Harper's New Monthly Magazine,  9 (1884–85), 327–31.

Editor's Historical Record



Regular Feature, News-Digest

[1] United States


Measurement, Observatories

    Records that on 14 October the International Meridian Conference in Washington dc 'resolve[d] that Longitude should be counted from Greenwich', and that the conference of forty-one delegates from twenty-five nations 'adjourn[ed] sine die' on 2 November (328).

[2] Science and Progress


Geology, Physical Geography, Ancient Authorities, Manufactories, Environmentalism, Aeronautics, Navigation, Military Technology, Electromagnetism, Measurement, Evolution, Religion, Animal Development, Extra-Terrestrial Life

    Reports that Thomas M Reade, who has 'devoted much attention to chemical denudation of the earth's surface', has now calculated that 'an average of 100 tons per square mile per annum are removed from the American continent', and comments that while 'Herodotus, who was so interested in the marvels that might be done by an "industrious river" like the Nile [as discussed in HM1/8/2/1], would have been pleased by the [...] calculations', the 'Editor of Knowledge, however, distrusts such statistics'. Observes that 'petrified wood [...] is so abundant in the United States' that 'In San Francisco there is now a factory for cutting and polishing these petrifactions into mantelpieces, tiles, tablets, and other architectural parts for which marble or slate is commonly used'. Insists, however, that 'Geologists will regret the destruction of such interesting primeval remains, and some steps ought to be taken to preserve certain tracts in their original state'. (329) In Paris, the politician Charles F H Mangon has given details of the 'voyage accomplished by Messrs. Renard and Krebs with their navigable balloon', and he concluded that the 'problem of balloon navigation was now practically solved, and affirmed that whenever France liked she could furnish herself with an aerial fleet' (329–30). Announces that Robert Lenz has suggested 'an ingenious application of the telephone to measure the differences of temperature between stations at a distance from each other' which are 'united by two dissimilar wires—say of silver and iron—with a soldered joint at either end'. If the 'temperatures of the two joints are dissimilar, a thermo-electric current will be developed and circulate in the wires' causing a telephone connected to the current to 'sound until the temperature of the ends is equalised, when the current ceases and the telephone becomes silent'. Reflecting that 'Buddhists, according to Mr. Sinnett's Esoteric Buddhism, believe in evolution "by gushes"', quotes a passage from an article in Nature by John S Gardner which suggests that organisms such as 'the Echinodermata, the Crustacea, [and] Insecta' which 'appear at once fully developed [...] and never develop into anything higher [...] seem to have been evolutionised in a very sudden manner, and as yet afford no grounds for controverting the Buddhist belief that they are well-developed arrivals from other planets'. Asks, however, 'how did they get on to, and how did they get off, other planets?'. (330)

© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020

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