Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/560

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

desert, and swamp lands, a thorough investigation and classification of acreage of the public domain are imperatively demanded. The Committee, therefore, recommends that Congress establish, under the Department of the Interior, an independent organization to be known as the United States Geological Survey, to be charged with the study of the geological structure and economic resources of the public domain." And the Committee recommends a discontinuance of the present Geographical and Geological Surveys and the present Land Surveys. "The effect of the above changes," says the Committee, "will be to maintain within the Interior Department three distinct organizatians: 1. The Coast and Interior Survey, whose function will embrace all questions of position and mensuration; 2. The United States Geological Survey, whose function will be the determination of all questions relating to the geological structure and natural resources of the public domain; 3. The Land-Office, controlling the disposition and sale of the public lands, including all questions of title and record. With this division should be secured a perfect coördination and coöperation between the three branches. The Land-Office should call upon the Coast and Interior Survey for all surveys and measurements required for the sale and disposition of land. The Land-Office should also call upon the United States Geological Survey for all information as to the value and classification of lands. The results of all the mensuration surveys, as soon as completed, should be immediately available for the Land-Office and for the Geological Survey, and for other branches of the Government as required. The Geological Survey should be authorized to execute local topographical surveys for special purposes, such, for instance, as the subterraneous surveys of mining districts and metallic deposits, etc."


Huxley on the Hand.—Professor Huxley chose for the subject of a recent lecture at the Workingmen's College, of which he is President, the human hand. He looked on the hand as not second in importance even to the brain itself. He pointed out the great diversity of operations for which man is dependent on the hand, and observed how it performs all its important functions by virtue of certain very simple facts in its form of construction. He referred to that famous work, Paley's "Natural Theology," and the argument which it enforces—that if a person were to find the whole machinery of a watch he must needs infer from the works of it that it must have been intended to serve a certain purpose. But Professor Huxley pointed out that, whatever the force of the argument of analogy in the case of the hand, it most assuredly does not apply in the sense in which it was used by Paley, because it can easily be shown that a man's hand was not put together in that way, but that it came about in quite a different manner. It was not a process in any way analogous to human means of construction, being, in fact, as different from the latter as the taking of a piece of iron and making it into an engine differs from taking it and letting it grow to an engine. This difference, he remarked, is highly important, as showing the danger of arguing from mere analogy—it shows that Paley's argument is not consonant with fact. Paley could not conceive that so complicated a structure as the human frame might, as a matter of fact, be developed or evolved by a purely natural operation.


Vehicles of Malaria.—Ague is commonly supposed to be due to the entrance into the system of a miasmatic organism. But no microscopist has ever seen this organism, neither can we account for the intermittency of the ague-paroxysms, nor can we say for certain through what medium it finds an entrance into the system. The majority of writers hold the opinion that the air of marshes is the sole cause of intermittent fever. But there exists strong evidence going to show that water, too, is a carrier of the poison. Take, for instance, two or three cases cited in the "Lancet"; and, first, the case recorded by Boudin, of three vessels sailing from Algiers to Marseilles, conveying eight hundred soldiers, who on shore had all been exposed to the same atmospheric conditions. Two of these vessels were supplied with good water, but the third with water from a marsh. The two former arrived at Marseilles without a sick man, but the third ship lost thirteen men, and had one hundred and twenty sick, nine-