Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 25.djvu/377

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365
The Volcanic Eruption of Krakatau.

silently sliding over it millions of years ago. Art and science have this in common, that both require genius as a condition of their full development. Science in its highest departments, like art, can not live and grow except by incessant discovery. The faculty which enabled Newton to divine the law of the stars is the same with that by which Shakespeare perceived the psychological laws that govern the characters of Hamlet and Othello. Like the poet, the man of science also must always be able to put himself in thought in the place of Nature, to learn how she acts, and to represent to himself what she might do if one should change the conditions of her action. The art of either is to place the beings of Nature in new circumstances, as if they were active personages, and thus, to as great an extent as possible, to renovate or new-create Nature. The hypothesis is a kind of sublime romance, a scientific poem. Kepler, Pascal, and Newton had, as Mr. Tyndall remarks, the temperaments of poets, almost of visionaries. Faraday compared his intuitions of scientific truth to "interior illuminations," to a sort of ecstasies that raised him above himself. Once, after long reflections on force and matter, he perceived in a poetic vision the whole world "traversed by lines of forces," the endless vibrations of which produced light and heat throughout immensity. This instinctive vision was the origin of his theory of the identity of force and matter. Science, then, in the face of the unknown, comports itself in many respects as poetry does, and demands the same creative instinct. For its advancement is required the power of intuitive intelligence collected by many generations; insight, as Carlyle calls it, to perceive the true or the beautiful before having a full knowledge of it.—Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from the Revue des Deux Mondes,


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THE VOLCANIC ERUPTION OF KRAKATAU.

CONSIDERING that the volcanic eruption, of which the Straits of Sunda have been for the last eight months the center, is among the most stupendous of our times, and that the attendant phenomena have given rise to many questions of the highest scientific and, we may add, geographical interest, a résumé of the facts compiled from all the latest available sources may be interesting to our readers.

The Island of Krakatau (such, and not Krakatoa, is the native name) is situated in latitude 6° 7' south, longitude 105° 26' east, in the fairway of the Sunda Straits, about equally distant from Java and Sumatra, close on twenty-six miles west-southwest from the village and lighthouse of Anjer, the call-port or signal-station, prior to the present eruption, for all vessels passing through that frequented channel. It was a small, uninhabited island about five miles in length and three in