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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/180

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Far be it from me to depreciate the value of the gifts of science to practical life, or to cast a doubt upon the propriety of the course of action of those who follow science in the hope of finding wealth alongside truth, or even wealth alone. Such a profession is as respectable as any other. And quite as little do I desire to ignore the fact that, if industry owes a heavy debt to science, it has largely repaid the loan by the important aid which it has, in its turn, rendered to the advancement of science. In considering the causes which hindered the progress of physical knowledge in the schools of Athens and of Alexandria, it has often struck me[1] that where the Greeks did wonders was in just those branches of science, such as geometry, astronomy, and anatomy, which are susceptible of very considerable development without any, or any but the simplest, appliances. It is a curious speculation to think what would have become of modern physical science if glass and alcohol had not been easily obtainable; and if the gradual perfection of mechanical skill for industrial ends had not enabled investigators to obtain, at comparatively little cost, microscopes, telescopes, and all the exquisitely delicate apparatus for determining weight and measure, and for estimating the lapse of time with exactness, which they now command. If science has rendered the colossal development of modern industry possible, beyond a doubt industry has done no less for modern physics and chemistry, and for a great deal of modern biology. And as the captains of industry have, at last, begun to be aware that the condition of success in that warfare, under the forms of peace, which is known as industrial competition, lies in the discipline of the troops and the use of arms of precision, just as much as it does in the warfare which is called war, their demand for that discipline, which is technical education, is reacting upon science in a manner which will, assuredly, stimulate its future growth to an incalculable extent. It has become obvious that the interests of science and of industry are identical; that science can not make a step forward without, sooner or later, opening up new channels for industry; and, on the other hand, that every advance of industry facilitates those experimental investigations upon which the growth of science depends. We may hope that, at last, the weary misunderstanding between the practical men who professed to despise science, and the high-and-dry philosophers who professed to despise practical results, is at an end.

Nevertheless, that which is true of the infancy of physical science in the Greek world, that which is true of its adolescence in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, remains true of its riper age in these latter days of the nineteenth century. The great steps in its progress have been made, are made, and will be made, by men who seek

  1. There are excellent remarks to the same effect in Zeller's "Philosophie der Griechen," Theil. II, Abth. ii, p. 407, and in Eucken's "Die Methode der Aristotelisehen, Forschung," pp. 138, et seq.