with Prof. Dreyer on the pathogenic bacteria been selected by the council, was completely ignored, not of Carcinus moenas was of especial interest to economic a single paper with any reference to it being submitted, biologists, as this work is connected with the question of while ethnology received a large amount of attention. Mr. the relation of the so-called plague bacillus to other H. L. Braekstad supported the president's plea with a pathogenic bacteria living on the outside of crabs, lobsters, bright, descriptive paper on open-air museums in Norway, and crayfishes.
Mr. F. W. Knocker discoursed on the practical improveProf. William Somerville exhibited an interesting collec- ment of ethnographical collections in provincial museums, and tion of injurious fungi and the injuries caused by the same, Mr. W. Ruskin Butterfield offered some suggestions for and a paper on the blossoming and pollen of our hardy loan exhibitions of local antiquities. Art museums cultivated plants, by Mr. C. H. Hooper, was communicated dealt with in thoughtful papers by Benj. I. Gilman, of to the association.
the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Dr. A. H. Millar, On July 14 a very enjoyable excursion to the School of of the Albert Institute, Dundee. Other papers comprised Forestry's arboretum at Tubney and to Bagley Woods was the Maidstone Museum, by J. H. Allchin; the relation made. It was also resolved to accept the invitation to between libraries and museums, by F. Woolnough ; hold the meeting next year at the University of Man- mounting and displaying coins, by R. Quick ; life-history chester.
groups of injurious insects, by it. Bolton; and a serviceable description by Sir Martin Conway of his
ingenious and convenient method of dealing with photoTHE MUSEUMS ASSOCIATION.
The annual report, read at the business meeting on THE twentieth annual conference of the Museums July 15, recorded the uninterrupted growth of the associa:
Association, which opened at Maidstone on July 13, tion, which now possesses a cash balance of 250l., as well attracted a fair number of members from the more southern as a stock of publications that are constantly in demand. towns, though the northern districts were not very generally The ballot papers showed that Dr. Tempest Anderson had represented.
been elected president, Mr. E. E. Lowe secretary, and Mr. Preceding the conference there was a council meeting F. R. Rowley editor. It was decided to publish a directory on the evening of Monday, July 12, when the secretary of all the museums in Great Britain and the colonies, the and editor, Mr. E. Howarth, resigned those offices, after work to be proceeded with at once by Mr. H. M. Platnauer being editor of the Museums Journal since its first issue in and Mr. E. Howarth. 1901, and secretary for many years prior to that date. The formation of the association was first advocated in an article written by Mr. Howarth and published in NATURE ADAPTATION IN FOSSIL PLANTS.? in 1877. From that time the idea gradually extended, and in 1889 the association was duly organised at York, where THE Darwinian theory of the origin of species by variait will very fitly hold its twenty-first anniversary next year.
tion and natural selection only fulfils its role in so The president, Mr. Henry Balfour, curator of the Pitt- far as the distinctive characters of organisms are, or have Rivers Museum at Oxford, opened the proceedings with been, adaptive,.. i.e. beneficial the species. Purely an extremely interesting address, which dealt cogently
' morphological ” characters (if any such exist) and nonwith the question of a national folk-museum, one of the adaptive characters in general are not explained by the phases of museum work that has been strangely neglected Darwinian theory (or only indirectly with the help of in these islands. While the ethnology of most regions of correlation). I therefore make no apology for having a the world is illustrated in museums with profusion, good deal to say about adaptations in what follows: the mediæval and post-mediæval life of our own country
That the great bulk, if not the whole, of organic struchas received quite inadequate attention. Even the British ture is of the nature of an adaptive mechanism or device Museum is everything except British so far as ethnology cannot be seriously doubted. is concerned. The president instanced two museums, how- The origin of species by means of natural selection does ever, where praiseworthy efforts were made to illustrate not, as has sometimes been imagined, involve a constantly local folk-culture, viz. 'the Museum of the Society of increasing perfection of adaptation throughout the whole Antiquaries in Edinburgh and the Guildhall Museum, course of evolution. Darwin expressed his belief “ that London. “What is required is a national folk-museum the period during which each species underwent modificadealing exclusively and exhaustively with the history of tion, though long as measured by years, was probably culture of the British nation within the historic period, and short in comparison with that during which it remained illustrating the growth of ideas and indigenous character- without undergoing any change. istics. Others have, indeed, a perfect right to criticise us, During the long periods of rest, adaptation to the then for in most European countries a folk-museum is a existing condition of life must have been relatively perfect, prominent and patriotic feature of very many of their for otherwise new variations would have had the advantage cities and towns," Berlin, Budapest, Sarajevo, Moscow, and change would have ensued. It thus appears that, as Paris, Helsingfors, Copenhagen, Bergen, Christiania, and a rule, a state of equilibrium has existed in the relation Stockholm being cited as a few examples.
of organisms to their environment, only disturbed when Mr. Balfour then described with some detail the Nordiska the conditions were changing That such long periods of museum in Stockholm as a model upon which to base a evolutionary stability have actually occurred is shown, for national folk-museum of our own, and said, “I feel sure example, not only by the familiar case of the flora of that a well-organised and carefully arranged folk-museum Egypt, unaltered during a long historic period, but still standing in grounds which could be adapted for an open- more strikingly by the absence of any noticeable change air exhibition would be as much appreciated by students
1 Abridged from the presidential address delivered before the Linnean and as popular with the masses as any institution in the
Society on May 24. By Dr. D. H. Scott, F.R.S. country.”
If a strictly national collection develops as it 2 “Origin of Species," sixth edition, p. 279.