Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/640

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

we conceive a sphere of water as large as a pea to be magnified to the size of the earth, each molecule being magnified to the same extent, the magnified structure would be coarser-grained than a heap of small lead shot, but less coarse-grained than a heap of cricket-balls. The evidence in this case may be insufficient; it may become more complete; but the conception of physical units, in subsensible depths far beyond the reach of possible observation or experiment, is inevitable to the physicist and perfectly legitimate to science.

The chemist now steps in with a new view of the case. He accepts the molecule of the physicist, but to him it is no longer a unit. He decomposes it into new kinds of matter, with new properties. He resolves it into a still lower order of units, which he terms atoms. Chemistry presents us with a vast mass of observations and experiments, but they cannot be connected, resolved, interpreted, and stated, except in transsensible terms of the imagination—molecules and atoms. Physics and chemistry, in their latest and highest aspects, are compelled to fall back upon these conceptions of subsensible units as nothing less than the ultimate foundations of science.

 

 

THE INTERCOLLEGIATE SPOUTING-MATCH.

"The higher education" advances apace. We chronicled in due time the great impulse that it received at Saratoga last summer, when a mob that no man could number hustled its dusty way over to the lake to see which set of collegians could pull through the water the fastest. One of the boats came out ahead—as was rather unavoidable—whereupon everybody shook hands and uproariously agreed that this college business must be in a very prosperous way.

And now the "higher education" has taken another spirited stride forward. Half a dozen colleges in different parts of the country having made up a grand spouting-match, hired the Academy of Music in the metropolis for the exhibition, got together three newspaper editors for judges, brought on their most promising young declaimers, and let off the show before a large and admiring audience. Nothing was wanting to call out the best efforts of the candidates, who were fired by personal ambition, collegiate rivalry, auditorial applause, and impending newspaper glory, while even more peppery and pungent incentives were by no means overlooked. It is related that, on a certain occasion, the sportsmen somewhere out West resolved to have a grand fox-hunt in the true old English style. And so they came together with horses and hounds, not forgetting to bring the indispensable little beast they were going to hunt, which came secure in its cage. When all was ready, they let the fox go. The animal might probably have been trusted to run by natural instinct, but, to furnish him with an immediate motive for making his best speed, they gave him a cut with a horse-whip as he escaped. In the case of the young orators the starting-fillip was different. The high incentives might perhaps have sufficed to unseal the fountains of eloquence, but, to insure a gushing flow, an additional stimulus of $175 was held out as a premium to the winner. Whether the greenbacks were put in a purse and placed in conspicuous view of the contestants, does not appear. Be this as it may, they strove with each other, the editorial discrimination was invoked, some one got the money, and the others of course didn't; and it was agreed all around that the cause of the higher education had been moved along several notches.

Well, if the potsherds of the earth may be permitted to strive with each other, why not the colleges?—if the boys