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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/245

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241
PRACTICAL VALUE OF PURE SCIENCE

other; alternate, when some of the hybrids are like one parent and some like the other; and the so-called unisexual inheritance, when all the hybrids tend to resemble one particular parent. Entirely new and unexpected fields of experimentation have been brought out by Mendel's study of alternate, and De Vries's examination of unisexual inheritance. This theoretical work also teaches that in practise attention should be given not so much to the whole individual as to the particular quality desired. The remarkable work of De Vries, the most important in evolution since the time of Darwin, would tend to show that though new forms may be produced by crossing, such crosses are usually not permanent, but tend to revert. De Vries's particular contention is that stable new forms, those that breed true, are not produced gradually by selection or otherwise, but arise suddenly and only in particular mutation periods. This introduces an entirely new attitude in the matters of selection and cross-breeding, and there can be no doubt that the scientific decision of these great problems will come to exert a great influence upon the progress of agriculture. It is the work of theorists that is here directing, stimulating and explaining, and it is changing the present haphazard experimentation, with its great loss of time and money, into accurate control.

If farmers would only do a little experimenting on their own account, each laying aside a small piece of ground for making tests, they would learn more of practical advantage than by following, year in and year out, the methods handed down by their forefathers. They would be doing a little scientific explanation, and though this might not immediately give them an additional bale of cotton, in time it would give them much more than that and would fill them with greater interest for their daily labors. The farmers are the backbone of the nation, and that spine must not get the rheumatism. A man must look before he leap, and science does the looking. As Franklin put it: "The eye of a master will do more work than both his hands." Indeed, the farmer comes into close touch with biological problems because his business is directly with plants and animals, and though he does not know it he is really a biologist in the rough. When the competition for market becomes keener, and it continues to do so as men become more trained, only he will be able to succeed who is armed with a working theory and by means of it aims at better results. In farming it is not the land so much as the man. To get at a new plan so as to use his time and brawn to the best advantage, the farmer must begin to explain and must use the explanations of science. A hen can not grow into a rooster, but it can be made to lay two eggs a day. The question of the qualities and possibilities of living beings is the subject-matter of biology, and the more we understand them the more we can use them. But we must remember that we can apply only when