Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 7.djvu/752

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

to embolden the votaries of science to look for, work for, further disclosures which may threaten some favorite view—it may be one of more importance than that which we have considered. But others, supporting themselves on the basis that truth can never be dangerous to the right, see no cause for alarm in such advances. They hail them with pleasure, and encourage the spirit which hastens their arrival. In regard to the special question treated in this paper, arguments are hardly necessary to show that the results of investigation, as we have stated them, could not materially modify any time-honored, fundamental views. Is life less of a mystery? Has the question concerning the nature of life been even approached in these researches? We think not. That chemical substances of peculiar structure are found in the living organism is true. That these substances are formed by the action of the force called chemical affinity is just as surely a truth. Do these two truths mutually detract from the importance of each other? When the active agent in the formation of the so-called organic bodies became known, a thousand questions could be proposed to one that could be proposed previously. The conditions for its working became subjects of inquiry, and an almost endless series of possibilities presented itself. From what substances have the new ones been formed? What chemical processes have brought about the final formation? Years—ages must elapse before our knowledge on these points can begin to be exhaustive. And then what? Is the mystery solved? No.

We are ascending a mountain of great light. Our views are becoming more and more extended as we reach higher and higher positions. Should we ever be enabled to reach the summit, there would be found a pleasant harmony in the broad panorama, and our eyes would rest in delight upon it; but the most extensive view has its horizon, the barrier between the visible and the invisible.

 
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EARTHQUAKES AND THEIR CAUSES.
By JOHN J. LAKE.

THE origin of earthquakes has been assigned to many causes, as the falling in of caverns, steam, the combustion of gases, volcanic and electric action. Their most prominent and peculiar features are the following:

1. Great subterranean noises and reports resembling thunder. These occur more or less during all earthquakes. Father Kircher describes them as "a horrid sound resembling that of an infinite number of chariots driven fiercely forward, the wheels rattling, and the thongs of the whips cracking;" Sir Hans Sloane, in Jamaica, as