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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/363

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353
RHYTHMS AND GEOLOGIC TIME.

of original versus imposed rhythm with the aid of all the light which the field evidence can cast on the conditions of sedimentation.

Neither do I think of rhythm seeking as a pursuit to absorb the whole time and energy of an individual and be followed steadily to a conclusion; but hope rather that it may receive the incidental and occasional attention of many of my colleagues of the hammer, as other errands lead them among cliffs of bedded rocks. If my suggestion should succeed in adding a working hypothesis or-point of view to the equipment of field geologists, I should feel that the search had been begun in the most promising and advantageous manner. For not only would the subject of rhythms and their interpretations be advanced by reactions from multifarious individual experiences, but the stimulus of another hypothesis would lead to the discovery of unexpected meanings in stratigraphic detail.

It is one of the fortunate qualities of scientific research that its incidental and unanticipated results are not infrequently of equal or even greater value than those directly sought. Indeed, if it were not so, there would be no utilitarian harvest from the cultivation of the field of pure science.

In advocating the adoption of a new point of view from which to peer into the mysterious past, 1 would not be understood to advise the abandonment of old stand-points, but rather to emulate the surveyor, who makes measurement to inaccessible points by means of bearings from different sides. Every independent bearing on the earth's beginning is a cheek on other bearings, and it is through the study of discrepancies that we are to discover the refractions by which our lines of sight are warped and twisted. The three principal lines we have now projected into the abyss of time miss one another altogether, so that there is no point of intersection. If any one of them is straight, both the others are hopelessly crooked. If we would succeed we should not only take new bearings from each discovered point of vantage, but strive in every way to discover the sources of error in the bearings we have already attempted.