Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/393

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While dealing with the forces of Nature from an atomic standpoint, we are treading upon the border-land of science, beyond which all sensible phenomena have their origin.

Science may, by spectrum analysis, determine the constitution of the irresolvable nebulæ; it may tell us of the millions upon millions of ethereal waves necessary to impinge upon the retina to produce a given chromatic effect; it may measure the waves of air that roll as music down upon the tympanum of the ear: but how undulations upon the retina or vibrations of the auditory nerve are converted into consciousness of sight or sound, is a question which, like the causation and mystery of life, belongs to that realm outside of the domain of science—a realm the infinite mystery of which transcends all analysis!

In conclusion, let us not be led into a rigid belief that the present views of molecular physics are competent to explain all the phenomena that may be presented for solution for all time to come. It is enough to say that it answers our purpose in giving a satisfactory explanation of a large class of natural phenomena as they are exhibited to us in daily life. But, as we know the favored ideas of scientists and scholars in generations preceding ours have given way to newer and better ones, so, in turn, the popular conceptions of to-day may serve as stepping-stones to coming ideas, each destined to take its place as the predecessor of a higher and better intelligence.


A GREAT deal of attention has of late years been bestowed upon the subject of alcoholic indulgence. The importance of the subject warrants this, and even calls for still further attention. There are differences of opinion as to the use of alcohol; there are comparatively none as to the abuse of it. Leaving then, for the present, the question of the use of alcohol in disease, its effect upon the body temperature, and its position as a food, we may profitably engage ourselves for a little time with its social effects, alike upon the individual and the masses, especially in reference to its influence upon the mental manifestations of brain-activity. It is now universally acknowledged that mental alterations follow physical modifications of the brain, as seen in the various forms of insanity. We well know how profound is the influence exerted by alcoholic excess upon the brain, and through it upon the character. Unfortunately, the effects of continued alcoholic excess are but too frequently forced upon our attention.

  1. Read before the Social Science Congress at Liverpool.