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the council this resolution is apparently not put forward by the council officially. The notice convening the meeting states that on July 4 the council had under consideration the question of expelling the enemy foreign members. They considered that, if possible, unity of action between the Allied nations should be secured, and in view of the fact that a conference between representatives of Allied academies will take place in October next they resolved to refer the question to that conference. In the meantime they desire to obtain the opinion of the Fellows of the society on the subject for the guidance of their representatives at the conference which has been called for the purpose of discussing the future of scientific work hitherto carried out by international organizations.
FROM a White Paper published on July 10 Nature reports that among the supplementary estimates for the year ending March 31, 1919, is the sum of £1,000,000 which is to be devoted through the Board of Trade to the purpose of assisting the dye-making industry. This is the first instalment of a total sum of £2,000,000 to be provided in the shape of loans and grants to be spread over three years, and divided as follows: £1,250,000 in loans at not less than 1 per cent. above the Bank rate, with a minimum of 5 per cent., repayable in twenty years or earlier if the profits of the manufacturer are more than 9 per cent.; £600,000 in aid of extensions of plant and buildings; and £150,000 in grants in aid of research. It will be remembered that early in 1915 a grant of £1,000,000 was made to one firm at Huddersfield, out of which was created the company known as British Dyes Ltd. This, not unnaturally, created a feeling of dissatisfaction on the part of those dye-making firms which received nothing. The sum mentioned is to be distributed among these firms, besides the substantial amount allocated to the purposes of research. Presumably the £100,000 given for this purpose in 1915 has been spent, but it would be interesting to know how and by whom the money has been used and with what results, in view of the fact that the central research laboratory originally contemplated
has never been erected, nor the Technical Committee announced in July, 1915, called into existence.
THE provisions of a law enacted by the Congress of Uraguay require the use of the metric system in all trade transactions. Merchants are forbidden to sell by the piece, package, or for a fixed sum of money, even at the request of the customer, articles susceptible of sale by weight or measure without the use of the metric system. The law provides that when merchandise is sold in sealed packages, tin cans, boxes, bundles, bottles, etc., the net contents or weight must be clearly indicated on the wrappers. In pass books used for sales on credit the weight or quantity of the merchandise sold must be stated, and this must also be done in the case of invoices. Staple articles, such as sugar, maté, kerosene, rice, flour noodles, beans and other dry legumes either ground or in the grain, coffee, tea, salt, liquors, coal and wood in general, meats (including canned meats), lard, fresh vegetables, bread, crackers, milk, fish, cheese, sweet and white potatoes, etc., are required when offered for sale to show prices and weights.
THE autumn lectures of the New York Botanical Garden will be delivered in the Lecture Hall of the Museum Building of the Garden, Bronx Park, on Saturday afternoons, at four o'clock, as follows:
August 31. "Autumn flowers," by Dr. N. L. Britton.
September 7. "Gladioli," by Professor A. C.
September 14. "Evergreens," by Mr. G. V.
September 21. "Dahlias," by Dr. M. A. Howe. (Exhibition of Dahlias, September 21 and 22.) September 28. "Flora of the vicinity of New York," by Mr. Norman Taylor.
"Autumn coloration," by Dr. A.
October 5. B. Stout.
October 12. "Cut flowers and how to use them," by Mr. E. I. Farrington. October 19. The value of birds in a garden," by Dr. G. Clyde Fisher.
October 26. "Some plant diseases of New York and Virginia," by Dr. E. W. Olive.
DISCUSSION AND CORRESPONDENCE THE PREVENTION OF ROPE IN BREAD
DURING the course of an investigation of the physical and chemical properties of bread, which is being carried on by officers of the Sanitary Corps under my direction, our attention has been drawn to ropy bread. The development of rope at present causes a serious loss of wheat and leads to much annoyance and uncertainty in the manufacture of bread.
Quite recently Lieutenant E. J. Cohn has made certain observations which, if they could be made widely known, might greatly aid in controlling the present epidemic. Accordingly I venture to report upon them here.
The familiar practise of adding acid to the dough as a means of checking the development of rope turns out to depend upon the fact that what seems to be the common cause of the condition, the growth of B. mesentericus, can not take place in bread at a greater hydrogen ion concentration than 10-5N. At the present time the addition of wheat substitutes in bread-making complicates the situation in two ways; first, because such substances commonly produce a less acid bread, and, secondly, because it is more difficult to find out what quantity of acid is desirable on account of the constantly changing conditions.
It is possible, however, to measure the hydrogen ion concentration of bread by the addition of the ordinary solution of methyl red (0.02 per cent. in 60 per cent. alcohol) to the freshly cut surface of the loaf. Three or four drops of the indicator should be placed upon a single spot and five minutes should be allowed to pass. Then, if the color is a full red without an orange nuance, the hydrogen ion concentration is approximately 10-5N, or more. If an orange tint develops, greater amounts of acid should be added to successive batches of dough until the test with bread just gives the desired color. Our experience seems to show that the growth of rope is inhibited as the hydrogen ion concentration approaches 10-3N, and that bitter flavor in bread appears only at greater acidities.
Professor Wolbach, of the Harvard Medical
School, has very kindly carried out the bacteriological experiments upon which these results largely depend.
LAWRENCE J. HENDERSON. WOLCOTT GIBBS MEMORIAL LABORATORY, HARVARD UNIVERSITY
A MICROSCOPIC TRAP
WHILE examining a very rich culture of Protozoa, recently, I saw a living animal caught in the smallest trap that I have ever heard of, about 1/13 mm. in length. The animal was a small Infusorian, apparently Colpoda cucullus Mül., as well as could be determined in its cramped position in the trap. The trap was an empty shell of a small species of Arcella.
The Infusorian had apparently entered the opening of the empty test and then, after the manner of a fish in a trap, kept swimming around and around the periphery of its prison, thus never coming to the centrally placed opening. I watched it pretty constantly for an hour and a half and it apparently never ceased, for more than a second at a time, its
FIG. 1. A small Infusorian trapped in the empty shell of a fresh-water Rhizopod, Arcella. Camera lucida; × 630.
forward or backward motion, except that, occasionally, it halted its progressive movement and whirled around rapidly, at a rate of 100 per minute, upon its median transverse axis.
After being under observation for an hour and a half it suddenly became quiet, and, but for the contraction of its vacuole about every
25 seconds, it seemed to be dead. Then it suddenly resumed its swimming and whirling motions, which were continued, with occasional resting periods, till observations ceased at the end of the day, 24 hours from the first observation.
The slide had been sealed with oil to prevent evaporation of the water, so that the next morning the culture was in good condition, but the prisoner had escaped, during the night, from its trap.
The figure is a camera drawing, showing the animal in the trap, bent to the right, and indented on that side.
ALBERT M. REESE
WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY
A NIGHT RAINBOW
A MOST wonderful display of aurora borealis was visible on Mount Desert Island last night and had the moon not been at first quarter the brilliancy of the display would undoubtedly have been still greater. It had its base on a long, dark, unbroken band abutting on the northern horizon and shot upwards toward the zenith in innumerable streamers of vast reach, lengthening and shortening and shifting like the beams of a gigantic searchlight. Suddenly at about 10:40 P.M. a band like a gray-colored rainbow darted across the heavens near the zenith, passing from northwest to southeast and ending at a point near but not at the horizon. Though it may be common I have never seen the aurora span the heavens in that fashion. It looked like a vast single-span bridge. Beginning west of Arcturus it passed midway between Lyra and Aquila and ended far down in the southeast. At its midpoint overhead it was about as wide as the line joining the three conspicuous stars of Aquila. It seemed to be lower than the firmament, creating the impression of pulling the sky downward and giving a limit to space. Unlike the streamers first seen it did not suggest a searchlight but rather a band of delicate gray veiling, shining, yet not luminous-a night rainbow. It was densest near the zenith but even there the stars were visible through it.
For about thirty minutes little change could
be noticed in it, then it broke up lengthwise and crosswise, moving at the same time still nearer the zenith. A few moments later short parallel streamers began to shoot out from it at right angles and in a northerly direction giving the appearance of the prongs of a crown. Thereafter the long gray bow gradually vanished and in its place appeared irregular small grayish cloud-like masses moving swiftly to and fro across the zenith while short streamers continued to dart upward from the northern horizon.
NORTHEAST HARBOR, MAINE, August 16, 1918
South America. By NELLIE B. ALLEN. New York, Ginn and Company, no date (1918?). Illustrated. 12mo. Pp. xv + 413. This book seems to be one of a series of "geographical and industrial studies." The author is connected with the state normal school at Fitchburg, Mass., and the book is intended for use of "the children in our schools."
It is a book of good intentions written down to young people; and as young people are in the habit of accepting as the truth all the statements they find in print we feel at liberty to ask whether the children are being properly served. It contains a great deal of the stock information to be found in books of travel, circulars, reports and papers about South America, and mixed in with it are many things that might better have been omitted.
One of the most striking things about it is the air of artificiality and false enthusiasm that the author seems to think it necessary to maintain. It is difficult to keep up such high pressure activities, and, at the same time, to verify statements and to discriminate between trustworthy and untrustworthy authorities. The result is a demoralizing tendency towards exaggeration and sensation. For example, a pile of wheat twenty-five or thirty feet high is called a mountain of wheat" (pp. 172-3); wheat fields are 66 a sea of wheat" (p. 171); trains "shoot in and out of tunnels (p. 127); "cold storage pl are bursting
with tons of beef" (p. 162), and maté comes as solid as a rock" (p. 197).
Allowances may be made for such evident exaggerations, but unfortunately there are interspersed among them a long list of misleading half-truths, of which the following are examples: Bahia “is guarded by strong forts" (p. 86); "both men and women in Brazil smoke" (p. 86); maté "enables people to do their work and endure hardships without fatigue" (p. 195); "bread (is) made from manioc flour" (p. 201); "Brazil is larger than the United States" (p. 78), and the carriage drive over the crest of the Andes is a 66 dangerous trip" (p. 225).
Certain other statements are even less than half-truths: speaking of the Amazon region, she says the "forest is always . . . brilliant with flowers" (p. 106); as a matter of fact it is rarely brilliant with flowers. The sandstone reefs of Pernambuco and the coast are called "the great coral reef," and the coral seawall" (pp. 82-83). It is said that petroleum has been discovered in Brazil (p. 89) (it has not); that "rich beds of . . . platinum are known to exist" in Brazil (p. 89) (they are not); and, among other things, "pearls . . are mined in various parts of the country" (p. 89)!
A writer who makes such haphazard statements can hardly be expected to discriminate in regard to information of any kind. Thus we are told that Paraná means "in the Indian language, mother of the sea '" (p. 145); Dr. Theodoro Sampaio, an authority on the Tupi, says it means "like the sea" or as big as the sea." At page 103 it is said that the wet season in the Amazon valley is from November to February; Carvalho's "Météorologie du Brésil," pp. 205 and 216, says it is January to May at Pará, December to June at Obidos, and January to May on the Negro.
The palm nuts used to smoke rubber in the Amazon region are spoken of as the fuel he (the rubber cutter) likes best" (p. 119). It is not a matter of what he likes, but a demand of trade. From the beginning of the rubber industry to the present the rubber gatherers of the Amazon region have considered it nec
essary to use for rubber smoking the nuts of the Urucury palm, botanically known at Attalea excelsa.1
Of Rio de Janeiro it is said that a person who visited that city twenty-five years ago would hardly recognize the city to-day, and that "the traveler who was so unfortunate as to be obliged to stop there held to his nose a handkerchief saturated with disinfectant as he made his way through narrow, dirty, undrained streets" (p. 93). Such statements may make an effective background for references to the present healthfulness of that city, nevertheless, they are gross exaggerations. The statement (p. 93) that the people of Rio "learned from the United States how to make the city a pleasant healthful place to live in " is misleading to say the least. The fact that malaria was transmitted by mosquitoes was discovered by a surgeon in the British army. And as for Rio's beautiful Beiramar, we regret to say that there is no such a water front drive in the whole United States from which it could have been copied.
Both maps and text keep up the ancient myth about the forests of the Amazon valley being called selvas (pp. 105, 125). As a matter of fact they are called mattas by the people, and the forest map of Brazil by Dr. Gonzaga de Campos calls them mattas. But why must a foreign word be used at all? They are simply tropical forests.
But errors of statement that may be matters of oversight are of less importance than the attitude of teachers who think it necessary to use extravagant language in order to awaken the interest and to hold the attention of pupils. At page 123 we are informed that Indians have gathered the rubber, the sailors have manned the ships, and the workmen in the factories "have spent their time in order that you may be protected from the wet." There is not a workman in that list who doesn't know better. And when attention flags, something more startling than usual must be injected into it. "Did you hear that loud report? Look at the column of smoke
1 Wallace's "Palm Trees of the Amazon," p. 118.
rising in the field over to the right" (p. 267), It turns out to be nothing more serious than the workmen blasting out the rocks in the nitrate fields. And though the nitrate regions of Chile are in low hills along the western margin of a flat ancient lake bed she says the "surface of the country is all upheaved" (p. 266), and gives a picture of waste rock from the quarries as evidence of the upheaval. Fictitious resemblances between the United States and Brazil are discovered (p. 78); while "Lying in its wide mouth, as the prey might lie in the open jaws of a great serpent, is the island of Marajo” (p. 104).
Some of this writing down to students is harmless enough, but one wonders why it is necessary to use a platitude instead of plain English; for example, coffee is called morning cup," and she "explores" the streets of Buenos Aires (p. 164). All of which is in keeping with certain other hackneyed expressions, such as: Bahia bay is "large enough to hold all the navies of the world" (p. 86);
every part of the animal, except the bleat and the bellow, is made use of " by the meat packers (p. 181). The pity of it all is that when the author forgets these antics and sticks to facts and to plain English she is an interesting writer, a fact which leads one to conclude that it is the system that is at fault rather than the author of the book.
There are legitimate ways to hold the attention of students, and there is a reasonable mean between buffoonery and the dry-as-dust way of presenting instruction. The idea that studies must be made entertaining has so penetrated our schools, our teachers, and our text-books, that the seriousness of education is well nigh lost sight of in the sensationalism, extravagance, and unwholesome lack of sincerity that naturally springs from such false conceptions.
JOHN C. BRANNER
STANFORD UNIVERSITY, CALIFORNIA
PATENT REFORM PROSPECTS THE following letter is published for the information and suggestions it contains: