Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/63

This page has been validated.
53
THE DIFFERENCES OF THINGS.

THE DIFFERENCES OF THINGS.
By JOHN W. SAXON.

COULD a man do himself up into a mathematical point and throw himself into the middle of infinite empty space, wherever that is, he would be surprised at the flatness of life under such circumstances. Infinite empty space is absolute sameness. It is, so fur as I have traveled the field of mental possibilities, the only specimen of the thinkable or the unthinkable of which we can say, "It is all alike."

Should we melt up the matter which is supposed to be scattered throughout infinite space, and then, by increased heat, turn it into gas, and expand it till all the systems of the universe became one infinitely-extended and equally-distributed universe of intermingled gases, we should have about as little variety as in the case of empty space.

Having unshackled the universe, and brought chaos back again, having secured a condition somewhat like that in which the advocates of the nebular theory suppose it to have been, consider what a dull time we should have if we were unable to find some little nook outside of infinite space, and, as a result, be obliged to amuse ourselves with such monotonous surroundings! It would be as wearisome as staring day after day at a blank wall without so much as a rain-streak on it.

But Nature seems to have understood that variety is not only "the spice of life," but life itself; and no sooner does she get in hand her raw material, than she sets herself to the work of creating differences. True, some astronomers reject the nebular theory; but, if not true, it will serve as an illustration. It seems to have been the great work of Nature to multiply differences. For instance, there was a time or an eternity in which Nature turned out her first owl, just as the first patent Yankee washing-machine must have had its day. But the inventors of the owl and of the washing-machine have gone on differentiating with unlike results. Most of the washing-machines are at rest. The fittest even scarcely survives. The owls are hooting still in varieties uncounted, and if, here and there, a specimen, discouraged and disgusted with the "modern improvements" of the Cainozoic period, gave up the ghost, and laid himself away with the old saurians—his Darwinian ancestors—he now finds himself resurrected, his bones neatly wired together, and the human owls hooting over him still. Like the immortal Webster, he "still lives" as a witness of Nature's wonderful resources as a differentiator—a difference-maker.

But let us look further into Nature's method of creating varieties. Shortly after the beginning of eternity, Nature began to put the uni-