Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/381

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

the registered vessels of the United Kingdom (Great Britain) was 1712 per cent, greater during the maximum two years in the common cycle than during the minimum two years."

6. It has been further shown by the observations of Baxendell, Meldrum, Rawson, Jelinck, Wex, Dawson, Hennessey, Broun, and Brockelsby, that there is a fluctuation in the fall of rain in which the same law may be traced; that is, "a connection between the variations of the sun-spot area and the annual rainfall; the rainfall rising above the mean when the sun-spot area is in excess, and falling below the mean when in periods of small sun-spots." The monsoons are the great sources of rain-supply at Madras, in India. The rainfall cycle has been traced out in that country, and the deficiency and excess of rain connected with the great solar periodicities. The writers whom we are following say, for example, that "the water-supply brought to Madras by the southern monsoon is 2612 per cent, greater in ordinary years than in the years of minimum sun-spots." And again, "there is a rain-cycle of eleven years at Madras which coincides with the cycle of sun-spots; the periods of maxima and minima in these two cycles disclosing a striking coincidence."

7. The variation in the rainfall of India involves the food-supply of that country, and is a question of famine and starvation. Observations on the variation of water-supply, in India, of course go no further back than the introduction of rain-gauges. Commencing the inquiry in the year 1810, Messrs. Lockyer and Hunter say: "The years of famine in Madras since that date have been 1811, 1824, 1833, 1864, 1866, and 1877. These famines were caused by deficient rainfall in the preceding years, namely, in 1810, 1823, 1832, 1853, 1865, and 1876. Now, five out of these six years of drought fell within the three years' group of minimum rainfall and sunspots (shown in the foregoing tables); the remaining drought (1853-'55) extended over a year immediately preceding the minimum group, and two years within that group; the famine itself resulting within the minimum group. Three of the six years of drought fell exactly in years of minimum sun-spots; one fell in the year preceding a year of minimum sun-spots; one fell in the second year preceding a year of minimum sun-spots; the remaining drought, 1853-'55, fell in the first, second, and third years preceding a year of minimum sun-spots. . . . No famine in Madras has been recorded from 1810 to 1877, caused by a drought lying entirely outside the minimum group of sunspots and rainfall."

We have here been able only to hint at the points made in the paper referred to. The case is strong, in fact much of it demonstrative, yet it is, of course, most incomplete. Though important practical conclusions have been reached, the investigation is in its crude, preliminary stage, where the truth is caught vaguely and by glimpses rather than seen clearly and by a steady gaze. Yet it is a magnificent research, with already-assured results and a splendid promise. We commend the subject to the consideration of those who hold that science, to be genuine, must have become exact, certain, and perfect.

 

 

THE SCIENCE OF SOCIETY.

We have taken the ground in this periodical, and we abide by it, that the most important of all subjects for general consideration, and especially for the American people, is the application of science to questions of society and government. When the Monthly started, we obtained from the foremost thinker of our times in this growing department of inquiry a series of papers, in popular form, designed to present the character and claims, difficulties, limits, and expectations, of a true social science, so as to fix public attention