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The Popular Science Monthly Volume LXXXVI July to September, 1915 The Scientific Monthly Volume I October to December, 1915

Part 7 out of 8

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France about 1800 and has come to be employed over all the
civilized world except in the United States, Great Britain and
Russia. The system was legalized in the United States in 1866
but not made mandatory and here we are fifty years later using
the old system, with most of the civilized world looking on us
with more or less scorn because of our belatedness.

In this age everywhere the cry is efficiency, always more
efficiency. Ten thousand improvements and labor-saving devices
are introduced every day. But here is an improvement and
labor-saving device which would affect the life of every person
in the land and in many instances greatly affect such persons'
lives, and yet almost no one really knows anything about the

So let us now consider the good points in the metric system
(each implying corresponding elements of great weakness in the
common system), and then study briefly what stands in the way
of its adoption in this country. These good points are:

First, the metric units have uniform self-defining names (cent,
mill, meter and five more out of the eleven terms used already
familiar to us in English words), are always the same in all
lands, known everywhere, and fixed with scientific accuracy.

Second, every REDUCTION is made almost instantaneously by
merely moving the decimal point. There are no reductions
performed by multiplying by 1,728 or 5,280, etc., or dividing
by 5 1/2, 30 1/4 or 31 1/2, etc., and hence there is A GREAT
SAVING in the labor and time of making necessary calculations.

Third, there are but FIVE tables in the metric system proper,
these taking the place of from twelve to fifteen in our system
(or lack of it). These are linear, square, cubic, capacity and

Fourth, any one table is about as easy to learn as our United
States money table, and after one is learned, it is much easier
to learn the others, since the same prefixes with the same
meanings are used in all.

Fifth, the weights of all objects are either known directly
from their size, or can be very quickly found from their
specific gravities.

Sixth, the subject is made so much easier for children in
school that a conservative expert estimate of the saving is two
thirds of a year in a child's school life. The rule in this
country is eight years of arithmetic, the arithmetic occupying
about one fourth of the child's activity. With metric
arithmetic substituted for ours, what it now takes two years to
prepare for, could be easily done in 1 1/3 years. This involves
an enormous waste of money and energy every twelvemonth.

Seventh, only ONE set of measures and ONE set of weights are
needed to measure and weigh everything, and ONE set of machines
to make things for the world's use. There would be no
duplication of costly machinery to enter the foreign trade
field, thus securing enormous saving. It is well known that the
United States and Great Britain have lost a vast amount of
foreign commerce in competition with Germany and France,
because of their non-use of the metric units. Britain realizes
this and is greatly concerned over the situation.

Eighth, every ordinary practical problem can be solved
conveniently on an adding machine. Our adding machines are used
almost solely for United States money problems.

Ninth, no valuable time is lost in making reductions from
common to metric units, or vice versa, either by ourselves or
foreigners. To make our sizes in manufactured goods concrete to
them foreign customers have to reduce our measures to theirs
and this is a weariness to the flesh.

Tenth, the metric system is wonderfully simple. All the tables
with a rule to make all possible reductions can be put on a
postal card.[1]

[1] See article by the writer in Education (Boston), Dec.,

The metric weights and measures constitute a SCIENTIFIC SYSTEM;
our weights and measures are a DISORGANIZATION. Naturally one
use of a system, and this is the fact. If one dared introduce
ordinary arithmetical problems into an article like this, it
would be easy to show by examples how a person has to be
something of a master of common fractions in order to solve in
our system common every-day problems, whereas in the metric
system nearly everything is done very simply with decimals. In
our system a mechanic after making a complicated calculation
with common fractions is as likely as not to get his result in
sixths, or ninths, etc., of an inch, whereas his rule reads to
eighths, or sixteenths, and he must reduce his sixths, or
ninths, to eighths, or sixteenths, before he can measure off
his result. In the metric system results always come out in
units of the scale used. The metric system measures to
millimeters or to a unit a trifle larger than a thirty-second
of an inch. In our system one is likely to avoid sixteenths or
thirty-seconds on account of the labor of calculation. Then,
besides, the amount of figuring is so much less in the metric
system. Take the case of a certain problem to find the cubical
contents of a box. Our solution calls for 80 figures and the
metric for 35, and this is a typical case, not one specially
selected. Thus, metric calculations, while only from one third
to two thirds as long, are likely to be two or three times as
accurate, are far easier to understand, and the results can be
immediately measured off. Hence, we waste time in these four
ways. Shakespeare in Hamlet says: "Thus conscience does make
cowards of us all." In like vein it might be said: Thus custom
(in weights and measures) doth make April fools of us all. It
is no exaggeration to say that counting grown-ups solving
actual problems and children solving problems in school we are
sent on much more than a billion such April fool errands round
Robin Hood's barn every year.

Noting how much time is saved in making simple every-day
calculations by using the metric system, suppose that we assume
of the 60 or more millions of adults in active life in this
country, on the average only one in 60 makes such calculations
daily and that only twenty minutes' time is saved each day. Let
us suppose that the value of the time of the users is put at
$2.40 per day or 10 cents for 20 minutes. Then 1,000,000 users
would save $100,000 per day or $30,000,000 per year. But
perhaps some one is saying that much of this time is not really
saved, since many persons are paid for their time and can just
as well do this work as not. The answer to this is that in many
instances such calculations take the time of OTHERS as well as
the person making the calculation. Occasionally a contractor
might hold back, or work to a disadvantage a gang of a score of
workmen while trying to solve a problem that came up

An estimate of the value of all weighing and measuring
instruments places the sum at $150,000,000. Thus, we see that
in five years, merely by a saving in TIME--for time is
money--all metric measuring and weighing instruments could be
got NEW at no extra expense. This estimate of the cost of
replacing our weighing and measuring instruments by new metric
ones and of saving time has been made by others with a similar

A matter of very much more importance than that just discussed
is the extra unnecessary expense put upon education, viz., two
thirds of a year for every child in the land. Presumably if the
metric system were in use with us, all our children would stay
in school as long as they now do, thus getting two thirds of a
year farther along in the course of study. Actually, if
arithmetic were made more simple, vast numbers would; stay
longer, since they would not be driven out of school by the
terrible inroads on their interest in school work by dull and
to them impossible arithmetic. If metric arithmetic texts were
substituted for our present texts, it is safe to say children
would average one full year more of education. What the
increased earning power would be from this it would be hard to
estimate, but clearly it would be a huge sum.

Consider also how much more life would be worth living for
children, teachers and parents if a very large portion of
arithmetical puzzles inserted to qualify the children to
understand our crazy weights and measures were cut out of our
text-books. If we were to adopt the metric system, literally
millions of parents would be spared worry, and shame, and fear
lest Johnny fail and drop out of school, or Mary show
unexpected weakness and have to take a grade over again;
uncounted thousands of teachers would be saved much gnashing of
teeth and uttering of mild feminine imprecations under their
breath; and, best of all, the children themselves would be
saved from pencil-biting, tears, worries, heartburns, arrested
development, shame and loss of education!

A committee of the National Educational Association has
recently reported that Germany and France are each two full
years ahead of us in educational achievement, that is, children
in those countries of a certain age have as good an education
as our children which are two years the foreign childrens'
seniors. Surely one of these years is fully accounted for by
the inferiority of our American ARITHMETIC and SPELLING. This
much, at least, of the difference is neither in the children
themselves, nor in the lack of preparation of our teachers, nor
in educational methods.

Professor J. W. A. Young, of the University of Chicago, in his
work on "Mathematics in Prussia," says: "In the work in
mathematics done in the nine years from the age of nine on, we
Americans accomplish no more than the Prussians, while we give
to the work seven fourths of the time the Germans give."
Professor James Pierpont, of Yale, writing in the Bulletin of
the American Mathematical Society (April, 1900), shows a like
comparison can be made with French instruction. Pierpont's
table exhibits only one hour a week needed for arithmetic for
pupils aged 11 and 12! As the advertisements sometimes say,
there must be a reason.

But if the children are kept in school two thirds of a year
longer somebody pays for this extra expense. Now children do
not drop out of school until they are about 12 years of age and
have both appetites and earning power. The number of these
children that drop out each year is probably about 2 1/2
millions. Of this number let us say 1 1/2 millions would
become wage earners, thus passing from the class that are
supported to the class that support themselves and earn a small
wage besides. We have then three items in this count: (1) The
cost to the state in taxes for the education of 2 1/2 million
for two thirds of a year, or $50,000,000; (2) The cost to the
parents for support of 1 1/2 millions for two thirds of a year
at $67 each, or $100,000,000; (3) The wages of 1 1/2 millions
over and above the cost of their support, say $50 each, or

The above figures are put low purposely so that they can not be
criticized. It should be remembered that 46 per cent. of our
population is agricultural, and that on the farm, youths of
from 13 to 15 very often do men's and women's work: also that
in many manufacturing centers great numbers of children get
work at relatively good wages, and that the number of
completely idle children out of school is not large.

With these figures in hand let us consider now a kind of debit
and credit sheet against and for our present system of weights
and measures.


In ANNUAL account with UNCLE SAM

By culture (?) acquired by the
children through learning more
common fractions and our crazy
tables of weights and measures.......... $?

To cost in school taxes of keeping 2 1/2
millions of children in school 2/3 year. $50,000,000
To cost to parents for supporting 1 1/2
millions children 2/3 year............. 100,000,000
To loss of productive power of 1 1/2
millions youth for 2/3 year ............. 75,000,000
To loss of earning power by having
children driven out of school by
difficulties of arithmetic as now
taught .................................... 25,000,000
To loss of time in making arithmetical
calculations by men in trade, industries
and manufactures.......................... 30,000,000
To extra weighing and measuring
instruments needed for sundry tables....... 10,000,000
To loss of time in making cross reductions
to and from our system and
metric system .............................. 5,000,000
To loss of profit from foreign trade
because our goods are not in metric
units ..................................... 20,000,000
Total annual loss ................. $315,000,000

Commenting for a moment on the credit side of the above ledger
account, it can be said that recent psychology shows
conclusively that training in common fractions and weights and
measures can not be of much practical help as so-called
culture, or training for learning other things, unless those
other things are closely related to them, and there are not
many things in life so related to them once we had dropped our
present weights and measures.

It may be complained that the expense of changing to the new
system is not taken account of in the above table. The reason
is that that expense would occur once for all. The above table
deals with the ANNUAL cost of our present medieval system.

One powerful reason for the adoption of the metric system
different in character from the others is the ease of cheating
by the old system. In the past the people have been
unmercifully abused through short weights and measures. Many of
the states have taken this matter up latterly and prosecuted
merchants right and left. Nine tenths of this trouble would
disappear with the new system in use.

Let us consider now for a little time the reasons why the
metric system has not been accepted and adopted for use in the
United States. Evidently the great main reason has been that
the masses of the people, in fact all of them except a very
small educated class in science are almost totally uninformed
on this whole question. Such articles as have been published
have almost invariably appeared in either scientific, technical
or educational magazines, mostly the first, so that there has
been no means of reaching the masses, or even the school
teachers with the facts. For another reason the United States
occupies an isolated position geographically, and our people do
not come into personal contact with those in other countries
using the metric system. But there is still another potent
reason. After the United States government legalized the metric
system in 1866, all the school books on arithmetic began
presenting the topic of the metric system, and, quite
naturally, they did it by comparing its units with those of our
system and calling for cross reductions from one system to the
other. No better means of sickening the American children with
the metric system could have been devised. Multitudes of the
young formed a strong dislike for the foreign system with its
foreign names, and could not now be easily convinced that it is
not difficult to learn. Every school boy knows how easy it is
to learn United States money. The boy just naturally learns it
between two nights. The whole metric system UNDER FAVORABLE
CONDITIONS is learned nearly as easily. By favorable conditions
is meant the constant use of the system in homes, schools,
stores, etc. These favorable conditions, of course, we have
never had.

In 1904 an earnest effort was made again both in this country
and Great Britain to have the metric system adopted for general
use. The exporting manufacturers in both countries grew much
concerned over the whole situation. A petition to have the
metric system adopted in Great Britain was signed by over
2,000,000 persons. A bill to make the system mandatory was
passed by the House of Lords and its first reading in the House
of Commons. The forces of conservatism then bestirred
themselves and the bill was held up. Forseeing a movement of
the same kind in this country, the American Manufactures'
Association got busy, laid plans to defeat such movement which
they later did. Strictly speaking this action was not taken by
the association as such but only by a part of it. One fourth of
the membership and probably much more than a fourth of the
capital of the association was on the side for the adoption of
the system. Politically, however, the side opposed to the new
system had altogether the most influence.

Careful study of the whole matter showed that the main cost to
make the change to the new system would be in dies, patterns,
gauges, jigs, etc. A careful estimate put this cost at $600 for
each workman and assuming a million workmen, we have a total
cost of $600,000,000. But we have just seen that the annual
expense of retaining the old system of weights and measures is
over $300,000,000. Thus we see that two short years would
suffice to pay for what seems to the great manufacturers
association an insuperable expense. From all this we see that
the question is not one for N. M. A. bookkeeping, but for
national bookkeeping.

Many well-informed people studying the matter superficially,
think the difficulties in the way of a change to the new system
insurmountable. Thus, they think of the cost to the
manufacturer--which we have just seen to be rather large but
not insurmountable; they think of the changes needed in books,
records, such as deeds, and the substitution of new measuring
and weighing instruments. Germany and all the other countries
of continental Europe made the change. Are we to assume that
the United States can not? That would be ridiculous. Granting
that commerce has grown greatly, so also has intelligence and
capability of the people for doing great things.

Scientists are universally agreed as to the wisdom of the
adoption of the metric system. The country, as a whole, must be
educated up to the notion that sooner or later it is sure to be
universally adopted, that it is only a question of time when
this will be done. Already electrical, chemical and optical
manufacturing concerns use the metric units and system
exclusively. The system is also used widely in medicine and
still other arts. Then all institutions of learning use the
metric system exclusively whenever this is possible. All that
is needed is to complete a good work well begun.

There is one rational objection to the metric system and but
one. It is that 10 is inferior to 12 as a base for a notation
for numbers, but the world is not ready to make this change nor
is it likely to be for generations to come. Moreover, this
improvement is far less important than uniformity in weights
and measures. For these reasons this objection can be passed
over. Men said the metric system would never be used outside of
France; but it has come to be used all over the world. The
prophets said we should never have uniformity as regards a
reference meridian of longitude. But we have. And so it will be
with the adoption of the metric system in the United States and
Great Britain. It is only a question of whether it comes sooner
or later. When that day comes, the meter, a long yard, will
replace the yard, the liter, the quart (being smaller than a
dry and larger than a liquid quart), the kilogram will replace
the pound, being equal to 2.2 pounds, and the kilometer (.6
mi.) will replace the mile. Within a week or so after the
change has been made to the new system, all men in business
will be reasonably familiar with the new units and how they are
used, and within a few months every man, woman and child will
be as familiar with the new system as they ever were with the
simplest parts of the old. So easy it will be to make the
change as far as ordinary business affairs are concerned.
However, for exact metal manufactures years will be needed to
fully change over to the new. Here the plan is to begin with
new unit constructions and new models, as automobiles using new
machinery constructed in the integral units of the metric
system. All old constructions are left as they are and repaired
as they are. This was the plan used in Germany and of course it

In conclusion it can be said that we started with the idea that
the change to the metric system was needed for the sake of
foreign commerce. We now see that we need it also for our own
commercial and manufacturing transactions. If we are to have
the efficiency so insistently demanded by the age in which we
live, then we must have the metric system in use for the
ordinary affairs of daily life of the masses of the people, we
must have it in commercial and manufacturing industries, and we
must have it in education. If efficiency is to be the slogan,
then the metric system must come no matter what obstacles stand
in its way.




FOR the physicist and chemist the term adaptation awakens but
the barren echo of an idea. In biology it still retains a
certain standing, though its significance has, in recent years,
been rapidly contracting, as the influence of the conception
for which it stands has waned. Many biologists are now of the
opinion that their science would be better off entirely without
it. They believe it has not only outlived its usefulness, but
has become a source of confusion, if not, indeed, reaction.

Darwin's first task, in the "Origin of Species," was to
demonstrate that species had not been independently created,
but had descended, like varieties, from other species. But he
was well aware that

such a conclusion, even if well founded, would be
unsatisfactory until it could be shown how the innumerable
species inhabiting the world have been modified, so as to
acquire that perfection of structure and coadaptation which
justly excites our admiration.

To establish convincingly the doctrine of descent with
modification as a theory of species, it was necessary for him
to develop the theory of adaptation which we now know as
natural selection.

The origin of adaptive variations gave him, at that time,
little concern. Though keenly appreciative of the problem of
variation which his studies in evolution presented, he
dismissed it in the "Origin" with less than twenty-five pages
of discussion. Such brevity is not surprising, since a more
extended treatment would only have embarrassed the progress of
the argument. In fact, his restraint in this direction enabled
him, first, to avoid the difficulties into which Lamarck, with
his bold attack on the problem of variation, had fallen; and
second, by doing so, to deal the doctrine of Design a blow from
which it has never recovered.

The latter was a service of well-nigh incalculable value to the
young science of biology--and, as it appeared, to modern
civilization as well. But it has not been uncommon, from
Aristotle's day to this, for the work of great men to suffer at
the hands of less imaginative followers. Sweeping applications
of Darwin's doctrine have been repeatedly made without due
regard either for its original object or for the success with
which that object was achieved. So I believe it to be no fault
of Darwin that the growing indifference of European
laboratories toward natural selection should find occasional
expression in such a phrase as "the English disease." Disease,
indeed, I believe we must in candor admit that devotion to it
to be which blinds its devotees to those problems of more
elementary importance than the problem of adaptation, which
Darwin clearly saw but was born too soon to solve.

The problem of species has profoundly changed since 1859. For
Darwin it was perforce a problem of adaptation. For the
investigator of to-day it has become a part of the more
inclusive problem of variation. Along with the logical results
of natural selection he contemplates the biological processes
of organic differentiation. He is no longer satisfied to assume
the existence of those modifications that make selection
possible. In his efforts to control them, the conception of
adaptation as a result has been crowded from the center of his
interest by the conception of adaptation as a process.

The survival of specially endowed organisms, the elimination of
competing individuals not thus endowed, are facts that possess,
in themselves, no immediate biological significance. Selection
as such is not a biological process, whether it is accomplished
automatically on the basis of protective coloration, or
self-consciously by man. Separating sheep from goats may have a
purely commercial interest, as when prunes and apples, gravel
and bullets, are graded for the market. Such selection is, at
bottom, a method of classification, serving the same general
purpose as boxes in a post-office. Similarly, natural selection
is but a name for the segregation and classification that take
place automatically in the great struggle for existence in
nature. The fact that it is a result rather than a process
accounts, probably more than anything else, for its remarkable
effect upon modern thought. It is non-energetic. It exerts no
creative force. As a conception of passive mechanical
segregation and survival, it was a most timely and potent
substitute for the naive teleology involved in the idea of
special creation.

As a theory of adaptation, then, natural selection is
satisfactory only in so far as it accounts for the
"preservation of favored races." It throws no light upon the
origin of the variations with which races are favored. Since it
is only as variations possess a certain utility for the
organism that they become known as adaptations, the conception
of adaptation is inevitably associated with the welfare of
individuals or the survival of races. To disregard this
association is to rob the conception of all meaning. Like
health, it has no elementary physiological significance.

Our profound interest in the problem of survival is natural and
practical and inevitable. But in spite of Darwin's great
contribution toward a scientific analysis of the mechanism of
organic evolution, and in spite of the marvelous recent
progress of medicine along its many branches, the fact remains
that so far as this interest in the problem of survival is
dominant it must continue to hinder adequate analysis of the
problem of adaptation. Indeed, it is in large measure due to
such domination in the past that biology now lags so far behind
the less personal sciences of physics and chemistry. For
survival means the survival of an individual. And there is no
doubt that the individual organism is the most conspicuous
datum in the living world. The few who, neglectful of
individuals and survivals, find their chief interest in living
substance, its properties and processes, are promptly
challenged by the many to find living substance save in the
body of an organism. Thus, in a peculiarly significant sense,
organisms are vital units. And since the individual organism
shows a remarkable capacity to retain its identity under a wide
range of conditions, adaptability or adjustability comes to be
reckoned as the prime characteristic of life by all to whom the
integrity of the individual organism is the fact of chief

With the use of the words adaptability and adjustability, our
discussion assumes a somewhat different aspect. Instead of
contemplating further the mechanical selection of individuals
on the basis of characters that, like the structure of "the
woodpecker, with its feet, tail, beak and tongue, so admirably
adapted to catch insects under the bark of trees," can not be
attributed to the influence of the external conditions that
render them useful, we are invited to consider immediate and
plastic adjustments of the organism to the very conditions that
call forth the response. For the fortuitous adjustments that
tend to preserve those individuals or races that chance to
possess them, are substituted, accordingly, the direct primary
adjustments that tend to preserve the identity of the reacting
organism. We turn thus from the RESULTS of the selection of
favorable variations to the biological PROCESSES by which
organisms become accommodated to their conditions of life.

At once the old questions arise. Are these processes
fundamentally peculiar to the life of organisms? Does the
capacity of the organism thus to adjust itself to its
environment involve factors not found in the operations of
inorganic nature? Our answers will be determined essentially by
the nature of our interest in the organism--whether we regard
its existence as the END or merely an incidental EFFECT of its
activities. The first alternative is compatible with
thoroughgoing vitalism. The second, emphasizing the nature of
the processes rather than their usefulness to the organism,
relieves biology of the embarrassments of vitalistic
speculation, and allies it at the same time more intimately
than ever with physics and chemistry. This alliance promises so
well for the analysis of adaptations, as to demand our serious

Physiologically, the living organism may be thought of as a
physico-chemical system of great complexity and peculiar
composition which varies from organism to organism and from
part to part. Life itself may be defined as a group of
characteristic activities dependent upon the transformations in
this system under appropriate conditions. According to this
definition, life is determined not only by the physical and
chemical attributes of the system, but by the fitness of its
environment, which Henderson has recently done the important
service of emphasizing.[1] Relatively trifling changes in the
environment suffice to render it unfit, however, that is, to
modify it beyond the limits of an organism's adaptability. The
environmental limits are narrow, then, within which the
transformations of the organic system can take place that are
associated with adaptive reactions. The conditions within these
limits are, further, peculiarly favorable for just such
transformations in just such physico-chemical systems.

[1] "The Fitness of the Environment."

The essential characteristic of the adaptive reaction appears
to be that the organism concerned responds to changing
conditions without losing certain attributes of behavior by
which we recognize organisms in general and by which that
organism is recognized in particular. It exhibits stability in
the midst of change; it retains its identity. But this
stability, let us repeat, is the stability of a certain type of
physico-chemical system, with respect to certain characters
only, and exhibited under certain circumscribed conditions. In
so far as the problem of adaptation is thus restricted in its
application, it remains a question of standards, a taxonomic
convenience, a problem of the organism by definition only,
empty of fundamental significance.

It is to be expected that systems differing widely in
composition and structure will differ in their responses to
given conditions. This will be true whether the systems
compared thus are organic, or inorganic, or representative of
both groups. The compounds of carbon, of which living substance
is so characteristically composed, exhibit properties and
reactions that distinguish them at once in many respects from
the compounds of lead or sulphur. They also differ widely among
themselves; compare, in this connection, serum albumen, acetic
acid, cane sugar, urea. No vitalistic factor is needed for the
interpretation of divergencies of this kind. But there are many
significant similarities between organisms and inorganic
systems as well. These are so frequently overlooked that it
will now be desirable to consider a few illustrative cases. For
the sake of brevity, they have been selected as representative
of but two types of adaptation commonly known under the names

Let us first consider the case of organisms which become
acclimatized by slow degrees to new conditions that, suddenly
imposed, would produce fatal results. Hydra is an organism
which becomes thus acclimatized finally to solutions of
strychnine too strong to be endured at first. Outwardly it
appears to suffer in the process no obvious modifications. Yet
modifications of a physiological order take place, as is shown,
first, by the necessary deliberation of the acclimatization,
second, by the death of the organism if transferred abruptly
back to its original environment.

In other forms the structural changes accompanying
acclimatization may be far more conspicuous. For example, the
aerial leaves of Limnophila heterophylla are dentate, while
those grown under water are excessively divided. Again, the
helmets and caudal spines of Hyalodaphnia vary greatly in
length with the seasonal temperature.

In these and the large number of similar cases that might be
cited, stability of the physiological system under changed
conditions is only obtained by changes in the system itself
which are often exhibited by striking structural modifications.

Compare with such phenomena of acclimatization the responses of
sulphur, tin, liquid crystals and iron alloys to changes of
temperature. The rhombic crystals that characterize sulphur at
ordinary temperatures and pressures, give place to monoclinic
crystals at 95.5 degrees C. Sulphur thus exists with two
crystalline forms whose stability depends directly upon the

Similarly, tin exists under two stable forms, white and gray,
the one above, the other below the transitional point, which
is, in this case, 18 degrees C. At this temperature white tin
is in a metastable condition, and transforms into the gray
variety. The transformation goes on, then, at ordinary
temperatures, but, fortunately for us as users of tin
implements, very slowly. Its velocity can be increased,
however, by lowering the temperature, on which, then, not only
the transformation itself, but its rate depends.

In this connection may be mentioned cholesteryl acetate and
benzoate and other substances which possess two crystalline
phases, one of which is liquid, unlike other liquids, however,
in being anisotropic. As in the preceding cases, these phases
are expressions of equilibrium at different temperatures.

Especially instructive facts are afforded by the alloys of iron
and carbon. Iron, or ferrite, exists under three forms: as
alpha ferrite below 760 degrees, as beta ferrite between 760
degrees and 900 degrees, and as gamma ferrite above 900
degrees. Only the last is able to hold carbon in solid
solution. The alloys of iron and carbon exist under several
forms. Pearlite is a heterogeneous mixture containing 0.8 per
cent. carbon. When heated to 670 degrees, it becomes
homogeneous, an amount of carbon up to two per cent. dissolves
in the iron, and hard steel or martensite is formed. In
appearance, however, the two forms are so nearly identical as
to be discriminated only by careful microscopical examination.
Cementite is a definite compound of iron and carbon represented
by the formula Fe<3 subscript>C.

When cooled slowly below 670 degrees, martensite yields a
heterogeneous mixture of pearlite and ferrite (or cementite, if
the original mixture contained between 0.8 per cent. and two
per cent. of carbon). Soft steels and wrought iron are thus
obtained. When cooled rapidly, however, as in the tempering of
steel, martensite remains a homogeneous solid solution, or hard

One can not fail to notice the remarkable parallel between
these facts and the behavior of Hydra in the presence of
strychnine. In both cases new positions of stability are
reached by modifying the original conditions of stability; and
in both, the old positions of stability are regained only by
returns to the original conditions of stability so gradual as
to afford time sufficient for the necessary transformations in
the systems themselves.

The forms which both organic and inorganic systems assume thus
appear to be functions of the conditions in which they exist.

The fact that Hydra is able to regain a position of stability
from which it had been displaced connects the behavior of this
organism not only with the physical phenomena already cited,
but still more intimately with the large class of chemical
reactions which are similarly characterized by equilibrium and
reversibility. Such reactions do not proceed to completion,
which is probably always the case wherever the mixture of the
systems under transformation is homogeneous, as in the case of
solutions. They occur widely among carbon compounds. The
following typical case will suffice to indicate their essential

When ethyl alcohol and acetic acid are mixed, a reaction ensues
which yields ethyl acetate and water. But ethyl acetate and
water react together also, yielding ethyl alcohol and acetic
acid. This second reaction, in a direction opposite to the
first, proceeds in the beginning more slowly also. There comes
a time, however, when the speeds of the two reactions are
equal. A position of equilibrium or apparent rest is thus
reached, which persists as long as the relative proportions of
the component substances remain unchanged.

A great many reversible reactions are made possible by enzymes.
In the presence of diastase, glucose yields glycogen and water,
which, reacting together in the opposite direction, yield
glucose again. In the presence of emulsin, amygdalin is
decomposed into glucose, hydrocyanic acid and benzoic aldehyde,
and reformed from them. Similarly in the presence of lipase,
esters are reformed from alcohols and fatty acids, their
decomposition products.

With the introduction of enzymes, certain complications ensue.
Though it has been shown that lipase acts as a true catalyser,
this may not hold for all, especially for proteolytic, enzymes.
That reversible reactions actually occur in proteids, however,
accompanied as they are in some cases at least by certain
displacements of the position of equilibrium, there appears to
be no question.[2]

[2] Robertson, Univ. Calif. Publ. Physiol., 3, 1909, p. 115.

These examples are but suggestions of the many reversible
reactions that have now been observed among the compounds of
carbon. That they have peculiar significance for the present
discussion resides in the fact that living substance is
composed of carbon compounds, so many and in such exceedingly
complex relations as to present endless possibilities for
shifting equilibria and the physical and chemical adjustments
resulting therefrom.

With these facts in mind we may now turn from the consideration
of acclimatization to a brief discussion of certain phenomena
of regulation--adaptive reactions that are especially
conspicuous in the growth and development of organisms, but
separated by no sharp dividing line from adaptive reactions of
the other type.

When a fragment of an organism transforms, under appropriate
conditions, into a typical individual, the process includes
degenerative aa well as regenerative phases. There is always
some simplification of the structures present, whose character
and amount is determined by the degree of specialization which
has been attained. The smaller the piece, within certain
limits, and the younger physiologically, the more nearly does
it return to embryonic conditions, a fact which can be studied
admirably in the hydroid Corymorpha. In some cases the
simplification is accomplished by abrupt sacrifice of highly
specialized parts, as in Corymorpha, when in a process of
simplification connected with acclimatization to aquarium
conditions, the large tentacles of well-grown specimens fall
away completely from their bases. In other hydroids (e. g.,
Campanularia) the tentacles may be completely absorbed into the
body of the hydranth from which they originally sprang. Among
tissue cells degenerative changes may be abrupt, as in the
sacrifice of the highly specialized fibrillae in muscle cells;
or they may be very gradual, as in the transformation of cells
of one sort into another that occurs in the regeneration of
tentacles in Tubularia.

An interesting case of absorption of parts came to my notice
while studying the larvae of the pennatulid coral Renilla some
fifteen years ago. As will be remembered, Renilla possesses
eight tentacles with numerous processes pinnately arranged.
During a period of enforced starvation, these pinnae were
gradually absorbed, and the tentacles shortened, from tip to
base. With the advent of food--in the form of annelid eggs--the
reverse of these events took place. The tentacles lengthened
and the pinnae reappeared, the larvae assuming their normal

It appears, then, that in some circumstances at least, the
process of simplification may resemble very nearly, even in
details, a reversal of the process of differentiation. That one
is actually in every respect the reverse of the other is
undoubtedly not true. This, however, is not to be wondered at.
Mechanical inhibitions that are so conspicuous in some cases
(e. g., Corymorpha) are to be expected to a certain degree in
all. The regenerative process itself depends upon the
cooperation of many physical and chemical factors, in many and
complex physicochemical systems in varying conditions of
equilibrium. And it is important to note that even the
equilibrium reactions by which a single proteid in the presence
of an enzyme, is made and unmade, do not appear always to
follow identically the same path in opposite directions.[3]

[3] Robertson, vid. sup., p. 269.

Whatever their course in the instances cited and in many
others, reversals in the processes of development do take
place. In perhaps their simplest form these can be seen in egg
cells. The development of a fragment of an egg as a complete
whole involves reversals in the processes of differentiation of
a very subtle order. The fusion of two eggs to one involves
similar readjustments. Such phenomena have been held to be
peculiar to living machines only. Yet it may be pointed out
that there are counterparts of both in the behavior of
so-called liquid crystals. When liquid crystals of
paraazoxyzimtsaure-Athylester are divided, the parts are
smaller in size, but otherwise identical with the parent
crystal in form, structure and optical properties. The fusion
of two crystals of ammonium oleate forming a single crystal of
larger size has also been observed. Though changes in
equilibrium that accompany such behavior of liquid crystals are
undoubtedly very much simpler than the changes that accompany
the regulatory processes exhibited by the living egg, the
striking resemblance between the phenomena themselves tempts us
not to magnify the difference.

Further temptation in the same direction is offered by the
recent discovery[4] that the processes of development
stimulated in the eggs of the sea urchin Arbacia by butyric
acid or weak bases, and evidenced by the formation of the
fertilization membrane, is reversible. When such eggs are
treated with a weak solution of sodium cyanide or chloral
hydrate, they return to the resting condition. Upon
fertilization with spermatozoa, in normal sea water, they
proceed again to develop.

[4] Loeb, Arch. f. Entw., 28, 1914, p. 277.

The facts that have now been briefly summarized have been
selected to emphasize the growing intimacy between the
biological and the inorganic sciences. No harm can conceivably
come from it. On the contrary, there is every reason to be
hopeful that the investigation of biological problems in the
impersonal spirit that has long distinguished the maturer
sciences of physics and chemistry will continue to develop a
better control and fuller understanding of the processes in
living organisms, of which the phenomena of variation in
general, and of adaptation in particular, are but incidental




EVER since my first lessons in botany, the characteristic
qualities and properties of plants have given me much thought.
Why certain plants produced aromatic oils and ethers, while
others growing under the same conditions produced special acids
or alkaloids, was a subject of endless speculation.

The pleasing aroma of the bark of various trees and shrubs, the
spicy qualities of the foliage and seeds of other plants; the
intense acridity; the bitterness; the narcotic, the poisonous
principle in woody and herbaceous species; all were intensely

This interest was biological rather than chemical. I cared less
for the ultimate composition of the oils, acids, alkalis, etc.,
than I did for their use or office in the plant economy, and
their effect upon those who might use them.

Perhaps no one plant interested me more from this point of
view, than the well-known Indian turnip (Arisoema triphyllum).
As a boy I was well acquainted with the signally acrid quality
of this plant; I was well aware of its effect when chewed, yet
I was irresistibly drawn to taste it again and again. It was
ever a painful experience, and I suffered the full penalty of
my rashness. As an awn from a bearded head of barley will win
its disputed way up one's sleeve, and gain a point in advance
despite all effort to stop or expel it, so did every
resolution, every reflection, counteract the very purpose it
was summoned to oppose, and to my sorrow I would taste the
drastic, turnip-shaped corm wherever opportunity occurred.

It is a well-known fact that the liquid content of the cells of
plants contain numerous inorganic substances in solution. Among
these, not considering oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and carbon
dioxide, there are the salts of calcium, magnesium, potassium,
iron, sulphur and phosphorus. The above substances are found in
the cells of every living plant. Other substances like salts of
sodium and silica are also found, but these are not regarded as
essential to the life and growth of plants. They appear to be
present because the plant has not the power to reject them.
Many of the substances named above, are found deposited either
in an amorphous or crystalline form in the substance of the
cell wall. In addition to this, crystals of mineral matter,
having various shapes and sizes, are often found in the
interior of cells. The most common of these interior cell
crystals are those composed of calcium oxalate and calcium
carbonate. Others composed of calcium phosphate, calcium
sulphate and silica are sometimes found. These crystals may
occur singly or in clusters of greater or less size. In shape
they are prismatic or needle-like.

It is not the object of this paper to treat of plant crystals
in general, but to consider the peculiar effect produced by
certain forms when found in some well-known plants.

The extreme acridity or intense pungency of the bulbs, stems,
leaves and fruit of various species of the Araceae or Arum
family, was recognized centuries ago. The cause of this
characteristic property or quality was, until a comparatively
recent date, not definitely determined.

As far as I am aware the first scientific investigation of this
subject was made by the writer. At a meeting of the American
Association for the Advancement of Science held at Indianapolis
in 1890, some studies and experiments were reported in a short
paper entitled "Notes upon the Crystals in certain species of
the Arum Family."

This paper expressed the belief that the acridity of the Indian
turnip and other plants belonging to the same family, was due
to the presence of needle-shaped crystals or raphides found in
the cells of these plants. This conclusion was not accepted by
Professor T. J. Burrill, of the University of Illinois, nor by
other eminent botanists who were present and took part in the
discussion that followed the reading of the paper.

The opposition was based mainly on the well-known fact that
many other plants like the grape, rhubarb, fuchsia, spiderwort,
etc., are not at all, or but slightly acrid, although the
raphides are as abundant in them as in the Indian turnip and
its allies.

Up to this time the United States Dispensatory and other works
on pharmacy, ascribed the following rather indefinite cause for
the acridity of the Indian turnip. It was said to be due to an
acrid, extremely volatile principle. This principle was
insoluble in water and alcohol, but soluble in ether. It was
dissipated both by heating and drying, and by this means the
acridity is destroyed. There was no opinion given as to the
real nature of this so-called principle.

More recently it has been intimated that the acridity may be
due to some ferment or enzyme, which has been derived in part
from the self-decomposition of protoplasm and in part by the
process of oxidation and reduction.

Here the question appeared to rest. At all events I was unable
to glean any further knowledge from the sources at my command.

Some time later the subject was taken up in a more
comprehensive manner and the following report is the first
detailed description of an investigation that has occupied more
or less of my leisure for some years.

A dozen or more species of plants have been used for
examination and study. Among these were:

Indian turnip (Arisoema triphyllum).
Green dragon (Arisoema dracontium).
Sweet-flag (Acorus).
Skunk cabbage (Spathyema).
Calla (Richardia).
Caladium (Caladium).
Calocasia (Calocasia).
Phyllodendron (Phyllodendron).
Fuchsia (Fuchsia).
Wandering Jew (Tradescantia).
Rhubarb (Rheum).
Grape (Vitis).
Onion (Allium).
Horse-radish (Armoracia).

Most of the plants selected were known to have crystals in
certain parts. Some of them were known to be intensely acrid.
In these the acridity was in every instance proportional to the
number of crystals.

The following order of study was pursued and the results of
each step noted. Only the more salient points of the methods
employed and the conclusions reached are presented.

1. The Character of the Taste Itself.--It was readily noted
that the sensation produced by chewing the various acrid plants
was quite different. For example, the Indian turnip and its
close allies do not give the immediate taste or effect that
follows a similar testing of the onion or horse-radish. When
the acridity of the former is perceived the sensation is more
prickling than acrid.

The effect produced is more like the pricking of numerous
needles. It is felt not only upon the tongue and palate, but
wherever the part tasted comes into contact with the lips, roof
of mouth or any delicate membrane. It is not perceived where
this contact does not occur.

The acridity of the onion and horse-radish is perceived at once
and often affects other parts than those with which it comes
into direct contact.

2. The Acrid Principle Is Not Always Volatile.--This is shown
by the fact that large quantities of the mashed or finely
grated corms of the Indian turnip and allied species, produced
no irritation of the eyes or nose even when these organs were
brought into close contact with the freshly pulverized
material. This certainly is in marked contrast with the effect
produced by freshly grated horse-radish, peeled onions, crushed
mustard seed when the same test is applied.

It seems fair to assume that in the latter case some principle
that is volatile at ordinary air temperatures is present. The
assumption that such principle is present in the former has no

In order to test this matter further a considerable quantity of
the juice of the Indian turnip was subjected to careful
distillation, with the result that no volatile principle or
substance of any kind was found.

Various extractive processes were tried by using hot and cold
water; alcohol, chloroform, benzene, etc. These failed in every
instance to remove any substance that had a taste or effect
anything like that found in the fresh Indian turnip.

3. The Acrid Principle Is Not Soluble in Ether.--Inasmuch as
various works on pharmacy made the claim that the active or
acrid principle of the plants in question was soluble in ether,
this was the next subject for investigation. The juice was
expressed from a considerable quantity of the mashed Indian
turnip. This juice was clear and by test was found to possess
the same acrid property as the unmashed corms.

Some of the juice and an equal quantity of ether were placed
into a cylinder and well shaken. After waiting until the ether
had separated a few drops of the liquid were put into the
mouth. For a little time no result was perceived, but as soon
as the effect of the ether had passed away the same painful
acridity was manifest as was experienced before the treatment
with the ether. A natural conclusion from this test was that
the acridity might come from some principle soluble in ether.

Observing that the ether was quite turbid and wishing to learn
the cause, a drop or two was allowed to evaporate on a glass
slide. Examining the residue with a microscope it was found to
consist of innumerable raphides or needle-like crystals. Some
of the ether was then run through a filter. The filtrate was
clear. An examination showed it to be entirely free from
raphides, and it had lost every trace of its acridity. The
untreated acrid juice of the Indian turnip, calla, and other
plants of the same family was then filtered and in every
instance the filtered juice was bland and had lost every trace
of its acridity. These tests and others that need not be
mentioned, proved conclusively that the acridity of various
species of the Arum family was not due to a volatile principle,
but was due to the needle-shaped crystals found so abundantly
in these plants.

Several questions yet remained to be answered. (1) If these
needle-like crystals or raphides are the cause of the acridity
of the plants just mentioned, why do they not produce the same
effect in the fuchsia, tradescantia and other plants where they
are known to be just as abundant? (2) Why does the Indian
turnip lose its acridity on being heated? (3) Why does the
dried Indian turnip lose its acridity?

It was first thought that the raphides found in plants having
no acridity, might be of different chemical composition than
those which produce this effect.

A chemical examination proved beyond question that the raphides
were of the same composition. The needle-shaped crystals in all
the plants selected for study were composed of calcium oxalate.
The crystals, found in grape, rhubarb, fuchsia and tradescantia
were identical in form, fineness and chemical composition with
those found in the plants of the Arum family. How then account
for the painfully striking effect in one case and the
non-effect in the other? This was the perplexing question.

In expressing some juice from the stems and leaves of the
fuchsia and tradescantia it was found to be quite unlike that
of the Indian turnip and calla. The juice of the latter was
clear and limpid; that of the former quite thick and
mucilaginous. There was no difference as to the abundance of
crystals revealed by the microscope.

After diluting the ropy, mucilaginous juice with water, and
shaking it thoroughly with an equal volume of ether, there was
no turbidity seen in the supernatent ether. Allowing a few
drops of the ether to evaporate scarcely any crystals could be
found. Practically none of them had been removed from the
insoluble mucilaginous covering. Here and there an isolated
specimen was all that could be seen. So closely were these
small crystals enveloped with the mucilaginous matter that it
was almost impossible to separate or dissect them from it.

It was now easy to explain why certain plants whose cells were
crowded with raphides were bland to the taste, while other
plants with the same crystals were extremely acrid.

In one case the crystals were neither covered nor embedded in
an insoluble mucilage, but were free to move. Thus when the
plant was chewed or tasted the sharp points of these
needle-like crystals came into contact with the tongue, lips
and membranous surface of the mouth.

In the other case the insoluble mucilage which surrounded the
crystals prevented all free movement and they produced no

Why do these intensely acrid, aroid plants lose their acridity
on being heated? It is well known that the corms of the Indian
turnip and its allies contain a large amount of starch. In
subjecting this starch to heat it becomes paste-like in
character. This starch paste acts in the same manner as the
insoluble mucilage. It prevents the free movement of the
crystals and in this way all irritant action is precluded. In
heating the Indian turnip and other corms, it was found that
the heat applied must be sufficient to change the character of
the starch or the so-called acridity was not destroyed.

One other question remains to be answered. It has long been
noted that the old or thoroughly dried corms of the Indian
turnip are not acrid like those that are fresh. The explanation
is simple. As the plant dries or loses its moisture, the walls
of the cells collapse and the crystals are closely encased in
the hard, rigid matter that surrounds them. This prevents free
movement and the crystals can not exert any irritant action.

It is generally believed by biologists that the milky juice,
aromatic compounds, alkaloids, etc., found in plants have no
direct use in the economy of the plant. They are not connected
with the nutritive processes. They are excretions or waste
products that the plant has little or no power to throw off.
There can be little doubt, however, that these excretory
substances often serve as a means of protection. Entomologists
have frequently stated that the milky juice and resins found in
the stems of various plants act as a protection against stem
boring insects. In like manner the bulbs, stems and leaves of
plants that are crowded with crystals have a greater immunity
from injurious biting insects than plants that are free from
crystals. It is quite generally believed that the formation of
crystals is a means of eliminating injurious substances from
the living part of the plant. These substances may be regarded
as remotely analogous to those organic products made by man in
the chemical laboratory.

Some progress has been made in this direction, but so far the
main results are certain degradation-products such as aniline
dyes derived from coal tar; salicylic acid; essences of fruits;
etc. Still these and many other discoveries of the same nature
do not prove that the laboratory of man can compete with the
laboratory of the living plant cell.

Man has the power to break down and simplify complex substances
and by so doing produce useful products that will serve his
purposes. We may combine and re-combine but so far we only
replace more complex by simpler combinations.

The plant alone through its individual cells, and by its living
protoplasm has fundamentally creative power. It can build up
and restore better than it can eliminate waste products.




SUPPOSE you had a bad case of rheumatism, and your physician
came to your bedside and exclaimed loudly, "Hocus pocus, toutus
talonteus, vade celeriter jubeo! You are cured." What would you
think, what would you do, and what fee would you pay him?
Probably, in spite of your aches and pangs, you would make
astonishing speed--for a rheumatic person--in proffering him
the entire room to himself. But there was a time--and that as
late as Shakespeare's day--when so-called doctors in rural
England used just such words not only for rheumatism, but for
many another disease. And to this hour the fakir on the street
corner uses that opening expression, "Hocus pocus." Those words
simply prove how slowly the Christian religion was absorbed by
ancient Anglo-Saxon paganism; for "Hocus pocus" is but the
hastily mumbled syllables of the Catholic priest to his early
English congregation--"Hoc est corpus," "this is the body"; and
the whole expression used by the old-time doctor meant merely
that in the name of the body of Christ he commanded the disease
to depart quickly.

How superstitions and ancient rites do persist. To this hour
the mountaineers of southwestern Virginia and eastern Tennessee
believe that an iron ring on the third finger of the left hand
will drive away rheumatism, and to my personal knowledge one
fairly intelligent Virginian believed this so devoutly that he
actually never suffered with rheumatic pains unless he took off
the iron ring he had worn for fifteen years. It is an old, old
idea--this faith in the ring-finger. The Egyptians believed
that a nerve led straight from it to the heart; the Greeks and
Romans held that a blood-vessel called the "vein of love"
connected it closely with that organ; and the medieval
alchemists always stirred their dangerous mixtures with that
finger because, in their belief, it would most quickly indicate
the presence of poison. So, too, many an ancient declared that
whenever the ring-finger of a sufferer became numb, death was
near at hand. Thus in twentieth century civilization we hear
echoes of the life that Rameses knew when the Pyramids were

Our Anglo-Saxon forefathers had great faith in mysterious
words. The less they understood these the more they believed in
the curative power. Thus the name of foreign idols and gods
brought terror to the local demons that enter one's body, and
when Christianity first entered England, and its meanings were
but dimly understood, the names of saints, apostles and even
the Latin and Greek forms of "God" and "Jesus" were enemies to
all germs. Then, too, what comfort a jumbling of many languages
brought to the patient, especially if the polyglot cure were
expressed in rhythmic lines. Here, for instance, in at least
five languages, is a twelfth century cure for gout:

Meu, treu, mor, phor,
Teux, za, zor,
Phe, lou, chri
Ge, ze, on.

Perhaps to our forefathers suffering from over-indulgence in
the good things of this world, this wondrous group of sounds
brought more comfort than the nauseous drugs of the modern
practitioner. Any mysterious figure or letter was exceedingly
helpful in the sick room of a thousand years ago. The Greek
letters "Alpha" and "Omega" had reached England almost as soon
as Christianity had, and the old-time doctor triumphantly used
them in his pow-wows. Geometric figures in a handful of sand or
seeds would prophesy the fate of the ills--and do we not to
this day tell our fortune in the geometric figures made by the
dregs in our tea-cups? Paternosters, snatches of Latin hymns,
bits of early Church ritual were used by quacks of the olden
days for much the same reason as the geometric figures--because
they were unusual and little understood.

It would have been well had our Anglo-Saxon forefathers
confined their healing practices to such gentle homeopathic
methods as those mentioned above; but instead desperate
remedies were sometimes administered by the determined
medicine-man. Diseases were supposed to be caused mainly by
demons--probably the ancestors of our present germs--and the
physician of Saxon days used all the power of flattery and
threat to induce the little monsters to come forth. When the
cattle became ill, for instance, the old-time veterinarian
shrieked, "Fever, depart; 917,000 angels will pursue you!" If
the obstinate cow refused to be cured by such a mild threat,
the demons were sometimes whipped out of her, and, if this
failed to restore her health, a hole was pierced in her left
ear, and her back was struck with a heavy stick until the evil
one was compelled to flee through the hole in her ear. Nor was
such treatment confined to cattle. The muscular doctors of a
thousand years ago claimed they could cure insanity by laying
it on lustily with a porpoise-skin whip, or by putting the
maniac in a closed room and smoking out the pestering fiends.
One did well to retain one's sanity in those good old days.

This use of violent words or deeds in the cure of disease is as
ancient almost as the race of man. The early Germans attempted
to relieve sprains by reciting confidently how Baldur's horse
had been cured by Woden after all the other mighty inhabitants
of Valhalla had given up the task, and even earlier tribes of
Europe and Asia had used for illness such a formula as: "The
great mill stone that is India's is the bruiser of every worm.
With that I mash together the worms as grain with a mill
stone." Long after Christianity had reached the Anglo- Saxons
of England, the sick often hung around their necks an image of
Thor's hammer to frighten away the demon germs that sought to
destroy the body. This appeal to a superior being was common to
all Indo-European races, and the early Christian missionaries
wisely did not attempt to stamp out a belief of such antiquity,
but merely substituted the names of Christ, the Virgin Mary and
the saints for those of the heathen deities. And even into the
nineteenth century this ancient form of faith cure persisted;
for there are living yet in Cornwall people who heard, as
children, this charm for tooth-ache:

Christ passed by his brother's door,
Saw his brother lying on the floor;
What aileth thee, brother!
Pain in the teeth.
Thy teeth shall pain thee no more,
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
I command the pain to be gone.

Let us no longer boast of the carefulness of the modern
physician; the ceremonies and directions of the Anglo-Saxon
doctor were just as painstaking in minuteness and accuracy.
When you feel the evil spirits entering you, immediately seek
shelter under a linden tree; for out of linden wood were not
battle-shields made? Long before Christianity had brought its
gentler touches to English life the tribal medicine man wildly
brandished such a shield, and sang defiantly to the witch
maidens or disease demons:

Loud were they, lo! loud, as over the land they rode;
Fierce of heart were they, as over the hill they rode;
Shield thee now thyself, from their spite thou may'st escape
Out, little spear, if herein thou be!
Underneath the linden stand I, underneath the shining shield,
For the might maidens have mustered up their strength,
And have sent their spear screaming through the air!
Back again to them will I send another,
Arrow forth a-flying from the front against them!
Out, little spear, if herein thou be!

This business of singing was very necessary in the old time
doctor's practice. Sometimes he chanted into the patient's left
ear, sometimes into his mouth, and sometimes on some particular
finger, and the patient evidently had to get well or die to
escape the persistent concerts of his physician. Not
infrequently, too, the doctor placed a cross upon the part of
one's anatomy to which he was giving the concert, and often the
effect was increased by putting other crosses upon the four
sides of the house, the fetters and bridles of the patient's
horse, and even on the foot prints of the man, or the hoof
prints of the beast. Faith in the cross as a charm was
unwavering; "the cross of Christ has been hidden and is found,"
declared the Saxon soothsayer, and by the same token the lost
cattle will soon be discovered.

Many and marvelous were the methods to be followed scrupulously
by the sick. Cure the stomachache by catching a beetle in both
hands and throwing it over the left shoulder with both hands
without looking backward. Have you intestinal trouble? Eat
mulberries picked with the thumb and ring finger of your left
hand. Do you grow old before your time? Drink water drawn
silently DOWN STREAM from a brook before daylight. Beware of
drawing it upstream; your days will be brief. It reminds one of
the practice of the modern herb doctor in peeling the bark of
slippery elm DOWN, if you desire your cold to come down out of
your head, or peeling it up if you desire the cold to come up
out of your chest. One not desiring to place his trust in roots
and barks and herbs might turn for aid to the odd numbers, and
by reciting an incantation three or seven or nine times might
not only regain health, but recover his lost possessions. Or
the sufferer might transfer his disease by pressing a bird or
small animal to the diseased part and hastily driving the
creature away. The ever-willing and convenient family dog might
be brought into service on such an occasion by being fed a cake
made of barley meal and the sick man's saliva, or by being
fastened with a string to a mandrake root, which, when thus
pulled from the ground, tore the demon out of the patient.

The cure of children was a comparatively easy task for the
Anglo-Saxon doctor; for the only thing to be done was to have
the youngster crawl through a hole in a tree, the rim of the
hole thus kindly taking to itself all the germs or demons. So,
too, minor sores, warts and other blemishes might easily be
effaced by stealing some meat, rubbing the spot with it, and
burying the meat; as the meat decayed the blemish disappeared.
So to this day some Indians, and not a few Mexicans make a
waxen image of the diseased part, and place it before the fire
to melt as a symbol of the gradual waning of the illness. So,
too, the ancient Celts are said to have destroyed the life of
an enemy by allowing his waxen image to melt before the fire.

To cure a dangerous disease or the illness of a full-grown man
was, however, a much more difficult matter. Inflammation, for
instance, was the work of a stubborn demon, and stubborn,
therefore, must be the strife with him. Hence, dig around a
sorrel plant, sing three paternosters, pull up the plant, sing
"Sed libera nos a malo," pound five slices of the plant with
seven pepper corns, chant the psalm "Misere mei, Deus" twelve
times, sing "Gloria in excelsis, Deo," recite another
paternoster, at daybreak add wine to the plant and pepper
corns, face the east at mid-morning, make the sign of the
cross, turn from the east to the south to the west, and then
drink the mixture. Doubtless by this time the patient had
forgotten that he ever possessed inflammation.

Long did the superstitions in medicine persist. In Chaucer's
day, the fourteenth century, violent and poisonous drugs were
used, but luckily they were often administered to a little
dummy which the doctor carried about with him. As we read each
day in our newspapers of the various nostrums advertised as
curing every mortal ill, we may well wonder if the average
credulity has really greatly lessened after twelve centuries of
fakes and faith cures, and we almost long for the return of the
day when the medicine man practiced on a dummy instead of the
human body.




THE article entitled "The Racial Origin of Successful
Americans," by Dr. Frederick Adams Woods, which appeared in the
April (1914) issue of The Popular Science Monthly, set forth
some very interesting and instructive results. The methods used
to arrive at these results, however, do not seem to be such as
to establish them as final and conclusive.

It is not sufficient to consider merely the number of persons
bearing certain names in "Who's Who in America," for the
purpose of establishing the relative capability of various
nationalities. The percentage of the number bearing that name
in the city in question is the significant figure.

The writer has, therefore, taken the directories[1] of the four
American cities, which were the subjects of study in the
original article, and has estimated the number of persons of a
certain name living in each city by first counting the number
of names printed in a whole column of the directory and then
multiplying this figure by the number of columns occupied by
that name. The number of persons bearing the same name in
"Who's Who in America" (1912-1913) is then taken for each city.
The percentage is finally calculated of the number of the
"Who's Who in America" names in the number of those bearing
that name in the directories.

[1] (1) Trow's General Directory--Boroughs of Manhattan and
Bronx, City of New York, 1913. Trow Directory, Printing &
Bookbinding Company, Pub. (2) Boyd's Philadelphia City
Directory, 1913. C. E. Howe Company, Pub. (3) The Lakeside
Annual Directory of the City of Chicago, 1913. Chicago
Directory Company, Pub. (4) The Boston Directory, 1913. Simpson
and Murdock Co., Publishers.

It seems best, furthermore, to narrow down the consideration
from the fifty most common names in each city to only those of
this number which are common to all four cities in order that
any one family may not have too great a weight. The names in
each city are then arranged according to the established

The grouping of names as an indication of race or nationality
is taken from Robert E. Matheson's "Surnames in Ireland." It is
found to agree exactly with the grouping in the article by Dr.
Woods, who classified them from the table given in the New York
World Almanac and Encyclopedia for 1914, which table was, no
doubt, compiled from Matheson.


New York (Exclusive of Brooklyn)
E White 1.39%
E Williams 1.18
E Clark 1.05
E Taylor 1.02
E Jones 0.89
E Martin 0.87
E Smith 0.78
E Thompson 0.74
E-Sc-G Miller 0.73
E Wilson 0.71
E Brown 0.70
E-Sc Moore 0.60
E Davis 0.59
E-Sn Johnson 0.56
Sc-Sn Anderson 0.55
I Murphy 0.46
I Kelly 0.37
E Klien 0.24
E Hall 0.23
Sc Campbell 0.17
I O'Brien 0.14
E Lewis 0.12
E-Sc Young 0.10

Nationality Averages

G German 0.73%
E English 0.69
Sn Scandinavian 0.55
Sc Scotch 0.43
I Irish 0.32

E Hall 0.72
E-So Moore 0.41
E Wilson 0.35
E Davis 0.27
E-Sc Young 0.27
E Thompson 0.26
E Brown 0.22
E Lewis 0.20
E Taylor 0.17
E-Sc-G Miller 0.17
E Martin 0.16
I Kelly 0.16
E Williams 0.15
E White 0.14
E Clark 0.14
E Smith 0.14
E Allen 0.13
Sc Campbell 0.11
E Jones 0.10
E-Sn Johnson 0.06
I Murphy 0.06
Sn-ScAnderson 0.05
I O'Brien 0.00

Nationality Averages

E English 0.22%
Sc Scotch 0.20
G German 0.17
I Irish 0.11
Sn Scandinavian 0.05

E White 0.46%
E Lewis 0.32
E Taylor 0.31
E Wilson 0.30
E Jones 0.27
E-Sn Johnson 0.23
E Williams 0.22
E-Sc Moore 0.20
E Davis 0.18
E-Sc Young 0.18
E Clark 0.14
E Smith 0.13
E Brown 0.13
E-Sc-G Miller 0.12
E Martin 0.08
E Thompson 0.08
I Murphy 0.08
Sc Campbell 0.08
Sn-Sc Anderson 0.00
I Kelly 0.00
E Allen 0.00
E Hall 0.00
I O'Brien 0.00

Nationality Averages
E English 0.18%
Sn Scandinavian 0.16
G German 0.12
Sc Scotch 0.11
I Irish 0.02

E Allen 0.72
E Williams 0.67
E Brown 0.61
E Hall 0.43
E Campbell 0.33
E Clark 0.30
E Smith 0.29
E Thompson 0.28
E Taylor 0.25
Sn-Sc Anderson 0.22
E Lewis 0.20
E-Sn Johnson 0.19
E White 0.18
E-Sc Moore 0.17
E Wilson 0.13
E Jones 0.11
I O'Brien 0.08
I Murphy 0.05
E Martin 0.00
E-Sc-G Miller 0.00
E Davis 0.00
I Kelly 0.00
E-Sc Young 0.00

Nationality Averages

E English 0.25
Sn Scandinavian 0.20
Sc Scotch 0.14
I Irish 0.06
G German 0.0?

Name Averages

E Williams 0.55
E White 0.54
E Taylor 0.44
E Brown 0.41
E Clark 0.40
E Wilson 0.37
E Jones 0.34
E Thompson 0.34
E-Sc Moore 0.34
E Hall 0.34
E Smith 0.33
E Martin 0.27
E Allen 0.27
E Davis 0.26
E-Sn Johnson 0.26
E-Sc-G Miller 0.25
E Lewis 0.21
Sn-Sc Anderson 0.20
Sc Campbell 0.17
I Murphy 0.16
E-Sc Young 0.14
I Kelly 0.13
I O'Brien 0.05

Nationality Averages
E English 0.34
G German 0.25
Sn Scandinavian 0.24
Sc Scotch 0.22
I Irish 0.12

The nationality attributed to each name is indicated in the
tables below by capital letters in the parallel columns. In
some cases a name is shared by two or even three nationalities.
The percentages belonging to such names are attributed to each
of the sharing nationalities in making the final averages.
This, of course, is a serious source of error, since the
division of such names among the nationalities is not known. No
stress can be laid on our figures for the German, Scotch and
Scandinavian nationalities, because they contain so many of
these indecisive names.

The names in each city are then arranged in groups according to
their nationality and averages computed from the percentages
established for each name. These averages, which appear at the
bottom of each column, give a fair estimation of the capability
of the different nationalities, but are, nevertheless, open to
a few minor errors. For instance, the Germans head the list in
New York with 0.73 per cent. for only one third of a single
name, while the English rank second with a total of 15 5/6
names. The final averages for nationality, however, which
appear at the bottom of the fifth column and which are made
from the averages computed for each city, partly eliminate this
error and place the groups in their proper rank.

In order to make the results more conclusive, general averages
are drawn for each name from the percentages established for
that name in all four cities and are placed in the fifth column
according to their rank. Final averages of percentages for
nationalities are then made from this column, just as they were
for each city. The results obtained agree exactly with the
final averages made before and, therefore, are placed
coincident with them at the bottom of the fifth column.

The results finally arrived at seem to corroborate the
conclusions of Dr. Wood; namely, that in the four leading
American cities, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston,
"those of the English (and Scotch) ancestry are distinctly in
possession of the leading positions, at least from the
standpoint of being widely known." Yet it does not seem safe to
disregard entirely those other nationalities which rank so
closely with the English merely because of the small number of
them included in our consideration; for, as has been stated
above, we do not know what proportion of a certain name to
attribute to various nationalities.

There is one serious, but unavoidable, source of error,
moreover, which has apparently been overlooked. The conclusions
as to the relative intelligence of various races are drawn from
the number of names, belonging to these races, which appeared
in "Who's Who in America." According to the standards of this
compilation, eminence is very largely dependent upon education,
which does not give the emigrants, who are too poor to get
proper education, an equal opportunity to display their
intellectual power and, therefore, to be considered in the
above calculations. Races that immigrated predominantly in the
last century will be less handicapped than those which have
only recently immigrated in large numbers. It is very
difficult, however to know how much weight to place upon this
modifying influence.

Another source of error is the fact that certain nationalities
or races seem to have natural inclinations and desires to
follow in disproportionate numbers one kind of activity or
occupation and are content to let other people rise to those
positions which make them "the best-known men and women of the
United States." As Dr. Woods states, the Jews could not be
expected to show as large a percentage, since they largely turn
their attention to the banking, wholesale and retail trades, in
which they have been very successful, but in which eminence is
not correspondingly recognized in "Who's Who in America."

No comment is made on Jewish achievement, however, because no
Jewish name is among the fifty most common in all four cities,
and hence there are not enough numbers for study. But the
Irish, by their traditional devotion to politics and their
success in attaining the lower ranks of political leadership,
would seem to be in line for recognition in large numbers,
which they nevertheless do not attain.

In spite of these qualifications, however, it becomes apparent
that the statistics above established can not be rejected.
Although they do not exactly justify Dr. Woods's conclusions,
they at least show that the intellectual achievements of
different races vary. They also show that a much more extensive
study of the subject must be made before any conclusions can be
established as final.

We believe, therefore, that Dr. Woods's conclusion--that "there
have been a few notable exceptions, but broadly speaking all
our very capable men of the present day have been engendered
from the Anglo-Saxon element already here before the beginning
of the nineteenth century"--should be modified. A sounder
conclusion and, in fact, the only one that could be reached
through the results established above, would be this:
Achievement in those activities represented in "Who's Who in
America" is acquired disproportionately by stocks predominantly
Teutonic in comparison with the Irish.




AS the Rhine broadens on its approach to the Lake of Constance
or Boden Sea it flows through a region made classic by the
researches of scientific men. Here at low tide it is sometimes
possible to see wooden piles which in prehistoric times
supported the houses of the lake-dwelling folk, whose work is
so well represented in various museums, especially at Zurich.
From the river, on each side, the land rises rapidly, and the
rounded summits of the hills are well wooded. It is on the left
side of the Rhine, about two and a half miles below the town of
Stein, that we come to the famous locality for Miocene fossils,
the European representative of our Florissant in Colorado.

In all the books the fossil beds are said to be at Oeningen,
which is the name of a once celebrated Augustinian monastery
about two miles away. Actually, however, the locality is above
the village of Wangen, which is situated on the north bank of
the river. In some quite recent writings Oeningen (Wangen) is
referred to as being in Switzerland; it is in Baden, though the
opposite bank of the Rhine is Swiss. The error is natural,
since the fossils have chiefly been made known by the great
Swiss paleontologist Heer, of Zurich, and the best general
account of them is to be found in his book "The Primaeval World
of Switzerland," of which an excellent English translation
appeared in 1876.

It was at the Oeningen quarries, in the eighteenth century,
that a wonderful vertebrate fossil, some four feet long, was
discovered. A writer of that period, Scheuchzer, announced it
as Homo diluvii testis, a man witness of the deluge! Cuvier
knew better, and was able to demonstrate its relationship to
the giant salamanders of Eastern Asia and North America. It
forms, in fact, a distinct genus of Cryptobranchidae, which
Tschudi, apparently mindful of the early error, named Andrias;
though the proper name of the animal appears to be
Proteocordylus scheuchzeri (Holl.). The stone at Wangen was
used for building purposes, and at one time there were three or
four quarries actively worked. In earlier times the larger
fossils naturally attracted most attention, fishes, snakes,
turtles, fresh-water clams and a variety of leaves and fruits.
Such specimens were saved, and were sold and distributed to
many museums. The supply was good, yet at times not sufficient
for the market; so the monks at Oeningen, and others, would
carve artificial fossils out of the soft rock, coating them
with a brown stain prepared from unripe walnut shells. In later
years, during the middle part of the nineteenth century, the
period of Darwin, the great importance and interest of the
fossil beds came to be better appreciated. Dr. Oswald Heer,
professor at Zurich, an accomplished botanist and entomologist,
did perhaps nine tenths of the work, describing plants,
insects, arachnids and part of the Crustacea. The fishes were
described by Agassiz, and later by Winkler. The remaining
vertebrates were principally made known by E. von Meyer.

From 1847 to 1853 Heer published in three parts a great work on
fossil insects, largely concerned with those from Oeningen.[1]
In this and later writings he made known 464 species from this
locality; but in the latest edition of "The Primaeval World of
Switzerland" it is stated that there are 844 species, 384 of
these being supposedly new, and named, if at all, only in

[1] "Die Insektenfauna der Tertiargebilde von Oeningen und von
Radoboj in Croatien" (Leipzig: Engelmann).

My wife and I, having worked a number of years at Florissant,
were very anxious to see the corresponding European locality
for fossil insects. The opportunity came in 1909, when we were
able to make a short visit to Switzerland after attending the
Darwin celebration at Cambridge. We went first to Zurich, where
in a large hall in the University or Polytechnicum we saw
Heer's collections. A bust of Heer stands in one corner, while
one end of the room is covered by a large painting by Professor
Holzhalb, representing a scene at Oeningen as it may have
appeared in Miocene times, showing a lake with abundant
vegetation on its shores, and appropriate animals in the
foreground. Numerous glass-covered cases contain the
magnificent series of fossils, both plants and animals. Dr.
Albert Heim, professor of geology and director of the
Geological Museum, was most kind in showing us all we wanted to
see, and giving advice concerning the precise locality of the
fossil beds. Professor Heim is an exceedingly active and able
geologist, but neither he nor any one else has continued the
work of Heer, whose collections remain apparently as he left
them. The 384 supposedly new insects are still undescribed,
with a few possible exceptions. I had time only to critically
examine the bees, of which I found three ostensibly new forms.
Of these, one turned out to be a wasp,[2] one was
unrecognizable, but the third was a valid new species, and was
published later in The Entomologist. There can be no doubt that
Heer was too ready to distinguish species of insects in fossils
which were so poorly preserved as to be practically worthless,
consequently part of those he published and many of those he
left unpublished will have to be rejected. Nevertheless, the
Oeningen materials are extremely valuable, both for the number
of species and the good preservation of some of them. All
should be carefully reexamined, and the entomologist who will
give his time to this work will certainly be rewarded by many
interesting discoveries.

[2] Polistes, or very closely related to that genus.

Provided with instructions from Professor Heim, we started on
August 4 for Wangen, going by way of Constance. Thanks to the
map furnished by the Swiss railroad, we had no difficulty in
finding the Rosegarten Museum in Constance, which contains so
many interesting fossils and archeological specimens from the
surrounding region. At the moment we arrived, the old man in
charge was about to go to lunch, and we were assured that it
was impossible to get into the museum. It was then or never for
us, however; and when the necessary argument had been
presented, the curator not only let us in, but remained with us
to point out all the objects of interest, showing a great deal
of pride in the collection. The series of Oeningen fossils
could not, of course, rival that at Zurich; but it contained a
great many remarkable things, including some excellent insects.
We then boarded the river steamer, and, passing through the
Unter Sea, reached the small village of Wangen in the course of
the afternoon. This is not a tourist resort of any consequence;
the local guide book refers to it as follows: "Wangen (with
synagogue). Half an hour to the east is the Castle of Marbach,
now a well-appointed sanatorium for disorders of the nerves and
heart. To the west the romantic citadel Kattenhorn, formerly
used as a rendezvous by notorious highwaymen (at present in the
possession of a pensioned off German officer)." The guide
continues, calling our attention to "Oberstaad. Formerly a
castle, now a weaving mill for hose. Above it (448 meters) the
former celebrated Augustine monastery Oehningen. Near by
interesting and curious STONE FOSSILS are found." Thus the
visitor is likely to be misled as to the whereabouts of the
fossils, the tradition that they are at Oeningen having misled
the author of the guide. At Wangen we found a small but most
excellent hotel conducted by George Brauer, where we hastily
secured a room, and went out to hunt the fossil beds. We were
to walk over half an hour northward, up the hill, and look for
the quarries near the top of the high terrace above the
village. This we did, but at first without result. We passed a
small grassy pit, where some of the rock was visible, but it
did not look at all promising. We went back and forth, and up
the hill, until we were practically on the top. The country was
beautiful, and by the roadside we found magnificent red slugs
(Arion ater var. lamarckii[3]) and many fine snails, including
the so-called Roman snail, Helix pomatia. We accosted the
peasants, and enquired about the "fossilen." The word seemed to
have no meaning for them, so we tried to elucidate it in the
manner of the guide: where were the "stein fossilen"?
Immediately, with animation, we were shown a road going
westward to the town of Stein, where, it was naturally assumed,
the object of our enquiry would be found. Quite discouraged, we
wandered down the hill until we came to the pit we had noticed
when going up. Close by was a neat little cottage, and it
occurred to us to try our luck there as a last resort. We were
glad indeed when there appeared at the door an educated man,
who in excellent Shakespearian English volunteered at once to
show us the fossil beds. It was Dr. Ernst Bacmeister, a man of
considerable note in his own country, whose life and deeds are
duly recorded in "Wer ist's?" He came, with his wife and child,
to Wangen in the summer time, to enjoy these exquisite
surroundings, where he could write happily on philosophical
subjects, without much danger of interruption. Dr. Bacmeister
informed us that the poor little pit close by was in fact one
of the noted quarries, with the sides fallen in and the debris
overgrown with herbage. A short distance away we were shown the
others, in the same discouraging condition.

[3] The earliest name for this richly colored variety is Limax
coccineus Gistel, but it is not Limax coccineus Martyn, 1784;
so the next name, lamarckii, prevails.

One could see that there had once been considerable
excavations, but the good layers were now deeply covered by
talus, and could only be exposed after much digging. It was
about thirty years since the pits had been worked. Dr.
Bacmeister found for us a strong country youth, Max Deschle,
who dug under our direction all next day in the quarry near the
house. The rock is not so easy to work as that at Florissant,
and it does not split so well into slabs, but we readily found
a number of fossils. Most numerous were the plants; leaves of
cinnamon (Cinnamomurn polymorphum), soapberry (Sapindus
falcifolius), maple (Acer trilobatum), grass (Poacites loevis)
and reeds (Phragmites oeningensis), with twigs of the conifer
Glyptostrobus europoeus. We obtained a single seed of the very
characteristic Podogonium knorrii. Certain molluscs were
abundant; Planorbis declivis, Lymnoea pachygaster, Pisidium
priscum, with occasional fragments of the mussel Anodonta
lavateri. Ostracods, Cypris faba, were also found. The best
find, however, was a well-preserved fish, the lepidocottus
brevis (Agassiz), showing in the region of the stomach its last
meal, of Planorbis declivis. This greatly interested Max, who
during the rest of the day chanted, as he swung the pick,
"Fischlein, Fischlein, komme!"--but no other Fischlein was
apparently within hearing distance. Not a single insect was
obtained, except that on the talus at one of the other quarries
I picked up a poorly preserved beetle, apparently the Nitidula
melanaria of Heer.

We left Wangen on the morning of August 6, and proceeded up the
Rhine to Schaffhausen and Basle. At Basle we found a certain
number of Oeningen (Wangen) fossils in the museum.

Comparing Wangen with Florissant, it appears that the Colorado
locality is more extensive, more easily worked, and provides
many more well-preserved fossils. On the other hand, Wangen has
proved far richer in vertebrates and crustacea, and on the
whole gives us a better idea of the fauna as it must have
existed. Florissant far exceeds Wangen in the number of
described species, but this is only because it has so many more
insects. Each locality furnishes us with extraordinarily rich
materials, enabling us to picture the life of Miocene times.
Each, by comparison, throws light on the other, and while the
period represented is not sufficiently remote to show much
evidence of progressive evolution, it is hard to exaggerate the
value of the facts for students of geographical distribution.
Much light may also be thrown on the relative stability of
specific characters.

Work on the Florissant fauna is going forward, though not so
fast as one could wish. It is very much to be hoped that the
Wangen quarries will receive attention before many years have
passed. Labor is comparatively cheap in Germany, and with a
force of a dozen men it would not take long to open up the
quarries and get at the best beds. It is really extraordinary
that no one has seen and taken advantage of the opportunities
presented. Probably no obstacles of any consequence would be
put in the way; at least the owner of the quarries came by when
we were digging, and expressed only his good will. With new
researches in the field, combined with studies of the rich
materials awaiting examination at Zurich and elsewhere, no
doubt the knowledge we possess of the European Miocene fauna
could be very greatly increased, to the advantage of all
students of Tertiary life.


[1] Some of the instruments used were obtained through a grant
from the Elizabeth Thompson Science Fund.



ONLY in recent years have aerologists given much attention to
the slow-moving currents of the lower strata of the atmosphere.
These differ greatly from the whirls and cataracts of both low
and high levels which we familiarly know as the winds. The
upper and larger air streams play a part in the formation of
frost, and we do not underestimate their function; but
primarily it is a slow surface flow, almost a creeping of the
air near the ground, which controls the temperature and is
all-important in frost formation. So important is it that the
first law of frost fighting may be expressed as follows:

Where air is in motion and where there is good circulation,
frost is not so likely to occur as where the air is stagnant.

In other words frost in the ordinary meaning of the word is a
problem IN LOCAL AIR DRAINAGE. It is true that there are times
when with thorough ventilation and mixing of the air strata the

Book of the day: