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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/340

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

lines of research. Thus the objects sought are well defined; but, apart from this, the very fact that there exists an unknown area of over a million square miles creates the duty to explore it, for two reasons: First, every new fact recorded, every misconception corrected, expands the mental horizon, gives additional power to the mind, and shuts off possible sources of error—an ounce of fact being worth a ton of speculation; second, every fact is part of a network, and as new facts are observed and correlated they constantly throw light on others, and presently group themselves into fruitful combinations. The most important discoveries have been made by men seeking simply to find out new facts, without regard to their consequences, or, rather, with the conviction, drawn from past experience, that no fact is without its useful consequence, and that therefore it would be a dereliction of duty to neglect any fact within reach. Think of Volta, Galvani, Oersted, Faraday, Crookes, Hertz, Röntgen! "Shall the northern limit of America remain unknown?" is a question which appeals to every American, even though he can not tell why. It may safely be said that there is nowhere a more assured prospect of filling many awkward gaps in scientific systems than in the arctic. If it be objected that this research should be postponed to a time when it can be done safely and economically, the answer is that this time has arrived.

3. Outing.—For the tourist, the arctic, with its marvelous scenery, its inspiriting climate, free from colds and fevers, quickly doubling appetite, vigor, and endurance (as testified unanimously by whalers and explorers), is at least equal to Yellowstone Park or the Alps. The Hamburg-American line already sends an excursion steamer to Spitzbergen. "The northern limit of phthisis" in Berghaus's Physical Atlas may be a message of hope to many a stricken home.

4. Honor.—Only hypocrisy can say that it does not desire the world's applause; only ignorance can say that the world proportions its applause to service rendered. Nothing arouses popular interest and wins popular homage more readily than successful arctic exploration. Supposing that this indicates no great discernment in the public, that does not alter the fact that a popular reputation is one of the most precious of human possessions—a capital enabling its possessor to apply his labor in any direction with vastly increased efficiency. If it is proper to strive for a capital in money, it is at least equally proper to strive for a capital in fame. And if fame be won by rendering important resources available, securing a vast array of scientific facts and giving access to unparalleled wonders, will it not be as fairly earned as many kinds which pass unchallenged?

He who understands the bearing of scientific facts knows