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AFTER due consideration of a number of proposals for the alteration of the British system of weights and measures, such as the compulsory adoption of the metric system and the decimalization of the existing weights and measures, the British trade committee has decided against any compulsory changes at the present juncture, but recommends a continuation of the efforts toward simplification in the teaching of weights and measures and the use of decimal subdivision of basic weights, such as the cental of 100 pounds instead of the hundredweight (112 pounds) and the short ton of 2,000 pounds. The committee recognizes the value of the proposal for the decimalization of the sovereign, which would be divided into 1,000 mils, the mil being worth 4 per cent. less than the farthing. It believes, however, that considering "the magnitude of the disturbance which the alteration in the value of the penny would cause in the lives of the great body of wage earners, retail shopkeepers and their customers . . . the introduction of such a change would be inexpedient at a time when the social, industrial and financial organization of the country will be faced with numerous and exceptional difficulties."
THE second reading of the British Coinage (Decimal System) Bill was moved by Lord Southwark in the House of Lords on June 4. Lord Leverhulme opposed the motion, though he was not against the principle of decimal coinage. He objected to making the sovereign the unit and dividing it into one thousand parts, and he thought that a British decimal system of coinage should be based upon the halfpenny. After discussion, the debate was adjourned on the understanding that the government will institute an inquiry into the whole question of decimal coinage, including the proposals contained in Lord Southwark's bill.
THE Bureau of Mines announces the perfection of a type of electric melting furnace that may be revolutionary in the making of brass. Patents on this furnace, known as the rocking electric furnace, have been taken out by the bureau and have been assigned to Secretary Lane as trustee. Free licenses to ope
rate these furnaces under the patents, it is understood, can be obtained by making application through Van. H. Manning, director of the Bureau of Mines. The new furnace, which it is claimed will reduce the important losses in brass melting, is the result of five years' experimentation by H. W. Gillett, chemist of the Bureau of Mines, in cooperation with the laboratory of Cornell University, the American Institute of Metals, and a number of manufacturers of brass.
UNIVERSITY AND EDUCATIONAL NEWS
By the will of the late Lord Rhondda the governing body of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, will receive out of the residue of his estate the sum of £20,000, to be applied at its discretion for the benefit of the college, but preferably in the establishment and maintenance of six to ten scholarships tenable at the college for mathematics, natural science, or moral science (including economics), preference being given, ceteris paribus, in the awarding of such scholarships to residents or sons of residents in Wales or Monmouthshire.
A. H. BENTON, assistant professor of farm management, at the University of Minnesota, has accepted a position as professor and chief of the division of farm management and rural economics at the Manitoba Agricultural College.
A. B. COBLE, associate professor of mathematics in Johns Hopkins University, has accepted a professorship of mathematics in the University of Illinois to begin work in September.
DR. AVEN NELSON has been appointed president of the University of Wyoming.
DISCUSSION AND CORRESPONDENCE
TO THE EDITOR OF SCIENCE: Through no fault of their own, not a few instructors of elementary psychology to my knowledge spend many an arduous hour trying to indicate to undiscriminating minds both what psychology
is not and what is not psychology. Press reporters, magazine writers, novelists, dramatists, preachers, popular lecturers, and advertising experts, are responsible for much psychological heresy that is so deeply rooted in the lay mind. But equally pernicious is the influence of teachers, yes, even academic colleagues in other disciplines, who, though their tutelage in psychology dates back to a previous generation, flaunt their opinions on the subject as if antiquity of the vintage were a guarantee of acceptability of the doctrine. Coupled with these agencies for the propagation of malefic and subversive statements is the human, almost inhuman, tendency to conjure with words and phrases that are suggestive of possibility but, among those so using them, not redolent with meaning or precise in definition. Thus have "psychology" and "psychological" suffered immensely. For what member of an English-speaking community can fail to be impressed, if not inspired, by the sound of the expression, "the psychological moment"! What greater distinction can be accorded an insignificant alienist in court than to whisper with bated breadth or to state in bold type that he is a famous "psychologist"! It has been said that officers in camp frequently explain the inexplicable in similar terms. Indeed, a current committee of the American Psychological Association has found it necessary to indicate restricted usages of the term psychological" even among professional psychologists. But to my mind the most insidious of all baleful influences are to be found in connection with such commercialized undertakings as impose upon the ignorance of the general public to the extent of taking advantage of its credulity. Whether the intention of doing this is present or absent, is difficult of proof and, moreover, not to the point: the effect is the
The week's mail brought to my notice an attractively printed pamphlet describing the aims and scope of an incorporated "National Psychological Institute." Hence the occasion for these remarks. The individual whose name appears on the title page is the medical adviser and a trustee of the institute. His credentials
indicate that he is a member of several medical societies, fellow of the American Medical Association, member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and of the National Geographic Society. No affiliation with any psychological association is mentioned. The institute " was organized in the firm realization that the Science of Life and an intelligent appreciation of the relationship between the visible and the invisible world, constitutes not only the highest form of religion but also falls within the domain of scientific endeavor" and for the purpose of carrying on "experimental research in normal and abnormal psychology and demonology ..., to develop and instruct psychic-sensitives, as intermediaries in above stated experimental research, and grant certificates to same when proficient," etc. proficient," etc. "Despairing mortals, on the brink of a suicide's grave, are especially urged to communicate (strictly confidentially) with the institute for advice regarding so serious a step." We are told that " research in abnormal psychology has unmistakably demonstrated that ignorant or mischievous discarnated human entities do frequently play a serious rôle in all manner of functional mental aberrations and insanity, the ravages of which, according to eminent authorities, are threatening the very social fabric." More specifically the symptomatology of shell shock "suggests obsession or possession by spirits of dead soldiers . . as the exciting cause."
These quotations and other uncited but similar statements speak for themselves. It is not my purpose to decry earnest endeavor to gain knowledge in fields in which its pursuit has not so far been very fruitful. For many years, as my students can no doubt abundantly testify, my attitude toward psychic research has been respectfully sympathetic. In my reviews of publications on the subject, moreover, I have been no more critical than are the foremost investigators in this field. Nor do I intend to charge this institution with an attempt to defraud the public for financial gain. Representations in the pamphlet indicate that the organization is benevolent and humanitarian in character and not established for profit.
What that means is, perhaps, not altogether clear because "dependable automatists" are to be trained and awarded certificates, abnormal cases are to be treated, and negotiations with other institutions are encouraged, but surely not without fee. No, my chief criticism is simply: why do all this under the name of psychology? There is hardly an academic institution that would designate this subject as anything but "psychic research"; and certainly, if I judge aright, no scientific body of psychologists would endorse the selection of so ambitious a title for organizations at work in the field described in the pamphlet. The use of such a name involves bad taste and delusion, if it does not also bespeak audacity and professional discourtesy. Especially at this time of national service in an emergency ought scientific bodies to be particularly sensitive lest those in authority who are susceptible to misinformation proceed to belittle and to caricature the achievements already won. This is peculiarly true of so youthful a scientific discipline as psychology.
CHRISTIAN A. RUCKMICH
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
THE POSITION AND PROSPECTS OF BOTANY
TO THE EDITOR OF SCIENCE: There are times when it is perhaps to be expected that the naturalist should feel, more insistently than other scientific men, the impulse to justify the pursuits with which he has chosen to occupy his time. The recent address by Dr. Gager, concerning the position and prospects of botany, printed not long ago in SCIENCE, prominently conveys an attempt of this kind. Like most of the pleas advanced by investigators in defence of their performances, this address develops the traditional theme of economic benefit accruing to society at large, and more specifically to certain groups of business interests, as the result of research activities.
It is strange that the peculiar futility of this type of apologetic seems not to be more generally appreciated. That the results of scientific inquiry contribute to the well-being of humanity is a tiresome truism, which has no bearing upon the support of research by
business interests. Perhaps in despair at the lack of other common ground upon which to engage in discussion with nonscientific acquaintances, perhaps from the honest conviction that economic good is the main consideration in this matter, investigators have at any rate been far too willing to point to useful inventions, commercial practises and hygienic improvements, as the crowning fruits of the spirit of discovery. To this habit may in large degree be traced the origin and perpetuation of that conception, commonly enjoyed by cultivated people of nonscientific interests, that science is a vaguely delimited mélange of engineering, sanitation, surgery and what not else.
To encourage the demand, upon specific economic grounds, that research in biology should receive the financial support of commercial organizations is futile and dangerous: it is also a tactical error of the first magnitude. It is futile because the appeal fails, and in the nature of things must fail, to impress the people for whom it has been designed; because it omits to reckon with the fact that "usefulness," in the ordinary understanding of that attribute, is an accidental byproduct of research. It is dangerous because, as Dr. Sumner has clearly expressed it in another connection,1 "the investigator who derives his support from the public treasury often finds his intellectual honesty sorely strained. More or less fictitious benefits to the community are conjured up in justification of work which ought to stand upon its own merits. The mental processes involved are insidious and the deceiver often ends by being himself deceived." It is a tactical mistake because it fosters a false conception of the relations of science to other pursuits; the continual insistance upon the "practical" justification, especially when this is urged as a basis for the commercial support of research, can only delay the arrival of a social readjustment which, by reducing the grossly disproportionate material rewards of commerce, will help to insure for science the social and
1 Sumner, F. B., 1917, Bulletin of the Scripps Instn. Biol. Research, No. 3, p. 3.
political position it rightfully should occupy. That public eulogists of scientific achievement have rarely undertaken to dwell upon anything beyond the "practical" result argues that there is in them either a want of vision, or a lack of courage to force the consideration of a viewpoint devoid of popular appeal; perhaps both. W. L. CROZIER
LEAF BURN OF THE POTATO AND ITS RELATION TO THE POTATO LEAF. HOPPER
THROUGHOUT the northern section of the United States, from Montana to New York and south at least to Iowa and Qhio, there has been a remarkable epidemic of leaf burn on potatoes. The margins of the leaves of early varieties turned brown, the dead areas gradually widening until the leaves dried up and the whole field took on a burned appearance. In severe cases the stalks also withered and died.
Every potato section of Wisconsin was affected and a careful study by the writer showed that in every case the injury was directly proportioned to the number of potato leafhoppers (Empoasca mali LeB.) present. The nymphs of this species feed on the undersides of the leaves and first produce a wrinkling of the whole surface, with a slight upward rolling of the margin, and then the marginal burning appears. Long after the leafhoppers have acquired wings and flown away it is possible to determine the cause of the damage by observing the cast skins adhering to the under surfaces and the egg scars in the mid rib or veins of the burned leaves.
In cage experiments, using large numbers of leafhoppers, typical leaf burn was produced in four days. The relation of this injury to what has been previously diagnosed as "tip burn" is an interesting subject for future determination. The characteristic marginal burn is frequently so definite that it is possible that there may be something injected that produces more definite and widespread results than the mere mechanical extraction of the sap. There does not, however, seem to be the same specific relation that exists between the
"FATS AND FATTY DEGENERATION": A RESPONSE TO BOOK REVIEWS BY BANCROFT AND CLOWES
WILDER D. BANCROFT1 has recently reviewed in the pages of the Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry a book entitled "Fats and Fatty Degeneration," by Marian O. Hooker and myself. He has also published in his Journal of Physical Chemistry a review by G. H. A. Clowes, which in spirit is identical with his own. My attempt to answer both of these reviews in the pages of Bancroft's Journal has met with the editor's refusal.
Bancroft and Clowes's adverse criticisms are of two kinds: (1) those contradicting my observations and their interpretation, and (2) those implying unacknowledged borrowings from the works of others, more specifically their own writings. As to the first, it is the privilege of any critic to correct errors and to disprove arguments when truth and logic are on his side; as to the second, no reputable investigator would, even if moved by nothing better than the low ideal of his material future, jeopardize truth by taking it ready-made from another without noting that fact, or would pose as the discoverer of laws already set forth by authorities working in the same field. Those who know either me or the history of emulsion chemistry will easily find their way here. Yet, deferring to another article my answer to the scientific objections of Bancroft and Clowes-an answer that should be apparent to any careful reader of my book -I purpose in this note to comment upon their purely personal criticism.
It is also interesting to note that the author does not cite Pickering's first paper, though he must be familiar with it. . . . It is certainly being overcharitable to say that the author has the unhappy
1 Wilder D. Bancroft, Jour. Ind. and Eng. Chem., 9, 1156, 1917.
2 Martin H. Fischer and Marian O. Hooker, "Fats and Fatty Degeneration," New York, 1917. 3 G. H. A. Clowes, Amer. Jour. Phys. Chem., 23, 73, 1918.
gift of remembering what he has read but of forgetting that he has read it.
This idea is expressed by Clowes as follows: This statement is somewhat surprising in the face of Pickering's emulsification of 99 per cent. of oil in 1 per cent. of an aqueous soap solution, and Fischer's own data and illustrations (pages 40 and 78) of emulsions (borrowed without acknowledgment from Pickering even to the stick standing up in the jelly) in which 20 parts of oil are emulsified in one part of the water phase.
The scientific aspects of these statements are covered in my book and will be more fully discussed at another time, but the implication of unacknowledged borrowing I can not allow to pass. It happens that I have never had access to this particular paper of Pickering, published, I think, in the Transactions of the Royal Society. I believe, however, that I am conversant with Pickering's views on emulsions from such of his papers as have been accessible to me in the original. With regard to the stick inserted in the jelly to test its stiffness, what more boyish means could any investigator employ for such a purpose? Surely he would not need to borrow from a printed illustration so simple an empirical device.
In borrowing from earlier investigators the idea of tackling the problem of protoplasmic balance by studying the reversal of phase relations in emulsions, Dr. Fischer failed to make himself acquainted with the data already available regarding the conditions under which emulsions of water in oil may be formed, and emulsions of this type transformed into those of oil in water and vice
Although I do not understand the expression "protoplasmic balance," Clowes evidently believes that I have slighted his work. On the contrary, Clowes's work on the theory of emulsification and his experiments on the transformation of oil-in-water to water-in-oil emulsions are fully acknowledged on pages 28, 29 and 30 of my book. I go so far as to try to harmonize our views, although I must now confess my inability to understand much of his work owing to the fact that he writes diffusely and jumbles good experimental observations
with hypotheses. Here as elsewhere, however, I have followed a principle which has guided all my writings, namely, that of discovering and emphasizing only the positive contributions of any author, and of ignoring what seem to me his mistakes or false guesses. Clowes writes further:
In the chapter on fatty degeneration, Fischer fails entirely to give credit to Alonzo E. Taylor. This statement is characteristically inaccurate, for Taylor's work is discussed on page 69 of my book. One is tempted to say of Clowes what Bancroft says of me, 66 It is a little difficult to characterize the author's methods and yet keep within parliamentary limits." Clowes might at least have done me the small justice of looking up Taylor's name in the index. Yet, as a matter of fact, Taylor was interested only in that chemical aspect of the problem of fatty degeneration which asks whether fat may be formed from protein. My own contributions to the subject have nothing to do with this; they deal instead with the physics of the question.
So far as the theory of emulsification is concerned, it is the intent in my volume to show that a union between solvent and lyophilic colloid (the formation of "colloid solvates" or "colloid hydrates ") is one of the large and important factors in the maintenance of emulsions. This contention of mine is accepted as correct in Bancroft and Clowes's reviews. As a matter of fact the idea is looked upon by them as entirely self-evident, for Bancroft writes:
When oil is emulsified in water by means of a third substance, one has drops of oil each coated by a gelatinous film. . . . If we cut down the water sufficiently we shall get a limiting case where we have merely drops of oil surrounded by gelatinuous films.
Clowes expresses the notion in the words:
Bancroft's demonstration that the formation of one or the other type of emulsion depends not upon the relative volumes of oil and water, but simply upon whether the emulsifying agent employed is preponderantly hydrophilic or lipophilic. . .