Page images

with an officer and a few men, was proceeding from Manilla to Cavite; but meeting with a severe squall and thick weather, they were driven nearly into the middle of the bay. They were pulling in what they thought the best direction, when on a sudden the sailors all dropped their oars. But the mate, who was steering, looking astern of the boat, saw the open jaws of a huge fish almost over him. Having nothing at hand, he threw the boat's tiller into the mouth of the fish, shouting as loud as possible; when, the jaws closing with a tremendous crash, the whole fish, which they described to be more like a spotted whale than anything else, dived beneath the boat, and was seen no more. I do not now recollect the names of the ship, or of the captain, but I thought the circumstance of the spotted appearance a remarkable proof that the story is not an invention. "We do not like to tell it," said the American captain, "for fear of being laughed at; but my officer is quite trustworthy, and we have learned from the fishermen too, that there is some strange species of large fish highly dangerous to their boats."

Like the American officer, I fear almost being laughed at, were it not that, could we collect more facts relative to these strange monsters, they might perhaps at least explain some of the "coral spots" so often mentioned in our charts: independent of its being a matter of great interest to the naturalist. I therefore add here a vague notice of monstrous spotted fish, which are known to the Moluccas.

These are called by the fishermen of Ternate, Celebes, etc., a "Ikon Bintang" (or star-fish) from the bright light which they occasion, and by which they are recognized at great depths at night, in calm weather. The Malay fishermen describe them too as spotted, as large as a whale and highly destructive to nets; which they instantly take up when they see the fish, if they can get time to do so; for it is known to destroy boats, and whole lines of nets and fishing stakes, if it once became entangled amongst them, to the ruin of the poor fishermen. I had the same account corroborated in the Sooloo Islands, both by the Malay and Chinese fishermen; as also at Zebu, in the Philippine Islands. At Sooloo, I was shown large quantities of the skin of a spotted fish, cut into pieces and dried, for sale to the Chinese Junks, which my people said was the skin of young "chacons"-"Piro no son estos como chacon de alla, Senor." "But these are not like our chacon yonder, Sir," was always added. This skin I should have called that of a spotted

shark [of the ordinary kind like the tiger shark]; the tubercles were excessively coarse and rough.

It seems thus certain, that some immense spotted fish, of highly destructive tendencies . . . exists in the Seas of the Eastern Archipelago.14

One hardly knows what to make of this. Andrew Smith (1829 and 1849),15 the first discoverer of the fish, says " Oesophagus rather narrow," while all the writers about Rhineodon who have known the fish at first hand— notably Wright10 whose opportunities for study of it were greater than all others—have commented on its mild disposition. On the other hand Dr. Jordan (1915) records that the Zamboanga, Philippine Islands, specimen had in its stomach a number of shoes, leggings, leather belts, etc. The structure of its gills, however, plainly shows that it is a whale not merely in size but in manner of feeding. Hence these stomach contents are, as Dr. Jordan notes, incongruous and inexplicable in the light of its gill structures and small oesophagus.

The latter part of Piddington's account is no less valuable than the first since it ties in well with other accounts of the occurrence of Rhineodon in the waters of the East Indies, particular in the Celebes. Thus Weber (1902, 1913)17 states that he saw several in the strait between Buton and Muna in this archipelago. While in the Java Sea, van Kampen (1908)18 dissected one at Batavia and later obtained a

14 Piddington, H., "Notice of an Extraordinary Fish," Journal Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1835, Vol. 4, pp. 218–222.

15 Smith, Andrew, "Contributions to the Natural History of South Africa," Zoological Journal, 1829, No. 16, p. 643. (Do.) Pisces, in Illustrations of the Zoology of South Africa, plate 26 and description, London, 1849.

16 Wright, E. P., "Six Months at the Seychel les," Spicilegia Biologica, Pt. I., pp. 64-65.


[blocks in formation]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Professor W. C. Allee, Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, Ill.

Section G-Botany.-Vice-president, Dr. A. F. Blakeslee, Cold Spring Harbor, N. Y.; secretary, Dr. Mel T. Cook, Agricultural Experiment Station, New Brunswick, N. J.

Section H-Anthropology and Psychology.Vice-president, Aleš Hrdlička, U. S. National Museum; secretary, Lieutenant Colonel E. K. Strong, Jr., Room 528 State, War and Navy Building, Washington, D. C.

Section I-Social and Economic Science.-Vicepresident, John Barrett, Pan-American Union; secretary, Seymour C. Loomis, 69 Church Street, New Haven, Conn.

Section K-Physiology and Experimental Medicine.-Vice-president, Professor Frederic S. Lee, Columbia University; secretary, Professor J. A. Goldfarb, College of the City of New York, New York City.

Section L-Education.-Vice-president, Dr. Stuart A. Courtis, Detroit Department of Educational Research; secretary, Major Bird T. Baldwin, Walter Reed General Hospital, Washington, D. C.

Section M-Agriculture.—Vice-president, Professor Henry P. Armsby, State College, Pa.; secretary, Dr. E. W. Allen, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C.

AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS OF THE MATHEMATICAL AND THE NATURAL SCIENCES.Will hold Council meeting at 10 A.M., December 27. Secretary, William A. Hedrick, Central High School, Washington, D. C.

AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY.-Will hold joint sessions with Section B, A. A. A. S., from December 26 to 28. President, H. A. Bumstead; secretary; Dayton C. Miller, Case School of Applied Science, Cleveland, Ohio.

OPTICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA.-Will meet on Friday, December 27. President, F. E. Wright; secretary, P. G. Nutting, Westinghouse Research Laboratory, East Pittsburgh, Pa.

SOCIETY FOR PROMOTION OF ENGINEERING EDUCATION.-December 26-28. President, John F. Hayford; secretary, F. L. Bishop, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa.

GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA.-December 27 and 28. Joint meeting with Association of American Geographers, afternoon of December 28; joint meeting with Section E, A. A. A. S., on night of December 28. President, Whitman Cross, U. S. Geological Survey; secretary, E. O. Hovey, American Museum of Natural History, New York, N. Y.

ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN GEOGRAPHERS.-December 27 and 28. Joint meeting with Geological Society of America on afternoon of December 28. President, Nevin M. Fenneman, New York City; secretary, O. L. Fassig (absent).

PALEONTOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA.-December 28. President, F. H. Knowlton, U. S. National Museum; secretary, R. S. Bassler, U. S. National Museum, Washington, D. C.

AMERICAN SOCIETY OF NATURALISTS.-December 28. Annual dinner, Saturday night. Vicepresident, Guy N. Collins (in the chair); secretary, Bradley M. Davis, Statistical Division, U. S. Food Administration, Washington, D. C.

AMERICAN SOCIETY OF ZOOLOGISTS.-December 26 to 28. Joint session with American Society of Naturalists Saturday morning, December 28. President, George Lefevre, University of Missouri; acting secretary, W. C. Allee, Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, Ill.

AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF ECONOMIC ENTOMOLOGISTS.-December 26 and 27. President, E. D. Ball; secretary, Albert F. Burgess, Gipsy Moth Laboratory, Melrose Highlands, Mass.

BOTANICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA.-December 26 to 28. Joint session with Section G, A. A. A. S., and American Phytopathological Society on Thursday afternoon, December 26. Joint sessions with American Phytopathological Society on Friday and Saturday, December 27 and 28. Joint session with Ecological Society of America on Saturday morning, December 28. President, William Trelease, University of Illinois; secretary, J. R. Schramm, Cornell University, Ithaca, N. Y.

AMERICAN PHYTOPATHOLOGICAL SOCIETY.-December 23 to 28. Joint meetings with Botanical Society of America on Friday and Saturday, December 27 and 28. Tenth anniversary dinner, 6.30 P.M., Wednesday, December 25. President, E. M. Freeman; secretary, C. L. Shear, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C.

ECOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA.-December 26 to 28. Joint session with American Society of Zoologists, Friday morning, December 27. Joint session with Botanical Society of America on Saturday morning, December 28. President, Henry C. Cowles, University of Chicago; secretary, Forrest Shreve, Desert Laboratory, Tucson, Arizona.

AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION.December 26 to 28. Joint session with Section H, A. A. A. S., on December 26, and joint session with American Folk-Lore Society on December 27. President, A. L. Kroeber, Affiliated Medical Col

leges, San Francisco; acting secretary, Bruce W. Merwin, University of Pennsylvania Museum, Philadelphia, Pa.

AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION.-December 27 and 28. Will hold joint sessions with Sections H and L. Secretary, Herbert S. Langfleld, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

AMERICAN FOLK-LORE SOCIETY.-December 27. Will hold joint session with American Anthropological Association. President, C. Marius Barbeau; secretary, Charles Peabody, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

AMERICAN METRIC ASSOCIATION.-December 27 to 28. The session of Saturday will be held at the Bureau of Standards, Washington. President, George F. Kunz; secretary, Howard Richards, Jr., 156 Fifth Avenue, New York, N. Y.

SOCIETY OF AMERICAN BACTERIOLOGISTS.-Will meet on Friday and Saturday, December 27 and 28. President, R. C. Buchanan, University of Wis consin; secretary, A. Parker Hitchens, Army Medical School, 462 Louisiana Avenue, Washington, D. C.

AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR HORTICULTURAL SCIENCE. -December 27 and 28. President, C. A. McCue; secretary, C. P. Close, College Park, Md.

SOCIETY OF AMERICAN FORESTERS.-December 27 and 28. President, Filibert Roth, U. S. Department of Agriculture; secretary, E. R. Hodson, U. S. Forest Service, Washington, D. C. SCHOOL GARDEN ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA.December 23 and 24. President, J. H. Francis; vice-president and acting secretary, V. E. Kilpatrick, 124 W. 30th Street, New York, N. Y. AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS.-December 28. President, Professor John M. Coulter, University of Chicago; secretary, Dr. H. W. Tyler, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, Mass.


A Weekly Journal devoted to the Advancement of Science, publishing the official notices and proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Published every Friday by




NEW YORK, N. Y. Entered in the post-office at Lancaster, Pa., as second class matter


[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]






... 639

Scientific Notes and News
University and Educational News
Discussion and Correspondence:-

Age Flow and Ebb of the Eocene Seas: PRO-
FESSOR G. D. HARRIS. Hereditary Deficien-
cies in the Sense of Smell: PROFESSOR OTTO
GLASER. Biological Principles in the Zool-
International Organization of Science: PRO-


A National Laboratory for the Study of Nutrition

Scientific Books:

Whetzel's Outline of the History of Phytopathology: PROFESSOR J. C. ARTHUR Special Articles:

Resistance in the American Chestnut to the Bark Disease: DR. ARTHUR HARMOUNT GRAVES. The Occurrence of Azotobacter in Cranberry Soils: SELMAN A. WAKSMAN ... 652






MSS. intended for publication and books, etc., intended for review should be sent to The Editor of Science, Garrison-onHudson, N. Y.

SCIENCE AND MEDICAL TEACHING1 PRESIDENT ELIOT, through the long years of his distinguished service, has begged for a larger cultivation of the sciences among our people and only recently he has demanded that such a wider tuition be introduced into our schools as a necessity of proper national reconstruction. The value of science to mankind is being everywhere more fully appreciated. It is of its prophets in the past that this paper is to deal.

In the preface to the fourth edition of Lavoisier's "Elements of Chemistry," as translated from the original French and printed in Philadelphia in 1799, one finds the following conception of the scientific method.

When we begin the study of any science, we are in a situation, respecting that science, similar to children; and the course by which we have to advance is precisely the same which Nature follows in the formation of their ideas. In a child, the idea is merely an effect produced by a sensation; and, in the same manner, in commencing the study of a physical science, we ought to form no idea but what is a necessary consequence, and immediate effect, of an experiment or observation. Besides, he who enters upon the career of science, is in a less advantageous situation than a child who is acquiring his first ideas. To the child, Nature gives various means of rectifying any mistakes he may commit respecting the salutary or hurtful qualities of the objects which surround him. On every occasion his judgments are corrected by experience; want and pain are the necessary consequences arising from false judgment; gratification and pleasure are produced by judging aright. Under such masters, we can not fail to become well informed; and we soon learn to reason justly, when want and pain are the necessary consequences of a contrary conduct.

In the study and practise of the sciences it is entirely different; the false judgments we may

1 Address at the meeting for the award of honors to students of medicine of Harvard University, December 16, 1918.

form neither affect our existence nor our welfare; and we are not compelled by any physical necessity to correct them. Imagination, on the contrary, which is ever wandering beyond the bounds of truth, joined to self-love and that self-confidence we are so apt to indulge, prompt us to draw conclusions which are not immediately derived from facts; so that we become in some measure interested in deceiving ourselves. Hence it is by no means surprising, that, in the science of physics in general, men have so often formed suppositions, instead of drawing conclusions. These suppositions, handed down from one age to another, acquire additional weight from the authorities by which they are supported, till at last they are received, even by men of genius, as fundamental truths.

The only method of preventing such errors from taking place, and of correcting them when formed, to restrain and simplify our reasoning as much as possible. This depends entirely on ourselves, and the neglect of it is the only source of our mistakes. We must trust to nothing but facts: These are presented to us by Nature, and can not deceive. We ought, in every instance, to submit our reasoning to the test of experiment, and never to search for truth, but by the natural road of experiment and observation.

Thoroughly convinced of these truths, I have imposed upon myself, as a law, never to advance but from what is known to what is unknown; never to form any conclusion which is not an immediate consequence necessarily flowing from observation and experiment.

Such, then, were the principles of this great master scientist of France as he wrote them a hundred and twenty-five years ago. And yet they seem vibrant with the teachings of our own day and generation. Perhaps it may be of interest to examine the growth of this modern mental attitude, especially in its relation to medicine.

The universities of Cambridge (founded in 1229) and Oxford (founded in 1249) were established at a time when authority was worshipped. It was not until after the revival of learning in Italy that the original versions of the ancient classics of Greece and Rome were brought to these English universities, there to be studied at first hand and the unknown culture of a bygone civilization revealed. In this way it was learned, for ex

ample, that Hippocrates (circa B.C. 430) had been misquoted by Galen, for the Father of Medicine in truth had remarked:

Whoever having undertaken to speak and write on medicine have first laid down for themselves some hypothesis to their argument such as hot or cold or moist or dry or whatever else they choose (thus reducing their subject within a narrow compass and supposing only one or two original causes of disease or of death among mankind) are clearly mistaken in much that they say.

This was a far more liberal doctrine than the interpretation of Galen († A.D. 200) who, in his medical definitions, says: "The elements of medicine, as some of the ancients thought, are hot and cold, moist and dry" and "Of what do our material bodies consist? Of the four elements, fire, air, earth and water."

So from this ancient fount of information Chaucer's doctor knew the causes of diseases:

He knew the cause of every malady

Were it of cold or hot or moist or dry And where engendered and of what humour, He was a very perfect practisour.

It is evident that the revival of learning in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, with its scholarly search through the buried classics, must have had a profound influence upon men's minds in its revelation of the forgotten past. That the elements of Empedocles, fire, air, earth and water, should have been the accepted basis of the chemical world for nearly two thousand years seems incredible to the modern mind. And yet, when one considers the past, one is forced to the conviction that the general adoption of revolutionary principles, as lately carried out in Russia, might once again reduce the world to the condition in which it existed during the Dark Ages. And one might conceive that a European or an American a hundred years hence might have to travel to Tokio in order to find a copy of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Galileo was born in 1564 and was the first great modern scientist who chose to trust his own observations rather than accept the teachings of authorities. In 1633 he was forced by

« PreviousContinue »