Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/35

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THE SCIENCE OF THE PRESENT PERIOD.

ena, to fill up the interior of the outlined scheme, which more accurate observations unfolded in continually increasing richness." Contemporaneously with the general thoughts requiring elaboration, have arisen such new methods of research as spectral analysis and chronoscopy, making possible conclusions that had not before been thought of. Not only have the world's trade—likewise greatly enlarged to beyond any extent which it had previously attained—and numerous scientific journeys contributed an overwhelming mass of new materials to the observing sciences, but an inexhaustible treasury has long been accessible to them at the zoölogical stations. The excavations methodically carried on unobtrusively, at different points of the old grounds of culture, are inundating antiquaries with a flood of discoveries, enough to engage the industry of generations.

What can be more desirable than for hosts of laborers, satisfying themselves with the solution of minute problems, to be occupying all the places with their restless activity? Why should there not be in the pursuit of science, as in a factory, men at the vise giving valuable service, even if they do not know what is to be done with the piece at which they are filing; foremen who know how to adjust the parts, yet are not informed as to the destination of the whole; and still further sighted, more deeply initiated masters? Art also laments the lack of prominent talent under the generally elevated condition of culture; aside from casual instances of the production of talent, it may be that we are only deceived through the unremarked gradation of so many fellow-workers. The superfluity of aids at our command naturally causes a depreciation of these workers, in accordance with the accepted law of the statics of the passions. Finally, if by the force of precarious social conditions there are not only absolutely but also relatively more young men to whom science is not the exalted, heavenly goddess, but a milch-cow, that is but a small matter to the great whole. In this, as in many other human affairs, ethical and æsthetical demands unfortunately concur only in the second line.

It all depends rather on the fact that something is accomplished, less on how it is done. The more industriously and at the more places anything is done from those motives, the more speedily does the apparent interruption pass off, and the more securely and broadly is the basis laid for new advances. It may be years or decades, the time will come when investigation will collect her energies, no longer scattered through a swarm of questions demanding priority of solution, for the attack upon the highest problems now before us: What is gravity? what is electricity? What is the mechanism of chemical combustion? And what is the constitution of the elements that have not been decomposed? It will solve them, for, the more definitely we set the limits of the knowledge of nature, the more securely can we build on the possibility of knowledge within those limits. Beyond those