Rodolfo Amedeo Lanciani.

The American journal of science and arts online

. (page 33 of 109)
Online LibraryRodolfo Amedeo LancianiThe American journal of science and arts → online text (page 33 of 109)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


sea over New England no existence."

12. On the Mixture of Gretaceovs and Eocene Foesile ; by T. A,
Conrad, (communicated for this Journal). — We frequently hear of
passage beds between the Chalk and Eocene, but the evidence is
never produced which would show a gradual transition from one
to the other. It has been said that m California such beds have
been found ; but Mr. Gabb in his extensive explorations did not ob-
serve them. The collection of fossil shells which he considered a
newer Cretaceous formation, and designated as No. B is now in
the collection of the Academy of Natural Sciences, and a careful
revision of the species fails to enable us to detect one recognized
form of the Cretaceous Period of California, or anywhere else. It
is a peculiar group, however, unlike any other known. A glance
at the large Venericardia Sbmii^ will strike any one accustomed
to compare the Chalk and Eocene fossil shells as peculiarly indica-
ting the Eocene. This statement of the distinct character of dif-
ferent formations, takes no account of those local mixtures of fos-
sils which are easily traced to disturbances in the bed of the ocean.

13. Diamonds in Australia^ — A letter from the Austrian Consul
in Australia, to Mr. Hochstetter of Vienna, announces that the
diamonds of Australia are remarkable for size as well as beauty.
They vary in weight from half a carat to 160. One found on the
property of the Consul, was of the first water, and weighed 30^^
carats; and another, of 46 carats, was sold in London at 128,000
francs. The region especially abundant in diamonds is the frontier
of the Orange Kiver country, at Sikatlory. — Les Mondes^ Jan 13.

14. The ^pyornis of Madagascar. — MM. Alp. Milne-Ed-
WABD8 and Alf, Grandidieb describe in Comptes Rendus, 11th
Oct. 1869, certain curious anatomical peculiarities of the bones of
the -^pyomis, and they observe "that it belongs to a group of
shortwmged birds, but constitutes amongst them a type character-
ized by its massive forms, and by feet of a size difficult to conceive.
It must be placed beside the dinornis and auteryx, although it is
removed from them by important features oi its organization, and
by the pneumaticity of its thigh bones. The height of this bird
was much less than J. Geoffroy St. Hilaire thought. Taking the
length of its foot as a basis of calculation, the Madagascar bird
scarcely exceeded two metres, which is the height of a large os-
trich, while the Dinornis giganteus varied from two and a half to
three metres. But if the ^pyomis is not, as was supposed, the



Digitized by VjOOQ IC



276 Scientific Intelligence,

biggest of all these birds, it is the stoutest, the most massive, the
most elephantine, if we may so express it." — Student^ Nov, 1869.
16. Preliminary Notice of the Zamellibranchiate Shells of the
Upper Helderberg^ Hamilton and Chemung Groups; [Pr^aratory
Studies for tht Palaeontology of New York] ; part 2 ; by Jambs
Hall. 80 pp. 8vo. State CoL Nat. Hist. 1869. — This paper by
Prof. Hall contains descriptions of several new genera and species,
and revised references of other old species. The new genera
are Pal^aneilo for Nucvlites constricta Conrad, etc. ; Limoptera
for Lima macroptera Conrad ; Mytilabca for Megambonia ovaia
Hall, etc. ; Pholadella for Nueulites radiata Conrad ; Ciiotarli
for Cypricardites corrugata Conrad, etc. ; Phthonia for Cwri-
cardites sectifrons Conrad ; Modiomopha for Gypr, oblonga Con.
and Modiola concentrica Hall, etc.

III. ZOOLOGY.

1. MoUuscan Fauna of New Haven, A critical review of all
the Marine^ Fresh Watery and Land MoUusca of the region^ with
descriptions of many of tJie living animals and of two new m^ecies/
by Geo. H Perkins, Ph.D. From Proceedings of the Boston
Society of Natural History, November and December, 1869. — ^The
total number of species given in this catalogue is 162 ; of these
91 are Gasteropods (51 marine); 54 Lamellibranchs (40 marine).
Of the 91 marme species 60 are said to occur north of Cape Cod ;
18 in Labrador ; 8 m Greenland ; 8 in Europe ; 5 1 extend to South
Carolina and some of them farther ; Si occur in the Post Pliocene ;
26 in the Pliocene; 19 in the Miocene. A list of 65 species
recorded from LongL Sound, but not yet found at New Haven, is
ffiven at the end. The two new species described and figured are
jNassa fretensis (like N vibex) ana Astarte lutea (allied to A, sul-
cata), A new generic name, in errata Tottenia (by error Totten-
iana) is proposed for Venus gemma Totten, and Crassivenus
instead ot J^fercenaria for Ventis mercenaria Linn., the name, mer-
cenaria^ being objectionable because properly a specific name and
an adjective, Mytilus ham>at7is Say is referred to £rachydonteSy
and Pleurotoma brunnea is proposed for P. plicata Adams.

The synonomy is far from complete, and although completeness
could hardly be expected ii> a catalogue of this kind, yet it seems
desirable to give, if any, such references as are necessary to
explain the nomenclature adopted and the principal synonyms in
all cases. But besides want of completeness there are many posi-
tive errors that are scarcely excusable even in a local list. In
looking it over casually the following errors were noticed, besides
others of less importance.

Thus " Melantho decisa Binney," should have H. & A. Adams
as authority, and " Vivipara decisa Gill " in the synonymy, should
be M. decisa Gill, instead of omitting the reference entirely (as in
errata), for Prof Gill was the first to correctly limit the two
genera, as found in this country.



Digitized by VjOOQ iC



Miscellaneous Intelligence, 277

The " Cytherea Sayii Conrad," p. 147, should be CytJierea Say-
ana Conrad, Jour. Phil. Academy, vol vii, p. 124, 1834; the refer-
ence to Grould, " p. 34," should be p. 84 ; " CaUista convexa Say,"
should be Cytherea convexa Say ; and finally the correct reference
for " CaUista convexa^^ is Adams' Gen., ii, p. 426. This species is
really a CaUista^ unless we adopt R5mer^s subgenus, Caryatis, to
which it also belongs. But Conrad's grounds for rejecting Say's
name, convexa^ seem to be insufficient, — at least I am unable to find
another species of CaUista with the same name. *' Mercenaria
violacea Stimpson," should be M, violacea Schumacher, " Modiola
modiolus Linn," should read M, modiolus Turton, (Myiilus modi-
olus Linn.), and 3f, barbatus is no doubt a distinct Mediterranean
species. " Scapharca transversa Say," should be 8. transversa H.
& A. Adams, (Area transversa Say).

The following names, quoted as having Stimpson (Check List),
Tryon, Conrad, etc., as authorities, are found in H. cc A, Adams'
Genera of Recent Mollusca, and some of them, perhaps, in earlier
works : — Amycla Gouldiana^ A. dissimilis^ Tritia trivittata^ Ce-
rithiopsis Emersonii^ Jjunatia heroSy L, triseriata, Turhonilla
interrupta^ T. nivea, Mdantho decisa, Bittium Ghreenii^ Tectura
testudinaliSy Martesia cunei/ormis, XyloPrya palmidata, Siligua
costata^ Angulus tenera^ A, polita^ Peronea tenta^ Macoma fusca^
Brachydontes pUcattUa, Scapharca transversa, v.

IV. ASTRONOMY.

1. Elements of Asteroid (109) ; by E. H. F. Peters, of the
Litchfield Observatory of Hamilton College. Communication dated
Clinton, Oneida Co., N. Y., November 26, 1869.*— The following
elements of asteroid (109) are computed from my observations of
Oct. 9, 20 and 31.

Epoch 1869, Oct 0*0 Berlin mean time.
Mean anomaly, 337** 1' 3"-35.

Longitude of perihelion, 66 63 48*04. )
Lonptude of node, 4 61 46*43. > Mean Equ. 1870*0

Inclination of ecliptic, 7 66 66'56. )

Angle of eccentricity, 17 26 14*13.

Mean daily motion, 809"*680.

Logarithm of major semi-axis, 0*4278314.

V. MISCELLANEOUS SCIENTIFIC INTELLIGENCE.

1. On Force and Will ; by B. A. Gould. — (We copy the follow-
ing from an able address of Dr. Gould, at a meeting of the Amer-
ican Association last August, at Salem, Mass., as retiring Presi-
dent of the Association.) —

Scientists are now of accord that " force can neither be created
nor destroyed,'' and that "the quantity of force in nature is lust
as eternal and unalterable as the quantity of matter." Its various

* Thia announoement was issued on a loose slip in connection with the January
number of this Journal.



Digitized by VjOOQ IC



278 Miaodhmeoua InteUigenoe.

forms are eminently convertible, yet utterly indeBtractible. And
to avoid that fraitful source of disagreement among the ablest
men, which has arisen from the ambiguous signification of the
word, we must adopt the meaning which is finding general ae-
ceptance, and define force as " that which is expended in produ-
cing or i^esisting motion;" thus clearly discriminating between
force and its cause.

In his retiring address before this Association, last year, oar
honored ex-president Dr. Barnard presented an argument, so
vigorous and clear that I see no room for an adequate rejoiner, in
opposition to the doctrine which would extend the principle of
the conservation of force to the phenomena of consciousness,—" a
philosophy which at the present day is boldly tau^t in public
schools of science, and which numbers among its disciples many
very able men." He says, for instance : —

" Organic chaoges are physioal effeots, and maj be received without hesitation
as the representative equivalents of physical forces expended. But sensation, will,
emotioQ, passion, thought, are in no conceivable sease physical." — [iVoc Amer,
AssoCy Chicago^ p. 89.J

'* The philosophy, which makes thought a form of force, makes thought a mode
of motion ; converts the thinking being into a mechanical automaton, whose sen-
sations, emotions, intellections, are mere vibrations produced in its material sub-
stance by the play of physical forces, and whose conscious existence must forever
cease when the exhausted organism shall at length fail to respond to these exter-
nal impulses."— [i&k^, p. 91.]

*' Thought cannot be physical force, because it admits of no measure. * ^ A
thing unsusceptible of measure cannot be a quantity, and a thing that is not even
a quantity cannot be a force."— [Ibid. pp. 93, 4.]

Before the cogent reasoning carried out by President Barnard,
of which the general tenor is indicated by these quotations, the
view that force affords a middle term between the moral and the
material worlds can be sustained as little as the pure materialism
against which the argument was directed. But if we ascend a
grade higher, and consider that which guides and compels force,
as force guides matter, I am disposed to believe that the problem
may be nearer to a solution. Yet I offer my views with hesitation,
not unmindful of the great thinkers who have considered these
exalted topics, and shrinking from the rebuke of presumption.

There is an elegant experiment, in which the tension of a spring
is made to produce heat by percussion, thus developing the cur-
rent from a thermo-electric battery, which by successive modifi-
cations ot its force exhibits heat, chemical action, ma^etic at-
traction, and finally bends another spring ; the same original force
successively appearing in all these various manifestations until it
is reSstabiished in its primitive form. In such an experiment the
imperfections of the apparatus would of course entail some loss at
each successive step, and thus preclude the practical recovery of
an available force equal to that expended m the original flex-
ure of the spring. Yet the fact is beyond question that such loss
is due solely to the inadequacy of our implements for collecting
and transmitting the force at each sta^e of the experiment ; for
the law of conservation teaches that it is in every instance con-



Digitized by VjOOQ IC



MtsceUaneam IntMgenct. 379

Terted into other form or forms withoat diminntion. Could such
an apparatas be constmcted with theoretical perfection, it would
represent an eternal circnit of force; and, like the frictionless
pendulnm in a vacuum, it would exhibit a perpetual motion, after
the needful impulse had once been applied. The spriug would
oscillate forever, did no extraneous force oppose, whether the
force producing its rebound were or were not transmitted through
a chain of modifications.

In this inert apparatus no force whatever would have been em-
bodied, yet qualities would have been implanted by design, which
would compel an indestructible force, applied to it, to play the
part of an unwilling Proteus. The influence seems unavoidable
that force may be guided and controlled, compelled to exert itself
in this or that shape, without the outlay of any other force for
the purpose. If it be objected that it is an intrinsic law of force
that it shall change its form in exerting itself, the case is in no-
wise altered by the expression of this truism. Our design has
prescribed, and (extraneous force being absent) might indefinitely
prescribe, the modes and directions in which that constant force
should manifest itself.

Muscular force is directed, and in its vital action is usually con-
trolled, by will. If we assume it to be coequal with the expendi-
ture of tissue,* measurable alike by its transferred results and by
the decomposition of this tissue, where and what is that power
which lets loose or withholds this force, and whose action is at-
tended by a conscious effort ? It is the will, — a something which
directs and controls force without expending it. Not only are
thought and forms of consciousness not forces, if the reasoning
alread V adduced be correct, but, although often moral incentives to
the will, they are not even motive energies, in the sense in which I
think we must concede the will to be such. It is true that the
exercise of thought b followed by fatigue, yet it is not attended
by a sense of effort, except in so far as it is directed by an exer-
tion of the will. And although the former doubtless consumes
tissue, have we any reason for believing that the exercise of will
does the same, apart from that consumption which corresponds to
the forces whose mode of action it prescribes ?

Thus it would appear that the metamorphosis of force, though
not " work done " in the mechanical sense, is the result of some
definite mode of causation. What this causation is, and whether
it is susceptible of measurement, are the next questions. In the
same category with this agency, or energy, or influence, the vital
principle would seem to belong, — directing forces while it neither
expends nor consumes them. In the growth of organic beings,
unstable combinations are formed, and organized structures are
thence reared, in which, as Kant has so beautifully said, ^ all parts '
are mutually ends and means." If in such organic development
force is consumed, disorganization without decomposition ought

* Even if it be also, to some extent, supplied by the disorganization of food not
fiillj converted, the argnment is not thereby affected.



Digitized by VjOOQ IC



Mi8oellomo(m8 Intelligence.

to evolve it Of the deposit of force in the anstable material of
the tissues, I am not speaking, bat of the vitality itself, which
represents an energy requisite for the development and growth of
organisms, — their dissolution being in turn attended by develop-
ment ot inferior forms of life, which suggest that this energy may
have again been made available, — an energy too which is not
"force," as this term has just now been defined.

No comparison can be drawn between vitality and those molec-
ular forces which build the crystal. Crystaline forms arise when
the molecular attractions enjoy the freest scope, and their con-
struction must be attended by an evolution of force, which ought
to be recognizable by physical tests, and which should also be
measurable by an excess of their resistance to solution, over that
of comparatively amorphous masses of the same material, in which
equal weights present equal surfaces.

So, too, not only in that individuality which life confers and in
the impossibility of insulating or transferring vitality, but also in
its hereditary character and its apparent susceptibility of indefi-
nite increase or diminution, the vital energy violates our funda-
mental conceptions of force, and demands a separate cates^ory,
seeming to belong in the same with will If will and life be forms
offeree, their total amount must be limited by the law of conser-
vation. If, on the other hand, they are outside the realm of forces,
we may more readily indulge the conviction to which experience
would lead, that their freedom is unfettered by any restrictions
within our knowledge, — each injoying an indefinite, though possi-
bly a correlated scope in its own domain. The indestructibility
of both matter and force implies a fixed coefficient of force for
matter in equilibrium ; but how great is the contrast offered in
this respect by such energies as life and will !

Now if this reasoning be correct, we may have in this class of
energies that middle term, so earnestly desired and so intensely
needful, which unites the phenomena of matter with those of spirit,
and forms the connecting link between science and religion ; their
harmonious conjunction affording the highest system of philos-
ophy. It is this class of energies which, controlling the forces of
matter, guides and governs their modifications and transforma-
tions. It is this, moreover, which, inseparable from mind, is ex-
erted by all conscious organism. The mystic play of coequal, but
to our senses, so dissimilar forces, and the equally recondite mu-
tual action of the eye, the brain and the nerve, alike demand
agencies transcending all our science, yet implicitly obeying physi-
cal laws. The highest manifestations of these agencies is in will ;
the highest agent is the Almighty. Thus the dictum of faith, that
the universe exists only by virtue of the continued will of its
Creator, represents a palpable scientific fact ; and we may see that
the piantheist, the materialist and the spiritualist (I will not be
debarred from this noble word hy the associations of its misuse
to-day) have been contemplating the same exalted truth from dif-
ferent aspects, with limited ranges of vision.



Digitized by VjOOQ IC



Miscdlaneaua Intelligence, 281

2. On Auroral appearances and their connection with the phe-
nomena of Terrestial Magnetiem ; by Balfour Stewart, F.R.S.
F.RA.S. — Some years since, I ventured to suggest that au-
roral displays might be secondary currents due to small but rapid
changes, caused by some unknown influence, in the magnetism of
the earth. In developing this idea, the earth was compared to the
core of a Ruhnikorff machine, and the moist upper strata of the
earth, as well as the upper strata of the atmosphere, to secondary
conductors, in which currents will take place whenever the mag-
netism of the earth changes from any cause. These views woufa
appear to be confirmed by the very interesting records of earth-
currents obtained by Mr. Airy at the Greenwich Observatory, in
which it is found that during times of very great magnetic distur-
bance there are strong earth-currents alternating from positive to
negative, the curves lying nearly equally on both sides of the zero.

A further development of this idea has lately occurred to me, m
consequence of a remark of my friend Mr. Lockyer, that the zodi-
acal light may possibly be a terrestial phenomenon, and itiay
therefore be somehow connected with the phenomena of terrestial
magnetism. For not only will secondary currents be caused in a
stationary conductor in presence of a magnetic core of variable
power, but also in a conductor moving across the lines of force of
a constant magnet. The question arises, have we on the earth
such moving conductors ? In answer to this, let us reflect what
takes place at the equator. When once the anti-trades have
reached the upper regions of the atmosphere, they will become con-
ductors from tneir tennitv ; and as they pass rapidly over the lines
of the earth's magnetic force we may expect them to be the vehi-
cles of an electric current, and possibly to be lit up as attenuated
gases are when they conduct electricity. May not these form
the zodiacal light ?

Such moving currents will, of course, react on the magnetism of
the earth. We may therefore suppose that somewhat sudden and
violent changes are likely to take place in the earth's magnetism
at those seasons at which the earth's great wind-currents change
most rapidly. May not this account for the excess oi disturbances
at the equinoxes ?

Besides the anti-trades there are also, no doubt, conviction-cur-
rents, caused by the daily progress of the sun, taking place in the
upper regions of the earth's atmosphere. May not these also be
vehicles of currents as they cross the lines of the earth's force, and
account, to some extent at least, for the daily variations of terres-
trial magnetism ? and may not this be the reason of the likeness
observed by Mr. Baxendell between the curves denoting the daily
progress of the wind and those denoting the variations of the de-
clination of the magnet ? Such currents (in as far as they are elec-
tric conductors), taking place in the upper regions of the atmos-
phere, would not be felt by the earth-current wires at Greenwich,
and I think Mr. Airy has noticed that this is the case. But the
tidal wave represents a motion of a conductor on the earth's sur-
fece, with two periods in one lunar day. This motion cannot pro-



Digitized by VjOOQ IC



282 MisceOaneoui InieUigence.

duoe a very great secondary current ; bnt may it not be sufficient
to account* for the lunar-diurnal magnetic variation, which is also
very small ?

Such a current taking place in a conductor electrically connected
with the earth's upper surface ou^ht to be felt by the Greenwich
wires ; and, if I am not mistaken, Dr. Airy has detected a current
of this nature.

May we not also imagine that there are two varieties of aurora
— one corresponding to stationary conductors under a very rapidly
changing core, and the other to rapidly moving conductors under
a constant core ? And might not an aurora of the latter kind in-
dicate the approach of a change of weather ?

These remarks are thrown out in order to invite comment and
criticism, and they will have served their purpose if they direct
attention to the part that may be played by moving conductors in
the phenomena of terestrial magnetism. It will be noticed that
these remarks do not touch upon the mysterious connection be-
lieved to exist between magnetic disturbances and the frequency
of solar spots.

P. S.— Since writing the above, Sir W. Thomson has called my
attention to a paper by him in the Philosophical Magazine for De-
cember, 1851, in which it is suggested that moving conductors
may play a part in the phenomena of terrestrial magnetism. —
Monthly Notice of tJie JKoycU Astronomical Society^ Dec. \Oth^
Xm^.—PhiL Mag., IV, xxxix, 15g.

3. The approaieh of violent storms announced by telegraph. —
In December, 1869, a memorial was presented to the House of
Representatives, from Prof. J. A. Lapnam, of Milwaukee, Wise.,
calung the attention of Congress to the fearful loss of life and
property occurring annually on our Great Lakes, and suggesting
the possibility of doing something to prevent at least a portion of
this loss in future. A bill was at once mtroduced by Hon. Halbert
E. Paine, of Wisconsin, providing that the Secretary of War be au-
thorized and required to provide for taking the necessary meteoro-
logical observations, at tne military stations in the interior of the
continent, and for giving notice on the northern lakes and Atlan-
tic coast, by means of the electric telegraph, of the approach and
force of storms. Letters were subsequently presented to the
House of Representatives, from the Surgeon General of the U. S.
Army, from Prof Joseph Henry of the Smithsonian Institution,
from Prof Elias Loomis of Yale College, and from the chief Sig-
nal Officer of the U. S. Army, approving of the proposal of storm
warnings, and suggesting some of the advantages which might be
expected to result from thent The bill was passed in the House
of Representatives, Feb. 2, and in the Senate Feb. 4, 1870. The
followmg is a copy of the bill as adopted : —

" Be it resolved, etc., That the Secretary of War be and he
hereby is authorized and required to provide for taking meteoro-
logicsd observations at the military stations in the interior of the
continent, and at other points in the States and Territories of the
United States, and for giving notice on the northern lakes and on



Online LibraryRodolfo Amedeo LancianiThe American journal of science and arts → online text (page 33 of 109)