Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 51.djvu/794

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When, as is often the case, a State tax is apportioned to the several counties of the State, and by the counties to their respective towns, there arises a double competition between assessors of counties in the aggregate and of the towns for making the lowest possible valuation of property, especially real estate.

In a large number of States (twenty-one in 1890) an attempt has been made to correct the undervaluation of property rightfully subject to taxation by creating boards of equalization, with power to raise or lower the valuations of county officials, with a hope of securing substantial uniformity; but this measure has not been successful, and the most intelligent members of such boards have recorded their opinions that it is impossible under the present system to effect any just distribution of the incidence of taxation.


IN Some Unrecognized Laws of Nature, Mr. Singer and Mr. Berens have restated the riddle of the universe, and have made a brave attempt to solve it.

It has not been the good fortune of modern science to give us a coherent philosophy of things so much as it has been to give us a very nice measurement of them. Its triumphs have been for the most part quantitative. "We have only so much science as we have mathematics." One might almost say that science has become a branch of applied mathematics. In the case of the luminiferous ether, and in some other departments of physical inquiry, one might even go a step further, and assert that science is mathematics, pure and simple, dealing only with signs and symbols, and quite unregardful of the realities of experience. Brilliant and successful as this treatment has been, it does not satisfy all the demands of the spirit. The old sense of wonder and inquiry is still unappeased. One is often tempted to stop in the midst of one's measuring rods and balances, and put again the old question, the eternal Why?

It is this sentiment which makes us turn with some eagerness to such a book as the one before us. It is an inquiry not into the phenomena of Nature, but into their causes, and more particularly into the cause of gravitation. At the present time, we have no theory of gravitation. The several guesses that have

  1. Some Unrecognized Laws of Nature: An Inquiry into the Causes of Physical Phenomena, with Especial Reference to Gravitation. By Ignatius Singer and Lewis H. Berens. Illustrated. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1897. Pp. 511. Price, $2.50.