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Scientific Chronicle.


IN our last issue we referred to the words of Cardinal Pitra in which he urges that the Catholic priesthood should number in its ranks specialists in the various branches of science. In this connection, a word might be said of the relation borne to science by the clergy of the present time. The custom of maligning the Catholic Church as the opponent of scientific progress has not altogether passed out of fashion. among the enemies of Catholicity. Now it would be an interesting study to take up the history of the march of science and see how many Catholics, and especially how many Catholic priests, have been in the


We must not forget, moreover, that it is in spite of a world of unavoidable impediments that a Catholic priest must labor in this line of work. Scientific study requires leisure. Yet of necessity how little leisure does a priest enjoy! Many are the duties of his sacred ministry that tax his days and often call for much of the night. When to this is added—as is sometimes the case—the task of teaching, which usually exacts considerable preparation, it will be seen that the time remaining for deeper study or original research is at best but a trifle. Besides, it is not usual for a priest to have at his command the costly instruments necessary for even the simplest work in some of the natural sciences, and often, too, he is without means to meet the expenses essential to experiments of an original kind. Notwithstanding, there has been a great deal of valuable work done by such men. Yet the world receives very little information thereof. To an observant reader of scientific journals it is evident that there is not a little exclusiveness among some of the magnates in scientific circles. They may be unconscious of it. But it is there and one daily sees meagre results from the labor of one of their own set explained to the full and praised as of the highest character, while noble work from other hands is ignored.

True, there is not so much forwardness among religious workers. But neither is there-generally speaking-among truly great scientists; nor should the editor of a scientific journal suffer the clamors of those who lay claim to a prominence to which they have no title, deafen his ears to the modest voice of one whose work speaks for itself. Yet on glancing carelessly here and there at a few numbers of the scientific periodicals, "Science," "Nature" and "The American Journal of Science" of the past two or three years, we met with a few eminent names, which, fancying they will prove of interest, we shall here briefly review. Be it understood, however, that it is a random choice and prominent men may be passed unnoticed; but we do not by mentioning some to the ex

clusion of others wish to establish a comparison. Our only object is to name—and that solely from the sources aforesaid—a few of those who are a credit to the Catholic clergy, in the hope that some other may one day undertake a thorough discussion of the topic.

In "Nature" for December 17th, 1885, is published a letter from Father Denza, containing a thoroughly digested report of the shower of meteors on the night of November 27th. The letter is in French and, though rather long, is printed in full, showing that its contents are deemed of value. Father Denza is a Barnabite, Director of the Observatory of Moncalieri at Turin, and President of the Italian Meteorological Association. He was lately sent to France to represent Italy at the Meteorological Congress held at Paris. Some of the results of his observations on the star-shower will be found in this chronicle.

In connection with meteorology another name of note appears. In "Nature" for November 5th, 1885, is given a brief review of a pamphlet on the meteorology of China, published by Father Dechevrens, S. J. Father Dechevrens is at the head of the Zi-ka-wei Observatory near Shanghai, and his work there has frequently received favorable notice. in scientific papers. He was at one time sent to Europe at the expense of the Board of Trade of Shanghai to secure suitable instruments for the observatory. He has published a book on the "Typhoons of the Chinese Seas," which has received well-merited attention.

This question of meteorology is absorbing continual interest of late, owing to its value to commerce and the shipping in general. Observers, especially those connected with the U. S. Signal Service, have had so large a percentage of their weather predictions verified that they have been encouraged to push their observations to a further perfection. This will account for the fact that, of late, men whose reputation is founded on work of a much higher order are brought into public notice more frequently on account of meteorological contributions. Thus in "Nature" for July 30th, 1885, the editor acknowledges the receipt from Stonyhurst College Observatory of the "Meteorological Report for 1884," by Rev. S. J. Perry, S. J., F. R. S., and adds that "the work done at this observatory becomes more and more valuable every year." Father Perry was twice sent out by the Royal Observatory at the head of the expedition to observe the transit of Venus. At the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, held at Philadelphia in August, 1884, he read a paper before the Astronomical Section that was received with the highest favor. He has published a number of valuable scientific articles, chiefly on questions connected with astronomy.

Also in "Nature," for March 13th, 1884, Professor Milne of Japan has an interesting paper on earth-tremors, wherein he is not sparing of his praise of Father Bertelli of Florence, whom he acknowledges as "the father of the science of microseismology." For observing passing tremors he recommends the tromometer, an instrument invented by Father Bertelli and Professor Rossi, which he describes at length. Father Bertelli has given himself assiduously to this branch of study for a number of years

past, and "since 1870 has made many thousands of observations" connected therewith.

In the same paper mention is incidentally made by Professer Milne of Father Faura, S.J., who has become noted for his study of typhoons. At the Observatory of Manila, in the Philippine Islands, he has had admirable opportunities for storm-observations, which he has turned to good account. In "Science" for February 7th, 1883, is printed in full the result of a series of his observations made during the typhoon of October 20th, 1882, at Manila, together with the diagrams showing the several maxima and minima of the items in the report.

In the Spring of 1885 Canon Carnoy, of the University of Louvain, published a work on "Cellular Biology," which was taken up by Professor Martin, the Professor of Biology at the Johns-Hopkins University in Baltimore, who published a review of it in "Science" for April 17th, 1885. He was generous in his praise of it, and took occasion therefrom to call attention to this practical refutation of the statement that the Catholic Church and science are at war.

Also in "Science" for September 18th, 1885, is noticed Lieutenant Dyer's translation, "Practical Hints in Relation to West Indian Hurricanes," of which Father Viñes, S.J., Director of the Observatory of the "Colegio de Belen" at Havana, is the author. Some years ago the substance of the same pamphlet was translated in Ferrel's " Meteorological Researches for the Use of the Coast Pilot," in the Coast Survey reports. This, together with the fact that the present version is issued from the Hydrographic Office, goes to show what importance is attached to Father Viñes' conclusions.

In "Science" for February 5th, 1886, is a notice of the death of Father Gaetano Chierici, late Director of the Museum of Antiquities at Reggio. A movement is on foot to place a bust of him in the museum which he so long directed. His specialty was prehistoric archæology, and he has become famous for his study of the Terremares of Æmilia, where his investigations have established the existence of a prehistoric age of bronze.

Going back to the issue of "The American Journal of Science" for April, 1883, we find a notice of the first of a series of "Memoirs on the Natural History of the Chinese Empire." It is on "Trionyx," and written by Father M. Heude, S. J. Father Heude has discovered in China many new species of shells, hitherto unstudied, and has lately been enabled to erect a museum there in which to preserve the collections he has made of these and many other interesting specimens in the several branches of Natural History.

The published results of the work done at the Washburn Observatory, Ann Arbor, Michigan, are reviewed in "Science" for November 20th, 1885. The reviewer has a few words of praise for Father Hagen, S. J., in company with Professor Holden, now of the Lick Observatory in California, which may here be quoted: "The fifth part of the volume is a 'Catalogue of 1001 southern stars for 1850.0, from observations by Signor P. Tacchini at Palermo, in the years 1867, 1868, 1869,' by Rev.

Father Hagen, S J., and Edward S. Holden. The original observations. had never been reduced to mean place; but being good ones, and in a part of the sky where needed, we have here the anomaly of European work reduced and republished in this country; and Father Hagen and Professor Holden are to be highly commended for making it available."

In the same issue of "Science" a merited encomium is passed upon an invention which the Abbé Rougerie of Pamiers, in France, recently brought before the French Academy of Sciences. It is an artificial miniature of the earth, and so arranged that when rapidly rotated it indicates the origin, direction, and interference of the air-currents of our globe. So far it has worked with admirable success, having faithfully reproduced the dominant winds of both hemispheres.

In "Nature" for October 8th, 1885, we found a few words of comment on the Abbé Renard of Belgium. They were in reference to a part of that work which has given him his fame, the arrangement and discussion of the specimens gathered by the "Challenger" in her voyage for deep-sea soundings. His name is well-known in Europe, especially in connection with geological and lithological studies.

Lastly, in the number of "Science" just issued-March 12th, 1886— a brief abstract is given of an essay read before the Geographical Society of Saguenay by the Abbé La Flamme, of the Laval University at Quebec. The paper touches on both the geography and geology of that district, and its contents are of no mean importance.

Before we close we may call attention to the merits of the late Abbé Moigno, editor of "Cosmos" and "Les Mondes," two journals devoted to the interests of science and by no means unknown to scientists abroad. He has published a number of works of merit on scientific subjects.

Nor would this little catalogue be complete without reference to the remarkable work done by the Jesuit Fathers Joubert in mathematics and Secchi in astronomy. Father Ferrari, S.J., who has endeavored to continue Father Secchi's work, has been deprived by the Italian Government of the instruments which the munificence of the Popes and the industry of his predecessor had set up in the Observatory of the Roman College. His place at the Observatory is filled by a secular professor, the appointee of the Government, so that his work is now confined to the meteorological observations which the few instruments at his disposal have placed within his reach. He still publishes the old "Bollettino" of the Roman College, at present, following the fortunes of its editor,' reduced to a meteorological record.

In conclusion we have to recall that in a late number of "Nature" high praise was given to the geographical researches of two Catholic missionaries, who, in the scant moments left them from the many and arduous duties of their calling, found leisure to draft an atlas of China, which, it seems, is superior to any that has yet appeared.

The observatories, too, which are at present in the hands of the clergy, notably those of Calcutta, Kalocsa in Hungary, Malta, and Santiago in Chili, as well as those we have incidentally mentioned in the course of

this review, give promise of bringing Catholic priests into prominence as scientific workers.



THOSE Who follow the scientific movements of the day are aware that on the 27th of last November astronomers all over the world were on the watch for the repetition of the star-shower of the same day in 1872. It had been predicted in Lord Crawford's "Dun Echt Circular;" most of the scientific papers had forewarned their readers that it would take place, and on November 23d a paper was read by Mr. Lanker before the Paris Academy of Sciences on "The Shower of Meteors that may accompany the Transit of the Earth through the Descending Node of Biela's Comet on November 27th." Nor had science made a mistake. Early in the evening of November 27th the obedient meteors moved into the atmosphere of the earth, and a brilliant display of celestial fireworks was witnessed throughout Europe and Asia. In this country it had almost ceased before sunset, so that observations could be taken only on the latter and less interesting portions of the shower. The observers of Europe and Asia were more favored. Wherever there was a clear sky clusters of stars could be seen bursting forth in all directions from a point in Andromeda, traversing with slow and steady motion paths seldom exceeding an arc of 20°; then suddenly disappearing and leaving behind them tracks of light of reddish or bluish-white color. In the beginning of the display many of the meteors were equal to Venus in brightness. Throughout, the field of radiation, according to observations made at Greenwich, Princeton, and elsewhere, was an oval region about 4° long N. and S., and 2° wide, and its centre about 2° N. W. of 7 Andromeda. The number of meteors that fell has been variously estimated-the most reliable calculation, made by Fr. Denza, places the number at 150,000. Be this as it may, a comparison of the different accounts in scientific journals will show that the shower of last November was inferior, neither in duration nor in the brightness and the multitude of its meteors, to the remarkable display of 1872. From among these many accounts it may be of interest to quote the following extract from a letter of Fr. Denza to the Paris Academy :

"The spectacle presented to our eyes during the first two hours, when the shower was at its maximum, was wonderful, and almost baffles description. From all parts of the heavens myriads of stars were rained down, as though a nebulous cloud were dissolving. They were followed by luminous tracks, and many surpassed in brilliancy stars of the first magnitude. Their progress was generally slow; their predominant color red, produced, no doubt, by the numerous vapors scattered through the atmosphere. The tracks of those meteors near the radiant point were very short; many, in accordance with the law of perspective, were merely bright points. Most of them fell from the same radiant region.

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