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SCIENC
FRIDAY, MARCH7, 1913 PHYSICS AND DAILY LIFE1
THE school system of Germany has often
CONTENTS
been held up to the teachers of this country
Physics and Daily Life: PROFESSOR C. R.
MANN ................................ 351 as a model of perfection. Germany has
been called a nation of schoolmasters, and
On the Appearance of Helium and Neon in
Vacuum Tubes: PROrnSSOR J. J. THOMSON360 the wonderful progress of its industries
has been attributed in no small measure to
The Smithsonian African Expedition ....... 364
the rigid training and high efficiency of its
The Institute of Arts and Sciences of Co- gymnasia, its universities and its vocational
lumbia University .................. . 365
schools. Even at the present moment our
Soientific Notes and News ........... 366 country is being urged on many sides to
University and Educational News .......... 368 establish alongside the regular public sec-
ondary schools an independent system of
Discussion and Correspondence:-
vocational schools, the chief argument in
Cytological Nomenclature: PROFESSOR C. E.
McCtUNG. A Suggested Classification of favor of this plan being the fact that it was
Writings on Eugenics: DR. C. B. DAVEN- "made in Germany."
FORT. Equine Piroplasmosis in the Canal
Zone: S. T. DARLING. A Request from the Notwithstanding the fact that the repu-
American Society of Naturalists: PRO- tation of the German schools is so brilliant
FESSORBRADLEY MooRE DAVIS. Facts about
the Accounts of Learned Societies: PRo- on this side of the Atlantic, there are many
FESSORSIMON N. PATTEN. Is the "Aca- thoughtful and earnest dwellers in the
demic" Costume Worth While: J ....... 369
Fatherland who consider the training
Scientific Books:- given by their schools to be of very doubt-
Barrows's Michigan Bird Life: J. A. A. ful educational value. Thus, some twenty
Wilson and Hedley's School Chemistry,
Hale's themistry for Engineering Students, years ago Emperor William II. called a
Unger's Questions and Problems in Chem- congress of the leading schoolmen of Ger-
istry: J. E. G ........................ 372
many to consider what could be done to
Special Articles:- bridge the chasm that yawned so wide and
The Temperature Coefficient of the Coag-
ulation caused by Ultraviolet Light: W. deep between the work of the schools and
T. ovIE .............................. 373 the daily lives of the pupils. Little was
The Botanical Society of America: PROFESSOR accomplished as the result of this congress.
GEORGET. MOORE...................... 375 The schoolmen declared it were little short
Societies and Academies:- of sacrilege to experiment with schools,
The Anthropological Society of Washing- which had always enjoyed a reputation for
ton: WM. H. BABCOcK. The Philosophical perfection equaled only by that of the
Society of the University of Virginia: PRo-
FESSOR WM. A. KEPNER. The Elisha medieval monks. Since that time, the vo-
Mitchell Soientific Society: PROFESSOR cational and industrial schools of Germany
JAMES M. BELL ....................... 387
have developed alongside and, in large
1Presented at the conference of the University
MSS. intended for publication and books, etc., intended for
review should be sent to Professor J. McKeen Cattell, Garrison-
of Illinois with the secondary schools of the state,
on-Hudson, N. Y. November 22, 1912.
352 SCIENCE [N. S. VOL.XXXVII. No. 949

measure, independent of the "regular" tardation and be impressed by the enor-


schools. This unfortunate double system mous annual waste in material resources
of public schools was made necessary be- thus caused-the much more impressive
cause of two relentless and irreconcilable and disastrous waste in human resources
facts: namely, (1) the needs of the people; can never be calculated.
and (2) the "conservatism" of the school- In this state of Illinois, as you all know,
men. the crisis is imminent. The state legisla-
In spite of the fact that the vocational ture is considering a bill for the authoriza-
schools of Germany did bring education tion of a second independent system of
and life nearer together for the working schools, intended in some measure to atone
classes, the children of the intellectual for the shortcomings of the present public
classes continued their double existence in schools. The chief argument in favor of
the world and in the school respectively the proposed plan is that the schoolmen
until very recently. Day has, however, who are now in control are both incompe-
now begun to dawn on the academic land- tent and unwilling to reorganize their work
scape, and efforts, which originated among so as to meet the needs of that half of the
the teachers of science, are now being made school population which is not benefited in
to establish some semblance of a relation- any marked degree by the present system.
ship between the school routine and the In support of their argument, Germany is
daily lives of the pupils. The evils that held before us as a model, and we are urged
are being eliminated are over-systematiza- that, as it is in the Fatherland, so must it
tion, rigid uniformity and the belief that be here. In other words, the incompetency
words, signs and symbols can be made to of the teachers in permitting the proven
serve in the educational process in place of inefficiency of the schools to continue is
concrete materials and real problems.2 condoned, and we are invited to authorize
Many will doubtless recognize the sim- additional expenditures on the ground that
ilarity between the experiences of Germany others, not schoolmen, can succeed where
and those through which this country is we have failed.
now passing in the matter of bringing What would a captain of industry think
school and life to have something in com- of an analogous proposition with regard to
mon besides the children themselves. The his manufacturing plant? Suppose that a
needs of the masses for vocational schools plant and its employees wasted half of the
are only equaled by the needs of the pupils raw material supplied to it; would the
in the regular schools for mental pabulum manager enlarge the plant and take on
that nourishes them and helps develop their more hands of a different sort in an en-
characters. Can you doubt this in the face deavor to reclaim some part of the original
of trustworthy reports, like that of the City waste? Yet the idea is abroad that this
Club of Chicago, which show that the pres- sort of a procedure, obviously absurd in an
ent public school system fails to reach more industrial enterprise, is, nevertheless, justi-
than half of the school population If so, fied in school practise. The basis for this
idea seems to be the fact that teachers are
study the statistics of elimination and re-
2 supposed, to be so .conservative that they
Ostwald, " Wider das Schulelend," Leipzig,
are unwilling even to consider a new idea,
1909; Gutzmer, "Die Tatigheit der Uuterrichts-
kommission der Gesellschaft deutscher Natur- much less to adopt it.
forscher und Aerzte," Leipzig, 1908. We teachers, naturally enough, repudi-
MIRCH 7, 1913] SCIENCE 353

ate this accusation. We pride ourselves on life? Here the answer is equivocal: some
being 'the most progressive of all people. are, and some are not. Some are willing to
Do we not all use our last bit of strength try, but are placed in circumstances where
to keep up to date? Yet, where there is they are not free to make the effort. They
so much smoke, there must be some fire. are blocked by the authority that works
It behooves us then not merely flatly to from above downward-particularly the
deny the charge, but rather to analyze latter. Others express in words their will-
carefully our methods and results in the ingness to make the trial, but continue in
effort frankly to discover wherein we have deeds to run along in the same old rut.
given ground for popular misconceptions. Still others are eager to break away from
This analysis might be found to be a the present system and to strive for a more
difficult, not to say embarrassing, under- efficient one, but they do not know where
taking if it were not that the problem may to begin. In the hope of helping such as
be stated in a somewhat different way these in gaining a vantage-ground from
which permits of a ready answer. Instead which to work for the union of education
of asking what grounds we have given for and life, the following hints are given.
a reputation of ultra-conservatism, we may They constitute a brief summary of the
ask whether we have as yet succeeded in main points of agreement among those who
bringing the school work close to the lives have in some measure succeeded in break-
of the pupils. After graduation our edu- ing loose from tradition and from the
cation and our lives are most inextricably vested interests of school paraphernalia
entangled. Is it so before graduation? and equipment.
For if it is, the problem of vocational edu- The first of the false gods that holds and
cation vanishes. If the life of the child is will forever hold education and life asunder
his 'education, or if his education is his real is the idol of uniformity. How this graven
life, he is developing to serve society to the image ever came to be given an honorable
full extent of his abilities. But if this is place in the temple of learning passeth all
not true, if his schooling and his life are to human understanding. The genius of a
him two strangely incompatible forms of man, the characteristics that mark him off
existence, then there is something radically from his fellow men and give him his price-
wrong with the school. Are we then less personality, are his individual differ-
making education and life a unified exist- ences. It is because he has traits and com-
ence for the pupils? binations of traits which are different from
The answer to this question must be an those of any other man that he is interest-
unequivocal No. The simple fact that this ing and powerful or weak, as the case may
conference and other similar conferences be. In life, it is his individual differences
all over the country are considering how to that mark him for success or failure, but in
bring schoolwork close to 'child life is com- school these must be ignored and blighted.
plete proof of the correctness of this an- "Every one is best trained for his greatest
swer. We teachers stand convicted by our usefulness in life by destroying his indi-
own acts. We recognize that we fail at vidual differences, by putting him through
this vital point. the same intellectual mill with every one
But even though we fail, are we willing else"; so says the idol of uniformity.
and ready to improve and constantly to The absurdity of this idea in general
work for a closer union of education and needs not to be expanded here. It has
354 SCIENCE [N. S. VOL.XXXVII. No. 949

been recognized, and efforts have been do teachers usually take great pride in the
made to suppress it as far as programs of nearness with which their course coincides
study go. Thus there are the classical with the standardized forms set up by so-
courses, the scientific courses, the technical cial convention in defiance of the natural
courses, each of which is supposed to min- processes of the youthful mind? Were it
ister to a definite type of mind. But here not far better to take pride in the close
again the idol has but been broken into adaptation of a course to the needs of the
smaller pieces, each fashioned after the environment in which it is given ? Hence
form of the whole. This arrangement has tle first essential for bringing physics close
again proven unsatisfactory, and the elect- to the daily life is that the teachers free
ive system has done much to shatter it. themselves from the servitude of this idol
A perfectly rigid course is found at pres- of uniformity. We must become icono-
ent only in highly specialized professional clasts long enough to smash these diminu-
schools. tive images into fragments.
But the idol of uniformity still persists The credo of the idol of uniformity is
in the specifications of each single course. the syllabus. Strange as it may seem, there
It is manifestly so great an administrative are numerous syllabi, all claiming to be
convenience to have a unit of physics mean authentic. When not enforced by some
the same thing-at least superficially- pontifex maximus of the idol of uniform-
whether the work is done in Florida or in ity, these syllabi are fairly harmless.
Oregon. So the idol has been shattered Their chief danger lies in the fact that they
into still smaller fragments and each of tend to focus the attention of teachers on
these, fashioned in the likeness of the orig- subject matter. In this the syllabus is a
inal, sits enthroned in some class-room. just possession of the idol of uniformity,
In this diminutive, unobtrusive, almost un- since the latter is only an image, possessing,
noticed form, the idol still holds sway over it is true, the form of a man, but devoid of
the greater part of the work of the schools. life, of soul, of spirit. Therefore following
We have become so used to him that we do the precepts of a syllabus gives a merely
not recognize the fact that he sits between superficial uniformity-it creates an ex-
us and our goal, and effectively prevents ternal resemblance among physics courses,
our bringing about the long-sought union but does not necessarily assure them an
between education and life. inner similarity, a spirit of investigation,
Is it any less absurd to suppose that every clear judgment, scientific imagination, or
class in physics can be taught successfully unity. In the matter of bringing educa-
in one set way, than it is to imagine that tion close to life, syllabi are as useless as
every mind can be trained successfully by the idol that inspired them.
the same grind or every malady cured by Once we have freed our minds from the
the same treatment? The experiences in obsession of the idol of uniformity, we are
the lives of the children of New York City ready to advance to the organization of a
and of those in Urbana are very different. course of study that will have some chance
Can one and the same physics be doled out of bringing physics and the daily life of
to both with any hope of bringing physics the pupils who are to pursue it into close
close to the daily lives of both ? Certainly union. It is, however, useless to make out-
not; any more than you can grow oranges lines until we are well rid of the idol.
and bananas at the North Pole. Then why Assuming that this has been accomplished,
MARCH7, 1913] SCIENCE 355

there is one characteristic of the course the college syllabus were sorted out under
which is of the most fundamental impor- the heads Mechanics, Heat, Sound, Light
tance for the purpose in hand, and this is and Electricity. The topics that fell under
what may be called the philosophy of the each head were then arranged in what
course. This determines the point of view adult teachers considered their order of
or general attitude toward the subject and simplicity. Thus in mechanics, the order
also settles the method of presentation. was: Centimeter, Gram, Second. These
Taken as a whole, the philosophy deter- were duly defined without giving the pupil
mines the value of the course as a contribu- any clue as to what he was to do with them.
tion to the mental development of the These simple elements were then conm-
pupils. If this philosophy is of the right pounded in various ways into meters,
sort, the choice of subject matter is of sec- square centimeters, centimeters per second,
ondary importance; for then physics enters grams per cubic centimeter, and so on.
into the pupil's life as an integral part and The distinction between mass and weight
creates an attitude toward science and an was always carefully made, and each item
ability to solve problems scientifically. was carefully memorized so as to be avail-
This attitude and this ability once secured, able at the next examination.
the pupil will be able to read and experi- In electricity, in like manner, we must
ment intelligently for himself and so to begin with the electric charge obtained by
extend his knowledge of the subject as oc- rubbing a glass rod with the skin of an
casion may require. We will try to define unfortunate cat-obscure and pitiful vic-
this philosophy in such a way that teachers tim of science! Then followed the action
may be helped in discriminating between of two charges on each other, with descrip-
a weak course and one likely to be of great tions of the various stunts which the two
strength in uniting education with life. charges could be made to perform-how
The idea that there is such a thing as the they could be imprisoned and released,
philosophy of a course of study is probably multiplied, divided or annihilated, as the
new to most schoolmen, because syllabi and case might be. In all of this the topics
college entrance requirements have so ac- were merely described and experiments'
customed us to look only at the external presented which might serve to illustrate
form or index of subject matter as de- them and make them concrete.
fining the excellence of a course that we This organization of the course is gen-
have failed to notice its far more impor- erally called the "logical" order because it
tant internal organization. For the sake proceeds from what is to the adult physi-
of making clear what is meant by the phi- cist simple to what is to him complex. The
losophy of a course, and in the hope of philosophy back of it may be called the
attracting your attention to this most fun- encyclopedic philosophy. In this type of
damentally weighty problem, three types instruction there is usually little unity, no
of philosophy of physics courses will be repetition and no problems that are real
briefly outlined. to the pupils. The victims usually gained
The first is the old stand-by which was from it a hodge-podge of jumbled mem-
expressed in the college-entrance statement ories, a few catch phrases which they could
that physics should teach the "laws and not use rationally, and no ability in solving
principles of elementary physics." With scientifically the real problems of their
this end in view, the topics demanded by daily lives.
356 SCIENCE [N. S. VOL.XXXVII. No. 949

This method of teaching was dominant Fortunately for the children, this en-
in physics courses from about 1890 to 1905. cyclopedic philosophy has been, as stated,
During this period physics justly became rapidly declining in influence since about
one of the most unpopular subjects in the 1905. There are at present two other phi-
high-school curriculum. Since 1905 its in- losophies, very different from each other,
fluence has rapidly declined for two rea- which are striving to replace it. The phys-
sons: namely, first, it overreached itself by ics teacher must choose between these two,
so increasing the number of topics included since he can not adopt both. The first of
in the course that it became impossible for these is not so very different from the older
the pupils to make even a faint pretense of one. Its motto may be expressed in the
memorizing them all; and second, the phys- words: "The first course should give the
ics teachers themselves came to realize its pupils a general survey of the whole field
inadequacy and arose in revolt and over- of physics." In accordance with this
threw it. motto, it advocates including in the first
The chief reasons for its inadequacy were course something of everything, thereby
these: (1) It gave no unity to the course, retaining the old fallacy of too many topics.
since it failed to group the topics about the It, however, seeks to unify the topics by
great principles of physics but contented stringing them on the large theories and
itself with the superficial classification of hypotheses of physics. Thus, the pressure
subjects under the heads mechanics, heat, of gases, evaporation, expansion by heat
and so on. On this account, it gave little and electrolysis are not isolated phenom-
chance for the repetition which is so neces- ena, but are nothing but the results which
sary for the successful mastery of a subject. the normal actions of molecules and atoms
It also furnished little perspective among would, of course, produce. The phenomena
the large range of topics treated. Artesian of light do not consist of the familiar facts
wells seemed to the learner as important as of vision, but are evidently and simply the
the principle of action and reaction. (2) effects which any one would expect electro-
It took slight account of the daily lives of magnetic undulations in an imponderable
the pupils. Physics was a "disciplinary" luminiferous ether to produce. The pupils
subject, forsooth, like mathematics and need not learn clearly and definitely what
Latin, and the more distasteful it was to light actually does in their daily lives, but
the pupils the greater the benefit derived rather must master the mechanisms which
from it. (3) It conceived the mission of genial physicists have constructed to aid
physics to be didactic-to teach the pupils them in picturing how these effects might
the last word on each topic-rather than to be brought about.
help them to solve problems of their own In this method the daily lives of the
making. Principles and facts were merely pupils plays a relatively subordinate part.
stated, explained, illustrated with strange Familiar experiences are introduced after
experiments, and applied to utterly ab- the clever mechanisms of the wily physi-
stract problems like finding the number of cists have been duly set forth. For ex-
dynes that would give a mass of ten grams ample, all matter consists of molecules in
an acceleration of ten centimeters per sec- motion. When a dish of water stands on
ond. On this account it failed to appeal to the table, the molecules of water under the
the pupils, so that they were not motivated surface are more crowded together than
to act on their own initiatives. those above the surface. At the surface
MARCH7, 19133 SCIENCE 357
water molecules are flying off into the air the whole field, consisting in the last an-
and back from the air into the water. But alysis of the theories and working hypoth-
under these conditions more molecules fly eses of physics. It, therefore, does not en-
from water into air than the reverse; hence courage originality, initiative and creative
the water gradually disappears from the imagination, since the system which it
dish. Heat is nothing but molecular ki- seeks to implant has already been worked
netic energy. If the water is heated, evi- out by the masters and is so comprehensive
dently the kinetic energy of the water that the pupils have to be crowded in order
molecules is increased. They therefore dis- to cover it all in the allotted time. The
appear into the air more rapidly than be- pupils are thus very apt to pick up the
fore, and the dish dries up more quickly. terminology of the system long before the
If a bell jar be placed over the dish of terms stand for anything really concrete
water, the molecules of water can not to them and they use this terminology
spread over the entire room, but are con- freely to cover up their real ignorance of
strained to butt their heads against the jar. how best to control the forces of nature
We should expect these impacts to produce under a given set of real conditions.
a pressure on the inner walls of the jar. In the courses of this type you wil.l sel-
After a time a condition is reached in dom find a topic introduced by a daily
which just as many molecules fly from the experience or by a problem that arises from
water into the air as fly from the air into daily experience. These, to the pupils real
the water. Then evaporation should cease. and concrete things, are usually placed last
We find that it does so. Under these con- under the head of applications. You will
ditions the water vapor in the jar is said often find in these courses topics intro-
to be saturated. duced by laboratory or lecture experi-
This second method of teaching thus ments; but most of these are, for beginners,
seeks to interpret phenomena to beginners little less abstract than the dynes, atoms
not in terms of immediate concepts like and unit poles into which they are deftly
wet, dry, pounds, inches, pressure and the resolved by the teacher. A thing is not
like, but in terms of less immediate abstract concrete to a pupil merely because it is
concepts like molecules, atom, imponder- made of matter; it is concrete only when it
able ether, and so on. Here, again, the easily associates itself with the concepts
effort is made to impress on the pupils and ideas already present in his mind as
conceptions and interpretations which may the result of his previous experiences.
be wholly concrete to specialists in physics, The abstract philosophy has developed
but which are totally abstract to beginners, courses that are better organized than the
especially those of school age. For this older courses, in that they possess greater
reason this type may be called the theoret- unity. They suffer, nevertheless, from
ical or abstract method. many of the faults of the former because
It will be noted that this theoretical or they overemphasize the value of physical
abstract method has much in common with theory to beginners, and so seek to impose
the encyclopedic philosophy, especially as a ready-made system on the pupils without
regards method of presenting topics. It is justifying this procedure in advance.
of necessity didactic in spirit, since it pro- Whatever advantages this method may be
poses to impose on the pupils, not the laws supposed to have in preparing pupils for
and principles of physics, but a survey of later work in some colleges and technical
358 SCIENCE [N. S. VoL. XXXVII. No. 949

schools, the over-emphasis of physical the- different method of treatment from that
ory carries with it an under-emphasis of developed by the other two. The most
the daily experiences, and this renders important differences consist in intro-
courses of this type little adapted to bring- ducing each topic by means of daily ex-
ing physics close to daily life. Those who periences of the pupils of each class, in
adopt this philosophy may not expect to discussing these topics at the outset by the
contribute much to the solution of the prob- methods of reasoning with which the pupils
lem before us. Their work but adds weight are already familiar, in working in both
to the demands of that vast majority of class room and laboratory with materials
our people who must earn their livelihood and apparatus which are in common use
by controlling the forces of their physical outside of physics classes, and in leading
surroundings and solving life's practical to conclusions which are expressed in con-
problems in the most scientific way. crete terms, like pounds and feet, rather
The other philosophy which is now con- than in abstract terms, like atoms and
tending with the abstract for a controlling ether.
voice in the organization of physics courses This method thus takes the child as he is,
Tor beginners is quite different from that and seeks to enlarge his fund of informa-
just discussed. This third system places tion concerning what the things about him
neither the laws and principles of physics, will actually do, and to increase his powers
nor yet the theories and hypotheses of the of controlling his physical surroundings.
science at the center of its system. Instead Signs and symbols are not introduced until
of these human interpretations of phenom- a need for them has arisen and the ideas
ena, it centers its ideas about the develop- for which they stand have become fairly
ment to the utmost of the powers and latent concrete by wide association with previous
abilities of that hope of the future of our concrete ideas. Theories are not ex-
nation, the human child himself. It holds pounded until the pupils have acquired a
that physics does not exist in the schools broad and definite knowledge of the facts
for the purpose of familiarizing young and laws which the theories are invented
people with either the laws or the theories to explain.
of physics; but rather for the sake of help- The concrete philosophy thus. demands
ing the pupils to increase their powers of an arrangement which begins where that
controlling their physical environment in- required by the others ends, namely, with
telligently and solving their life's problems the daily life; and ends where the others
rationally. If this help is wisely given, would begin, with the laws and theories of
they will, of course, learn the most funda- physics. It lays great weight on having
mental facts and generalizations of phys- the pupils at the beginning of their course
ics; and they will learn them not as the- work much with familiar things in ways
oretical mechanisms which may help them familiar to them, and insists on their sol-
to imagine how phenomena might be "ex- ving many problems of their own making
plained," but as practical knowledge which by experiments with apparatus and ma-
will help them to control the forces of chines of the sort used in the world's work.
nature in daily life. Because of the nature It seeks to lead the pupils gradually from
of its central idea, this type may be called the crude intellectual manners with which
the practical or concrete philosophy. they come to the physics classes to the
This concrete philosophy demands a very more refined and rigorous methods of think-
MARCH7, 1913] SCIENCE 359

ing with which they should leave them, at of a body, we immediately estimate its size
the same time gradually increasing their by the visual angle.
fund of concrete, definite, dependable and Laws of Light. (1) Light passes off
useful information. from a luminous body equally in all direc-
This method makes it possible to master tions. (2) Light travels through a uni-
fewer principles in a given time; but, as form medium in straight lines. (3) The
the psychologists have conclusively proved, intensity of light decreases as the square
assures the pupils of a much greater chance of the distance increases.
of retaining both the subject matter studied II. Abstract.-Just as sound is defined
and the methods of reasoning used as real as undulations in the air, or some other
helps in solving the real problems of later medium, that produce the sensation we call
life. In other words, the method de- sound, so light, in the same sense, consists
manded by the practical philosophy is the of undulations or waves in a medium that
one that assures us of giving the greatest produce the sensation called light. Physi-
amount of transferable training.3 cists have agreed to call this medium which
In order to fix in mind the differences transmits light the ether. It exists every-
among the three types of method just de- where, even penetrating between the mole-
scribed, the following three samples of cules and atoms of ordinary matter. Noth-
treatment are given. They are typical of ing is known about its nature and but little
the way in which the subject of light may concerning the exact way in which light
be introduced in accordance with the three travels through it; but the masters of sci-
types of physical philosophy. ence generally agree that light is a wave
I. Encyclopedic.-A luminous body is motion in the ether, and that the vibrations
one that emits light. A medium is any of these waves are not longitudinal as in
substance through which light passes. A sound waves, but transverse. The trans-
transparent body is one that obstructs light verse disturbances by means of which the
so little that we can see objects through it. waves are propagated are probably not
A translucent body is one that lets some transverse physical movements of the ether,
light pass, but not enough to render objects but transverse alterations in its electrical
visible through it. An opaque body is one and magnetic conditions.
that does not' transmit light. A ray of A transparent body is one which allows
light is a single line of light. A pencil or light to pass through it with so little loss
beam of light is a collection of rays, which that objects can easily be distinguished
may be parallel, diverging or converging; through it. Examples of transparent
it may be traced in a dark room into which bodies are glass, air, water. A body is
a sunbeam is admitted by the floating par- translucent when it transmits light so im-
ticles of dust which reflect the light to the perfectly that objects can not be seen dis-
eye. tinctly through it. Such bodies are horn,
The visual angle is the angle formed at oiled paper, thin sheets of wood. Opaque
the eye by rays coming from the extremi- bodies are those which transmit no light, as
ties of an object. Knowing the distance brick, pig iron, wooden boards. No sharp
8For a more detailed discussion of this point,
line of separation between these classes
can be drawn; the classification is one of
see Mann, " The Teaching of Physics for Purposes
of General Education," Chap. VII.-X. New degree.
York, Macmillan, 1912. III. Concrete.-If a number of people
360 SCIENCE [N. S. VOL.XXXVII. No. 949

are asked how large the moon looks, each Where it falls on some object it makes a
will give a different answer. One may say bright spot. The sun, the opening, and the
that it looks as large as a dime, another bright spot all lie on the same straight
that it seems as large as a saucer, while a line; so from inside the darkened room we
third may say that it looks as large as a can determine the direction of the sun with
cart wheel. Then, too, the moon looks reference to objects in the room, by means
larger to every one when it is near the of the line drawn from the center of the
horizon than when it is high in the sky. bright spot through the center of the open-
Infants reach for the moon and cry be- ing. Because light travels in straight
cause they can not get it. Landsmen find lines, we judge the direction of an object
it very difficult to estimate the distance by observing the direction in which light
between two boats at sea. On the other from the object travels.
hand, when we look at a man climbing a
distant hill, he appears as but a small speck Whatever you may think of the relative
on the landscape, yet we estimate his size merits of the three types of method just
correctly. We even use our knowledge of outlined, it is clear that the only way to
the man's size to estimate the distance or bring physics close to daily life is to bring
actual size of the hill or the height of the daily life close to physics. The only
trees there. Ability to estimate distances method that assures the teacher of doing
and sizes from the way things look is ob- this successfully is that of the practical or
tained from long practise. Let us see if concrete philosophy. It is possible that
we can find the reasons for these things. other methods may be more successful
When sunlight streams through the win- when the aim is to prepare students to
dow, it traces an outline of the window on meet past or present college entrance re-
the floor. If you hold your open hand so quirements, or to pursue later courses in
that the sunlight falls vertically upon it, some of the technical schools. Other
the outline of the shadow cast on the floor methods can not, however, compete with
resembles the outline of the hand. Most the concrete method when the aim of the
of us have amused ourselves making teaching is the union of education and life.
shadow pictures, by so placing the hands Each teacher must, therefore, choose his
between a lamp and the wall that the own aim and adapt his methods to suit it.
shadow on the wall resembled a rabbit, a Let me in closing remind you of the im-
goose, a clown, or any other creature. We portance of the choice. Had education
might draw the same outline by pivoting and life been united long ago, the schools
one end of a long straight pencil at the would not now stand discredited, nor would
source of light, and moving it around the the demand for separate vocational schools
edges of the object, while the other end have arisen. A union now of education
marked on a paper suitably placed. We and life will save the situation.
can think of such a pencil as if it were the C. R. MANN
THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO
beam from a tiny searchlight moving about
the edges of the object and tracing the
outline. ON THE APPEARANCE OF HELIUM AND
NEON IN VACUUM TUBES1
When a sunbeam is allowed to enter a
darkened room through a small opening, AT the last meeting of the Chemical
its path, as revealed by the dust particles Society, Sir William Ramsay, Prof. Collie,
in the air, is seen to be a straight line. 'From Nature.