Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/353

This page has been validated.

In an hour this messenger of man's ingenuity makes its excursion through five miles of watery waste to the abysmal regions of perfect repose and brings to the light of day the soil with which the rain of shells of minute infusorial organisms from the upper

PSM V44 D353 Dredging.jpg
Fig. 7.—Dredging.

waters has been for ages mantling the ocean's floor. Here and there a giant peak rising from these sunless depths lifts his head to see the sky, and the dredge and trawl tell us that all along his rugged sides, and on the hills and plains below, and even in the inky blackness and the freezing cold of the deepest valleys, there is life.


The origin of life, said Dr. J. S. Burdon-Sanderson in his presidential address before the British Association, "the first transition from non-living to living, is a riddle which lies outside of our scope. No seriously minded person, however, doubts that organized Nature, as it now presents itself to us, has become what it is by a process of gradual perfecting or advancement, brought about by the elimination of those organisms which failed to obey the fundamental principle of adaptation.... Each step, therefore, in this evolution is a reaction to external influences, the motive of which is essentially the same as that by which from moment to moment the organism governs itself. And the whole process is a necessary outcome of the fact that those organisms are most prosperous which look best after their own welfare."