Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/664

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648
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Tylor, Lubbock, and De Mortillet — these have been the chief evolutionary teachers and discoverers. But the use of the word evolution itself, and the establishment of the general evolutionary theory as a system of philosophy applicable to the entire universe, we owe to one man alone — Herbert Spencer. Many other minds — from Galileo and Copernicus, from Kepler and Newton, from Linnæus and Tournefort from D'Alembert and Diderot, nay, even, in a sense, from Aristotle and Lucretius — had been piling together the vast collection of raw material from which that great and stately superstructure was to be finally edified. But the architect who placed each block in its proper niche, who planned and designed the whole elevation, who planted the building firmly on the rock and poised the coping-stone on the topmost pinnacle, was the author of the "System of Synthetic Philosophy," and none other. It is a strange proof of how little people know about their own ideas, that, among the thousands who talk glibly every day of evolution, not ten per cent are probably aware that both word and conception are alike due to the commanding intelligence and vast generalizing power of Herbert Spencer. — Cornhill Magazine.


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WEATHER-PROGNOSTICS.[1]

By the HON. RALPH ABERCROMBY.

FROM classic times, down to the commencement of this century, it can hardly be said that this branch of meteorology made any advance. Few, if any, new prognostics had been discovered, and neither their physical explanation nor their meteorological significance had been found out. But about eighty years ago some physical explanations were given. It was found that the air always contained a certain quantity of uncondensed vapor, and means were invented for measuring this amount accurately. From this, the nature and conditions of the formation of dew were discovered, and also that before many cases of rain the air became more charged with vapor. This latter fact gave the explanation of several rain-prognostics. For instance, when walls sweat, stones grow black, and clouds form on hilltops, rain may be expected almost all the world over.

But even when these reasons had been discovered, the science flagged. A large number of rain-prognostics could not be shown by any means to depend on an increase of moisture, and, as vapor can not grow in the air, some explanation was needed to account for its variable quantity. And even when, in a general way, the prognostic had been explained, no clew whatever had been found for what we may

  1. Abridged from "Weather," by the Hon. Ralph Abercromby. "International Scientific Series," volume Iviii. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1888.