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="The Age of Monsters"








"There about the beach he wandered, nourishing a youth sublime,
  With the fairy tales of science, and the long result of time."





The griffins and dragons of fairy mythology—The monsters revealed by science—The ancient ocean and its inhabitants—The Cetiosaurus—The Plesiosaurus—Aspect of the country of the Dinosaurians—Crocodiles—Turtles—The Hylæosaurus and Megalosaurus—A fearful conflict—An uncultivated garden—No trace of man—The Iguanodon, a huge herbivorous monster—The Pterodactyle, a flying reptile—Wealden beds—The stone bookpp. 1–14

The fairy messenger—Thales and the Amber Spirit—Ancient explanation of lightning and meteors—Man's devices for enslaving the spirit—Globe of sulphur—Conductors and non-conductors—Electrical machines—The Leyden jar—How to draw the spirit from the clouds—The voltaic pile—Deflections of the magnetic needle—The spirit employed as a courier—The electric telegraph explained—Systems of Wheatstone, Morse, Bain, and Bakewell—Telegraphic wires—Submarine telegraphs—France and England brought within a speaking distance of each other—Irish cable—Atlantic cable—The spirit taught to measure time—Bain's electric clock—The electrotype—The spirit's versatilitypp. 15—28

The ancient doctrine of the four elements—Decomposition of wood—Universality of the mighty elements—Health and disease—The true elementary bodies—A burning candle—Fire the result of chemical action—The destroying element—Chemical compounds—Composition of combustible bodies—Air the great supporter of life Analysis of air—Uniformity of composition—Immensity of the atmosphere—Properties of carbonic acid—Ammonia Watery vapour—Compounds of nitrogen and oxygen—Carbonic oxide—Water in the liquid, solid, and aëriform states—Analysis and synthesis—Decomposition of water by potassium—Wonderful revelations—Water a product of combustion—Synthesis of water—Earth an indefinite substance—The sixty-three elements of the chemist Principal ingredients of earth—Silica, alumina, and lime—Salt, pyrites, and fluorspar—Metals and metalloids—Composition of plants and animals—The marvels of chemistry—True interpretation of the ancient dogma pp. 29—51

The strange vicissitudes of particles of matter—A talking atom—His relatives—His existence as a rock-forming atom—First glimpse of the outer world—Sets out on his travels—Launched into the ocean—A roving life—The coral polype—Terrestrial mutations—The atom liberated by volcanic agency—The joys of an aerial atom—Plants of the carboniferous period—The atom again a captive—Coal—Modern career of the atom—His philosophical speculationspp. 53—64

The nature of matter—Illustrations of its divisibility—The ultimate particles of a body never in actual contact—Porosity of gold—Opinions of Newton and Herschel—Hidden truths— Relative weights of the ultimate particles—John Dalton— The atomic theory of chemistry—Celestial atomspp. 65—74

The philosopher's stone—Ancient and modern alchemy—The mysterious unknown—Liebig's remarks on the true philosopher's stone—The laboratory of the modern alchemist—Aluminium—Ultramarine—The wonders that may yet be performed by the alchemist—Transmutation—Like and unlike—Charcoal, graphite and diamond—Different forms assumed by sulphur—Amorphous phosphorus—Ozone—Modern alchemists true descendants of the old gold-seekerspp. 75—87

The influence of the sunbeam—Theories that have been advanced to explain the nature of light—Velocity of light—Decomposition of the sunbeam—The prismatic spectrum—Influence of light over the animal and vegetable kingdoms—The Proteus anguinus—Distribution of animals in the ocean—Plants grown in the dark—Heat—Dispersion of the heat-rays—Effects of heat—Actinism— Blackening of horn silver—Inorganic bodies sleep during the night—Germination of seeds—Photographypp. 89—102

The structure of the human eye—Herschel's remarks on this wonderful organ—Why two eyes are better than one—An invisible pair of compasses—Two eyes required to obtain a true conception of solidity—The stereoscope—Double vision—Single visionpp. 103—111
The belle of the sea—Her submarine home—A deep dive—Unfamiliar objects—The mermaid's garden—Her subjects—The black goby—Emissaries from the Court of Oberon—An expert well-sinker—Animated umbrellas—The lamps of the sea—The great crab family—The porcelain crab, the spider, and the hermit—Sea-slugs—Living stars—The sea-urchin—Serpulæ and acorn-shells—The mermaid and the naturalistpp. 113—127

The flowers of the sea—Smooth anemone—Thick-horned anemone—Living daisies—Plumose anemone—Voracity of these animal flowers—Their curious structure—The madrepore described by Gosse—An amusing anecdote—The living flowers of tropical seas—The aquariumpp. 129—139

A meeting of aged insects—An unpleasant scene—A sensible proposition—The cabbage butterfly—Swammerdam's remarks on the internal structure of a caterpillar—The tiger-moth—The dragon-fly's narrative—The gnat—Reaumur's observations—The case-fly—The ichneumon-flypp. 141—153

The witches' cauldron and the tea-kettle—Thermometers—Boiling and freezing points—Latent heat—The genii of the kettle—Ebullition—Conduction and convection—Hot porridge—Oceanic currents—Pressure of the atmosphere—The spheroidal state—Water frozen in a red-hot vessel—Steam springs—The fiery ordeal—The Geysers of Iceland—Sir George Mackenzie's description of the Great Geyser—Bunsen's experiments—Artificial Geyserspp. 155—174
The Solar System—Earth—Moon—Jupiter—Saturn—Uranus—Neptune—Mercury—Venus—Mars—Vesta, Pallas, and other planetoids—Relative magnitudes and distances of the principal members of the solar system—The Sun—His diameter, bulk, and mass—His distance from the Earth—His apparent motion—The twelve signs of the Zodiac—The solar rays—Planets habitable and inhabited—Moon and planetoids not inhabited—Fixed stars—Constellations—Coma Berenices—Catalogues of stars—Classification of stars into magnitudes—Number of stars—Milky Way—Nebulæ—Distance of stars—Light of Sirius—Periodical or variable stars—Temporary stars—Dark bodies in the heavens—Double and multiple stars—Colour of stars—Complementary colours in double stars.pp. 175—196
Family and pedigree—The comet protests against M. Babinet's remarks anent his kindred—Number of comets—Bulk—Nucleus—Head—Coma—Tail or brush—Tenuity of comets—Disturbing influence of planets and planetoids upon the orbits of comets—Chance of a collision—Cometary matter not luminous—Forms of comets and their tails— Length of tail—Comets with more than one tail—Eccentricity of motion—Parabolic and hyperbolic orbits—Uses of comets—Absurd and superstitious notions respecting cometary influences—Comet of 1556 expected in 1860—Case of doubtful identity—Cometary influence on seasons disproved—Comets with fixed periods—Halley's—Comet of 1680—Comets of Olbers, Encke, Biela, Faye, De Vico, Brorsen, d'Arrest—Winneke and Neslhuber versus Donati—Supposed period and distance from sun of comet of 1858pp. 197—213
The revelations of the microscope—Single and compound microscopes—A drop of water—Minute creatures—The globe animalcule—The wheel animalcule—Microscopic plants—Diatoms—Formation of rocky strata—Beautiful forms—Bed of earth composed of living infusoria—The marls of Virginia—Chalk—Microscopic fungi—Eggs of insects—Scales of a butterfly's wing—Insect anatomy—Pollen—Fissures and cavities in gemspp. 215—229

A fanciful tree—Bread-fruit—Cabbage-palm—Cow- tree—The papyrus and fan-palm—Pashiuba palm—The mangrove—Wonderful cane—Australian trees—The Banyan—Sensitive plants—The traveller and the mosspp. 231—242

Glaciers—Regions of eternal snow—The Névé—Rivers of ice—Moraines—Movement of the glacier—A moving hut—Lost knapsack—Mysterious noises—Theories of glacier motion—Saussure—Observations of Professor James Forbes—Viscous theory—Tyndall's experiments—The plasticity of ice—Fracture and regelation—Ancient glaciers—Time slidespp. 243—253

The home of the gnomes—Wondrous architecture of the stalactite caverns—Science and superstition—The Grotto of Antiparos—Petrifying springs—Tabreez marble—A busy scene—The guardian of the jewels—The Koh-i-noor—Aluminous and silicious—The keeper of the metals —The treasures of the earth—Gold, silver, and iron—The gnome of the coal-mines—Use of coal—Varieties of coalpp. 255—276

Division of the universe between Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto—Pluto's share—Cerberus—The river Styx—Charon the ferryman—The Acheron and the other rivers of the Infernum—Powers of Lethe—Migration of souls—Pluto and his court—Plutus—The fatal sisters—The three judges—The furies—Tartarus, and its inhabitants—Elysian fields—Pluto in search of a wife—Proserpine—Ceres—Intervention of Jupiter—Danger of eating pomegranate seeds—A new species of owl—Geological view of Pluto's kingdom—The realm of fire—How the earth and the other planets were formed—Internal condition of the earth—The earth's crust—Density of the crust and interior of the earth—Cordier's thermometrical theory of volcanoes and earthquakes—Volcanoes—Craters of eruption and elevation—Mount Vesuvius—Etna—Jorullo—Matters thrown out from volcanic craters—Mud volcanoes—Aqueous lava—Earthquakes—Vertical, horizontal, and circular movements—Earthquake of 1755—Elevation and subsidence of land—Submarine eruptions—Sabrina Island—Graham Island—Extinct volcanoespp. 277—307

The story of Aladdin—The lamp of science—Genii of the lamp—Steam—Miracles wrought by steam—Steam-power—The Leviathan—Construction—Dimensions—Mode of propulsion—Passenger-arrangements—Britannia Tubular Bridge—Stephenson—An impossible task—The strength of a beam—Monster rams—Lifting the tubes—Aerial galleries—An emblem explained—Conclusionpp. 309—338

This work was published before January 1, 1924, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.