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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/650

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

and debates, it is determined to correct this inequality of material nature by passing a law doubling the specific gravity of water in the lakes, so that ocean vessels drawing twenty-four feet of water can sail upon the lakes with little more than twelve. Is it not apparent that this single law would destroy the adjustment and adaptation of ages? Fish having been developed in water of normal density could no longer live in the lakes; the weeds and grasses which had grown upon the bed of the lakes would be uprooted by the water of double weight, to float upon the surface, and, being subjected to the sun's rays, would decompose and scatter the germs of pestilence and disease. The weight of water being doubled, it is made a little heavier than sand, so that the farms of sandy soils in Michigan and adjoining States would float away upon the waters of the lakes. Trees would be uprooted, the heavier clay soils, bridges, wharves, and railroad embankments washed away.

Then would follow an active period of legislation to neutralize the evil consequences resulting from the original interference with normal adjustments and relations. While seeking to retain all the advantages gained to commerce by the increased weight of water, law after law to restore the equilibrium would be enacted, and, where harmony and universal order once held sway, confusion worse confounded would obtain. That soils and lands might not be washed away, laws would be passed doubling their specific gravity, which would bring them nearly to the density of stone, rendering tillage very difficult and costly, while the seeds could no longer pierce through to the surface. In order that railway embankments might stand and resist these waters of such tremendous weight, the specific gravity of materials used in their construction is also doubled, but doubling the weight doubles the cost of handling and constructing, and the estimates of contractors and engineers prove worthless. Is it not evident that the waters of the lakes being doubled in weight leaves all other forms of matter correspondingly light, and the selfish propensities of men are at once aroused. Those interested in shipping desire water of increased specific gravity; those subject to floods demand legislation looking to a decrease in the weight of water; while the much-abused doctrinaire declares that the normal adjustments of ages upon ages could not be disturbed without disastrous consequences, for one law changing the relation of water to other forms of matter, makes necessary the passage of thousands of intricate laws in order to restore the equilibrium so ruthlessly destroyed, because of the vain attempt to enlarge the scope and power of one element without the corresponding diminution and weakening of all others.

In the contemplation of the material world, no discovery of