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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/664

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

to do all we can to rid humanity of a burden so heavy to bear and so injurious, materially and morally, to every member of a civilized community.

"Gold and iron are good
To buy iron and gold;
All earth's fleece and food
For their like are sold.

"Nor kind nor coinage buys
Aught above its rate.
Fear, craft, and avarice
Can not rear a state."

 

SOME MODERN ASPECTS OF GEOLOGY.[1]
By GEORGE H. WILLIAMS,

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR IN THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY.

GEOLOGY has, from the earliest times, claimed the serious attention of mankind, by appealing to two entirely different sides of human character. In the first place, the reverence for the mysterious in nature, which in untutored men amounts to worship, has always been excited by the secrets of the earth; while, in the second place, the cupidity of man has always led him to explore the rocks in quest of the mineral treasures which they contain.

Thus we have at the very outset a theoretical and a practical interest in geology, both of which have played a most important part in the development of the science. From the earliest times and under various guises we can trace their influence side by side, and they are throughout typical of the two objects with which Nature is always studied—as an end in herself or as a means to an end—as science pure or applied.

The ultimate object of geology is to decipher the complete life-history of our planet. The biologist at his microscope succeeds by patient watching in tracing the entire existence of some minute organism. Often the most surprising metamorphoses of form and function are observed, and more than one generation may be necessary to complete the cycle of changes. Through phases far more varied and through conditions infinitely more complex, we may follow the story of "world-life." The globe, like the organism, is developing according to some inherent law of its own; while among its countless fellow-occupants of space it is hardly more than the single insect amid the myriads which compose its swarm.

  1. Portion of an address delivered at the commencement exercises of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, June, 1888.