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Messrs. Channing, Agassiz, Eliot, A. Gray, Shurtleff, and Emerson were appointed a committee to consider the propriety of a course of public lectures to be given by Fellows of the Academy, or other ways of increasing the fund for publication.
Professor Agassiz offered by title two papers :
1st. Monograph of the North American Crawfishes (Astacidea).
2d. Investigation of some Points of the Natural History of the Higher Animals, bearing upon the Origin, Unity, and Diversity of Man.
Three hundred and sixty-fourth meeting.
June 22, 1852. — Monthly MEETING. The CORRESPONDING SECRETARY and subsequently the PRESIDENT in the chair.
Professor Agassiz, in behalf of the committee appointed to consider the best means of increasing the Academy's publication fund, reported that the committee were unanimous in recommending that a course of public lectures of a popular character be given by Fellows of the Academy during the ensuing winter; that the President be requested to commence the course by an address, setting forth the objects and aim of the course, and that each Section of the Academy appoint one of its number to deliver one lecture upon some special subject belonging to, and prominent in, the Section's sphere of research.
He offered the following resolution : • Resolved, That the President appoint a committee of twelve, consisting of one Fellow from each Section of the Academy, whose duty it shall be to call together their respective Sections for the selection of lecturers ; and to appoint a sub-committee for attending to the necessary arrangements for the delivery of the course of lectures."
The resolution was adopted, and the following gentlemen were appointed, the President, on motion of Mr. Emerson, being requested to represent the Section of Botany : Messrs. Peirce, J. I. Bowditch, Lovering, Treadwell, Alger, J. Bigelow, Agassiz, H. I. Bowditch, Bowen, Felton, Everett, Eliot.
On motion of Dr. B. A. Gould, it was “Voted, That, with a view to the speedy and permanent adoption of some classification of the Academy into Sections, the arrangement as already reported by the committee be printed for better examination by Fellows."
Professor Agassiz called the attention of the Academy to some facts in natural history throwing light upon and illustrating the diversity of origin of the human race.
In the first place, he showed that there were a number of animals, among which were particularly to be instanced the anthropoid monkeys, which offered the same difficulties to the zoologist in classifying them that are offered by the different human races. The orang-outangs, which have been divided by some into four species, have been considered by other naturalists as forming but a single one. The genus of longarmed orangs (Hylobates) is considered by some as containing eleven species, while others make but two or three. The lions of Asia and Africa, which, resembling one another too closely to permit of a proper distinction as two species, present points of difference far too marked to allow the idea of any genetic connection. Mr. Agassiz also instanced several other analogous cases among vertebrated animals.
Secondly, the areas within which the several varieties of such animals are confined are not very different in extent from those within which distinct human nationalities have been developed and have fulfilled their respective missions, such as Greece, Italy, Spain, &c.
The languages of different races of men were neither more different nor more similar than the sounds characteristic of animals of the same genus, and their analogy can no more be fully accounted for on any hypothesis of transmission or tradition than in the case of birds of the same genus, uttering similar notes in Europe and in America.
In the last place, Mr. Agassiz spoke of the character of the differences between the several divisions in man and in many of the lower animals ; divisions too marked to be deemed simply varieties, and yet not sufficiently great to constitute a proper basis for a classification into different species. They might, with more propriety, be termed races. The different kinds of dogs, breeds of cattle, &c. were instances of this sort of difference. Animals, differing only in race, form more frequent connection with one another than those differing specifically, and the fruit of connections of the latter kind, like the mule, the mulatto, or the mongrel, were intermediate between the two parents, and still capable of producing to a certain extent.
Three hundred and sixty-fifth meeting.
July 13, 1852. — MONTHLY MEETING. The PRESIDENT in the chair. Professor Peirce presented a communication upon the Solution of Equations by the Means of Geometric Diagrams.
Professor Peirce also presented a communication upon the form assumed by an elastic sac containing a fluid.
The positions of unstable equilibrium he found to divide themselves into four special forms, the annular, cylindrical, that of the cylinder with a bilateral character, and the double or multiple cylinder. The ultimate form of the first case is a sphere.
He also alluded to the interest of this fact to those who were not themselves mathematicians. For the primitive forms which Professor Agassiz had found to be the four types of the animal kingdom were the same, the Radiata being represented by the sphere, the Mollusca by the cylinder, the Articulata by the bilateral, and the Vertebrata by the double cylinder. Now, as all animal forms begin as elastic sacs, containing fluids, these forms seem the necessary ones for the condition of equilibrium.
This led to a discussion, in which Messrs. Eustis and Peirce took part.
Professor Wyman exhibited to the Academy some fossil bones from New Zealand, evidently the thigh-bone, tibia, and tarsus of some one of the largest birds, probably either the Dinornis or Palapteryx. The tarsus was especially interesting, as exhibiting the rudiments of two bones besides the developed one, bones of which no traces exist in other birds except in the embryonic state ; a phenomenon analogous to that occurring in the metatarsal bones of Ruminants.
Professor Peirce communicated some observations of Messrs. South worth and Hawes, daguerreotypists, in relation to photographic images taken for the stereoscope. They had found in practice, that, when two points of view were in a horizontal line, the image as seen in the stereoscope appeared distorted, in consequence of the horizontal lines not being represented in relief, like the vertical ones. They had, however, observed that the best images were produced when the position of the two points of view was such that the vertical component was equal to the horizontal one.
Professor Peirce stated that he had seen a number of phototypes taken in each way, and that he was able to confirm the statements of Messrs. South worth and Hawes, that portraits taken with two points of view on the same level had a peculiarly unpleasant effect.
Professor Lovering reminded the Academy that Leonardo da Vinci had pointed out the impossibility of representing objects correctly in pictures when their distance from the eyes was within a certain limit.
Dr. B. A. Gould said that the circumstance of objects appearing in relief when observed in ordinary binocular vision might be explained like the outness recognized in monocular vision, by means of the imaginative and suggestive faculties acting unconsciously on reflection. It seemed but natural that a difference of level in the points of view should be necessary to make relief manifest in systems of horizontal lines.
The discussion was continued by Messrs. Peirce, Gould, and C. T. Jackson.
Professor Eustis gave a new demonstration of the property of the ellipse, that the subtangent is independent of the conjugate axis. He showed that this led to a more simple construction than any other given.
Three hundred and sixty-sixth meeting.
July 26, 1852. — ADJOURNED Monthly MEETING. The President in the chair.
The Corresponding Secretary presented a paper from Dr. Leidy of Philadelphia, upon the Osteology of the Hippopotamide.
Professor Peirce continued his remarks upon the forms assumed by an elastic sac containing fluid, and stated that he had succeeded in reproducing them artificially by the use of gum, the force of gravity being eliminated, as in Plateau's experiments, by immersing the gum in a mixture of alcohol and water of the same specific gravity.
Three hundred and sixty-seventh meeting.
August 10, 1852. — QUARTERLY MEETING. The President in the chair.
Dr. Pierson offered a tribute to the memory of the late Thomas Cole, Esq., a Fellow of the Academy; after a sketch of Mr. Cole's life and labors, he offered the following resolutions, which were unanimously adopted :
“ Resolved, That the Academy deplores, in the death of its late Fellow, Thomas Cole, Esq., of Salem, the loss of a valuable and active associate, whose simplicity of mind, sincerity of heart, and in. tellectual acquirements, the result of years of persevering industry, peculiarly fitted him for scientific pursuits, and acquired for him a cordial regard from all who knew him.
“ Resolved, That the Academy sincerely condole with his bereaved family in the affliction occasioned by his sudden decease.
“ Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be transmitted to the family of the deceased.”