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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 7.djvu/700

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

think not. The conditions necessary to the formation of canons are exceptional in the world's history.

We have looked back unnumbered centuries into the past, and seen the time when the schists in the depths of the Grand Canon were first formed as sedimentary beds beneath the sea; we have seen this long period followed by another of dry land—so long that even hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of feet of beds were washed away by the rains; and, in turn, followed by another period of ocean triumph, so long, that at least 10,000 feet of sandstones were accumulated as sediments, when the sea yielded dominion to the powers of the air, and the region was again dry land. But aerial forces carried away the 10,000 feet of rocks, by a process slow yet unrelenting, until the sea again rolled over the land, and more than 10,000 feet of rocky beds were built over the bottom of the sea; and then again the restless sea retired, and the golden, purple, and black hosts of heaven made missiles of their own misty bodies—balls of hail, flakes of snow, and drops of rain—and when the storm of war came, the new rocks fled to the sea. Now we have cañon-gorges and deeply-eroded valleys, and still the hills are disappearing, the mountains themselves are wasting away, the plateaus are dissolving, and the geologist, in the light of the past history of the earth, makes prophecy of a time when this desolate land of Titanic rocks shall become a valley of many valleys, and yet again the sea will invade the land, and the coral animals build their reefs in the infinitesimal laboratories of life, and lowly beings shall weave nacre-lined shrouds for themselves, and the shrouds shall remain entombed in the bottom of the sea, when the people shall be changed, by the chemistry of life, into new forms; monsters of the deep shall live and die, and their bones be buried in the coral sands. Then other mountains and other hills shall be washed into the Colorado Sea, and coral-reefs, and shales, and bones, and disintegrated mountains, shall be made into beds of rock, for a new land, where new rivers shall flow.

Thus ever the land and sea are changing; old lands are buried, and new lands are born, and with advancing periods new complexities of rock are found; new complexities of life evolved.

 

A NEW ANTISEPTIC.

CHEMISTS have long been familiar with the substance known as salicylic acid, and in the text-books most of its properties are described, as also the various modes of preparing it. Its most valuable property, however, namely, its action as an anti-ferment and anti-septic, was discovered only about a year ago, by Prof. Kolbe, of the