Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/195

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183
ATOMIC WORLDS AND THEIR MOTIONS.

Abel Hovelacque is not in favor of, but which MM. Vogt and Huxley, who are little suspected of orthodoxy, admit — a gulf which, is growing wider every day under our very eyes; in which we are still permitted to perceive those lost paths, going from one side to the other, of which Mr. Huxley speaks in the preface to the French translation of his "Man's Place in Nature"; but which will soon become insuperable by the disappearance, on the one side, of the last existing anthropoids, and, on the other side, of the last inferior human races; when man will be left isolated and majestic, proudly proclaiming himself the king of creation.

We need not blush, then, for our ancestors: we were monkeys, as before them we were reptiles, fishes, yes, even worms or crustaceans. But that was a long time ago, and we have grown up. Evolution, let us say it, has lavished its favors upon us, and has given us all the advantages in the struggle for existence. Our rivals of yesterday are at our mercy; we leave those which displease us to perish, we create new species when we want them. On our planet we reign, fashioning things at our will, piercing isthmuses, going down into seas, ransacking the air, suppressing distances, and snatching from the earth its secrets of ages. Our aspirations, our thought, our action, have no bounds. Everything pivots around us. What more can we desire? To be god? That may come. Evolution has not had its last word. The anthropopithecus has been; the anthropotheomorphus may be. M. Hovelacque has tried to reconstitute the one; why may we not some day try to constitute the other, the man of the future?


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ATOMIC WORLDS AND THEIR MOTIONS.

By Dr. HEINRICH HENSOLDT.

THIS formidable title will doubtless lead many of my readers to apprehend that I am now going to inflict upon them one of those abstruse and profound disquisitions on molecular physics which are very learned and very incomprehensible. But I do not propose to do anything of the kind. I have no desire to go into mathematics, or to weary them with a more or less tedious recapitulation of the gradual development, from crude beginnings, of our present science of molecular dynamics, by going back to the earliest conceptions of atoms by the Greek philosophers, or even to the time of Dalton and Bernouilli.

I merely desire to explain, in as popular a language as the subject permits, in how far the researches of men like Helmholtz and Sir William Thomson have modified our ideas of the ultimate composition of matter. There will be nothing offered that is