Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/879

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the same shore; that a considerable excess of weight prevails in islands; that the rule is inverse on the continents, and the deficiency seems to increase in proportion to the altitude and the distance from the sea; that anomalies in weight, positive in Spitzbergen, Scotland, and Corsica, become negative in continental France and Algeria; that continental anomalies increase with the altitude and the distance from the sea; that anomalies in weight can not be attributed to anomalies in the shape of the earth, and the explanation of the irregularities must be asked of geology; and that these results are confirmed by comparing Anglo-Indian and French measurements.


Relations of Floras and Geological Formations.—It is generally recognized that certain floras and certain geological formations go together; and the plants are spoken of as characteristic of the formation. One of the best recognized of these characteristic floras is that of the pine barrens of New Jersey, which was observed several years ago to extend northward into Staten Island and Long Island. In these places the flora growing upon the cretaceous and that growing upon the drift are so distinct that the fact could hardly fail to attract the attention even of the superficial observer. More recently many characteristic species of this pine-barren flora have been recognized as growing in southern Rhode Island, on Block Island, near New Bedford, Mass., on Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket, and even as far north as Canada. The question arises. How did it spread to the places in New England where it is now found? It is a southern flora, and is characteristically American. Its course of migration was from the south, either by way of the mainland through New York and Connecticut, or else across the salt water from Long Island. The subject has been studied in the light of the geology and topography by Mr. Arthur Hollick, who concludes that there was during a considerable period of time a continuous strip of land, except for the river outlets, "all the way from New Jersey to Massachusetts, separated from the mainland by a body of water occupying the trough scooped out by the glacier, which, in its present depressed and widened condition, we now call Long Island Sound, but which was then a fresh-water lake or broad river." Afterward the land underwent oscillations in level, in the course of which the glacial moraine was eaten away in places by the sea, and the present series of islands and shoals was formed.


Morals and the Nervous System.—One case of agreement between the practical wisdom of the Bible and the results arrived at by modern science was recently made the basis of a sermon by Rev. G. R. Dodson, of Alameda, Cal. Mr. Dodson described the passage of a current of nervous energy through some portion of the nervous system as being a part of every action of thinking or willing. When we think about doing something, for instance, there is a comparatively faint excitation of the nervous system; a stronger impulse causes the act to be done. Thought and feeling are thus actions which do not get beyond the limits of our own bodies. "How this re-enforces," says Mr. Dodson, "the teaching of Jesus, that not the overt act alone constitutes the crime, but that the sin is committed when the desire is cherished in the heart! Indeed, the desire is the action incomplete, restrained within the limits of the body. In I John, iii, 15, it is said, 'He that hateth his brother is a murderer.' This is physiologically true; hate is murder on the way. Lust is adultery begun." Another important relation between morals and the nervous system is that repetition makes any action easier. The nerve currents meet with considerable resistance at first, but, by repeatedly going over the same paths, they "hew out" and "widen" the ways, so to speak, until they become fines of small resistance and the actions become easy. From the close connection between thinking about an action and directing the body in the performance of it, there comes a surprising result. To be ever thinking of doing anything is to be always beginning to do it. The continual use of the nervous system in thinking of some evil deed is really practicing the deed itself—is making more pervious to the nerve currents the nerve paths which would be used in the performance of the action. Thus it is that some time, when off guard, the temptation (the physiological stimulus) comes, a surplus of nervous energy is discharged along these