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642 


NA TURE 


[October 23, 1902 


explanation by natural selection seemed very difficult. Mr. G. H. 
Carpenter pointed out how some of these cases might be ex¬ 
plained. Miss M. Newbigin and others also brought up further 
difficulties, and some speakers discussed natural selection as a 
form of isolation and as being of less importance than other 
forms. In his reply, Prof. Poulton dealt with many of the 
cases cited, and showed how they could be brought under the 
operation of natural selection. 

Finally, a paper by Mr. C. Shearer, on the early development 
of the head kidney in Polygordius and Eupomatus, and the 
usual votes of thanks to the president and officers brought a 
very successful meeting of Section D to a close. 


GEOGRAPHY AT THE BRITISH 
ASSOC I A TION. 

HE changed spirit that is coming over geography was in 
evidence at Belfast. Accounts of explorations proposed 
or executed were limited in number, and half of them related 
to the unknown Polar lands. On the other hand, papers deal¬ 
ing with the morphology of limited areas and with applications 
of geographical knowledge to economic problems, branches of 
geography which are rapidly growing in importance, this year 
outnumbered the accounts of pioneer travels. 

The president, Sir Thomas Holdich, in his address on the 
progress of geographical knowledge, emphasised the fact that 
the area for pioneer work was rapidly diminishing, and that the 
exploration required was of a more exact and comprehensive 
character, which necessitated a more restricted scene of opera¬ 
tions. He very properly insisted on the need for an exact 
knowledge of the previous work done in any region before 
attempting to carry out new investigations in it, and that the 
investigators should be thoroughly trained men. In much of 
the world, a topographical knowledge is wanted intermediate 
between that given by pioneer surveys and that of elaborate 
national surveys such as our ordnance survey, i.e. a knowledge 
sufficient to show on a fair scale the salient features, and capable 
of being adjusted to the triangulation of a geodetic survey. 
Following a recent American authority, Sir Thomas Holdich 
called this a geographical as opposed to a topographical survey. 
As geographical survey means a survey of the distribution of all 
phenomena within a selected area, and not merely of its topo¬ 
graphical features, it would be well to find another term. 
Topography and geography are too often considered synony¬ 
mous, and it does not help to an appreciation of the true signifi¬ 
cance of geography to identify it with a topography. Why 
not simply say large- and small-scale topographical surveys? 
The president of Section E is the last man to limit geography 
to topography, as many paragraphs in his address showed, 
although as a surveyor of long and special experience he 
naturally dwelt most fully on map making. 

The travel papers were of a high standard. The audience 
had to listen, not to uninteresting extracts from diaries, but to well- 
digested summaries of results. Major Molesworth Sykes dis¬ 
cussed the geography of southern Persia, in a paper which might 
equally well be classed among those applying geographical 
knowledge to practical needs. He pointed out the influence 
of the dry, barren conditions of southern Persia and Baluchistan, 
bounded by an inaccessible coast and so escaping invasion from 
the s£a, in determining a hardy, warlike race, which has held 
in subjection the plains of Mesopotamia and even of India. He 
traced the influence of physical features on trade routes and the 
new telegraph line. Part of his paper was a contribution to 
physical geography, for it dealt with the changes of the bed of 
the Helmand River. He remarked that the desert of Lut is 
traditionally associated with Abraham’s nephew, and condemned 
our maps for distinguishing between it and the Dasht-i-Kavir, 
as Kavir is the name of Arabic origin applied to all saline 
portions of Dasht-i-Lut, the general name for the whole desert 
area. A very .serviceable paper was communicated by Captain 
Ryder on hilly Yunnan, in which the possibility of the much- 
discussed railway line from Burma was not denied, though 
its utility or financial success was. The natural route was by the 
Red River through Tongking, and a railway would soon be ready 
through the French territory. Mr. Hawes, an energetic young 
Cambridge graduate, told us how he could find out so little 
about Sakhalin that he visited it to discover for himself what 
it was like. It is almost as long as from the Shetland to Land’s 
End, rises to about 5000 feet as Great Britain does, has two 

NO. 1721, VOL. 66] 


rivers each about 300 miles in length, and is covered with the 
forest primeval, wherein bear, wolf, fox, sable, reindeer and 
other animals wander. The climate is one of extremes, but 
popular ideas about a perpetual fog enshrouding it must be 
abandoned. The natives are the Ainus, Gilaks, Orochons, 
Yakuts and Tunguses, but the majority of the inhabitants are 
Russian exiles, few of whom are political prisoners. The Rev. 
W. S. Green brought us to a little island nearer home and 
showed views of Rockall. Prof. Libbey, of Princeton Uni¬ 
versity, described his recent visit to Petra and showed mag¬ 
nificent views of its impressive rock temples, tombs and still 
older “high places” of Moab, and of the gorges through which 
this depression is reached. 

Prof. Libbey read a prophetic note from Sir Clements Markham 
on the Sverdrup North Polar Expedition, and subsequently gave 
a graphic account of the expedition to renew Peary’s supplies two. 
years ago, in which he took part. Both communications expressed 
belief in the safety of these explorers, and were verified within a 
few days. Interest, however, was concentrated on the South 
rather than on the North Polar regions. Dr. Mill gave one of his 
admirably lucid expositions, in which he traced the sequence of 
ideas about a great southern continent and the various phases 
of Antarctic exploration. A crowded audience listened .to Mr. 
Bruce’s account of the plans of the Scottish National Antarctic 
Expedition, which will concern itself mainly with ocean¬ 
ographical and meteorological investigations, for which it is 
exceptionally well equipped. M.uch is hoped from the kite 
flying by the meteorologists, for w'hich elaborate apparatus has 
been provided. The audience sympathised greatly with Mr. 
Bruce, who has unhappily found himself compelled practically to 
rebuild his ship, the Scotia, at the cost of transforming an 
estimated surplus of 2000/. collected above the sum required 
for the expenses of one year’s work into a deficit of 4000/. 
A grant of 50/. was voted by the Association to the expedition. 

Of physical papers, that which attracted most attention was 
Prof. J. Milne’s account of world-shaking earthquakes, with special 
reference to the recent volcanic eruptions in the West Indies, of 
which 93 per cent, are submarine. He associated periods of 
volcanic activity with periods of upheaval, and those Antillean 
eruptions of which we possess records with huge readjustments 
of the Hispaniola-Jamaica fold or of neighbouring folds on the 
American continent. A report was read by the Committee on 
Terrestrial Surface Waves and Wave-Like Surfaces, which was 
drawn up by Dr. Vaughan Cornish, whose well-known recent 
work was outlined in it. 

Prof. Libbey discussed the evolution of the Jordan Valley, 
the origin of which he traced to a rift at the close of the 
Cretaceous period. It was subsequently widened and deepened 
by ice action to the Sea of Galilee, if not throughout its whole 
length ; then submerged nearly as far north as the Sea of Galilee 
and covered with 4000 feet of sedimentary deposits, which were 
afterwards gradually elevated, the stream cutting its bed through 
them the while. Some 3000 feet of this sedimentary rock, were 
removed when conditions altered, and probably the glacier dis¬ 
appeared or the water supply, failed, or the rate ol elevation 
increased, or all three took place and connection with the ocean 
was blocked. After 1000 feet of rise, the present conditions 
were obtained. Mr. Herbertson read a note on the windings of 
the Evenlode, and suggested that we must look some 150 feet 
above the present level, where the river flowed over Oxford 
Clay, for their initiation. Mr. Porter traced the origin of the 
valleys of county Cork, which change abruptly from one strath 
to another, to glacial interference, and explained the meridional 
character of many tributary glens as the outcome of faulting plus 
the rapid flow of pre-Glacial streams. Prof. W. W. Watts 
described the features of Charnwood Forest, where old mountains 
rise abgve Triassic deposits which cover their lower slopes, 
these slopes being here and there exposed in the river valleys. 
He compared the Triassic landscape in Charnwood Forest with 
that of the Great Basin of North America at the present day. 

A report was read from Dr. T. N. Johnston on the Scottish 
Lakes Survey, in which the seiches which have been recently- 
observed were described and illustrated by curves. (See 
Natdre, June 12.) 

The only paper on biological geography was that by Mr. 
Lloyd Praeger on geographical plant groups in the Irish flora. 
A careful analysis of the distribution of plants in Ireland reveals 
the existence of several fairly well-defined types. There is a 
marked tendency to a “ central ” or “ marginal ” distribution, 
the result of the configuration of the country, the central group 


© 1902 Nature Publishing Group 








October 23, 1902] 


NATURE 


643 


being largely composed of lowland, calcicole, and aquatic or 
paludal species; the marginal of calcifuge, upland and dry-soil 
plants. Well-marked northern and southern, eastern and 
western groups also exist, the boundaries between them consist¬ 
ing of lines running not exactly east and west or north and 
south, but rather north-north-eastward from Cork to London-' 
derry and east-north-east ward from Galway Bay to Dundalk 
Bay. For these six types of distribution the author proposes 
the names Central, Marginal, Ultonian, Mumonian, Lagenian, 
Connacian, the last four being taken from the old names of the 
four provinces of Ireland, in each of which one of the groups 
attains its maximum. The characters of each plant-group, and 
its relations to the climatological and physiographic features of 
the country, were pointed out. 

Two papers of economic importance were read. Prof. John¬ 
ston showed the distribution of peat bogs in Ireland by means 
of a new map prepared by the Intelligence and Statistical Branch 
of the Irish Agricultural and Technical Instruction Department. 
They cover 1861 square miles, chiefly in counties Donegal, 
Mayo and Galway, and have an average depth of 25 feet. An 
account was given of the character of the different layers of a 
bog as seen in a vertical section, and an explanation suggested 
of the origin of a bog-slide. Specimens of the bog-flora, of the 
different kinds of peat and of the economic products derivable 
from turf or peat, lent from the botanical collections of the 
National Museum in Dublin, were exhibited. The second paper, 
by Mr. R. B. Buckley, on colonisation and irrigation in Uganda 
and the British East African Protectorate, began with a clear 
picture of the existing physical and economic conditions of these 
dependencies, and enunciated comprehensive and judicious views 
as to their development in the future. The question of irrigation 
was exhaustively treated, and the author concluded that the 
prospects of great transformations taking place through its aid 
are not very hopeful. A. J. H. 


ENGINEERING AT THE BRITISH 
ASSOC I A TION 

N Thursday, September u, after the president’s address, 
a paper by Mr. II. A. Humphrey on recent progress in 
large gas engines was read. This paper, which was illustrated 
by lantern slides, gave an account of the extraordinary develop¬ 
ment of large gas engines which has taken place during the 
past few years, and which has, as the author said, had but few 
parallels in the history of engineering enterprise. In the Paris 
Exhibition of 1900, a 600 h.p. Cockerill gas engine was, from its 
size, the object of much interest. The same makers are now 
building engines of 2500 h.p., and they are prepared to under¬ 
take one to develop 5000 h.p. In this country it is only as 
recently as 1900 that engines above 400 h.p. have been made, 
the first two being constructed for Messrs. Brunner, Mond and 
Co.’s works at Winnington, yet when the paper was written 
(August) the two chief manufactories in Great Britain had under 
contract or had already delivered no less than fifty-one gas 
engines ranging in size between 200 and 1000 h.p. But it is 
on the Continent and in America that the most remarkable 
advance has been made. The author gave in a very complete 
table particulars of all engines of more than 200 h.p. capacity 
which have been built abroad or are under construction, the 
total amounting to 327 engines, developing 181,605 h.p. Slides 
shown by the author illustrated the various uses to which these 
large gas engines have been put so far, such as dynamo driving, 
air compression for blast-furnace work, and other similar uses. 
Perhaps the most interesting detail in connection with this in¬ 
crease in the size of gas engines has been the use of blast-furnace 
gas for working them. The author in the latter part of his paper 
explained in some detail the improvements in construction and 
governing which have made these large engines possible, in 
particular the changes which have been necessary in the old 
“hit and miss” governor mechanism, where, as in dynamo 
driving, perfect uniformity of speed is necessary. As several 
large engineering firms in. this country have now acquired the 
rights for manufacturing some of the most successful foreign 
types of these engines, there is little doubt that we are on the 
eve of important developments in this country in the gas-engine 
industry, especially in the utilisation of producer and of blast¬ 
furnace gases. 

In the afternoon of September n, the Section made a special 
visit to the harbour works, under the guidance of the engineers 

NO. 1721, VOL. 66] 


to the Belfast Harbour Commissioners, in order that members 
might see for themselves some of the remarkable developments 
which have taken place in Belfast Harbour and have been brought 
about by constant increase in the size of ocean steamships. 

On Friday, September 12, the first 'paper was a brief com¬ 
munication by the Hon. C. A. Parsons on steam turbines, 
in which figures were given to show the rapid increase in the 
use of the compound turbine since 1884. Up to 1890, though a 
number of compound turbines had already been constructed for 
driving dynamos, the largest size had not exceeded 120 h.p., 
the total h.p. at that date being 5000; by 1896 the total h.p. 
had increased to 40,000 and the largest individual plant to 
600 h.p., and now the largest unit has increased to 3,000 hp . 
and the aggregate h.p. sold in Great Britain to 200,000. On 
the Continent, also, their use has been rapidly extending, and 
the total aggregate of horse-power at home and abroad for driving 
dynamos up to the present time is not far short of 300,000. As 
a proof of the remarkable economy obtained in the very large 
machines, the author stated that a steam consumption of 
I7*3lb. per kilowatt hour had been recorded during a test of 
a 1000 kilowatt continuous-current machine belonging to the 
Newcastle and District Electric Light Company ; this would 
be equivalent to about io’2lb. of steam per i.h.p. hour, 
a very remarkable figure, and he anticipates still greater 
economy in the future in turbines of large size when using 
superheated steam. Many engineers had feared that these 
machines would fall off notably in their economy after they 
had been running for some time, but the author stated that care¬ 
ful tests had now been made with several plants to determine 
the steam consumption after the machinery had been in, use 
for several years, and no appreciable increase had been found. 
The second half of the paper was devoted to an account of the 
application of the steam turbine to marine work ; seven vessels 
have so far been fitted with turbine engines, including the two 
unfortunate destroyers—the Cobra and the Viper —and the two 
well-known Clyde passenger boats—the King Edward and the 
Queen Alexandra. In addition to these, a third-class cruiser, the 
Amethyst , would shortly be completed, and orders have recently 
been placed on the Clyde with Messrs. Denny Bros, for the 
construction of two cross-channel boats which are to have 
turbine engines of about 8000 h.p. ; this means a total of about 
83,000 h.p. in use or in construction. Mr. Parsons stated that 
if the coal consumption of the Duchess of Hamilton (fitted with 
ordinary reciprocating compound engines) was compared with 
that of the King Edward , and if various allowances for the 
difference in speed of the two boats and for various other factors 
were made, then the turbine boat showed a saving of 20 per 
cent. ; he again, as at the Dover meeting, prophesied the 
eventual use of turbine engines for Atlantic liners, cruisers and 
battleships. In his reply to a brief discussion, in which several 
points were raised with regard to the use of superheated steam 
in the turbines, the author stated that he estimated a gain of 
efficiency due to superheating of about 1 per cent, for every 
10° of superheat. 

The next matter dealt with by the Section was the report of 
the Committee on the Resistance of Road Vehicles to Traction, 
the first eleven sections of which were devoted to a complete 
Hsumd of the experimental work which has already been carried 
out on this subject, and to a summary of the opinions which 
have so far been expressed (based on these experiments) of the 
effects on traction on the level of the three independent elements 
of road resistance, namely, axial friction, rolling resistance and 
grade resistance. The last two sections of the report were 
devoted to a brief description of the special apparatus which 
has been designed and made by the Committee ; the first series 
of experiments undertaken will be confined to measurements 
of the resistance of single wheels. The tractive force will be 
transmitted through a system of levers to a small ram which 
presses upon a rubber diaphragm enclosing a space filled with 
water or other liquid ; the pressure exerted by the levers on the 
ram will vary with the tractive force, and the consequent varying 
fluid pressure will be registered by a recording pressure gauge 
of the Bourdon tube type, and since the drum of the instrument 
carrying the recording paper will be rotated in strict accordance 
with the movements of the car, a diagram will be drawn giving 
the tractive force at all points on the journey. The instrument 
has been so designed that the leverage on the ram can be altered 
to ensure diagrams of a reasonable size even when the tractive 
force is very small, and a revolution counter will be used for 
obtaining independently the revolutions of the experiment 


© 1902 Nature Publishing Group