Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 51.djvu/319
FORECASTING THE PROGRESS OF INVENTION.
similarity between the boundary of long and narrow beads on our map of cephalic index of Brittany, and the cross-hatched lines and tints on the map of physical geography of France on page 291. Note how it cuts across diagonally from northwest to southeast, parallel to the course of the Seine. Here the economic attraction in favor of the invasion of Brittany ceased, and at the same time the displaced natives found a defensible position. Prevented from extension in this direction, the Normans henceforth turned toward the Seine, where, in fact, their influence is most apparent at the present time. Paris, the Mecca of all invaders, them away, and Brittany was saved.
THE great progress made during the last fifty years in the domain of science and invention has aroused a very general desire among intelligent people to know what the future has in store, and in many cases the desire has become so strong as to develop prophetic tendencies. Whenever a banquet is given in commemoration of some scientific event, or upon the anniversary of some ancient and honorable society, the orator of the evening is sure to dwell at considerable length upon the great discoveries that are still to come. By contrasting the extraordinary advances made during the last century with the comparatively limited progress of all previous time, and by showing that the rate of advancement has been continually increasing during the latter period, he arrives at the conclusion that in the years to come development will increase in a compound ratio, and the discoveries will become so numerous and so great as to dwarf into insignificance all that has been accomplished up to the present time.Writers who dwell upon these glorious achievements of mankind in modern times follow the same vein, and make equally extravagant predictions as to the future. If these writers and orators would stop when they reach this point in their meditations they would be wise, since it is a self-evident fact that progress in science and invention has been increasing very rapidly during the last fifty or sixty years, and certainly there is no reason to suppose that we have reached the end, and that henceforth development will be very slow; but at this point the spirit of prophecy seizes them, and they proceed to describe the wonders yet unseen. It is here that they almost invariably fail. They would not be satisfied if they assumed that future progress would