Page:The Scientific Monthly vol. 3.djvu/56

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Bt professor D. eraser HARRIS, M.D., D.Sc.


IT may be fsaid without inaccuracy that in ancient Greece we find either the beginnings or the indications of every phase of intel- lectual activity characteristic of our present civilization, not excepting either the study of science or the practise of medicine. Were one of the Greeks of the age of Archimedes to appear to-day in the midst of our university activities, he would be surprised not at our study of philos- ophy or logic, or ethics, or mathematics, or languages, but at the state of those applied sciences which deal quantitatively with the various forms of natural energy. That we can measure the force of gravitation, or the rate of transference of heat or the quantity of heat transferred, that we employ the expansive force of steam, or the diSerences of electrical potential in order to make things move — these would indeed amaze him. Aristotle, for instance, would be dumfounded to be told that an egg could be hatched by the artificial heat of an incubator, for he taught that there was a very great difference between heat of physical and of animal origin; in fact, that they were absolutely distinct in their essence.

That one might contemplate natural happenings and distinguish their essence from their accidents, the Greek mind could comprehend; but what is so entirely modem is the way in which we have liberated and utilized the natural forces and incarnated energy, harnessed force to matter, and made energy manifest by transmuting one form of it into some other.

Man's muscles are of so much less account to-day than any ancient Greek would have dreamed it possible.

The Greek contributions to the science of mathematics are matters of common knowledge : almost every one knows that Euclid is the name of a mathematician and not of a subject; although we have heard of a schoolboy who, on being shown a bust of Euclid, asked, *' Why didn't they have one of good old Algebra too?" The Greek did what he could — and it must be confessed very successfully — to study the prop- erties of space, since it was denied him to investigate the forces operating in that space. He developed the science of pure spatial relationships; and although the name of Euclid is the best known of the geometers, it is far from being the only one. The Pythagoreans had investigated dimensions and quantities; ApoUonius of Perga, conic sections, Archim- edes mechanics. Heron hydrostatics, Diophantus arithmetic and al-

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