Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 5.djvu/113

This page has been validated.
103
SKETCH OF DR. JAMES P. POULE.

to be adapted to every stage of scientific progress. Certain peculiarities in Hebrew words used in describing the creation were here referred to.

Up to this point the existence of a personal Creator had been placed in the argument upon hypothetical ground. Dr. Smith then considered the evidence upon which this truth rests, drawing a distinction between the understanding and reason, affirming the intuitional power of reason and following the line of the great philosophers like Coleridge, Kant, Leibnitz, and Plato. A rational plan in the universe made every supposition irrational except that of a reason preceding phenomena and upon which phenomena rest.

Supposing, then, that the theory of evolution should finally be established, we find in Christianity the completion of the process, by the union of man with God in the Incarnation. This view, which presents all things as complete in Christ coming from Him and returning to Him, gives a grandeur to Nature which it cannot otherwise possess. Dr. Smith closed with a quotation from Coleridge's "Hymn in the Valley of Chamouny."

 

SKETCH OF DR. JAMES P. JOULE, F. R. S.

IF the discovery of chemical analysis by means of the spectrum be accepted as the most brilliant scientific achievement of the present century, the research by which the conservation of energy became established on a basis of exact quantitative experiment must be regarded as far more profound and important in its consequences. This great generalization, beyond doubt, is the property of no single intellect. Many men, in different countries, had independently arrived at the conception, and had furnished various kinds and degrees of evidence that it was true, but the honor of its first experimental demonstration, by which the quantitative convertibility of forces may be established, belongs to the subject of the following sketch.

James Prescott Joule was born at Salford, England, on Christmas-eve, 1818, and was privately educated at home. He early showed a taste for scientific study, and, at the age of fifteen, became a pupil of Dr. John Dalton, the chemist. This celebrated man—atomist and Quaker—came to Manchester, and became Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy in the New College; and, when that was removed to York, he remained as a private teacher of the same subjects. By him, young Joule was initiated into mathematics, and trained in the art of experiment.

Mr. Joule's attention was early turned in a direction which naturally led him to his great discovery. At an early age he took up the