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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/475

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PHYSICAL CONDITIONS OF THE DEEP SEA.

accompaniment of organic growth and development. But it will at least teach us not to aggravate social ills by quack nostrums interfering with Nature's laws.

Finally, evolution will rescue political economy from the mist of words and disputation which now surrounds it by reason of the narrow basis on which it has rested. It will bring us back from the uncertainties of analysis and inference from insufficient data to the clear light of universal history—to the experience of great Nature's self, and will for the first time raise political economy from empiricism to science.

 

PHYSICAL CONDITIONS OF THE DEEP SEA.[1]
By SIDNEY J. HICKSON, M. A., D. Sc.

IT is not surprising that the naturalists of the early part of the present century could not believe in the existence of a fauna at the bottom of the deep seas. The extraordinary conditions of such a region—the enormous pressure, the absolute darkness, the probable absence of any vegetable life from want of direct sunlight—might very well have been considered sufficient to form an impassable barrier to the animals migrating from the shallow waters and to prevent the development of a fauna peculiarly its own.

The fragmentary accounts of animals brought up by sounding lines from great depths might, it is true, have thrown doubts on the current views; but they were not of sufficient importance in themselves, nor were the observations made with such regard to the possibility of error, as to withstand the critical remarks that were made to explain them away.

The absence of any evidence obtained by accurate systematic research, together with the consideration of the physical character of the ocean bed, were quite sufficient to lead scientific men of that period to doubt the existence of any animal life in water deeper than a few hundred fathoms. We now know, however, that there is a very considerable fauna at enormous depths in all the great oceans, and we have acquired, moreover, considerable information concerning some of those peculiar physical conditions of the abyss that fifty years ago were merely matters of speculation among scientific men.

The relation between animals and their environment is now a question of such great interest and importance that it is necessary


  1. Abridged from The Fauna of the Deep Sea. By Sidney J. Hickson, M. A., D. Sc. Modern Science Series. In press of D. Appleton & Co.