Sixth Meeting: 20th September, 1893.
Major-General Schaw, President, in the chair.
New Members.—Miss Malcolm and Mr. Dawson.
Papers.—1. “On Spiders' Bridges, or Spiders as Engineers,” by Coleman Phillips. (Transactions, p. 600.)
2. “On a Common Vital Force: Section I.—Similarity of Construction,” by Coleman Phillips. (Transactions, p. 604.)
General Schaw said it was the universal practice to stay suspension-bridges now. The one over Niagara was an instance of this; it was stayed in every direction, especially downwards.
Mr. Hudson said it was not yet known how spiders threw and connected the web; the vision of the spider was supposed to be limited to an inch or so; butterflies saw a longer distance. He referred to the progressive development and improvement, and instanced the bee in connection with this.
Mr. Maskell did not think a spider could see to throw a web the distance mentioned, nor did he think they deliberately constructed these bridges. What did Mr. Phillips mean by “common vital force”? He could not agree with Mr. Phillips in thinking there was no difference between the instinct of an animal and the natural intelligence of man.
Mr. T. W. Kirk had seen such bridges as described by Mr. Phillips; the stays were sometimes 20ft.
Mr. Hulke mentioned that a Captain Brown was the first to build a suspension bridge, and took for his model a spider's bridge.
Mr. Harding could not see how “common vital force” had anything to do with the question. Man would no doubt follow the same course to do a thing that animals did, but the difference was that animals did not
improve; the wonder would be if different ways were found to do these things.
Mr. H. B. Kirk said it was only when intelligent animals did such things that we could compare their work with that of man. Mr. Phillips had treated this subject in a new way, but there was really nothing new in it.
Mr. Phillips, in reply, said that the subject would be more fully treated in further papers he was now engaged on. He referred to his former paper on “Common Vital Force,” which he said would answer some of the questions he was now asked to explain.
The Chairman hoped Mr. Phillips would continue his researches, and complete these interesting papers.
3. General Schaw gave an account of a remarkable phenomenon observed at Invercargill towards the end of last month (August), at 11 p.m., by Mr. Stock, son of the Ven. Archdeacon Stock. (Transactions, p. 545.)
Mr. Tanner said he had seen finer sights in the heavens in the neighbourhood of Invercargill than in any other part of New Zealand. He had once seen what appeared to be two suns on the horizon, and could not account for it.
Mr. Maskell had come suddenly into a warm region when travelling in Canterbury; probably this was caused by two bands of mist with a warm band between.
Mr. H. B. Kirk thought these warm patches were generally in sheltered places.
Mr. Phillips had seen bright lights at night in the Wairarapa district, and could not account for them.
4. Mr. G. V. Hudson exhibited five species of New Zealand Neuroptera (or lace-winged flies), and gave a short description of each. (Transactions, p. 105.)