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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/615

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THE CHEMISTRY OF TO-DAY.

assertion be accepted as final evidence on this point, I ask attention to the important fact that the seat of the great new chemical industries of the world is that country in which the greatest attention is paid to pure chemistry. As the result of much experience in Germany, it has been found that those chemists who are best versed in the pure science are the best fitted to go into the great factories and conduct the chemical operations. Even in the technical schools in Germany the subject of chemistry is taught just as it is in the universities, in such a way as to give the student as much as possible of the pure science. If my practical brother could make a tour of the great laboratories of the world, whether in universities or in polytechnic schools, he would find that the subjects under investigation in ninety-nine out of a hundred of them are such as he would regard as in a high degree unpractical; and yet I say the experience of the world has shown that, where the most of this unpractical work is done, there the most practical results are reached. The testimony of chemists is unanimous on this point. We are therefore led to the conclusion that the most unpractical work is the most practical—a conclusion which I am sure will stand the test of the closest examination.

But I do not think that this last argument is needed to justify the abstract chemical work of which I have been speaking. Man can be improved in other ways than by ministering to his daily bodily needs. He has higher needs, and some of these are ministered to by enlarging the world of ideas. Every discovery is an addition to the world's stock of knowledge, and we are all gainers by these discoveries. The gain is not as tangible as the material ones, but it is none the less valuable. Is not the world better off for its books, its works of art? Take them away. Imagine the result! So it is with the results of scientific work. By the aid of this work we are advancing toward clearer conceptions of the universe and our position in it. Stop the work, and intellectual death must necessarily follow. The work must go on entirely independently of the question whether the results can be utilized at once or not. We need more light! Let us work for this.

 


 
Prof. Lodge, assuming that light is an electrical disturbance, reasons that all our present systems of making light artificially are wasteful and defective. We want only a particular range of oscillations, but to obtain them we have to produce all the inferior ones leading up to them. The force thus expended is thrown away. With his energy properly directed, a boy turning a handle could produce as much real light as we get with all our present expenditure. The waste is worse when we get light by combustion than with the electric lights, for then the air as well as the fuel is consumed, and the low heat-rays that are thrown out cause inconvenience as well as being wasteful. The light of glow-worms and of phosphorescence is produced without waste. We must learn to obtain light with equal economy.