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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/296

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

cipal events in his life since that sketch was published was his election, in 1883, as one of the eight foreign associates of the French Academy of Sciences—the highest honor that that institution is competent to confer. Besides Bunsen's personal interest in the work and success of his students, one of his most salient traits, as described by a careful and appreciative biographer in the New York Evening Post, was his absentmindedness concerning what he had himself accomplished. He was afflicted with an "incipient aphasia," which made it impossible for him to talk about them. "He could not answer verbal questions, whether oral or written. He could not have passed a decent examination in his own discoveries. Let the question come in the shape of an emergency in a chemical operation, and a wealth of knowledge would be poured out, but let it be put in words and he could not answer it." He is said to have answered a student once, who asked him about some substance, that he knew nothing about it—"You will have to look up the literature." The student looked up the literature, and found that it consisted of a single article, and that by Bunsen! Professor Bunsen prized what would stimulate him to effort, enjoyed life, was fond of travel and interested in everything human, and was a good novel reader.

 

The Unprofitableness of Strikes.—The cost of a large strike is impressively illustrated in some of the results of the great colliery dispute of 1898 in South Wales, as they are set forth in the British Board of Trade returns and the reports of the consular service. In direct financial loss, the company suffered to the extent of $100,000, and the men of $300,000 in wages, besides the demoralization from being so long out of work. To a certain extent, other districts gained what the South Wales mines lost by the diversion of trade to them, but that simply aggravated the evil in the mines, for some of this diverted trade will stay where it went. It is sometimes said, indeed, that strikes have only a temporary effect on business, from which it will recover in time. This is true, however, as is suggested in Industries and Iron, only when the locality affected has a virtual monopoly of the trade, while in the competition of the nations instances of that kind are growing rarer, England especially has many rivals in these days, eager to take advantage of every opportunity to profit by its mistakes or misfortunes, and which, when they get their hands on a good thing, are not apt to let go. Notwithstanding some strikes at home, the coal trade in the United States derived benefits from the British strike by sending to markets which the Welsh mines should have supplied; Germany sent coal to Sweden, and Belgium increased its shipments to the Canary Islands. Other countries are induced, by conditions making the usual sources of supply inconvenient to them, to a more active development of their own resources, as Austria-Hungary, Spain, and France were in the present case. So it is more than doubtful whether the present strike paid.

 

The Scientific Spirit.—The study of science, especially of an experimental science, said Prof. R. H. Chittenden in an informal talk to students of the Sheffield Scientific School, is peculiarly adapted for developing the power of independent thought, and of training one in drawing logical conclusions from experimental data. In the laboratory is afforded an opportunity for making observations, but if real benefit is to be derived from the experimental work there must be a full realization of the necessity of careful thought in drawing deductions from the results observed. Broad generalizations built on a slender foundation of fact frequently topple to the ground, and sometimes carry destruction with them, all because of a lack of that critical spirit which prompts a careful and thorough consideration of all the premises. The man who has acquired the habit of careful thought, of reasoning out each step in a process, of weighing carefully each reaction involved, of seeking in his own mind the reason for this or that phenomenon, who looks at both sides of a question, and carefully considers all the facts available, will build much more surely and firmly than he who by specious arguments constructs a glittering hypothesis, only to see it fade away. Hasty reasoning, insufficient data, obscure facts, are the bane of modern sci-