National Geographic, April 1889, Part 2

Report — Geography of the Sea, by George L. Dyer

We get a lot of lists of ships and ocean depths here.  Also lists of the temperatures and salinity of the ocean at different locations.  Really gripping stuff.  Why are there no charts in this article?  A few nautical charts or maps or something would have made this much more intelligible.

At this point, Dyer seems pretty convinced that oceanic currents stem exclusively from wind; things like differentials in temperature and/or salinity didn’t figure into it at all, apparently.  So, from a “so this is what things were like when people were just starting to science,” perspective, this article was pretty interesting.

Report — Geography of the Air, by A.W. Greely

At this point, I can’t even.  Really, the opening sentence says it all, In presenting to the National Geographic Society a summary of geographic advance as regards the domain of the air, the Vice-president finds a task somewhat difficult. I would think so, because, well, air. It moves, which is something that apparently the National Geographic Society was just figuring out in 1889.

This list in this article is of meteorologists and what they’ve discovered, which was actually a bit more interesting than most of the lists in this issue. Still not a page-turner, but at least something to hold the interest for a while.

Report — Geography of Life, by C. Hart Merriam

Merriam admits upfront here that he cannot summarize what others have done this year in terms of the “geography of life,” because there have been no publications on the topic.  So, he instead spends his nine paragraphs on what he believes the purpose of the Department of Life to be.

This made article one of the few interesting parts of this issue, even if it’s a bit difficult to summarize. Merriam envisions making maps of where different species are to be found and then being able to create “natural faunal districts” from them.  I wonder if he ever followed through on this plan.

Next up, more December 2015 (we go to New York City next) and then, on my roughly-weekly walk on Monday, April 11, I will keep reading July 1889.  I’m going to spend about an hour walking, so I doubt I’ll be able to make it through all of the rest of The Rivers and Valleys of Pennsylvania (I’ve tackled the first two of the five sections at this point), but I’ll give it my best shot.

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